A recipe for mince meat or the story of how part of my brain always seems to be busy with something other than what's at hand
I have told you the story of the mince pies already, nearly one year ago, so I need not repeat myself. I don't think these will come out of our cooking curriculum anytime soon, as they have become one of our family staples and a favourite with the three of us. We didn't have them for Christmas, this year, we had them for NYE. And, obviously enough, I tweaked the mincemeat recipe just a little, because, well, that is what I do. I have to go and tweak things so I can make them my own. And also because I do like experimenting, testing, seeing what works and what doesn't. I do the same with my writing, and with my reading, and with my personal style - though I know by now fully well what I like and what I like to see myself in. I tweak, and change and modify and am always thinking up stuff, sometimes seemingly random stuff, as if part of my brain has a life of it's own.
I always wonder why I am constantly changing things, changing myself, changing my looks, why I simply cannot sit still and must, because I must, chase yet another rainbow. But I have come to terms with that particular side of myself, the one where part of my mind is constantly somewhere else, either thinking up a story, or lining up chapters, composing words into sentences, mixing ingredients, styling up shoots. There's always a part of my mind that is never in the moment, in the present, and even though I really wish I wouldn't do that, I know by now this is who I am, what I am, and I have long ago learned how to pretend I'm all there, that I am giving my full attention to the task at hand, or the person in front of me, when actually there's this tiny piece of my brain that is somewhere quite different...
Maybe there is some sort of unbalance in my brain, something chemical, perhaps? that makes me this way, where my brain is working full time, all the time - even in my sleep, yes, and lately I have been sleeping only four, five hours a night, not that I would not wish to sleep a little longer! My brain is the kind that I may be sitting down wacthing some TV show or other and all of a sudden there's something, some image or some line, some word, some light that wakes this part of my brain and sets it to work, and then I'm like a split person, and then sometimes great ideas I have just get lost while I'm trying to juggle those two parts of myself, the one that will be there in the present moment and the hidden one, that is working backstage...
It's kind of what happened with the mincemeat for these pies. Last year we came across a mix of fruits that had a good variety of what I was craving for, a perfect mix, as far as I am concerned, because it reminded me so much of those first mince pies I had, all those years ago. Well, a lucky fluke one year does not mean you're going to have a lucky fluke next year, and we kind of didn't. And I wanted something different, really. I'm not a fan of dried plums, and I was eager to have the flavours more slimlined, to focus on a simpler mix, so it would sing. Well, my latest addiction seems to be dried cranberries, so I had already made up my mind I wanted to go for dried cranberries, after one afternoon when I was supposed to be correcting a couple of chapters, a part of my brain was simply cooking up mincemeat with dried cranberries. We ommited most every other dried fruit except for the golden sultanas - well, they're kind of a staple aren't they? - and went ahead with a very simple mince. As for the pastry we did repeat Nigella's recipe, you can find it here. It's such a good one, I really didn't want another.
So for this mincemeat you'll need:
- four to five apples, depending on size, deseeded, peeled and cut into small bites
- 100 gr golden sultanas
- 100 gr dried cranberries
- 100 gr flaked almonds
- 150 gr dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spices (nutmeg, star aniseed, cloves)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- rind and juice of a mandarin (I do prefer using mandarins or clementines in this recipe)
- 150 ml of mixed red wine with créme de cassis - yes, really. It will taste good, trust me.
So I was wondering, does your mind also tend to stray and make up stuff, like stories or poems, or conversations, recipes, ideas for shoots, outfit pairings, like mine? Or are you able to be there, really there, in the moment, in the present, every single time? How does one make this stop, sometimes I find it so annoying, when I'm playing with my son, for instance, or reading to him, or when someone is like having a conversation with me, and I only hear parts of it because my brain is working overtime processing some sentence and maybe adapting it into some story I may be writing, or because I suddenly thought of a really great way to cook chicken, or because I noticed someone pass by wearing a coat and a scarf in a particularly cool way and am wondering how I can recreate it... How does one deal with a brain like this? Any help is rather welcome!!