I turned 27 today. You probably think I ought to be out partying. In reality I think I ought to be out partying but the truth is I just could not get my act together this year. That and the lack of stamina I seem to have after a week at work. Perhaps I’ll do something in February, once I’ve gotten used to the idea that I’m closer to thirty than I was on January 17th. I guess I sort of thought that turning 27 would be just like any other birthday- I’d wake up, be surrounded by cards and prezzies to open in bed and when people asked me if I felt any different I would just shrug and say, nope! I used to be thrilled that I was getting older- as far as I was concerned one couldn’t get old fast enough. First it was old enough to get my ears peirced, then it was old enough to drive, to finish school, to finish college, to finally be the one who isn’t asked to make the tea, to get married, have kids and finally, finally be the boss. And then life could just stop once I was married with kids at the top of my game because I would have finally reached the age of perfection.
The thing is waking up 27 I do feel different. 27 is like the critical age- it’s that much closer to 30, it’s the one when people finally start giving you a bit more respect in the work place and finally your age some what qualifies you. It’s the one age where kids in their early twenties suddenly think of as adult and when parents start thinking you’re not too young to marry. I have always been the baby in the kitchen. The one whose opinons held absolutely no credibility purely because of my, and I quote: lack of life experience. I was the one who always go teased for being so young- questions like do you remember… were quickly followed by a sigh and never mind, you probably weren’t even born then. I sort of liked it. Not the part that warranted me unqualified in having an opinion but the fact that it was assumed that I was young and therefore somewhat envied.
This year things have changed. I look at pictures from a few years ago and find myself saying out loud- look how young I look! It’s not that I’ve suddenly become grey-haired and wrinkly but clearly something has changed. I was not asked for ID once this year! Okay, so maybe in the bars when they are checking everyone- but not one booze store carded me and I’ve been to quite a few. Perhaps it’s just me that’s unable to see my greying hairs and wrinkles- poor eyesight, I believe that’s a sign of ageing too. Last week was a particularly brutal week for me in the kitchen- for the first time I wasn’t the youngest. And not only that but even though there was less than two years separating me from the baby I was quite mistakenly grouped into the older generation. There was no never mind you probably weren’t even born then for me. I wanted to cry out- but WAIT I WAS BORN IN THE 80′S TOO!!
So, turning 27 hasn’t been all it’s cracked up to be. There were no presents in bed, no treasure hunt, no novelty cake with candles- no party. But there will be, I just have to adjust. The problem with having a birthday so soon after New Years is that you’ve spent the last three weeks working out how to better yourself and then BAM! you’re a year older and yet depressingly you’re still in the same place that you were last year. My only good fortune today, was the large spot that popped up above my right eyebrow. On most days I would pop the little bugger and try desperately to cover up the carnage- but today I let it go, because only teenagers get spots and that made me smile.
On that note, I give you hot and cold fregula salad. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting fregula before let me be the first to introduce you. So long as your not carbo-phobic or gluten free I think you’ll find yourself to be good buddies. If you can’t bare to buy another packet of grains when you already have plenty of half-used packets in your cupboard, then fear not because it’s easily substituted with rice, brown rice, Israeli couscous, farro, barley- you get my drift. The title isn’t exactly original but it tells it like it is. Hot fregula and broccoli are tossed with raw tomatoes, carrots, spring onions and tuna with toasted pinenuts, lemon and olive oil. You could have it all cold but I’d stay away from trying to heat it all up- I think you’d miss out on all the flavours. It’s healthy, but warming at the same time, unless of course you opt to have it cold in which case it will just be healthy and filling. Feel free to mix up the veggies, I used up the dregs of my fridge- mighty good tasting dregs they were too.
Hot & cold fregula saladYou could make this in a larger batch, but for those of us who don’t always want to be left with leftovers, I thought a recipe for one might be nice. If you’re not too greedy you could just about get away with sharing this.
Serves 1 generously, 2 meagerly
Diet Facts wholesome and hearty
scant 1/4 cup fregula (you could also substitute for israeli couscous, farro or brown rice)
small head of broccoli
1 small/medium carrot
handful cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
handful baby spinach
50g/ 2 oz tuna ( in oil or water, I like the kind that comes in a jar)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put a medium pot of water on to boil. • Cut the broccoli into small florets and slice the stem. • Finely slice the scallion. • Peel and cut the carrot into little matchsticks. • Cut the tomatoes in half. • Zest and juice the 1/2 lemon • drain the tuna.
How to make
1/ Once the water has come to a boil add some salt. Heat a little oil in a nonstick frying pan. Toss in the fregula to coat, about 1 minute. Add the fregula and cook according to packet directions. During the last minute add the broccoli and stems to the pot. Drain and return to the pot.
2/ Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the baby spinach, scallion, carrot, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, toasted pine nuts and tuna- season to taste. Serve immediately.