Midweek Poetry: Chop, chop, peel & an 'astronaut' carrot / by daintydora

Today I woke with the urge to cook and bake and prepare food. I've been away from home for a few days so perhaps the break inspired this bout of kitchen domesticity?

I started with a pot of soup, scrubbing the carrots I harvested from my own garden. I bashed the earth from the roots, sliced the greenery from the top and scrubbed the bent-up carrots I planted too-close-together feeling an immediate sense of nourishment and gratitude in the pungent carrot-y smell.

It took longer than I thought - to sort the gnarled twists into clean, peeled fodder for my meal. But it was satisfying.

Here's my 'astronaut carrot'; half-eaten by a slug or something else (worse?), all tangled strands incestuous and squirming:

Chop, chop, peel: Carrot Astronaut

I didn't have much else to work with, but...

I had onions and herbs, a clove of smokey garlic, oil and butter and sundried tomatoes and a few potatoes that I added to the mix.

I had flour in the cupboard and porridge oats and oatmeal and a few scoops of light brown sugar and so while the soup was bubbling away on the hob, I measured the ingredients for bread and for oatcakes and the morning was cold, frosty with a dampness in the air, yet my little kitchen was hot and steamy with the creation of lovely autumn comfort foods, made with the scarcest of ingredients.

When the bread and the oatcakes were in the oven I melted more butter and squeezed out a tablespoon of golden syrup and greased a baking tray for the flapjacks.

I don't like to use as much sugar as the recipe suggests (an idea I got from the lovely Lila), so I swapped 75g of sugar for 50g of toasted almonds, and it felt a bit like alchemy because I like to switch things up but I have no jurisdiction in the kitchen; no knowledge of what might happen or go wrong like I do when I'm sewing or writing. And I know that baking is a precise science.

I kept the radio on and chopped and kneaded and rolled, listening to the Stereophonics and Muse and Moby and others I can't remember because I was lost in the flow, and by the time I was finished the sun was coming out and it was time for a cup of tea and I'd made a little feast that filled the house with a cosy warm breath of happiness.

Everything turned out OK, well, better than expected or perhaps just as expected if I'd paused to consider what that might be?

I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter for the oatcakes, and I had the soup for lunch with a hunk of fresh bread and I was going to take a photo but I was too hungry to care.

Here's a poem inspired by the baking and making:

Chop, chop, peel

Smoked garlic and simmered
onions spitting lizards
from the pot,
squeezed through silver pinholes
oiled in neon with seaweed-
salt, sun-dried
tomatoes and mixed herbs
for the stock.


Orange skins
trailing roots piled up by the sink:
chop, chop, peel -
and dirt caught in the plughole
scrubbed black indents
leaving traces in the bark.


Then a circus swirling free
in a sauna of steel
left quietly resting
until the kneaded seeds
are floured, pulled
steaming golden from below.


And how does it feel:
chop, chop, peel -
as the knife cuts through?
Resistance brief
then exposed raw slices
screaming inside.


How could I know?