Someone said to me the other day – it must have been on Twitter – that she was annoyed by suggestions from television or celebrity chefs of what to do with “leftover cheese”.
“There is never,” she said “leftover cheese in my house.”
I know what she means. I know what to do with leftover cheese, or leftover chicken or leftover lamb: you put it in a fucking sandwich. Or you eat it out of the foil, cold, with your tremblingly ravenous fingers, dipped hastily in mayonnaise, or recurrant jelly or mango chutney or whatever.
But – I had cause the other day to have some leftover pork belly. If you do not cook pork belly frantically at any opportunity, then you are a fool, by the way. It costs about 9p to feed 18 people and you just rub it with salt and then put it in the oven at 140C for 4 hours. If you want crackling you turn the oven up to full whack for 20 mins at the end.
Anyway so I had this leftover pork belly and I couldn’t put it in a sandwich, because dun dun DUUNN I am on a DIET.
A very serious diet, too. No carbs, no sugar, no drinking during the week. And no sandwiches.
“Oh but you’ve just had a baby” everyone says. “Give yourself a break.”
NO THANKS!!! Don’t want to be fat anymore, ta. Bored with it now, bored with my fat arse and my thighs that rub together at the top and my back fat and my beefy shoulders. And if having two children has taught me anything, it’s that if you want something, you have to get it your fucking self. I can’t just sit around with my fingers crossed eating custard creams hoping that the weight will fall off by itself because it won’t. Not at my age.
When you are young and single there is a vague sense that you are the star in the movie that is your life. There is the sense that when you find yourself in a dramatic situation that some dramatic solution will present itself. A handsome man will appear with an umbrella, a handsome man will pay your taxi fare, a handsome man will fix your broken down car. You get the idea.
This feeling can linger on in the early days with your first baby, as you find yourself stuggling with a buggy and a screaming infant, who then vomits and then your trousers fall down or whatever and you can find yourself in a glorious maelstrom of self-pity and sort of feel “look at me! It’s like in a movie and I am a hopeless new mother!!”
Then you realise, quite soon, that nobody is coming to rescue you. No-one is coming to help. It’s just you. And very quickly getting into scrapes with your child or really scrapes of any sort ceases to be funny.
I realised this one day when I didn’t put the brakes on the buggy properly, (Maclaren buggy brakes are bizarrely wobbly and shitty and hard to apply properly), and it rolled down some steps with Kitty in it. Fuck it was so awful. I have never forgiven myself. I squirm around in actual physical distress when I recall it.
Kitty was just screaming and screaming with blood in her mouth and I couldn’t get the stupid buggy harness off and the buggy was squashing Kitty and not one person came to help. I mean, I’m not surprised they didn’t – a screaming kid on our street is nothing new. But it was at that moment that I realised that this is it, now – this is real, now: so don’t fuck it up.
And it brought back to me powerfully that line in The Secret Garden when Mary Lennox is alone in her house in India because everyone else has died of cholera and two British civil servants come to send her back to England. “Why does nobody come?” shrieks Mary. “There’s nobody left to come,” says one of the men.
So if you want something done – if you want to be thin, if you want to be successful, if you want your kids to say please and thank you, you have to do it yourself. This is why women with children can, if they’re not careful, end up being really quite bossy, because there is a strong sense in their lives that if they don’t do it, no-one else will.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes leftover pork.
The thing about a fatty piece of pork, like a pork belly (the same applies to bacon) is that to get the best results you have to cook it slowly – this makes the fat render and then crisp up.
So with some leftover pork belly what you do is cut it up into small squares – about 2cm by 2cm if you want me to be exact about it, and then let it all sit in a dry frying pan over a low to moderate heat for about 30 mins. The fat will melt and crisp up the pork.
If you would like your crispy pork also spicy, then add in a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes, some finely-chopped spring onions, some chopped garlic maybe? A fine grating of ginger? A sprinkling of Chinese five spice? Any or all of these things would be simply capital.
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