I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Now I am planning tonight’s menu. I am undecided between a Blue cheese soufflé or a creamy satisfying mushroom risotto. Both with a nice crunchy salad dressed with a lemon dressing nice and astringent to counter the richness of either the soufflé or risotto. I prefer red wine, though I think I light crisp white wine should go down well tonight. Dessert? Dark chocolate. I like to spoil Lamb over weekends with my culinary skills. (We take turns during the week). Chocolate for dessert, she does not like baked puddings. Her loss, I make Jan Ellis/Malva/Brown Pudding which will cause tears in your eyes (and clog your arteries). For special occasions I will make a Tipsy/Cape Brandy tart, and like my Grandmother, I have a heavy hand with the brandy. Served with whipped cream, custard or vanilla ice cream, your choice. I also make the best ever chocolate mousse (not the stuff in packs tasting like carton & coco powder). It is one of those tricky recipes though. The egg whites must be beaten exactly right. Not too soft (it goes runny then) nor to stiff (it just wont mix with the rest of the ingredients then) and you REALLY need a light touch when folding the whites into the rest. Delia Smith’s Tiramisu recipe is the best out there. I don’t often bake, but once in a while I pull out all the stops. When I plan potato soup for dinner I have to start mixing and kneading the dough for the rosemary and garlic foccaccia quite early to allow enough priming time. But it is always a hit with guests. My other baking hits are my Gooseberry Cheesecake my Chocolate Brandy cake and my Red Velvet Cake. I also have a standing order from someone for Christmas Mince Pies and a Fruitcake. This person should consider himself lucky, for even if he is paying, Christmas mince pies and fruitcake is A LOT of work. It is also hard for me to plan baking a Christmas cake weeks in advance, though I do not forget to put brandy on the cake once a week till Christmas comes. By that time the cake is dark and rich and fragrant and quite delicious. What also gets me is the 7 layers of brown paper one needs to cover and line the fruitcake baking tin with. My secret for the mince pies is to use both lard and butter in the pie pastry. Hell it is only Christmas once a year! Coz I don’t like turkey and coz it is summer in SA over Christmas I like doing a whole gammon in the Weber. It is Christmassy yet out-doorsy and summery.