“I feel like I’ve travelled back in time!” a fellow patron of a cafe said to me once when he saw me scribbling away at a letter one morning. Obviously my initial reaction was to glower at this interloper and protectively shield the juicy contents or my correspondence from his prying eyes, but the old busy-body did get me thinking. I am a keen letter writer, and find it a shame that it’s gone out of fashion. Don’t get me wrong, a speedy little email has its uses, but a letter is just so much more personal. And really, it seems that most people share the pleasure of receiving a letter. It’s just that most people don’t take the time to write letters themselves.
For me, writing the letter is just as much of a delight as reading them. I put a lot more thought into my letters than into emails, really planning what I want to say and pondering over how to phrase it. I even like the time delay – knowing my news won’t be read until a week or so later, referring to various activities that may happen in the interim. And it pleases me to imagine the delight of the recipient (at least I hope that’s their feeling!) when the letter lands on their doormat.
I love seeing a nice, handwritten envelope amongst the bills in my letter box, identifying the writing, feeling a little thrill of curiousity as I brew a cup of tea and get myself cosy to read what my loved ones have to say. It really is a treat, a comfort, a moment to be savoured.
If ever there were a food to match the comfort and glee of writing or reading a letter, it would have to be the jacket potato. It’s warm, comforting, full of happy associations. It even offers the same shortcut opportunity as writing a letter vs emailing: oven vs microwave (I’m sure I needn’t admit my preference – there’s only one way to get nice crispy skins). This is a slightly jazzed up jacket potato, with some extra goodness thrown in to make it even more special.
So, go ahead: bake a potato and write a letter. It’s a recipe for instant happiness.
Jazzy Jacket Potato
1 baking potato
1-2 tbsp grated strong cheddar (more if you like)
1.5 tbsp soured cream
1 small spring onion, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 200C, prick the potato with a fork and bake for about 1 hour until the skin is nice and crisp.
2. Cut the potato in half lengthways, and scoop the inside out into a bowl – be careful, it will still be very hot.
3. Add most of the cheddar to the potato in the bowl, along with the sour cream. Mash it all together well.
4. Add the spring onion and season well. Mix again.
5. Spoon the filling back into the skins and put them on a baking tray. Sprinkle a little more cheese on top and return them to the oven for 10-15 minutes until they are warm through and the cheese is melted.