July 12, 2011

Summer fruit and squishiness


Before I forget:  here’s the definitive photo record of the signing at Forbidden Planet last week from our forum’s CathyR:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/marmitelover/sets/72157627054561095/

She’s also @CambridgeMinor on Twitter, so if anyone wants to ask her for a copy of any of the photos, please tweet or DM.  

Shattered again.  How boring.  Today’s excuse is that I took Peter and me to see Tabitha, my Bowen massage lady, and I always come out of one of these sessions feeling like overcooked oatmeal.*  Happy, peaceful overcooked oatmeal, but still, speaking/blogging in complete sentences and walking upright and all that is a strain, and I keep wanting to subside gently into a nice bowl-shaped piece of furniture.  A hot bath, say.   An American friend said to me dubiously, presumably you feel like a million dollars** the next day or something?  There has to be a reason you keep going back?  No, I just like pain . . . It’s nothing as spectacular as being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound or drive the horses of the sun across the sky***.  It’s more like having fewer pebbles in your shoes or fewer unmitigated morons giving you blood-pressure headaches.   Over the course of the next few days you realise that your shoes are comfy again and most of the morons are only morons and you can ignore them.  It’s subtle enough that I periodically fall out of the habit of going, and it’s not till I rack myself up again and have to go back so she can tease my spine out of its granny knots and level my pelvis till my legs start behaving like they’re more or less the same length again—or the ME starts shoving me back on the sofa—that I remember why I go even when I’m not crippled.

            I’ve off and on tried to persuade Peter to go to Tabitha too but he belongs to the Stoic No Fuss category of British male—but I got him while his defenses were down a few months ago after that bad fall he had.  For a while I took him along oftener than I needed to go, and lately we’ve settled into a nice monthly double act.  The last two appointments I’ve brought hellhounds too and we are exploring a fresh new piece of Hampshire countryside I’ve previously only driven through while Peter is on Tabitha’s table.  And then if she’s running late I knit.  Mmm.  What a pity this only happens once a month. 

Meanwhile it’s high summer, and the fabulous, paradisal, dizzying glut of high-summer fruit is upon us.  I’m eating handfuls of cherries, nectarines and peaches for breakfast every day and it makes getting out of bed WORTH it.  Which is saying a lot.  I mean, caffeine is crucial, but the joy it occasions is a rather grim, real-world variety.  Summer sweet cherries . . . convince me that the Elysian Fields and Valhalla and so on do exist.  Nothing to do with swords and willing virgins though—but it’s a lot about food.  Some of you may or may not remember that when I first started posting recipes I said that this was going to be a good opportunity to dust off old once-loved recipes of things I can no longer eat . . . but in fact I almost never do post any of these because as I’m leafing through my books and notebooks I get all cranky and resentful about my limitations.  Also, summer fruit is so amazing fresh off the tree or the bush or the wings of the angel that it’s mostly criminal or at least superfluous to mess with it.  But I did use occasionally to make cherry ice cream and I’m feeling so mellow after a dose of Tabitha that I thought I’d post the recipe.†

Cherry (Almond) Ice Cream

2/3 c milk

1 egg plus one extra yolk

½ c granulated sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

1 lb sweet cherries

1 ounce slivered almonds

2/3 c whipping cream

Scald milk, set aside to cool.  Mix the egg and the yolk in the top of a double boiler/bain marie with the sugar and beat like mad, till it turns pale and ribbons off the spoon.  (Your electric mixer is your friend.)    Pour on the slightly cooled milk;  place over gently simmering water and stir till thick.  Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool.

            Stone your cherries.  Ugh.  This is the worst bit.  You will need more than a pound, of course, because you’ll eat some of them to sustain morale.  I’m not sure how to allow for this, since the original weight includes the stones, which you are discarding.  Make your best guess.  The original recipe tells you to put the stoned bits in a food processor and buzz them to puree, but I think this is unsporting.  I just kind of rip them up some in the stoning process.  You do want enough pulp to turn your ice cream red, but I don’t think you can avoid this with dark expoding-sweet high-summer cherries.  Stir them, in whatever form, into the custard.  Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks.  Fold into the cherry mixture.  Pour the lot into your ice cream maker and do what it tells you to do to produce ice cream.

            While your custard is becoming ice cream, toast your almonds.  The original recipe tells you to fold them into the finished ice cream, but unless you’re going to eat it all in one go, I wouldn’t;  the almonds will go soft.  I sprinkle them on per serving.  This will, I admit, probably mean that you need more almonds, but hey. 

* * *

* She looked back in her big fat McKinley folder today and we realised I’ve been coming to see her for ten years.  Intellectually I know this;  someone had recommended her as a straightforward physical massage therapist when I was having repetitive-strain trouble with my hands as a result of the ME.^  But—ten years!  I know there are people who live their entire lives within a few miles of where they were born, but I’m a Navy brat and my reincarnation as a middle-aged stay-at-home still regularly amazes me.  And I’m coming up on my twenty year anniversary here—with Peter as of 26th of this month, with England the end of October—and our 20th wedding anniversary is the 3rd of January.  I actually do love looking out at the same landscape year after year—groundedness, what a concept, I like it—but it’s one more thing that makes me feel that my life before the age of 38 happened to someone else.  

^ Not only am I extremely relieved that my ME has turned out to be the negotiable-with variety but I’m very glad not to have to go through that early learning-to-negotiate phase again.  A lot of you, unfortunately, will know what I’m talking about:  that first really harsh running-into-a-wall experience.  I went from being someone who ran 25-30 miles a week, rode horses, hurtled hounds, rang bells, and dug up old tree stumps in order to put more rose-beds in, to someone who couldn’t get off the godsblasted sofa.  Dear heavens.  The shock and bewilderment are almost as bad as the fact.  And with the zero energy comes a whole lorryload of other nonsense, which in my case included aching hands.

** That would be £631,592.12, which doesn’t quite have the ring to it.  But then a million dollars doesn’t really have the ring to it any more either.  A trillion dollars.  £631,592,128.80:  Feel like six hundred thirty-one million, five hundred ninety-two thousand, one hundred twenty-eight pounds and eighty pence. . . . No, it’ll never catch on. 

*** I have hellhounds.  I’d do a better job than that vainglorious wuss Phaethon.  

† I have a chocolate cherry ice cream recipe somewhere.  Although it may not be suitable for a family blog.


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