August 12, 2016

Soup etc [PINK *]

Because the title box won’t take colours?  WHY?  —ed

So I made a ginormous pot of soup. Duh. Now one is not at one’s best coming off a gratuitous insult to one’s body like stomach flu and I haven’t been at my best in some time full stop* but it’s like I couldn’t grasp the concept of vegan broth as being suitable for consideration.  Chicken soup and flat ginger ale for queasy stomachs.**  If you can’t have that you are lost utterly in a hostile wilderness of deep-fried crullers, Pringles and maraschino cherries.  It took several people posting or sending me either vegetable soup recipes or links to vegetable soup recipes for the tiny rattletrap cogs to connect and start clinking around in my brain.  Very, very slightly in my defense I fell out of the soup habit with a thud when my freezer died***, although it’s embarrassing to admit that when Georgia and Shea were here a couple of months ago and we were talking about food and cooking and related goals, I said my next ambition was to start making my own vegetable stock.†

Well. So I NOW HAVE A FREEZER.  What am I WAITING FOR.  So I made a ginormous stock pot of cabbage soup††, saved some for now, put the rest through the blender and put it in the shiny new freezer in useful little 1-cup wodges.  I’m so clever. And efficient.†††  With a little help from my friends.  To whom thanks all.

* * *

* However I am having my first voice lesson in yonks and yonks^ and I’m starting up with the Sam[aritans] too. I am GOING to have a life again.  I am.^^

^ I was trying to figure what to take in to Nadia. I’m still singing some of my favourite arias but it’s mostly folk songs.  And I realised with some embarrassment that the things I’m most likely not to screw up totally are a handful of hymns to folk-song tunes.  I think I’m trying to exorcise all that frelling Jesus Is My Boyfriend music that I not only sing but help lead every Sunday as an anti-crying device.  Okay, it does stop me crying, but At What Cost.

^^ Including writing stories. Not only because I need the money.  The thing from forty years ago that was derailing me?  It’s still derailing me.  It’s kind of interesting though.  Um.

** Or beef broth and Saltines, or whatever is the folk wisdom in your neck of the woods.^

^ Which is a bizarre phrase.  Just by the way.,5753,-22668,00.html%E2%80%8E

*** I live in a world of tiny autonomous under-counter appliances. When my freezer died it did not take my refrigerator with it.^

^ Although there have been some pretty redolent Appliance Follies concerning the Lodge. My little freezer died when I moved it to the Lodge—elderly freezers apparently don’t like being moved, I only need one (tiny) freezer and I’d rather have the space at the cottage for the hellterror’s crate.+  I had to buy a refrigerator and a washing machine for the Lodge anyway so what’s another expensive appliance when you’re running out of money.++  I found a fridge+++ and freezer I liked but the freezer was out of stock at my retailer of choice so I made the fatal error of trying to buy it from idiots who never consulted me about delivery but kept sending me chirpy emails saying, Your freezer is scheduled to be delivered between 5 am and 11 pm next Wednesday, please be there to let them in!  ARRRRRRGH.  Next Wednesday is not a good day, can we DISCUSS THIS PLEASE?  New chirpy email:  your freezer is scheduled to be delivered between 4:30 am and 11:34 pm next Friday, please be there to let them in!  I eventually frelling cancelled and then hung around till it came back in stock at the retailer with the customer service department which is what I should have done in the first place.++++

And then there was the washing machine chronicle. I had a fancy to have this effectively second washing machine big enough really to take a double duvet, instead of only pretending to be big enough in standard washing machine bumf.+++++  There are a few 10 kg machines around, but when you start trying to buy one it turns out there aren’t, unless you want to spend £15K on a gilt-edged one to match your gilt-edged twelve-burner Aga and your gilt-edged SUV that takes up two and a half parking spaces.  Well, maybe there are one or two for the hoi polloi.  I tried to buy one of these.  One of them turned out to be only 9 kg on closer inspection—truth in advertising, ahem—and then there was the fascinating two-for-one disappearing model.  Even customer service couldn’t figure this one out and had to ring me back.  Okay, it’s an old one and the new replacement model.  And the new replacement model has worse water and electricity ratings than the old one, because people with SUVs were complaining that the programmes take too long.  These people probably don’t believe in global warming either.  ARRRRRGH.

Oh, and neither model was available.

I think I made some snarling noises. And I think my customer service person was trying not to laugh.  Let me see what I can do, she said.

They found me a washing machine. One of the old slow eco-friendlier model.  And I haven’t tried a duvet yet but yes, the biggest of the hellmob beds fits.

+ Little did I know that the space situation was about to become acute after my plumbers laid £800 worth of useless pipe through my kitchen. Regular readers will remember this story.  Pretty much the entire available floor is now hellmob bedding, although this does make it more comfortable to lie down on when I’m having a bad day.  I am of course remarkably furry when I stand up again but Yeti answering the door when it’s someone who wants to sell me something# is quite useful for scaring them off.  If I’m having a bad day grunting in a Yeti-like manner, if they don’t scare fast enough, is easy too.

# Including God. I may have said this to you before?  I now wear a cross, and I find it disconcerting to be (metaphorically) embraced as a sister by the kinds of Christ merchants that cold call.  This usually makes the conversation shorter without any effort on my part because they bustle off to harangue someone less well defended, but occasionally they want to stay and chat about theology and . . . I don’t share much theology with my own congregation~, I do not want to get into sticky points of Scripture with random evangelical strangers at my door.

~ Hums a little tune and bends lower over her knitting

++ Because life is like this, I presently have three would-be buyers supposedly about to make me an offer on Third House.  After this particular bit of fatuity is over with# I’m going to take it off the market and let it.  Which is another saga.

# Which is to say that I am expecting offers of two shillings sixpence, two shillings eight pence, and one decision to move to the Caribbean.  But post-Brexit, I should be grateful that someone is willing to take it off my hands.  Um.  No.~

~ I will not get into all the interesting stories right now about the real estate market galumphing through the zeitgeist and trampling the slow and unwary under large hairy feet.

+++ Note that the new, CHEAP fridge is much nicer than the way more expensive one I bought for the cottage several years ago because several years ago we were apparently in an anti-under-counter appliance era and this was what I could get. Bosch is overrated:  pass it on.  Of course I don’t yet know how long the new CHEAP fridge is going to last, and the Bosch is now having its life shortened by hellmob bedding getting jammed up against its fan, motor, dorgligfast and gluppermeyer# which are of course floor level and exposed to the elements, including the 85% ambient fur and lots of well-scrabbled blankets.

# The hellterror has her butt squashed against the gluppermeyer right now. I’ll move her as soon as it starts making protesting noises.

++++ This is John Lewis, by the way, for British readers. I know they screw up too, but I’ve never had them not unscrew up, and they’ve had plenty of opportunity for me to put them on my (lengthy) pond scum list, and they’ve never taken it.

+++++ I’ve been cranky for years, since I’m good at cranky, that I had to buy an 8 kg drum machine when my old 6 died, because apparently they don’t make 6s any more.  I’m ONE PERSON.  I have an ENTIRE DRAWER of white t shirts because I RUN OUT before I have enough whites to fill a frelling 8 kg drum machine. ARRRRRGH.  And to add insult to injury, 8 kg is nothing LIKE big enough to wash a duvet.  Sure, you can cram it in, but it comes out in exactly the same folds and creases that you used to wedge it in in the first place and the only thing that’s clean is the soap dispenser.  The big proper dog beds won’t fit in either.  Most of my mob’s bedding is easy because it’s old blankets. Hairy but easy.  But the point of this story is that the cottage’s washing machine is too big for my ordinary purposes and too small for the extraordinary.  GOOD SYSTEM, WASHING MACHINE DESIGNERS.  MAY ALL YOUR BOTTLES OF WINE BE CORKED.

† I do not know why it is that proprietary stock pretty much always has Weird Crap in it, not, I realise, that the weirdness registers with normal humans. But hydrolized vegetable protein?  Are you freaking joking?  Even Kallo’s organic stock cubes have sugar in them three times,^ plus maize starch, which is evil.

^ Um, why??

†† Well, standard contents-of-refrigerator stock, you know? What’s in there that needs eating, especially after you’ve lost the plot a bit.  Cabbage, onion, carrot, celery, lovely Shiitake mushrooms^, the huge bag of fresh basil I was going to make pesto out of^^, and I forget what all.  Garlic.  Always garlic.  And a big handful of dry herbs for the last ten minutes.  The result was, if I do say so myself, rather delicious.

^ The anti-rheumatism diet doesn’t allow ordinary mushrooms but Shiitake are actually GOOD for you.

^^ I am motivated to make [vegan] pesto.  And I’m nearly through my last huge jar.


* This was supposed to have gone up last night, of course, and my so-called broadband connection wasn’t having any. ARRRRRGH.  Meanwhile it’s going up this late tonight because I had that FIRST VOICE LESSON today^ and it was EXCELLENT.  Not, I have to say, in terms of the beauty and accuracy of any noises I was making ::shudder:: but the excellence of being under Nadia’s tutelage again, and the way she starts sorting me out IMMEDIATELY, and sends me away with stuff I can do. This post is already too long, but let me just say in passing . . . as an anti-crying expedient, as previously observed, singing for service works a treat.  As a likelihood that stage nerves will make all my shutting-down and stiffening-up habits worse it’s a sure frelling thing.  Sigh. —ed

^ But by the time I got home not only was I STARVING+ the hellmob was all TAKE US OUT. TAKE US OUT NOW. WE’RE BORED. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN.++

+ Singing is a sport. Like marathon running.

++ In the first place every road in the area is torn up for roadworks AND the main road is blocked because of some festering doodah festival so it took nearly twice as long both to get there and get back.  In the second place . . . the problem with Nadia’s new studio is that it requires me to drive past our excellent not-quite-local-enough-to-be-dangerous-except-if-I’m-going-to-see-Nadia rose nursery.  And I may have stopped and bought a rose.


Chicken, apples and cream



Behind is good. Farther away from the FRONT is GOOD. Also, it turns out, good is the awful spotlights that frelling BLIND YOU. It means you can’t really see the congregation.

Yes. Never underestimate the calming power of bright lights in your eyes. Congregation? What congregation?

Yay for having fun with singing!!! And when you do write that power ballad, I want to hear it.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.  And here I thought you were going to say something all helpful* and knows-way-more-about-music-than-I-do.  Fie.

But . . . I’m pretty sure it was you, a long time ago now, posted to the forum asking about Maggie’s mom’s chicken, apples and cream recipe.**  I TORE MY KITCHEN APART*** looking for the frelling recipe and had just about decided that it must have been in one of the cookbooks I’d got rid of when I went off dairy—probably one of the Shaker cookbooks.  You know all these clean pure lines of Shaker furniture and houses and how they dressed simply and were celibate and so on?  THEY MAKE UP FOR IT IN THE FOOD.  If there was ever massive sublimation going on Shaker food is it.  Or anyway the several Shaker cookbooks I had in my twenties and thirties† were ALL cream and butter and thick gooey sauces and . . . glorious.††  Although it helps if you have a really fast metabolism and/or regularly save the world which is usually a high-calorie undertaking.†††  The rest of us have to have a week’s detox on lettuce and water after every foray.  Even if I hadn’t gone off dairy twenty years ago I’d’ve had to get rid of my Shaker cookbooks when I hit menopause and my metabolism said, nice knowing you.  Going to sleep now for several decades.

BUT I FOUND IT.  CHICKEN, APPLES AND CREAM.  YAAAAAAY.  From the notes in the margins there was at least one other recipe I had already tried—which probably was in one of those lost Shaker cookbooks—but I know I used this one too.  It’s been so long since I’ve made it I can’t remember much about it except that it’s good.  The original is from COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau which I’ve praised in these virtual pages before.  I think it’s a lovely cookbook and it should have been a fabulous best-seller and still in print.  But it’s not—still in print, anyway.

2-3 T slightly salted butter

1 large sweet onion

2 medium-sized sour/cooking apples:  popularity was busy ruining Granny Smiths when I moved over here:  when they first hit the ground running they were the perfect all-purpose apple, not too sour to eat if you like brisk but excellent in pies and so on too.  So I’m not sure what you Americans use now.  I used Bramleys when I first moved over here‡ but they are VERY SOUR.  Also, Bramleys tend to HUGE.  You’ll probably only want one Bramley.  Anyway.  Choose your weapon.  Then core, peel, slice.  You know the drill.

3 T flour

1 c good strong chicken stock.  Either make it yourself or buy proper stock in the refrigerator section of your grocery.

½ c heavy cream‡‡

4 c chopped cooked chicken‡‡‡

Melt the butter, gently fry your fine-chopped onion.  Add apples and go on cooking gently.  If you’re using Bramleys be aware that they get fluffy if they’re cooked too enthusiastically.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir till you get something resembling a lumpy roux—all those apples and onions in the way.  Then slowly add the stock and cream.  As I recall I added it alternately in bits—so half the stock, stir till it’s all taken up, then the cream, stir etc, then the final stock.  It’ll be much thinner, obviously, but it should still be a proper thick sauce.

Add the chicken and heat through.

You’ll need some salt:  add how you like it.  You may want pepper.  I don’t but then I’m not eating this, am I?  You can think of me and feel superior.§

* * *

* I need to learn how to change key signatures and how to write a descant.  Okay?

** SHADOWS.  For those of you still waiting in the loan queue at your library.^

^ Suggest they buy more copies.

*** It did not, in fact, look a great deal different than before I started the tearing process.

† Before I went off everything that was fun besides tea, chocolate and champagne

†† I was just googling Shaker recipes and there seems to be some revisionism going on.  Simple pure lines of Shaker cooking.  Hmm.  Okay.

††† Ask Kes.

‡ I sashayed back and forth over the ‘no dairy’ line for a while till my body convinced me that it meant NO DAIRY.

‡ Oh frell.  US/UK translation problems.  I think if you’re in the UK you want what’s called ‘whipping cream’.  I’ve just been pestering google and that seems to be the consensus.  I too fell into the ‘double cream’ trap.  The UK is just cream mad.  Which is why I started falling off the no-dairy wagon when I moved over here.  Clotted cream.  Be still my heart.  SIIIIIIIIGH.  I’m old and mean now though.  I’m used to my bitter privation.

‡‡‡ The original recipe calls for shredded chicken.  Ugh.  You can also just joint your chicken.  It makes quite a nice presentation if you arrange your chicken pieces on a platter, pour the sauce over and artfully arrange a few slices of raw apple on top—not Bramley.  People die of intense shrivelling by eating raw Bramleys.  This method also saves all that chopping time.  You could knit several rows in the time you didn’t spend chopping.

§ I CAN STILL EAT BUTTER.  With black tea, champagne, chocolate and BUTTER, my life is not a desert.

The I Hate to Cookbook, revisited


Years and years and years and half a lifetime ago when I had only just started this blog*, I brought up the subject of Peg Bracken’s classic of the culinary art, The I Hate to Cookbook,** as a result of having just read her obituary***.  Now I started teaching myself to cook at the relatively tender age of thirteen, and discovered I liked it, but I still have pretty much always agreed that ‘life’s too short to stuff a mushroom’†.  And when I was thirteen life was serious and the idea of having a family to feed every day—and in the midsixties girls were growing up with the idea that that was their future:  this may be what we rebelled against, but that’s precisely because it was what was in our way—was pretty overwhelming.††  Peg Bracken was hot in those days, her recipes worked, and furthermore she was funny.†††  Hey!  It’s not all June Cleaver!‡  Pass it on!

            And, thinking back to those days, the paragraph that caught my attention in the obituary, and which I probably quoted the last time‡‡, was this:  ‘Bracken received short shrift from the first half-dozen editors, all men, whom she approached.  They neither sympathised with [her cookbook’s] subversion nor thought American women unhappy with their lot.  Similarly, when she showed the manuscript to her second husband, the writer Roderick Lull, he remarked:  “It stinks.”‡‡‡  Its value was not appreciated until she found a woman editor [boldface mine] at Harcourt Brace.’ Um-hmm.  And it sold over 3 million copies.

            My original mid-60s paperback disappeared or disintegrated long ago.  It probably went with one of my early purist purges.  But the obituary reminded me what a hoot she was, and while my diet these days is so holy it hurts§, I started trying to track down a copy of the then-out-of-print cookbook.  And found one:  yaay.  Which happened to be a reprint of the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, with an Introduction to the Introduction which begins:  ‘When they informed me that twenty-five years have elapsed since The I Hate to Cook Book appeared, I was astonished.  Only think!  Twenty-five long years, some longer than others.  Well, some of them shorter than others too, come to think of it.  But anyway, twenty-five of them, all kinds, and it just goes to show what can happen when you’re not paying attention.’

            ::Blink.::  Why does this feel so familiar?  So, I’ve spent the last two and a half years thinking ‘I should blog about this again.  Because I have found a formative influence.  When I started the blog, was I thinking, Anais Nin? §§  Virginia Woolf?§§§  May Sarton?#  No.  Clearly I aspired to the dizzyingly high standards of frittery and piffle of Peg Bracken.  And here’s the clincher:  she uses footnotes.  Yes!  Footnotes!  I admit she doesn’t use as many as I do## but she uses them in a stimulating manner. ###

            So imagine my pleasure and delight when this appeared on my Twitter feed yesterday: 

PublishersWkly The “I Hate to Cook Book” turns 50 with a new anniversary edition 

            Will I buy it?  Probably.  I hope they kept the Hilary Knight illustrations.  Of their time?  Sure.  But so is Bracken.  Not all of it will translate—and I wouldn’t miss it, for example, if they edit out the peanut butter and ketchup canapé spread~—but I feel that a paragraph like this is timeless:  ‘Some people, so they tell me, can’t make good pastry.  I see no reason to doubt them.  Some people can’t keep their eyes open under water, either.  We all have our mental blocks to play with.’~~ 

* * *

* That would be September 2007.  A very long time ago.  I wasn’t even ringing Stedman yet.  Well, at least not successfully. 

** I did blog about it.  I did.  But lj’s search is refusing to find it for me, and I don’t feel like wrestling with its extremely uncooperative calendar.  Thanks, lj!  I so don’t miss you! 

*** Gods, I looove the internet when it works.  Here’s the link to the one I read:   Also quoted in the Bracken obituary.  I don’t know if Shirley Conran read Peg Bracken, but I would like to think they’d have got on like a house on fire.   Or like two women who knew they had better things to do than stuff mushrooms.^ 

^ Although, yes.  I have.  I have gone through occasional phases of (pretty strictly culinary only) domestic goddesshood in which I not only read but applied chapters of cookbooks that during more stringent eras I wouldn’t have gone near.  The crucial word in that sentence however is through.  There are all kinds of things you might want to try once or twice for the experience+ even if you aren’t going to make a habit of them.  I haven’t stuffed any mushrooms since I started bell ringing, say.  And really if I’m going to be silly in the kitchen I’d rather be silly with icing and cookie cutters.  

+ Driving 1000 miles in three days on a 350cc two stroke motorcycle with no windscreen, for example.  Not sleeping (or breathing, much) for seven days while waiting to see if that English bloke was going to figure out that I was his future or not.  And stuffing mushrooms. 

††  Did you ever see Audrey Hepburn in a kitchen?  Okay, there are a couple of passing references to cordon bleu omelettes in Sabrina, but did she ever make one?  

††† Sample chapter titles:  The Leftover, or Every Family Needs a Dog^;  Potluck Suppers, or How to Bring the Water for the Lemonade;  Stealing from Knowledgeable People, or I Seen Her When She Done It But I Never Let On. 

^ Not a hellhound, clearly 

‡ Or Miss Moneypenny!  Or Nurse Chapel!  Or any other subservient, hero-fixated girlie!  You can cook and have kids or YOU CAN BE PATHETIC AND UNFULFILLED!  Having a profession DOES NOT COUNT!  Grrrrrrr. 

‡‡ But that was a long time ago, so you won’t mind. 

‡‡‡ I’m glad she divorced him.

 § Except for the tea, the chocolate and the champagne.  Thank you, gods, for this loophole in my undesired and unenjoyed salubriousness.   

§§ NO. 

§§§ NOOO. 


## She wasn’t writing a daily blog, okay?  I’m sure she would have if she had been. 

### This one, for example:  ‘The recipe calls for “good mayonnaise,” a term that always makes me feel truculent as well as defensive.  What kind do they think you buy? . . .’  This reminds me of one of my favourite cookbook comments, which is nailed in my memory to Bracken, except I can’t imagine her ever telling you how to make yeast bread, protesting the standard yeast-bread instruction to cover your rising sponge ‘with a clean towel’.  You’re going to cover it with a dirty towel?  Indeed. 

~ Yeccch.  Even if it did appear in a footnote. 

~~ Or this paragraph, plus footnotes, which appears at the end:  ‘Like a love affair, a cookbook is probably easier to get into than out of.  At the end of both, sins of commission and omission loom large. . . . Is the chocolate sauce really that good?^  . . . Shouldn’t there have been some mention of brunches? ^^ . . .’ 

^ Yes. 

^^ No.



The rest of this week is a Hideous Social Round.  I have a novel to finish, you guys.  Why do people have to go on holiday in the summer?  Why are novels due the ends of summers?  Why is the autumn season the one you want your new novel published in?  Why does it take a year for a book to make it through production and show up in the shops? 

            So I had a friend here for tea.  And I’m plying her with muffins and scones and tea bread and things* and she’s very appreciative and has seconds and so on and then she starts telling me that she knows that the reason I had her for tea is because I don’t know how to cook real food.**   She also reads the blog.  She says I have never posted any recipes with any redeeming social virtues whatsoever. 

            I started to get all shirty and then I thought . . . uh.  She’s probably right.  I admit I haven’t checked but . . . I don’t really want to know that I’ve never posted anything with, oh, say, chicken in it.  I thought about this all through bell ringing.***  By the time I got home again, after all that intensive thinking about food, I was ready to eat my laptop.  I am having scrambled eggs with smoked salmon instead.

            But I am going to post a recipe with chicken in it. 

            Many, many years ago, when I still ate more or less like a normal person, I bought a Shaker cookbook.  You know all those old Shaker buildings with their clean pure lines and the lovely spare leanness of their furniture?  They make up for it in the food.  It’s all cream sauces.  It’s quite extraordinary.  Just holding the book in your hands you can feel your belt getting tighter.  I love cream sauces.  Just by the way. 

            And then I went off dairy.  Frell.  So I had a fairly major cookbook clear-out and the Shaker is one of the ones that left me forever†. 

            A few years after that another friend gave me a copy of a cookbook I think I’ve cited here before:  COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau.  It’s got all kinds of winsome stuff in it.  Including a recipe that reminded me of all my lost cream-sauce darlings in the old Shaker book.  When I used still to go off the rails in a dairy direction, this is one of the recipes I would plunge toward.  And as I was pulling on a bell rope this evening†† and thinking about food, I remembered both this recipe and my promise, or threat, to post Food I Have Loved But Can No Longer Eat here.  So this is my version of Ruth Cousineau’s verson of:

 Chicken and Apples in Cream 

2 T lightly salted butter

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 normal sized or 1 monster Bramley sour cooking apple(s), sliced

2-3T flour

few drops tamari (good soy sauce)

1 c chicken stock

½ c heavy cream

1-2 T white wine.  Make this the day after you’ve had a good bottle of white, and save the dregs. 

2 c chopped cooked chicken.  I like it in fairly large chunks with lots of sauce.  Adjust to preference. 

Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, till soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, till softened, again about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle on flour and stir.  Cook a few minutes, till brown and gungy, add stock, cream and tamari.  Cook 3-5 minutes, till thick and homogenous;  then add wine.  Start with 1T and see if you like the consistency/texture.  I always want a second T.  I have been known to use 4T flour and ¼ c wine.  In which case you may want to add a little more cream.  The sauce is good over many vegetables too, if you happen to find yourself with an excess.  Add the chicken and heat through. 

* * *

 * I would kill for a piece of lardy cake.  Have I said this before?  Probably.  Lardy cake haunts my dreams.   But it’s basically sugar and lard stuck together with a little flour and a few raisins and a single piece of lardy cake would be my calorie ration for about a week.  I hate menopause.  I used just to have lardy cake when I met friends for tea—I used to know all the best lardy cake cafes and delis in this area—at least I had sufficient sense never to learn how to make the stuff.  A whole sheet of lardy cake . . . mind boggling.  Waistline boggling. 

**  The real reason I have people over for tea instead of supper is because I’m probably bell ringing during normal supper hours.  

*** Of course I went bell ringing, in spite of expending several hours over tea with a friend and having a novel to finish.  I have priorities.  Wednesday evening priority is bell ringing.  We were rather overwhelmed with beginners tonight, including a brand new eight year old.   Eight years old is the bottom limit:  no eight years, no ring.  As handed down by the Central Council.  This girl is about the size of a speck of dust but her mum—Marilyn—says she’s been talking about being old enough to ring for months so she had to be given a shot at it.  She was fine.  I’ve been telling Marilyn she’d be fine.  She’s a very sturdy and determined speck of dust. 

† Although it went to a good home with a friend who still ate cream sauces and I hope they’ve been very happy together. 

†† Wild Robert made me call a touch of Grandsire!  No, no!  You must be talking to some other Robin!  Blah gleb urb arrgh blah!  I’ve called I think one touch of bob doubles in my life!  —I made a mess of it of course.

The Grandness of Life


 I think I may be coming down with Niall’s flu.  Isn’t.  Life.  Grand. 

However, I can at least give you my eggnog recipe.   I realise eggnog is another of those divisive subjects:  there are people who are totally creeped out by the idea of ingesting raw egg;  there are people who prefer their eggnog to be a, you know, drink, as opposed to another deadly sin*.  And then there are those of us who think there isn’t any point to eggnog unless you need to serve it in shot glasses . . . with spoons, because it doesn’t actually pour very well.  I belong to the last category. 

            And somewhere out there someone will make this and love it the way I loved it back in the days I could frelling drink it, and I will therefore have Passed On The Torch.**  Yaay.

 Killer Eggnog 

6 eggs, separated.  Obviously you want eggs so fresh the hen is still only a few inches away

12T ordinary granulated sugar

1 c heavy cream

1 c light cream

1 c whole/full-fat milk

½  tsp vanilla

 Beat yolks very well with 6T sugar in a big enough bowl to hold everything.  Put whites in blender, blend till frothy;  add second 6T sugar gradually, beat till they’re starting to hold their shape.  Add heavy cream and vanilla;  blend again.  Add light cream and milk and blend one last time–but very gently, because the blender is by now very full.  Pour this slowly into the yolks and whisk like mad.  This is the moment to add booze, if you want booze.  I almost never did because I was usually serving it early in the day.  Before people knew what hit them.***  And there would be an awful lot of various booze later. 

And, speaking of it being the 21st of December: 

The John Calvin chocolates are pretty riveting, but be sure to click through and see the other six top picks.  If you aren’t busy gumming your fingers together with festive Christmas tape*** or removing the cat from the Christmas tree (again). 

* * *

 * The classic seven only scratches the surface, you know 

** And My Work Here Is Done.  As soon as I get the fifty-three novels I know about written.  There may be a few more I won’t notice till I clear out the backlog a little more.  But just presently I’m feeling a little pass on the torch and let me expire in peace -ish.  What I need is another glass of champagne.  The bubbles settle my stomach.  They do, you know, although I daresay ginger ale would work just as well (phooey).

*** It went extremely well with the Christmas Morning Coffeecake.  It amazes me sometimes that I lived to get old. 

 Whose idea was this?  And why did I buy it?

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