So, this is indeed Part 2 of what I did in the two weeks the best beloved was digging up (very small) pieces of roman history.
And it is a litany of failure I’m afraid – there are by contrast just a couple of things which I can recount with an iota of pride.
But then, that is so often, my life – the 80/20 rule.
(I am going to keep the glimmers of self satisfaction until later as by then I might well need to boost a very flagging sense of self worth.
And if you are one of those people who believe wholeheartedly in being so very positive about yourself, you might want to look away now.)
Firstly, there were the crab apples.
You can’t buy crab apples in the shops, not even at organic, local, grocers.
So, given that we have a crab apple tree I do feel obliged to harvest them and make crab apple jelly – as far as I know there are no other recipes for crab apples.
Anyway, for the first couple of years we were here, it was an autumnal delight, but then became an obligatory chore. ( It is the business of having to get the ‘mush’ to drain through muslim bags overnight and then boil up and etc etc etc…)
So, last year, I gathered them up, simmered them into a mush and put them in the freezer, thinking that I would make the jelly sometime when I was not so busy – later in the autumn.
Yes, indeed dear reader, that overnight dripping day never quite arrived and two large bags of mushed crab apples filled up a goodly part of the freezer until last week.
So, I got them out, defrosted them, hung them to drip and felt a small amount of satisfaction that I had not succumbed to binning them and getting on with the rest of my life.
The next morning – and I would like to remind you that this dripping involves muslim bags hanging from broom handles wedged between chairs all over the kitchen – there was about an inch of crab apple syrup.
Clearly, they do not take well to freezing for nearly a year.
Not enough to make a decent jar’s worth and I had, of course, steralized quite a lot of jars.
The mush went in the bin – which with the benefit of hindsight…..
At least I tried with the crab apples.
I like a pedometer, it makes me do my 10,000 steps. I am not interested in a Fitbit or similar, just want to know the steps.
The one I had got very, very wet at the outdoor event I did a couple of weeks ago and it really wasn’t up to the rain – so I ordered another one and it arrived. See below for how wet it was.
Can I get it – something really quite simple – set up to my stride. Well of course I could if my brother-in-law who is techy and usually does it on an occasional trip from York, hadn’t been inconsiderately on holiday in Greece.
I have shoved it and its instructions into the back of a notebook. But I have a plan to go into the nice techy boys in Carphone Warehouse in town and claim I have forgotten my glasses so can’t see the instructions and could they just help me, even though it is not a phone, but I am a customer…
So, this week, my oldest friends came down to stay the night and I invited local good friends for supper.
The garden had had some attention on Sunday but it really needed the grass cut to look anywhere near tidy.
The best beloved has always cut the grass. I dimly recall in the early days of our relationship thinking that this was something I should fight and that it was utterly ridiculous to assume men had to cut the grass.
Indeed, telling this to a friend who would not call herself a feminist as I do, she said, ‘I’d never let my husband cut the grass, he’s rubbish at it.’
For the first 45 years of my life, I cut the grass. But somehow, over the last seven years, that has slipped into being something the man does.
‘What!’ I hear you cry, ‘Did you not remind yourself of your feminism and bloody well cut the grass – for heaven’s sake it is hardly brain surgery. You just get the mower out and get on with it.”
But no, I asked my oldest friend if she would ask her husband – I was too embarrassed to ask him directly – if he would do it.
And he did. And it looks great and yes, of course, I am grateful and ashamed.
I have a plan to cut it next week and restore my sense of grass-cutting self – but will I ?
But then, if that was not enough, the old friend came in from cutting the grass and asked why did my Twitter account direct everyone to another Reluctant Housewife, who lives in America and writes about Walmart?
‘No idea, ‘ I said, and indeed I didn’t.
He is also a techy person so I asked him to investigate.
After a while he said, ‘ I don’t understand why this would happen.’ Then after some more time, he said, ‘ You listed The Relucant Housewife.’
I was never one for details….
So, to boost my flagging ego, I will point out that I was, meanwhile, making a nice meal.
Get some nice brisket. It is a slow cooking meat and brown it. Then roll it in fennel seed and dried oregano.
‘What,’ I again hear you cry, ‘they are not herbs for beef.’
Live with me on that, and indeed I added bay leaves. You could do more traditional beef herbs if you liked.
Put the brisket back in a casserole – mine is a Le Creuset given to me by my mother who first imported them when I went off to university and I have been using it ever since – and add the better part of a bottle of red wine and some decent bought beef stock.
Bring up to a simmer/near boil.
Leave to cook at a low oven for a long time – like five hours.
Meanwhile, slice up some really nice tomatoes. ( Actually some were from my garden thanks to good friends who suggested using a tin bath as a veg garden.)
Pulverise some anchovies, washed capers and black olives.
When the meat is cooked, and rested, put the sliced tomatoes on a large plate. Add anchovy stuff. Put slices of meat on top.
Oh, I should have said, cook some oven chips and have them ready.
I had also made a polenta and orange cake and served with marscapone… but hey you don’t want to hear about that.
And today, in Oxfam, I sorted out the DVDs.
Now I know that doesn’t sound much but it was – and I could bore you with how much that matters in terms of getting our new ‘ film’ volunteer underway …. and how different there before photo would have looked.
But this is already far too many words so I will leave that out of my list of things I am not ashamed of.