Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Café

Recipe for Happiness in Karbaraovsk or anyplace

One good boulevard with trees
with one grand café in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you

One fine day
- 1972

PS: The tomates are ripening like gangbusters at last - all is right with the world

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A curious but seriously brilliant sauce for pork

I have brought home seemingly half a hog from The Sister’s engagement party and we have now – nearly – had our fill of hot pork and apple sauce sandwiches (with mayo of course). So what to do with the rest of it? I mentally flicked between a Thai-inspired curry with some not-very-tasty melon I found in the fridge and a ragu-style sauce for pasta but found neither particularly epicurean-ly satisfying. Then I hit upon the idea of something quite salty-savoury (oven-roasted cubes of potatoes with plenty of seasoning) against a backdrop of fruity-sweet. This is what I came up with.

Fry a chopped onion in a little butter and oil until golden and caramelised and deeply sweet. Stir in a mere tsp of flour as a thickener, cook out for a couple of minutes then pour in about 250ml red wine. (I’m trying to give precise amounts but mostly I just do this by eye). Add in a sprig or two of rosemary and reduce the wine to almost a syrupy consistency. Then pour in around 250-300ml chicken stock and reduce again until the sauce is the consistency and flavour you like. At this point I then threw in a good handful of halved seedless black grapes and – and I realise this is a curio but it was a blinding move – a tbsp of mulberry vinegar. Lacking that particular vinegar, I’d experiment with a fruity balsamic perhaps – anything with a sweet-sharp edge. Let the grapes soften and then season the sauce. Lay your slices of hog in to re-heat.

I served with those salty little potatoes and the first cavalo nero of the season (gulp) sweated in a little butter and garlic.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Um… I don’t think so…

Taken from Dr Miriam Stoppard’s Conception, Pregnancy and Birth (1993)

Childbirth Classes: Techniques to get you through labour

‘Systematic desensitization: You gradually become more tolerant of pain. (Oh, what miracle drug/pain relief system is this, I hear you cry). An example used in many classes is your coach pinching your leg very hard (eh?) to illustrate how painful a contraction will be. (Really? You’re equating childbirth with leg-pinching? This should be a blast. Oh wait, we’re not done). This pinching is repeated every time you attend an ante-natal class (riiight…), and by the end of the course you will be able to tolerate harder squeezing for longer periods.’

I long to find out how many classes you were supposed to attend and how long were you pinched for?; didn’t this take up valuable time on other factors of childbirth or was there a special ‘pincher’ midwife?; were you supposed to form an orderly queue to be pinched or did she just get you at random to demonstrate the random nature of contractions?; how many people simply – in a Pavlovian fashion – elected not to attend an ante-natal class where pinching was de rigeur and opted for drugs instead?

So systematic assault from your potential midwife should generate a greater pain threshold than say, having an epidural. But it all saves money, right? Has anyone got Andrew Lansley’s email?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The flora and the vegetables…

Things we have grown successfully in the garden include:

This stunning velvety chocolate cosmos








A dwarf sunflower at the very peak of perfection


A startlingly pink zinnia


Things that are not looking so hot right now:


An entire wall of non-ripening tomatoes. My only question is Why?