Cuisine II

knew I could rely on you, innernets. Knew you wouldn’t let me down.

I have purchased my Wild West-themed murder mystery, cast my guests, lost two guests, re-cast one character with Harry’s godmother who is now coming down from Edinburgh specially, unfortunately minus her boyfriend who is vet on-call that weekend, which still leaves me a male character short but fuckit fuckit fuckit the clues are easy to tweak and we’ll all have more elbow-room round the table with one less.

Deep breath. Sorted.

All I have to do now is edit the clues for the characters I actually have attending, remove long speeches from nervous guests, re-allocate speeches to confident guests, print them out, cut them out, sort into envelopes, create a Town Mayor costume, ensure John sorts out an Undertaker costume, ignore two more weeks of a vaguely disturbing litany on a theme of ‘Am I the murderer, Wwifey? Can I be the murderer? I expect I’m the murderer, am I? I want to be the murderer, Wifey!It’s my turn to be the murderer, isn’t it?’, lug my entire dinner service out of this sideboard


without Harry seeing me do it, as he currently doesn’t know that the (deliberately) handle-less doors are, in fact, the doors to my much-cherished Wedgwood, but is beginning to turn suspicious about their appearance of general door-ness-ness, wash off the dust that has somehow covered the crocks inside the cupboard, find the cutlery that should be in the cutlery canteen and isn’t, move the dining room table  – which currently looks like this:


– into the middle of the room and make it look rather more like this:


polish my candlesticks, rinse the wineglasses, locate, launder and iron the tablecloth, locate, launder and iron the napkins, fold napkins into fancy shapes because I get off on lil’ bird of paradise and tudor rose shapes, m’kay?, bring extra dining chairs out of the garage, and oh, yeah… cook some food.

I have closely read all your kind and wonderful suggestions, and the projected menu is coalescing. It currently stands thus:

Entree: Homemade soup with rolls, rolls possibly home-baked by John if he can be bothered. I really fancy making asparagus soup: it’s a local Vale of Evesham crop and is in tasty peak season. However, it’s ouchy-pricey even at the farm gate and I’m not shelling out £10-£12  for 4lbs of green stalks, be they ever so tender. So, still working that one out.

Fish Course: Sarah made mention of smoked salmon and cream cheese, which two ingredients put together sounded just right, in what I call my mind. Tiny lil’ Smoked salmon, cream cheese and watercress parcels it is.

Main Course:

Katie captured the food ethic of our guests beautifully: coq au vin will be absolutely perfect. Improves with being left for a day and re-heats like a dream, too, apparently. You’d think I might have remembered to thank her for this suggestion in person, given that I had the opportunity yesterday, but no. More on this topic later.

Lynne and Pam both suggested ratatouille, for which I thank them profusely. Loads of veg; one big dish; reheats well. All my boxes ticked! I’ve never actually made this dish before, so I’m planning a trial run this week, as, if there’s a way – often a previously untrodden one – to balls up even the simplest dish, I can generally unerringly find it.

 Andrea Jennine pointed me in the direction of butternut squash puree. I have a thing for squash currently and have been eating wheelbarrowfuls of the fat, vaguely phallus-like items, but I have been baking them, sliced small or cubed, with a cinnamon, orange juice and maple syrup sauce. The skin has been proving tricky to negotiate, whether it is removed beforehand (I am allergic to the raw sap, hence John is obliged to prepare them) or served with it left on, as Harry and John have both Complained about the Fiddliness either way. The concept of leaving it in two simple halves, scraping out the flesh and creating a chunky butternut mash ( Harry is not yet old enough for me to have forgotten puree purgatory) was too obvious for me to think of it, and is delightful. I salivate in anticipation. 

For dessert, I am planning on serving red wine-poached pears, with homemade cinnamon ice cream and tuile biscuits. I am over-cluttered with kitchen gadgets, but the ice cream maker is kick-ass and well worth the cupboard space. I am also making lavender creme brulee, because John will sulk like a bastard if I don’t. Oh, and Lakeland’s chef’s blowtorch? Blows. I wasted my money: under the grill turns out far better every time. I also have a large block of fountain chocolate left over from Harry’s Christening, which is 4 months out of date. I own two fountains (over-cluttered, I told you) so I will set one going and loudly publicise the use-by date to my guests, in the happy knowledge that they will still cluster round it like flies to a cowpat. 

How I’m going to get all this done with Harry hanging about the place, and frequently onto my actual ankle as well… I really dunno.  He’s turned uber-high maintenance since the Ulcers, which is laughable when you consider that I couldn’t even visit the loo unaccompanied before. He has developed a lovely line in huggy kisses which melt my soul down into a little puddle on the floor (which is what that thing that you stepped in was, honest) but he has also discovered the delights of Walking the Windowsill this week. Previously happy just to stand still and look, he now prowls up and down the ledge like a caged tiger who’s been on the Pinky-Ponk Juice. When he falls off, he naturally chooses the section un-ramparted by sofa to fall from.

Katie, aka Dr Spouse was in our neck of the Hairy Woods yesterday, and dropped in for tea and cake. Harry greeted this delightful visitor by embarking on a wailing session that only Shaun the Sheep could stem, and then proceeded to gallop about climbing on things, which is Situation Normal. Poor Katie was perched neatly on the sofa arm, politely minding her own business when she was nearly clobbered by an unexpected 22lb toddler full in the back – twice. I nearly think he does it on purpose for attention.

Katie’s visit re-inforced my previously held belief that infertility only affects completely lovely people (excepting myself, of course. I’m merely a titchy little bit lovely). It’s been such a long and difficult five years for them both, and they are now thoroughly immersed in adoption proceedings, about which I have a Very Good Feeling Indeed. I shall anticipate their eventual adoption news – (because someone that scrumptious simply has to become a lucky little person’s Mum. It’s the law.) with great excitement, as I’m near enough to Katie’s family to totally demand a proper snuggle of said lucky little person.

After a months-long work spell in San Diego, Katie is now returning to the North-West UK day job, which just happens to be A Senior Academic in child development, with particular regard to the way language develops. And! And! And! She could totally decipher words in Harry’s stream of babble that are completely passing John and I by. This has cheered me up no end. Words… they’re in there somewhere

I have begun to secretly hope that he might actually say ‘Fank-oo’ – or something vaguely approximating to it – for his 2nd birthday presents. He has 3.5 months to brush up his enunciation.

C’mon kid! You & me. Together. Manners! We can do ’em!


9 Responses

  1. I think it’s a kid thing, to fall off the one part of windowsill with no padding. They all seem to do it. They find the one ladder left out…Anyway, I like the table set-up. Are those your candlesticks? They sorta make me think of the “Most Noble House of Black” candlesticks. And it sounds as if you really could use a house elf.

  2. Pea and mint soup.

    Really fresh, lovely and summery.

  3. This will be short since I’m sure you can hear Sam scremaing his bleeping head off from where you are. (Sound of my head exploding to follow shortly.)

    Your cuisine sounds DELICIOUS. Please send me the leftovers. Yay for Harry’s words! Here’s to more in the future.

    And I’m off.

  4. You need to stop tormenting us with a} delicious menus and b)gorgeous open vistas of rolling countryside!!

  5. The party menu and indeed the party sounds fab.

    Also jealous of your views.

    Go Harry! Although I doubt he needs the encouragement.

  6. People who come to my house usually get pizza. And the entertainment? Talking to each other – and they’re usually all my husband’s family. I am envious of your entertaining plans and abilities.

    Of course, it would probably be helpful if the people I wanted to entertain didn’t live 300 miles away…

  7. Me, me, me, me! I want to come. Puhleaaaaase? I can dress up. I can eat yummy food. And I second the pea and mint soup previously mentioned. Pretty colour and yummy taste. Please, please, please, let me come. I don’t even have to be the murderer. And my passport is bang up to date. Small matter of air tickets but I am nothing if not a problem solver extraordinaire.

    And I think I have a fuschia feather boa somewhere so I could play Saloon Sally. And WHY would I have a fuschia feather boa languishing at Villa Kore? Has to do with a Wild West themed wedding I once attended that was as appalling as it sounds. Not at all like your lovely and jealously regarded event.

  8. That view is stunning! And I’m so jealous of your dinner guests…why does no one cook like that for meeee? Oh right, because no one besides me does the cooking!

  9. My God, do those guests appreciate you? I bloody hope so because dang nab it that’s one helluva rootin tootin good time you got planned!! And what a star young harry is – he’ll make a fine hairy deputy I say. Yeeha!

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