IT'S A BLUE and white day, when it's sunny and cloudy and a little bit breezycome rain or come shine. Both came.... At long last the bank holiday mood outside is over. Bank holiday meant grey day this time. We have far too many of them spaced at poorly thought-out intervals. (Actually: what am I saying. No-one thought them out. Like most British things, it just came to be that way and no-one complained too much so nobody changed it.) We basically had three bank holiday Mondays in not much more than the space of a month. Easter and then the first and last Mondays in May... O! and how very interesting. I was just about to delete this but thought: no. Capture it for posteriority the drivel you descend to. Seriously.
Not much doing today. I feel ... adrift. And utterly unfocused.
I am, however, intent upon commencing the cooking of a fabulous beef stew with dumplings just as soon as I post this here. As I suspected, Sainsbury's charged me nearly £3.50 for half a kilo for the meat last time. So today I went to a halal butcher and got a kilo of what they assured me was stewing beef cubed (specially for me, not ready cubed). The cut was "neck". I told the man with impressive beard that I want to stew it for three hours. The younger assistant had appeared to switch to "no speak English mode" when I'd previously said this to him.
But boss-man insisted this was the right stuff for me and I'm off to purchase potatoes, chopped tomatoes, courgettes (zucchini), mushrooms, onions, garlic, and maybe a couple of carrots. Red peppers are staying out (can't see the point of stewing those.) I've several spriggs of rosemary courtesy of Mother Hubbs' herb garden. And chili powder, Maggi liquid seasoning "for casseroles and stews", and the remains of rocket pesto that are getting chucked in. Was going to get self-raising flour and vegetarian suet but the supermarket I ventured into had no value flour (sorry but I'm not paying six times as much for the same thing with more "wholesome"-seeming packaging. And their suet was literally just beef dripping. Which would have cost nearly £2 in all just for dumplings. So I caved in and spent 43p on industrial dumpling mixture.
Wish me luck. Usually my stews are well pukka. I'll let you know how this one gets on ...
It took me an HOUR merely to peel, chop, fry and do everything else prior to bunging all in slo-cooker. Man! An HOUR! Also I just worked out I spent over £5 on all them ingredients so they'd BETTER turn out OK!!
Well even on eventually replacing dinnerplate on cooker (no "official" lid - never had that) I caved into temptation to taste the beef. Bear in mind my potatoes were raw as first snow in Arctic. But the beef was done! Done enough to be perfectly edible. (Bearing in mind this is pie-steak. It will never get ultra-tender but when well done you can cut most of it with the side of a spoon.)
Bought some herbs in the supermarket: ground ginger (added half teaspoon of); celery salt (added flat teaspoon of); paprika (added two generous teaspoons of); "herbes de provence" (thyme, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, savory (what is that??), basil, tarragon (& btw what is tarragon LIKE. I don't recall ever tasting it. & don't ask me to pick it outta this mix ... anyhow I put in a pinch of this one...) plus thyme (another pinch).
If you wonder my unexplained excitement at this "modicum" of domesticity, just bear in mind (1) you didn't see the conditions I prepared this food in!! and (2) last weekend aside, I've not cooked anything like a beef stew for over three years ... so there you have it.
My normal "recipe" is called Carbonized Vulgarity Burgers. You fry ultra-value utter cheapest beefburgers to death - ie until blackened all over but not TOO crispy. Serve in hob-toasted pitta bread with plenty of black-peppered ketchup and a large shot of heroin. (Folks: I cannot vouch this would be edible without it.)
OK I'm off again!
Sorry one last PS:
Come and see this: Ruth's From a Bee's Eye View Macro Photos Blog.
I wish she'd been in my bathroom at 4 o'clock this morning for we had a fine (but tiny) specimen of a moth. Imagine (fairly) milky coffee with a further pattern sprayed atop in spray cream. He had wings like that. And a yellow head. And as I said he was tiny but so pretty. If I'd have had a working camera I'd definitely have photo'd him (& our peeling paintwork) ..!
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