90. We’re Busy Doing Nothing

I am so sorry, you’re probably thinking I’ve poisoned us both with all that old food and that’s why you didn’t get a cocktail recipe at the weekend. Fear not, I’ve just been remiss and neglected you all. And before JD tells me off for the title today, we are very busy. I just like the song, it’s sung by Bing Crosby in the 1949 film “A Connecticut Yankee in King’ Arthur’s Court” based (very loosely I suspect) on the book by Mark Twain. Sing along now…

Post 89 received a few comments that I should reference. “Shower caps” are available from Ikea, they look much more robust than the ones I’m using. https://www.ikea.com/ch/en/p/oevermaett-food-cover-set-of-2-silicone-light-blue-70461936/. I cannot agree regarding Hobnobs, I won’t tell you the remark that JD made but I’ll send the next packet straight through to Wiltshire! Finally, some boxes of wine do indeed hold 12 bottles but more and more I’m seeing boxes of six (unless my reputation has gone before me and they think that’s all I can handle). I was under the impression it was due to EU regulations and maximum weights, such as we had many years ago in our profession, before computer submissions became the norm.

So, what shall we get up to today?

Post 88 on 18th April, ELEVEN DAYS ago, left you waiting for a cocktail. Who guessed the magic ingredient? Not Aperol (which comes next in my alphabet) but Amaretto. You can find (non alcoholic) Amaretto biscuits as well as the drink, the word apparently means “little bitter” (I don’t speak Italian so didn’t know this). I’ve just found out, while doing my research, that 19th April was Disaronno Day last year so I’m on trend for this year! http://www.disaronno.com/en/news/disaronno-day-2019. This is the brand I like (others are available, maybe I should try them). It has a very distinctive shaped bottle which I’ve finished off (there was less than an inch in the bottom) and thrown away so no photo of it I’m afraid. Here’s a magnificent wisteria instead.

Bearded iris and wisteria

Amaretto is an almond flavoured liqueur (from almonds or apricot kernels) which I love (as well as the biscuits), especially after a good dinner in front of a roaring fire. However, there’s no excitement in that for you so what mixture did I come up with? After I’d dismissed the shots (see Post 86 on 7th April), I was left with nine possibilities, although there are many others on the internet. I’m not a fan of egg white or cream in cold drinks and the ones with tea seemed like a cheat from Prohibition. There were a few with just Amaretto and one other ingredient (lemon juice, Irish whiskey, tequila) which I didn’t like the sound of. This left me with three: Cosmic Bliss, Bad Attitude and Big Red Hooter. How to decide between three such wonderful sounding names? Let’s look at the constituents of each: the first has orange, lemon and lime juices; the second FIVE other spirits (gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and vodka) plus Grenadine, as well as three juices (cranberry, orange and pineapple); the third has merely tequila, Grenadine and pineapple juice. Decision made, I need my five a day and don’t have any pineapple juice. Cosmic Bliss it is! As I’m trying to see the Starlink (Elon Musk’s satellite train) when it passes overhead this is very appropriate as well.

Cosmic bliss!

The rest of the time has mostly been taken with routine tasks mentioned previously so of no interest. I’ve made lemon and cardamom drizzle cake as well as caraway seed cake. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m trying to use up the spices that we have in the cupboard, this is a great book to have as an inspiration for recipes. Author Dhruv Baker (what an apt name!) won MasterChef in 2010 on UK television (for anyone not au fait with such programmes, including me).

Adie has not eaten anything she should not have (to the best of our knowledge). The garden and lambs continue to grow. The vegetable seeds I ordered before I left London (see Post 84 dated 27th March) finally turned up so I’ve planted those as well as some old ones I found in the shed, we’ll see what comes up. The rain that has now arrived is most welcome. Also looking back at that Post, I see that I said I’d missed the daffodils. Not so, yesterday I came across these in the garden.

Pheasant’s eye narcissi

George had his birthday last Friday. We were expecting to be celebrating in Seattle with a crowd of sailors. Instead George is still “on his tod” in London so we held a virtual party with his Godparents, a couple of friends and us. (If you’re not familiar with this saying, it’s Cockney rhyming slang for being alone. I didn’t know where it came from so looked it up. There was a US jockey called Tod Sloane at the end of the last century. Sloane = on your own). We tried to get together on WhatsApp but that only allows three people, so George had to set us up on Zoom, while the rest of us ran around turning on our computers. Lessons learnt: as well as not trying to WhatsApp too many people, do not leave your wine in a garage behind an electronic door. If there is a power cut you’re stumped! (I’m glad to say we do not have any electronic locks so we had plenty of champagne to toast George).

And finally, in case you want to know how the lambs are getting on, here’s two of them yesterday aged eleven days.

89. Life In The Time Of Covid-19 (2)

Good morning class, today we have a special day on home economics, so sit up straight, settle down and don’t fidget. Before we start assembly, we have a couple of announcements. First, to Ed, we didn’t mean to bring back those horrible childhood nightmares of SP (we cannot bring ourselves to put it in full). We hope no other ill effects were seen from the last blog post. Second, a huge well done to JT, who correctly spotted the Dalek ice cube! Have a piece of cake as a reward next time we meet! (We shall ignore the other suggestion made by JT, which should mean five minutes’ detention under other circumstances). The other ice cube was of K-9: there is also a Tardis one but it wouldn’t fit in the glass. This was not actually that difficult a quiz question if you’ve seen my freezer. (I’m not sure if it’s featured in an early post so here it is again if so).

My freezer

Let us acknowledge the patron saint of us all, Sir David Attenborough at the beginning of this long period. He exhorts us to lay aside our foolish ways and save the planet by not wasting anything. Today, in homage, we are therefore going to address how to reduce waste and as a by-product, save money (Possibly, although you may just be driven to drink).

Our first stop is the kitchen. As we are now into week 4 of the lock-down, we have all sorted our spices and herbs into alphabetical order, tidied the wine rack and defrosted the freezer and listed all contents of this and the fridge. What’s that at the back, your wine rack is already empty? You’ve drunk it all in the first month? In these straitened times we all have to apply discipline and exhibit strong morale. Stick to buying one case a week and you can’t go wrong. As a case is only six bottles, you can decide before opening it which day will be purgatory sorry your day of rest.

Full marks if you played the “Chocolate sauce or gravy?” game instead of throwing away the unidentifiable items! We have been able to use up some packets that we found lurking at the back of our cupboards: first some gnocchi from 2013 which made two very nice meals, then a jar of miso paste that went very nicely with some aubergines and finally, top marks to JD for using the jar of butterscotch sauce which we bought in 2004: he combined it with rum to make an extremely nice sauce for some pineapple. Next up, a hardly aged tin of condensed milk (from 2009) from which I shall be making kulfi. Additionally we finished the family pack size of Weetabix that our house sitters kindly left for us. Other food to finish: on his way home at the beginning of this month JD could not find digestives and as an alternative bought Hobnobs. Can anyone explain the attraction of these? I have been forcing myself to have one a day, it’s like having sawdust in your mouth. But we’re not wasting them!

Finished!

Also in the kitchen, try not to waste other things. I decided we are using way too much clingfilm and bought some reusable covers. They are very good but still made of plastic (the beeswax ones seem to be sold out) and resemble nothing so much as shower caps: next time you’re staying in a hotel, remember a shower cap can serve other purposes!

Alternative shower caps

Out of the kitchen, let us go to laundry and sewing. When we iron items, it is SO useful to enable us to go through our wardrobe and highlight those items that could do with a little tender care. I managed to dispose (tenderly) of four tea towels at the weekend when I spotted the holes in them. (These were caused either by extreme age or the mouse that Polly brought into the kitchen and set free some time ago). We are now down to our last 50 (tea towels, not mice), including the one featured in Post 47 way back in September 2019.

Last of all, having done all the ironing and much as we hate to tidy (yes, I’m talking to you), remember all those items you bought and kept the box in case they were faulty and you had to send them back? Now is the time to go up into the loft and find them all and bring them downstairs and throw them out! It is a wonderfully satisfying feeling. Here are (some of) ours. The newest is a mere two years old and the oldest was bought in 2012. All well out of warranty, with some thrown away as unable to be repaired.

Empty boxes from the loft

Now that we have all finished our tasks for the day, how about a little fun before bedtime? Our other patron saint, Sir Robin, has had long experience of self-isolation and has given us handy insights here: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/insights-from-sir-robin-a-person-who-chose-extreme-isolation. You can have hours of fun learning all the necessary nautical knots before you set off with Clipper next time. https://www.firstclasssailing.com/sailing-knots is a useful starting place but there are plenty of other sites.

And for our final prayer before bedtime, we shall recite “Little Lamb who made thee” by William Blake. On second thoughts, maybe we should leave biology lessons for tomorrow.