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Friday, 14 August 2009

Fresh plums with a sting!


One of my neighbours invited me round to pick some plums from her tree (er, not an innuendo) and gave a plastic bag to fill. The air was alive with wasps and many of the plums had already been 'eaten' by the flying beasties. I was lucky not to get stung, especially as I sat on my doorstep later on taking the stones out and getting fruit juice all over myself and my hands. Ever been stung or bitten by insects who like fruit?

Friday, 7 August 2009

Only a stew will do


As it has been almost constant rain in the latter half of July and beginning of August, some days it almost feels like Autumn has arrived. Although the tomato plants in my yard are desperate for the sunshine to ripen them. So with the crappy weather in mind I decided to make a beef stew - gallons of it to last about four meals.

I'm not a one for measurements so I tend to the judge the cooking as I go and according to the amount of red Merlot wine I might have drunk during the process. I am not alone in this instinctive style of cooking as French Fancy has previously informed me.

Having been out shopping for most of the ingredients, I cracked open the wine and poured myself a generous glass full. Right, it's now time to roll the Aberdeen Angus beef chunks in flour and sieve to get rid of the excess. Switch on the gas and heat up the oil in the frying pan and slightly below spitting temperature pop in the beef cubes to cook. Sip wine. Savour. Watch the rain pour down outside.

Dust mushrooms and prepare the new potatoes (pre-washed) and carrots (quickly peel and wash) and put on stove to boil. Drink more wine. Savour.

Once meat is cooked take out of oil and put cut mushrooms in frying pan and cook through for a few minutes (about half a glass of wine casually sipped worth of time).

Put kettle on and once boiled whack three beef stock cubes in a pouring jug and make stock by creating a stirring motion with a fork. Always stir clockwise otherwise the stirring combined with the wine will make you fall over. Check wine levels in bottle to see if can spare any for stew.

Assume now that spuds and carrots are nicely cooked but not boiled to death and drain before introducing them into industrial sized cooking pot. Add stock and beef and mushrooms and open and drain a tin of green lentils that you found in the back of the cupboard and add to the mix. Add more water and stir well. Drink more wine.

Find things in back of the fridge - old peppers - cherry tomatoes - half an onion - chop them up in bite sized chunks and add to pot. Add in miserly splash of red wine as you don't want to waste a good drinker. Chuck in a few herbs for that country style aroma. Stir well and leave on low heat for three quarters of an hour. If in mood buy dumpling mix and make dumplings and add for last fifteen minutes of cooking time.

Serve and finish wine - if any left. Enjoy for four days.