Saturday, 12 November 2011

Master Chef

Hello virtual mates!  Hello hello hello.  Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? 

Every time something has happened which I have thought would make an interesting and/or amusing blog post, I've self-edited in my head until I think "Actually, it would be dull and a bit shite, so I won't do it."

Bad habit to get into.  Baaaaaad. 

So, what has been going on in my life since the last rambling set of unrelated semi-anecdotes I inflicted on you all?

1)  A wedding.  Remember I told you about the hen party?  Yeah you do.  Mr WithaY went to the related stag party the following weekend - beer, watching a rugby match, curry, beer, whisky, sleep, nausea and pale fragility for the next 48 hours - which he said was "fine." 

As an aside, whenever I ask him how something was, it was usually "fine."  Sometimes it was "ok,"  occasionally it was "a bit weird," but in the main his go-to review of all social events at which I am not present is "fine." 

Many years ago, he went to a re-enactment event in Cornwall without me.  It was one I had been really looking forward to, and to which practically all our friends were going. 

I had appendicitis, which for about two years was misdiagnosed as "a stomach bug" or "food poisoning" or even "a dairy allergy" and this was during that dark, miserable (but skinny) time.  Eventually I had to be rushed to hospital to be operated on, and was able to gloat, pointing at my stitches and telling everyone "See?  I TOLD you I was ill."

Anyhoo, this particular weekend I was vomiting and dizzy and feeling awful, so I said I wasn't going to go to Cornwall.  Mr WithaY offered to stay home and look after me, but I said no no no, you go, you've been looking forward to it, have fun, you just enjoy yourself without me.  So he did, the bugger. 

He returned home on Sunday evening, sunburnt, muddy, bruised, exhausted, and I said "Well?  How was the weekend?  Who was there?  What happened?"  And he said "Yeah, it was fun." 

I interrogated him for the best part of the evening.  Who was there with who?  Were there any relationship breakups?  What scandal and gossip?  Was anyone injured on the battlefield?  What outrages were committed in the pub?  Tell me!  TELL me! 

In the end I gave up and rang a female friend.  We had a two hour conversation where she filled me in on all the many and varied events of the weekend.   Gah.  Blokes.

So, yeah.  The wedding.  It was lovely.  But, lordy, I have never been to a wedding where so many people cried.  It was like some airborne chemical had been sprayed into the room to make us all weep like children whose hamster just died.  The bride walked in looking stunning, in floods of tears, which set all the women off.  The groom started choking up as he said his vows, and ended up weeping, which set all the blokes off, which then set all the women off again.  There was one small child there who took exception to the "noise" in the room, and she started weeping loudly, until her poor mother took her out, and spent the entire service weeping on her own in the bar as she was missing the ceremony.

Honestly.  It was a soap opera wedding in emotional terms.  The sun shone for the photographs, everyone looked lovely, including the specially-bathed mad spaniels, and the food was incredible.  They'd arranged a Blues Brothers tribute band for the evening, who were excellent, and I think pretty much everyone there had a dance or two. 

We were staying the night at a pub/hotel locally, along with a dozen or so of the wedding guests, so it ended up being a convivial team breakfast the following morning, then a huge mob went to the newlyweds house and drank tea, then huzzah, off to the pub for lunch.  Mr WithaY and I finally got home at about 4pm.


2)  I've been making stuff. A neighbour asked me to make her some fabric-y bits and pieces.  We bartered.  She gave me a pedicure and some gorgeous nail polish (she's a beautician, not a foot fetishist,) and in return I did her the cushion covers and a noticeboard. 

I like barter. 

The photos don't do justice to the colour of the fabric she wanted me to use, or to the perfectly-matched ribbon and fabric I found for the criss-cross straps and fabric-covered buttons.  That I made.  Yes I did.

Today I have been finishing off the last cushion cover, and will take a picture of that too, just for completeness.  I bet you can't wait.

3)  Future business plans for the WithaY household are taking shape.  I won't go into detail now, for fear of jinxing things, but I am feeling positive about the future.  Plus we paid off half our mortgage this week with some of our redundancy money.  Yay.  Watch and learn, Greece.  And Italy. 

4)  We had friends round for Sunday lunch last week, and I decided to have a go at making a sticky toffee pudding.  I've never made one before, and was inspired by the delicious one I was given for my pudding at the wedding reception. 

I followed the recipe to the letter - to the LETTER - and the end result was perfect.  Rich, sticky, dark, sweet and fruity* with a light yet dense texture.  The sticky topping was perfect too, the cream, butter and sugar sauce formed a dark toffee-coloured emulsion, thick and gooey and smelling of caramel and butterscotch. I poured a little onto the pudding as it baked and it formed a sticky, unctuous topping, as specified in the recipe.  Which I followed TO THE LETTER. 

The main course was roast pork, with a selection of vegetables, stuffing balls** and roast potatoes, served with delicious meaty gravy.  Mr WithaY made the gravy, and it was perfect.  Thick, rich, dark, savoury little flecks of pork meat floating in it from the roasting dish, just enough fat to make it cling to the food, not so much that it was greasy. 

We ate our pork and vegetables, enjoying the delicious gravy.  We enjoyed the delicious gravy so much that the gravy jug was almost empty.

I asked Mr WithaY to refill it from the pan on the stove top, as he was nearest to it.  He jumped up with alacrity and returned in a moment, the jug practically brimming.  Mmmm delicious gravy. 

One of our friends poured a generous helping of gravy onto her greens.  I picked up the jug and went to do the same.  I sniffed at it, a sudden cold thrill of suspicion running through me.

It smelled like butterscotch.

Mr WithaY had refilled the jug from the wrong saucepan.

I was mortified. 

Our friends declared that greens with pork and butterscotch sauce was wonderful, so, possibly influenced by the wine we had been swilling down, I tried it.  And you know what?  It was bloody lovely. 

For pudding we had sticky toffee pudding with pork and butterscotch sauce, and that was bloody lovely too.

Last night, all on my own, I made up some more cream, butter and brown sugar sauce and had it with leftover sticky toffee pudding.  It wasn't the same. 

*much like me, except for the rich part. 



A Heron's View said...

Bit like sweet and sour sauce really :)

Z said...

That is a brilliant post! I chortled. Please don't leave it so long again, I know just what you mean, but the longer you leave it the harder it gets, so just keep writing. Please.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Your own cookery show follows ! If they can eat pork here , ( Holland ) with pears stewed with cloves , butterscotch sauce is bound to be a winner .The whole meal sounds perfect .
I'm left looking wistfully at the sensible fish and salad I'll be preparing later .

rachel said...

Well, that certainly wasn't dull and a bit shite, now, was it? See, you can do some more now.

My mother once rolled out ready made marzipan instead of ready made pastry, and baked it on top of a steak pie. Sadly, she wasn't one for being laughed at by her children, so we had to stay respectfully quiet until she was out of earshot.

livesbythewoods said...

AHV - I think you're right - it was a cream and butter sauce but with added sugar, basically. Mmmmm.

Z - thank you! Kind of you to say so, but you know how it is when you self-edit. Hard to stop it.

SAS - hello and welcome! My cookery show would have to be on TV late at night. Swearing and all.

Rachel, excellent story. It made me laugh out loud. And thanks for the "not shite" affirmation, it always helps!