The cookery programmes on television are great to watch, but lets face it they aren’t in the real world – my world that is and probably yours.
I faced the real world this morning. The car has broken down, the garage says it will take a week to get the parts, the bike is in pieces in the front hall, the local shop has closed and the supermarket is three miles away. Oh, and my sister is coming to lunch - you know the one. There’s one in every family When you go to her house all the plates match and the table napkins are in little rings and her children are perfect , never take their pants down in company, and will eat everything you put in front of them – need I go on.
So it’s the freezer – frozen chicken breasts. Good quality, but solid, pale pink blocks. My husband thinks that using the microwave is second class cookery, but the kitchen temperature isn’t far above freezing so unless he wants chicken flavoured ice lollies the microwave it is. 20 minutes on defrost and at least I can cut them up – how else can I make two chicken breasts feed three people? Veg from the rack – later in the year I’ll be reaping the harvest of my mini greenhouse but for now that contains only a bag of compost, some tiny green leaves and several bamboo canes – so its onion, celery and corn from the freezer with spices from the cupboard. Our nearest supermarket has its headquarters in eastern Europe so its often difficult to read labels – I just tend to use a little at first , taste and then add. It seems to work.
My back garden is only 15 feet by about 25 feet, but later it will be full of fruit, logan and tay berries, rowans, raspberries, gooseberries and currants and usually at least a handful of cherries if the blackbirds don’t get them first. I am hoping for pears and quinces later. They are both covered with tiny fruit in embryo, but I’ve been fooled before – it’s called the June drop and they all disappear. What I do have plenty of is herbs so some lemon balm, basil, oregano , sage and chives today. We are having cous cous , lighter to carry back than potatoes. It would normally contain mint and apricots – but one person doesn’t like apricots and the other can’t stand mint – not even in toothpaste.
We have an allotment too, a mile or two up the hill. More fruit, Joster berries which are a cross between gooseberries and blackcurrants, delicious by themselves, but a handful added to any jam gives a good set. If you can find some grow some. There is a clump of rhubarb and bushes of raspberries – pink and yellow, gooseberries, currants red and black – all still to come as are the strawberries. There are rows of potato leaves – we hope there are tubers underneath. Onions, and shallots and the slowest growing leeks in history – but aren’t small leek more fashionable?
You might be thinking ‘I haven’t even got a tiny garden’, but even on a window sill you can grow herbs, green leaves and tomatoes. If my daughter entered her studio flat in a competition for the smallest flat in Penrith she would probably win hands down, but she has two very prolific window sills.
We are finally coming to the end of last years fruit, but only because I gave so much away. There are a few jars of jam in the cupboard, my precious last jar of blueberries in strawberry syrup in the fridge and probably something lingering at the bottom of the freezer, but last night I made a stick toffee pudding. It ‘s a wintery sort of pudding really, dark and gooey and gorgeous – just right for a day when it has rained since dawn – will probably clear up about 2, and start again about 2 15.
So there we are, chicken in a spicy sauce with herby couscous and veg, followed by sticky toffee pudding – delicious and real