Friday, 14 May 2010

During the hiatus

I'm not yet back on rations, but I'm still making use of the things I've learned during the project.

For General Election week, I pulled out all the stops. Paul arrived on Tuesday afternoon and that night Paul, CJBS and I went out with mutual friend Tony to one of West Kirby's excellent Indian (Bangladeshi, actually, I believe) restaurants. The three of them, friends for longer than I've been alive, have charted the fate of several Indian restaurants in the town, seeing them open, spawn new branches and pass to the next generation. Tuesday night's meal had insanely surly service, but the meal was very very good as usual. And I'm not just saying that because I'm British and Indian food is our national dish.

On Wednesday morning, I made CJBS and Paul breakfast - kippers with scrambled eggs. I can't face breakfast - food in the morning is the devil's work - which they scoffed down.

Wednesday night was time for my speciality dish: roast lamb. I don't think we ever had this when I was growing up (although we had lamb chops) but for some reason it has become my adult signature dish. It's actually something of a cheat: it's local, hung free-range organic salt marsh lamb from our excellent local butcher, Graham Clarke, so it's impossible to get it wrong. Lamb can be fatty, although salt marsh lamb not so much, but the fat can be dealt with with my recipe.

A bag of dried apricots is the key. Split them and put a spring of rosemary in each ine. Then soak them for as long as possible in white wine. Take the lamb and get it to room temperature. With scissors, make V-shaped cuts in the skin of the joint all over. Push the apricots into the the cuts. Let it stand for an hour or so.

Roast as normal - 220C for 30 minutes, then 160C for 40 minutes per kg. When changing between the two temperatures, pour the remaining wine used for soaking over the lamb.

The apricots will go black and burnt. Don't worry - we're not using them. Through some process, they soak up the fat and give up their sugars in return. Perfect, I'm told - I'm still a happy vegetarian and think this is all barbaric nonsense.

I served it with the usual trimmings: mint sauce bought at Fortnum and Mason earlier this year (horrifically sweet), peas and carrots, roast potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. The asparagus was special: 5 spears with two anchovy fillets in-between, tied together with smoked streaky bacon, drizzled with lemon juice and melted butter and baked for 10 minutes. This was for CJBS, Paul and Tony - Tony was off swanning around the country on the Orient Express for the actual election, so we didn't see him for the actual night.

Thursday morning was scrambled eggs made with smoked salmon and toast. Thursday night - election night - was a running buffet. We pulled an all-nighter: I went to bed at about 0630; CJBS didn't at all; and Paul had a nap from about 8am. Various finger foods and sandwiches were made, packed into Tupperware and served as needed. I had plans for Friday brunch and dinner, but it never happened: I got up in the early afternoon, pottered about and went back to bed in the early evening. Not that I wasn't excited: a hung parliament is a good thing, especially since our voting system isn't proportional and isn't designed to reflect what people wanted when they cast their vote (for the record, I voted Labour nationally, despite not liking them but I dislike them less than the hideous gargoyle of a Conservative candidate; and I voted Green locally. For my pains, and like 65% of voters around here, I got a Conservative in parliament and... a Conservative locally. My votes, like 65% of people around here, were entirely wasted).

Saturday saw me back on form: a full cooked breakfast - bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, tinned tomato - for Paul and CJBS. Paul got his train back to London afterwards and I demanded that CJBS provide for me for a change - which he did by going to Flame and Wok for a gourmet Chinese takeaway meal. For which I paid half.

At this point, my never-reliable memory goes to hell. We had leftover buffet one night. Chips from the chippy another night. Something else for one night. Any how, I still had leftover lamb. Some of it went into sandwiches for CJBS to take to work. The rest I curried in the slow cooker, leaving me with the bone that went into the dogs - exactly zero waste! One night of curry with soured cream and one night with the plain curry and we've reached tonight.

Tonight I've got the remains of the jus from the slow-cooked curry and some remaining curried veg and lamb bits. I'm making this into a mulligatawny, by draining the jus, blending the bits and putting the lot into a standard soup. I'm having bagels with hummus.

And the rationing? Well it will be restarting soon. I'm actually looking forward to it. In fact, my stomach will positively welcome it: the rich food of late hasn't suited me and the weight I've lost appears to have piled back on.


peezedtee said...

And very good it was too. Thank you!

Tanya Jones said...

If you make it to London before the end of the year, do take a look at the rationing exhibition at the Imperial War Museum:

It's great fun and the book that goes with the exhibition is a combined commentary on the period and rationing recipe book, which is marvellous.

You'll also be pleased to hear that I've taken some inspiration from your efforts, as I've started growing tomato and salad plants. I'll let you know how I get on!