Sunday, 4 December 2016

Beret Basque Laulhère .

I have been a beret wearer since the age of about 20, my original reasoning being that because of its shape, it was less likely to blow away in strong wind. I was wrong, but persevered.

One of my favourite berets (they're all different) was eaten by Bok, and I was left with just two; my present ratting beret, which is past its sell-by date, and my wider Sunday beret.

A couple of weeks ago I was buying Mouse poison at my local plant, pet, and everything to do with outdoors, shop, when I spotted the above. A genuine wide brimmed Beret Basque.

I think it was priced at a staggering €42; so I screamed inwardly and threw caution to the winds.

It will become my Christmas, Weddings, and Funerals beret; and probably see very little other use.

As they used to say "If you want to get ahead, get a hat". 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Mincemeat 2016.

When the kitchen table is strewn with Suet from England, dried fruits, and exotic spices from across the world, it means only one thing; Mincemeat for Mince Pies.

Lady Magnon has been shopping in London, and on her list were all those essentials for Dec 25th that we can't find here; she even brought back one of Prince Charles's own Plum puddings. 

I honestly think she's at her happiest when she's making either Mincemeat, Mince Pies, or her seasonal Guinness Cake. 

The kitchen smelt wonderful with the combined aromas of spices, citrus and Armagnac. Mince Pies must be my very favourite accompaniment to a winter cup of Lapsang.

December does have its advantages.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Speed with Guy Martin

England seems to specialise in breeding daredevils.

Lawrence of Arabia, Donald Campbell, Scott of the Antarctic, Eddie the Eagle, and now Guy Martin; to name but a few.

I really know very little about Guy Martin other than he's a pro' motor bike racer; what I do know, however, is that he's fearless, incomprehensible (he needs subtitles), and totally nuts. Anything that goes very very fast, he'll have a go at.

He has a TV programme called 'Speed with Guy Martin' which is certainly worth watching; if you enjoy such things.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Nature's Bounty.

I was just heading off for Bok's first walk of the day, when I spotted these fabulous twin Parasol Mushrooms growing by the side of the drive.

I think I say every year that these are one of the easiest identifiable mushrooms around; also one of the most delicious.

These particular ones are about 11 inches tall, and as you can see they have a very distinctive ring around the upper part of the stem. Difficult to confuse with any other.

If you are lucky enough to find some, throw away the stems, clean with a damp sponge, tear the caps into quarters, and fry in olive oil with a tiny sprinkling of salt.

A very meaty mushroom; we had them for lunch yesterday, and they were bloody marvellous.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bread knife.

If something is serviceable and reasonably attractive, then I think it should be used, regardless of age; unless it's very fragile, or extremely valuable.

Such is the case with my nice old Maple handled, and carved, bread knife. Made by the highly regarded Joseph Rodgers & Sons of Sheffield in around 1920, it still cuts as well as ever, and is a pleasure to use.

OK, a nasty serrated, white plastic handled, stainless steel blade might do the job, but working with a tool that's been in use since George V was on the throne (1910-1936) is a true pleasure. 

I can't recall its history, but it must have cut an awful lot of bread; and hopefully will continue to do so.

p.s. I was watching TV's 'Flog it' recently where someone was selling a sliver tea set. The Teapot was marked JR and had the star and cross mark, used by Rodgers since 1764; well within the age of the Teapot. The expert attributed it to someone completely different. As you might imagine, I shouted expletives at the screen!  

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cro, in a pickle.

Nearing the end of November means that a certain festive day is less than a month away. So, time to make pickled onions to accompany my Boxing Day cold Turkey.

In two week's time I'll prepare my pickled red cabbage; it requires less time to process, and as with the onions, is essential to accompany most cold meats.

Both my onion and red cabbage recipes are the same. Soak overnight in brine, drain, then cover with spiced red wine vinegar and some sugar. It couldn't be easier.

I should add that my other essential crimbo pickle, pickled walnuts, were prepared two years ago, and are now perfect.

And here are the little beauties. All's left is to bring on the Turkey. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Happy birthday Bok.

He's gone for the Afghan look; mid-life crisis, methinks.

Bok is 6 today, and he just gets better and better with age. Lovely boy.

Special treat (steak) for supper tonight. Happy Birthday my darling! Papa xxx

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