Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Memories are made of this.

Isn't it strange how the oddest things can take us back along memory lane? Today, instead of one of my lazy 'quick and easy' dinners, I made a chicken and leek pie. I made it in a deep dish so I dug in the back of the cupboard and found my old pie chimney, which hasn't been used for many a long day. As we were eating our pie I was telling Chris about the pies Mum used to make for us, and how I loved her pie chimney which was a black bird with an open beak for the steam to escape. Mum often made pies; I guess it was a good way to stretch the meat to feed a big family, but it gave me my love of pies and anything pastry, which is still with me today. When Jean and I were the last two 'children' left at home, I was the acedemic one who actually enjoyed sitting in my room studying and listening to radio Luxemburg at the same time! Mum never understood that but she was pleased that Jean was more domesticated, and she put her efforts into making sure she knew how to budget for a family, and how to prepare and cook a good meal for them. I was happy to be let off the hook in the kitchen, but somehow I still managed to learn a lot of mum's cooking skills, and many things are still done her way. And a little thing like a pie chimney can bring back memories of a kitchen smelling of good cooking, and of mum standing at a hot stove. God bless you Mum. Gone but never forgoten!

As well as using many of mum's tried and tested recipes and methods, I also like to experiment with new ideas, and try ingredients that either were not readily available in Mum's time, or that she thought were too difficult to bother with. So today I am trying my hand at preserving ginger. At the market today I bought some beautiful fresh root ginger. It was really fresh, firm and juicy, and I wondered if I could preserve some of it before it goes stale and wrinkly. The preserved ginger that we usually buy is, of course, stem ginger, but on the internet I found a recipe for preserving root ginger so I am giving it a go. It is a lengthy process which will take several days to complete. Once the roots are cooked thay have to be steeped in syrup which then has to be drained, boiled, cooled and used again, several times. So you will have to wait intil my next blog to find out how successful it is. Not wanting to waste anything, I kept all the peelings and poured boiling water over them and made a very strong, delicious ginger 'tea'. Another little memory trigger as, on our 'holiday of a lifetime', Chris and I used to sit in a little bar in Bangkok with a pot of ginger tea that was literally boiling water poured over shavings of ginger, and the longer we left it, the stronger it got. The one I have made is pretty firey, so I will have to dilute it if I use it again.

I seem to lose track of the days out here, but I have just realised that tomorrow will be two weeks since my cataract operation, and I am managing quite well to do things around the house. I have to limit my time at each activity as my eye soon begins to feel strained, and I am still struggling outside, both with the bright light and the lack of distance vision, but at the rate the days are whizzing by, it will be no time at all before I have new glasses, and all will become clear...I hope. I wonder if any of you forgot to change your clocks at the end of October. I hate clocks that don't tell the truth, and I always reset my bedroom clock and watch before I go to sleep, and make it the first job when I wake up, to go round the house putting all the others right. But this time it struck me how very few clocks there are in this house to alter. Apart from the one beside my bed, there is really only one in the sitting room which has panels of flower fairies on it, and is more for decoration than use as I can't see the small face on it very clearly. I guess its a sign of how unimportant time is to us now. How lucky we are.

In my last blog I told you that I was waiting for two buds to open in the garden. Well I'm still waiting. I know what the first one will look like, but as yet, the second one is a mystery. The bud is growing and getting fatter every day, but you will have wait for a while longer to see the flower. In the meantime here is the bud!! So take a guess as to what it will look like, and maybe next week you'll know if you were right.

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