Tag Archives: vegetable stew

Monday and Moving Up a Level

I spent the night alternately laying awake or making trips to the bathroom. As I finally drifted off into an exhausted sleep an old alarm clock of Julia’s, which wasn’t actually set and hadn’t been used for years, decided to start working and sounded an alarm at about 5am, then again half an hour later. It will, as a result, never sound another alarm.

Then, at 6.30, having woken up yet again for a bathroom break, I gave up, got dressed, had a glass of water (which apparently makes the blood flow better) and set off for my blood test. The car parking is still free, due to Covid, though I’m not sure how that makes a difference, and the service still suffers from random halts, where they don’t seem to do anything. I was still finished just before 8.00, despite the delays and the need to puncture both arms in search of blood.

I went home, picked Julia up and took her to work. It worked out nicely and we were ten minutes early. That meant I arrived at work in plenty of time, which gave me time to have coffee and read haiku on the computer before starting to pack the eBay sales.

This relaxing interlude made up for the hassle of getting into the shop, as my front door key decided to play up. Once or twice a year it does that. I suspect it is a lock problem rather than a key problem but there isn’t much I can do about it.

The day passed smoothly, I went home, washed up, set a vegetable stew going on the hob and prepared afternoon tea for Julia on her return from work. It was one of my better days as a husband.

The afternoon tea will be the basis for a new scone chronicle soon, but I’m out of practice and it might be a day or two yet. My sister sent us an afternoon tea gift box, which formed the basis of four days of afternoon tea.

Tonight we were told we will be moving up to a Level 3 lockdown, but as I don’t socialise, go to the pub or eat out it is not going to affect me a great deal.

That could be the title of my lockdown memoirs “The Man Who Stayed at Home”.

I’d like to be able to travel a bit more, particularly as it’s seal time soon, and I’d like more reliable access to toilets when we are out, but I’d also like a better computer, world peace and a substantial lottery win. Sometimes you just need to get on with your life and be grateful for what you have.

Breakfast, Banknotes and Bad Cookery

Yesterday, when I finally prised myself from the grip of my nice warm bed, I found that Julia had left me porridge and a bacon sandwich. It’s at times like those that you realise how fortunate you are in your choice of wife.

It seemed only fair that I reciprocate this morning, so I took her to McDonalds. It’s slightly less impressive as a gesture but it’s a lot easier and there is no washing up.

Tonight we are having our traditional vegetable stew with dumplings. It’s low in calories, low on additives, cheap and delicious. It’s also a reliable recipe we have now been making for some months.

I have not exactly covered myself in glory this week, with a couple of new recipes that went slightly wrong. I say “slightly” but in one case we’ve been staring at it for five days. I would feel bad if I threw it out, as it’s a terrible thing to waste food. On the other hand, I will probably feel bad if I actually eat it.

What I did was to make a base for a vegetarian cottage pie by using small diced vegetables, onions and beans. It looks good and the texture is good. If only I hadn’t followed the advice of jamie Oliver to use a teaspoon of Marmite all would have been well. If you follow his recipe exactly it may well have worked, but I didn’t. I mixed and matched and ended up with a dish that is abominably salty.

If I boil a potato or two in it I’m likely to reduce it to soup. If I dilute it and pour the salty liquor off I can’t guarantee an improvement. And if I add more ingredients I just risk wasting more.

It looks like it will be heading for compost, and a valuable lesson will have been learned regarding recipes, though it’s not the first time I’ve been let down by a recipe from a celebrity chef.

The second was nothing like as bad. In fact I quite liked it, though Julia was less keen. I made a root vegetable hash and baked it with four eggs on top. I didn’t quite get the balance of vegetables right (too much swede/rutabaga), and the baking dried it out a bit but I think it has potential. The problem is mainly that it didn’t have corned beef in it, which keeps it moist and gives plenty of flavour.

At work, we finished the banknotes. AS you can see from the note below, I reached Zambia. Eddie did Zimbabwe, and we both heaved a sigh of relief.

Banknotes - Zambia

Banknotes – Zambia

In a rush, I forgot the title…

As usual, Sunday has seen the death of many good intentions. I was going to make vegetable soup for lunch, but we got up late and Julia made brunch, so we didn’t need lunch. We had crumpets instead of lunch, plus a slice of stollen. It was very nice, though in nutritional terms it may not quite have been what the doctor ordered.

She is out for a Christmas dinner with friends from a previous job while I cook myself a lonely meal and cook the soup ready for tomorrow night, when we will eat it with a sandwich and croutons. Oh yes, we are going to be sophisticated. Even more so when I reveal the croutons will be made from a very stale piece of sourdough. I really sound like a foodie rather than a man who can’t manage his pantry properly, don’t I? In an ideal world I wouldn’t have a load of wrinkly root veg and a quarter loaf of inedible bread.

The soup is very like the vegetable stew we had last week, though the ingredients are slightly more wrinkled and I’ve used one stock cube instead of two. We had dumplings with the stew, using freshly ground garlic seasoning. It was tasty, filling and virtuous, though I did get a lecture on my immaturity when I sniggered whilst complimenting her dumplings. It seems it is time I grew up.

That’s one of the nice things about being married to Julia. Despite all the evidence, she still thinks I’m capable of improvement. It’s heart-warming, but improbable. I’m 61, I’m set in my ways and this, I’m afraid, is as good as it’s going to get.

My alarm just went. My lonely meal is ready. It’s potato wedges, cheese and onion pasty and mushy peas – comfort food. I’m going to watch the Strictly Come Dancing results, shout at the judges then make tomorrow’s sandwiches.

This is not the life I envisaged when I was a young man. There were more yachts, steaks and butlers in my vision of my future. Fortunately I’m very fond of mushy peas.

 

A Packed Monday

This morning I dragged myself from bed reluctantly and groaned as I felt the arthritis in my finger. I had, just days before, been wondering if I’d get to spring without more trouble. It seems not. I went down for my blood test. For the second time in three visits I had a learner. She was heavy-handed but accurate and relatively painless.

Because I was late Julia took the bus to work and left me to fill in an hour before going to work. A full breakfast at Sainsbury’s filled the gap.

I then started on parcels. There were fifteen, several of which we had packed on Saturday afternoon and two of which were for collection. Then we had two people in to sell things and things to put on the eBay shop. We also had a lost parcel to deal with. It had been posted by ordinary post and had disappeared. The way eBay works means we have to send the money back and pay 80 pence to PayPal. In the old days we’d have shown the reciept from the post office to prove we’d posted it and told the customer he should have paid the extra for insurance. Experience suggests we’ve been had over, but who can tell?

Finally the lady who wanted two coin sets came in. She was buying them for presents as they represent birth dates. Seeing that we had more, she bought three others and left the shop after we planted the idea of coin collecting in her head.

It was then time for sandwiches, packed by Number Two Son the night before, and a trip to Newark. I caught up with an old friend, which is always good, and treated myself to a Fry’s Peppermint Cream. It’s a long-established chocolate bar – I remember my great-grandmother eating Fry’s.

On the way back I saw a few good sunset pictures, but couldn’t find anywhere safe to park and photograph, so I’ve used adawn shot from last week for this post.

The rooks seem to be gathering at their nest sites, I’ve seen two largish gatherings this week. Looks like spring is coming, though all the weather reports are forecasting cold weather and snow this week.

We had stew for tea. I’d made it last night using up a lot of slightly wrinkled vegetables so we reheated it, Julia made dumplings and I managed to eat my five a day out of the same bowl.

Then Julia produced a bar of Thornton’s dark chocolate with chilli. She didn’t know I’d already had chocolate and I seem to have forgotten to tell her.

That’s about it. On balance it was a good day.