This may have been the best bowl of mussels, clams and cockles I have ever eaten. I love seafood but it doesn’t always love me. This never deters me, the occasional night of gastric turbulence is a risk I am always prepared to take. When it happens it is the fault of my fastidious gut, not the responsibility of the establishment serving the seafood.
This mornings wake up followed a night of a very peaceful, happy, belly. This raises the bar for the little bowl of seafood. It was the best I have ever eaten.
We’ve just had a lovely weekend filled with friends and family. All the usual stuff happened but with extra family members. We dined in barns, farmyards, walled gardensl and out in the open and the food slipped effortlessly into our tummies as we talked, laughed and reminisced.
When Sunday evening comes with the inevitable farewells, the left-overs hide in the fridge waiting to catch out the casual grazer searching for a non essential snack.
A rare moment of culinary serendipity occured @theoldmortuary yesterday evening. A recipe in the Saturday Guardian exactly corresponded with our selection of left-overs.
Sunday night supper was amazing and finished off a lovely weekend perfectly.
It’s been quite a red and white weekend in England. There was a significant football match brewing. Sadly the result didn’t go the way England would have wanted and we are not Champions of Europe in Football. On the other hand strawberries and cream nourished and consoled us through penalties and ultimate disappointment. A different red and white army, an English summer served in a bowl. Reliably successful every time.
Yesterdays ‘bob’ was a little different. A nearly 10 mile walk, enlivened by lemon cake and tea in the clifftop village of Mortehoe before we descended to Barricane beach for a dip.
Fresh Foxgloves and lots of mud was the reward of walking after a day of heavy rain.
After serious refreshment in the village of Mortehoe, made prosperous by farming, smuggling/wrecking and tourism we descended down to the coast. Farming and smuggling created beautiful architecture, tourism less so. But what humans can make ugly nature can improve, and the views on the way down were spectacular.
Nature and cultivation pulled out the stops too.
Barricane Beach, a small rocky cove was hugely enhanced by sunshine and the fragrance of curry being prepared. Sri Lankan Curries are the evening speciality of this amazing location, prepared by the Barricane Beach Cafe. Please go to their website below for photographs of the actual beach . I managed not to take a single picture!
An hour or so of resting in the sun, was followed by some wonderful swimming/ bobbing as the tide came in and a first time ever experience of freshly served curry to warm us up as soon as we emerged from the waves.
This popped into my in box this morning. At the time I was thinking of one of the small things I appreciate and have been denied again because of Covid restictions. Eid sweets, tiny morsels of sweet tastiness.
Eid al-Fitr was called last night and with Covid restrictions still in place the special foods of celebration will not be shared as widely as they should. There will still be the wonderful smells of home cooking wafting from the kitchens for the restricted gatherings to celebrate the ending of Ramadan. Eid sweets are one of the small things I have learned to appreciate over the years, colleagues bringing them into work or finding them on the counter or reception of Muslim run businesses.
Will Eid sweets shared to the public ever reappear in normal life , in just the same way that bar snacks are unlikely to make their way back anytime soon.
This blog is not going the way I planned. But it can start with Brunch which is not a bad way to start the week.
Brunch featured egg islands. Fried bread with a fried egg served in a hole in the middle of a slice of bread and the remaining circle of bread also served fried, to dip in the egg. Fried bread for both of us is something our Dads did well.
Both our fathers also loved blood oranges which was the planned route this blog was going. We could have pondered on over tea and cake about our fathers and their domestic skills. My domestic skills, however blew a hole in that comforting scenario.
So successful was the whole orange cake I made last week, I planned to make another one today using blood oranges for extra flavour. The boiled oranges were good subjects for photography.
The ripe red orange colours of the days cooking stop right here.
There was an error in the making of the cake. Instead of adding Baking Powder I used Baking Soda ( Bicarbonate of Soda) Any other cake would have just looked beautiful but tasted nasty with this error. An Orange cake containing three whole oranges was a completely diiferent matter. Bicarbonate of Soda reacts crazily when combined with acid. The acid of three oranges combined with Baking Soda was a thing not dissimilar to an erupting volcano. Not realising the extreme cause of the problem I trimmed off the extra crust and binned the volcanic run off caused by effluvial action and had something resembling a cake, passable only to a desperate woman who wanted to serve gorgeous slices of cake to prove the afternoons efforts were not in vain. Eating the slice was worse than looking at it. Bitter and cloying are not words that are ever said between mouthfuls of comestible pleasure.
There is no sumptuously moist photo of domestic triumph to neatly end this blog. Instead all I can offer is some flowers that match rather well with the now extinct, in this house, Blood Orange Cake. The flowers are anonymous, I found them in a supermarket.
Post New Years Day the festive season starts to get a bit tatty round the edges. @theoldmortuary there is a loose plan to take the Christmas Decorations down . This feeling is complicated by a slow dribble of delayed Christmas parcels arriving in the post and a general inertia to actually fire up 2021 and get it going.
This lovely chap arrived today and needs a moment or two to shine, or more accurately to be matte on the tree.
We still have a small food mountain to pack away either,in reality for ‘Fake Christmas’ date to be announced, or metaphorically for us to eat some time soon. Food Mountain or not we felt obliged to rescue a doughnut from our favourite bakery this morning ,on our regular week end dog walk.
What could possibly cause a doughnut to require rescuing, I hear you all thinking.
Loneliness is the answer. He was the only item left in the window. The queue was long and as each person entered the bakery different baked goods were gently tonged into brown paper bags. It would have been utterly heartless to leave him there with no friends to huddle up with. No Brownies to banter with or Eccles cakes to heckle.What he needed was a compassionate customer to order two flat whites and a solitary doughnut. The doughnut was not the only compassionate rescue of the day. A local supermarket had excess Gerberas at a very silly price so they too jumped into the shopping basket with the Doughnut rather than spend another lonely night in the reduced bucket.
The festive season may be fading fast but it is doing so beautifully.
Merryneum continues, as do the leftovers. Turkey Pie, fresh sausage rolls and smoked salmon quiches were created @theoldmortuary baking session yesterday.
Under normal circumstances the above plate of food would have been hoovered up in half a day. Not so this year, on a positive note that is all the left overs gone from Christmas day food. I’m not sure how many calories Zoom meetings consume but that was our peak activity yesterday. Books were also consumed in large amounts. An activity not usually listed as a fat burner.
Dog walking in abysmal weather was also a feature of the day. Not satisfying to the body and soul of human or dog. The dogs now have thermal coats to pop on when we stop for coffee, so they can warm up. There are unlikely to ever be cute photos of them walking in their thermals. Because they refuse to walk in them but stationary dogs in thermal jackets might appear.
Like so much, our doggy thermals were made in Shenzhen an industrial town just north of the border between Hong Kong and China. The pollution from Shenzhen was dreadful for our granddaughter yesterday, she lives on the Hong Kong side of the border.
She was stuck indoors to avoid the pollution caused by the manufacturing industry starting up after the Christmas break. Inadvertantly, in a virtual world, we also got stuck indoors there too. Our Zoom chats took place inside her play tent and when she got a little bored of screen time she finished the call by leaving us and the phone inside the tent. The next day we were, again, talked to only in the tent while she busied about. Being stuck in a pale green teepee is our punishment for not shopping local. Although I think it will take more than us shopping local to cut pollution from the monumental manufacturing sites in Shenzhen.
Today’s blog was always going to be about leftover food and words. It still will be but my theme was slightly overtaken by this witty Twitter post by a cunning linguist , Suzy Dent.
These days of late December are indeed a blurry space between Christmas and the New Year. Awkward to navigate in normal years, 2020 blurrs the blurr even blurrier. A less Merry , Merryneum with the near future uncertain by the double anxiety of Brexit and Covid
Left overs were the theme of the day. Long before the notion of Merryneum landed on my Twitter feed. I suspect Leftovers will last just about as long as the Merryneum.
Things started with ‘Bubble’
And moved on to Samosas
But in, what is becoming a habit, we didn’t have the need or enthusiasm for the evening Turkey Pie.
Beyond cooking up the uneaten sprouts and other festive veg we walked the dogs. Or did they walk us?It is entirely possible that we might have stepped into a coffee shop. Thankfully the decor lent itself to the colours of Merryneum.
And Hugo and Lola posed for small portions of cake.
Christmas Eve 2020, what to say! Facebook reminded me yesterday that the day before Christmas Eve is usually Christmas Jumper Day, if it is a work day. Not @theoldmortuary we usually rock a festive t-shirt, you can hide it under scrubs and flash when appropriate.
Which is very fortunate for this meandering blog . Facebook also shared a video with me this morning. It seems only right to share it on here too.
My favourite Christmas tune of all time.
It’s very strange looking into a fridge on Christmas Eve and still see spare capacity. It’s also odd to feel able to crack open the festive treats, Cheese Footballs, without a pang of guilt that I am depriving my children of a heritage, festive, comestible. No family for us this year, just an empty table where sometimes there have been over twenty. Not this actual table obviously.
Back to Cheese footballs.The more retro cheese footballs become the more significant it is to hunt them down early in the festive shopping season. I’ve had these little chaps since September. I have even supplied other families with them. I am obsessed!
In these Covid times where even trivial things have disappeared I thought I would share my personal timeline of cheese footballs
My grandparents owned a country pub for most of their lives. A substantial meal in their establishment was a pickled egg and a bag of crisps.
High days and holidays were marked by bar snacks. This was long before the health hazards of such things was common knowledge. Christmas was marked by swapping out the dry peanut and raisin combo for Huntley and Partners Cheese Footballs. The tin below is the retail version. Pubs could get a substantial size catering pack in the same design. Nobody ever knew that my greedy hands helped themselves to the Christmas stock long before it got to the bar, which for reasons explained below is a good thing!
Time moved on and pubs like The Red Cow have disappeared. The illustration of the building above is an image I found earlier today on the internet.
Bar snacks have been tested and declared a bad idea because, pre- Covid, the words man, pub toilet and hand washing rarely appeared in sentences or real life. High levels of transferred urine and faecal matter could be detected in free bar snacks within half an hour of being placed on the counter. Women may also have been guilty of the non hand washing crime.
Cheese footballs not unlike the England football team are a long way from their golden years of the sixties. Every September they can be spotted in the Seasonal aisles of a few supermarkets. Dressed up in a fancier tub and sold by KP.
At this point pondering took a curious path. I googled the Red Cow to see if the internet had an image. It did and a whole lot more.
I can share with you an article from the Daily Mail discussing the conversion of the Red Cow to a dwelling. The toilets get a mention. Fascinating too that the new owner was a microbiologist.
Somewhat stranger is an image of my grandfather’s grave in Wethersfield Cemetery that appears on the same Google. Something I have never seen before. My family did mild dysfunction long before it was a ‘thing’. My grandmother , Gladys, is buried in Melbourne, Australia.
As it turns out this is exactly the right blog for Christmas Eve 2020. A curious mixture of festive, reflective, emotional and pragmatic. I urge you to view the video, it is gorgeously poignant.
Merry Christmas, thankyou for being here.
P.S Following the publication of this blog a local history group sent me two photographs of The Red Cow.