Friday, 17 April 2009

Stupid things I have done – Part I

[I have to call this Part I because I am sure that there will be many more parts to come given my track record.]

My day started with the discovery in the chilly darkness of early morning that I had been working on different versions of my edited texts. Trying to work out how to meld the versions and indeed, where I had started going wrong was a challenge. Doing it before my morning caffeine had taken effect was my first mistake.

Taking a break to think about the problem, I made my second mistake in checking my email. I found out that the Historical Society had received their grant for writing a book on local coalmines. This was more of a fright than a thrill at this stage. Proposed by my ever-cheerful though very busy neighbour, this new project arrives at a time when the three “collaborators” are increasingly busy and lacking in time. Normally this is the type of thing I would love to do – oral local history on an interesting topic that neatly ties together industry, commerce and social history. And we’re being paid to do it or rather, the production of the book is being subsidised. Finding the time will be the issue.

It’s the Easter school holidays and we’re heading into day two of a houseful of the children’s friends. I feel like I have been feeding, supervising and chasing children all week. I love the fact that my children have friends who want to come over. The reality of chaos is a bit daunting. Blithe Boy entirely eschews napping and my sanity goes on holiday without me.

We have weekend lunch guests so I set aside some time from kid wrangling to prepare. For some reason, or perhaps lack of reason, I decided that sure I could make soup from scratch including chicken stock. You know how one is always told to read the recipe all the way through before starting? Well I didn’t. What number mistake am I up to now? I didn’t realise that I would be making somewhere in the vicinity of seven litres of stock. In the middle of chopping six carrots, innumerable onions, picking 20 stalks of parsley, 15 sprigs of thyme and finding my whole peppercorns, I realised that I was outnumbered five to one by the children. I managed to avoid falling on my 24 cm chef’s knife in horror.

Four hours of simmering (the soup not me) later I ladled the first stock into a prepared container. The ladle of perfect golden brown richly scented soup contained a spider. It was only small and very well cooked. I kept going though I did remove the corpse. I also kept going when one of the containers burst over me. A burnt abdomen is simply par for the course today.

Having cooked those seven litres of stock my conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with buying stock. In convenience and price, it wins. The only hope is that this will be the single best leek and onion soup in the history of Blithe Hill. If asked, I will say that it is the special seasoning.

I realise that I am not cut out for the role of domestic goddess. And thank goodness, some of the children are leaving tomorrow, just not the noisy ones. They apparently belong to me.

1 comment:

Vivi said...

My dad used to say, "Why are you bothered by a little spider? It didn't eat much."

I make stock irregularly, when I'm feeling particularly domestic and trying to squeeze every last ounce of goodness from a chicken carcass, usually. (So it's roast-chicken broth, actually.) The result can be hit or miss, and last time I made it, I came to the same conclusion as you -- purchased wins.

On the other hand, I have one recipe (for mulligatawny soup) which is *outstanding* -- it starts with making stock from a raw chicken, in which the liquid is not water, but purchased chicken stock and white wine. The end broth is worth writing to another continent about, but not cheap or convenient.

Good luck on your brunch and kids!