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Sunday 13 October 2013

Keeping it for best

Saturday nights have become a challenge in "tasty" cooking for me.  Having Em home, my secret passion of Strictly and a fairly full fridge, I have decided to go "outside the box" of normal farmer's fare (sausages and mash, for example) and set myself a cooking challenge.  Last week was the somewhat fraught Persian chicken with rice fiasco.  This week, I decided to take the simple but tasty option of the Hairy Bikers Goulash.  I was missing caraway seeds but everything else was in the fridge.  I have to say that the results were great - maybe because I used Sirloin steak?  Or just maybe because I like cooking a la Hairy Bikers?  I was also helped by the huge jar of paprika that Tim had bought us, donated by one of his wonderful au pairs from Hungary, which tastes like a dream on its own.  I never realised you had to use so much and have obviously been too sparing in the past - 4 tablespoons?  Get in there...

Having chopped and sweated and fried and stirred, I was then rather dependent on Em waking up from her "short" afternoon kip, to lift it into the oven in time. I went upstairs and thumped around with the radio on - that seemed to work.

Having accomplished the task and feeling a bit sore - you try chopping vegetables with your "wrong" hand - I decided that Wine O Clock should be half an hour early to celebrate the mastery of head over pain and phoned a friend to declare this state of affairs was an official "Charlotte Decree".  I think I may have been the cause of uncontrollable giggles (and maybe a little embarrassment?) when I asked her daughter to pass on the message "It has been shitty sodding day.  Wine O Clock is officially starting NOW.  Can you tell Mum?"  "Yes!" she said.  Did I detect a note of relief in her voice too?

I now realise, having set myself this challenge and both Em and HWISO greeting this new innovation with enthusiasm, that I am going to have to keep going on.  Why do I do this to myself? I suppose continuing to set myself challenges and widen my (culinary) horizons can be seen as a bit of "hope over experience" mentality.  At this stage of my life, do I really need to be expanding my experiences or should I be making life as simple as possible and enjoying what I have? 

I find myself doing this quite a lot with clothes.  I have always been one of those certain clothes are "for best" people and have tended to spend the last 20 years slobbing out at home in sweaters with holes, shirts with frayed collars and paint splotches and a succession of "gardening" jeans. At this stage of my life, I should really be making the most of the opportunity to wear what I want but somehow still can't justify wafting around in silk shirts, whilst making goulash....

I tried another experiment last night and went to sleep without the radio on.  At 1.30 am, I gave up trying to pretend that my head was going to stop going to Gloomsville and caved.  Instantly fell into a deep sleep until 4 am whilst seeming to absorb a programme about the economic thingy going on in the US at the moment.  I am really finding it hard to understand this whole shutting down the economy over healthcare thing.

I don't want to spark a political debate here and I do come from a nationalised (socialised?) healthcare system where everyone pays in so everyone can access treatment. I am bemused why this is not standard.  Our system is not perfect - Mental Health treatment is terrible - but it seems crazy to shut down a country over this.  Or is it just me?

I am going to be giving the family Charlotte's Helix t-shirts for Christmas.  I wonder if I get an extra small, whether I can fit it on Pirate.   He has one with "Security" on it (Yeah, right!) but is not keen on dressing up.

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