Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

A letter to my brother

Dear Brother (and Sister-In-Law, actually – you are partly to blame),

Let me describe my last week to you. On Sunday evening, you both came for dinner. In casual conversation after eating, you mentioned Breaking Bad. And, might I add, Modern Family. Now this is where the problem lies. Did you really need to mention them both? How about just one and leave it til the next visit to drop the other one.

“Pfft!” said I, dismissively, in the voice of one who knows better. “What is this Breaking Bad of which everyone speaks? I don’t go in for these big commercial things that are marketed to the masses. Like The Da Vinci Code which, by the way, I never read.”

“Well, it’s about a Chemistry teacher who makes a load of crystal meth to make money quick because he’s ill,” I was told.

Wait a minute, that sounds interesting.

“And this Modern Family thing. It looks a bit silly. But I do remember reading somewhere that Barack Obama liked it.”

“That’s great too. You have to see it,” said Brother and Sister-In-Law. “It’s on Netflix. Have you got a Netflix account?”

And so, before I could say ThereGoesMySocialLife, Danda had set up a Netflix account and we were on episode 2 of Modern Family. It hooked me immediately and we didn’t move from the sofa until after midnight.

I mean, WTF…. why the face? (If you haven’t watched Modern Family, that made no sense. )

The last six days have mainly consisted of late nights and tiredness. But I do have something to show for it, some achievement; most of the 1st series of Modern Family and almost two series of Breaking Bad.

Never mind that this week has also consisted of a few early mornings (on not much sleep) and a terrible cold and sore throat. No! The important thing has been the extremely active Netflix account.

If the Netflix account was a pair of shoes, it would be tattered and torn and letting the rainwater in. Just saying.

Yours sincerely,
Sister

P.S. While I’m at it, you’re also getting the blame for the full washing basket and lack of clean clothes and the fact that I lost my Oyster card last week and can’t be bothered to look for it.

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Madame Forager and friends survive the mushrooms!

Ok, guys. Let’s get to it. It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The unveiling of the first harvest of my home grown mushrooms.

Let me remind you how they looked on Tuesday morning.

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And this is how they looked on Tuesday evening.

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I cut the biggest ones, split them in half and threw in a few shitake mushrooms I found in the fridge to bulk it up a little as there were five hungry mouths to feed. I fried them for about five minutes in a little bit of truffle butter and a splash of olive oil, until they had softened and started to sizzle. I fried for a few seconds longer then sprinkled a little truffle salt over to serve.

As there were only a few of the mushrooms, I didn’t want them to get lost in a bigger dish of vegetables so we had pea and mint soup to start, then the mushrooms were like a little post-soup novelty feature – just a small bite, given a space of it’s own in the evening’s dining. We all ummed and ahhed and made the appropriate noises to make sure all the weeks of growing had been worth it. And they were actually tasty (helped by the hints of truffly goodness). 

Then we had our main meal, a parmigiana with loads of greens on the side. More umming and ahhing and my self esteem shot through the roof. For, as I have previously mentioned (and anyone who loves cooking for and feeding others knows), it’s the praise for our food that makes us feel it is also praise for us. We feel loved when someone compliments our courgettes or enthuses about our endive.

All in all, it was a successful evening and a successful mushroom course, I’d say.

And no-one got mushroom poisoning (unlike the woman who picked some mushrooms from her garden to add to a can of mushroom soup and died).

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Well, that’s me for today. I’m off to Ham House in a mo to get my 17th century scullery maid groove on.

Danda, the phone and the dinner

Life with Danda is filled with fun. There are days out, there are long evenings talking nonsense and watching films, there are walks filled with Danda’s extensive knowledge of history, there are occasional bouts of cleaning and, weather permitting, lots of him gardening and me drinking tea and watching. Omygoodness, there is tea. So much tea. You can never have enough tea. But most of all, life with Danda is filled with hilarity. Stomach-clutching, eye-watering hilarity. Let me demonstrate.

Danda and the dinner
The other night, Danda offered to make the dinner. I’d like to think it’s because I had been working hard that day and was tired but I was probably just being lazy. We did one of those easy put-a-load-of-stuff-in-the-oven dinners. So I sat in the front room drinking tea, reading a book and listening to the sounds of Danda making dinner.

After about half an hour, he went to the oven to check and shouted that it was ready. I arrived in the kitchen and pottered around getting cutlery etc. As I turned around to collect my plate of food Danda had the two plates in front of the microwave as the microwave pinged.

In a moment of madness, he reached behind the plates and pressed the ‘open door’ button. The door did indeed open… sending one of the plates of food out at a hundred miles an hour before leaning gently to the floor and landing, surprisingly, facing upwards. The problem came with the speed that the plate hit the floor causing the fish and mushrooms to keep moving while the plate had stopped.

The plate that dropped, by the way, was mine.

Employing the three second rule, I whipped the food up off the floor quicker than you can say ‘clumsy’ and handed back to Danda to defluff.

I honestly couldn’t tell it had taken a little trip southwards as I ate it but, once Danda had got over his annoyance at himself, it was difficult to eat dinner because we couldn’t stop laughing about his casual lean around the plates to open the microwave door!

Danda and the phone
On Wednesday, Danda and I went to see Argo (fabulous, by the way). For those of you not in the UK, I don’t know if you get this thing called Orange Wednesdays. But basically, there is a phone company called Orange and if you are with them, you can text them on a Wednesday and they will send you a code to get two for one at the cinema. We have an old phone with a sim card in for Orange. Neither of uses it as our normal phone so this old phone sits in a drawer all week until Wednesdays, when we let it out.

So two days ago, Wednesday, I came home from work, turned on the Orange phone and sent the text to get a code. Until Danda came in, the phone was sitting on the table. When he came in, there was a flurry of phones and keys and purses, as the film was starting soon.

We walked to the cinema, it is only about fifteen minutes walk away. We got there with about ten minutes before the film would start.

“Two for one to see Argo please,” we told the boy behind the counter.

“Yep. Have you got your Orange Wednesday code?”

Danda turned to me. I checked my pocket. It wasn’t there.

“You must have it,” I said with certainty.

He checked his jeans pockets.

“I haven’t.”

My face dropped. I had made a point of tapping my pocket before we left and saying “Got the phone!” O man. I whipped off my jacket, held out my hands for the keys and said, “I’ll have to run back and get it.”

“No,” said Danda. “We’ll go together.”

I tried to insist on him letting me run back but he said we’d walk back together.

“Hold those tickets!” we told the boy and sped off out of the cinema and round the corner.

Laughing at ourselves, I mused aloud what had happened to the phone.

“I seem to remember something. Something about the phone and you keeping it or me keeping it. I had it in my pocket, remember? Where can I have put it?”

Danda chuckled good-naturedly, for he is a forgiving soul and wouldn’t hold it against me. It was a little chilly, so he put his hands in his coat pockets as we walked…..

And found the phone.

Yep.

It was in Danda’s pocket all the time…..

After a severe bout of laughing till we almost wet ourselves, we turned and ran back to the cinema. The film had almost started by now. We arrived a little out of breath, the same boy looking at us. We had only been gone about three minutes.

“It was in his pocket the whole time!” I exclaimed loudly, pointing at Danda.

At least I was in the clear….

P.S. I’ve got some time free today so will be on to some world-saving. I’ll report back tomorrow.

Off on a day out!

Today, Danda and I are going to Bath. I’m not just informing you of my plan to stay clean. For those of you not based in the UK and perhaps unaware of this fact, there is in fact a town called Bath Spa in England. It is where the Romans built lots of baths, once upon a time. Hence the name. (The Romans called it aqua sulis. Don’t ask me what that means.) There are also, predictably, lots of spa retreat type places to visit.

The plan for the day is as follows:

Arrive
Have breakfast
Find some Roman bath ruins to look at
Have lunch
Find the thermal spa place we looked up online and spent some time swimming and lolling about in the warm spring water plunge pools
Have dinner
Get the train home

So as you can see, it is a day of baths in Bath. The weather is chilly and I probably don’t have enough layers on. I have a chai latte warming my cold fingers and Danda is looking out the window all hyped cause he loves trains and planes and engines and boys things. He’s just said, “They’re amazing, trains. Aren’t they? Absolutely amazing.”

And so, to Bath! I will report back tomorrow. 

Danda and the little policeman jumper

I’ve just got a little story to tell you because there are children visiting and it is difficult to do anything of any length without them needing me to join in playing hide and seek or assist them upstairs to look under beds for dragons etc etc.

This story is about way back when Danda and I didn’t know each other very well. We had chatted a little, made polite conversation and he had asked me to dinner. We went to Wagamama’s, a Japanese chain restaurant with lovely food and great atmosphere. I often went for an hour before work and sat drinking green tea, nibbling on some noodles and reading a book.

We had been sitting in the far corner chatting, conversation was flowing and we found we had a similar sense of humour. All was well. I had dressed up a little for the occasion, in a batwing black jumper (bring back the 80s!), wraparoundy scarf thing that I had got in the Philippines, and grey trousers. I’d like to think I was channelling the shabby-chic look. Danda was wearing black trousers, a black V-neck jumper and a white shirt. He looked very smart.

At some point during the meal, Danda went off to the toilet and came back looking dismayed.

“Is everything ok?” I asked.

“No. I just caught sight of myself in the full length mirror. It’s this jumper. I look like a small off-duty policeman!”

And that was it. Our fate was sealed. Who doesn’t love a small off-duty policeman?

The time I cycled to the Cotswolds

A few years ago, my family and I were having a long weekend away in a cottage in the Cotswolds and I was quite recently into cycling so decided to cycle there from London. The journey was about 150 miles and I had two days to do it. I had booked into a youth hostel two thirds of the way along and was very excited. An entire day spent on my bike. It promised to be great fun.

I set out first thing in the morning and of course forgot the snacks I had put aside the night before. So at my first snack stop, an hour or two in, I found a few sweets from a pack of Starburst, an apple and some Softmints. I had a Starburst and a Softmint and wondered if I might die of starvation on this journey.

It was November and the weather was starting to get colder, which was fine by me actually, as I warm up very quickly when cycling, so find it uncomfortable to cycle in summer and nicer in winter. One thing that wasn’t great about cycling in winter, though, was the wind. It made things unnecessarily difficult. This day, it was windy most of the time. Not enough to slow me down but enough to irritate. It was in my face and it was constant.

I took a total of three breaks that day, each shorter than the last as I had less and less left to eat. I demolished the sweets and ate the single apple, savoring every juicy bite.

As I got closer to the town where I was stopping overnight, I saw on my map that I would need to go a few miles down the road I was on then come back the same distance, around the edge of a field, like following two sides of a triangle.

“So,” thought I, “I will cut down the work here and just cross this field. It will be much quicker.”

By this time, 11 hours after first starting out, I was getting quite tired. My bum hurt, my legs ached, my arms and hands were fed up of being outstretched and longed to relax. Mentally, I was getting a bit cabin-fever-y on my bike, constantly checking my mileage, the time, my speed etc.

My quick across-country shortcut, therefore, seemed perfect. I was only a few miles away and just wanted to get there, desperately. It was really dark by this point so I used my bike light and found a path across the field. It was quite a muddy path, enclosed by two rows of hedges. As I bumped along, I was suddenly pitched forward into a little ditch and thrown off the bike. Determined, I got up and started cycling again. Thirty seconds of muddy cycling later, I was thrown off again. I screamed into the wind which, by now, had become loud and fierce. I mounted the bike again, ready for a fight. This time, I didn’t fall into a ditch. Instead, the two rows of hedges ended and I was suddenly out on open field. No longer sheltered, the force of the wind hitting me knocked me off my bike again.

“FUCKING WIND!” I screamed, like a madwoman. “FUCK OFF!”

If anyone had been out walking their dog that evening, they must have thought there was a lunatic walking around.

I started to worry that I would be eternally lost in these fields. They went on far longer than I had expected and I couldn’t see any sign of the road on the other side. It was dark and windy and I was lost and alone, wandering the moors like Cathy looking for Heathcliffe.

Eventually, bumping my way across the fields, I saw a glint of a car light and headed straight for it, my heart pounding. As I emerged from the fields and onto the road, I saw a hill to my right and headed straight down it. According to my map, my youth hostel was down a road off this main one and I would be there in just a few minutes.

Off I went, down the hill, gliding and enjoying not having to cycle. I got to the bottom, looked around and realised I couldn’t see the road I was looking for. I knocked on the door of a nearby house to ask for directions and yes, you guessed it, it was back at the top of the hill, directly opposite, in fact, the path I had come out of the fields on.

So up the hill I went, found the road and, ten seconds along the way, was my home for the evening. I dismounted, at long last, locked the bike up and entered the reception area. By this point, I was ravenous, dirty, exhausted and aching. I was greeted with the news that dinner had stopped 15 minutes ago and no, there was nowhere else to get food unless I wanted to go down that hill again. After some grovelling and begging, they agreed to throw something together for me and I scurried off to change out of my cycling gear.

And that’s when I discovered the windburn. It was everywhere, my shins were especially bad as it meant I couldn’t sleep unless I had them out of the blankets which, in winter, isn’t the nicest thing. As I ate, I found I had windburn on the roof of my mouth and couldn’t quite swallow properly because of it. It was on my knuckles and face and tingled like crazy when touched.

So after my thrown-together dinner of tuna, pasta and vegetables, I sat reading a book, making sure none of my windburn was touching anything. It was very awkward!

The next day, apart from adding 8 miles on by cycling in the wrong direction for a bit, I had a relatively newsless journey, arriving at the cottage in the afternoon.

It was a good thing to have done but, honestly, I’ll think twice before I do it again…!

Danda and the birthday card

Yesterday was Danda’s friend’s birthday. I know this friend pretty well too so proposed dinner made by Yours Truly then set off into town to get a little card and a little something else from Danda and I.

I didn’t forward plan anything or scout around online to get ideas. I just figured something would catch my eye. I went into a card shop first and I looked.

I looked at all the pretty pinky red cards with owls and hummingbirds and cakes on them. I saw cards which looked like they had been stitched together. I saw cards with golden looped writing and sincere messages of birthday wishes and many happy returns. I saw fun cards with bubble writing and ages written on them. I saw cards with old photos and funny quotes on them.

And none of them were right. None of them quite suited a slightly older gentleman with an interest in World War II and programmes about true crime, who enjoys his own company and has a silly little dog that was kind of forced on him but who he’s actually quite fond of.

I saw billions of cards for women. Quite a lot for children. And a fair amount for people who think quotes on old black and white photos are funny. But not that many for men like my friend.

Eventually I tracked down two which I thought might fit the bill. One was a humorous card about the internet, prompted by my friend’s total impatience with anything computery.

The other was a green coloured one which looked like an old poster from the war and it had something about football on it, about how shouting loudly at your TV set helps them win. I didn’t know which to get and in my indecision, I got both.
I thankfully had a much easier time with the present and just got him a DVD set of stuff about the war.

I was still fretting about the cards and called Danda for his opinion. He said the football one would be best. I said I’d show him it before writing it.

When I saw Danda later, he was watching a programme called Minder, a classic from years ago, apparently.

“Danda,” I said. “Look at the card. It is just on the table there. I had such a hard time choosing it. I was in the shop for a long time and it is very important to me that you tell me if the card is ok.”

“Yep, I’ll look in a minute. I’m just watching Minder. It’s my favourite.”

“But Danda, we should write the card soon, before our friend arrives.”

“Yeh…. What you said….”

“Danda, something tells me you’re not really listening.”

“Mmmm.”

I got the card off the table and showed it to him. He looked at it briefly.

Silence.

“Do you think it’s ok, Danda?” I asked.

“Pardon?”

“Do you think the card’s ok? Is there anything about the card you’d like to say? I had such trouble finding a suitable one.”

Danda looks. He looks and he tilts his head slightly and he squints his eyes a little and finally he opens his mouth to give me his verdict.

“It’s a bit green.”