Sunday, 14 June 2009

Domestic pursuits

WH and I had two days off last week so the weekend has felt nice and long - although, of course, not quite long enough.

Three days of fun and enjoying that heady break-from-routine left us feeling a bit tired; a number of late nights out at the theatre, learning about whisky, and other extraordinary (for us) pursuits.

Today, by contrast, has been mainly about the domestic. I've managed to cobble together a personal philosophy when it comes to housework that borrows from pragmatism (I realise the truth that keeping a clean home is better for our health, but recognise that the reality is beset by hurdles ranging from laziness to boredom), to skepticism (I refuse to see my world as either embattled by a vast horde of lethal bacteria intent on making me ill, or that dirt is a sin, preferring the maxim that exposure to a bit of dirt strengthens the immune system) to a bit of rationalism (if this chemical is strong enough to eat away in mere seconds a stubborn stain, with no scrubbing, what will it do when I wash it down the drain?) As a result, I do very little housework, using a variety of Ecover products and a bit of old-fashioned kitchen magic (vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, for the most part).

Anyway, that was a rather long-winded way of saying that I took some cathartic relief from dashing vinegar and bicarb down the loos and giving them a bit of scrub to get rid of the limescale, followed by a blitz of the kitchen. Homemade bread is a real pleasure and I would certainly never go back to shop-bought loaves now that I've the breadmaker, but slicing your own really does result in a lot of crumbs! I've also done some washing and some ironing and even fitted in a spot of baking. My first attempt at Chelsea buns and they were yummy! So yummy in fact, that I forgot to take a photo and they've already been reduced significantly, so you'll just have to wait for the next batch and a possible variation on the recipe to see them!

Things are looking good in the garden although the three tomato plants we bought from the farmers' market are still not the healthiest things in the garden. We're having an absolute nightmare with aphids on the tomatoes and courgettes, but we're persevering with the squishing method. Having said that the Roma toms are looking good and all of the plants have the faintest hints of some flower buds. The courgettes are flowering madly, the peas and beans are shooting skywards and the spring onions are about ready to pull. Without our realising it, the two salad tubs both went from plentiful to 'over', so I cut them both back to the soil level and sowed some new seed. The first tub is already sprouting again, so we'll have to make sure not to let it get to mad again.

Speaking of mad - the parsley had almost taken over the entire herb container it was in. Fortunately, St Hugh of Whittingstall came to the rescue in a timely fashion last week with a fantastic recipe for parsley pesto - we had it last night, as suggested, scooped into a ciabatta loaf baked in the oven with a simple salad.

Simple salad
Baby leaf spinach (about 2/3 large bag)
Green or fine beans (about half a pack from Waitrose)
x4 bacon rashers, smoked back pref
x1 clove garlic
x2 eggs

x1 generous tsp of wholegrain mustard
x1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
x4 tbsp of olive oil

Peel the garlic clove and add it to a frying pan with a small drizzle of oil. Cut the bacon rashers into large chunks and add to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 mins until the bacon is nice and crispy. Meanwhile boil the eggs and briefly cook the trimmed beans. Make up the dressing. Put all of the ingredients bar the eggs in a bowl and mix with the dressing. Slice the eggs in half and add to the salad. Serve with Hugh's parsley pesto ciabatta loaf.

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