We have just spent a very sociable weekend. At short notice, John and Gill came to see us on Friday evening, travelling from Middlezoy for a kitchen supper and a really good catch-up. I cooked them pheasant with grapes and sherry (not the most imaginative choice for a man, who is making a fleeting trip from somewhere in south-western Europe to Somerset, for a day of shootin’). A simple apple tart (thank you Anne, our neighbour) with dabs of the last of my sister’s mincemeat (thank you Liz) made a satisfactory dessert.
On Saturday we launched our hall as a dining venue. Three couples from our youth, friends variously from school or college days, arrived bearing flowers, wine and more apples – beautiful yellow and red cookers – and from Angela an almost warm jar of homemade apple and sage jelly, an accompaniment for pork.
On my menu is a roast shoulder of lamb, brought from France by Nick together with other cuts from the whole animal he bought just before he returned to England the previous weekend. There is much laughter as more than forty years melt away and I find myself once again in the company of girls, with whom I learnt to write 120 words a minute in Pitman shorthand, and 60 words a minute on a keyboard. This latter skill has been invaluable over the years and never more so when so much communication and time is spent at my laptop.
On Sunday evening Bas and Rosemary check in for the night. ( I have had to shoo the cat off their bed, the now fully-heated waterbed which I have tested and deemed fit for human comfort). We have Conch. Soc. business to discuss over another kitchen supper composed of left-overs, mushroom-nut loaf and a lentil tart with assorted fruity condiments. In the morning, as I lay up the breakfast table, I pull out one of the larder units of my swish new kitchen to select a jam. As I survey the top compartment, groaning with jars of jams, conserves, preserves, chutneys, pickles, variously gifted by friends and family as well as my own efforts, it seems to me that it has been a particularly bountiful autumn, resulting in a collective effort of processing of this harvest into an array of delicious gastronomic embellishments. Yum.