Monthly Archives: November 2016

Z buys bread

We have a new shop in town.  Old friends will remember Al’s fruit and veg shop, which he sold a few years ago to an employee.  I’ll call him Dave, because most of my friends are called Dave, but that’s not actually his name.  Dave worked very hard to make a go of it and succeeded for quite some time, but being the sole owner of a small shop is hard work and there’s not a lot of profit in greengrocery, it’s all about the turnover and, after a few years, he closed it and turned it into a general antique/second-hand shop instead.  And then it closed altogether – I missed out on that happening and have lost touch, which is a shame as I liked him and certainly wish him well.

Anyway, workmen have been in and scaffolding has been up and they’ve got a Facebook page and we all watched developments, and it’s now a small but high quality coffee house and bakery.  This was the first week of trading, so LT and I went in to buy our bread this morning.  And we bought a couple of little lamb samosas and a big sausage roll for lunch too.

It’s intriguing to me, how they’ve changed the shop – they’ve taken out the back wall to the passageway and stairs, so that they can put tables and chairs upstairs.  A bit surprisingly, they’ve installed an Aga – not yet sure what it’s for, actually and it’ll be really hot in summer.  The samosas were delicious, really excellent and the sausage roll was perfectly good, though not actually exceptional.  We’ll try the bread in the morning and have our eye on the baguettes and croissants.  I hope they can make a go of it – if there’s one thing that Yagnub is well served for, it’s cafés, but this one is a bit different and there is a place for a fine bakery, so fingers crossed for the bread quality.  Also that their fairly high prices are matched by quality so that people keep shopping there.

It’s a bit of a foodie spot at present, is Yagnub.  All very close to each other, we have a good fishmonger, deli, wholefood shop and greengrocer, as well as the two good butchers and various other independent shops – there’s a decent everyday bakery, two sweetshops that have proper jars and will weigh out your 100g (not quite as satisfying as a quarter, has to be said) of mint imperials or aniseed balls or whatever old-fashioned sweets take your fancy – and there are several good places to eat; at lunchtime anyway, the choice is smaller in the evening.

We had rashers of our latest batch of bacon, with new-laid eggs and fried bread (I know, darlings, how retro!) for dinner last night.  We’re ruined for ordinary bacon.  Don’t want to have to buy it again.  And not a drop of liquid comes out, especially not that nasty white scummy stuff that means that a lot of water has been injected in the meat.  Even dry-cured bacon has it. So the bacon may be dry-cured but the pork has had salty water added to it.


“Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage”

LT and I went to church today, to the Remembrance Sunday service.  It was being held at one of the other village churches; three of us have combined services for the occasion, taking it in turns.  As ever, we all listened intently to the Rolls of Honour being read out and, as always, I felt sad at the sheer number, 25 men, killed in the 1914-1918 war, in Earsham.  This village has just over  400 houses now and many fewer then, it surely almost wiped out a generation.  7 died in the Second World War – bad enough but it demonstrates the awful carnage of the ‘war to end wars’ – sad and ironic as that description proved to be.

Roses came in for dinner last night and we had a lovely evening.  Fairly late on, she wanted to ask me a question “as a Christian.” Heart sank a bit as you can imagine, I make no assertions about my Christianity and have no answers about anything.  But I did give a robust answer to what she said.  It was about those people of religious faith who were so certain of their rightness that they condemn anyone who either disagrees with them or falls short, to their mind, of the right way to live, either wanting to force others to live their way or to attack them .  What was the difference between Christians and Muslims who were such fundamentalists, she wondered.  None, I said.  They are using religion as an excuse.  It isn’t about religion or faith at all, it’s all about them and power.  It’s the same with patriotism or nationalism when it’s used as a weapon. As Dr Johnson said, “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” not that patriots are scoundrels or that there’s anything amiss with love and pride of one’s country but, when it’s used as an excuse to behave badly and hate others, it reflects worse on the person than if they are simply and unashamedly bastards. And I know I’m stating the obvious – or it should be the obvious – but it isn’t obvious to quite a number of people.  Those who swing at the other end of the pendulum seem to me to be just as bad.

There’s been a lot of overt hate going on recently and there is, at last, an attempt at a kindness backlash, some of which is directed against certain newspapers, in particular one that called judges “enemies of the people” and put up photos of those concerned – in an exact imitation, whether they knew it or not, of a German newspaper headline from 1933.   The final blessing at this morning’s service – the wording is used every year, it wasn’t written just for this troubled year – was kind and thoughtful and thoroughly Christian in a way that those who either preach hate as religious people or preach hate against religion, or preach hate for those of other countries or cultures, ignore or don’t understand.  And I took a quick picture of it – or thought I had, but I didn’t quite catch the page so I’ll just quote what I did get.

“Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint hearted; support ….. the afflicted; honour everyone.”

Wouldn’t it be good?

When Z sits down, not knowing what to write about – rambling Z

LT arrived back just moments before I got home from the supermarket, having suddenly realised I was in need of a couple of things and reckoned I’d just got time – in fact, I think we’d have arrived simultaneously if it hadn’t been for mustard.

Colmans now have a mild mustard, apparently.  And the Co-op had taken away all their stock of Colman’s real ready-made mustard (I realise that is actually an oxymoron and the only real stuff is when you take powder and make it properly, but you know what I mean) so that you were forced to buy the watered-down version.  Or maybe it’s got more flour in – less mustard, that’s for sure.  Anyway, I clearly wasn’t going to buy it and so had to buy own brand instead.  We’ll give it a whirl.  If it’s no good, I’ll buy it somewhere else entirely and the Co-op will have lost a bit of my custom.  I do mostly shop there for general household stuff – whilst going to the butcher, baker, greengrocer etc where possible – because it’s a good source of employment in the town and I try to shop locally when I can.

But the naivety of thinking that, if they restrict choice, you’ll meekly buy what you can get from that one shop.  There are many more options nowadays, of course and the final option is to do without.  Which I certainly will if I can’t get what I want and there isn’t an acceptable substitute

There’s a very local store that sells all sorts of things, from DIY stuff to animal feed and necessities – I bought the chicken’s feeders and drinkers there, I get items of hardware, wood preservative for fences, wellington boots, all sorts of things.  But, from having been good value, it now isn’t, frankly.  About a year and a half ago, I discovered that, by driving less than three miles, I could save two pounds a bag on chicken feed.  The same brand and size of sack, I’m sure they were buying them in at much the same price, yet the difference was (at the time, the price has gone down slightly since at both places) £7.95 to £6.00.  I changed my allegiance and bought three bags at a time to justify the petrol.  When I needed a sprayer, their price was nearly £100 and other shops I went to in town varied down to about £60.  I bought it from the internet for less than half that – i.e. little over a quarter of the local price, though not the same brand and I don’t know about quality; the one I got is fine.  Similarly pond liner, everything we’ve looked at.  So I do buy there if it’s really convenient and not very expensive in the first place, but it’s so easy to shop around nowadays.

This place used to be constantly busy and now seems to have few customers.  Yet I want to give them my custom rather than order online.  They just need to meet their client halfway.

Anyway.  I didn’t know I was going to write about that.  Lovely Tim is home, as I said, and things are right again at the Zeddary.  Though, as I mentioned to him, the one advantage of the week has been to have had enough space in bed.  One small cat and one husband take a disproportionately big part of a kingsize bed.  Although, if I’m happily asleep all night tonight, I’ll be unaware of that.  Innit.

It’s been a quiet week at …

It’s been a quiet week at the Zeddary.  LT had various things to do back at our other home and I had things here, so we went our separate ways.  He’ll be back tomorrow, though.  In the meantime, I’ve had a tooth capped, been to lectures on Shakespeare in opera and ballet, cancelled a music lesson because I didn’t feel up to it and had a dinner postponed because the hostess was ill.  My main achievement of the week has been the Great Annual Ironing Session.

I have a lot of napkins and tablecloths.  And they need ironing, most of them.  But ironing doesn’t happen unless it has to and it’s only really essential when I’ve run out of something.  In the case of napkins, once a year is about right.  Some of them, if smoothed and folded as soon as they’re washed, don’t really need ironing, but the thirty linen ones I used for our wedding party about wiped me out of best ones, so I reckoned it was about time.  I also, most unusually ironed all my washed summer clothes.  So, unlike this year, I’ll be ready when the weather changes in about … oh, eight months time, for a week or two, when I want summer togs.

Also, with LT away, I’ve been watching television (nothing live, always the risk of accidentally catching a news report, which I can’t face right now) and reading.  Tim, I gather, has been mostly listening to music.  I’ve got too much of a radio backlog to catch up on for that, except in the car.    Either I listen obsessively, it seems, or hardly at all.

The next piece of bacon is ready to come out of its cure, to be rinsed and hung up in the attic.  I should have done it today but it was late by the time I’d finished the ironing and I couldn’t be bothered.  Tomorrow morning will do fine.  And it’ll hang for two or three days and then be sliced.  I have a small queue of people hoping for a rasher or two…

Even Gooder Life*

Fortunately, the changeable weather remained dry for us to light the bonfire (the brambles on top kept much of the underneath stuff from being soaked, and we had several bags of sawdust and some chipboard to add at the last too) and to set off the first box of fireworks.  Then it started to rain again, so we retreated indoors to eat.  By a chance of happy fortune, the sausages, chicken drumsticks and pork ribs were cooked just when we went indoors, so it wasn’t long before food was on the table.  I’d taken the view that it could all be classed as finger food, if lots of paper napkins were provided, so washing up was minimised.

It was our six week wedding anniversary – any excuse for champagne, of course – and we had a jolly evening.  It stopped raining so we had the rest of the fireworks – Phil set them off from the grass near the house, so we didn’t have to go off to the field again, and we did the traditional waving round of sparklers to make patterns.  Ro and Dora couldn’t stay overnight because of their cat, but Weeza & co did – young Zerlina and Gus have stayed often, of course, so were quite happy about it.  As we’d eaten early because of the children, we’d put out cheeses and home-grown grapes afterwards – just Magnum ice creams for dessert, but we didn’t manage them,  As it was, we all ate a lot.

And this morning, I had to leave the house by 9.30 for church as I was playing the clarinet, so breakfast had to be prompt.  Home-cured bacon and new-laid eggs can’t be beaten as a breakfast treat.  Everyone enjoyed it.  For once, the children didn’t even mention pancakes.

Lovely Weeza and Phil have cut up a lot more wood for us and taken more back for themselves. The new woodburner is marvellous – so much less effort to keep the whole house warm, though of course fetching in logs is a fair bit of work.  You do get a sense of achievement, though.

*and even larger Z, I fear.


The Large (and good) Life

Food is engaging much of our thoughts at present.  As we had some lovely home-made chicken stock in the fridge, LT volunteered to make minestrone soup.  He’s the acknowledged expert in all matters Italian – though, when we discussed it later, it transpired that his minestrone isn’t vastly different from mine.  Anyway, he put in a single jalapeño pepper, the same that was almost untasteable with the mussels – and it was really very spicy, in several pints of soup.  Delicious, but Sicilian more than Italian, he said.

Having sliced and frozen much of our bacon, I used some of the remainder in a warm salad tonight – home-grown spinach, potato croutons (I’m sorry, I know that croutons are specifically bread and that there’s a circumflex accent in there, but let’s be adaptable, innit), avocado and the bacon cut into little bits – and it was so good.  I also rendered down the bacon skin, into fat and pork scratchings.  Blimey, the scratchings were tasty.

I went to the butcher and bought another, larger piece of belly pork.  This now resides in the fridge, and the cure mix will be rubbed in daily for another five days.  It is truly delicious and, if you are disappointed with the water topped with white scum that’s given off by bacon nowadays, I honestly recommend that you try making your own.  I had no idea how easy it was. We have ambitions in the smoking department in future but, having looked up methods, are a bit daunted at the thought of salami.

In other news, we’ve been pulling down the old tumbledown stable today, saving what wood we can for the woodburner and putting the rest on a bonfire for Saturday.


Z tallies the books

I finished the auction accounts yesterday and sent out the last of the cheques.  Having just done so, I received an email from one of the vendors, asking for a timescale on paying out.  I can’t say it was not polite, but it was a little terse – normally with a saleroom, terms are that it’ll take a month or so to pay out, so I took a certain pleasure in writing a friendly email back, saying that she should receive her cheque by Thursday, I know everyone who pays me by cheque so I don’t have to wait for them to clear – her reply was considerably softer.

It’s a load off my mind, that’s the reason I am so quick about it.  I don’t like owing money and I don’t like holding other people’s money for any longer than I need to.  So I sleep better for knowing it’s all been done.  Just a couple more pieces of china to post, one to deliver and two more to be picked up, and then all is finished until early next year.  I’ll note the pieces that have been told me already (yes, I have entries for next October’s auction, about ten or a dozen so far) but I won’t do more work this year.  I’ve earned time off with my lovely husband.