Lunch went very well yesterday. A socking great 16 lb rib of beef, with all that goes with it, and the pudding was a hit too. I decided on Queen of puddings – most of you will know it, it’s a Victorian recipe I think. Not that even I quite recall it from those days. For those who don’t know it, you heat milk, add breadcrumbs, a little sugar and lemon zest and, when it’s cool, egg yolks and then bake it like egg custard. When set, you top it with warm jam and, when you’re about to start your meal, whip up the egg whites with sugar – less sugar than for regular meringues – spread on top and bake gently again. I did a double quantity and it all went. Squiffany had a second helping, which was a rarity and, when Zerlina was asked if she liked it, she didn’t stop eating long enough to reply but just nodded.
I cooked the beef for ten minutes to the pound, which was rather guesswork but which was fine. Most of us like it on the rare side. There’s some of it left, but everything else vanished except half a dozen sprouts – though even Pugsley has decided he likes sprouts now.
Zerlina has been enjoying Christmas. She loved the idea of an Advent calendar – Weeza has a chest of drawers for Advent, and she puts a little present in each, she did it first for Squiffany and Pugsley one year. Just a balloon, hairclip, sweet or suchlike – but with that, and doing the rounds of the family for several days, the first day with no parcels to open came as a disappointment to her. When we were over there, each present offered to her was opened with a hopeful “Might be chocolate?” – fortunately, there were some chocolate coins, so she wasn’t disappointed.
Something always breaks down at Christmas time, so we were more disappointed than surprised when it turned out to be our new electric blanket, which was only three weeks old. £65, it cost, bought online from John Lewis. I was glad that I’d bought it online, as it meant I didn’t have to trail back to the shop with it, but could email. The blanket itself seems to be all right, it has dual controls and it’s one of the leads that has stopped working. The one on my side of the bed. I snuggled up very affectionately to the Sage to keep warm, but after warming me up thoroughly, he insisted on us swapping sides and taking the cold side himself. A gentleman, he is. I emailed John Lewis customer services department last night. I was surprised and gratified to receive a reply first thing this morning – it being a bank holiday, I hadn’t really expected one until tomorrow. I was less happy that, with apologies, they said it was out of stock so they couldn’t replace it at present, but offered a full refund with no need to return the blanket. They also gave me two London branches that, at the time of writing, still had some in stock. I haven’t followed this up, as I have now put on a blanket from the spare bed. I’ll see if the local electrician can do anything with the lead – the working lead is fine either side of the bed, so it isn’t the blanket itself. If not, I’ll replace it when stocks come in again. Though, presumably, at a higher price as VAT will have risen by then.