The day was as enjoyable as I’d hoped. I’m relieved that, being thoroughly out of practice, I can still coordinate a meal for 14 and have everything ready on time. I overslept, in fact – I am sleeping better than I have for decades, still – and didn’t wake up until 8.50, though in a brief wakeful period at 7 o’clock I considered getting up and sorting everything out early. But I thought another short nap would be nice.
So I got the lamb out of the fridge, chopped onions, put the lamb on the onions and some rosemary, studded it with garlic, oiled and seasoned it and made a mental note to put it in the oven at 10 o’clock. It was a big leg. I peeled whole lots of potatoes, parsnips and carrots, cut up broccoli, sliced courgettes and put them in a frying pan with garlic, butter and olive oil. Ronan and I picked mint and he made the mint sauce. I put chipolatas in a frying pan to cook later, parboiled the potatoes and tossed them in oil, as I did the ‘snips and carrots. I took the top off the red pepper, cooked the rice, cooked onion to go in the rice, made a tomato sauce, decided to add cheese to the rice and stuffed the pepper. I whipped the cream, put it in the profiteroles except some for the grandchild’s who doesn’t like cream (and it was lucky I’d cautiously decided to cook sausages because he wasn’t too keen on lamb either), put Wink’s in a bowl because she doesn’t like chocolate and she distributed the raspberries. I made the chocolate sauce.
When the children were little – my own children, that is – a popular game was a treasure hunt, with clues. As they got older, the clues became more cryptic. It’s lovely that Ronan now does the same thing with his children. He did them an Easter egg hunt, just tiny eggs wrapped in foil. He told Rufus that they’d be written clues now, as he can read. Alex remembered one of my clues – “In the water but not in the water” which I thought was good of him, after 30 years.
Alex offered to help and I asked him to put napkins on the table. He vanished for a while and, some time later, I went into the dining room with a bottle of wine, just as he was leaving. He’d folded all the napkins into waterlilies and I told him he’d made my day. Just a little kindness because it was something I used to do, he knew I’d be charmed.
The minor fly in the ointment was that the small tabletop oven really doesn’t get hot enough now – last summer, I had to give bread double the time it needs in the Aga and I don’t think it’s hot enough to cook it at all now – and I first thought of putting Pugsley’s red pepper to cook in Wink’s oven, but it was easier to give it a few minutes in the microwave and it was cooked in time. I put the grill on to finish off the parsnips and carrots because they weren’t going to be ready otherwise either. The meat had half an hour to rest and everything was on the table at 1 o’clock on the dot. I’m boasting, I’m afraid, but I haven’t done a big Sunday roast for the whole family for a long time – when we’ve been together over the last couple of years, it’s been cold meals outdoors.
Just remembered I’d turned the Aga up, because otherwise the oven loses heat when a lot is being cooked at the same time. Just as well I did all that shameful bragging, because I wouldn’t have remembered to turn it down otherwise.
Little Perdita now talks in full, fluent sentences. I can’t understand her, but I seemed to be appreciative enough because she smiled a lot. She’s a very good-natured little girl and enjoyed the matching game I fished out for them to play.