So, tonight is the Best Night Of The Year, and the only thing that makes it worthwhile not having British Summer Time all year round – I have to say that if there were a referendum on the subject, I would totally* vote for Scottish independence, just so’s* the English and Welsh, and very likely the Northern Irish MPs could vote for us not having horrid dark afternoons. Not that they literally bristle** but they feel as if they do. In short, the CLOCKS GO BACK TONIGHT, which means you either have an hour’s extra sleep or an hour extra to do fun things on a Sunday. I have not yet made up my mind which.
I went to cut some artichokes for Al to sell – the plants I grew from seed this spring have cropped enthusiastically, though the artichokes are not very large – and observed that there were a few small squashes that had been missed in the general harvest, so I picked them and decided to make a squash risotto. It was not without incident, though nothing untypical of my normal cookery routine.
1 Time for a drink. I open a bottle of sparkling pink wine and pour a glass for Ro and one for me. A few minutes later, the Sage comes in and I wave the bottle at him. He pours himself a glass and goes all convivial. I crack and eat a walnut.
2 ” May I help myself?” asks Ro. I am impressed. I haven’t drunk mine yet. He refills all three glasses. Moments later, the Sage puts his empty glass down. I am impressed. I crack and eat a couple more walnuts and offer the bag around.
3 I go to the kitchen. I have already grated the squash and chopped the shallots, so I start to cook the latter in butter while I look for the risotto rice. I find all sorts of things in the cupboard, including 2 packets of opened sultanas, 3 opened (better English) packets of couscous, an unopened packet of chamomile and spiced apple tea, which rather made it unnecessary that I bought another one the other day, and various other things I didn’t know I had. Finally, I looked in another cupboard and found two packets of arborio rice, both opened and part-used, which weren’t the unopened pack I noticed the other day, but hey ho.
4 I put them both into the slightly browner than intended shallots, stirred them and went to look for the dry Martini I usually use in risotto. I remembered it had all been used. I used vodka instead, as otherwise I’d have had to have used my remaining half glass of wine.
5 I add the squash and the leftover gravy from the other night’s chicken. It wasn’t thickened; just meat’n’onion juices, sherry and veggie cooking liquid plus a spoonful of vegetable stock powder so that wasn’t peculiar. I continue to add hot vegetable stock.
6 The Sage comes in. “I peeled the sprouts” he said helpfully. Risotto and sprouts. Hm. Pfft. Fine. I thanked him and gathered him into my arms for a kiss. “You smell smoky” I said approvingly. I actually said “Yoo is smokayyy”, which makes it clearer that I approved, and I kissed him again. He had been tending a stray bonfire, just to attract my attention. Lapsang Souchong, Laphraoig and kippers/bloaters aren’t the only smoky things that appeal to me. I keep him young, you know.
7 Having gone out in the meantime, the Sage comes in again. “Can I help?” he asks, helpfully. “Well, you could stir the risotto,” I said, ‘but I would just stand here saying ‘gosh, you stir a mean risotto, ooh, you are marvellous, yum” because I don’t actually have anything else to do.” The Sage grinned. “I’ve time to make a phone call, then?” I agreed that he had. I cooked the sprouts, a few minutes in advance so that I could use the cooking water in the risotto. No waste in this house.
8 Ro came in. “Anything I can do to help?” It seems that the chaps are getting hungry. I’d been grating cheese and I put it in the risotto. “I’ll taste it before adding more” I said, passing him a spoon too. “I put in goat’s cheese and your father doesn’t know he likes goat cheese, and the rest is cheddar.” Ro chuckled. I told him that the other night’s soup had contained celery. He knew. His father didn’t. He thinks he doesn’t like celery soup. I added the rest of the cheese, Ro added pepper and dinner was ready. While it was being carried through (TV dinner, darlings, we hadn’t lit a fire in the dining room) I opened a bottle of red wine. Well, one bottle of fizz between 3 doesn’t quite do it, does it?
9 Eats risotto.
10 Eats second helping of risotto. Decides against second glass of red wine. Relaxes.
**horrid means bristling and is not a synonym for horrible. Read Milton if you don’t quite believe me. Or ask Dandelion or Dave, both of whom know Latin.