An evening of two halves

‘Cheers’ said Whizz as we clinked together our champagne flutes to welcome in 2015.

‘Here’s to a hospital free year’ I rejoined.

We almost made it!

Yesterday, late afternoon, turned out to be a bit frantic. I worked a bit of overtime at work, the car fuel-gauge was so low that the needle did not even move when the car was on a hill, the dog needed walking, a repeat prescription that should have been delivered to Pebbleditch, remained in Tinkle Town to be collected urgently, and it was Community Film night, which meant that Whizz needed dinner by 6pm in order to be at the village hall, erecting the big screen and setting up equipment at 6.30. At lunch time there had been a lot of talk about Christmas and I was painfully aware that I had done absolutely nothing towards the festive preparations, despite the fact that I am hosting my beloved family for several days.

Dog needs walking however busy one is
Whatever needs doing must make way for the dog walk.

I decided I should load the dog into the car, head to the petrol station first, then on to the doctor, after which I would walk, in the dark, around Tinkle Park.

I will digress a bit here and admit to something very personal. I am trying (I won’t say I am, one yet) to become a Buddhist. To many this may seem completely bonkers but I am deadly serious. I didn’t like the person I was becoming and felt the  need to make a change. Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of the ‘religeon’ that places responsibility on the individual. Instead of asking a deity to help achieve something, the emphasis is firmly on the person, to examine their heart and change their own karma, thus enabling their Buddahood to emerge.

I am completely happy with the self examination and improvement aspect of Buddhism, but I have some issue with the idea that a person can chant to get the things they want. I am assured by the people who attend the sessions that there are millionaires who have achieved their wealth through chanting ‘Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō’.

Having set the scene I will continue. Grabbing my dog vest (a fishing vest that contains all the accouterments needed for a walk: treats, ball, poo bags, torch, curry comb etc) and my muddy walking boots, I loaded them, and the dog into the back of the car. With some trepidation I ignited the engine and reversed into the road, looking at the fuel gauge and hoping for the best. I kept the revs low to reduce consumption and as I neared Tinkle, had the awful premonition that the petrol station may be accepting a fuel delivery and be closed.

The idea of chanting for what you want, entered my mind, and to the concern of the dog I began to chant, really convincing myself that the garage would be open and I would get petrol.

As I rounded the corner, there it was, open and with pumps available so I pulled up in a vacant spot. It was then I realised that of all the things I had remembered, money was not among them.

petrol pump nozzle
Thanks to the Daily Mirror for this image.

‘Bugger’ I announced to the dog. He cocked his head on one side, no doubt wondering if that was code for ‘Time for a walk’.

I probably wouldn’t make the return journey without fuel so I crossed the forecourt and stood just inside the doorway of the shoppy thing, where a lady customer was completing her transaction.

The guy behind the counter met my eyes.

‘I’ve come here on a very empty tank and found that I have forgotten my purse.’ I explained with some discomfort, ‘Is there any way you could let me squirt a bit of petrol into the tank, enough to go home and fetch my purse?’

‘The guy appraised me. ‘Where have you come from?’

‘Pebbleditch.’

I think he would have granted my request but at that moment, the woman at the counter pulled out her purse and thrust two ten pound notes at me.

‘Here,’ she said, ‘take this.’

I was horrified.

‘I couldn’t possibly take that,’ I insisted,

‘Come on,’ the lady responded. ‘Take it, quickly. I’ve got a baby in the car.’

Still not quite believing what had happened, I clutched two crisp ten pound notes and watched the lady leave, tears of gratitude in my eyes.

As I went back towards my car, the lovely lady was still sitting in the driver’s seat of her own vehicle, and it dawned on me that I would not need twenty pounds to get home, so I knocked on her windscreen and passed back one of the notes through her lowered side window, effusing my gratitude once more. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

I continued with my mission, to the doctor’s, the pharmacy and, wisely avoiding the park, decided that the chalk meadow was a safer bet to walk the dog. He received a shorter walk than usual as the dinner still needed to be cooked, and time was marching on. The idea of fish and chips sprang to mind on the way home. I was pretty hungry as I had not had any lunch, and I knew my family would be delighted, nay disbelieving, at their luck. Junk food, and it was Mum’s idea? Never.

After dropping the dog home I set off back to Tinkle. It was the night of the Victorian Market and the car park was already filling up, but I managed to find a slot, and even remembered to buy a parking ticket.

Filled with the wonder of life, I strode towards the centre of town and my eye was caught by a closing down sale. Aware of my shortcomings in the area of Christmas shopping, I looked with interest at the window display.

It is not good practice to walk in one direction while looking in another and as my toe hit the curbstone I found my body launched towards the wet pavement, bag clutched to my chest. There was no saving myself, my centre of gravity was at about my knees, and as I landed on my bag, my body see sawed over it and my face hit the pavement. Grit filled my mouth as I heard the concerned voices of two ladies, whose feet soon appeared in my field of vision

‘Are you alright?’ Asked an anxious voice.

‘I think so.’ I replied from my undignified position.

‘Sue!’ Announced another voice and I turned my head a little to observe a friend.

‘Hi Bess.’ I struggled to my knees. Everything seemed intact, in fact nothing hurt.

‘We must have coffee some time,’ the friend murmured as she kissed me goodbye.

‘Yes.’ I promised, feeling shaken and surreal.

I rubbed the dirt from my face and having bought two cod and one haddock, all with chips, I sped home, where all was warm, normal and hungry. I told Whizz and Mavis what had happened but I played it down a bit because no harm had been done.

Of course when I woke up the next morning I had a headache and was very stiff in the shoulders and knees. The headache worried me and thoughts of hemorrhages and detached retinas floated before me. Whizz was still asleep so I got up, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to nip down to A&E. Just to be on the safe side.

I woke Whizz and as we set of for the hospital, Sounds of the 60s began playing Poetry in Motion. Whizz and I began to giggle, years of marriage has placed us both firmly on the same basic level of humour.

‘Falling tree in motion’ sang Whizz.

‘Launching by my side,’ I sang back.

Our visit to A&E was much briefer than we expected. We were sent to the Urgent Care department and were seen in about 15 minutes. Brilliant NHS.

I had whiplash and a bashed TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), the cause of the pain.

Apparently I need to talk less to rest it!

 

Lemon Flan

This must be one of the easiest and most enjoyable puds in the world.

lemon-flan-recipe
Thanks to Cookbook.co.za for this picture of lemon flan.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 packet of digestive biscuits (dark chocolate ones are also good)
  • Third of a block of butter
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • Equal quantity of double cream. Use the tin to measure it out.
  • 2 lemons

 

Directions

  1. Put the biscuits into the food processor and blitz into crumbs, or put them in a sturdy plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan or a frying pan, then add the crumbs and turn and stir until the crumbs are coated with the butter.
  3. Press the crumb mix into a flan case about 8″ in diameter – or anything deepish and widish. Set aside to cool.
  4. Pour the condensed milk into a mixing bowl  then use the can to measure the cream and tip that on top of the ‘connie onnie’.
  5. Add the zest and juice of the lemons and stir everything tgether. The lemon juice will make the mixture thicken.
  6. When the base it cool, tip on the lemon mixture, smoothing the top, then cover and chill for a few hours in the fridge.
  7. Decorate with a swirl of cream, and poke in something pretty like chocolate curls, crystallized lemon or a sprig of mint.

Bish bash bosh.

Plucker’s Pie

This is another recipe for my daughters. It’s easy to make and tasty and uses left over chicken.

I always buy a large chicken to roast, even for two of us. It makes sandwiches and at least one other meal so it’s very economical. The carcass can be thrown into the slow cooker with leeks, onion (halved but in skin, a carrot or two, a celery stick a couple of bay leaves and 6 peppercorns (or as many of those things as you have in store), and cooked overnight, then half the day with the lid tilted to reduce the liquid. Stock can be frozen.

Chicken recipe using leftovers
Plucker’s Pie 2

Plucker’s Pie 1

Remove all the meat from the chicken using your fingers and lay it in the bottom of an oven proof dish, an appropriate size for the number of people it needs to serve.

Throw over some frozen mixed veg and a can of concentrated soup – I like mushroom.

Add a slosh of white wine, and stir.

Crush up cheese and onion crisps and cover the surface of the soup, then grate cheddar (or any hard cheese) on top of that.

Bake at 200 degrees for about half an hour or until the veg are cooked through and the top is crispy.

 

Plucker’s Pie 2

Place the chicken into a dish, as above, with sliced cold sausages and bits of stuffing if you have served them with the roast. I always cook more than I need.

Pour over left over gravy and top with the mixed veg.

Cover with mashed potatoes (you can top with the cheesey crisps as above if you wish, or fork the surface and drizzle oil over the top, which will give a lovely crispy texture to the top of the spuds.

Bake as above.