What on earth possessed me ?

This title can refer to 3 things equally

  • cooking a goose
  • going for a run
  • making Christmas presents

I planned to cook a goose. I was full of enthusiasm right up to the moment when Husband and Spider drove off to spend the day with Teenager and Student. The arrangement was that I would have dinner on the table by 7pm…so they drove off and I sat there looking at this flat, floppy defrosted, large goose in the kitchen and a fridge full of vegetables…I sat and looked, I made a coffee, I ate a slice of Christmas cake, I sat and looked. This went on for about an hour when I suddenly remembered I had no potatoes and I’d left the “back up chicken” (in case no one liked it) at my Mum’s…so a trip there wasted another 30 minutes. Then at 11.30 I sat down and wrote a timetable working back by 3 hours.

Now, those who have read the blog before know that I had been inspired by an article in the Observer by Allegra McEvedy. I did however have doubts about her timetable as it was a bit vague on times and seemed to imply that a 4.5kg goose is going to take 1 hour 45 minutes. No, as a rule you are looking at for poultry, give or take, at least 20 minutes per pound – judging by the search terms showing up on my blog this evening (allegra goose complaints) other people have been having problems with this recipe – I took the opportunity whilst at Mum’s to check with Mum and her copy of Delia and we agreed on 3 hours total cooking time.

Anyway, once I had leavered my bottom off the sofa and had a plan to follow everything was fine. OK having to pour off the fat every 30 minutes was a pain and the last 30 minutes of a roast trying to get everything on the table at the same time is always a pain and involves a lot of shouting at everyone else… there was also the problem that the oven was taken up with 3 sorts of stuffing (Nigella’s chestnut from 2 years ago which I found in the freezer, Nigella’s gingerbread stuffing specially requested by husband and the fruit and nut stuffing recommended by Allegara)

verdict : goose doesn’t do it for me anymore than turkey does. You don’t get much meat from it and I’d rather cook 3 chickens instead. But it is almost all brown meat which I love, the leftovers make great sandwiches, there is a lot of free range bones for stock and lots of fat for later roast potatoes (have stoked the freezer with it). On the stuffing front the fruit and nut stuffing from Allegra is amazing, Nigella’s gingerbread didn’t hit the spot for anyone and I am left wondering what on earth you do with left over stuffing ! Also I ended up with 4 empty plates, Spider though didn’t touch any of it but then it had been a long day…

The run – my neighbour Flapjack Queen (FQ) has a dog. The last time I volunteered to walk the dog was at the end of August when FQ was overdue on giving birth. Smiler, the dog did a runner on me and after 40 minutes fruitless searching I went home to own up to being useless only to discover she had been back for ages ! Anyway, FQ was visiting relatives and asked if I would walk Smiler. “Yes no problem I said” thinking Teenager would be back by then and could be bribed with hard cash. Nope, come 4pm I was on my own and the goose had been in for 30 minutes. I poured off the latest collection of fat and went next door to get the dog…

Because of our “history” I decided to put the dog on her lead to walk her as I couldn’t risk her running off as I had the goose in the oven and needed to be back to pour off the fat and avoid the kitchen going up in flames… Smiler, unsurprisingly was not happy and set off at a trot which quickly became a run and then a gallop dragging me along behind her…note to self a goth skirt and chelsea boots are not suitable for running in…although they did have the wonderful effect of hiding the “thunder thighs” I was accused of having at 15 (which is why I stopped running in the first place)…side note here – looking back on pictures of me when I was 18, I had a good figure, I was slim…shame that in your teens you don’t have the confidence to realise it…now I admit, if I run at my age I should have a sports bra on my legs to stop them bouncing up and down…oh oh oh to be 17 again – right nostalgic moan over !

End result, I had my first run of 2009 some 7 days early…it wasn’t too bad in fact and I may well repeat the (with proper footwear) I won’t be repeating the goose unless we get another bargain buy !

And making Christmas presents ? Well when I was younger I used to knit – I wasn’t bad. I have lost count of the number of friends whose children have had hand knits inflicted on them. Anyway, I have under the bed a teddy bear that my Mum knitted which was awaiting clothes…and had been for 4 years. So at the beginning of November I started knitting clothes for this bear but kept running out of wool and then went ill and then ran out of money (again) – and I also had a tiger hat and two dinosaurs to knit and yes I ran out of time and have decided to put the lot on ice until the children’s respective birthdays (Spider, and FQ’s 3 children)…oh yes and having 2 cats haven’t helped as my whole knitting bag is like one great big spider’s web… january-2009-062

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Food Hero: Oh Allegra, you temptress !

 

Allegra has only recently joined my list of food heroes. I have mentioned before how I discovered her by an internet trawl for something to use cashew nuts in. I then started to read her articles in the Guardian and found that she has a disturbing ability to make me want to go into the kitchen and cook – fortunately though there have been very few cakes/baked goods and a lot of things that the rest of the family won’t eat !

 

The downside of Allegra is long lists of ingredients some of which do tend to be rather more exotic than my family will eat. Fortunately this has tended to be the “earlier” Allegra  (see The Good Cook). The more recent Allegra has concentrated more on eating seasonally (see Allegra’s Colour Cookbook and Colouring the Seasons which I think may be the US version of the Colour Cookbook).

 

What I have cooked so far:

Cashew and Orange Blossom Cake

An Iranian chicken curry (using pomegranate molasses which I have already)

Sweet Potato Falafel

Lemon and Ginger Sussex Pudding

 

Her latest book Leon  from the restaurant of the same name (of which she is a co founder) again concentrates on good quality, organic ingredients to make good food for take away. I am getting this book for Christmas (only another 48 hours to wait)  and have had to pass it over to my Mum for safe keeping to stop me using it…not before I had copied out the ingredients for George’s Breast Milk Bread (not what you might think thank god !) which I have slowly (with the Flapjack Queen) been collecting together.

 

Anyway, she has done it to me again. In the other weeks Observer she was enthusing about how you can do Christmas dinner on the cheap (well £60)…and well you see, I have been muttering about how I want to try goose for several years now but have been unable to get one for less than £40 and well she mentioned that Lidl do one for £16, and then I was in Aldi on Saturday and discovered that they also do a frozen one for £15…so I now have a goose in my freezer and nothing else planned for boxing day.