That Was The Week That Was

What a pleasant week has just passed! It began with a trip to my favourite French Pastry Baker, a really French French Pastry Baker who calls me Madame and after my purchases, would not let me leave without pressing on me a bag of complimentary croissants. The enjoyment was beyond words! Then round the corner to the coffee roasters and in luck with a very rarely delivered type of coffee bean, single source and not on the regular list.I could wax lyric, go on about the nose, the length, the finish and the feel on the palate, but don’t want to bore you!

Next on the agenda was a little assignment I had promised to complete for a fellow adoptee, far away in the Bronx. It was a short stroll from the coffee roasters by one of those strange synchronicities we adoptees find fairly commonplace, but still wonderful, surprising and exciting. My contact’s ancestor had been born in the street I visited and we got lucky. The lovely old cottages, artisan’s cottages I guess they’re called now, were intact, cared for and the street in perfect order like a complete set of teeth and what a delight it was to stroll about with the camera trying to capture the essence of the area. It was very easy to do and I had a picture in my mind of a dusty Summer day, the road not yet made up, children playing in the street, dogs barking and the Rabbit man making deliveries calling ‘Rabbio, Rabbio!’ I can’t resist showing you the street, I hope my contact won’t mind. My excuse is that I was thrilled to find it so intact, untouched and obviously loved and appreciated. Just  a shame it was bin day, but life goes on!

Another day there was an outing; some basic clothes were needed and it was achieved simply, thankfully. It isn’t always the pleasure it used to be, although can still have its moments if something special is afoot. Best bit of the day was the picnic overlooking the beach which would have been very familiar to my parents; my biological parents, who met, loved and didn’t marry, but conceived me in this town. Not many people can honour their conception, it has to be one of the upsides of bastardry! I have always loved the town from a small child, although who doesn’t when they’ve been there, it’s popular for holidays, day trips and ‘Schoolies’? It has whales in season, penguins, a steam train, gelati, good coffee and a magical hardware shop selling all manner of beautiful china and obscure kitchen gadgetry, nothing there not to love.

Sitting with the sun on my back, supping on hot minestrone and a few delicate sandwiches, the sort you might have at High Tea, without the crusts for a change, followed by a rather delicious portable chocolate and coffee dessert, in good company and memories was pretty much blissful. And it can all be done again next week if the fancy so takes the company.

The weekend as always, meant an early and very cold start to run down to the farmers’ market before the crowds arrive at opening time. Time for a bit of sociability with the stall holders, catching up on the latest and a chance to tell them some of them how good they looked in their interview for the new local glossy mag which has just been launched.

My bag of tiny spinach leaves gets bigger each week, as I find some new way to use them and get the green leaf intake up. This week happy to find some Jerusalem artichokes available, since mine don’t seem to have survived  a harsh Summer. Not a regular treat and all the tastier for it. You just have to make sure what’s in your diary for the following day before indulging. They have side effects. Those of you who have indulged will know only too well, those of you who haven’t won’t want to know. Mum used to do something exciting with cheese sauce and breadcrumbs and since she was usually an appalling cook, it’s a wonder the recipe is not etched in there somewhere but it’s not and I’ll have to see what I can concoct as she would have said. I have to confess, to my great irritation I hate that expression!  My genes were calling me to cook and I had no mentor, coach or guidance. Not until later, when it all fell into place and I never looked back. My dear mentor has gone, so recently, and there are dishes I make which she taught me and techniques I use which came  directly from her and probably from her mother and hers before that. Cooking is like that; often a family skill or interest and all the better for it. Like many things in adoption, it is a sad loss when we are displaced and have no encouragement for our innate skills and abilities.

Saturday afternoon often involves a relaxed bout of cooking and preparing food. This week a cottage pie with a topping of mashed swede, parsnip, carrot and turnip. A butter chicken curry and a rhubarb and fig crumble with muscats, later served with fresh cream. I remember years ago, when the house was always full of hungry teens, aiming to get the maximum number of veggies into any dish, surreptitiously if necessary. I had rather got out of the habit but have begun again, this time upfront and now as then, for the good of the health. It’s working well, having  a beautiful Farmer’s Market and an excellent Supermarket help and make it easy and enjoyable.

Talking food, I am reminded for some reason of the remarkable Margaret Whitlam, wife of a former Prime Minister, who once said something along the lines that retirement was good, providing your partner did something each day which involved a packed lunch!  Have a great week!

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