Saturday, 7 January 2012

January 7th - Hopes, Dreams and the Body in the oven

Dear Nigel,

I am in the middle of a culinary disaster, i think. There is a body in my oven which looks like it could have been part of my ex-husband. It has been cooking for hours, first boiling on the top and now roasting inside. It's my own fault; my eldest son James requested a cooked Ham and i was persuaded by a particularly large piece with a knock down price tag - bargain, it said to me. And now i'm not sure i want to eat it. I thought that when it came to pork there might be little in it, after all aren't nearly all pigs pumped full of hormones and then injected with water when dead? I figured that several soakings in cold water and a few hours boiling would even out the differences. However, in my greed and round-eyed wonder i failed to consider the size of pan i might need to cook the thing in.

I put it in my stock pot - which is really large - but even then it was poking out of the top. After several hours boiling i got the jitters about giving my family food poisoning so i rammed it into a roasting tin to finish cooking in the oven. The door, naturally, wouldn't close with the tray of chips already in there, so i propped it shut with two kitchen chairs and turned the temperature up to compensate for the partially open door. I don't suppose this is the way you cooked your Ham this Christmas?

On a different note, there is hope in the air in this New Year season of changes. I have finally plucked up the courage to consider moving house again. It's been hard being pinned to a house you never chose to live in, and it hasn't been suitable for the family. It's not so much the range of eclectic features of the property - living next door to a bombed-out alcoholic, being able to hear ever word of the cop programmes through the wall at three in the morning, nor is it the designer gaffer tape on the broken round window on the stairs, the constantly blocked sink, the hole in the wall above the dog bed - i just want a little garden and a village school for my children. I've seen the ideal house and am waiting with bated breath while the landlord hums and hars about the dog. I could neither get rid of the dog than i could one of the children.

You talk of pruning your Raspberry patch and a Mulberry tree -my favourite. Tiptree used to bring out a limited number of jars of Mulberry jam each year (probably because the delicate fruit bruises so easily when picked), but i find lately that i can no longer get it. It used to have a wonderful almost boiled sweet taste and a chewiness that other jams don't have. Perhaps you could send me a jar of your wonderful Mulberry jam in late Summer and i will send you Sloe gin from the Derbyshire hedgerows.

Yours in mixed spirits,


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