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Right. The ciabatta is baked [note to self: please stop believing other people about oven temperatures/times; you really do know better than they do] (why yes, it is a little on the dark side of golden, and somewhat crisper than is ideal for a slipper-loaf; how insightful of you!). The coq au vin (and I know no unsniggery anti-innuendo way to say this, but what the hell, I come from the land of the Carry On films: so pardon my bug eyes, but that is one really big cock) and the potato-and-beetroot gratin are in the oven, and this is my first drink of the day and I'm entitled.

I have less than two hours before my guests arrive, and I still have to:

* cook the whisky/sage/parmesan pasta (which really needs a proper name, y'know?) as a starter [note to self: small portions, Chaz!], but that's all last-minute;

* make up my mind about the buttered cabbage (we have coq au vin, we have gratin; buttered cabbage on the side, or not?);

* invent and prepare the pudding (I was going for individual little puddings, but actually I think I might make one big cake; that way is less insistent portion-wise, people can just have a sliver if that's all they want, and if there's any left come Monday I can take it in to the Lit & Phil and make them love me, if it's not too sticky);

* sweep the floor;

* shift my dress, as the Duke of Avon would have it; change my grubby garb. I could do that now. When this glass is empty. I am incapable of cooking without spillage. Mostly I like to blame the poltergeist*, but sometimes it is just my own heedlessness and/or lack of dexterity.


*The older I get, the more people ask me if I believe in ghosts. This seems to me perverse; faith is surely more a feature of the young and credulous? It probably has to do with all these ghost stories I keep writing. But no: I do not believe in ghosts. I don't believe in anything, I am a determined rational atheist. Also, I live with two hectic vandals. Things that go bump in the night are pretty much always one cat or the other, if not both. And yes, I do have a shocking tendency to stack things inappropriately, such that they are prone to fall if nudged or jolted. And yet, the longer I live here, the more the evidence mounts up pro-poltergeist. Things fall over when none of us is near. I have watched this happen, time and again, and utterly fail to find an explanation for it.

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desperance

June 2017

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