Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mostly food (may contain nuts) ...


Well, we had a nice week with Malyon - saw her for all of two days or so. She's good, and I'm so glad I'm not going to be around for her 21st birthday party. Most of her friends from Grenoble are scattering to the four corners of the earth so I kind of suspect that when she comes back in future it'll just be for a couple of days to catch up with Jerry and us - let's face it, St Pierre is hardly the kind of bustling metropolis she's used to. Nor is it particularly exotic. Anyway, I dropped her off at Geneva on Tuesday: she was very grown up and hardly cried at all when I left her, booted out of the car at 50km on the ring road, just before the airport exit.

I really should have dragged out the barbecue from its winter hibernation; the temperatures were up in the twenties this afternoon. But, being reasonable, the sun sets around 7pm still, and given the time required to fire it up ( I'm a purist, wood and charcoal) we wouldn't have eaten before 9pm at the earliest ... leave it for later. But spring's on it's way, and this is good. (Note for Sophie - barbecue lunch next weekend? Weather permitting, of course.)


Yet another Saturday with Sophie: did the usual cooking masterclass. Everyone around here is relatively blasé about food: it's a given that it's going to be good. (Or at least, edible. Not necessarily the same thing.) In fact, the only comments I get is if it's not up to the usual standards. (That's not particularly modest, I know. It's true, though, which is my excuse. We do take food seriously in this house.) Whereas Sophie seems perpetually surprised ("émerveillée" is the Frog word) that I can actually do this cooking thing.  (Could it be possible that she's like one of those flatworm/sheep things that have no long-term memory? I prefer to think not.)

Whatever, she put in a request for - for once - red meat - (I have mentioned that she's Bressane, where chicken is king and cream is mandatory?) so I dusted off the cookbooks trying to find something that isn't actually inscribed in my DNA and came up with steak Diane. Which makes a change from filet  de boeuf Charlemagne, and is definitely better suited to a meal for two. Oddly enough, it also involves vast quantities of cream, but luckily, no chicken. Sophie got a potato gratin ready, I'd bought along a salad, and while everything was cooking we sat on the doorstep out to the terrace enjoying 20° (although no sun), sipping our wine, keeping an eye on the mountains (in case they move, you never can tell) and nattering. Bloody perfect moment.

(Should anyone care, steak Diane just involves searing a couple of slabs of fillet - one slab per person is normally considered adequate - on each side, then setting them aside whilst you stew a couple of finely-chopped shallots. When those are done fry up some mushrooms - add more butter if required -  then return the shallots to the pan with mustard powder, chopped garlic, chives and parsley. Then add a glop of Worcester sauce and ten cl of cream and let reduce, slosh in some lemon juice and put the steaks back in to heat through. At which point you could - if you can - flambé the lot with a good dose of whisky. Then eat. And yes, the steak is supposed to be rare. If not, there's no point to it all. You might just as well play a flamethrower over the stuff and then pretend to enjoy it. Good luck with that.)

And, having my priorities right, I'd taken care to fix fajitas for Lucas and Rémi ahead of time, so that by the time our meal was ready they'd already eaten and buggered off to wherever it is kids go when they're not annoying their parents. (I have a few suggestions on that point, if anyone's interested ...)  No complaints from them either, which is just as well, really.

But just to screw up my evening (that was after discovering that I'd left all the weekly meat shopping in Sophie's fridge) I had Firefox hiccup on me. Started it up and it told me that there was an update for one of the various desktop themes I keep around (Gradient Brushed Metal, if you really want to know) and when that had finished installing the Firefox window was totally transparent with no menu bar. So I couldn't even close it in the normal fashion. Bugger! (Twice, with feeling.)

Finally, I wound up firing up IE and downloading version 3.6, which fixed the problem but alas is not compatible with Google Notebook (which has, I admit, been unsupported for some time now) so everything I had noted up there somewhere in the Googleplex is now totally inaccessible. Which I suppose will teach me to put faith in some benevolent external entity. Never mind, it was only recipes (mainly) and I can always find them again. Still, it rankles. I suppose I could always reinstall an old version of Firefox, download the stuff and save it somewhere, but quite frankly I can't be arsed. I'll just sit around and fulminate quietly until I get over it. And truth to tell, I can still remember the recipe for bourbon-marinated skirt steak, so I suppose I'm not missing that much.

Bill Gates has finally done me a favour: starting to get old clients ringing to say that their device drivers don't work under 64-bit Windows 7. To which I can only say "No, they don't, do they? But they were never designed to, what did you expect?" I feel their pain, I empathise as best I can, but I still prefer to hear the cash register going "ka-ching!".

And on a completely unrelated note, could anyone please explain to me why it is that the cursor does not shift when I hit return in the new blogger edit box? New blank lines are in fact inserted, as I eventually found out, but if there is no text behind them you cannot see them and, as I said, the cursor doesn't move. Which is a right pain when you're at the end of a post and want to add an empty line - you can't actually see if you've done it or not. Until you start typing, and it suddenly appears with seven or eight blank lines above. Confusing, and annoying.

Wandered off down to the paddock in one of my spare moments and discovered that, behind my back, the grass has been Growing. With intent, no doubt. Shall have to do something about that soonish, I suspect. Unfortunately the primeveres are all out now and making a pretty show and I don't really want to mow them down, so I suppose I'm reprieved for a couple of weeks. The bats are also out, flitting around under the street-lamps picking up their nightly dose of protein from whatever insects are unlucky or stupid enough to be out at that hour, and the days are getting longer and warmer. I like Spring.


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