This morning, during the daily meeting with myself in the shaving mirror, it occurred to me that I have many more failings than I have hairs on my head. With age comes an acceptance of failings and I take full advantage of this licence. W.C.Fields’ expressed sentiment of liking children but not being able to eat a whole one resonates with me and I make this failing quite evident. By dint of this transparency I get to cook for myself on those nights when Jenny is absent, fulfilling her role as a good grandmother. I quite like to cook for myself as it leaves one free to make random choices and to make mistakes without disappointing others. Last night was one such night and, in the cold light of this morning, I’m still of the opinion that I may have eaten my ideal dinner. The arrival of the cat Molly in our lives has brought out the caring side in me that should in truth have already been there for our grand children…but every child needs at least one grumpy grandparent and I’m willing to make that sacrifice. Back to Molly who, as we know, is a he. All advice on feeding Molly centred around dry biscuits and it didn’t take long for me to realise that this cat was a cat who would never be happy with such dull fare. For the good of Molly I decided to roast a small chicken each week that would supplement his diet and provide me, on occasion, with some healthy protein. The success in the roasting of this chicken increases each week. It gets simpler and better. Half an onion and a bunch of fresh sage goes into the cavity and the bird is then sprinkled liberally with olive oil and coarse sea salt together with a turn or two of black pepper. The prepared chicken is then placed on a small rack in a roasting tray, into which I have poured a glass of water, and cooked in a hot oven for an hour, with occasional basting.
Last night, the aroma of chicken roasting had filled the house and I was ready to eat but, nobly resisting the urge to tuck in, I let the chicken settle for half an hour and then served myself some slices of warm, freshly roasted meat together with a handful of mixed green leaves over which, as a dressing, I spooned some of the hot juices from the roasting pan.That’s it. Unbelievably good…so good that it would have been wonderful to have had Jenny there to share the goodness except that she doesn’t eat meat which takes me back to the pleasure of occasionally eating alone. But that which she would have undoubtedly enjoyed was the breath taking walnut tart, from Caroline Conran’s marvelous book “Under the Sun”, that I made for dessert. I had often thought to make this and only the lack of walnuts in my larder had prevented me from doing so. Yesterday, there were walnuts in the larder and by the end of play the walnuts were in the tart and the tart was in me.