Jan 08 2006

New Year Again!


And round we go again, 2006! Christmas and New Year have drifted by: parties over, dear family and wonderful friends dispersed, presents received, decorations down, tree dismantled, cards carefully recorded, letters written, warm love-feeling left in my heart. So much food, nice wine! Exhausted!!  Make a plan for 2006, new resolutions, throw them out, new plans, throw them out, maybe, maybe not. Try again and, oh, that delicious feeling of wonderfully reassuring normal, ordinary, mundane–ness!


Clean the house, Hoover, dust, scrub the kitchen, wash the sheets, restore the order, get ‘flu, get better, redecorate house, repaint the stables, rehouse the chickens, clean the yard, sleep, dag the sheep, prepare for lambing, send last year’s hogs to the abattoir, sell lamb, kiss donkeys, book holiday!


So nice, order! Make plans for the farm: new fences, tree planting, ponds, create parkland, more wildlife… badgers, foxes rabbits. More birds, less chickens, rams to Rare Breed Survival Trust. Then walks on the beach, wind in face, icy waves breaking on the shingle, cold grey cliffs staring out to sea. I wonder where this year will take us. Happy Happiness, and A Bright and Sparkling New Year!


Now for some comfort eating while we wait for spring! Old English Boiled Beef and Carrots, Italian Minestrone, Welsh Cawl, Suffolk Stew, and then there’s Garbure. Somehow this last wonderful pot of South West France brings so many regional dishes together. And as an English woman who am I to say how it is cooked! Well bravely, here’s my Anglicised version!

To begin: soak 500gms of dry white beans overnight. Make a good rich stock with a chicken or duck carcass in the usual way. Drain and rinse the soaked beans and bring to the boil in a heavy pan. Boil briskly for ten minutes, rinse and drain again. Blanch a 500gm piece of belly of pork.

Next put the pork belly, a ham hock, an onion stuck with cloves and the blanched beans into the strained stock. Simmer for about an hour. Add a couple of diced potatoes, 2 leeks, a turnip, a few carrots, green or red pepper, cut in strips, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, a little paprika, dried herbs. Simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked. Add a shredded white cabbage, 500gms of garlic sausage and most importantly, confit of duck. Opinion varies as to whether or not the duck fat is added too. It’s a matter of taste, a little will enrich the whole, I think. Warm the Garbure through.

Just before serving take the meat from the pot and keep warm. Serve the broth on thick slices of bread as a first course and follow with the meat.


One response so far

One Response to “New Year Again!”

  1. Ali&Rogon 21 Jan 2006 at 1:51 pm

    “What a cracking sunset”

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