Monday, 9 November 2015

The Best Cut (by Mistake)

Round at the Sligo rebuild, demolition has finished leaving the
place rather like Hollywood set - looks great from the front but
round the back it is gutted out.
The weather here collapses into lashing rain and it's blowing a hoolie; the sort of weather we expect in November but had so far, in 2015, been mercifully let off. Foolishly you start to believe that you might have got away with it and I am reminded of a lovely local philosophy which looks at the weather around about now and sees that we are a good percent of the way through 'winter' without having felt any yet. What ever happens now, they say, it can't be that bad a winter (because, I assume, they will always factor in the easy October and part of November)

This pic looking the other way was taken after we had
erected the shuttering into which will be poured the concrete
for the new floor (including extension, of course).
The rain and a ticklish cough drive me indoors and it is time to get stuck into some domestic duties in the absence (but not for long) of Lizzie, so I am, once again, King of the Kitchen. Christmas Cake is the target today so I am surrounded by all the dried fruits, peel, glacé cherries, almonds and what nottery, which have to be soaked overnight in juice of orange and lemon plus 4 tablespoons full of Irish Whiskey. This is prior to lashing in the rest of the ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, butter and so on) which we can mix up on "Stir-Up Tuesday" when Liz returns. You'd not do that in the absence of your Chief Chef, now, would you, or how would she make her wish?

Christmas Cake Mix
That left me with a thorny problem. The smallest quantity of Irish Whiskey I could buy was 350 ml and I only needed those 4 tablespoons for soaking the fruit (it barely wetted the fruit but I guess these recipe writers know what they are at). I'm left with 9/10 of the bottle and, being cold ridden, I can't think for the life of me, what to do with it all. Cheers.

Berkshire pork tenderloin.
Still on cooking, I was hunting in the freezers for something to defrost for just the one person for supper and we have a very lax habit sometimes of freezing our butchered meat in bags with no label written on them; we are possibly in a hurry and guess that we will easily know which cuts are which by the shape of the frozen 'lump'. There in the top of the freezer, was a double-fist sized, anonymous lump of pork which I thought would do. I assumed it was some old chunk of spare boneless meat or 'trimmings'. On thawing, it turned out to be a complete tenderloin, surely one of the best cuts of pork there is, and certainly our family favourite for the stir frying, where you can slice it into a good many lean 'coins' of meat.

Pork Stir Fry
Having come upon it by mistake, the least I could do is show it the respect of a good wok-up, possibly my favourite cookery technique. Very nice it was too and there is a goodly portion of left overs to go back into the freezer for me to enjoy on some future solo cooking session. I HAVE labelled that one.

Tenderlean pork 'coins'.
The rain, of course, is not allowed to prevent us from minding the livestock and today I did a deal with Charlotte - I'd pick her up from the Dublin bus and give her a lift home, if she'd lend me an hour of her expert sheep-wrangling skills. I did, of course, allow her to go home and get some scruffs and wellies on first, as she was dressed in nice 'college and coach ride' attire which the sheep would have made a mess of. It is surprising how much rain water a sheep fleece holds. The outer ends of the wool fibres act en-masse like a huge sponge (the inside ends are warm and dry against the skin in a healthy sheep) so if you lean on the animal with a knee or leg while trying to check its feet you get a very wet leg. We had to foot-trim and spray feet, and then dag out full-tail Myfanwy and docked-tail Dylan. By the time I'd nudged sheep around and knelt between them to do dagging, I was saturated in parts and then Charlotte also gave me a masterclass in condition-scoring them (finding out how fat they are), so we were fair dripping from elbows, knees, legs and, in my case, shoulders by the time we'd finished. It was good to get back indoors for a cup of tea, returning Charlotte home (Thank you so much, C) and then to light the range and get into some dry clothes. The sheep were probably very happy to have been able to towel themselves dry on the passing humans, get their toenails cut to as more comfortable length and have their bums freed up of all the heavy, dangly, wet, brown Christmas tree decorations.

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