I recently deboned and stuffed a chicken, which came out okay, except I realised that I opened it up the wrong way round. I’m used to spatchcocking fowl, removing the backbone so they cook more quickly and evenly, but most deboning methods suggest paring back from the breastbone instead. Therefore, I decided to have another go for dinner today.
I think the deboning experience was a bit smoother and I stuffed the result with a falafel mixture I’d made up from chickpeas yesterday. The chickpeas were from a jar and the mixture was on the wet side for regular use as falafel but it made a very good stuffing.
As a hot dinner, it was great. What I’m particularly looking forward to though is trying it tomorrow, when it should be easy to slice up for meals and also for sandwiches.
The back garden in January is not substantially different from the back garden in December. There is a little less yellow (last month, we still had some leaves on deciduous shrubs on the left) but we are picking up a touch more red on the Photinia bush. I suspect February will be a similar story but, depending on how the spring goes, more things might begin bursting forth by March.
I had no idea that mistletoe was in anyway edible so, when I saw mistletoe tea for sale in the local health food shop that I drop into most (Elf Foods), I couldn’t resist getting a packet to try. Health may sell things that are sometimes of limited benefit but they are unlikely to be actively harmful, certainly with reasonable levels of usage.
The ingredients are just dried mistletoe leaves (so, more accurately, this is a tisane rather than a true tea) and the taste puts me in mind of a more mellow chamomile. Pleasant and I would buy again, assuming I do get through the packet at a reasonable rate.
I did do a little further research and mistletoe is regarded as mildly poisonous in its raw form although a skilled herbalist may use it for medicinal purposes. However, the drying of the leaves is thought to reduce the toxicity further. It isn’t a tea I’d want to be drinking pots of but I might pop to the kitchen in the moment and see if, like chamomile, you can get a decent second cup out of the one bag.
Hurray! My packet of seeds from the RHS Seeds for Members scheme arrived today. I put in the order as soon as the list went up (I think that was the start of November) but haven’t given it a lot of thought since then. The arrival of the envelope puzzled me at first until I opened it and saw the labelled seed packets inside.
There are all sorts of exotic sounding things, like Thalictrumrochebruneanum (Lavender Mist Meadow Rue) and Glycyrrhizayunnanensis (Yunnan Liquorice). Unfortunately, there isn’t any kind of guide to when or how to plant the seeds or how to care for the plants. A few are more familiar: we had Helleborusargutifolius (Holly-leaved Hellebore) and Stipagigantea (Golden Oats) in our garden in Oxford. Indeed, I think we grew the Stipa from a previous batch of RHS seeds, although I seem to recall they came with (long since lost) instructions.
Still, gleaning what knowledge we can and experimenting is all part of the fun. If they all come up, we will struggle to find room to plant them all and, even if we only have an incredibly low success rate of two or three plants, we’ll still have more than broken even on what it would have cost to buy these (relatively uncommon, seeds not widely sold) plants pre-grown from a garden centre.
At time of writing, Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister after finally apologising for attending a drinks party with other senior Government figures at the height of lockdown. It has stirred up both grief and anger from those who followed the rules and were forced to let loved ones die alone or hold back from offering comfort. I think it also risks encouraging the ‘do what you want and what you think you can get away with’ attitude, which is a cancer on democracy.
Why hasn’t he stepped down? Does he think he can do better or just that he can get away with more. Perhaps he’s eying up a post-office position with Teflon and wants to keep his non-stick status? If he did step down soon, it’s not clear that there would be a better candidate from Conservative ranks to replace him. There might be someone who is both politically astute enough to realise how incredibly hard it will be to do a good job and selfless enough to try but that isn’t what selection over the past few years has been cultivating.
Woe is us. We might have the political leadership we deserve but not for a long time the one we need.
First rehearsal back this term with the Training Band (part of Charnwood concert bands). That one is not too demanding on my playing but it is convenient, because Jane also attends with her clarinet, it helps the group and those learning with it out and it gives me a chance to practise reading simple parts written at pitch. I’ve got to get that skill down so I don’t flounder when something is called in other contexts which I’ve not had a chance to transpose.
I almost set off for a rehearsal last Sunday evening with the Charnwood Symphonic Wind Orchestra but, fortunately, realised in time that this group doesn’t resume until next Sunday. Most of the parts (emphasis on most) still don’t stretch my overall playing ability too much but the sight reading there is definitely on a steep learning curve.
More dealing with my image backlog – today it was a couple of scans from the start of my present sketchbook. This was from the gallery in the centre of Nottingham, Nottingham Contemporary. I note that this sketch was done three days before the Prime Minister announced that it was time for the end of non-essential contact and travel and a few days before our first lockdown.