Tuesday, 13 December 2011
This time last year the view from my study window looked something like this:
Dreaming of a white Christmas, hey? Bah, humbug! Not if it would mean another decidedly scary drive to pick Margaret up from the back of beyond where she was very nearly snowed in last year. Well, that's not likely to happen this time. But Ben, our son, will be flying home from Andalucia in Spain on Christmas Eve. He's a teacher in a college out there and we haven't seen him since the summer so the Christmas hol will be a special treat for us all. So here's hoping for no distruptive weather during this second half of Advent!
I'm looking back over the year's reads and forward to the coming year's treats. Last Christmas, I spent a little of my gift money on a book I'd been promising to track down for years – Beatrice Tunstall's The Shiny Night. That was a real treat – unputdownable. It has to be the highlight of my reading year. Then I got bogged down in some heavy stuff. Emile Zola's Lourdes, A gripping read but an all too real portrayal of the insalubrious pilgrimage of healthless crowds. I followed it up with Camus's La Peste - maybe not the best bit of reading planning I've ever done!
So Christmas this year will lift my reading a different level starting with... I don't know yet. But a book which is definitely on my list as a present for someone – after I have read it myself - will be Richard Dawkins's The Magic of Reality. I've read a couple of excerpts and it looks very promising. Must see for myself how this guy approaches science for kids.
And now a recipe for when the festivities are over and good plain food is so appealing:
Rolled brisket done in slow cooker. Friday evening prepare marinade with a can of dark beer poured over a large finely chopped onion. Add a fair old dollop of Worcester sauce. Put brisket in jug and cover with marinade. Poke and prod it at intervals on Saturday. Sunday morning, put the beef and marinade into a large saucepan. Add beef stock as necessary. Chuck in some chopped root vegetables, leeks, onions, whatever you fancy. Bring it all up to temperature and then transfer to the slow cooker. Leave it all day. Serve in the evening with jacket potatoes and veg. All leftover veg and any extras can go through the blender with the marinade to make a tasty soup.