Monday, 24 September 2012

Not all F-words are bad...

After being exposed to decidedly too many F-words in the past few weeks, I was intending this post to take the form of a diatribe about the sad demise of decent English vocabulary amongst the younger (and some of the older) generation. 
But then, just as I was preparing to vent my spleen about the excessive expletives which seem to pepper just about every sentence uttered these days, I started thinking instead about the many wonderful “f” words that our rich English vocabulary contains. Moreover, it dawned on me that  if I were to start “ranting” about the youth of today before I hit 50, what would there be left for me to do in my 60s and 70s?
With this in mind, I decided to focus my attentions on a positive example of an “f” word rather than waste my precious time pontifcating about one that is so over-used these days anyway - mostly out of context - that it has long since been reduced to meaningless verbal filling material.
So what about the aforementioned GOOD words? Well, there are myriad words starting with the sixth letter of the English alphabet which have pleasantly positive connotations.  And the first one that sprang to my mind (quelle surprise...) was “food”.  This, of course, is no coincidence since the plan was (er, I mean “is”) for me to be cutting down on the amount that I ingest, with a view to entering my 50s next year as a shadow of my 40s’ self. Suffice to say, the plan hasn’t been going too well thus far...
Granted, I’ve been partaking of a plethora of healthy peas from our garden, plus the one miserly fruit produced under protest by our pest-ravaged plum tree Victoria.  I also managed to salvage a reasonable crop of potatoes by dint of some determined digging last weekend (harvested spuds are now snuggling happily in a Hessian bag procured for the princely sum of two pounds something from our local Dobbies).
One measly plum, one tiny tomato and plenty peas!

However, our runner beans have been less fortunate: they’ve suddenly been blighted by the appearance of ominous black splodges, and we’re not sure if they’re safe to eat (any advice gratefully received – photo  below). 
Still, I’ve more than made up for any disappointments experienced with our home produce by enjoying a few meals out during the past month, either with friends (another wonderful “f” word, which I’ll possibly look at in a future post) or family (ditto). 
In early September, I met up with a couple of other long-suffering hockey mums (and no, none of us is planning on running for US President à la Sarah Palin!). We partook of a leisurely supper at the Dalmore Inn and Restaurant on the outskirts of Blairgowrie.  Not having been there before, gourmand Yours Truly was a very happy bunny to discover this exceedingly good eatery.  The menu was wide and eclectic, and the only problem was deciding what to choose... 
To stop us swithering over starter selection for too long, we came up with a cunning plan: split two of the starters (the crab & crayfish tart and the grilled goat’s cheese crottin) between us, so we could each sample both of them!   Next up was a melt-in-the-mouth venison main course, which was simply superb, and the grand finale was billed as the “Dalmore Summer Berry Ice Cream Bonanza if you dare! (mini marshmallows, strawberries, raspberries, berry sauce, sherbet, flakes and popping candy!) ” We dared...  

Don't mind if we do!
Another recent foray saw Supergran and I head for The Brig Farm shop near Bridge of Earn, where we enjoyed a rather sophisticated soup (courgette and white wine – definitely worth a try if you ever get the chance!) plus a ploughman’s lunch. The cheese and pickle selection which was supposedly destined for a humble ploughman was, in fact, fit for a king. And if someone whispered “what about your high cholesterol?” I certainly never heard them...
Say cheese :-)
Eating out is not something that HunterGatherer and I do often as a couple – mainly because HG is usually too busy zooming up and down fields in a tractor, obliterating the bugs and spores that proliferate on the agricultural plant life of Central Scotland...  So it was a real treat to be invited out mid-September for a “thank you” dinner at Basil’s Grill at The Green Hotel in Kinross by DDNo1’s boyfriend T (the student maths and engineering wizard who stayed with us this summer while doing an internship with a local company). 
There was absolutely nothing “Fawlty”-like about Basil’s cuisine, and our meal was excellent; although it has to be said that T himself is no mean chef,  often turning his hand to concocting mouth-watering evening meals for us during the weeks he spent chez nous.  Unsurprisingly, we were distinctly sad to bid him farewell when he left last week to resume his studies down south.
Considering how untalented Yours Truly is in the kitchen, it is nothing short of a miracle that DDNo1 is not only fond of cooking, but also extremely adept at it.  Indeed in the two weeks that she stayed at home in September before heading off to France (now there’s another nice “f” word) on her mandatory year abroad, we were treated to divine chocolate brownies, heavenly homemade strawberry ice cream, pink sugar encrusted cupcakes and too many other delicacies to mention.
Sadly, the Sparrowholding’s version of Nigella is now ensconced in a flat (another “f” word, which brings back happy memories of my own student days) in the 17th arrondissement in Paris, where she will remain until next June. Currently, she is debating which of the many appealing (to her!) courses of study on offer at the Sorbonne to pursue: will it be the conventions of Courtly Love in Medieval French literature or the innermost secrets of Louis Quatorze (in French, bien sûr)? Ahem, spoilt for choice, I’m sure... And sad as I was to bid her au revoir, it has to be said that whilst DDNo1’s presence in Paris may benefit her spoken French, her absence from our kitchen may benefit my waistline J.
Meanwhile, DDNo2 – who has only recently begun to discover the joys of self-catering – appears to have been taking the kitchen of her Edinburgh flat by storm. Over the past few weeks, she’s tweeted me various photos of her culinary concoctions, and at this rate it won’t be long before her skill levels overtake her mother’s (not difficult).
After all these ruminations about food, I suppose I’d better make a start on the pile of proofreading which awaits my attention. But first, I reckon my brain needs a little sustenance...  *heads for fridge* (yet another inspiring “f” word!)