|Surveying Things From Great Heights|
This morning I unexpectedly morphed into Alice’s White Rabbit. I’m running late. I’m not sure what I’m running late for, but nonetheless, I’m running late. I’m not literally running. Running isn’t a present day pastime of mine. Not that it worries me because I never enjoyed running, anyway.
I loved ball sports at school, and I participated in them, but I hated foot races. I could see no point to running from Point A to Point B without an obvious purposeful need to do so. That’s how it appeared to me, anyway. Perhaps I, more than anyone else, knew my limitations, and preferred to heed my instincts.
Dawn Taylor, a school mate held similar beliefs so we formed an alliance. Every sports day Dawn and I hid in the school locker room until the races were over...that is until we got sprung by a teacher who’d gotten wise to our game. Seeing our escape method would no longer work we made a pact that we’d take turns in being the last one to cross the line and, of course, who would come second last. Sometimes, when our mischievous moods couldn’t be denied, we crossed the finish line in a tie, holding hands. Our rebellious streaks knew no bounds!
This morning I slept in far later than I have in a long time; much later than usual. No amount of running is going to make up the time lost. Perhaps the cooler temperatures, which I love, are to blame. Content to remain snuggled up with me my two bed mates didn’t mind. They got a bit cranky when I disturbed them. Like me, they prefer the cooler weather. Familiarity breeds similarity. My roomies’ calendar is always free of appointments so they weren’t running late for anything.
Every night my two besties and I enjoy a ménage à trois. There’s nothing strange in that; we’ve done so for years. Calm down! Before you go off half- cocked there’s nothing hot and heavy going on
My two bedfellows are my two cats, Remy and Shama, both of whom have shared my life for the past 14 years as of December next. Brother and sister, they’re the luckiest two cats in the world. Not keen to get their paws dirty, they’re inside moggies. Unfortunately (purposely), they’ve not yet learned how to do housework. They are experts at pretending they haven’t a clue. When I suggest they should change their attitude all I get in return are smirks that say – “Yeah, right!” And then, promptly and guiltlessly, they go back to sleep. I’ve given up wasting my breath, so I just keep on knitting vests from their discarded fur.
And now I’ve a third housemate. Uninvited, he’s settled in, showing no signs of leaving. Our ménage à trois might soon become a ménage à quatre. I’ve told him to hop it, to no avail. A couple of times I’ve stooped to remove him, (gently, of course), but like a boomerang he comes back. I’ve given up in that quarter, too.
This cabin is just that, a cabin, pure and simple; and not large. Is there room enough for the four of us?
At least my new housemate travels light.
Actually, he moved in a couple of years ago. In no time he stole my heart. He hides during the day; re-surfacing at night.
I named him “Hieronymus” after both the Early Netherlands painter of the 15th-16th Century and crime writer Michael Connelly’s Detective “Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch.
My Hieronymus is a little brown-speckled tree frog who, one day, turned up out of the blue. No - I don’t have any trees growing inside. Hieronymus prefers indoors to outdoors.
As I’ve mentioned I’ve put him outside a couple of times. However, I’ve stopped doing so because each time I did so I felt terribly guilty, fearful the birds that hang around my cabin knowing their get the meat scraps every afternoon when I’ve cut up the meat for Remy and Shama’s dinner might think they’re getting a special treat.
Frogs are territorial creatures; and Hieronymus has made his decision. His mind is made up. Inside my cabin, living with me, Remy and Shama is his territory; and there is nothing I can do about it other than welcome him with open arms.
It’s obvious he loves living here. He knows where he wants to dwell. Who am I to argue? My furry overlords don’t listen to me – why should Hieronymus? He does no harm; I would never harm him.
Hieronymus knows his way around in the dark. He has his own private route. No doubt discovered the first time he decided this is where he wanted to set up camp. I think he slips out each night to go clubbing. Hieronymus probably has a lady friend, perhaps more, with whom he shares nocturnal visits. He’s of age. I’ve no say in his private life. I might give him “the talk”, though.
Frogs are wonderful creatures. With all the nightly activity going on around here it’s little wonder I slept in. Because I’m running late this morning I’ve failed to squeeze two lemons for my daily, early morning kick-start, and that’s not good. No time to do it now, though - I have to put up the “No Vacancy” sign.
Lemon and Asparagus Pasta: Cook 1-1/2c penne pasta in boiling salted water, 6mins. Add ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 2.5cm pieces; cook until just tender; drain; return to pot. In bowl, whisk 3/4c whole milk, 2tsp Dijon mustard, 2tsp plain flour, salt and pepper. Heat1tsp x-virgin olive oil in small saucepan on med-high heat; add 2tsp minced garlic; cook about 1min; pour in milk mixture; whisk; continue stirring as its brought to simmer. Cook until thick, 1-2mins. Stir in lemon zest and 1-1/2tsp lemon juice. Stir sauce into pasta; cook over med-high heat until sauce is thick and creamy; mix in 1/3c grated Parmesan to pasta. To serve, top with 1/3c shredded Parmesan.
Lemony Spaghetti: Whisk to combine, zest of 1 Meyer lemon, 3tbs lemon juice, 1/2c mascarpone, salt, freshly-ground pepper and 1/4tsp nutmeg. Cook 240g pasta, al dente; drain; reserve about 1/2c of the water. Return pasta to pot; set over low heat; stir in the mascarpone sauce; add 5c fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped; toss until spinach begins to wilt; add 1/4c pasta water; cook and toss until spinach is cooked; add ½ chopped toasted hazelnuts; serve.
Crab-Lemon Tart: Roll 300g shortcrust pastry onto lightly-floured bench; line 24cm loose-based tart tin. Chill until firm. Bake blind in preheated 200c oven, 20mins. Reduce oven temp to 180C. Remove baking beans/rice and paper; bake tart case further 5-7mins until golden; cool. Put 2 eggs, 1 crushed garlic clove and 200g crẻme fraỉche in bowl; gently whisk to combine. Don’t over-aerate. Using ¾c grated Parmesan, add half the Parmesan, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, grated nutmeg, 2 finely chopped shallots, 2tbs finely chopped chives and 300g crab meat; season. Pour into tart case; scatter over other half of the grated Parmesan. Bake 30mins or until set; cool 30mins before removing from tin. Decorate top with chives.
Lemon Curd: Place 100g unsalted butter, chopped, 1-1/2c caster sugar, 1tbs finely grated lemon rind and 1/3c lemon juice in heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon for 5mins, or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Whisk in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 8 minutes, or until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Strain into hot, sterilised jars. Secure lids. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Meyer Lemon Lava Cakes with Raspberries and Cream: Preheat the oven to 218C (425 F). Grease 8 (4-ounce) custard cups with softened butter or non-stick baking spray. Place them onto a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Melt 8tbs unsalted butter and 125g white chocolate in bowl over water (don’t let bowl touch the water, stirring every 15 seconds until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Add 2/3c unbleached plain flour, 1/2c icing sugar sugar and pinch of salt; mix well. Add 4 extra large, lightly beaten eggs, 4 extra large egg yolks, 3/4c lemon curd, 2tsp freshly grated lemon zest, and 1/2tsp vanilla; whisk until blended. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared custard cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown and the centre is puffy and just beginning to set. Transfer the custard cups to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen. Invert the cakes onto small dessert plates or dishes. Dust the top with icing sugar. Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve with whipped cream and/or raspberry coulis.
Dark Chocolate Lava Cake with Lemon Caramel: Preheat oven 190C/375F. Grease ramekins with butter, then set aside. In metal bowl, whisk 3/4c sugar and 6 eggs vigorously, 3-5 minutes until sugar is suspended in egg mixture. Over a double boiler, melt 240g dark chocolate and24og butter over low heat. Remove from heat and continue stirring until lukewarm. Slowly mix chocolate mixture into egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour into ramekins, filling them 1/2 way, then place in oven. Cook for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven; allow the cake to separate slightly from the side of the ramekin, then with a knife, gently go around the side. Invert onto plate then garnish with caramel sauce. Lemon Caramel Sauce: In medium saucepan, combine1c sugar and 2tbs lemon juice over med-heat. Stir constantly until mixture reaches a light brown. Reduce heat to low and slowly add 1/2c heavy cream, stirring constantly.
Froggie went a courtin’ and he did ride. Mhmm.
Froggie went a courtin’ and he did ride..
A sword and a pistol by his side. Mhmm