Of course when it came to the boiling fowl I should have turned to Dorothy Hartley. She has this to say on how to make a really tough on fowl tender.
“….get the largest bird you can find. It does not matter how tough it is. Draw it and truss it. Put a couple of onions inside and set it to simmer very slowly overnight, letting it go cold in the water as the fire dies down towards morning. There should be a skin of fat on the broth. Take this up and set it aside, but leave the fowl to soak in the broth.
Two or three hours before dinner next day, bring the pot again slowly up to boiling point. Meanwhile, have your oven ready as hot as possible, fiery hot-and a baking pan well greased with the fat from the fowl. The minute the water begins to boil, lift out the fowl, dredge it thickly with pepper and flour, and instantly shove it into the hot oven. Close tightly and leave for 10-20 minutes, according to size.
When taken out, the breast and skin should be brown, and crisp as if roasted, but the fowl still damp and juicy inside. Scientifically done, it will almost fall to pieces when carved, as the steam from the boiling broth, superheated in the hotter oven, explodes, and, quite literally, blows the whole contraption to pieces.”
I have not been as ambition as that and have settled for chopping up the bird, dousing it in half a bottle of red wine and a tin of tomatoes and leaving it to stew for a few hours while we went for a walk.
The walk was to clear out some of the lines of sleep from the late night and wine we had last night. Flaybrick Cemetary is a 10 minute walk up the road. You need company when walking round as the dead lurk near the surface. It was built in the 1860’s to accommodate the passing on of the growing population of Birkenhead. It now covers around 26 acres sloping down from Bidston Hill.
It is a broken, tumbled down place. Many of the gravestones have either been pushed or have fallen over, the Victorian grandees now grassed over, the names finely engraved now lost under the leaves.
I was struck by the story behind one gravestone, Charles Andrew Park who died in 1932 and his wife Margaret who died 38 years later in 1970 aged 94. Was the space left on the gravestone for the children they did not have and how did her memory of him turn over the years.