Was that it?

At yesterday’s Farmer’ Market I more or less visited and bought something from every stall to a certain extent stocking up for Christmas.

The most important job of the morning was to make sure the chicken stall was there so I could get in my order for a capon for Christmas lunch. Now that the chicken stall isn’t there every month they have lost their regular pitch to the right as you walk in as a consequence of which there was a panicky few seconds as I looked round the hall to try and find them. Fortunately the men who breed the chickens have distinctive beards and they were spotted. I put in my order and was told to be back for the evening of 22 December to pick it up. I now have less than two weeks to work out what to stuff it with.

Next was lunch which was going to be a steak sandwich. There was a fine selection to be had from the man with a grey beard bigger than mine. I managed to find one that wouldn’t face me over lunch and resisted the temptation to buy another bag of potatoes.

There was a time when there were more children in the house a bag of potatoes in the basement bought from The Farmer’s Market wouldn’t last for more than a couple of weeks so I got into the habit of buying a bag every time I went. Now they are starting to stack up in the basement.

Lunch also meant I had to buy a French baguette into which to stuff the steak.

Then onto cheese. There are always two stands selling cheese (and occasionally one or two others) – Lancashire and Cheshire. I bought impressive lumps of both – the Lancashire was tasty and the Cheshire was old. No doubt I shall be making use of them both in my lunchtime sandwiches come January.

It was then on to Wards to buy fish for tea. Slabs of hake to be dusted in flour then cooked hot olive oil and smothered in finely chopped parsley, a squirt of lemon juice before being eaten with potatoes.

Sunday morning was spent buying a Christmas tree from Church Farm. I did this in the company of the youngest daughter who had not gone to bed until around 3.00pm that morning and was clearly anxious to get the purchase out of the way sooner rather than later so that she could get home to bed. To a certain extent this worked to my advantage as for once we managed to avoid buying the most expensive tree available on account of its size but I would have liked to have spent more time looking at the grey diluted light over the Dee.

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Sunday afternoon I made beer. Sadly I have left it too late for Christmas Day but with luck and and a following wind it should be ready for New Year’s Eve when no doubt it can have a go at ruining some persons evening. There were a couple of moments of panic that came with the brewing process. The first was after I had scrubbed out the brewing bin and went down to the basement to find the can of malt. I was certain I had bought this last year but with the tidying up done around parties in the basement since there was no saying where it might have gone. In fact there was in that it was gone. I decided that the best way to track it down was to give a good half hour between each scour of the basement in the hope that in the meantime my eyes would find somewhere elsewhere to focus. This eventually worked and the tin was eventually located somewhere quite close to just under my nose. The second panic came as I took out the bag of brewer’s sugar that I was convinced had been lurking in a drawer for the last few months. I was about to pour it into the mix when I noticed the sugar was in fact salt. Disaster averted I found the bag of sugar elsewhere. The tub of mash, sugar, yeast and water is now safely ensconced in the basement and wrapped in a protecting placket the better to help all that sugar turn to alcohol.

Sunday evening was spent cooking a pheasant with potatoes and cider and very good it was too.

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