Tuesday 19 August 2014


This morning was most productive. Not only did I get in an hour or so of Polish study, I did half an hour of sketching practice. My inspiration is Hilary White, who insists that anyone can learn how to draw, it just takes effort. Hilary has advanced from sketching to charcoal to paint, but I think I would be happy just sketching scenes into my travel journals.

At ten I arose and put on my housewife uniform. There followed two hours of vigorous dusting, wiping, carrying furniture into the hallway and hoovering the carpets. I did a moth inspection of the storeroom and was relieved not to find any new trace of them. However, there was one little brown critter sitting very, very still on the bright white wall of the sitting-room. I slew him with my bare fingers and hoovered up his corpse.

I cannot put into words just how much I hate Tinea bisselliella.  When I saw an enormous house spider in the library last week, I rejoiced, for I imagined she had grown fat from munching moths. My hatred is a bitter hatred, for I fear their coming  was my fault and moreover they have eaten B.A.'s purple pullover. Ironically, I became fully aware of the strength of their invasion only when I arrived in Canada this February and discovered growing holes in A) my beloved argyle cashmere sweater , B) my cable knit zippered wool cardigan from Barbour and C) my green silk blouse. There followed frantic washings and freezings and buyings of cedar blocks and lavender oils. I telephoned home to beg B.A. to inspect my silk wedding dress and send clouds of insecticide into every wardrobe. So far they have left my wedding dress alone. They really seem to prefer B.A.'s wool pullovers to any other food.

At noon, I washed and worked on my other trade which, naturally, is writing. And then I got up and seared a 900 g brisket on all sides before chucking it in the oven at 140 degrees Celsius. This brisket had spent twenty hours marinating in garlic and red wine,so it had better be tender when it comes out of the oven, or I will weep. It is the first cut of beef I have bought since.... Hmm. Actually, I almost never buy beef. Occasionally I will buy B.A. a steak when I know I won't want any supper myself. But I think that is it... Oh, well, naturally I buy beef mince for Spaghetti Bolognese, the only contender with Chicken Tikka Masala for English National Dish status.  (The Scottish National Dish is. of course, haggis, neeps and tatties, which we really do eat--at least once a year.)

I used to think I hated beef, but it turns out that I just hate beef cooked well done, which is the only way my father will eat it. I like meat to fall off the bone in juicy flesh splinters.( Apologies to vegetarians. We do, as a matter of fact, have at least one meatless day a week--and rather more in Lent.) The best beef brisket B.A. and I have ever had was at Schwartz's Deli in Montréal.

Ah.... Schwartz's....

For the first five years of married life, I ignored large pieces of meat except when it was our turn for Sunday Lunch for Fourteen. I simply assumed joints were too expensive, and I hate chops. But then B.A. brought home a cookbook with such excellent recipes for leftovers  that I bought a huge pork roast on sale for seven quid. It had great crackling potential, too. I love crackling.

It took us a week to eat that roast, and it was absolutely delicious the first night, the third night, the fourth night, the fifth night and the sixth day for lunch. On the second night we had it cold, so I was depressed. But on the third night we had pork crepes and on the fourth we had pork puff pastry pie and on the fifth we had pork chop suey. We had a break for Friday, and ate the leftover suey on Saturday. That's a lot of meals for seven quid. In contrast, two fillets of salmon cost 4 quid.

So this week, we are eating beef. Normally one has the Sunday Roast on Sunday, but on Sunday we were at a party, and yesterday B.A. produced a quiche he had in the office. I haven't yet worked out why.


  1. What was the name of the recipe book with the leftovers? Sounds yummy!

  2. Big fan of brisket here! The trick seems to be to leave it in the oven as long as possible, like over an hour per pound weight, on low like your 140C. This past weekend I did 4 lb brisket for 6 hours, tightly covered, and it was beautiful. (It has to stay in the oven long after it smells ready!)

  3. Ah! That sounds great! We left the brisket in for three and a half hours, and it turned out beautifully. B.A. made an onion gravy and roast potatoes to go with it. He is, after all, the household's principal chef!

    R Becca, the book is called "Sunday Roast: The Complete Guide to Cooking and Carving" by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott.

  4. Checked your Seraphic page to see if you had posted up about your new blog only today and am late to the party, but I see no one has addressed your moth problem. Do a Google search for Soak, Eucalan, or Kookaburra wash. These are washes / rinses designed for hand knit garments and most of them have either eucalyptus or lavender in them to help deter the invaders. (For long term storage: ziplock baggies do well to deter the critters, too)


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