Saturday 30 October 2021

A New Broom Sweeps Clean


Mad for Brushes!
(Nota bene: Broom not seen)

Spring has sprung again in this neck of the woods. While the Flying With Hands incumbent brush fetishist gets to make merry with the tools of the trade, there have been other unsolicited changes around the place, coming from some unlikely brooms. And I don't just mean the general spring cleaning of my web browser.


Opera is Serious

This earnest Techno-Hausfrau-Geek left her spring cleaning calling card on my computer the other day. I call her, unimaginatively, Opera-Girl* and she always makes me larff  merrily when I see her. Look at that face. She really takes her job very seriously, even if it is unsolicited. 

No, I speak of the Scoundrel formerly known as my Local Bank, which, having been temporarily closed since last year, has decided to make it permanent. For my convenience and to make my life simpler, apparently. It was the final straw for me. After 26 years of loyal custom**, I have taken my business elsewhere. Namely online. For sure, the delight of a cheque book has gone, as is what I deem to be a true convenience, viz. a shoppe-front mere moments away, but my hand was forced. Nor have I looked back, for this revolution in my old ways has brought such vim and vigour to matters financial.

Behold the Vault

The penultimate act which led to this tipping point had been the cessation of the safety deposit box facility. Can you imagine my surprise when the letter arrived, breathlessly announcing the exciting new changes to simplify my life further? After much gnashing of teeth, I booked a time slot and Mr. P & I trundled into the city to go down to the vault of a glorious heritage-listed former branch to clear it out (just my safety deposit box, not the vault in a heist, mind!)***

This hobbit door will probably pop up on Ebay soon enough -
One Previous Owner, No Key :(

As it transpired, there were only dead moths in it, as I'd forgotten that I'd emptied it of papers when we stopped taking merry jaunts across the globe. Sigh. Mr. P had never been allowed beyond Doctor No's hobbit door before so that made it a fun family outing****, and we went and had lunch in a café in the city, too, because we can now. 

New Bread

In the domestic sphere, where changes wrought are due to my own hand, the Lazy Girl Bread is now made with a combination of rye, wholemeal, buckwheat (such a handy use for buckwheat once bought for blinis) and white flour. White bread is now a thing of the past.

New Tea

Black tea has been swapped out for a very delicate white/green tea combination. Nota bene the delicious biscuits delivered to our door by our downstairs neighbours, the Country Mice, who'd come to Town for a brief sojourn. We have lovely neighbours throughout the condominio!

New Hair

Hairdressers are open again! I gave myself one bathroom cut during the year, which was deemed not the worst she'd seen, but was nearing waist-length when the hairdresser addressed its shortcomings on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, the bathroom will remain the venue for Mr. P's clipper cuts ad infinitum, for we have a nice little routine in the shower recess between the client (himself) and barber (myself), with the flourishing of an old sheet and a peg, some witty banter, a choice of music or not, and a comfortable stool. And with some care, clean sweeping with a broom (or trusty Dyson) isn't even needed for this fun job!

Happy Hallowe'en!

* If you don't use Opera as your web browser, you miss out on seeing her face pop up from time to time, as well as the joy of having a radically diminished number of also unsolicited advertisements cluttering up the place. Yes, Dear Reader, I do have the Girl Guide Badge for Unsolicited Advice.

** And turning a grudgingly tolerant eye to the numerous transgressions that are continually unearthed like scuttling slaters under an upturned rock and necessitate such delights as Banking Royal Commissions. It speaks volumes that the rather helpful telephone consultant did not even enquire why I was closing my accounts after all this time. 

*** Oh, and the refundable key-deposit didn't apply anymore as it was the service that was closing! Scoundrels. 

**** I have just read that a private security vault up the street from Doctor No's is offering to assist those disgruntled customers in hauling their loot up to a more state-of-the-art facility. The website has Chinese and Hindi translations. We saw some of these elderly future customers when went to collect the moth carcasses, waiting in the foyer with shopping trolleys!

Image credits: 1-7: Flying With Hands; 8: Graphics Fairy

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Some Tasty Tidbits


The Pipistrellos know how to keep occupied
Ravi Zupa screen print, Thrilling, 2020

Dear Reader, it has been utterly remiss of me to neglect the something-to-eat creed of this blog, so you must be positively starving by now! These neglectful tendencies do come from being thoroughly distracted by the cardboard box we've been stuffing ourselves in during these days of No Fun Allowed, for Thrills can always be found around the casa. Anyway, all that is officially behind us (again) as from today, so after a trip to the shoppes for some ingredients, I can now supply some tasty tidbits. 

Behold, dinner tonight:

Chilli con Carne
nota bene: Artist's Impression

As ever, the finished result lacks the vibrant colouring of the suggested photographic rendering in the recipe book but experience informs us that we've made this many times and it's always delicious, so allowances must be made for what inevitably ends up on the plate. Unlike over at Dear Brother's place, we've not the Master Chef flourishes around here.

It was Mr. P's idea for chilli con carne. I'd had in mind a batch of  Romanesque fagioli, and had been soaking some borlotti and cannellini beans for this purpose when Mr. P declared he wished otherwise. For added vits & mins, I tossed in some English spinach, and was able to use the leftover stock and dripping from some oxtail I'd slow-cooked in a bottle of red wine for an, ahem, beefed up macaroni & cheese last week. Also delicious!

Macaroni & cheese with oxtail is not the only variation on the nursery norm found around here, for it also occasionally gets made with crab meat when I want to get super fancy. (You can see where on the beast the oxtail purports to come from, in the illustration above.)

In other one-dish delights, the season for Brussels sprouts spaghetti carbonara is now over, for it is Spring in this neck o' the woods. Bucatini carbonara is another legacy recipe from Ol' Boyfriend Marco, but as the humble Brussels sprout is a brassica close to my heart, I/we adore this variation with sautéed shredded sprouts alongside the requisite cured porky bit* that is found kicking around the bottom of the fridge. 

The Humble Sprout, a.k.a. Pipistrello's Favourite Vegetable
Christine Stephenson watercolour

While this adored winter vegetable is over for this year, I did chance upon a couple of bunches of something unmarked but green and healthy-looking a few weeks ago at our local weekend growers' market and tossed them into the basket without even enquiring into their bona fides. Imagine my surprise and delight when, upon cooking, the mystery green proved to be broccoletti! 

Quelle surprise! Broccoletti!

This divine bitter green from the brassica family was a seasonal staple in my in-law's vegetable patch, the seeds for which were originally smuggled over from Italy decades earlier in someone's luggage**. We never see it in our local greengrocery, so in Normal Circumstances, it necessitates a journey by aeroplane to visit Brother-In-Law, who diligently grows it.

For why do I buy unlabelled greenery? I've been on & off making weekly batches of what I call Covid-Greens these past two years, as partly of my housewifely prophylactic ministrations, and which variously come in the shape of dandelion, milk thistle, kale in its variations, or any other unidentifiable weedy greens that can be found. They get some decent wilting then get sautéed with the usual suspects: aglio/olio/peperoncino and sometimes some anchovy because I can't help myself, and make a delicious (and sometimes rather obvious) bit of veg on the side. Well, delicious in the world of Pipistrello.

So what else is on the plate at the moment? I can tell you oysters are pretty divine right now, and navel oranges and grapefruit are a gift from the gods (and there are some Seville oranges also kicking around in the fridge awaiting my marmalading them, for I have promised that after last year's slothful approach to home preserving, I cannot pass another year without home-made marmalade), and mandarins are pulling out all stops with the fancy Dekapons and Afourers now becoming commonplace.

But in the one-a-day department, the newest and tastiest apple on the block is the diminutive Rockit. Not much bigger than a crab apple, and crisp and delicious, and so adorable. Just look at them:

Tiny little Rockits

Cuter than a cat in a cardboard box!

* I no longer pretend my home curing of a bit of pork belly is going to be bacon, for it always finishes up as a dead ringer for pancetta, which is more versatile in my book, anyway, and lasts an age if you forget it's there.

** Most likely hidden in socks or knickers, if the apocryphal tales are to be believed.

Image credits: 1:; 2, 6: Flying With Hands; 3: via Pinterest; 4:; 5:

Bats In The Belfry