02 February, 2009
London came to a standstill today to welcome the snowstorm. School closed, which meant my writing class was cancelled. My mind upon awakening immediately turned to what foodstuffs I might have in my larder and fridge to keep us from starving. Silly, really, because in this thriving metropolis, the shops were all open! Something in my Midwestern snowy day mentality must have come to the forefront, though, and I was taken back to all those childhood days when snow fell and we got to celebrate and play. We headed off to Emily's house up the street to make our Snow Day plans, and ended up borrowing cashmere socks, waterproof gloves, hats and such from that ski-loving family and walking to the nearby park. But you know what? Our own pristine gardens and streets were nicer to play in than the park that had attracted every family in the neighborhood to make snowmen and let loose their frantic dogs. Children rolling giant balls of snow, John beating Fred mercilessly with snowballs, Annie and me following him around, determined to protect the son and heir and punish the dad. Swans flapped, ducks quacked and stood on first one leg, then the other. John threatened to make Fred test the pond ice for sturdiness!
Finally it was just too cold and we headed home through the still-thickly falling snow. Avery stopped at Emily's house for hot chocolate and marshmallows, and I made for home and a pot of the MOST delicious:
Snow Day Tomato Soup
2 tbsps butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 stem rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
3 soup-size cans plum tomatoes
1/2 cup single cream
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Nothing could be more simple than this soup, it costs next to nothing and cooks very quickly. You will never buy a can of soup again. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, then saute the garlic and onion until softened. Add rosemary and tomatoes, and simmer high for 15 minutes. Whizz with a hand-held blender, then add cream and seasonings to taste. Perfection.
With this, we had sandwiches made of last night's:
Pork Loin Cooked in Milk
(serves 4 for dinner, and again for lunch)
1 pork loin (approximately 1.25 kilos, or 2 pounds and some)
12 cloves garlic, 6 whole, 6 chopped coarsely
2 stems rosemary
2 white onions, quartered
12 baby new potatoes
1 liter whole milk
Cut 6 slits deep into the pork loin, three on each side. Insert whole garlic cloves. Place the rosemary on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish, then place the pork on top of the rosemary. Throw onions, chopped garlic and potatoes in around the pork and pour milk over all. Season well. Roast in a hot oven (200C, 400F) for about an hour and a half or until the pork is cooked through. Expect the milk to resemble the surface of potatoes dauphinoise: slightly crusted and brown, but still deep and creamy underneath. Rest for 15 minutes, then slice thin and serve with onions and potatoes, drizzling some milk onto the pork slices.
Today's sandwiches made on whole wheat bread with slices of pork, slices of Wensleydale cheese, red onion, hot English mustard and rocket leaves, were LOVELY.
What a peerless London day: Avery and Emily sloped back home to watch movies and make Valentines, I made a banana-free version of my favorite banana-apple cake, with pears instead of bananas, extra spices, and it was, if anything, even better.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 apples, chopped
2 large pears, chopped
dusting confectioner's sugar
Combine all dry ingredients. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix the dry and wet ingredients, then add chopped fruit. Bake for about 40 minutes at 160C, 350F, or until firm in the middle. Sprinkle confectioner's sugar over cooled cake. Serve warm.
This cake appears to be fool (me) proof. You simply must give it a try.
Tomorrow will, in all probability, bring a day of school and work. The respite is over. One of the most distasteful jobs ever beckons: cleaning out the awful cellar from all the clobber we threw down there when we moved here in May, plus all the junk we've assembled down there since. Pots too big to store in the kitchen, the cardboard box the portable AC unit arrived in during the hottest days of summer, out-of-season coats (probably motheaten, some of them), picnic baskets, outgrown horse riding equipment. Plus the requisite number of spiders, and the litterboxes. Not my favorite place on earth! But it's that or try to get up to date on photographs in the photo albums: endless sticks of glue, piles of pictures from clear back to spring of last year. I just have not had my heart in it, and yet have kept up to date ordering prints, so... the day will come.
We are in a tizzy of excitement because the weekend will bring a visit from my dear Becky and her family, all the way from Connecticut! Avery will be in absolute heaven to have her darling Anna around, and we plan to monopolize the family shamelessly during their visit. So much to catch up on: I'm thinking a spaghetti bolognese dinner to please everyone. In the meantime, watch out for those snowballs!