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Red onion confit

SUNDAY LUNCH:

“Is there any of that guinea fowl leftover?”

“A little–not much–do you want it with the spinach and rice torta*?”

“I’d like it with some red onion confit

“OK–not sure I want to…just made the torta…”

I’m a pushover though—and find myself slicing red onions five minutes later!

It is really not difficult and would be delicious with the guinea fowl and/or the tortas–or whatever!

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(The roast guinea fowl recipe is the simplest and quick. I’ll publish it tomorrow.)

Red onion confit recipe:

Peel two red onion and slice them thinly. (Next time I’ll slice them thickly–like Frank Cooper’s Coarse Cut Oxford Marmalade of my youth!)

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Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the onions and season with salt and pepper.

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Over a medium heat cook them down–as chefs are in the habit of saying–for 15 minutes, stirring the while.

I added three teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and kept stirring while the liquid evaporates.

That’s it!

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“Ummm–LOVE that taste!”

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“Your wish is my command,”I say, bowing extravagantly.

* from Delicious Dishes for diabetics.

I’m spending the morning in the kitchen–cooking! Life has been a little distracting recently–I’m enjoying a change of costume. No sign of a wig either! IMG_0376 Haven’t done these little beauties for some time. I bought a few courgettes (zucchini) at the organic market last week–the first of the season. I was surprised to see them but happy because I’d found a brilliant source of fresh coriander and had enough to  cook an occasional but favorite dish from Delicious Dishes… Spicy Prawns with Coriander. I foolishly cut corners and bought some frozen raw prawns from the supermarket that turned out mushy and the dish was rubbish. The recipe’s good though and worth trying–if you can find the coriander.. There are two of these shiny new courgettes left in the crisper. I look up the recipe (in Delicious Dishes)–2 courgettes, it says!–perfect. I don’t have any emmental cheese but use a creamy soft brebis (sheep’s cheese) instead with a little added parmesan.  Courgette Muffins

2 courgettes – unpeeled and grated 2 tbsp Emmental cheese – grated 4 tbsp onion – grated 1 tbsp fine breadcrumbs – wholewheat or rye salt and pepper 2 eggs

  1. Heat the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Combine the first four ingredients, season well and mix thoroughly.

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  1. Check the seasoning and fold in the eggs.
  2. Oil the muffin cups. This amount is enough to fill one of those rubber trays of twelve.

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  1. Fill each cup with the mixture and carefully transfer to the middle of the oven.
  2. Bake for 30–40 minutes–they should be springy and nicely brown.

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  1.  You could serve these on a tablespoon of tomato coulis–(tomato sauce put through a sieve).

We had them with a spoonful of white beans in tomato sauce and a poached egg. Meredith thought they a tadge too moist–needed another couple of minutes. I liked them as they were..! IMG_0379

Last week, my tum was upset–I won’t go into detail!

We diabetics, need to eat regularly, but I wasn’t fancying much–so what exactly?

Rice says Meredith–bland and filling–less of a challenge to the digestion.

I like our rice–brown basmati–but not hugely, if I can put it like that.

Dragging myself to the health food shop I spotted some good looking broccoli–late season but fresh and green.

Lightly seasoned rice with added flecks of chopped parsley or coriander topped with steaming broccoli and a swirl of olive oil?

Little effort and easy on the stomach.

I had seconds!

 

 

The other morning Meredith noticed something out of the ordinary had been at the little dry food pellets (kibble) in a cat bowl.

Munched into dust, almost.

“Uh-uh! whose been nibbling at the cat food?”

Concerned speculation…

Was it a mouse? A rogue cat from over the way? Or was it a “doesn’t-bear-thinking-about”?

Time to take up the cat food bowls overnight and be on the lookout for unwelcome visitors.

The following morning, I’m sitting in my chair after breakfast checking through the email when something catches my eye….

I look up and focus on the cat bowl at the entrance to the larder.

Something is there, and it isn’t a cat. The feline population are all outside sunning themselves, having eaten their fill for the moment.

Not a cat–but what?

It is facing me–snout first, full on–difficult to see clearly. First thought–a RAT!

Worst fears, lift legs, shout for Meredith…?

THEN, I pull focus more finely and see the plump, little body of the beast and the tell-tale spines sillouetted against the light streaming through the open back door.

RELIEF! Legs  down, call softly to Meredith….

It’s a baby hedgehog!

Meredith peers round the entrance and sees the “uninvited visitor” and laughs.

“There you are!” she says quietly to the youngster with the adventurous heart.

The frame freezes as we all take in the situation.

The baby hedgehog is the first to move.

It skittles back into the larder which has clearly been its home for a day or two.

“You’ll have to wear gloves”, I say irrelevantly, as Meredith disappears towards the tool shed.

Back she comes wearing her hedgehog handlers and the rest of the story tells itself…

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Spot anyone hiding out in the larder?

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Pippa, head cat, is unimpressed.

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“Well, that wasn’t so bad…”

Postscript:

Master Intrepid returns!

Later that same day as Meredith sat in front of the computer, who does she spy but young Master Intrepid making his way from the front door this time into the kitchen, heading toward the cat bowls by the back door.

Needs must when the stomach wills?

Or innocent insouciance, carefree and fearless?

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The spectacularly staged cliffhanger ending of last night’s 8th and final episode of the First Season of the new Poldark left us and poor Demelza on the edge of the abyss–literally.

The audience with a 12-month wait and Demelza looking at a precipice of worry and uncertainty.

WOW!

Poldark‘s explosion into the nation’s consciousness in the UK is phenomenal. (I’m enjoying riding on the coattails, albeit with a feeling of déjà vu!).

Poldark is referenced daily in the British zeitgeist–in cartoons, radio, TV print and online–sometimes  with a political twist and even academic papers discussing its historical context.

The ancient art of scything is experiencing a re-examination; Colin Firth is getting some free publicity and the British Chancellor George Osborne—at the height of an unpredictable election campaign—finds time to be a fan!

It seems the time was right for Captain Ross Poldark to gallop back into the national psyche and turn up the temperature on Sunday nights.

Aidan Turner has done just that with nobs on–if you’ll pardon the expression, supported by a wonderful ensemble.

His passionate performance as Ross is at the epicenter of the storm over Poldark and it’s exciting to watch him take the thing by the scruff of the neck–literally in the case of the wretched Matthew Sansom. (Good riddance, I say, he was intolerably impertinent to Rev. Dr. Halse at the card table).

Spoiler alert–skip the next paragraph if you have not yet seen all of the first new series.

Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza–losing her first born and husband at a stroke–matches Aidan, playing Demelza with an honesty that anchors the piece firmly within the truth-telling universe created in the novels by Winston Graham.

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She and Aidan have established the emotional heart of the piece–and it’s that that attracts the audience back each week.

As Meredith has just said, it is certainly not my wigs!

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Surfing the net for a bit of Poldark news this morning (I’ve become a groupie!) I chanced on a series of wonderful photos, many of which I had never seen before.

They were taken during the filming of the original series by a gifted young photographer, Ian Barnes, who was just starting out in his career.

Here’s his story and the photo slide show, published today by the Western Morning News: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Unique-record-set-original-BBC-cast-Poldark/story-26324743-detail/story.htmlEbony the Horse

The slide show reminded me that  I had written the story of two of the photos depicted in my memoir Making Poldark. [Also available on Amazon.com]

 My steed for the second series, Ebony, was supplied by the wonderful horsemaster, Ben Ford  (the back of his head is visible in the photo below).

I had more riding to do in the second series, so Ebony and I saw a lot of each other. She never threw me like Dennis (my mount in the first series, an ex-Steeple chaser), but I’m sure she knew she had a novice on board.

Our most difficult day was the first shot of the second series—Ross Poldark‘s return from Holland.

In real life, I had been in London the previous day to see my then girlfriend play Cordelia at the opening night of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear, which had transferred from Stratford to the Aldwych Theatre. After the performance I caught the overnight train to Cornwall.

So I was there, fresh as a wilted daisy, at 8am on the beach at Caerhays ready to film. It was pouring with rain.

Ebony and I waited until 3:30 in the afternoon before we could even get on the beach. Neither of us was in very good shape by then. The wind was blowing the sea into a frenzy,  and I had great difficulty in keeping my over-large hat on my head. Screenshot 2015-04-17 14.33.12 Ebony, quite sensibly, was none too keen on the conditions. She could see the waves out of the corner of her eye and thought they were coming for her.

With difficulty, trying to control my hat, my flowing cloak and the reins, I managed to get her facing the right way. The camera was mounted on the roof of a Land Rover and we were supposed to follow it at full gallop across the beach. Screenshot 2015-04-17 14.37.37 It should have been an invigorating experience. Instead it was a nightmare.

Ebony HATED the sound of the Land Rover and decided the SAFEST place was her horsebox—so that’s where we headed.

We passed the Land Rover with ease and I managed to stop her only a few feet from the end of the beach. Exhausted I fell off into a puddle!

I remounted. (Well, I was the hero!)

Ben, experienced in such things, placed a sister equine on the seaward side of the Land Rover track, hoping Ebony would run towards her. We tried again and Ebony rejoined her friend rather more quickly than the cameraman anticipated.

By this time, I was losing confidence and my fingers were losing their grip.

We tried once more. Ebony did an impromptu gavotte, crisscrossing the Land Rover, and then another mad gallop.

I decided she’d won the day and walked back to the coach.

Two days later we had a perfect sunny day and managed the shot in one take.

I think Ebony had worked in television before.

Poldark filming seems to attract characterful beasts. Aidan Turner’s steed Seamus (Darkie in the series and Irish, like Aidan) is enjoying his new found fame!

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My memoir of MAKING POLDARK–with a chapter on how I got involved in the 2015 adaptation of Winston Graham’s romantic saga, and behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of the new series–is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER on Amazon.

(The book is currently available only on Amazon USA.)

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