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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Warm Stew

I look for jobs to do around the house. Yes, the hoovering, that will warm me, stop me shivering. I have to remind myself It's the beginning of December, not summer anymore. That carpet, plain , awkward , time consuming is a treasure today. We work as hard as each other, my good friend Henry and me, going thoroughly through all the rooms,moving beds and chairs, paying attention to nooks and crannies. After an hour of this manual labour, I reward myself with a cup of hot chocolate, sit with paper and pen and plan my ?next battle against the elements. The temperatures registers below zero. Can that be right? Well, it certainly feels like it. This could be it now for the next twelve or even sixteen weeks. Not a pleasant thought. No wonder so many people move abroad to sunnier climes - who can blame them? I shut myself in the kitchen - the warmer part of the house - and decide that a chicken stew would go down well for dinner.It will heat us from the inside out. After washing up the breakfast things, in water that's much too hot, I put some chicken breasts in a pot, cover them with water and leave to boil, while I slice, then add onions, carrotts, swede and parsnips. Oxo cubes - vegetable and meat, complete the mix for now. When it's cooked I will thicken it with Gravy mix. As my stew simmers away, I retreat to my blanket and catch up on my emails - still sitting in the kitchen, of course. It's funny how just the smell of the cooking creates a toasty flush that seeps through to my bones. I see my own mother making dumplings and popping them on the top of her own stew - usually lamb. I never did follow her in that ritual. She was always, and still is at eighty one, the great feeder. When it's cooked I take it off the heat - to reheat later. As I'm still felling the chill I go for a walk to get the blood moving more quickly round this old frame. Although I wrap up well the wind gets through and after thirty minutes or so I'm glad to be back, the door shut behind me and in my blanket. Oh, and with another cup of chocolate. Later, they come home. What's that lovely smell they say, what's for dinner, looking in the pot with gloved hands, scarves wound round their necks. Mmmmmmm, we all enjoy the hearty stew. It's one of those meals that wrap us round each other as we're all happy to share time at the table together. A loaf of bread mops up the tasty gravy - almost like soup. There are some compensations in this ghastly weather.

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