Several years ago, after our move to England, I found myself in an emotional turmoil. I found England to be very different. I am sure people who have had to move between countries will empathise with me.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with England or her lovely inhabitants. It was me. I was used to something strikingly different. If you have watched the Scottish drama Shetland, you will get a rough idea of what most of my married life was like on various islands. The joys of being married to a Vicar! To be thrust into a city was a culture shock, to say the least. Everything from finding new friends to getting a certain cut of meat from the butchers was difficult.
I needed to turn a corner and needed to do it fast before life became unbearable. That was when I decided to do something with an empty jam jar (a clean one!) and scraps of paper. Every time I prayed over something, I would also write it down on the scrap piece of paper and put it in the jar. Every Sunday evening, I would go through all the written prayers and remove the ones that have been answered. It was amazing how many scraps of paper I was removing from the jar every week! I was beginning to feel better again as I was reminded through this act that even though I was lonely, God never left me! By the time, we moved yet again, another three times actually, the jam jar got lost and I forgot all about it!
However, since the start of January 2022, I have resurrected this habit and am feeling the better for it!
On Sunday, we had pan fried wild Scottish venison haunch for lunch. As I was preparing the meal, I got transported to Scotland as it usually happens!!!
When we lived in Scotland, we ate a lot of venison as it is my favourite red meat. I prefer it to beef; I don’t like lamb as I find the flavour a bit too strong for me.
At least one of our parishioners was a ghillie (one who attends to deer stalking expeditions) which meant that we always had venison in our freezer! In bygone days when I was fighting fit, we used to entertain quite extensively but strangely, I have never ever served venison to any of my dinner guests.
As a host, I always like to ask guests before hand their likes and dislikes together with their dietary requirements and every single time, I was told that they don’t like to eat bambi!!!!
However, they had no trouble with the Scottish Salmon that I served which has made me wonder how is it that they had no trouble eating nemo but not bambi???😂😂😂
The Mhinisteir and I are often mistaken for vegans or vegetarians. Why? I have no idea!!!
We both eat meat. However, we only buy meat from a butcher and it has to be free range/ organic meat which means our food bill is slightly higher but then we rarely go out to eat.
We both love a good fillet steak. About 12 months ago, I noticed that my butcher in Scotland had started selling centre cut fillet steak, grass fed of course. It is pricier than ordinary fillet steak but the Mhinisteir just loves it.
I like my steak medium while the Mhinisteir loves his cremated!!!
Just before cooking, I rub the steaks with olive oil and season with salt (no pepper!) and pan fry them in a smoky frying pan for 5 minutes on each side. I do not add any oil to the frying pan.
The steaks always turns out wonderful! I serve them with handcut triple cooked chips, tomatoes, mushrooms, salad and peppercorn sauce.
For Sunday lunch, we had the wild red deer haunch medallions that I had bought from my butcher in Scotland. I pan fried them and served them with some chips and organic cabbage and carrots.
As I didn’t prepare any pudding, I decided to make an ice cream float instead. The ice cream float served both as a drink and a dessert.
I created my float by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream(dairy free) into a tall glass and slowly poured a small can of Schweppes lemonade over it. The ice cream ball will start floating to the top! Stir and enjoy!
On Saturday, I got a Christmas meat order brochure from my “local” butcher in Scotland. I was gobsmacked! It was only the 5th of September and we are already thinking about Christmas.
I certainly am not thinking about Christmas given the year that we have had so far. Maybe it should be a quieter Christmas as a mark of respect to all those who throughout the world have sadly succumbed to Covid19. This year, there are going to be many empty chairs around the Christmas lunch tables.
There must be some kind of a celebration for as Christians we believe that without the birth, death and the resurrection of Christ there is no hope for mankind.
Christmas at the Vicarage is very low key. Christmas is a very busy time for the Mhinisteir so he is pretty exhausted by the time he comes through the door at lunchtime on Christmas Day.
In any case, we don’t do family get togethers or presents exchanging instead we spend the day visiting the sick and the lonely. This is a family tradition so most in the family do this yearly albeit in a very small scale. Of course, there have been years when there is no one to visit in hospitals or care homes. On those years, we would invite those who don’t have anywhere else to go for their Christmas lunch and we have a simple Christmas meal together.
One Christmas, shortly after our move to England, my “new” neighbour volunteered me without asking my permission, to cook the entire Christmas meal from scratch for her friend for this friend had gone into an almighty panic when she heard that her family was coming over for Christmas!!!!!! I, of course duly obliged!!!!
On Saturday evening, We had homemade veal burgers. I got the mince veal from my Scottish butcher. I prefer veal to beef as it is tender and easy to cook. The Mhinisteir likes veal too.
I did all my preparation for the burger on Saturday morning so all I had to do in the evening was to cook the veal burgers and assemble them.
By lunchtime, my usual health woes were beginning to plaque me so I had to have a lie down. It was soon time for dinner but I was only feeling slightly better. However, I decided to soldier on and cook the veal burgers. I am not a fan of barbecues so I usually cook my burgers in the oven. Unfortunately on this day, the oven got very smoky. I only had it professionally cleaned about afortnight ago so am not sure what happened there. The next minute the smoke alarm went off. The Mhinisteir went into an almighty panic and started closing the windows. Yes, you read it right. He started closing the windows!!!! Why? He didn’t want the neighbours to hear the alarm. I thought it was hilarious. I instructed him to wave a tea towel at the alarm while I started opening the windows. Thankfully the alarm stopped beeping just after a few minutes and calm was restored in the Vicarage Kitchen.
Oh by the way, The veal burgers were lovely too!!!
We have a good local butcher who does local delivery but sadly their customer service is not so good.
I remember the time when I rang them to place my first order which was two days after we had moved to the Vicarage. The person on the other end was the least interested in my order and was keen to put the phone down. Despite the cold reception, I have continued using them but I also use my other”local” butcher in Scotland for wild venison etc.
During lockdown, I haven’t been using my Scotland butcher but have been solely using my local butcher until last week. As usual, I phoned them with my order but there was this abrupt voice that said that they are no longer taking orders for delivery as it is quite chaotic for them and that they are simply not taking any orders anymore!!!! I am not sure how they can be so choosy when there are reports after reports saying that butchers are struggling to shift meat!!!!
Anyway, I was slightly irritated because here I am trying to support my local business but it looks like they don’t need my custom so I had no choice but to take my custom elsewhere.
Isn’t it strange that my butcher in Scotland is able to deliver to England while my local butcher who is only a 5 minutes drive away is unable to do so?