March 17th 2013 – I love you just the way you are

The snow has melted away, not without having wreaked havoc on my daffodils.  True, they would not have opened for St. David’s Day but certainly would have made St. Patrick’s.  The foliage and flowers could not take the hard frost and snow cover of the start of this last week.

The time comes to think about what else I shall grow in my potagers.  Success with vegetables and fruit, if you are not a person willing to indulge high-maintenance plants, relies on knowing what works with the soil and climate you have.  I have tried to force my allotment to grow chillis and tomatoes, but these unsurprisingly fail.  I am also rubbish at leeks and sprouts, the soil probably needs more drainage for the former and I always forget to net the latter against the butterflies of late summer.  As I do kale.

Carrots work well, so I’ll plant successions of the short, fat chantenays.  Also Mangetout, so I’ll make a rustic structure for these to clamber up.  Potatoes and Broad Beans are already in and just in case we get a wet summer I’ll have Runner Beans too.  They love the damp, Atlantic air – too low humidity will hinder the setting of the bean.  Also, it makes sure that at least something fine comes from the Julys and Augusts of the last few years.

I’m at peace with my allotment and this is because I understand what it can offer and grow accordingly.  I’m sure the ground is happy not being asked to do things it just can’t in the  unfriendly atmosphere that results.  The beds would look sad and unloved and I’d be embarrassed to seen together with them; our relationship would obviously be seen not be working.

And it’s the same for our own relationships.  Too often in the past have I tried to make someone something they are not, tried to force them to change in a way that didn’t show respect to their qualities but focussed on their short-comings.  People have tried to do this to me too but happily these relationships are in the past.

The Dunmow Flitch trials, first mentioned in The Wife of Bath’s Tale in Chaucer’s 14th century Canterbury Tales, award a flitch of bacon to married couples from anywhere in the world, if they can satisfy the Judge and Jury of 6 maidens and 6 bachelors that in ‘twelvemonth and a day’, they have ‘not wisht themselves unmarried again’ (thanks to for this information).  A flitch is half a (dead) pig, cut lengthways.

I’d like to think that me and Marie-Rose would qualify for this as we still are happily married, it being our anniversary today.  This relationship feels right, we are happy to let each other be themselves and our relationship grows and bears fruit as a result. Not children though, we are too old for that.  My three from a previous marriage are quite sufficient for both of us!

Now, this reminds me (once again I have a few eggs that need using up) of what the late, great Keith Floyd said in 1987 about the Quiche Lorraine in ‘Floyd on France’, BBC Books:

‘The poor Quiche Lorraine, once aptly (and sadly) described by Elizabeth David as a culinary dustbin, is blazoned on blackboards in art centres and wine bars throughout the land.  And the resulting soggy pastry case containing congealed custard dotted with bits of ham, tinned asparagus and sliced mushrooms is a belly-chilling travesty’.
He would have agreed that some of the best things in life need to appreciated for what they are, without adornment or frippery.  I like salmon and broccoli, but melded with a quiche does nobody any favours.  It is wrong.  I also don’t agree with chocolate, coffee or chillis in beer, for that matter.
So few ingredients are used that there is no place to hide so everything must be of the highest quality so use free-range eggs and make your own pastry using the finest flour and butter.  The bacon could come from your very own flitch too, but this is unlikely, for many reasons!
Don’t make the Quiche into something it is not, love it just the way it is.
So as Keith Floyd exhorts us

‘This is how it should be done.  These are the only ingredients you are allowed to use!’
Quiche Lorraine
Serves 4 – 6
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C  You will need a well-buttered 8” (20 cm) pie dish.  I like loose bottomed ones.

250g shortcrust pastry

4 eggs, beaten

450 ml double cream

Salt and pepper

50g smoked bacon, diced and lightly fried

2 teaspoons butter, cut into small pieces

Line your well-buttered pie dish with the pastry.  Prick all over with a fork.  Beat the eggs and cream together and season well.  Sprinkle the bacon bits over the pastry case and pour in the eggs and cream.  Bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes or so until set.

Next week, Hot Cross Buns.  Never made them before…

© Bob Cavanagh, 2013,

2 thoughts on “March 17th 2013 – I love you just the way you are

  1. Why are they universally called Hot cross buns ? Grammatically surely hot crossed buns ! Not angry buns ! I have just read your blog to Debra and.she knew what a flitch was..she was wondering would ever have a pig ? Happy Anniversary may songbirds serenade you (old irish)

  2. Fine, just as long as Marie-Rose knows that the ‘just the way you are’ is a cheat and a liar, happy to have affairs even when I was pregnant with your son. Glad you have made it through a whole 1 year! Pity you made less effort with your previous three marriages – and clearly this is all true or I wouldn’t be posting it openly!

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