Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the cat is a hat

It's 2 a.m. and I can't sleep so I've just extracted myself from a cat sandwich and come downstairs to write. The cats aren't allowed in the bedroom (BB's rule) but occasionally I accidentally on purpose leave the door open and as soon as they don't hear it closing, all three shoot up the stairs like rats up a drainpipe and assume their positions on the bed. Always the same positions - all three giving BB a wide berth.

If I've just washed my hair before going to bed, Loti lies on my head with her face buried in my hair - but only if it's just been washed. She's fussy that way. Otherwise she lies at my feet. (And when I say on my head, I mean literally on my head, like a hat. Once I sat up and she was attached, gripping on with her claws to stay on board - which smarted a bit - and nearly broke my neck as she's quite a big girl.) The other two take port and starboard, leaning in to achieve maximum body heat, making it impossible for me to turn over.

As I lay there, wedged in, staring up at the exposed beams, BB shouted out in his sleep: TWENTY FIVE KILOS! MINI-B! and fearing another one of his somnattacks, I decided to get up.

Only three days to departure.

We've been away a lot the last few days (hence my lack of blogging), visiting our 'winter' friends in Courchevel and Meribel for the last time this season and getting in as much skiing as possible.

The freezer is full to bursting with PC dinners, each one with a little bon mot scribbled on the lid. I know how BB operates - he will take the path of least bending down until he absolutely has to - so he'll start in the top freezer drawer (even if it contains 14 chicken curries - which it doesn't because I've mixed them all up for a bit of variety) and work his way down. Accordingly, the notes in the top drawer are gentle reminders such as: Remember to water the plants and Don't forget to feed Flippo (the goldfish) because he won't flip his bowl over to remind you like the cats do.

Then further down, round about drawer three and week six, they become slightly more pleading: PLEASE change the sheets and You REALLY OUGHT to hoover until finally, in the bottom drawer: Call an industrial cleaner NOW! and Buy new plants! and Replace Flippo!

To make space in the freezer I've had to use up all of last year's garden produce, including about 10 kilos of green beans. Green beans with mustard and garlic is a very tasty way to spice up the plain old French bean. For 4-6 people, place 1 lb/450 g French beans in boiling salted water and simmer until al dente. Drain and mix in 1-2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 heaped tbsp of Dijon mustard and serve immediately.


Kathie said...

Only 1 pound of green beans for 4-6 folks? Yikes, in our household they'd only serve 2 people! (urp)

Another easy way to fix green beans is to remove stems, steam whole, then toss with 3:1 oil:vinegar plus a couple chopped cloves (sections) of garlic, + S&P to taste.

When really hot weather's headed our way in summer -- too hot to want to run the stove at all -- I like to fix a double or triple batch of the above the day before, then refrigerate the leftovers in a non-corroding, non-plastic container (e.g., glass or Pyrex), to serve chilled the next day or two during the heatwave as a side-dish. So easy.

Sarah said...

Kathie - Wow, you really like your beans! I do too, but as a side with (dare I mention) meat (because I know you are a veggie)I think 1 pound between 4-6 is enough - or have I got my measures wrong? I also like eating them cold the next day. Yum!

Dirndle said...

You have a way with words!
Another very amusing blog Sarah!
love it!

Amaranthian said...

I'm the same way with my two cats: they are 'technically' not allowed in the bedroom...but who can pass up a loving, purring version of an electric blanket?

I love green beans, but my hubby is not so much. This sounds like a great way to slip them into a meal. Thanks!

The notes in the freezer made me laught out loud. I may borrow that idea someday. :)

Pete said...

Mmm, that is a nice and easy to prepare French beans dish!

Kathie said...

Sarah, what varieties of green beans do you prefer? We raise several types each year, but our favorites for flavor are ROMANO (flat Italian pods) and DOW GUAK (Chinese yard-long, although they're way too pithy and tough it we let them reach that length, so try to harvest them at 12"-15" while the pods are still tender).

We raise the pole-type growers, which we train up coated fence-fabric with 2" grid -- easier on the old back to pick than having to bend over to harvest bush-beans.

We also grow yellow wax-beans and purple-podded beans (both easier to spot amid the foliage, although the latter turn green while steaming).

Sarah said...

Kathie - When I first grew beans here, before asking advice from the locals, they were very stringy if they weren't picked when very young. But I have found a variety now (Frontex - or something like that - I can't quite remember) which are great and never stringy or tough, no matter what size.

I grew my beans up poles last year with sweet peas but by the time you've cut the poles to size and tied them together and dug holes deep enough to support them (we can get very strong winds here) - I think it's actually easier to grow them in the ground. I tend to sit on my bum in an old pair of jeans when I'm gardening - so no bending over. Very relaxing!

Kathie said...

Sarah, there are Romano BUSH beans as well as POLE beans, and they're equally tasty. When picked early enough, neither Romano nor Chinese Yard-Long pods are stringy or pithy.

If we don't get around to picking them while the pods are still edible, we use them for shell beans in soup (we like pasta e fagioli). The extra such beans can be frozen for off-season use.