We arrive back from our night away to a freezing cold house and an angry cat. It’s almost midday and we have family arriving at one for lunch, (Tom’s brother, Tim, his wife, Ella, and her mum, Gilly).
We’re having Country Chicken for lunch (Joanne Harris: The French Kitchen) and I need to get it roasting as soon as possible, but I can’t cook in sub-zero temperatures.
I go upstairs and put my dressing gown on over my clothes. I’ve been wandering around the house a lot like this recently. The only down-side is that I have to remember to whip it off whenever the postman/gas-man/neighbour knocks at the door.
I come downstairs to find the kids not tidying their rooms, as requested, but playing some covert ops game which involves them shuffling on all fours along the floor with a blanket over their heads, crashing into the walls.
Meanwhile, Tom is in the diningroom supposedly tidying up. Me on cooking duty, him on clearing, although I immediately regret this decision because it sounds more like he’s starting a rave in the diningroom than setting the table for a family lunch.
Hip-hop is pumping out so loudly that I can’t hear The Archers over the top of it, and for the first time I regret my hard fought (and won) argument not to have a door put on the kitchen. Tom wanted one whereas until now I liked the open plan-ness of the house…
The cat is repeatedly attacking my ankles every time I move in the kitchen, and I’d forgotten how long it takes to peel a bag of shallots. I’m panicking about how much we HAVEN’T achieved on the clearing and cooking front, and the guests are due to arrive in half an hour.
Fortunately Country Chicken is a very quick recipe to put together (apart from the shallot peeling).
Essentially there are two stages:
1) Put the chicken, lardons & shallots in a bowl with some olive oil. Mix so everything is coated. Roast for 45mins on 180degrees.
2) Mix grainy mustard, white wine and a bunch of chopped taragon. Pour over the chicken and roast for 10 more mins.
We have ours with roasted new potatoes and parsnips, carrots and broccoli. Very tasty.
After, there is Lego-building and a clafoutis for pudding. We open presents and Daisy learns how to play Jingle Bells on the ocarina (a South American recorder) which was brought all the way back from Argentina. A lovely way to spend a very cold, wet last day in January.
PS: If Tim and Ella ever have children, I will be returning the favour and giving their children musical instruments from far-flung places ; )