Eggy Bread and Musing on Muses of the Kitchen

Donated some of my surplus eggs to a colleague in the office today, who is a bit of a keen cook. He has decided that breakfast for his boys tomorrow will be eggy bread made with fresh free-range eggs from the Chookery. I almost feel sufficiently inspired to emulate this fine example tomorrow morning, but the chances are that toast and marmalade will reign supreme as usual. Mind you, who can say how the muse will move me by the morning.

Who is the muse of cookery, but the way? I am familiar with Terpsicore, the muse of dance, for instance, but none of the classical sisters suggest themselves in the context of the kitchen. Mind you, PTC can execute a pretty elaborate quickstep when the oil in the pan gets too excited. So, returning to the nominations for the cookery muse, who suggests themselves? The obvious candidates are Delia (Egg Boilers) and Elizabeth (French Connections), with fringe parties represented by Nigella (The Goddess Party) and Fanny (Monster Raving Craddocks).

Excuse me – must re-tune the radio, it’s started to ooze country music, which is a minor drawback of Scottish radio stations … nothing else doing, so it’s back to Orchestra Macaroon and “Breakfast in Balquhidder”, which is the most fitting choise to accompany the writing of this post.

I suppose the choice of a muse for the kitchen is a matter of taste and upbringing. You’ll note that the four candidates are all of the female persuasion, but I couldn’t bring myself to nominate a Gary, an Anthony or even, chooks help us, a Galloping Graham. Although I draw inspiration from male chefs and cooks, the spirit of creativity for me has always come from the writing of women such as Elizabeth David. This is partly due to a respect for the nature of collected vernacular recipes rather than created ones – a tip of the cap to peasant culture, or at least, cooking rooted in the land of a place and its produce. One of the more interesting books I have is “The Cooking Woman” by Florence Irwin, who was a cookery instructor in rural Ireland in the early part of the last century. Her collections of Irish cookery are rich with authenticity and garnished with anecdote and her twenty-minute raspberry jam recipe remains reliable and results in jam that will not stay in the cupboard so long as the Queen of the Chooks’s sons are in the house.

So, plans for the chooks themselves for the weekend. First, I must count them in the morning. They have the annoying habit of making themselves invisible inside the coop when I look in at night, which always worries me as to whether or not they are all safe and secure. I haven’t seen one of the small yellow chooks since I came back, although there is a spare black one, which is rather confusing. I am in the habit of letting them out of their pen during the week when I am at work because there’s nothing for them to scratch in otherwise, but it does make them somewhat vulnerable to predation. Must check inside the coop to see whether one of them is laying on the floor and not in the nest boxes. If so, it’s a pain in the arm, but at least I know egg production is reasonably healthy for the time of the year. Another job is to recover all the assorted chombos that have been put out in the pens (pans, bowls, tubs etc.) and get those cleaned and sorted. Also, I plan to try to rationallise the small coops for the geese as well. The geese are getting fairly disciplined now: I came home just before five and it was still lightish and they were in the paddock. By the time I had put the car away they had gone into their pen of their own accord, in anticipation of being shut in for the night. That is, with the exception of China, who had managed to get herself inside the chooks pen again. That means some work closing up the gaps at the bottom of the fence between the paddock and the garden; the geese’s pen opens into the paddock and the chooks’s into the garden, although there are gates between the two to allow a change of scene for each set if they (and I) feel inclined.

If the weather is not too foul, I think I shall go and explore some of the woodland walks up along the loch and try out the new walking poles I bought whilst down in Somerset. Also got some very nice gloves which will be just the job when the snow comes in due course.

Getting back up here from having been down south, I’ve found it hard to re-establish my routines, including writing this blog. I think the key is to have coherent plans for each day, things I want to achieve and develop, because it’s very easy to come in and crash with a book and ignore all of the boxes that have yet to be unpacked!

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