Round and round we go

Well, here we are again, another one over and done with. I have said it before and no doubt I shall keep repeating myself: I don’t get it. I do not understand New Year’s celebrations at all. Not one jot. Why 31st December?  One might pick any date in the year and say it is a year from this time last year. It is all so very arbitrary. And why is it all about drink? I hated New Year’s Eve when I was younger. Really hated it. I would go to parties when invited and stand there wondering what all the fuss was about. Worse still, I would ask myself why I was the only one that couldn’t get drunk and have fun. Well, I am older and wiser now and know that the two do not go hand in hand. T’is all but illusion.  Pointless illusion at that. And the kissing? WHY the kissing? Slobbering strangers with booze on their breath and wandering hands. Yuk! As for First Footing – simple superstition. Nobody needs superstition in their life .

Fundamentally out of step with the world, I have never understood why other people never seem to question “tradition”. Me, I have never seen the point in doing something because “it’s traditional”. I step outside of it and wonder why the tradition; how did it start, what purpose did it once have and why does it survive in the modern world without that purpose simply out of custom and habit. It’s illogical.

Do you think I am somewhere on the spectrum? Or maybe I landed here from Vulcan when too young to remember that I am in fact an alien on Earth.

Don’t get me wrong – I do see the value in a mid-winter feast of light. I see no reason to have so many of them within the space of a couple of weeks. Far better to have just one and know it for what it is. Seems to me that the Solstice is the time to light the candles and fight back at the dark. That would be logical. It would seem to have purpose to me. Only sensible of course if the antipodes separated their celebration of the forthcoming year/defence against the dark by six months instead of partying to Jingle Bells on the beach.

Really. WHY do we as a whole never stop to look at what we are doing, ask why we are doing it and come to the realisation that we are being pretty damn stupid about it all – mindlessly going through the motions without understanding, fuelling the foolish acts with booze and pouring hard-earned cash from our pockets into the profit registers of faceless corporations in the process.

Madness, I tell you, sheer Madness.

Anyway… we had our own arbitrary celebration of 12 * 365 days passed and tucked safely under our belts. Year thirteen – thank the deity that I don’t have, that I have no superstition, eh? Our thirteenth year of marriage will pass like the previous twelve and all their sub parts. We shall be here again next year and no doubt I shall be arguing against the madness of it all. Whatever persuaded me that the 31st December was a good  day to get married on?

Well, as I recall the discussion went something like:

I hate New Year’s Eve

Me too

Be a good day to get married, though – we’d never forget the date

That’s true. Good idea. And it it will give us something worth celebrating when we’re out of step with the world.

The rest, as they say, is History.  It turns out of course that it was probably a poor idea. We remember the date but have great problems in recalling/working out how many anniversaries we have to count each time. Not only that but we cannot go out to dinner. Most establishments either close or put on a special New Year’s Eve event. The last thing that we want to do when we are billing and cooing is to be in the middle of a Hogmanay do, among  slobbering drunks and their simulacrum of fun. So that leaves me with all of the cooking.

Really, a stupid idea, was it not.

Thus we come to the end of Year 12, if we got our sums right. Me at the stove yet again.

Luckily this year I arranged a menu with some pre-preparation and minimal actual work on the day. That part worked out very well. The pate that I had felt so guilty for purchasing instead of cooking, turned out to be really rather a good one and kicked the meal off in fine style.

For once, the background to our meal was not a five hour long Pink Floyd Fest. We began with the Ink Spots, passing through a region of music that I cannot now recall and thence to the Best Pub Jukebox in the World…Ever! album.

I had fun making the Melba Toast on the Aga. It worked very well but the final product lacked that pleasing curliness that normally accrues from the traditional method of making.

Aga toast
Aga toast

It turned out however that flat Melba Toast has significant practical application

Pate, Melba Toast and Cranberry and Caramelised Onion Chutney
Pate, Melba Toast and Cranberry and Caramelised Onion Chutney

The Wild Boar Ragu reheated well. My hand-rolled Pappardelle might have been thinner but the sturdy pasta did make a suitable foil for the very robust sauce. I found the pasta alarmingly pallid, being used to making pasta with our home-grown eggs, which yield a deeply golden result.

dinner (1 of 1)
Main course

The Panna Cotta had given me considerable grief. The cream split and the butterfat kept floating to the top. I think it may have been due to using cream that had been thawed and frozen. A lesson learned. However, after battling all afternoon to re-emulsify the cream, I succeeded in part. The remaining fat I believed had been successfully removed by straining the almost set Panna Cotta into its moulds. In the event we ended up with a very lightly set jelly that melted as soon as it hit the warmth of the mouth but was slightly grainy with beads of fat. Not great but neither was it inedible. The flavour on the other hand was divine. I am being immodest but the notion of Honey with Panettone essence was nothing short of culinary genius and I had gauged the degree of flavour perfectly.

It’s a work in progress and I shall make another Panna Cotta the next time that I can get my hands on some fresh cream – if only to prove that I can do it right.

We struggled to pass on to the cheese course but we waited for a while and then had a small nibble of one of the cheeses. The Truffler was always going to be good: Farmhouse Cheddar with Truffles, what’s not to like! The Parke remains untouched but may be broached today, when we plan only to graze on a cold collation. The pate will need using up and I intend to have a hearty portion of that truffle cheese.

For the first time in many years, we were still awake at midnight (though in bed, listening to Cockney Rebel) and I actually received an ironic peck on the cheek and  “Happy New Year” from my beloved.

I’ll pass that greeting on because this post has been very lengthy and taken a hideously long time to getting around to wishing you a very good new year or Happy Hogmanay or whatever has meaning to you, should you be more in step and actually understand and appreciate what it is all about. Maybe one day you might demystify me but I doubt that after all these years you could ever make me enjoy it.

Hope the new year brings you and yours all that you could wish for.

My life is perfect already and I want and could wish for nothing other than I already have. I’m just happy to be looking at a return to normal routine and am spending today doing the laundry with a great feeling of relief.

I don’t do resolutions but I do have a great sense that I want 2016 to be a year of greater activity and more productivity. Wish me luck in achieving that!

Oh, and please recognise when the tongue is firmly in the cheek 😉

“Madness (Is All In The Mind)”

(Adoon doo)
(Adoon doo)I’ve never had much cause for worry
And I’ve not got a lot to say
You’ll never find me in a hurry
Because I live my life day by day

People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind

Twenty-four hours is all that I care for
I believe that’s the only way
Twenty-four hours is all that is needed
Because I live my life day by day

People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind

I’m happy the way that I do things
Continually feeling okay
I’ve no worries on what tomorrow brings
Because I live my life day by day

People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind

Well some men seek answers in bottles
And others in degenerate ways
But I don’t care much for the question
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind

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