Friday, 18 January 2013

Brevity, and soup.

Today, the blog is late, and short. This is because I did actual social life. Instead of making jokes on Facebook with my virtual humans, I actually interacted (I believe that is the technical term) with sentient beings IN REAL LIFE.

This was reasonably rare for me even before the explosion of the internet. I have advanced hermit-like tendencies, and really am very happy alone in my room. But I drank too much champagne at my sister’s new year’s eve party and rashly made a date, and the nice people took me literally. (I am always faintly astonished when this happens.)

At first, I panicked. The house must be tidied, logs brought in, risotto cooked, candles lit, cushions plumped. I suddenly decided the guests must have four different kinds of cheese, so an emergency trip to the village was required, in the blizzard. I even arranged tulips and hyacinths, for extra points.

In the end, of course, it was absolutely delightful. It was lovely to see the real life humans, and they all had second helpings of the risotto, and admired the dog. The conversation veered wildly all over the place, from autism to the American gun lobby to the in-breeding of canines. There were enchanting young people, one of whom is studying to be a writer. ‘I must just ask you about plot arc,’ he said, as they were leaving.

‘I’m not awfully brilliant at plot,’ I said.

We discussed his difficulty for a moment. The designated driver was revving the car, needing to get off on the journey north before new snow set in. The writer had to go. He had moved on from plot to point of view.

My parting shot, as they drove away, was: ‘Now you are into the treacherous waters of the omniscient narrator....’

I really do sometimes wonder at the sentences that come out of my mouth.

It was very sweet and lovely and now we are all hunkered down for the promised storms to come. The snow has swept across the south and west, and is heading straight for us. Luckily, the field shelter for the horses is finally finished, and we showed it to them this morning. It seemed to gain their approval. (Autumn the Filly was especially impressed. Red was a little more doubtful about the idea of inside, and snorted quite a lot, as if to say: you mean I have to lead my band into this strange wooden place? She takes her duties as lead mare very seriously.)

All week, I have been promising one of the Dear Readers a recipe for soup. It was supposed to be my new chicken soup, but that is not yet perfected and I am too tired now to write it. So here is a very quick, back of a postcard, completely cheating sort of soup, which is simple and fast and good for the winter chill.

First take your stock. If you have some chicken stock, hurrah. I’m afraid I just used my favourite Marigold powder. If you are going to use instant, I would only recommend Marigold, as all other brands I find greasy and too salty and not quite right. A litre will be plenty.

Into it, put eight or nine roughly chopped tomatoes, two fat garlic cloves, and three or four cooked beetroots. I use the ones that come vacuum-packed. Not the ones in vinegar, whatever you do. Add a sprinkle of dried chilli. Simmer for ten minutes.

Liquidise, quickly, with a good dollop of extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon. Don’t over-process. Sieve. This is important, because you want a thin, spicy, rich broth, with no pulp. Adjust seasoning; it may need a little Maldon salt.

And there you are. It’s my own invention, and it’s a good, brightly coloured, fierce thing. Perfect for the snow. We drank it out of little Moroccan tea glasses, just because.


No time for pictures today. Just one very dear face, also much admired by the lovely guests, and a blue, blurry evening hill:

18 Jan 1

18 Jan 2


  1. That is THE look of total and pure contentment!

  2. Great post. Love the idea of you rushing out for cheese in a blizzard. It's good to know the herd and the hound are safe. Take care in the snow lands. We have fine, beautiful, sparkly snow. You could hardly see it in the light today but this evening it appears it has landed and settled.


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