As the fabled Aesop...err...fabled...
'The Milkmaid and Her Pail." Patty, a farmer's daughter, is daydreaming as she walks to town with a pail of milk balanced on her head. Her thoughts: "The milk in this pail will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter, which I will sell in the market, and buy a dozen eggs, which will hatch into chickens, which will lay more eggs, and soon I shall have a large poultry yard. I'll sell some of the fowls and buy myself a handsome new gown and go to the fair, and when the young fellows try to make love to me, I'll toss my head and pass them by." At that moment, Patty tossed her head and lost the pailful of milk. Her mother admonished, "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." '
Well my eggs certainly ain't going to be hatching anytime soon, it's the first week of Movember and I've pretty much spent my entire wages. All my fun plots and plans lain to waste! How the hell does that happen? Is it me or is this the skintest year in the history of living in London? Goodness only knows what I'll do when the VAT rockets up next year to 20% (tough but fair, my a**se) and with redundancies taking a worrying slash-and-burn turn for the worst combined with rental properties going up by 10%-35% (YUP, rental properties in London are now gold-frigging-dust!) it's not going to be long before my heavily baby-endowed landlords see pounds signs light up in their eyes. AND, as if the outlook weren't gloomy enough, I read that apparently this will be the coldest winter in 31 years.. BUT, but, BUT... wasn't last year the coldest in 31 years?! COLD!!! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!
GAH. What to do? Emigrate I say!
The only thing to ward off that cold and the following stinky dose dold (or if you're a bloke, man flu!) that is likely to apparate and continue through Christmas (nothing like matching your nose to Santa's suit - well, I guess it could tenuously be considered a form of accessorising... darlink) is heavy dosage of chicken soup (penicillin in a bowl, I am a Jew after all!) and a bulb of garlic a day!
Course I wouldn't advocate eating a whole bulb of garlic... actually I would, drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of salt then roasted to squeezy caramalised tasty softness in the oven... mmmmmmmmmm... I'm happy for people to evacuate seats around me on the tube as I am socially inept in the mornings anyway and appreciate the space! But, if you're slightly more considerate of the proletariate sharing an already stifling carriage of a morn, try something more simple, tasty and breath-friendly:
BIG chunky chicken breasts
Breadcrumbs (stale bread or just cheat & buy a packet from Waitrose)
Sprinkling of plain flour
50g butter (approx), softened
Lots of garlic
1. Turn the oven to about 180 degrees centigrade (I've just remembered, all the temps I give are for a fan oven - so if you don't have one maybe up the temp a bit)
2. Lay out your plates for breading the chicken with your flour, beaten egg & breadcrumbs
3. If you like lemony chicken then perhaps zest the breadcrumbs - I also add a bit of seasoning
4. Mix the butter, herbs*, garlic and squeeze a half to whole (totally dependent on your taste) lemon in; roll into a log and pop in the freezer for about 15 minutes
4. When the 15 mins are up, slice a pocket into the fattiest bit of the breast, taking care not to go all the way through, and shove (carefully push) your butter mixture into the pocket
5. Flour, egg, bread the chicken and then pop in a fryiong pan to seal all sides
6. Pop in oven for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the breast - ooo-errr)
I served with mashed garlicky tatties and garlicky Kale (simply pop in a small saucepan with a drizzle of water, couple of knobs of butter and very thinly sliced garlic glove for about 6 minutes) and a chilled glass of my new favourite wine from Waitrose, the rather gorgeous Surrey Gold.
Perfect winter fare, and there's not chance a cold (or a vampire!) will be getting you any time soon.
*Usually I keep back a stock of the butter in the freezer, it'll keep for about 3 months. And this time I couldn't find any tarragon ANYWHERE! Yeah, thanks Sainsburys, Waitrose, M&S, Co-Operative. Growl. So give chives and parsley a go - they're just as good!
Oh and has anyone else noticed a dearth of cinnamon sticks?! what's with that?! mulled wine perhaps?! That's my plan tonight chaps.
In the meantime I leave you with...
...quite possibly the cutest little sneezey sausage you'll see all winter!