Chicken Soup and Pate

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 October 2007

21.46 of a Sunday. It 's cold round the ankles and the moon is half full. The first chicken soup of the season is bubbling away on the back burner; me knaidlach, (matzo-meal dumplings) have risen to the surface nicely and when the beeper goes Jim and I will sit in the kitchen and slurp the above mentioned.

This morning I ran for 20 minutes. The sun, low and very bright, shone on the crispy leaves as I pounded my way round the houses.

My tree has a lipstick mark, as you know; I always kiss the same place. The bark, this morning, was cold, but the pearly lip stain was clearly visible. If you stand four paces back the tree has a definite face - two knots for eyes, a big circular knot for a mouth, and beechy twigs for arms. I love it.

When I am in a funk, or as Mrs. Jones would have it, a bout of self pity, I have a good old cry. I am convinced that my tree has more leaves than the others in the avenue because it has been better irrigated with the salty tears I offer up.

There's nowt wrong with a good old boo, it's good for the health, clears the system and leaves the eyes bright. After all, Marie Antoinette chopped an onion everyday so that she could brighten up her eye balls.

Yesterday Mr. Fenn came down from London to fiddle with the computer. He de-fragmented it, changed passwords, rearranged settings and then pretended that it wasn't working. Some joke Mr.Fenn, I nearly passed out laughing. This last week has been so frustrating; I have spent hours running around the house pulling out cables, not to mention my hair.

Mr. Fenn was driven down to Sussex by his friend Sally. Sally is a comely solicitor who has mastered her sat-nav, Sally is from the Orient and knows a thing or three about stir fry. So I decided to feed them with food that I knew everything about and they, nothing; a meal I had learnt at my mother's knee. It's always as well to know what you are doing when you are feeding members of the law-abiding society in case they decide to take the law into their own hands. 'And if they don't like it? said Jim 'So sue me,' said I. Although she probably would - and win.

Anyway, by way of payment for Mr. Fenn's successful configurations, I made egg and onion, chicken soup and chopped liver - chicken liver pate, to the uninitiated. Stop me if I've told you before. It is so simple, and I'm not breaking any codes if I tell you my method. Chicken livers fried in a little olive oil with onions and garlic. Simple so far. When the blood has stopped oozing add some thick Sherry, the dark syrupy kind that smells of toffee. Boil it fast until the juices have thickened then turn off the heat. Now bung it all in a blender and add raw onion and garlic. Hard boil 2 or 3 eggs and grate over the top. I'm telling you, even though I say it what shouldn't, that chopped liver was the best this year. The soup was left simmering for three and a half hours whilst Sally, Mr.Fenn, my husband and I shared stories and demolished a whole brown loaf, a pack of smoked salmon and a tub of cream cheese. It's no wonder it took me three hours to mow the lawn I had to work off the excess pate.

I had Michael North on LBC today, he is THE OLIVE TRAIL, the founder of THE OLIVE OIL CLUB, you can find it on the website. We tasted three olive oils - we being PAUL YOUNG, chocolatier, and me. Michael told us never to leave olive oil untouched for too long. Drink it while its fresh and once opened use within 12 weeks. He told us about going to live in Greece because he loved wood and went on a voyage of discovery and found olive trees thus beginning his love affair with all things olive.

A listener emailed to tell us her dad had planted olive trees in her garden in Streatham, South East London. Mr.North told us that the oldest Olive tree in England is in Chelsea Physic Garden, right near Gordon Ramsey's gaff. Then Michael dropped one blob of balsamic vinegar on a little cube of chocolate which Paul and I tasted. It was...... interesting.

Apart from tasting olive oil, I ate far too many chocolates - a selection of Paul Young's newest treats. There was a beery one, a blackcurrent and liquorice one and a gooey raspberry thing that even now as I write makes me salivate.

I was shaking after the show - too much caffeine - so it was a quick nip into the flat for a spearment tea and a catch up with a dear friend I had bumped into in Old Compton Street.
Then it was home, wearing my hands free telephone ear thingy. It hurts, makes my ear hot, and gives me a headache. So I am not using the telephone in the car any more.

I walked in to the smell of the chicken soup bubbling. Jim had fed Jackson, who is now taking breath fresheners, glucosymine, herbs from America and pain release stuff from the vet. He's looking a lot better. Which is wonderful because tomorrow he is 13 years old, hopefully he's got just enough breath to blow out the candles!

Then I fielded phonecalls from friends and family. One from the middle daughter - my youngest stepdaughter; she has a scrummy child called Maia who has learnt, at a very early age, that by fluttering your eyelashes and saying, 'goo, goo, goo,' you can make money. A bloke gave her 2 in the pub tonight and she's only 17 months old; a girl after my own heart. Then a call from my nearasdammit son who is an actor. He came into our lives in the early 80's. Jim taught him at Drama School, by the time he growed up to be a fine, gorgeous, delicious, young man, I had fallen in love with him, forgiven him everything and taken him into my heart. B thinks of him as her bro' and we think of him, as do most parents of their sons, a complete liability.

We have a huge, ridiculous extended 'friendilfam' - a group of people who are linked by decision as opposed to blood. Somewhere down the line the cross over beteween family and friend got blurred hence 'friendilfam'.

I am very lucky. I am hoping, in my dotage, that at least one of the young ones will keep Jim and I in the manner to which we have become accustomed which, judging by the most recent bank statement, won't be very difficult.

The beeper has beeped and the soup is on the table.

There was a mutiny on the bus last week. Instead of turning right to Clapham Junction it stopped on Battersea Bridge. A very well spoken woman yelled at the bus driver that he wasn't in Communist Poland anymore, and that all he needed to do was call his supervisor, that he wouldn't get sacked for doing so, and that we could all be driven to the next bus stop where we belonged. In the event he didn't call his supervisor, the rest of us dismounted, disgruntled on the bridge, apart from Mrs. Angry who carried on ranting. The driver closed the doors. Mrs. Angry held on for dear life as the 239 disappeared in a cloud of carbon monoxide. I wonder whether he dropped her off at the Junction, in which case she got what she wanted.

Tomorrow is the start of the end of October - aint it gone fast? Anyway must dash my soup is on the table and Jim's shouting up the stairs saying that my dumplings need looking at. I can't miss an opportunity like that. Night Night. cul8tr.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At October 22, 2007 11:54 AM Aussie Cass wrote:

Dear Jeni,
I hope your blogging is as good for you as it is for all of us lucky enough to read it everyday.
You know, get it off your mind and onto the page and it's all sorted.
There was a lot of LOLLING ( esp at the bit about the mutiny on the bus) since I've caught that bus a few times.
I saw the delicious Jill Dupleix in Sydney promoting her new book. She looks like a model ,good ad for her book, and her husband looks like a rock star , a bit Rolling Stones too skinny and a bit worse for wear .Can't wait to get the book,eating light or
something,it really worked for them.
I'll be trying your chopped liver first.
Hope you have a happy November.

2. At October 22, 2007 6:46 PM janeyb wrote:

Hi Jenib
I've just bought some mobile phone handsfree 'thingies' (Nokia-From Amazon) for where I work. You plug the 'thingie' in the cigarette 'thingie. You can also charge the phone thru them as well, I'm told they are very good. It might suit you better. (They are for bluetooth phones). About 35. No ear pieces involved. I think people do look a bit weird with those don't you. Especially when they're walking round Sainsburys with them in!!!!
What do you think about these magnetic collars for dogs, (no jokes please) I bought one for our old Lab, I think it makes her a bit more supple, I'll give it a bit longer before I give my verdict.
ps I think you've got a bit of thing going with that Choccy chappie!

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