Friday, February 14 – Hearts and hellebores
Valentine’s Day is dark and wet and my husband is absent. He left this morning with Neil at 8am. It is 3.30 and they have not yet returned. I am trying not to worry, but cannot help feeling anxious, knowing that there are malicious marauders out on the roads. The wind has picked up again today and it has been raining for at least six hours, so their journey will be hazardous even if they don’t encounter any suspicious characters.
I am trying to keep my mind occupied cleaning the house and preparing our supper. I marinaded the lamb shanks with herbs, oil, seasoning and a little red wine vinegar. Wine alone is too precious these days to use in cooking, though in the past I would always use a good couple of glasses in this dish. Then I dried and browned the shanks before placing them in deep copper pan with onions, carrots and stock to simmer by the fire.
I’ve added a couple of spoonfuls of redcurrant jelly as well, to make the gravy richer and more flavoursome. I usually like to add flageolet beans about half an hour or so before the end, but I don’t have any here so I shall add pearl barley in about an hour. That bulks up the dish and makes it very satisfying. I think mashed potatoes and kale will go well with the lamb.
As it’s Valentine’s Day, Anna has made hearts of twisted willow twigs for everyone, even Neil and Linda, who will be joining us for supper tonight after the search for sheep feed. I have warmed a pair of dry socks for Martin when he returns and I have picked the flower heads of some of the darkest, deep purple hellebores and floated them in a glass bowl for the table. Let no one say that in these powerless times there is no electricity.