Winter's an off-time for farmers; then they mostly enjoy their gains, hold jolly
Suppers amongst themselves.
Genial winter invites them and they forget their worries;
Just as, when ships in cargo have come to port at last,
Glad to be home the sailors adorn their poops with garlands.
Yet even now there's employment in season -- acorns to
And berries off the bay tree, and olives, and blood-red myrtle: Now you can lay your traps for the crane, your nets for the stag,
Go coursing long-eared hares, or whirl your hempen sling
To bring the fallow deer down --
Now when the snow lies deep and streams jostle their pack-ice.
Vainly alas you will eye another man's heaped-up harvest,
And relieve your own hunger by shaking an oak in the woods.
The reason why winter suns race on to dip in the ocean,
And what delays the long nights.
Bronze axe in hand, he [Eumaios] turned to split up kindling,
while they drove in a tall boar, prime and fat,
planting him square before the fire. The gods,
as ever, had their due in the swineherd's thought,
for he it was who tossed the forehead bristles
as a first offering on the flames, calling
upon the immortal gods to let Odysseus
reach his home once more.
Then he stood up
and brained the boar with split oak from the woodpile.
Life ebbed from the beast; they slaughtered him,
singed the carcass, and cut the joints.
Eumaios, taking flesh from every quarter,
put lean strips on the fat of sacrifice,
floured each one with barley meal, and cast it
into the blaze. The rest they sliced and skewered,
roasted with care, then took it off the fire
and heaped it up on platters. Now their chief,
who knew best the amenities, rose to serve,
dividing all that meat in seven portions --
one to be set aside, with proper prayers,
for the wood nymphs and Hermes, Maia's son;
the others for the company. Odysseus
he honored with long slices from the chine --
warming the master's heart. Odysseus looked at him
"May you be dear to Zeus as you are dear to me for this, Eumaios,
favoring with choice cuts a man like me."
A pure natural pepper, of delicious, pleasant, and delicate flavour.
It facilitates digestion and imparts vitality, and is much esteemed by epicures.
Being of a most brilliant red colour, it can be used for decoration in place of Lobster Coral.
It is distinct from Cayenne, and is not much hotter than fine ordinary pepper.
It will be found most delicous to use alone as a Curry Powder.
It can be served at table in cellars as Salt is usually served.
It can be strongly recommended for use in Sauces, Purees, Hors d'oeuvres, Soups, Fish, Hot Entrees, Cold Entrees, and Removes.
It supplies a great want.
Guaranteed free from artificial colouring.
The Diary opens on a quiet November morning in an English village around 1930. The lady -- whose name we never learn -- is chronicling her attempts to "plant the indoor bulbs" despite interruptions from children, servants, and the officious local peeress, Lady Boxe, who is always ready to drop by with unsolicited advice.Even further back, I had a professor who re-read Pride and Prejudice, and other favorite novels, every year. The Diary of a Provincial Lady may not quite merit that attention, but when I do think of it and reopen it, it's usually in the gray days of November and December, which is when the story commences. The rock-cake quote specifically occurred to me now, eighty-one years on, because I am planning a tea this afternoon in honor of my daughter's birthday. The milestone has, so far, gone rather unremarked as it fell among Thanksgiving plans and a session, endured by the honoree herself, at the oral surgeon's office. All four wisdom teeth at once.
For the next year, we follow the Provincial Lady through her small adventures: running her household, volunteering at the Women's Institute, visiting elderly shut-ins, coping with endless financial difficulties, and helping to bring young lovers together just before suffering a serious bout of measles. All the while she attempts to (as it were) keep her cultural head above water. She enters writing contests sponsored by the county newspaper (and is annoyed at sharing Second Prize). She tries to read the latest books. She goes to London with a younger and admittedly better-looking girlfriend, fully intending to see the famed Italian art exhibition, until her Christmas shopping duties interfere.
The novel closes simply. November has come round again. The lady and her husband have returned from a dismal party at "Lady B.'s." She stays up late writing her diary even as Robert sensibly asks "'Why don't I get into bed?' "
The enchantment of the Diary is its calm, intelligent, almost-loving and just slightly acidic depiction of ordinary life among deeply ordinary people. Some of the Provincial Lady's English references are difficult for the 21st-century American reader to follow. Her husband's occupation is mysterious, for one thing. He is Lady Boxe's "agent," which appears to put them both in a position of some subservience to the grande dame, and yet they are summoned to her country-house parties and seem to have a responsibility for taking the lead in the village's social and fund-raising affairs as well. A hint of the tension is conveyed early on when the heroine writes, "have absolutely decided that if Lady B. should introduce us to distinguished literary friends, or anyone else, as Our Agent, and Our Agent's wife, I shall at once leave the house."
The Provincial Lady's family and financial worries will also strike the modern reader as odd. She considers herself worked to death, yet employs a cook, two housemaids, and a French governess for the children. She pawns family jewelry and sells off old clothes to bring in cash, but sends her son to boarding school and manages to take a trip with friends to the south of France -- albeit, in the off season. " 'But why not go at the right time of year?' " Lady B. scolds.
Nevertheless, the almost relentless domesticity of this country gentlewoman's life, and her droll, engrossed, and un-self-pitying coping with it, ring true -- even nearly eighty years on -- for every reader who has ever complained about the daily grind. Practically everyone and everything in her world takes precedence over her own time and her own "little" plans; this is a part of being human, particularly a part of being a wife and mother, but her reaction to it is what makes this charming anonymous, in fact, a great Lady.
"...Can she, on the other hand, give up dear Crosbie, who has never loved a girl before, and says that he never will again? No, she cannot.So: bread and butter then, and small rock cakes, though we can hope they need not be as unappetising as all that. Judging by the recipe to hand from the British & Irish food guide writing at About.com, "rock" cakes are little more than cookies studded with dried fruit; any drop cookie -- cookie batter dropped from a spoon onto a baking sheet, aren't we clever -- will have a rounded and rock-like appearance. For the sake of authenticity, however, here is the recipe, from About.com's Elaine Lemm.
"Barbara weeps. I kiss her. Howard Fitzsimmons [the manservant] selects this moment to walk in with the tea, at which I sit down again in confusion and begin to talk about the Vicarage daffodils ....
"Atmosphere ruined, and destruction completed by my own necessary enquiries as to Barbara's wishes in the matter of milk, sugar, bread-and-butter, and so on. (Mem.: must speak to Cook about sending in minute segment of sponge-cake, remains of one which, to my certain recollection, made its first appearance more than ten days ago. Also, why perpetual and unappetising procession of small rock cakes?"
2 lbs. yellow squashCook and drain the squash. Saute onion [in butter or perhaps olive oil?] and place it in the bottom of a buttered casserole. On top of the onion, place layers of squash, canned green chilies, and cheese. Repeat layers n this order, ending with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
1 onion, chopped
1 can chili peppers -- (by all means be modern, and substitute fresh)
grated cheddar cheese
Leftover holiday bird of your choice, dark meat or white, whole pieces or diced meat
4-5 Tablespoons butter
5-6 firm tart apples, peeled, cored, chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups hard cider -- the good alcoholic stuff, not sweet cider
2/3 cup heavy cream
bouquet garni -- a bundle of herbs tied together and allowed to float freely in a sauce, the bundle to include bay leaf, thyme, and parsley
heatand yes, even sausage ...