Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hobson Who?

My friend the dauntingly good cook Elizabeth was coming for dinner. The dish was sausages and lentils. The butcher thought either the mild Italian or the Farmer’s would work. When faced with the dilemma of either or, if the subject is jewelry, desserts or sausages the answer is to have both.
I cooked the plump pairs for about 15 minutes, set them aside and sauteed an onion and some garlic until the onion softened. In went a handful of sliced mushrooms. When they were done I tossed in about half a cup of lentils and covered it all with boiling water, put the lid on and left them to cook. When the lentils were nearly done I added splash of red wine and nestled the sausages in to warm up.
Served with a salad of peppers and asparagus on a bed of boston lettuce, this was intended to feed the two of us, but the sausage twins were too much for both of us. The remainder made a fantastic soup base. I cut the leftover sausages into coins and tossed them and the lentils into a pot in which I had cooked carrots, celery and quartered new red potatoes. In went four cups of chicken stock. The result? Happiness by the spoonful.
The Farmer’s sausage were definitely the better match for the lentils, but do I regret my indecision? Not a whit - and that guy Hobson? He’s never coming to my place for dinner.
Energetic Victorians
Auguste Welby Pugin, the name may not ring any bells, but he is largely responsible for the most famous clock tower in the world and most of the fittings of the English Houses of Parliament. He designed and built dozens of churches, influenced the course of architecture throughout the British empire, helped establish the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and laid the foundation for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts & Crafts Movement - all before he was 40. 
He finds a worthy biographer in Rosemary Hill. God’s Architect, Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain is magnificent in the depth of its scholarship and the breadth of context the author provides. Hill sees her subject with sympathetic clarity and tells his story with gentle humour.
The White Garden
Just wanted to give a nod to this mystery by Stephanie Barron while Canadian gardens are white with snow. The garden of the title is among Vita Sackville-West’s creations at Sissinghurst. The premise is that Virginia Woolf did not immediately walk into the River Ouse with stones in her pockets after she left her suicide note on the mantel at Monk’s House. The historic fact that her body wasn’t discovered for two weeks gives some heft to this otherwise lightweight bit of entertainment as our heroine pursues the why of the suicides of both Virginia and her grandfather, who worked as a gardener as Sissinghurst as a young man.