The turn of the year is always a time of reflection for me when the busyness of the Christmas season is followed by an inevitable lull. I spent twelve days in the UK and quite simply had an amazing time. Although I was ill on Christmas evening and got up very late on Boxing Day, for me, the trip was a total success. So much so that I cried and sulked all the way back on the flight to Newark. Dad has learned to ignore me when I’m like this. He knows that I’ll eventually forgive him for tearing me away from my family and forcing me to live here. Usually it only takes the duration of the flight to come to terms with it all again, and a swift trip through Immigration and luggage already waiting for us certainly lessened the pain this time.
I am enormously proud of all of you boys and I really don’t like being so far from you. The trip at Christmas showed me again what amazing men you’ve become. Andrew, thank you for letting me be with you at the hospital. I know you were worried that I would upset the doctors, and I’m so sorry the answers weren’t what you wanted, but at least you know. You and Hallie can create a slightly different future, and I know you’ll make a success of it. Nico, I am so happy you have found your passion – not everyone does – enjoy it. Tom, I’m glad you had fun in France even if your snowboard isn’t well. The first half of this year isn’t going to be easy for you with your studying, but it’ll be worth it in the end. George, thank you for still sending me your new songs and thank you for listening to my opinions and making me feel that I matter.
One of the big delights for me this Christmas was how little I cooked. It was a particular pleasure for me to eat meals cooked by you boys, and, George, I’m really impressed with how you create dishes, delicious dishes that taste fabulous. I hope you all noticed that I’m trying very hard not to be so anal and controlling, and seriously it worked very much in my favour on this trip. Yumm!
Looking back, 2014 was a good year with very few lows. I was able to travel a huge amount and my highlights were seeing sea turtles and dolphins; discovering the cliffs at Leucate; watching Whistlejacket at Liverpool PsychFest; my road trip with Matt; and watching the ice on the East River in January. It makes me sad to realise that my wonderful day out to Bannockburn with Auntie Aileen in September was most likely the last day out she’ll ever have. Strokes are cruel beasts but she is fighting on as ever. That war-time generation was made of stern stuff.
And so to this year and predictably I am currently concerned about the weather. On Saturday we had snow which turned to driving rain, followed by a rise in temperatures to 12º C on Sunday. It is currently -2º C and apparently will be snowing later and dropping to -12º C on Wednesday. As always when it’s cold, my mind has turned to thoughts of soup, and I’ve just been talking to Tom so today’s recipe is one that I made up for him. Occasionally it’s been called Fart Soup – an unfortunate side-effect of this vegetable, I’m afraid, but worth it, I think! Today’s recipe is
Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
- Olive oil
- Medium onion, sliced thinly
- Clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, sliced thinly
- 450 g / 1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced
- Stock – I usually use vegetable stock, but chicken works well too
- Small tub of single cream
Heat the oil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down slightly and add the garlic and stir for about a minute. Do not let it brown. Add onion and celery, and soften. Again do not let them brown. Add artichokes and soften. Add about 1.2 litre / 2 UK pints (48 fl oz) of stock and bring to the boil. Cook for about 20 mins or until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Blend or liquidise. Add the cream. Season to your taste. Do not re-boil – if you re-heat, do it gently!