Beef Stroganoff, hanging baskets and electric scooters

Beef Stroganoff

At the end of April, just after my last post, my mother suffered a small stroke, so I immediately jumped on a plane to go to see her in hospital. The trip was impromptu and stressful, and I was definitely giving off ‘madwoman dragged through a hedge’ vibes. Although not enough apparently to stop a lady in gardening gloves from nabbing me on my way to the hospital. She said: ‘you look like a good basket hanger’, which for some reason computed in my exhausted brain to ‘you look like a basket case’.

She then dragged me, dazed and confused, into her front garden to introduce me to the hanging baskets she wasn’t tall enough to hang herself. Once the job was done, she started looking around for other things to occupy me, to keep me off the streets no doubt, so I explained that I had to dash off to visit my mother in the nearby hospital. She seemed a bit put out and said: ‘oh well, at least she won’t be going anywhere then’.

I returned to London a couple of weeks later with Léo. During the previous trip I had locked myself out of the house in bare feet, and then fainted at the airport, so I was deemed ‘high risk for general stupidity and danger to self’ by both my husband and son. To my delight, we discovered a fun new way to get around: E-scooters! The first time we tried, Léo sorted out the logistics and off we scooted. A little way down the road, I yelled ahead to Léo that my scooter didn’t seem to be going as fast as his. He drew to the side of the road, signaling for me to stop, and said: ‘You seem to be managing OK, so I’ll take the child speed lock off!’ He takes his duties very seriously.

Back home on the ranch

Back at home, things were no better; a couple of barn owls chased the pigeons from their loft, amidst much noisy commotion and feather flying, and we discovered their babies this week. The pigeons are currently homeless.

Barn owlets

Just a day after my return, all four horses escaped into the setting sun through a gate that Luc had left open. Luc went after them on his tractor; I marshaled the surrounding neighbours by screeching down the phone. In the end, Luc rounded up the monsters single-handed, and then wondered why I wasn’t more forthcoming in my praise. It seemed irrelevant to him that if he hadn’t left the gate open, they wouldn’t have buggered off in the first place.

Equine color sorting

And now for the ‘cerise sur le gateau‘ (the icing on the cake): We, The French, have apparently voted en masse for a 12-year-old school-dodging white supremacist called Jordan. W.T.A.F?

I first made this recipe when I worked in a ski resort as a student, forty years ago. It’s as delicious now and it was then.

Recipe for Beef Stroganoff (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 500g fillet steak, sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 50ml white wine
  • Splash of cognac/armagnac
  • 150g crème fraîche
  • Handful of parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the sliced onion and garlic, cooking on a medium heat until softened. Add the butter, then the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook for another five minutes, then set aside. Place the steak slices in the frying pan and fry for three minutes, until slightly browned, but not overcooked. Return the onions and mushroom to the pan, add the seasoning, mustard, tomato paste, white wine and splash of cognac, stirring well. Lastly, add the crème fraîche and cook for another five minutes. Add the chopped parsley and serve over rice or pasta and green salad.

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