Gammon rillettes

“Two-thirds of women in the Armed Forces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during their career.” (Parliamentary Report in 2021).

I’ve never been a shrinking violet but still faced the sort of sexual harassment and discrimination that is clearly systemic now.

Joining the Women’s royal Naval Service back in the late 70s, I was completely unprepared for a culture in which women could be denigrated and side-lined.   I still remember physical sexual harassment on two occasions (both by senior officers); being told a job opportunity wasn’t for me because the senior officer would make decisions “with his glands”; being ignored when I complained of discrimination.   There was more and many others faced similar problems.   When involved with the performance appraisal system for some 37,000 RN and RM other ranks, we tried to make improvements by including “equality” in their assessments.   But the officer corps utterly refused to consider that such applied to them.   Years later after leaving the Navy, when advising the MOD, I tried again to Persuade the then Chief of the Defence Staff that equality was fundamental but met with angry rebuttal.   Now it has come back to bite them and about time too.

Just tried to book a Covid booster jab: earliest is a month away and they judge distance as “as the crow flies”.   Portsmouth or Southampton may be only a few miles away if you can walk on water but us lesser beings have to cope with the traffic – and heaven help other older people with disabilities.   I’m not convinced that there is the same sense of urgency or the practical arrangements to make all of this workable when winter flue and other bugs are imminent.

Meanwhile, I was happily making at least 30 delicious meals from a couple of gammon hocks: Under £8 for all the ingredients!

A couple of gammon hocks.

A mix of vegetables, chopped (carrots, onion, celery, parsnip).

Herbs and seasoning (spoonful of black pepper corns, handfuls of fresh rosemary and thyme leaves)

Seal all in a bag and vacuum pack before placing in a sous vide water bath at 70C for 30 hours.   Alternatively, seal in a roasting bag and cook in a very low oven until the centre of the meat reaches 70C – perhaps 6-12 hours depending on size).

Remove the skin, fat and bones to leave just the meat, vegetables and stock.

Shred some of the meat and pack into silicone muffin trays, topped with a little stock mixed with gelatine.   Chill.  (Served with homemade apple, date and walnut chutney plus a little salad garnish for a light supper/lunch or a starter)

Meanwhile, add soaked dried split peas to the stock and vegetables and simmer until the peas are soft.   Whizz until smooth, adjust seasoning and top with small pieces of meat: pea and ham soup.

Freeze the remaining meat for more meals on other days.

Vary the gammon rillettes with chopped parsley, some soaked mustard seeds or both.

 

 

 

 

Simply delicious

The sous-chef has had his booster shot this week.   More by luck than due to any organisation.   Bookings had been made for over 350 people within about 45 minutes at one single-handed chemist.   The maths just don’t work when there’s paperwork to be filled in too.

It was a very long queue with many very old, disabled and fragile people spread out through the car park and pavements of adjoining streets.   By the time he was about 100 away from success, they were already running out of vaccine.   Being a man of initiative, the sous chef grabbed the chance of an alternate pharmacy a few miles away: no queue, three people manning the operation and totally slick.

Reports that booster jab offers aren’t being taken up may be misleading.   There’s lots of willingness out there but an organisation that isn’t working (and it’s not the NHS).

On a happier topic, what do you do with quinces?   In the past, I’ve reduced them to a puree, thickened it with sugar and made simple little fruit pastilles.

But this week, a neighbour delivered her total crop of 10 quinces (bad weather etc) and I was in a quandary as to how to use them with no effort.   Here’s the resultant recipe that proved quick and easy:

 

Half a lemon, juiced.

1 litre water.

250g honey.

250g sugar.

10, quinces, washed.

 

Place the husk of the juiced lemon in a pan with the water, honey and sugar.   Bring to the boil gently to dissolve the sugar and allow to cool a little.

Quarter the quinces and remove the pips with a dessert spoon before rolling them in the lemon juice.

Place the quince pieces in a flat-bottomed roasting pan, pour over the syrup (having removed the lemon husk).

Cover with baking paper and a tight cover of foil.

Bake at 150C, Gas 2 for 3 hours.

Remove the paper and foil before returning to the oven to colour a little for 20 minutes at 200c, Gas 6.

Remove the quince pieces and reduce the syrup in the roasting pan on the stove top.   Pour over the quinces and serve.

These are still mouth-puckering tart and we found the answer was a light crumble topping.   Simply rub oats, butter, soft brown sugar (or honey) and crushed hazelnuts together (Proportions are 2:1:1:1 by weight).   Spread a few handfuls on baking parchment and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes.   With a dash of cream, yoghurt or custard, the crumble-topped quinces were perfect.

Don’t forget the free Christmas pudding on-line demo at 1030 9 November:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/190904710127