"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Friday, 29 October 2010

A special dinner

On Monday 1st November it is RMan's and my 30th wedding anniversary.I reckon we can be justifiably pleased with ourselves for making it through 30 years together.  And, apart from the love we share, we still like each other too.

30 years - that's a long time - I never thought we'd get to that. Two people who meet and one day decide they would like to spend the rest of their lives together. It sounds so simple, and in the first rush of feelings, it is that simple. Nothing seems insurmountable and everything seems possible. And that meeting has resulted in 30 years of ups and downs, tears and laughter, worry and contentment.

The arrival of our two children heralded a new way of life - now it wasn’t just RMan and my wants to be considered - in fact the needs of our small children came before ours - that's part of nurturing. We gave them our time, thoughts, unconditional love and guidance for as long as they needed it, and then we let them go. To enter the big world out there and make their own lives. And they are totally secure in the knowledge that home is here, if they ever need it.

I'm proud of both our children - their heads are (basically) screwed on the right way, their choices are guided by our example to them over the years, and they know to treat people they meet - however fleetingly - as they would like to be treated.

I am constantly amazed, though, that new parents are allowed to leave a nursing home with a tiny new life without any hesitation. A new mother has complete control over a tiny life - with no prior instruction. It all hinges on instinct.

How is it possible that one cannot drive a car in public without a driver’s licence, but one is allowed to look after a baby with no prior qualification? My mother died when I was 16, so I didn't have her advice to call on. My late mother-in-law was the director of a company and her days and evenings were filled with business meetings and appointments. And my closest relative, my aunt, was dealing with her youngest daughters' breast cancer.

So our first child was a little scary, and our second was easier - because I had been "there and done that". Maybe that is why eldest children are tougher - they have had their mothers practice on them first...? Both children gave their share of stress and strain to our marriage, as well as overwhelming doses of love.

And their leaving the nest has not caused me any "Empty Nest Syndrome" for I know that I will see them whenever they are able to visit. However, a side product of the nest being empty is that RMan and I have time together again - undivided time for each other, to fill our remaining years with whatever catches our fancy and to enjoy each other’s company again.

So, given the state of the world's economy, Monday evening will be an evening spent in the comfort of our home.  And to make it that little extra bit special, I have decided to make something for dinner that I have never made before - Chicken Galantine - or, as it is wrapped in a muslin cloth, should that be Chicken Ballotine?  Whatever.

And this is how I made it today...

You will need:

bacon strips (I don't eat meat, but for this special occasion I guess I will have to - alternatively I will give it to RMan - he LOVES bacon)
4 X chicken fillets - pounded flat with a meat mallet
340gms minced chicken
fresh herbs of your choice and spices (I added a touch of cayenne pepper too)
one egg - beaten
1/2 cup bead crumbs
200gms chicken sausage (removed from it's casing)
1 X red pepper - de-seeded and sliced
a handful of shelled pistachio nuts
1 litre of chicken stock
1 onion - peeled and cut into quarters
3 carrots - peeled and sliced
extra herbs / spices for the pot, including 6 cloves - gave a very nice flavour to the stock.

I started by beating the fillets flat with a mallet. Then I placed the bacon on a folded piece of muslin and covered them with the flattened chicken fillets. I mixed the chicken mince with the herbs and spices, the beaten egg and the breadcrumbs.

That mixture was placed on top of the chicken fillets.  The sliced red pepper came next and finally the chicken sausage was placed on the bottom half.

Side view
I popped the pistachio nuts on top of the chicken sausage.

Oops - I forgot to add the pistachio nuts - had to take the sausage out of the liquid, unwrap it and add them

Then I carefully, and tightly, rolled it all up into a sausage with the muslin (like making a swiss roll) and tied the ends with string.

This 'sausage' was then placed into a pot with chicken stock, the onion quarters, the carrots, a couple of cloves, two bay leaves, origanum, thyme and marjoram picked from the garden.  Covered and simmered for 2 - 3 hours.

When it was cooked, I removed it from the pot and allowed it to cool.  I then removed the cloth , rinsed it in lukewarm water and wrang it out.  Then I spread the cloth on the work surface again and carefully re-wrapped the chicken ballotine.  Tied it up again with string and, weighing it down with a heavy board, placed in the fridge until Monday.

Cranberry sauce will be provided on the side.

I will also be serving it with a fresh salad from our garden, baby potato salad and a loaf of fresh bread - I received my new solar cooker earlier in the year, but the weather has not been suitable for experimenting.  Monday will be a perfect day to try it out :)  28oC is predicted!!

Candle light, music from our younger days and a delicious dinner - hopefully a perfect evening.

I'll post a pic of the Chicken Ballotine when it's ready.

For those who are interested, the ecofootprint of this meal is:

One pan was used to make it - simmering look 2 1/2 hours, using just under 1Kw power and cost approximately R1.06
All the ingredients were local and organic - a fair portion came from my garden (carrots / herbs);
I scored red pepper seeds for next year;
Breadcrumbs were homemade from stale bread;
Chicken scraps went to our dog;
All the packaging went into the recyling bag;
and the vegetable scraps / egg shells went to the compost bin.

Not a single thing landed in my dustbin :)