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Sunday, October 11, 2015


I have decided to get a wet suit!  This is not because I am going to take up deep sea diving, or any other kind of diving (or deep sea) activity, but because I enjoy swimming at lunchtime, and the water has become less than pleasant to enter, especially when the sun has not been shining, or when the temperature drops at night.  I do not want to join a gym, nor do I want to have to travel to an indoor, or heated pool.  I am happy to stay at home, as long as I have some help!  

The 'wet suit incentive' was met with less objection than I had anticipated.  Dana considered this to be a good idea, although Samantha was not convinced that this would be a warmer option than my swimsuit.  Having my arms, legs and chest to neck area covered seemed to me to be a very good idea.  Needless to say, the search began.  I checked out some local stores, online, to see what was on offer, and Dana emailed me a link that showed an enormous variety.  

Searching for the appropriate swimming attire was added to the vast list that I had been making.  My 'Things to do' list has become like an encyclopedia, although not imparting knowledge, it is changing often, and being added to constantly!  

One of the items on my 'Things to do' list was from my mother. In the late sixties to early seventies, she collected a set of cookery magazines.  The Cordon Bleu Cookery Classes, published in 72 weekly parts, caused English women everywhere (well at least in our neck of the woods) to put on their aprons and start cooking with ingredients alien to the normal run of the mill English kitchen.  It was, I can only imagine, the same as Julia Child's recipe book! Many fabulous dishes were created, and my mother, in my opinion, became Queen!  Hazelnut Meringues, galettes, roulades, to mention but a few delicious desserts, together with bouillabaisse, Coq-au-Vin, and other magnificent dishes, were set before us, (as guinea pigs) prior to being served up to guests at dinner parties.  A couple of years ago, these books were deemed no longer useful by my mother, and baring a few which held her favourite recipes, they were discarded.  I took four or five, before the remainder went into the bin!  It would appear that one of the recipes that she adored was not kept, and she could not find it in her vast cookery book library. It was for stuffed marrow!  Of all the recipes, in the 72 books, each containing many delicious preparations, this would have been at the very bottom of my list.  I am not a fan of marrow! Marrow is not a vegetable that is found in Austin (or at least I have not come across it).  Marrow is either a medical definition or something that dogs retrieve from bones! (For those that are unaware, marrow is what a zucchini/courgette becomes if you do not 'pick it' when it is small.  It grows to about four or five times the size and becomes - in my humble opinion - tasteless and very watery) The 'stuffing' is a basic browned minced beef/hamburger, with onions, maybe a modicum of stock, and perhaps some carrots and tomatoes. This was 'crowned' with a tomato sauce.  It is then baked.  However, my mother was rather upset that this was not among her 'saved' recipes, and after a few weeks of mentioning that she did not have it, suggested that I look on line to find it.  I agreed, and added this to my list.

Going through the wet suits was a job in itself.  An item that would never have been considered in my 'previous' life, I had no idea as to where to start!  'Suitable for....' was on most of the sites, but none had continued with the words, 'keeping you warm in a cold pool'.  I continued to search, and then realised that I was not sure as to what size to pick, as the dimensions are not quite the same as buying a skirt or a blouse!  The chart that I 'pulled up' to check my size was like looking at the Periodic Table of the Elements!  My height together with my weight, and then bone density, shoe size and wrist circumference all had to be taken into consideration.  They did not have one with drawstrings!  Eventually, I decided that as I was not going to actually be completely submerged, as long as the water could not get to my skin, I could adapt it somehow.  The temperature was going to be fairly high all week, and I had a few days to decide.  By the end of Tuesday, I had not yet found the appropriate suit, nor had I found the recipe for the stuffed marrow!

By the time we were half way through the working week, my list had grown.  Samantha has been planning a birthday, come Halloween costume party, and had asked me to prepare some delicacies as she had her own list of goodies to make.  Gone are the days when a simple sponge-cake will do!  The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts caused a culinary revolution that left future generations unhappy with the simple things to make in our kitchens! (Although I consider stuffed marrow to be so far below simple!)  After coming to a suitable stopping place whilst working, on Wednesday, I took my coffee outside and telephoned my mother, and as we were chatting, she interjected that she had been talking to a lady in the supermarket. "I was standing by the marrows.....", she started and my heart sunk.  I had not got far enough down the list today to look for the recipe! The conversation, apparently, was about how a marrow was grown! (A less exhilarating topic I cannot think of, but then I am not a fan of marrow!)  After explaining to the lady in the supermarket, who grows courgettes, (as zucchini are known in England,) that in order to achieve a marrow she only need let them continue to grow, my mother continued with the saga of the stuffed marrow recipe.  I had to 'come clean', and let her know that I had not actually looked online today, but would certainly make it a priority!  The lady in the supermarket did let her know how she prepared her marrow, but it did not come up to par, or compete the that in The Cordon Bleu Cookery Classes, published in 72 weekly parts!

Wondering why I was continuing to swim at lunchtime, on Thursday, and considering therapy for continuing to put myself through this torment daily, the wet suit proposition became more urgent.  Upon my return to the office, I looked at the link Dana had sent and had managed to draw up a short list.  I was suddenly hit with the realisation that my promise to my mother had not been fulfilled.  I had managed to avoid the subject earlier in the day as my phone call home had been later than anticipated, and she was just about to eat her evening meal (which was not stuffed marrow!) and she did not want it to get cold!  Happy for the reprieve, I took a little more time that I should and attempted to find the dreaded recipe.  However, simply by running a search on Cordon Bleu, the default is for chicken.  There was one 'stuffed marrow' recipe but this was made with a cheese topping, and, as mentioned, I knew the original preparation in The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts was with a tomato sauce.  My workload at the end of the day prevented me from looking for either a wet suit or a marrow recipe! 

"Another thing you never thought you would hear in your life", Samantha started when we were on our way to the pool on Friday, "I have to take the dog to the vet for his rattle snake booster injection next week".  It was true!  Every year when the reminder comes through the post, we laugh to ourselves.  The offending reptile is not often seen in built up areas, but after heavy rain, or particularly dry spells, they have been known to come downhill. It is better to be safe than sorry, and as Samantha's house backs on to a small area of 'no man's land', it is a precaution she feels necessary to take.  "I have to get a wet suit", I continued, in the 'another thing you never thought you would hear in your life' mode!  At that point, I realised that I had not prioritised my mother's request, again, and was in danger of being relegated to the league in which I hold the marrow!  Fortunately, the water was slightly more tepid than of previous days, as the sun, although not shining prolifically, had been visible all day, and warmed the pool.  I swam for my allotted time and then took up the challenge of finding the offensive vegetable and ways in which it could be cooked.  After quite some time, I stumbled across several people actually selling The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts!  Some had the whole set, and some just one or two.  The picture of the Hazelnut Meringue hit my screen, and I wondered why anyone would look any further!  The lady with her gleaming white apron appeared on more pages, and despite the modern outlook of the dishes being prepared, she was still in the kitchen and giving instructions on how to have the kitchen spotless, table laid, hair coiffured, make up perfect, and looking glamorous, so that your husband would not be distracted from this sumptuous repast set before him upon his arriving home from a hard day's work at the office!  I could only imagine his surprise, upon sitting down, not being distracted by an 'unattractively' turned out wife, nor a messy kitchen, being totally under wowed by the white table cloth, and gleaming cutlery, (which should all be the norm) and being presented with none other than 'stuffed marrow'!  Personally, if the roles were reversed, I would have preferred the unattractively turned out spouse, and a couple of fried eggs on toast!  

However I digress!  Upon seeing The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts, for sale by many on eBay, I decided to email one of the vendors.  Never having used the 'service', I did not want to get myself into trouble, nor did I want to put the seller under any pressure, so I started my note by suggesting they "Please feel free to ignore this request", and continued by letting them know that I had no intention of breaching the protocol of the site. However, I was on a mission of mercy, and explained that my 84 year old mother, whom had collected all The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts, had inadvertently thrown away the one containing the recipe for the marrow. I also said that she still makes the Hazelnut Meringue, which in my opinion far outweighs that of the marrow!  (Anything far outweighs the marrow!)  Within minutes I received a reply from a most gracious vendor, who said that my mum 'sounds like' hers, and she would be delighted to let me have the recipe!  It appears that she was 'out of town', but would let me have it upon her return.  I thanked her very much and could not wait to tell my mother the following day.

Operation wet suit did not get off the ground!  Having narrowed down a short list, I did not have time to check out all the 'specs', and will have to make it a priority before the weekend is over. However, the halt in progress for my comfort was a fair price to pay considering the good news I was to relay to my mum! Excitedly, I told her that the recipe would be sent to me shortly, and she would be able to continue concocting the gruesome feast to her hearts delight.  Octogenarians have the right to do things that do not always fall in line with our expectations.  After all, they lived through some very hard times, (rationing, world wars, etc) and many knew hardship that most of us could never comprehend.  So, when my mother replied to my enthusiasm with the comment, that she supposed she could ask her sister for the recipe, as she, too, had collected The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts, all I could do was laugh!  I sent the saga to my sister, whom also laughed, as did Samantha and Dana!  I could almost hear the applause at the end of a live recording of a sitcom!  

By the end of next week, I will have ordered a wet suit.  I will have made the delicacies requested by my daughter, and I will NOT be serving up 'stuffed marrow' to my husband!  I do not think I can 'pull off' the same look as the woman in The Cordon Bleu Cookery classes published in 72 weekly parts, but I can manage to recreate some of the more advanced (or at least more tasty) recipes.  Should I ever succumb to being the 'homely' wife, who welcomes her husband home, with the  kitchen spotless, table laid, hair coiffured, make up perfect, and looking glamorous, (although I may try for the latter) the transformation events will be far too much information to relay in ............. another story!

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