Someone, who shall remain nameless, suggested that mon mari had a, hmm, shall we say, a long learning curve….
It may have been a comment regarding him, inadvertently, closing the bathroom door with himself on the inside…. And no handle on the door.
For the second time.
Does it make me an evil bitch if I tell you that he got stuck in the mud at Vlad's house for the second time?
It's really not that he's a slow learner…
He just thinks that the sheer force of his will can overcome any obstacle thrown in his path.
The fact that he is, so often, right does rather add a certain poetic justice to the times when he's not:
There is no driveway to get to Vlad's house.
There is a boot-sucking, ankle deep, muddy path on which we drive drove the car.
We stopped using it about a month ago because it was such a mess. We started driving up to the house over the grass, through the adjacent field, around the grapes, whatever way we thought we could safely get there without being too destructive.
We varied the path every day except for one spot through the trees that we couldn't avoid.. That's where we got stuck last week.
When we had the neighbor pull us out with her tractor.
She said not to worry, she's pulled lots of renters out of the muddy morass surrounding Vlad's house.
She kindly suggested that perhaps we might like to not drive up to the house again. (She's British. That's a polite way of saying: You stupid idiots!!! Can't you see it's MUD?!? Park on the road and walk in for God's sake!!! Lazy Americans, HARRUMPH!)
The reason we prefer to drive closer to the house is that we are always carrying crap: the computer, groceries, wood for the stove…
Mon mari decided that if he didn't have all the weight in the back, ie: 2 fat-ass dogs, he would be less likely to get stuck.
I decided that if he foolishly insisted on driving in and got stuck, I would not be the one knocking on the neighbor's door.
We started using the drive again (you're looking for a reason here, aren't you… right!) After unloading the car, he would drive it back to the road and leave the car there. It's only 150 meters (170yrds) or so. In the morning we would walk out to the car.
The new system worked just fine… Until yesterday.
I had stayed home in the morning to do laundry (5 hours to wash the bedding… Wash, not dry…)
When he came back around noon he drove up to the house. He had a valid reason, he'd brought enough wood for a few nights.
On the way out he got stuck.
I did not go to the neighbors' and ask for help. No, not because I'm an evil bitch; because they weren't home.
We were on our own.
After a few minutes of placid contemplation on the part of mon mari, and kind suggestions on the part of me, he set about to get the car out.
It merely sunk deeper and deeper into the sucking mud.
Let me take a moment to admit that if I have to be in dire circumstances, mon mari is pretty handy to have around.
Do NOT tell him I said that…
He found a couple of boards, used one to support the jack, which he then used to raise the car up high enough to put the other board under the tire.
He got the car out.
A discussion ensued of the usual type between married couples under such circumstances.
Then blessed silence reigned for the duration of the drive.
I went to do the weekly shopping.
Mon mari went to wash the car.
Since I have been rather limited in the kitchen at Vlad's house, I have been playing with variations on traditional dishes that I can make on the cook top in my 'oven'.
Coq au Vin is made with red wine, button mushrooms and shallots and has a dark, rich, silky sauce.
This iteration is made with white wine and morels.
Coq au Vin Blanc
1 whole chicken, cut up, skin removed
1 bottle dry white wine
1 bouquet garni
1 tbs olive oil
8 – 10 medium shallots
10 – 12 morels, dried
1 chicken stock cube or 1 tsp granular or paste chicken base, optional
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 3 tbs water (you may not use it all)
To marinate: Pour the wine over the chicken, add the bouquet garni and marinate 2 – 3 hours in the refrigerator.
To cook the chicken: Remove chicken from wine and drain well (over wine). Reserve wine. Heat oil in heavy, deep pot over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, a few pieces at time, about 10 minutes. Return all chicken to pan and pour over all but 1 cup of reserved wine. Add nutmeg, bouquet garni and chicken base (if using). Cover, bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
To cook the vegetables: Soak morels in reserved 1 cup of wine plus enough water to cover if needed, for 30 minutes. Clean shallots. In a medium skillet sauté shallots until light brown. Add shallots to chicken. Remove morels from wine, drain and add to chicken. Allow sand and grit to settle in wine used to soak morels, then carefully add the soaking liquid, without the grit, to the chicken. Cover and simmer 30 minutes longer.
To finish: Remove chicken from pan and place on a platter. Discard bouquet garni. Arrange morels and shallots around the chicken, cover to keep it all warm. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat. Dissolve cornstarch in water. Slowly add to sauce, stirring until thickened to desired consistency. You may not use it all. Spoon some sauce over the chicken, serve the rest on the side.
The sun's shining. He may want to try the drive again. He's persistent!