Am installed in my country retreat for 6 weeks. Marvellous. On the night my host and hostess left for South Africa there were loud guffaws at the suggestion that I’d be cooking up a storm in their kitchen. Rita has a magnet on her fridge which reads, “If you can’t smell burning it’s salad” and she’s not joking… When I asked how the oven worked there were blank looks all round and the only cookbook I’ve found so far is for the microwave. When I mentioned I might make Jimmy Stewart’s chicken pie on Saturday for chums Rita jumped up and began rummaging in a cupboard. She emerged triumphant shouting “A VIRGIN ROLLING PIN, A VIRGIN ROLLING PIN – I KNEW I HAD ONE!” Hubby Orson pointed out a wooden spoon in the same cupboard saying, “See that wooden spoon – that’s never been used either and that was a wedding present”. They’ve been married about 20 years I think.

Anyhow, last night I went shopping on the way home for my first night of solitary bliss and purchased ingredients for Grilled Spring Lamb Beggs. Rita may well have a virgin rolling pin but she doesn’t appear to have a frying pan… It took me back to the very first attempt at a Silver Screen Supper as I sat in the kitchen making do with sardines on toast instead…

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