Aha! It makes my heart glad to see that America’s Sweetheart of Song is now cooking away out there in the Lone Star State. Go Ruthie!

One re-run and one near disaster on the cooking front this weekend. I made Constance’s chicken dish for the delight of El Pantero Negra on Saturday night. I was late getting to the supermarket and they only had breast rather than thighs (unlike myself). Stick to the thunder thighs I now say. After 8 years of being told by Charley Chase that the breast of a chicken is bland and that all other bits are nicer, I have to say I am coming around to that way of thinking myself. After dinner the Panther took me to a NIGHTCLUB where the dancing started at 11pm. Fancy that! I am usually in my boat bed by 9pm. I suppose LATE was the way of nights out in the good old days of Hollywood anyhow. I imagine Constance had quite a few boozy boogies herself, although I doubt it was to old skool reggae.

On Sunday as I was cooking for boat buddies I thought I should rustle up a new SSS number. As the only option for groceries was Mr Riverside I was somewhat scuppered. The only recipe I had the wherewithal to make was Our Gracie’s Toad in the Hole. The crazy boat oven has no temperature dial, only a squiggly line that ends in an arrow drawn on with a black marker pen at about the 7 o’clock spot. I drew this on under supervision of the landlady about a year ago when she showed me how the oven worked. Neither of us can now remember what this squiggly arrow was designed to indicate. For purely aesthetic reasons I always cook everything at whatever crazy temperature this is. Due to the recent excellent public information campaign on British TV about cooking things thoroughly on a barbecue to avoid food poisoning I was concerned about the bangers. Charred on the outside and pink on the inside. However, as we chowed down the dish was proclaimed “tasty” and the Toads “definitely cooked”. The landlady’s beau observed however, that the Hole might have benefited from some onions thrown in.

I am thrilled to have discovered all manner of old fashioned things in my local Waitrose. Not only can you buy blocks of DRIPPING – (oh yes Mr Butcher of Kilburn High Road, not such a “thing of the past”) but also LARD and COOKEEN – I suspect the latter might do for all those American recipes requiring “shortening”. This project is proving to be quite an eye opener when it comes to FATS especially those which come in a disgusting looking solid white blocks.

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