A Brace of Pheasants

We have stopped eating out on special occasions. Instead, we buy out-of-our-usual ingredients and cook something different. For the Boy’s birthday, he and I went to a local game farm and bought two pheasants of about 2.75 lbs each.

I had some recipes for the birds in books, but I made a search and found some others (or variations) on The Field‘s website. This what I came up with in the end:

  1. In a large Le Creuset, some oil was heated and two chopped up rashers of bacon were slowly fried.
  2. After the bacon was removed, the birds were browned.
  3. Leaving the birds to one side,  a coarsely chopped onion and some whole Cremini mushrooms (enough to create a bed for the pheasants to lie on) were fried.
  4. The bacon, four crushed juniper berries, goodly pinch of dried thyme, and a sprinkling of salt were strewn over the bed.
  5. A cup of red wine was poured over the bed and then chicken stock was added until there was half an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot.
  6. After a bay leaf was inserted into the cavities of the birds, they were lain upon the bed and salted and peppered; and the lid was placed on the pot.
  7. The Le Creuset was put into a 400 F oven and left there until the birds reached 170 F.
  8. The pheasants were removed and left under foil to rest.
  9. The onions and mushrooms were removed and a paste of butter and flour added to the liquid.
  10. Once the fats were absorbed and the sauce thickened, the onions and mushrooms were returned and warmed through.
  11. The birds were carved and served with brown rice, mashed yellow turnip and the onion and mushroom mix. The sauce was poured over the served plate as the eaters desired. Red current jelly was served as a condiment.

The boy was happy.

While the rest of the family were tidying up, I made stock out of the remains of the birds and the usual vegetables.  The next day we had pheasant soup for lunch.

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Absent Friends

This past year, I have lost the two old friends who introduced me to shooting sports, pastimes in which my father had no particular interest.

The first was Paul who took me small-bore target shooting was I was about twelve. Paul came from Devon and had been a lieutenant in the Royal Signals, stationed in Egypt at the end of the Second World War. His father had been out in Australia when the First World War began and was with the Australian Machine Gun Corps at Gallipoli and in France, where he won the Military Cross. Paul’s hobby was small-bore rifle shooting; and he was good at it. We would go to the indoor range which was built onto the R.E.M.E. garages at the local Territorial Army Depot. It was in his company that I learned gun safety and range rules.

The second was Jimmy. His father had been a gamekeeper on an estate near Carnwath. He enjoyed shotguns and rough shooting, but didn’t say much about it.  When I took up an interest in the same, he was an unexpected advocate who lessened my father’s apprehensions.

I grew up with these friends of my parents.  Both were at my father’s funeral. Both were too ill to be at my mother’s.  Being on the other side of the Atlantic, I couldn’t get to theirs. Theologically, I would not burn incense for the dead. However, when I open the breech to eject a fired case and smell the gases, Paul and Jimmy come to mind.

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Remembrance Day 2016

 

Uncle Bobby was a member of the family when I was growing up. Yet, although often spoken of, no one I knew had met him. He was my Mother’s uncle, my Grandmother’s brother-in-law, but he was dead before Granny met his brother, her future husband.

Robert Moffat joined a Special Reserve battalion of the Royal Scots in early 1914 at the age of seventeen. He turned eighteen in Flanders and died of wounds before the year was out; he was buried at Boulogne. The contents of the photograph below are all that we have of him.

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The plaque was sent to the family. It reads: ‘He Died For Freedom and Honour’. For as long as I can remember, it was among the ornaments around the fire place, the pre-television focal point of the room, first in Granny’s house, then in my parent’s. Uncle Bobby was always with us. Now, the plaque is on my desk.

The photograph is the only likeness we have of him. He is in the insert, or, per the composition, the thoughts of his sister, my Mother’s Auntie Bella (Isabella).

Robert’s older brother, John, was my maternal Grandfather.  I never met him: he died in 1944, when my Mother was ten.  A piper in the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), he made it through the War; but from what my Grandmother said, he struggled with survivor guilt over the loss of his wee brother.20161111_184423

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Autumn

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Fall Fair 2016

The Agricultural Society’s Fall Fair has come and gone.  This year, we put entries in some sections which we had not considered previously: pies.

Out of eight entries, Wife got five firsts and three thirds. One third prize was for a pumpkin pie.  Her firsts were for breads and a cross stitch.  The other two thirds were for chocolate chip muffins and one of her loaves.

Out of six entries, Daughter got two firsts and two seconds. The two seconds were for blueberry pies.  The firsts were for a necklace of hand crafted beads and squares.

Out of two entries, I got a first and a third. I stuck to shortbread.

The boy has not yet found his Fall Fair groove.

The Ministerial Association had a table at the Fair again this year.  It may say something about the attendees that of all the handouts and free literature which was available, it was the large print New Testaments which were taken.

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Stanley Vacuum Bottle: Customer Service Success

Experience indicates that the length of the warranty is about the same as the useful lifespan of the product. A lifetime warranty is usually, therefore, a sign that your purchase is going to last the distance. That said, there are exceptions.

The first is that you are now many manufacturers outsourced and unpaid quality control engineer. You buy it; you take it home; and you test it. If it works, good. If it doesn’t, then you have to decide whether it is worth your while to return the product, to enter correspondence with customer service, or to walk away. A lifetime warranty should ensure that either of the first two choices is not too arduous an experience (unless shipping costs are involved).

When reading reviews of a prospective on-line purchase, if the vast majority of reviews are five star and a small number are one star, the people giving one star received items which an in place quality control department should have culled before they left the factory. The important thing now  is how the retailer or manufacturer will deal with the defective product. If the majority of reviews are positive and the negative reviews tell of great customer service , that is about as good as it gets now-a-days.

The second is that sometimes things break during normal use. A design or manufacturing flaw comes to light at a later point. Then, out comes the lifetime warranty: and the receipt, if you can find it. (My wife keeps the receipts for her Pampered Chef products under the rack in the cutlery drawer. In my more buoyant moments, I assume that there might be a moratorium on new acquisitions when she can no longer close the drawer.)

Sixteen years ago, I bought an Aladdin Stanley one quart vacuum bottle. First day out, it didn’t work. So, I returned it to the store for an exchange. The second bottle worked well enough. However, I could never decide whether this one had a problem or whether my view of it was distorted by my previous experience. Last month, I used it and was not happy.  So, I did a temperature loss over time experiment.  It failed.

I emailed Stanley describing the problem and received a reply the next business day telling me that one new vacuum bottle was on its way to me.  It arrived two days ago.  I did a test on it and it passed with flying colours.

These people have a five star product.  And if you get a one star example, they will make it right.

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Meadow Birds

We have moved house within the same town. Our new house is on the northern edge over-looking farmland. This has given us new birds to see from our north and east facing windows.

The first new bird for us to add to our list is the Eastern Kingbird.  They spend lots of time on the bushes in the un-mowed field in front of our house. A couple of days ago we saw two of them doing a dance of flying around in a vertical oval.  After a dance, they’d stop and sit on a branch for awhile; after every dance, they’d sit a little closer.  At that point, we left them to it.

The next is the Killdeer. We have seen and heard lot of them since we moved. One day we had a family group walk through our yard. The young are exact miniatures of the adults.

The last new bird for us is the Meadow Lark.  They fly in, sit on a bush top for a time, and then drop down to their ground nests when they think that no one is looking.

Of the birds with which we are familiar, we have had Purple Finches come to our west facing deck and Gold Finches fly by at a distance. The Purple Finches began to build nest in the rafters of our deck. They stopped when a Cowbird started to show some interest.

We are looking forward to seeing the changes which the seasons will bring to the landscape which is our new view and to its inhabitants.

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