Sunday, February 8, 2009


I just put the Plum Duff on to steam for this afternoon's dinner with Dory and Phil. I'm making it in honor of Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin. It's their favorite ending to a meal. Linda rejected my suggestion of Lobscouse as the main course for today's dinner or we would have a complete old British Navy feast. I suspect that Linda will be getting Lobscouse for dinner one night this week or next week.

I'm about one week into withdrawal after finishing all 6,528 pages of Patrick O"Brian's twenty-One novel series. It's hard to believ that I averaged almost 200 pages per day; but the novels were very gripping. Taken as a whole they are very arguably the "best historical novels ever written," as that one reviewer asserted. Reading them in sequence was a rare treat and one day I'll return to them with a good world map at hand. They're well worth rereading.

But now I'm suffering withdrawal pangs. Over the past few days I read The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey; but it was a poor substitute. And now I've started Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg; but it doesn't have the same gripping quality as the Aubrey/Maturin series. I may pull out some of the old standbys and reread them as a palliative. I haven't read Shogun or The Winds of War or Shibumi for quite a while.

I'm also beginning to suffer withdrawal pangs as a result of my new and final smoking cessation plan. I'll only have seven cigarettes today. Tomorrow I get six cigarettes. By this time next week I'll be smoke free. I'll go on the patch at that point; but it would be a good idea to keep your distance from me for a while.

Linda should probably hold her tongue if she doesn't like the Lobscouse.

Update: The Plum Duff came out very good, especially with the Amber Sauce that Betty Crocker helpfully suggested. Betty's looking pretty good, even sexy, if you haven't noticed. Back when I was a kid she looked motherly. It's surprising how one's perspective changes over the years.

Anyway, the Plum Duff and the Amber Sauce were actually pretty easy to make. The main hassle is the three hours that the pudding has to steam. I used the recipe you can find by searching for Plum Pudding on the Gold Medal Flour website, mostly because all the British recipes called for Suet and the only place I could find Suet in the supermarket was in the bird seed cakes in the pet aisle. I briefly considered melting down one of the bird seed cakes and straining out the seeds but decided not to go there.

Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin ate Plum Duff that was made with "slush" that the ship's cook skimmed from the cauldron where he cooked the crew's Salt Pork in the galley. He was required to turn over some of the slush to the crew, who used the slush to grease blocks; but the cook was protective of it because he got to sell the saved up barrels of slush at the end of a cruise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who quit smoking when she was doing 3 packs a day, I can tell you that there lies ahead for you a time in the not so distant future (two or three months), when you will suddenly realize how much better you feel. For me, it was the day that I realized I was taking a flight of stairs at a much faster pace with very little exertion.

A suggestion: I temporarily avoided certain situations that encouraged smoking. For example, I had to stop playing Scrabble with my friend, because we would each go through a pack of cigarettes during the course of the evening. Alcohol would trigger my craving for a cigarette. Also, no hanging out at the kitchen table. After dinner, I would go into the living room and keep myself busy with crocheting or needlework. These types of hobbies have a comforting repetitive rhythm that is almost meditative. You don't have to do anything fancy--just learn a couple of basic crochet stitches and make scarves (a scarf made entirely of half-double crochets is very simple and quite warm). Reward yourself for not smoking by treating yourself to a really nice wool. Make Linda a scarf as well; she'll love it.

Just remember, if you're having a bad day, talk about it in the blog. I'll bet there are a number of people who will offer you their support. I know that I'll be rooting for you.

Good luck!