Sunday, 15 July 2012

Winning things

Did I mention that I have won a few things recently? Until the last couple of months, the only ‘competition’ type thing that I can remember ever winning was one that I entered from an ‘in train’ magazine, travelling back to London from an Employment Tribunal hearing in Newcastle. It was a long journey and I was completely fried from the Tribunal hearing. I idly flicked through the magazine, and came across a competition where the answers were blindingly obvious. I filled in the form and a few days later, when I was emptying out my briefcase, I found the form and posted it. Imagine my surprise to find that I had won. Not only that, but I think I must have been the only person who entered. In my memory, there were a number of different prizes, including tickets to see ‘Stomp’ (a kind of crazy human percussion show) and bottles of gin for the runners up. I gave my work address for the delivery of the prize, and having already been surprised to have won, imagine my even greater surprise to receive not only tickets to see Stomp, but also 12 bottles (yes, 12) of Gordons...

Anyway, that was back in the mists of time, and I haven’t won anything since, until recently.  My winning streak started a couple of months ago when I ‘won’ £25 worth of Amazon vouchers for simply leaving a comment about my favourite book on another blog. True, in order to actually get my mitts on the vouchers, I had to write a post about the books I would buy first, but it counted as winning to me. If you’re interested my idealo summer reads are here.

Then, I won a Patrick Gale book and 2 bars of Green & Blacks for leaving a comment on the lovely Crafts on Sea blog. Hardly a chore, given that I very much enjoy this blog anyway, but a very nice surprise.

And then, last week, well, what can I say. I won a fabulous box of goodies from Forman & Field, for leaving a chicken-related comment on Crumbs - Feed Your Family’s Facebook page.

It included everything I needed to make ‘Marco (as in Pierre-White)’s Chicken Chasseur’: a plumptious looking organic chicken, shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato juice, herbs – everything I could need. Including a bottle of delicious looking white wine, and a little tub which turned out to be the optional 50ml of brandy.

yes folks, even the brandy!

I'll leave you to speculate furiously as to which of
these fine gentlement is 'the Husband'. Answers on
 a postcard please...
It all arrived on Friday, but then I had a huge dilemma. Much as I wanted to get cooking and serve up the delicious feast that night, we had the wheelbarrow race – the start of the Sheep Fair which is a 2 day street festival that happens in our village every 4 years. If it had just been a question of spectating, I might have gone ahead, but the Husband was on manoeuvres that night with the Desert Rat Ar*ed tank regiment, so a leisurely evening’s cooking, eating and lingering over a bottle of wine wasn’t going to be on the cards. Actually, as it happens, the lads won 'best dressed' entry - all 18 of them...

Yesterday was the first full day of the fair, and despite a huge and torrential downpour at 10, the weather stayed just about OK and we spent most of the day out and about in the village enjoying the sights and street entertainers. The these was 1942-1952 An Era of Change, and there was much post war merriment to be had, including an appearance by Sir Winston Churchill himself to open proceedings.

A good time was pretty much had by all. I especially enjoyed the free shots of ‘Bombay Collins’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon, elderflower cordial and a dash of soda) from the Bombay Sapphire PR peeps, obviously trying ingratiate themselves with us locals as they are moving their new corporate HQ into an old Victorian mill just down the road. We could definitely do with more convincing along the same lines....  My father in law was staying and he offered a night of babysitting for Saturday day evening, and on the basis that this was an offer too good to refuse, we took it. So once again, the chicken stayed in the fridge.

I have to say, though that by now, I was feeling fairly edgy. All these delicious ingredients begging to be turned into something delicious. When was it going to happen? Well, friends, it happened today. For lunch on an almost glorious Sunday, we had Marco’s Chicken Chasseur,eaten al fresco, and blimmin lovely it was too.

I followed the recipe exactly as it had been provided (the link to the Knorr web page is here) . A bit of a fiddle, as I must admit to being fairly slap dash with my prep normally.  I had to joint the chicken which is not something I think I’ve done before. If I get chicken these days, it tends to be a whole one which I roast and use up the leftovers, but with the help of St Hugh, and the instructions he gives in his Meat book, I managed to turn the bird into 8 pieces, with the rib cage for the stock pot.

I even peeled the tomatoes – and the mushrooms - as required. By the way, the trick to peeling tomatoes, if you were wondering, is to pour boiling water over them.

Once all the faffing was done, though, it was very easy to cook. We ate it with new potatoes and broad beans from the garden.

The wine, which was from Biddenden Vineyards – their Ortega 2011, I have learned from the website, has won some awards.
I know not much about wine apart from if I like it or not, and I liked this a LOT.

Because it was lunchtime, and the kids were taking part in the closing parade, we didn’t quite finish the wine. There’s a glass or 2 left waiting in the fridge, for us to drink with the remains of the pudding...

oh yeah baby. A glass of wine and a slice of this fine cake please.

And as a pleasing p.s., as I was typing this, we found at that the kids had won best dressed boy and girl at the sheep fair for their evacuee costumes. I have one thing to say about this: It's amazing what you can find on ebay.


  1. Sheep fair sounds amazing, that cake though? Wow,was planning beans on toast tonight but now I'm stupidly hungry! Glad you enjoyed the green and blacks :)

    1. It's a great laugh, the sheep fair. Shame it only happens once every 4 years, but then we probably need the rest in between to recover...

  2. Well done on your winning streak, and that cake! Right now it is the only thing I'm lusting after more than my latest crush - send some now!!

  3. I am SO impressed! Can't believe you boned a chicken. (Can't believe they expected you to!). It looks lovely and you deserved it!

    1. I had to get the Husband to do his mad axeman knife sharpening act on one of my biggest knives, but it wasn't as hard as I was imagining it would be. All that bone creacking though, and at one stage I had to get out the scissors too. Not something I'd do for fun...

  4. Brilliant! Well done! The Sheep Fair sounds amazing, love the theme and Winston, well looked like the good man himself was walking among you. I need to go back and look at that cake too...

    1. It was a great weekend. i am going to blog about the cake too when i get a moment. it was DELICIOUS. Antoehr Nigella. She is definitely my lady crush...

  5. Oh heavens that cake looks good. Summer on a plate. As close as we're likely to get at the moment. Sounds like your village knows how to throw a street party! The Sheep Fair must have been so much fun, especially with a few first prizes too. Sadly nothing quite like that around here.
    And think you should enter some more competitions...could be the start of something...

    1. I did hear once of people who are professional competition enterers (if that's a word). I might do it more, although I suspect I may have peaked with the food hamper.

      It was a great weekend.


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