Diary of the Plague Year: Day 21 5 April 2020: Spring lamb stew


3/4 pound spring lamb for stewing
3 small onions
2 medium carrots
4 stalks of celery
5 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of dried coriander
1 teacup of dried haricot beans
1 bayleaf
2 sprigs of fresh thyme


1.  Brown the lamb in olive oil – in two batches in a frying pan.

2.  Deglaze:

This means splashing a bit of wine in the frying pan and scraping the bits. I used a splash of apple cider vinegar instead – you don’t need much.

3.  Chop and fry the onions in a saucepan:

Always fry the onions for slightly longer than you think feasible. This will improve the taste.

4.  Chop the carrots  and celery and fry (see above).

5.  Peel 5 large cloves of garlic and crush.

6.  Add the lamb and garlic to the mix.

7.  Add 2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds and ground coriander. Fry.

8.  Add two mugfuls of water and bring to the boil.

9.  Add the bayleaf and sprigs of thyme.

10. Turn down the heat to simmer for two hours.

11. Leave overnight for flavours to deepen.

11.  Soak the haricot beans overnight to add to the stew next day.

This is basically it. You could eat it after cooking for two hours but I feel it always tastes better the next day. To be continued …..

I also found lurking in the fridge about a tablespoon of leftover duck fat let down with some red wine which I also put in.


12. Next day drain the beans and boil for about an hour. When they are cooked, drain,       leaving some of the cooking water.

13.  Add the beans and the water to your stew.

14. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further half-hour on a low heat.

I served it with bulghur wheat and chopped parsley on top.






Diary of the Plague Year: Day 21 5 April 2020: Haymaking in April

Well three weeks in.

Yesterday with the help of JJ the field was mown. This should have been done in October/November but as I was away until February it had to wait till now. The grass needs to be cut in order for the wildflowers to flourish. If it is left to rot on the surface the goodness will all go into the ground and wildflowers thrive on poor soil. This is the theory. So I spent a few hours in the lovely sunshine raking up all the cut grass. Lets see!

Today the weather is dreadful so am very glad we got the grass cutting done yesterday. Spent the day listening to the radio and cooking. I have made a lamb stew and as I usually do not make a note of how I cook thought it would be fun to actually document the recipe for a change. It is a very basic recipe which I made up as I went along and simple enough for a child to do. I can smell delicious wafts of it as I write this.

Afterwards watched Sympathy for the Devil a film by Jean-Luc Godard about the recording of the Stones song.

Decided to have a day off in this horrible weather and watch films.

Just about to watch Nightwatching, Peter Greenaway’s film about Rembrandt. I hope I don’t regret it. Well, I did regret it and had to switch off after half an hour.

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