Piquant Cauliflower Cheese

This morning I finished reading the preface to Madame Bovary. I hadn’t realised that Flaubert’s now acclaimed novel once enjoyed the limelight, like ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence, more than a century later, of an indecency trial before being published in book form. Lawrence’s mediocre novel was first published privately in Venice in 1928. Not until the obscenity trial of 1960 could it be published in UK. Naturally the trial’s publicity boosted Penguin’s sales enormously.
The day began dry, but dull and blustery. It soon brightened. I walked through London Minstead to Shave Wood where Jackie met me and drove us to New Milton’s Lidl for a shop, then to Milford on Sea for lunch at The Needles Eye cafe, after which we returned home via Bolderwood.
TerrierA black terrier who lives on Seamans Lane, the self-appointed guardian of his home usually menaces me with savagery when I walk past. Today; either he lost interest in leaping up and down, barking, and showing his fangs; or he has become accustomed to my presence, because he suddenly relaxed, stuck his head through the wire fence, and gazed calmly down the road.
The two heaps of sold timber lying on the forest verge at Hazel Hill would seem to be still awaiting collection.Sold timber
There was a little difficulty in obtaining a shopping trolley at Lidl. As anyone familiar with these devices will know, you have to press a £1 coin into a slot to release a metal tag entering the mechanism through the other side to enable you to pull out your chosen  steed from a string of others. Someone had jammed a coin into ours and it wouldn’t budge. We could neither withdraw it nor put a new one in. So we had to move to another set of trolleys and successfully try our luck there. When I reported the problem to an attendant, his manner, although polite enough, suggested he thought I had inserted the dodgy bit of currency.
Gulls on sea wallGulls on shingle
We didn’t stay long on the sea front at Milford on Sea. I swear even the seagulls were shivering on the shingle and the sea wall, not fancying any encounter with the winds and the waves. Those that did attempt to fly didn’t stay long in the air.
Waves & breakwaterRough sea on rocks
Rough sea on stepsRough sea & pool on shingleSpray on sea wallSpray mounting sea wallThe waves hurled themselves and buckets of shingle at and over the wall and created pools on the walkways with their myriad drops of spray. A couple of times whilst attempting to photograph the scene I was required to take evasive action, and a deposit of salt was encrusted on my viewfinder by the time I had finished.
Our return journey took us alongside the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive near where a Tree clearancenumber of very large trees had been ripped from their shallow roots and lay waiting to be dealt with by The Forestry Commission’s clearance crews.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s beautifully blended smoked haddock and cauliflower cheese meal. I believe the splendid special piquancy of this dish comes from the cheese sauce.
Its method of preparation is this:
To make enough sauce to cover quite a small cauliflower take: approx. 1 ounce of butter; 3 ounces of strong Cheddar cheese, cubed; a little less than 3/4 pint of semi skimmed milk; 1 3/4 oz plain flour; 1 teaspoonful of made up English mustard (for colour and piquancy).

Cheese sauce 1Consistency 1Cheese sauce 2

Consistency 2Cheese sauce 3

Consistency 3Cheese sauce consistency

Consistency 4

Place a small saucepan containing all but the milk over a high heat and stir constantly, adding the milk a little at a time once the butter has melted and is absorbed into the flour. The cheese will slowly melt into the mixture. Once consistency 4 is reached you can use it to dress the cauliflower, having lightly boiled that along the way.
Cauliflower cheese
Then add grated cheese and pop it in the oven to bubble away until it browns.
Today’s mashed potato included swede and onion. With it we shared the last of the Nobilo. Afterwards we ate jam tart and lemon meringue pie.

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Jackie plantingAs I dug out the trench this morning for Jackie’s protective netting, and she was planting seedlings in pots, I noticed that blossom has indeed come to the Lodge garden.  By mid afternoon the sun has always moved across to the other side of the garden.Lawn  Today John’s lawn mowing looked splendid in its light.  The natural landscaping, presenting different sweeping levels, with a distinct slope down to the East, reminds us that the building occupies the site of an Iron Age hill fort. Unfortunately my enjoyment of the sunshine was somewhat curtailed by my spending much of the day on administration, too boring to record, most of which should have been done months ago. I just managed to get to the village shop in time to post ten letters and collect my dry cleaning.

It was still a glorious day.  The slow clip-clop of the wild ponies’ hooves as they strolled down and across the road, their haunches undulating awkwardly and their heads imitating car drivers’ nodding dogs, was almost all the sound I heard.  There was also the occasionally purring of the engine of a car brought to a standstill when one or all of the animals decided to take a diagonal amble.  When they are headed straight for you it is still a bit disconcerting.  It is best to convince yourself they are not going to bite you. Farm horses A snorting I heard came from two magnificent farm horses, which must be a particular breed, now occupying a field across the road from Minstead Hall.  I don’t think the ponies have the energy for blowing air through their noses. By the time I returned home, Jackie had almost completed her little garden fence.

Rabbit proof fence

When preparing the ground for this rabbit and deer proof structure, I was thinking of ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’.  This is a marvellous Australian film drama  from 2002 directed by Philip Noyce, adapted from ‘Follow the rabbit-proof fence’, the book by Doris Pilkington Garimara. It tells the story of the author’s mother and two other dual heritage Aboriginal girls who ran away from Moore River Native Settlement situated to the north of Perth, Western Australia, where they had been forcibly placed in 1931.  They knew that if they followed the 1,500 mile (2,400 km) fence it would take them to their families in their homes in Jigalong.  They covered this ground in nine weeks, all the  while being pursued by a white authority figure and an Aboriginal tracker.

It is some years since I saw this film, but it is not one I am likely to forget.  The terribly mistaken policy that separated so many families; the cruelty to which the children were subjected; the pain of the bereft parents; and the magnificent fortitude shown by the escapees burns in one’s memory like the searing heat which they endured.

Smoked mackerel dinnerThe tasteful symphony in white and cream with an intro of orange that Jackie served up for our evening meal was smoked haddock, cauliflower cheese (recipe), mashed potatoes, and carrots.  Accompanied by a 2012 Bordeaux sauvignon blanc, it was followed by a delicious plum crumble.