Friday, September 16, 2022

A Pig in a Poke; a recipe by Celia Wakefield

 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: No, dear readers, you haven't fallen asleep and awakened to find it's Sunday, and time for another delicious recipe with Celia. She's here on Friday because she's going to be busy Sunday on a very special project she wants you all to know about...

 

 

Good morning JRW’s and readers, what a beautiful, hot summer it has been. Last night we had our first chilly Maine weather but perfect for a good nights sleep. Anyway I am most grateful to Julia for inviting me back again and hopefully you will enjoy my experience and recipe with Buying a Pig in a Poke.


But I want to start with asking everyone a question. What did you do during 2020 that was completely new to you? I joined a class on writing memoir led by a visionary woman, Pat Taub, who has changed my life and my writing. I had wanted to write down my growing up as it is a little out of the ordinary, plus it was a way to remember the family members who are dead now and to whom I wish I could ask a whole bag of questions now I’m old enough to formulate them. However back to the class. Pat set us a writing topic each week, then the following class on Zoom we would read our stories and best of all listen to each other. I heard many inspiring tales, sad and funny too. I felt that my writing really did fall short. But with the groups encouragement and Julia’s too, I continued. 

 

At the class end, the group had bonded, yes we bonded on Zoom, and we wanted more. So Pat took time and continued with us. Then we discussed wanting more still. Should we think of publishing our stories? Words from older women? In the end we agreed on a public reading and have been working toward making that happen. And it is. This is why you’re hearing from me on Friday, 16th, not Sunday, 18th, as that is THE day of our reading. I invite you on Sunday, September 18th, at 2pm, to join us at the State Street Church in Portland, Maine. I am sure we have some JRW’s living in Maine. Do come and see us. Julia will be there to cheer me on. I will be doing something new to me, and a little scary too.

 


Now onto today's story and there is a no recipe recipe too. Thinking back to my childhood I have very few memories of food shopping in the places we lived. How the food arrived on the table or from where never concerned me as a child. There were no supermarkets in Trinidad or Ceylon. So this was a new experience, and an air conditioned one, when we got to Ghana in the late ’50’s. But I do remember going to the local market in Sri Lanka with my mother to buy fresh, very fresh meat. This part of the story is not for the faint of heart so please skip the next paragraph. 

 

My family would go down to the market once a week where the smells and plenty of flies made it a less than salubrious venue. At the butchers stall my mother would eye the meat offerings. I am sure she had preferences and the butcher would have known them. My eight year old eye was drawn to the little calf tied to the front of the stall with some hay to eat. Eat up little calf. I realized that this was next weeks dinner as on the far side of the stall I could see the hide from probably this weeks dinner. I can’t recall any feelings of disgust but rather an acceptance of life.


But back to my ‘pig’. I did a little googling and this phrase seems to have originated in the sixteenth century. But I found this nineteenth century reference to it in a London periodical on Wikipedia. It’s too good not to share -

 “In the April 1929 edition of the literary magazine London Aphrodite, a story by Rhys Davies, titled "A Pig in a Poke", was published, in which a Welsh coal miner takes a woman from London for his wife and regrets it.[11] (Boulton 1993: p. 278)

In the 1985 film National Lampoon's European Vacation, the Griswold family wins the vacation on a game show called "Pig in a Poke”.

I noticed during one of my runs through Facebook, that a farm, not five minutes from me, was selling half chickens. Now I do love to find our food as local as possible and supermarket chicken evokes those awful videos of factory farms, but local chicken and it was within our budget, what’s not to like? 

 

I called up, ordered  and went to collect my four half chickens already frozen hard. I was a little surprised to see that each weighed at least three pounds. Wow, I thought, those are big chickens, more on the lines of beef than veal was my  comparison. This would need slow gentle cooking. A trip to my local MOFGA Farm Store gave me beautiful fresh veggies and I was set. Welcome to another of my no recipe meals

INGREDIENTS

A half chicken or approximately 3# chicken parts 

Mixed veggies: I used a leek, cubed onion, carrots, new potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, peas

I didn’t have fresh mushrooms but used Dried Porcini Mushrooms which need to be soaked in water. That water then becomes part of the stock. 

Olive oil

1/2 Cup Dry vermouth

1 Cup mushroom water or stock

A heavy saute pan with lid, mine is a le Creuset

Salt, pepper or herbs are left to choice here

 


METHOD

  1. If using dried mushrooms, follow soaking instructions leaving enough time before cooking

     

  2. Prep the veggies and cut into reasonably uniform sizes. 

     

  3. If using fresh peas shell and keep to add later.

     

  4. Defrost the chicken if frozen and cut into parts if using a half chicken. I had trimmings from the half chicken as I removed the backbone and wing tips plus some extra skin etc. I used them in the saute but removed before serving.

     

  5. Heat enough olive oil to cover the pan base comfortably, and heat to medium.

     

  6. Arrange the chicken pieces and trimmings so that they are not crowded, and brown over medium heat. If the pan is smaller than a 10”+ brown chicken in two lots.

     

  7. Remove chicken from pan and add veggies (leave peas for later) for a little browning, add more olive oil only if necessary.

     

  8. Return chicken to pan fitting it in among the veggies.

     

  9. Add vermouth and bring to the boil.

     

  10. Add drained mushroom water or stock and reduce to low heat.

     

  11. Add shelled peas.

     

  12. I cooked this on the stovetop for approximately 40 minutes. When I tested the chicken it is was ready.

     

  13. Add peas at the end if frozen to keep their color.

     

  14. If you wish, remove the chicken and veggies to a warm serving dish and reduce the stock for a sauce. Add herbs, cream whatever you like.

     

The whole point of a no recipe meal is to choose what you want to cook, so please don’t be limited by my veggie or wine choices. Meals like this are great ways to use up that last glass in yesterdays wine bottle.

In conclusion my question again to you: What did you do during 2020 that was completely new to you?





62 comments:

  1. I hope you have a wonderful time at your Sunday reading, Celia . . . .

    The chicken and vegetables sounds delicious . . . thank you.
    What did I do that was completely new in 2020? I Zoomed. Figuring out how to Zoom everything was quite an experience . . . .

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    1. Thanks Joan - duh, of course you’re right - Zooming was THE new thing. It’s become so dug into the worlds psyche that we (I) forget how new it is - Celia

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  2. Hi Celia, it is always a delight to see your guest posts here on JRW.

    What was new for me in 2020? Two things: Zoom and the Author Academy.

    I decided to enroll in the online writing classes from Ellie's Author Academy and I learned a lot. I am still learning. There are so many aspects to writing a novel! And I am writing a historical cozy mystery, which is one of my favorite genres.

    Zoom is like a video camera phone call. I am still new to this. And I am still new to FaceTime.

    Diana

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    1. Hi Diana, and thank you. Authors Academy sounds like a great resource so I await your launch. Of course it will be on JRW won’t it. Good luck. - Celia

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  3. p.s. Celia, I hope that you have a wonderful time at your Sunday reading. Thank you for sharing your chicken recipe.

    Diana

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    1. Thanks Diana, I’m looking forward to it. - Celia

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  4. Thanks for the recipe! I'll give it a try. In 2020, we gathered our neighbors and hosted an outdoor movie night. Everyone brought a lawn chair, snacks, and drinks, for "Duck Soup" with the Marx Brothers. A neighbor's screen was set up on our back porch, and we projected from the lawn. It was a fun way to socialize when we were all socially distancing.

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    1. You’re welcome Marianne, and I second Lucy, what a great idea. I hope you could do it more than once. - Celia

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  5. This sounds fabulous, especially with the cooler weather now upon us. My aunt Jo in San Francisco, an amazing cook, would make this kind of dish.

    She also joined a memoir writing group and they ended up publishing a volume of their stories. Congratulations on the staged reading! I wish I could make it up there Sunday but I won't be able to. Does your group have thoughts about putting out a book? I'd love to read it - or at least your stories.

    I didn't do anything new in 2020 except pine for in-person visits with family and friends. All I did was escape reality into my writing.

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    1. Looking at your output Edith your escape was our windfall of reading. I would love to learn more about the memoir publishing experience if your aunt would share. As for pining - I thought immediately of the famous parrot MPFC sketch. - Celia

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    2. Alas, Jo died twelve years ago.

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  6. Celia, congrats on expanding your memoir dreams! I hope you have a great turnout Sunday, we'll be there in spirit!

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    1. Thanks Lucy, everyone at JRW has really encouraged me whether it's recipes or horror tales - Celia

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  7. CELIA: Hooray for joining your memoir writing class, and enjoy your Sunday!

    Like Joan and Diana, using ZOOM and Crowdcast and FB live to watch many virtual author events was new for me in 2020. Seeing those familiar faces on-screen made the lockdowns and days stucj at home with long COVID more bearable.

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    1. Also giving a shout-out to HANK and HANNAH for FIRST CHAPTER FUN. Seeing them read the first chapter of a new book every Tuesday and Thursday on FB live was a constant in 2020 (as well as 2021 and 2022).

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    2. Thanks Grace, I owe a lot to Julia for endless encouragement and to the rest of the JRW community. Yes definitely a shout out to Hank and Hannah, just wish I had more freedom in the evenings to attend the very many Zoom offerings. - Celia

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    3. Yes, hurrah for FIRST CHAPTER FUN! Hank and Hannah have introduced more new books to readers in the past few years than most libraries manage to do!

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  8. Congratulations on your upcoming reading! What a lovely way to emerge from the pandemic.

    Starting in 2020, I attended many author events and workshops on zoom. Via Facetime, I coached my kids through rooftop and herb gardening. In 2021, my oven died. I experimented with stovetop dinner recipes during the long twelve months without an oven. No baking, alas.

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    1. Thanks Margaret, the pandemic for me has been a case of lemons into lemonade. I know so many have had horrible experiences and I send them my sympathy, but being a chrysalis isn't so bad when the end result is the butterfly. I feel for you with no oven, still so much of what I make for dinner is done on top as is this recipe. I am actually baking this morning, an chocolate orange tart. It's very complicated but it's for Victor so worth it.

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    2. My bad - the last Anon post is still me - Celia

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    3. Chocolate orange tart for your next JRW appearance? It reminds me of those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges for Christmas.

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  9. Celia, fantastic recipe, thank you. There is a Martha Stewart cookbook called One Pot which has several variations on that recipe. Your recipe is so versatile.

    Joan got it on the first try, ZOOM. It has changed everything. I attended my Hebrew Ulpan class. I went to committee meetings. I met up with friends. And, as Grace pointed out, First Chapter Fun began and I hate to miss an episode! I "met" all the JRW authors "at" Poisoned Pen. I entered the Back Room. And, I bought enough books to keep me busy until 2025.

    Celia, I know your public reading will be a wonderful experience. We are all behind you!

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    1. Thank you, Judy. My first cookbook when I started catering was Martha Stewart's "Entertaining". I still have it, lots of great ideas. I try now not to be buying more cookbooks but I think Paul Hollywood's might be on my Christmas list and I have been very good! Yes Joan beat us all - Zoom. I wonder if anyone was Zooming other than business before the pandemic. It sounds as if you were busy, that's great. - Celia

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  10. Celia, I'm so happy for you! Enjoy your reading with those other lovely "senior" ladies. Wish I could be there to lend appreciation. And thank you for another of your delicious sounding recipes.

    When my aunt and uncle moved to Argentina in the early 60's my aunt was given a long list of supplies they would need to negotiate cooking and the local markets. She sent me a letter telling me about the meat hanging in the stalls, and why they needed salt and pepper in burlap bags, because I was so fascinated with that list.

    Lots of not necessarily new, but different things in 2020, a year for the books. We "attended" a virtual New Year's Eve concert by Pink Martini that was really fun, complete with our usual midnight Sazeracs.

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    1. And, thanks to Zoom, my daughter's 50th birthday party with the family was a blast. Guest appearances by rainbow unicorns and all!

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    2. I meant to add my own experiences with open markets in West Africa - fabulous and sometimes a bit sketchy when it came to meat. I lived there with two young sons, so I brought Mapeline - maple flavoring - to make our own maple syrup for Sunday pancakes!

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    3. Thank you so much Karen, we intend to have a blast, and there may be a video sometime - whenever. I remember rice in burlap back in Ceylon and my mother measuring it out for the cook. I think being faced with meat in the market can be a little daunting for us Americans being used to everything wrapped in plastic. - Celia
      Edith, I do hope we meet sometime as I have so many questions for you. - Celia

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  11. Like many others have said, using Zoom was new to me in 2020. I could not get enough of online author interviews! Also, sewing masks was a new-to-me project. And recently on Instagram, Ann Patchett of Parnassus Books has been touting that any book you haven’t read is a new book because it is new-to-you. As I rarely reread books, I have been doing much of that!
    We’ve had beef and pork from the farmers, but when we get it, it comes from the meat locker frozen & wrapped in paper. So not as fresh as your visits to the market with your mother. The family joke is, “Are we eating Romeo?” That particular animal’s name is the one that sticks. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

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    1. Brenda, I had cousins whose family, for many years, raised two pigs from spring to fall to go into the locker. They were charming, but we all knew their destiny. Their dad refused to let any of the kids name the pigs, so we called them Bacon and Sausage.

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    2. Wow, I think Ann Patchett has a very valid point, but I am a huge re-reader. I think it comes from having a few books as a child and of course no telly etc. so re-reading was my salvation. Like you I buy local meat and am popular with my farmer as we love lambs kidneys etc. but I don't ask if the lambs were named. - Celia

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  12. The recipe looks yummy. Congrats on the public reading! You will do great!

    I had opted for the paid Zoom version early in the pandemic and was glad I did. Then my church's little IWC (Immigrant Welcoming Congregation) group starting planning two "Welcoming the Stranger" workshops which would be held on Zoom in early 2021. With a little trepidation, I educated myself on the features of Zoom and was able to do all the screen sharing and breakout rooms. Our workshops were great, and I had some new skills, which I have been able to use on behalf of several different groups. IWC had an in person potluck a few weeks ago and my friends gave me a little gift thanking me for being our pandemic Zoom master

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    1. Congratulations on being a Zoom Master (capital M required!). Such a great skill to have learned, Gillian.

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    2. Absolutely! And imagine telling someone you're a Zoom master on this date in 2019... :-D

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    3. Gillian, thank you so much, AND you are my hero. Amanda is correct you are a Zoom Master and I imagine very popular with all your activities. Julia is right, you are one of the new breed of Tech Masters. - Celia

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  13. Celia: Your memoir writing class sounds both fun and worthwhile. Congrats for jumping on board via Zoom. I strongly encourage you to 'publish' your collective work. We have done that in two of the writing courses I co-teach and it is thoroughly worthwhile -- both the having of the bound collection but also the process of refining and revising and tweaking the written pieces and then designing them for printing by a local copy shop. The finished products are not fancy, but they are so worthy of the effort and skill the women writers put into their work. It's a way of honouring that effort and skill and also celebrating the value of putting our lives into words on the printed page.

    As for your recipe, I do a similar thing with farm-raised chicken we get here in Manitoba. But I usually am drinking a small glass of vermouth, not putting it into the recipe. I shall have to buy a bigger bottle!

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    1. Also: Break a leg on Sunday. Breathe deeply and read out loud with confidence; the audience is there because they want to hear the words you've written. Too bad the event isn't being streamed via Zoom...

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    2. Absolutely Amanda, drink it and add it to the recipe. It's an old Julia Child hack from MtAFC! I would love to try and publish my stories later on so I may be back in touch with you. It can be tricky, one member dropped out as she didn't want to share with the public which I quite appreciate. My journey from story written to story edited for public reading has been quite an adventure but while I looked at it this morning and thought of a little edit, I also thought it's good enough! That is what I would tell organizing clients, it's OK to stop - Celia

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  14. Celia, thank you so much for the no-recipe recipe. It reminds me of my mother cooking. You'd ask her what she did and she might say I took a little of this and a little of that. Whatever, it always was tasty!

    I'd really like to read your stories and so wish I could go to ME and hear them in person. I think publishing your stories is definitely something for your group to look into. I want to read them and I'm sure others do too.

    I didn't really do anything new in 2020. But my library experience was new. Suddenly we could keep books for 4 weeks, even the new ones! And they would bring them out, all bagged up, to our car!

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    1. Judi, that reminds me of the magic of Christmas shopping in 2020 - I would call the store or order online (I tried to buy all local) then I'd drive over, pop my trunk, someone would stow the goods and away I'd go! I loved it.

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    2. Thank you for your encouragement Judi. I am keeping publication as an option and I know some of the others are keen too. Yes, new library experiences. For me that was trying to use the Maine digital library which was a bit of a disappointment and stuff delivered to the car. Just great and it is still working so people must really like it.

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  15. Celia, I'm often thinking, "I have a this, a that, and what's that in the veggie drawer?" kind of experience in my kitchen come mealtimes. I treasure no-recipe recipes! Thanks!

    Good for you and your writing class! People come prepared to be gifted magic--a story! So, inhale, exhale, and believe in those words you wrestled to the page! Your audience will adore you!

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    1. My heart is overflowing with all the positive feeling from everyone, thank you all and thank you Flora. If the video comes about I will, with the JRW agreement link it here. And yes, you're correct I will breathe and believe. - Celia

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  16. Agree with Amanda's comment. Wishing that Celia's Sunday event could be streamed via Zoom.

    Diana

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  17. I'm afraid I didn't try out new things in 2020. I hunkered down, happily let my husband do all the shopping, and read a lot. Getting books from the library was an interesting experience. You had to make an appointment to pick up your books outside the front door or have them brought out to the car. Have fun Sunday and enjoy the stories.

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    1. Thanks Pat, fun is my number one goal, oh, and pronouncing the word 'reprieve' correctly! Now I have everyone's attention don't I? We hunkered down too thanks to wonderful neighbors whose care for us was overwhelming. - Celia

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  18. Celia, what a wonderful project! I enjoy your stories so much, and wish I could be there to hear you and your fellow writers read your work aloud. I second what others have said--I hope you'll decide to publish in some form. Written memories are a treasure we are fast losing, and also there is no feeling of accomplishment like seeing your words in a bound book.

    Also, thanks for the recipe! My cooking mojo needs a big boost at the moment and that is just the thing!

    I can't think of anything new I did in 2020 other than Zoom, etc. And learning to grocery shop online, which we now all take for granted!

    Good luck on Sunday--we will all be cheering you on!

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    1. Debs - blessings and thanks to everyone. Enjoy making your version of the chicken. Perhaps Fall Chicken comes next. Yes I think Zoom wins the prize here. Can't wait for your next book, perhaps you'll tour somewhere close to Maine. - Celia

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  19. Ah, Celia, I wish I could listen to/read the stories! I also wish I could hire you to cook for me! Your post today in part reminded me that when I was a child my dad would periodically (I think it must have been around the holidays) go to a market in our town that slaughtered chickens while you waited. I went with him a couple of times. I remember hearing the chickens squawking as we waited our turn. I had to force myself not to think about it. By the way, I love chicken and have always loved chicken!

    DebRo

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    1. Deb, I would love to read for everyone. I used to hate reading aloud and didn't think I was very good at it. Then came Olivia, it's amazing what terrors one overcomes when one has a child. I'm fascinated by your chicken story, where was this market. I don't know if one is supposed to hang chicken like one hangs game. From all I read they appear to be better cooked soon after dispatch. I love chicken too in any form. - Celia

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    2. Celia, I’m just getting caught up. You asked where that market was. That was Stamford CT. I don’t know if the market is still there. I’ve lived in another city for many years now.

      DebRo

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  20. I love no recipe recipes. I think it's how family recipes are passed from one generation to the next. Mom started putting a pinch, or two, of curry powder in her deviled eggs when I was a teenager. Her mom didn't use curry, but mom found a recipe for boiled eggs with a curry sauce that she loved and experimented with her tried and true family recipe and, ta-dah, new recipe.

    Yes, Zooming was the new thing, but the office also used a program called Teams for its meetings. Either why, I have had to accept that live pictures, of me, are going to be part of my future for some meetings. Camera angles and lighting, thought I would never need to know this stuff.

    Enjoy your reading on Sunday. Have fun.

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    1. I am very late in coming back to the page and then finding more comments, so thank you all its a pleasure to write for such an interested group. I think we all need Hank to give us the skinny on Zoom makeup, lighting angles etc. I hate seeing myself on Zoom! - Celia

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  21. This sounds wonderful and reminds me of something my mother used to make that I adored and she had no recipe for. Definitely putting it into rotation for our cooling nights!

    What did I do in 2020 that I never had before? Retired! Still adjusting :)

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    1. Congratulations on your retirement Kait. Yes adjustments take time, but one of the joys of the retiree is the freedom to choose whatever really floats their boat. When my husband retired at 60, I was working. When I found he was telling me about what he had done in the house when I got home I realized I needed an intervention. I found a Group of retired men down in Westchester, NY, and they are still going I believe. I found a friend who attended and got him to take Victor along. Voila, a new lease on life and no more worries if the house was clean or not! - Celia

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  22. Fabulous, Celia! I think we need to make a Celia Wakefield cookbook out of all the recipes you’ve shared here! Enjoy your memoir writing!

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    1. Thanks Jen, our afternoon of stories was a great success and I am hoping we will get other gigs. Well you are now are cookbook author queen, so I shall know where to go for advice should I venture in publication! In fact I shall want a signed copy of your book once it's available. - Celia

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  23. Celia, I agree with Jenn. We need a Celia Wakefield cookbook 🥰💚. Diana

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  24. Congratulations and good luck with your reading, Celia!

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  25. Sounds like you have a wonderful Sunday planned. The chicken and vegetables look scrumptious :)

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  26. Many thanks to the three of you above this comment. We had a wonderful time with our readings and were very well received. I think we need to support Jenn's cookbook first. Perhaps what we need is a JRW cookbook. - Celia

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