Years ago, Becca, knowing what a Barbara Pym fan I am, gave me a little cookbook, written by Pym’s sister Hillary. Becca made rock buns from it, and I remember enjoying them very much. In her wonderful novels, Pym frequently dwells on the meals, both the food, and on the little social mishaps that occur during the polite conversation. I always planned to make some special Pym dishes, but never quite did. Finally I decided that I must, so I invited my favorite Pym fans, The Twins, for a Barbara Pym dinner. Pym cuisine runs the gamut from scrambled eggs for supper (which we had,) to much more elegant fare (which we didn’t have) - just as the Pym ladies are sometimes socialites with cooks to prepare the meals, but more often, working women who make do with tinned peas or beans on toast before they rush off to a volunteer at a church function or to an anthropological lecture in the evening.
Given that I was having guests to dine, it was suddenly the perfect day to work in the garden, then the perfect day to read in my Pym novel, then the perfect day to fuss about the table cloth – (which one is most Pymish?), ironing two of them before deciding on a third that didn’t need ironing, and then fretting about the table setting, etc. I did manage to go shopping early on, but once I finally got going on the actual food, it was late and I was needing to watch the clock carefully and make speed. No more dithering away the hours. It was down to minutes. So of course, I discovered that every onion I had was rotten!! A quick trip to the store didn’t set me too far behind, but did amp up my flusteration level. However, the dinner was fun, the food was good, and the carrot soup was the best I ever made.
The Doubly Delightful Twins brought lovely little Barbara Pym place cards. They knew I was fretting about the scantiness of my table Pymness.
Later we played Clue, and I made an egregious and humiliating error. I attribute it to leftover frenzy from my frantic last minute cooking, although it might have been the tastiness of the wine. You can see the particulars here. So embarrassing.
CARROT SOUP WITH ORANGE
1 pound carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chickn or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 2 oranges
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Cook the carrots, onion, and garlic in oil or butter until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, season, and simmer until tender. Puree in a blender or put through a sieve. Add the orange juice and grated rind, and return to stove. Reheat add sugar, taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve quite hot.
I followed the recipe pretty faithfully, but I put in three garlic toes, as one didn't seem to be enough, and misreading the recipe, I put in the grated rinds of the two oranges. It was delicious!