Well that was a shitty 12 months wasn’t it? Although as a few people have already pointed out, calling it the worst year ever might be slightly overdoing it (google 1347 and black death for a good example of a marginally crappier year). It certainly did mark a low point for political intelligence and maturity though – it’s hard to think of a time when would-be leaders could have so little integrity and such scant empathy towards the people they seek to represent. In fact 2016 should go down in history as the year when politics regressed to the playground (hopefully very briefly) and we the masses paid the price for our collective lack of judgement and our gullibility in the face of a handful of deeply unscrupulous people and their utterly selfish motivations.
There were other far more important events that made 2016 a tough year, but as is often the case, these events also had positive consequences. This is the year that brought my sisters and I closer together than we have been for many years – something that I hope we will now maintain for good. And as I look back on this year, it occurs to me that it’s far too easy to glide through life disconnected to those people who are most important. So I for one will be spending less of 2017 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and more time with my kids, my sisters and my parents (even if much of that time will be spent via FaceTime) – they are after all, far more important than photos of New York and food (that said, I will also, yet again, try to start writing in here far more regularly)
So let’s start with a new recipe that I tried out when I was with my sisters in Vancouver – it’s far sexier than it sounds and it’s something I’d wanted to do for a while…
Pears poached in red wine
Pick six equally sized pears (I used conference pears) preferably still with the stalks. Peel the pears carefully, without removing the stalks and place them in a saucepan sized such that they just fit, nice and snugly. Add a bottle of good red wine to the saucepan along with 200g of golden caster sugar, a cinnamon stick, a couple of star anise and maybe even a couple of cloves. If you got the size of the saucepan right, the wine should cover the pears fully (if not, you can top up with a little water). Bring the whole thing to the boil and then simmer very, very gently with the lid on for about 30-40 minutes or until the pears a soft to the touch. You can then let the pears cool in the mixture until half an hour before you’re ready to serve. At this point, remove the pears from the wine mixture and place them on a serving plate, then reheat the liquor until it reduces by at least half, forming a rich sweet sauce. Pour the sauce over the pears just before you serve them. They’re perfect served with a really good vanilla ice cream. Unexpectedly good.