Yes, this post has Archie written all over it.
I had a really busy day scheduled today so wanted to organise dinner ahead of time. I didn’t want to break the tradition of a Sunday night family dinner (and I always schedule an early dinner so the family night of significance is over in time for me to watch Downton Abbey).
Because my day was going to be frantic I bought a large leg of lamb and found a recipe on-line where I could put the joint into the oven at noon and slow-cook it until dinner time. I lovingly prepared the leg and just as I was covering it in foil to put into the warmed oven, that Arabella came in and said she was leaving.
‘Where are you going?’
‘Oh come on mum, you’re not losing it are you?’
‘You’ve been to work, what else do you have on?’
‘Sound Wave, mum. I won’t be back until midnight. See you then.’ That would be some sort of music festival we bought tickets for at least nine months ago. Apparently this was an essential teenage rite of passage.
‘Sound Wave’s tonight? I didn’t know that was tonight. What about this slow-roasted leg of lamb and the family dinner?’
‘Next week, mum.’
‘Right then. Okay, well have a good time and we’ll see you soon’.
Then she walked out the door as Archie walked in. ‘I thought you were working all day’.
‘Me too. But it’s the weather. No one goes to the cafe in this rain. I’ve been sent home early’. I tried not to sound disappointed but it’s just I was hoping for a couple of hours of the house to myself – an increasingly rare thing.
‘Mum, you know how my band is in that competition on Wednesday? We could win sponsorship and everything. I’ve invited the band here to rehearse from 5.30 until 8.30. Is that okay with you? That’s okay, isn’t it mum?’
‘So they’re all coming?’
‘Yeah, they can all make it. Isn’t that great!’
‘Sure, Archie, yes, that’s great’. And then I retreated to my ‘office’ which is really just an ethereal space where I do home duties. And I was getting my chores done one by one when Archie came in.’
‘Mum, I forgot to ask. What’s for dinner?’
‘Can’t you smell it? It’s a slow-roasted leg of lamb and I’m serving it with roasted vegetables and some steamed asparagus’.
‘Lovely, that sounds lovely. Is it okay if the band stays for dinner? It’s just they’ll get a bit hungry.’ Musicians are always hungry.
‘Yes, okay. They can stay for the traditional Sunday night roast’.
‘Thanks, mum. I already told them it wouldn’t be a problem.’ And I went back to my chores thinking about the weight of the leg of lamb and the increased numbers and wondered if I could pad out the meal with a few extra vegetables. But just as I had finished recalculating the portions, Archie reappeared.
‘But there’s a problem, mum’.
‘You’re not going to tell me one of them is a vegetarian are you?’
‘Emma, the new band member, she doesn’t eat meat.’
‘Well that’s a vegetarian, isn’t it’.
‘Mum, if you could just hear her violin playing, it wouldn’t bother you that she’s a vegetarian’.
‘It doesn’t bother me that she’s a vegetarian, Archie, it bothers me that I didn’t know until I put an animal into the oven’.
‘Have you got anything else?’
And I looked at him. Was this a trick question? Was it meant to make me feel inadequate? If I’m cooking lamb what up-my-sleeve vegetarian ‘extra’ would I have prepared?
I went back to the shops, walked into the patisserie and bought a quiche. Problem solved. Came home and all hell had broken loose. ‘I don’t have any spare guitar strings. Can I take the car to the music store?’ Archie cried.
‘Your father’s taken the car to a rehearsal for a gig he has coming up’.
‘Really?’ exclaimed Archie like he couldn’t believe we could be so selfish as to drive our own car. ‘What about dad’s car? Can’t I drive that?’
‘I told you it’s at the mechanics’.
‘Well can’t we go and get it?’
‘The mechanic has the keys, Archie, and he’s not there on a Sunday’.
‘So I have a rehearsal and I have no strings?’
‘Apparently’. And Archie wasn’t pleased but this truly wasn’t my problem. And he stormed off into his room to start rehearsing with the five strings that weren’t broken ahead of the rehearsal. He lifted the lid of his guitar case and then I heard a bunch of expletives I never knew he knew.
‘What’s the problem now?’
‘Someone’s stolen my guitar strap’. And it was true. On his last day of Uni last week, someone with light fingers had opened his guitar case and stolen his guitar strap. He will have to buy another one before his next gig this Wednesday, as well as new strings.
It’s tough for a struggling musician to come out in front.
Update: They’re all here rehearsing. The meat eaters loved the lamb with the onion gravy. The vegetarian was very happy with her store-bought quiche. The rehearsal is continuing and there’s a lot of laughs and great music coming from the verandah at the front of the house that is Archie’s favourite place to rehearse – just ask the neighbours!
And yes – the vegetarian violin player is very talented – do I get a prize for putting that many ‘vees’ into a sentence!
Maple Syrup Lamb:
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: I paid less than $25.00 for this leg of lamb and it came from a reputable butcher who buys quality grass-feed meat. I think this is a fair price for a meal that will serve our family plus the band!
- 2.5kg leg of lamb on the bone
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 6 French shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- Bunch fresh thyme
- Rind of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Bunch of parsley to serve
Preheat oven to 150C or 135C fan-forced.
Season leg with salt and pepper.
Brown all over in a frying pan. Place in a roasting dish. Pour wine and stock over lamb. Scatter shallots, garlic, thyme and lemon rind. Pour maple syrup over lamb. Season again. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 3 hours.
Remove from oven and baste with juices. Return to the oven and cook for a further 2 1/4 hours.
Remove from the roasting dish and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Drain fat from roasting dish and make a gravy from the juices. I used 1 tbspn cornflour stirred over high heat until browned, then added some stock to desired consistency.
I served the lamb with roasted kipfler potatoes and purple carrots and steamed greens.
This recipe has been adapted from Best Recipes.
PS: And when they weren’t looking I recorded a few minutes of their rehearsal, out on the verandah under a warm but windy summer’s evening. Archie would be furious if I shared this with you but as long as we keep this to ourselves, he’ll never know! Click on the link below…