Fergus was pickling cucumbers. There were many recipes but the one he was using was called “Bread and Butter”. The recipe for pickled cucumbers had explained that it was called “Bread and Butter Pickled Cucumbers” because the pickled cucumbers tasted delicious on bread and butter.
Fergus had never pickled cucumbers before. The recipe said to begin by finely slicing the cucumbers. The quantity on the recipe said to finely slice eight medium-sized cucumbers. So far Fergus had carefully sliced two cucumbers and it had taken ages. His wife said “Don’t be so fussy darling”. So he began slicing them hurriedly and not so perfectly.
He was just beginning to slice his fourth cucumber when he cut off the top of a finger. On the way home from the hospital Fergus’ wife popped into a shop and bought a large jar of Bread and Butter Pickled Cucumbers for half the price of eight fresh cucumbers.
Then real tragedy struck. Once home they opened the jar of cucumbers, got out the sliced bread, and discovered they were out of butter.
I mean, what can one do? The next door neighbours have been very kind. When my little girl was ill and I had to spend a lot of time with her in the hospital, the neighbours came over and mowed my lawn. Wasn’t that kind? I am a keen gardener and my property is not exactly tiny, so the lawn takes over an hour to mow. But that was no trouble to Nadine and Todrick, and what a lovely surprise to get home and see the lawn all shipshape.
Now it’s the end of the harvest season and the shops haven’t messed around in putting the price of vegetables way up. Tomatoes especially are a hideous price. So I picked the last of my tomatoes just before the cold weather set in, and I’ve been ripening them in a turkey dish sitting in the sun on my dining table. When they are all ripe I’m going to put them in a bag and take them over to Nadine and Todrick’s by way of thanks.
At least, that was the plan. My mother came in to baby sit my little girl while I went job hunting. It’s almost impossible these days to be a parent and look for a job. Once a job is found it’s easier to settle into some sort of routine. But looking for a job is erratic and hit-and-miss.
Anyway, when I got home my mother had kindly cut the tomatoes up and had made a green tomato pickle. That was sweet of her, but the taste is atrocious. I couldn’t possibly give the neighbours a jar of this pickle so now I’m all at sixes and sevens as to how I should thank them for their kindness.
Oh thank goodness! There is a God after all! I have just heard that Todrick is in hospital and gravely ill. Nadine spends all her time at the hospital of course. It will give me the opportunity to mow their lawn.
Rhoda was an enthusiast. Sometimes she was accused of not being able to stick to something, but it was nothing like that at all. She would do something for a year, and then move on to another interest. All her interests had something to do with food. Two years ago she was into making pickles and chutneys. She had cupboards full of every combination; fig and leek chutney for example, and apple, rosemary and mango. Last year she was into breads; she made every type of bread under the sun. And this year (she had been given a book for Christmas) she was into edible weeds.
Until her Christmas gift – Edible Weeds of the World – Rhoda had no idea that so many of the plants growing wild were able to be eaten. First she tried wild onion. It grew everywhere. It seemed to be a cross between onion and garlic, and the leaves, flowers and bulbs could all be devoured. Why anyone would ever need to buy onions and garlic and chives after this discovery was anyone’s guess. Wild onions were as common as anything.
And then there were gorse flowers, and wild nasturtiums, and the roots and uncurled fronds of specific ferns, and fennel, and mint, and thistle heads, and… Quickly, Rhoda’s edible weed menu grew and developed into a huge and burgeoning thing of wonder. She foraged and found and used all sorts of weeds she hadn’t even known existed.
It was such a shame when she poisoned her whole family.