Hilltop Diary, September 29, 2019

On Friday morning we looked out of the back windows onto our field and saw a mysterious blob of snow-white fur, about the size of a large cat, ambling across the landscape very close to the ground. As it turned to a side view, a lovely skunk was revealed, but with an entire white back instead of just a white stripe!

On Friday I had a conference phone call with about five people from my book publisher’s marketing department and an outside advertising agency contracted to promote the book in national media and print interviews and ads. Hearing these professionals woke me up to this book being a commercial enterprise as well as something that could inform and help people discover “the sound of beauty” (title by Crystal).

Today is a special day, the feast of the archangels, called “Michaelmas”! It used to be only the feast of the archangel Michael (after whom I was named), but, to share the day, the Church in recent years combined in the other two archangels, Gabriel and Raphael. In Merrie England, Michaelmas coincides with the blackberry harvest. These berries must be harvested quickly around the end of September, or they will go all manky, as they say across the pond. So we are making a big, traditional Michaelmas feast with blackberry cobbler at the end. I say “big” because we have invited six young Catholic priests over to eat it! We do this priestly dinner a few times a year; we serve them and leave them to eat and enjoy visiting with each other, which they seldom get to do.

20190929_120227So yesterday began the preparation of a goose and two ducks, which will be served tonight with potatoes and other root vegetables roasted in duck fat, among other things. The ducks were stuffed with fresh thyme and sage, salt, pepper, and cloves of garlic, then placed uncovered in the fridge for a full day so that the skin could dry out and become crispy when roasted. You have to poke holes in the skin so all the lovely duck fat can drain into a pan below, and then roast gold potatoes and veg in some of the fat – very delicious. The goose will get a glaze of honey, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, and cayenne. The meat platter will contain the magnificent whole goose surrounded by slices of duck meat. To get everything done in one oven is quite a ballet.  I cooked the two six-pound ducks (shown at bottom) this morning and will carve and reheat the meat. The twelve-pound raw goose (at top) will be cooked in time to serve out of the oven.

This week I leave you with the two-minute “Sanctus” from my Missa Brevis for choir and organ:


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