The ‘F’ Word
My friend Lisa has just been on the phone to me distraught to the max because she’d just finished a telephone conversation with her doctor’s receptionist and that receptionist ‘used the ‘f’ word’. All she’d wanted was a quick phone call making a simple appointment with her obstetrician (lovely man, aren’t they all? What a special breed) for her first check-up with her third pregnancy and when she made the call she was on a hormone high but by the end of the unexpected interrogation, she felt she had not one hormone left in her body.
A very charming chap whisked Lisa off her feet when she was barely out of her teens. He was almost twice her age and had his own construction business. They had two children born last century. When her husband was in his 50’s he decided he’d like to do a marathon and why not run his first one in New York. He employed a personal trainer, a dietician and a physiotherapist to work with him but just before he was due to board a plane for New York he collapsed on a treadmill at a gym and died of a heart attack.
A few years later Lisa married an orthodontist 13 years her junior. They decided they’d like to have one child and are now both very excited about the new pregnancy. The relative ease with which Lisa became pregnant made her feel very youthful. Then came the phone call with her doctor’s receptionist.
Receptionist So, is this good news or bad news?
Lisa Oh no, it’s good news. We’re both very excited about it.
Receptionist Well you can’t expect this pregnancy to be the same as the others…age will be playing a big factor now. I mean, you’re 40 aren’t you?
Lisa Oh no, I’m 39.
Receptionist Well, that’s 40.
Lisa No, it was conceived when I was 38 and it will be born before my 40th birthday.
Lisa was very worked up. ‘I so desperately want Hugh to be my doctor that I just put up with her calling me the ‘f’ word and so all I said was, ‘so you’re right then’. So she’s just extinguished my 30’s and put me in the 40 plus category.
‘It’s okay, Lisa’. There are those of us who would love to be called the ‘f’ word all over again’ I said in almost a jealous tone.
Lisa wasn’t listening. ‘I don’t know what it is about doctor’s receptionists. They’re all the same. Their job description is to file, type and answer the phones. It’s not for them to be making comments or asking questions. Isn’t that the doctor’s job?’
So Lisa went on and on but that was okay because that’s every pregnant woman’s right. And I was cooking a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb that was already in the oven so there was really nothing more I needed to do except a listening ear for a friend sensing age is creeping up on her.
Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Roast Vegetables
I have a friend in the country who breeds lambs just for their own use. Being born and bred in the country she is tarred with the brush of hospitality and generosity. Whenever we are going to catch up she asks, ‘Would you like a lamb?’ (butchered of course – sorry if you’re squeamish). So last week I was given a grass fed lamb courtesy of my lovely friend but…when I went through the contents I found I’d been given four shoulders and no legs so this was either a very odd looking lamb or there’d been a mix-up with the body parts. Never mind – the weather in Sydney is still quite cool so a slow-cooked roast makes an excellent meal and shoulders are the best for slow roasting.
This recipe is from Gourmet Traveller Magazine
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Lamb is expensive but the shoulder is one of the most inexpensive lamb cuts.
1.5 kg lamb shoulder
1 glass red wine
500 ml chicken stock
1 punnet mini-truss tomatoes (I used large cherry tomatoes halved)
1 head garlic, halved
2 red onions, quartered
4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 zucchini, chopped
1 eggplant, roughly chopped
Some fresh thyme sprigs
2 lemons, juice only
Season lamb shoulder with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan over high heat and cook lamb for 5 minutes, turning once, until browned. Transfer to a large roasting tin. Meanwhile, deglaze pan with red wine and stock then pour over lamb in roasting tin. Cook in a preheated oven at 220C for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 160C and cook for 3-4 hours until tender, basting occasionally and adding the truss tomatoes during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
For roast vegetables, combine ingredients in a bowl with remaining olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in another roasting tin and pour 1 cup water over. Roast in the oven for the last 2 hours while lamb shoulder is cooking. Serve lamb with truss tomatoes and roast vegetables on platters or plates.