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The ‘F’ Word

October 9, 2011

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.

Preparing to roast the vegetables

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.

Slow Roasted Grass Fed Shoulder of Lamb

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?’

A slightly larger roasting dish probably would have been an idea

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

Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Roast Vegetables

Serves 4

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)

Roast vegetables

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.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Henriette Tilelli permalink
    October 9, 2011 6:16 am

    I think I know that receptionist !!!!!! Will be cooing this ASAP, Yummo, thank you, your posts always inspire as I am forever being asked, and wondering myself “What’s for Dinner “?

    • October 9, 2011 6:32 am

      Let me drop you around a shoulder of lamb. Thanks for all your encouragement Henriette – always lovely to hear from you! (I could let you know who that receptionist is too!)

      • Henriette Tilelli permalink
        October 9, 2011 6:45 am

        Well since you have 4 lol ! Thats funny I can picture you looking for the legs, AS YOU DO !!
        If the doctors name really is Hugh I’ve got her nailed !! Hi to your other half too, lovely chap !!! Would love to have you both over !!

      • October 9, 2011 10:56 am

        Well…I actually only have 3! Enough’s enough! We’d love to get together. I’ll get my other half to organise something with your other half. It’s about time we met.

      • Henriette Tilelli permalink
        October 9, 2011 11:02 am

        My other half has been spoilt rotten in Hawaii and SanDiego for nearly 4 weeks, arrives home Thursday, will have to whip him back into shape !! Sounds great, I had spoken to A about it and you know how it is !!! We’ll make it happen, meanwhile I might do that shoulder of lamb for his homecoming ! Grab my number from Mr B and give me a ring when you have a minute :)))

      • October 9, 2011 11:23 am

        On to it. Will give you a call during the week. Meanwhile…I’ll be on my knees praying for some decent weather for our great-day-out.

  2. October 9, 2011 6:19 am

    She’s 40 years old?
    My goodness that’s ancient. Lamb looks absolutely fabulous!

  3. October 9, 2011 12:26 pm

    I await the result of the 40 year old pregnancy. Hope it goes well. make sure you make her some slow roast lamb shoulder

  4. October 9, 2011 8:02 pm

    Horrible horrible women! (The receptionist I mean!)
    Does she not understand pregnancy hormones and a women sensitivity about her age!

    I had a hairdresser, 16-19yr old, ditsy thing, look over my hair and say wow, and your hair is really great for your age… not really any grey we need to cover. Are you kidding me, what is my age? Do I look like a grandma to you? I was only 35 at the time. I haven’t gone back and I am obviously still not over the incident. Sorry to vent 🙂

    Age aside, your lamb roast looks delicious, I particularly liked your choice of roast vegetables, really fresh for spring.

    Great story 🙂

    • October 9, 2011 11:19 pm

      I feel your pain but that is hilarious – one of those great dinner party stories. I’m sad to say that given my experience with hairdressers pouring over my scalp counting my grey hairs (loudly), I can believe it.

  5. October 9, 2011 10:12 pm

    What about 3 Fwords?
    I had a nasty gallbladder and the hospital said that was expected when you were the three F’s. I looked puzzled so the (male) intern obligingly explained “Fat, Female and Forty” I am a bit cuddly it’s true, but c’mon! Yes I’m a girl, but I was only 38 and had this issue for about 5 years. Lucky for that guy I was strapped to a hospital bed with tubes in me! There’s nothing wron with being forty- unless you’re in your twenties 🙂

    • October 9, 2011 11:15 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with being cuddly but there is definitely something wrong with being insensitive. How rude!

  6. October 9, 2011 10:31 pm

    I don’t love our doctors receptionist much, either. We’ve been going to the same doctors for 21 years with 3 kids, 2 of them with chronic health problems, so I feel that we’ve helped to build their (now) very successful practise. However, when I ring for an appointment I have to jump through hoops and the receptionists act like they are doing me a big favour. Grrr.
    I’d be pretty happy to be the “f” word again, too.

    • October 9, 2011 11:13 pm

      It does seem that doctor’s receptionists are a very particular breed. I know your pain.

  7. October 9, 2011 10:32 pm

    Oh – der – I still am in the eff’s. Just the next one along!

    • Henriette Tilelli permalink
      October 9, 2011 11:10 pm

      The S’s will be here before we know it !!!!!!!!!! Slow down the year’s, (but make the kids grow and move out at the same time !!!)

  8. October 10, 2011 12:17 am

    That receptionist needs to learn bedside or phone side manner stat! What a rude person and clearly with issues of her own! 😉

  9. October 10, 2011 8:53 am

    Our doctors receptionists think it’s their duty to keep patients away from doctors sometimes. I hope your friend has a lovely ‘T’ pregnancy and wish her well 😀 I get salt marsh fed lamb from a Welsh grower which I adore, and mutton too – which has become almost fashionable over here – funny how times change. Love your recipes and pictures !

  10. October 10, 2011 9:41 am

    Poor pregnant friend. I hope someone was able to give her lots of lovely words to soothe her afterwards. How rude.
    Great pictures.

  11. October 10, 2011 11:10 am

    I find it hard to believe that people (after having read the comments as well, telling similar stories) don’t understand the effect their words can have. I mean, I’m dedicated to embracing whatever age we are and loving ourselves exactly as we are, but when people label you a certain way with a certain tone, designed to denigrate, whether it’s to do with age/weight/looks/ability/etc, well… I just want to stick my tongue out at them. See what they make of my age then 😉

  12. October 10, 2011 8:34 pm

    oh my – this lamb looks so hearty and delicious!

  13. October 10, 2011 11:49 pm

    i like your pictures and would like to invite you to share some of them on

  14. October 11, 2011 3:55 am

    Not very professional of that receptionist. Tell your friend not to stress about it, though. It’s not worth it.

  15. October 11, 2011 5:13 pm

    Thank god for lamb, red wine and good friends. And am also incredibly grateful that the spouse managed to make it through one marathon and has vowed never, ever again. Am so grateful that he made it through in one piece.

  16. October 11, 2011 7:29 pm

    Your lamb dish looks delicious, very comforting 🙂 Not nice this receptionist…she should not be working with people…
    Hope you have a great week ahead!

  17. October 11, 2011 8:34 pm

    Being well and truly into the ‘f word’ myself, I enjoyed reading your post. The lamb dish looks fab and having spied shoulders at the Farmer’s Market, I think I am going to try one following the recipe you have shared.

  18. October 11, 2011 8:34 pm

    Oh, to be forty again.. 🙂

    Lovely looking shoulder, just the thing to settle the hormones. I’m off to explore your blog! 🙂

  19. October 12, 2011 3:23 am

    That lamb looks like it’s about to fall off the bone! Simple and delicious!
    I love hearing about pregnancies in the late thirties, it gives me hope! 🙂

  20. Cakelaw permalink
    October 12, 2011 6:27 am

    LOL – you had me with the title of this post. Loved it! Your roast lamb looks superb – would love to be at the dinner where this was served.

  21. October 12, 2011 8:40 am

    A gorgeous dish! So comforting and tasty looking.



    • Henriette Tilelli permalink
      October 12, 2011 10:18 am

      I’ve bought all the ingredients, got the lamb from that little butcher in Cremorne and am making it for Husbands return from OS tomorrow, I will report in !!

      • October 12, 2011 8:26 pm

        Good luck. I’m sure it will work out well. Everyone in this household loved it and I cook for a fussy crowd.

  22. October 12, 2011 12:34 pm

    That receptionist sounds awful! My mom had my little sister when she was 40 and she turned out just fine!

    that lamb sounds SO.GOOD. Definite comfort food.

  23. October 12, 2011 1:08 pm

    How insensitive of that receptionist! I don’t have a good temper when it comes to rudeness like that. If it was me, I’d have wanted to slap her with that lamb shoulder! Although that would have been rude to the lamb 😛
    It looks and sounds fabulous, just what we need in Melbourne with the cold weather.

  24. October 13, 2011 7:11 am

    The receptionist should be looking for a job, terrible

  25. spiceandmore permalink
    October 14, 2011 1:57 am

    Gosh that lamb looks good. Hope the F friend got to have some too – that would have helped for sure! Maybe one of the other three shoulders…or two…one to cry on and one to eat?! 🙂

  26. October 14, 2011 6:06 am

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you are feeling better after the surgical procedure already.

    I will love to cook some lamb as soon as I can get my hands on some good meat. All the best to Lisa’s pregnancy.

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