Ah, the joys of marriage.
Actually, she did buy me lots of other things, including a large box of Bendick's Bittermints. The gravy strainer wasn't the primary gift or anything. We're not that crap. But it does have a story behind it.
About a year and a half ago, I made some gravy. I think I was roasting a chicken at the time, and I was sick of the way that I always got gravy wrong, so I decided to put some real effort in for once. The entire time that the chicken was roasting, I made the gravy. I fried diced mushrooms and grated carrots in butter and teriyaki, added seasoning and herbs and a little stock, boiled it down, squished it through a sieve, added juices from the roasting chicken, made a roux, added the gravy to the roux, built it up with milk and more stock, and then just added anything that I thought might taste good, before reducing it for about an hour. The gravy was, I have to say, pretty damn good. And Vic & I didn't eat it all, so a load of it went into the freezer. Since then, every time I've roasted meat, the gravy has come out of the freezer and had the juices of yet another roast added to it, along with anything tasty within reach. We never eat all of it. It has stayed with us through two house-moves. After this Christmas, there is more of it than ever before.
Here's a list of ingredients that I know for a fact are now in there:
- the juices of multiple roasts: chicken, turkey, beef, pork, ham, duck, and lamb
- a myriad stock cubes
- pepper & salt
- tomato puree
- lots of cinnamon
- various herbs
- orange juice
- apple juice
- pineapple juice
- red wine
- Diet Coke
- lemon juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- barbecue sauce
- Telma chicken soup mix
- caramelised onion chutney
- bits of any vegetables cooking nearby
- some Heinz baked beans, I think
- left-over soup
- the stuff that drips out of a George Foreman grill
- the scrapings off a George Foreman grill
- scrapings off the bottom of the roasting tray
- the left-over sauce from a couple of casseroles, liquidized
- cheese of some sort
On Christmas Eve, I boiled a ham in Diet Coke (more on that later). Once it was done, I kept the Diet Coke, and used that both to baste the turkey I roast on Boxing Day and to thin the gravy. When the ham cooled down, a load of jelly formed under it. No prizes for guessing where that went. I also used the Diet Coke to boil the turkey's giblets and neck, and the liquid resulting from that went, of course, into the gravy.
So the gravy strainer's not a bad present, really.