Tales From The Cook: The Hermit

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There was once a monster that was tormented by an unorthodox mountain hermit who wouldn’t share his plum marmalade.
While digging for grubs, an afternoon treat, the monster came across a spoonful of marmalade left on a rock. It was covered in ants. He slurped it up. The marmalade was delicious, and the ants tickled his tongue. His eyes lit up. He must have more. But where did it come from?
A whistled tune that floated on the air caught his ear. Entranced he followed it.
Round a crag and down a shoot, he found a hermit marching toward a stone shack. From the top of a rock he waved his arms and called to the hermit. “Hermit. I must have your Marmalade.”
Seeing the monster, the hermit threw rocks at him. “By the swords of heaven, begone!”
The monster retreated from the hail of stone, denied his treat. He thought of previous hermits and how kind they were and tasty. But if he ate this hermit, he would lose an abundant supply of marmalade. If only he had learned to cook.
Restless, irritable and angry the monster wandered the mountains crying to himself. How can I live my life as a monster without destroying the thing I love? He had to pull himself together.
Desperate. He found himself begging at the hermits door in the middle of the night.
“Pshaw! Pshaw!” the hermit yelled like a character in a bad play. “Leave my marmalade and me alone or I will throw stones at you monster. Be gone!”
The monster didn’t take the hermit’s threats idly. He would have to use other methods to get the hermit to share his precious marmalade.
Steal it while the hermit was out, he thought. Twisting, his gut spoke up. Monsters don’t steal. They takes what is rightfully theirs.
What if he were to pretend to be an apparition? He could scare the hermit into a jar or two, but he might run away. That wouldn’t work either.
While chewing on a squirrel he mulled over politeness and honesty, but decided against that. Monsters are not polite or honest.
He pulled a cotton tail from between his teeth, deception was his answer. He was glad for a passing shepherd and flock to supply him with costume. The Monster pulled his hood forward and brushed the lambs wool from his shoulder.
That evening he knocked on the hermits door and spoke in a weary voice. “Help, help. I am lost and am in need of shelter.”
The hermit opened his door and let the lost traveler in. “Where are you coming from and where are you going that you would be lost here on this side of the mountain?”
Surprised by the ease of his trickery the monster replied, “I am a traveler from the other side of the mountain on pilgrimage to the holy shrine.”
“Sit by the fire and warm yourself. The mountain is no place to wander at night. I will bring bread and plum marmalade.”
“The warmth of the fire is enough. Thank you.”  the monster replied. He didn’t was to arouse suspicion by not being humble.
The hermit poured the monster a drink. “Suit yourself.” he said.
The monster drank deeply, and held the out the bowl. “Delicious. I never knew holy men had such fine drink.”
“I make it myself,” the hermit said. “I use the entrails of goats, their milk when soured and fermented plums. You seem to like it.”
Not wanting to betray genuine hospitality the monster asked for another and gulped it down.
“Good isn’t it.” The hermit poured another.
“The best I have ever had,” the monster replied feeling comfortable. “May I try your marmalade?”
“Ah ha!” Said the Hermit. “It is quite good isn’t it. A recipe my mother used to make.” And at that he smashed the pitcher over the monster’s head.
As the monster lay on the floor bleeding he asked. “How did you figure it out?”
The hermit fell on the monster piercing his neck with the pitchers handle. “Only a monster would drink such a concoction.”

Plum Marmalade
Ingredients:
Peels From Two Lemons, Whites Removed And Julienne
3 Plums, Pitted And Sliced
1 Large Grapefruit Peeled Skinned And Seeded
2- ½  Cups Water
1/8 Tsp Baking Soda
1 (1-¾ ounces) Box Pectin
6 Cups Sugar
Combine the above (1) in a pot and bring to a boil for three minutes. Turn the mixture down to a simmer and cook for another five. (2)Add the sugar and pectin and bring to a boil again, without scorching it, boil for five minutes, then simmer for ten. Remove from heat and let cool in a large glass jar or roughly 7 (½ pint) canning jars.

TALES FROM THE COOK
WHERE FOLKLORE AND THE CULINARY ARTS MEET

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