Pears and cheese are a match made in heaven, so here are roasted pears spiced with cinnamon, baked under a coat of blue cheese, Gorgonzola or Stilton. They will make a great sweet-savoury starter, dessert or a side dish.
Autumn is here, and that means conkers are out in my house. Not for decoration, though they are awfully aesthetically pleasing when freshly picked, brown and shiny and smooth.
They are there because of spiders.
I am a sworn arachnophobe. The type that’s scared even of the spindly skinny ones. The type that runs screaming, and I mean RUNS. SCREAMING!!!! every morning I find a fat huge nasty one skulking in the bath ready to pounce and kill me. The type that goes through the autumn forest with my arms stretched in front of me, like a blind person, lest I walk into a spider web. The kind that will shake violently a pair of boots that sat all summer at the back of the cupboard and then will vacuum the insides, just in case. There is a family legend about how as a teenager I encounter a spider in my bedroom, threw a bucket on it, secured with a large pile of books on top, then left the house and vowed not to return until the beast was exterminated.
You might have guessed that I am Seriously Scared of spiders.
I could also tell tales about relationship crises, as I live with a Rescue-the-Spider type of person, while my approach is SPLAT!!! Unless I’m too scared to splat. So anyway I used to dread the beginning of autumn when the monsters would relocate into my house thirsty for my blood.
Not any more.
Conkers are the answer. They authentically work. They obviously contain and exude some chemical that repels the creatures, but I swear it’s like a miracle – the last few years, since I started putting them out in the corners all over the house only a couple of spiders turn up and they tend to be Seriously Freaked Out. Only hoovering is a bit of a pain.
Autumn is here and pears are in season, so to celebrate my spiderless autumns, I make a warming autumnal dish of spiced pears with blue cheese. It makes an excellent side to pork or lamb, or a sweet-savoury dessert.