Salisbury

A quick trip to Salisbury for B-G and I. The continuing situation with the pandemic means that we do not feel comfortable travelling abroad, so a lovely trip to a beautiful city fits the bill.

5 minute gardener

I am giving over this corner of the garden to wildflowers and eventually wildlife (a slow worm and bug hotel are on the agenda). This means it has not been mown and wildlife seeds have been scattered liberally.

In the meantime the lioness hunts at the water hole.

My first crop.

French Breakfast Radish. Grown by me. I was SO excited. I googled if you can eat radish greens (you can) and the carefully washed my radish (removing a baby snail and returning him to our irises outside) and then sliced it into 3. We loved it. Even Baby-G loved it and he congratulated me on my agricultural success.

Husband-G’s Insomnia Tray.

H-G is usually awake for hours in the night. So this is his Insomnia tray. The red cup is for tea, and the black cup for coffee. Plus a couple of chocolate digestives. This, plus re-runs of Frasier keeps him gently occupied.

All British, All the time.

British food is (in my opinion) sadly under-rated when it comes to the accepted hierarchy of exceptional global cuisines. It generally has the stereoptype of being bland, fatty and – well plain dull. Nothing can be further from the truth. We (and I say ‘we’ although I am Australian, but 15 years of living in the UK have made me feel proprietoral) have a long history of producing wonderful food, many dishes of which have respectable historical origins and just taste good besides. To my mind the British hot puddings are ummatched anywhere.

Today we had fish and chips and mushy peas for lunch. Fish and Chips are seen as the quintessential English dish. But it seems that fried fish originally came to the UK in the 16th century, brought to the UK by Spanish and Portuguese Jewish migrants. Fried fish was a street food dish and is now the most popular takeaway in the country. No summer would be compete without eating fish and chips by the seaside. Every beach on the Isle of Wight seems to have erected signs imploring tourists and locals NOT to feed the seagulls, but no-one told the seagulls and they certainly are partial also to the odd chip. The standard accompaniment is mushy peas. These are made by soaking dried marrowfat peas in water and bicarb of soda, for several hours, then rinsing and boiling until the peas are soft. These are then mashed with butter, salt and pepper. Mushy peas can be done well, or badly, but done well they are the ultimate of comfort food. Smooth, pea-ie (is that a word?) and unctious. Fish and chips are garnished ideally with salt and a splash of malt vinegar.

The perfect drink? A good English ale, or a glass of sparkling white wine.

Tuna pasta (It’s better than it sounds).

Once upon a time, a long time ago an Australian girl met an Englishman when they were both working abroad. After not too long a time, it was time for the Australian girl to introduce the Englishman to her parents. The perfect time came when said Parents were vacationing in Italy. Girl and Man travelled to Italy and they had a long weekend filled with adventures that included the Englishman eating tripe and rabbit (to everyone’s horror) and culminated in him forgetting his passport on his way home and having to sit in the airport for some hours until the passport could be delivered to him by taxi.

However, on that trip a wonderful cookbook was bought. This cookbook has brought many hours of amusement to the heros of our story as the author was/is an unabashed lover of all food from his particular region in Italy. In fact, all great gastronomic discoveries wherever they may have been made in the world apparently have their origins in said cookbook author’s region in Italy.

Few things have actually been cooked from this book. The Australian girl (it’s me by the way) enjoys reading cook books as if they are novels. The writing of this book pleases me immensely. It is filled with joy and love and an unabashed adoration of proper food.

Today I finally tried a recipe. It is a very simple tuna pasta. The famous cookbook describes the dish as a ‘simple treatment for pasta’. I love that phrase ‘treatment’.

2 cloves of garlic crushed.

1 small brown onion finely diced

1 tablespoon light olive oil

1 tin of tuna in spring water (or brine but drained)

1 jar of decent tomato pasta sauce

spagetti.

Cook non-spagetti ingredients in the usual fashion.

Cook pasta.

Mix hot sauce and cooked pasta together.

This was simple. I did not have to buy a thing which makes it the perfect hurriedly thrown together weekday supper. I worried the taste of tuna might be a little strong for Baby-G but the taste is actually really subtle.

Served with sliced cucumbers and a fruit smoothie for Baby-G.

Weekend

This year I am keen to start a little vegetable garden. I have these seedlings (and seeds) on the windowsill and the yellow cherry tomatos are growing well. I have sown courgette seeds and am currently preparing potatoes as well. I shall be making good use of my many empty pots and have set aside a little area on the terrace. I also hope to grow radishes and later in the year pumpkins. This year I would love to make my own rattatoiulle with my very own produce.

Friday supper was a very good chicken and corn chowder. Sautee sliced onion, diced peeled potato and celery in olive oil and butter. When cooked through add a litre of chicken stock and a large tin of corn kernels. Simmer for 30 minutes then add diced chicken. After about another 30 minutes I took half a litre of the soup out and blended it thoroughly. This was returned to the pan and helped make the soup creamy. Just before serving I added half a cup of cream and brought to the heat again. To this I added salt, pepper and some chopped spring onions. We had this with toasted cheese. Very simple and easy and warming. H-G did not have any as he is vegetarian and B-G had very little as he had a film day at school complete with the full complement of sweets and popcorn which definitely spoiled his appetite. But the soup is even better the next day and freezes well.

Saturday breakfast

This was a little more robust than our usual weekend breakfasts. Baby-G needed something a little more substantial (and some protein) after his sweets overload the day before. I also included an Israeli-breakfast inspired side of salad vegetables and feta cheese. Baby-G’s serve had just tomatoes, cuucmbers, radishes and a small cube of feta. I went the whole hog and enjoyed olives and alot more feta and an additional sprinkling of chilli flakes on my scrambled eggs. Hearty, nourishing and I always feel slightly smug when I have crammed in so many vegetables into our diet before 8 am.

Sunday

Baby-G suggested that we have a McDonalds breakfast. McDonalds still have their drive through operating So we did that and sat at Ryde beach and watched the kite surfers over Ryde Sands

Then we went off to a garden centre and I bought more vegetable seeds.

After this we made an easter Rocky road. Baby-G broke up digestive biscuits while I melted 300 grams of milk chocolate, butter and some golden syrup over the stove.

Then we mixed the biscuits and chocolate together then spread it out in a cake tin and sprinkled mini eggs on the top. Chill in the fridge or 2 hours then cut into chunks.

While it was chilling Baby-G and I sowed the vegetable seeds.

Once this was done, it was shower, haircuts for Baby G and I using the dog clippers and a film. The perfect Sunday.

Lockdown afternoon tea

Cheese scones, roquefort and grapes.

Schools in England have largely returned to the classroom from today after lockdown 3. The weekend was spent ensuring all uniforms fit (and that we could find them) and that they were clean and ironed. A few things seem to have vanished (if anyone finds Baby-G’s hockey stick please let me know….. ) but generally the return to school went well. It did mean that out post school afternoon tea was at 4.30 rather than 3 pm as it is when home schooling but the advantage was that Baby-G was ravenous and very ready for scones. His scones were the moretraditional jam variety but I very much enjoyed my cheese scones. The creamy blue cheese seemed the perfect visual accompaniment for my treasured charity shop finds of vintage blue willow china. All my favourite china has come from charity shops.

Lockdown takeaway- Coast

We have not had a meal from Coast via takeaway for all of Lockdown 3. But I could not resist a Sunday lunch this week as a treat. This was the roast beef and it came with a yorkshire pudding (unpictured). This was glorious. Roasted potatoes crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Gorgeous tender parsnips (I am not a fan of parsnips but these were perfection) and cabbage, green beans carrots. This was absolutely delicious and a huge portion easily shared between Baby-Gusto and I.

Husband-G had vegan pizza with vegan cheese, aubergine, sun dried tomatos mushrooms, courgettes and fresh basil. Oh and olives. Delicious!