Mostly Concerning Food
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
My mother used to make “mushrooms on toast” for a weekend breakfast treat. I’ve always loved mushrooms and can think of no better start to the day. I like cutting mushrooms so I very rarely cook them whole. At the same time I don’t like them to be too chopped, even in soup. Soften these in butter gently. Once they have lost their rawness and are exuding a liquor add a tablespoon of plain flour and stir for a minute (it’s important that the flour is cooked…it doesn’t take long but it makes all the difference). Then slowly add a half pint of milk stirring all the time. A good sauce shouldn’t develop lumps. Figure of 8 stirring usually works. A few chilli flakes added either at this stage (with salt and pepper) work very well. A dash of Worcestershire sauce or Henderson’s Relish at the end works equally well. We have these without any of that but add a slice of ham to make it a little bit more special. Hello Sunday!
Sunday supper watching the World Cup Final. I enjoy the match. It’s the first world cup I’ve watched for a dozen years and not knowing any of the players made it like watching the tournaments of my youth. I’ve enjoyed the differing styles of Germany and Argentina as much as any teams and am happy for either to win the final. I celebrate with olives, cheese, olive oil and pitta breads all of which come from Greece (who were knocked out some rounds ago). They make one heck of a football snack. I wouldn’t have them in my packed lunch at Huddersfield Town but only because I’d stand out. I prefer them to dry pies and crisps.
It is a long time since I made tomato soup. I’ve picked up a kilo of rather good plum tomatoes and it seems time to make a classic. I slice the tomatoes in two, put them on an oven tray, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little sugar and roast them for the time it takes to pick up T from work. Soften onion, carrot (diced small), celery and garlic. Add a pint and a half of water and a decent vegetable stock cube and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes before whizzing it with a hand blender. Adjust the seasonings and serve with fresh basil (from the garden) and creme fraiche. Blindingly good. Two bowls each!
On Wednesday I have to chickensit. To what? To sit with chickens. Frances and Steven have recently added two more chickens to their flock and the incumbents have not been particularly welcoming. My job (and it is a rather pleasant one) is to sit in their wonderful big garden in the sunshine and read Here There and Elsewhere by William Least Heat-Moon while chickens contentedly peck among the lawns and shrubberies. Occasionally one of the resident birds will chase one of the new ones and I’ll clap my hands as instructed and peace will reign again. Reading a good book in a lovely garden, where the only sound is birdsong, is relaxing. Add the chickens and it becomes an almost spiritual experience. My friend Hazel says there’s nothing quite as perfect, as entertaining, as relaxing as watching chickens who are allowed to roam free. I know what she means.
While I’m there I am able to perform an experiment I have long wished to perform. Frances and Steven provide almost all of our eggs and they are wonderful and fresh. I have long wanted to know just how good an egg can be when it is really, really fresh. I raided the nesting box and got two eggs that were still warm. They couldn’t be fresher. They held together perfectly in the poaching pan and the eating experience was exceptional.
To pay for the privilege of chicken sitting I baked them a bacon and egg pie with still more really fresh eggs. The pastry was flour, butter, lard and a tiny pinch of salt. I was pleased with the appearance but felt it would look better if I didn’t eat a big slice before handing it over. Reports were favourable.
One night T arrived home via Marks and Spencer. Happiness is a wife bearing doughnuts.
My jaunt to Eastwood involved a lunchtime in a little restaurant that managed to explain through food and service why only two of the twenty tables were occupied. It was ok. I’d hoped for a little more.
I’m unsure about carved vegetables. I’m greatly admiring of the skill but a big raw carrot tastes like a big raw carrot no matter how you carve it.
I liked the cutlery.
No trip to Eastwood is complete without a trip to IKEA and no trip to IKEA is complete without a hot dog. They are just the way you want a mass produced hot dog to be. And £1.25 for the dog and a re-fillable cup of pop is quite a bargain.
Salads large and small.
Thursday sees a fish van come to the village. The dressed crabs looked good so I had one for a simple lunch for one on the hottest day of the year so far. With salad and fresh bread and butter this was a treat of treats. (I’m the only sea food eater in the house so I have to take my chances when I’ve got the place to myself.)
I’d already defrosted a container in an on-going attempt to clear the freezer. I couldn’t tell what it was in frozen state but it turned out to be a portion of the jugged hare I made after a visit to Lincoln last winter. I had no choice but to make a feast of it. Following the crab it showed the restaurant what a two course meal could be for less money. This is eating of the first order. I made it a three course meal with an ice cream cornet.
The lady in the fish van did me an excellent deal on smoked cod.
Add some hard-boiled eggs
Plenty of chopped parsley from the garden
And kedgeree (my mother’s recipe) was ready to be served in the garden for both Thursday tea.
And Friday breakfast.
* The Red Wheel Barrow by William Carlos Williams