Shockingly blue skies and warm spring sunshine greeted us yesterday. People advanced outside, warily, slowly, in case it was a trick…..
……and then hit the shops en masse for bread rolls, burgers, sausages, and barbecue firelighters. I was due to visit my sister for our usual Saturday night dose of dodgy tv (current favourites, Dr Who, The Voice, Casualty and Bluestone 42), and so ensued a complex dance via-text-message that if YOU get the veggie burgers from the bottom shelf of the freezer at the parents’ house, AND if I buy burger baps and cheese on my way over and IF you can get the bloody hamster back in its cage before it ends up on the BBQ on a stick, then we can have BBQ for dinner. And watch Dr Who, The Voice, Casualty and Bluestone 42. And eat more BBQ.
And we ate like KINGS….baked potatoes dripping with margarine, celery, tomato, feta, cucumber and radish salad, beetroot slices, cheese slices, BBQ-d veggie burgers/meatavarian sausages (depending on personal taste), white burger baps, fried onion…even the hamster got half a cucumber slice. Amazing what a little charcoal smoke and ultra-violet radiation will do for a meal.
Yes, I might have fallen off my No-Cheese wagon. But as this could easily be the only sunny day of 2013, I don’t feel too guilty.
This was however a slight interruption to Week of the Aubergine, the final recipe for which is below the cut…..
Bit more a success this time – Aubergine and Bean Stew
I have, criminally, only just discovered asparagus. So I have 8 spears now roasting away in the oven, doused liberally with olive oil and salt. A little freshly-squeezed lemon juice when they come out (mind the pips), and then to eat, dribbling vegetable juice and oil. Because I’m in that kind of mood. Plus the pre-sparagus appetizers were feta-and-spinach parcels and a generous handful of black olives.
I’m doing Friday night in style, if I do say so myself.
You may remember a beetroot and walnut hummus I posted a while back? My sister went one better, and found a recipe for beetroot and walnut chocolate brownies. They are rich, moist, delicious and absolutely to die for. They are, I venture to suggest, worth not only dying for, but worth being reincarnated as a beetle and working your way back up the Karmic Chain for a thousand years to status Homo Sapiens again, just for another slice. Those that like to bake uber-chocolatey things – you have no excuse, here is your next project.
Having my own space again has revitalised things somewhat. So I’ve made the decision to go back and tackle some of the ingredients that have defeated me in the past. The legume that wouldn’t cook to edibility, even if you lowered a pan of it directly into a nuclear reactor. The vegetable that salting/soaking/roasting/baking/a-right-kicking couldn’t convert into something other than chewy semi-cellulose. The cost and frustration of two hours preparing and cooking, then discreetly dumping the results in the bin, and ordering a chinese takeaway instead (the herb ‘dill’ – I am looking at you).
Those recipes that, *gulp*, even our heroes EWK* or EWM** couldn’t save.
First up – yellow split peas
Yellow Split Pea and Tomato Soup
Dad passed me a couple of home-grown beetroots for ‘experimentation’ purposes. The purchase of some walnuts, a Saturday night, and the presence of some vodka, made this a hot contender for the Saturday Night Hummus Party with my sister. Recipe was originally from UK chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and roughly follows these lines…..
Beetroot & Walnut Hummus
With the wettest April on record, the wettest June on record, a miserable July and a frankly bikini-hostile August, the garden has done very badly cropwise, presumably because my parents weren’t prescient enough to plant appropriate crops, like rice. And water lilies. And water-cress. And fish. There’s been a decent return on the string beans, garlic, cucumber and some of the cherry tomatoes seem to have begged, borrowed and stolen enough sunlight to finish ripening, but overall it’s been a poor show. The only other plant that seems to have mastered photosynthesis-whilst-underwater has been the humble beetroot, and there are several fat globes of it presiding over the fridge now with their usual “I dare you to eat me whilst wearing white clothes” vibe.
Yesterday saw a fairly thorough clean-out of my food cupboard, and there’s a decent handful of quinoa, a decent handful of bulgar wheat, and some white rice that could do with being mopped up, plus some button mushrooms, so this evening’s attempt at food-poisoning will be a variant on risotto.