Wednesday, 21 March 2012

March 21st - first rustlings of Spring

Dear Nigel,

The climate in London seems to have stolen a march on us languishing in the heart of the Peak District. You're picking mint and chives from terracotta pots outside your back door. I take a peak at mine but there's very little  sign of life there as yet. I expect the mints to have survived - they're hardly little buggers who wind their tendril-like roots round and round cutting off their own nutrients, yet place them in the ground and they'll take over the whole place. I grow mint for the kitchen and others, like chocolate and eau de cologne, purely for their wonderful scent. You also have Eastern mint which you grow for Moroccan tea, but since i find this way too sweet for me, I'll decline to join you.

The cake you are making - a demerara lemon cake with thick yoghurt has the same pudding-like qualities as my rhubarb and yoghurt cake. I suppose it makes a nice substantial end to a meal at this time of year to finish  with cake-as-pudding. And the tart fruitiness electrifies the taste buds bringing us out of winter dormancy.

My friend Jules has a mixed bowl of coloured eggs on the side - blue, speckled and brown - from a mutual friend. I gaze lovingly, remembering my own cream legbar and maran chickens i had to leave behind. (The cream legbars produce those beautiful ethereal pale blue eggs i so covet). I look forward to the day when we can restock our hen house and the children can enjoy their daily chore of collecting the eggs, often warm from the nest boxes. There can be no more satisfying a feeling than the shape of a smooth oval warming the palm of your hand.

Your first meal out of doors is a Roast fillet of lamb with anchovy and mint. I suspect our first meal is a long way off still. The mint and anchovies are blitzed to a marinading paste and coat the roasting meat. It is a combination i have never tried before and i am eager to give it a go. It pains me to buy bought mint at this time of year but this is my only option. We saw our first spring lambs last weekend. It seems a little later than usual, i  think. I make a mental note to take the kids to see the lambing at the ice cream farm. They enjoyed bottle feeding a newborn last year and watching another slither into life. We haven't quite had that discussion about how lamb turns into lamb chops...I'm putting it off.


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