Monday, 26 March 2012

March 26th - A better quality leftover and picnic in the park

Dear Nigel,

You arrive home from a few days in Europe and immediately are able to locate sufficient  fridge left-overs to make a  flavoursome meal of celery and spring onion cooked with chorizo and rice into a kind of paella. How come, when the rest of us turn to our barren fridges to knock up something out of leftovers, what we find (in my case for example) is half a dozen red chillis, half a jar of lemon curd, quince paste, a few rashers of bacon and some tikka masala paste. There used to be a programme on Radio 4 where teams were given half a dozen unlikely ingredients and asked to come up with something credibly edible. Even our fridge leftovers don't come up to scratch it seems. Perhaps the thing is to buy in things to specifically have as leftovers, as in, you never used them in the first place so therefore they must be leftovers, if that makes sense.

Today i see you are out planting seeds for a bumper veg. crop.You plant rare broad beans from Chelsea Physic garden. I remember buying heritage seed to plant out just for the joy of harvesting an unusual red striped bean or a blue/black pod. Perhaps on a smaller scale i will try a pot of beans this year and grow them up a wigwam. It would be good to be able to get another allotment but these things have become like gold dust since popularity rocketed these past few years. Over in Tideswell they have a community farm. It would be nice to see more of them around. Sometimes allotments are too time-consuming for individuals and community gardening can be a better answer, with everyone sharing the produce.

One of my favourite cookbooks at the moment is called 'popina book of baking' by Isidora Popovic who is Serbian originally and set up her bakery with a grant from the Prince's trust. What i love about her recipes is that they are simple and practical but most of all that the flavours are powerful taste bud tinglers.The savoury tarts are especially good for lunch, or supper, or a picnic in the park (as we had today). I made a courgette and fennel tart which has a generous base lined with a mixture of greek yoghurt and cheddar cheese. I can also vouch for the goats' cheese, tomato and basil tart and the aubergine,red pepper and tomato tart as being particularly lovely.

The picnic season is upon us and today was my first chance to lay out the picnic blanket - still with a dusting of sand from last year's beach - and make up a flask. Tea always tastes terrible in a flask, but the terrible taste is somehow traditional. We watched the students lose their frisbee in the duck pond and spend the next hour trying to move the waves and reach it with branches, when the water was perhaps eighteen inches deep  maximum. Such entertainment is what  lazy summery afternoons are made of.


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