A Second Hand Daughter

A few things from the last few days.

Sunday morning and with the benefit of Father’s Day I took myself away for a couple of hours round The Secret Gardens of Oxton. This is the day when various private gardens in the village are opened up for the day to reveal themselves in all their primped glory.

I have been to most of them before so would it be churlish to suggest that the highlights were the Morris Dancers and the pulled pork bap (until it spilled itself down my shirt and trousers as I tried to stuff it in my mouth on the way home – it was still mighty fine).

In the gardens I found myself looking out the veg patches and comparing the state of the courgettes with those I am growing at home. Some were a bit more advanced than mine with a few even showing the odd yellow flower. I resisted the temptation to pick for a nibble – too many people about. But there were other gardens in which the courgettes were just as laggard as mine.

After that it was a drive to Chester and a BBQ in the late afternoon sun with Mum & Dad. I had bought up some of the last of the year’s asparagus and we had them cooked in boiled water and slathered in butter, salt and pepper. We ate them with our fingers licking at the juices as we went following up with grilled steaks and a Turkish mixed chopped veg chopped salad reeking of garlic.

Since then we have been waiting on reports from Kristen as she hunkers down in Ahakista. She has been doing battle with recalcitrant ovens and avoiding porpoises whilst out looking for mackerel in the bay on a kayak.

Eighteen months ago I wrote about the second hand storm that hit Ahakista picking up pieces from reports around Facebook and YouTube. Now I am hungry for the reports from the daughter who is there. The talk of fires on the beach, still water and walks to the pub.

Our tickets for the summer have been booked and we will be there in just over four weeks time. Cheese and fish will be eaten and black pints of Murphy’s will be drunk with care and attention.



So this evening it appears we have fallen out with the neighbours.

For most of the day it has been grey and cold and late in the afternoon I was able to fall asleep in the hammock with a warm sun on my face. The warmth has carried through to the evening but we are all sat indoors windows and doors closed trying to keep out the noise from next door.

It might have been okay if the music was okay to listen to but they appear to have dragged in a warbler over an overloud guitar singing feckin’ Oasis sub covers. We do not need this on a Saturday night.

There has of course been a temptation to show them some proper music and give out a good full blooded blast of Rocket from the Crypt. But the temptation has been resisted so far.

Instead we have had a good supper of salmon with pasta.

Four smallish salmon steaks poached in white wine skin side down until cooked through enough so the skin could be peeled off then taken out and put to one side.

Garlic was then fried in the pan in olive oil for a minute before a couple of handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes were added with the white wine in which the salmon had been cooked. As that came to a simmer I stirred in a tub of  creme fraiche and a similar tub of creamed cheese.

In the meantime pasta had been cooking.

A few minutes before the pasta was cooked I cut the salmon steaks into chunks and stirred them into the sauce.

It was then a question of seasoning with lots of salt, pepper and dill. And listening quietly to some kick ass rock’n’roll.

More good things

Outside it looks as if it could almost be snowing. There is a light white blossom coming off the trees and as it drifts across the garden it looks like plump snowflakes taking us back to winter.



But the sun is out and it is even giving off some heat when it can get from behind a cloud. And if we need further proof that it is summer the first member of the family has now landed in Ahakista.

Kristen drove across yesterday and is there for almost three months working in The Good Things Cafe.

I have written elsewhere on here about The Good Things Cafe. I don’t think we went the year it opened in the old butterfly house but we have eaten there every year since. There is a useful correlation in Kristen working there now probably doing the sort of summer job I should have been doing thirty or so years ago. I am tempted to put my hand up and say ‘I can do that’.

By way of compensation I thought I should cook something for myself this evening. I settled on lamb with tomatoes and peas from one of the Moro cookbooks.

There was something very pleasing about the bright green of the peas against the brown stew.

Chicken with tarragon

Despite the grey clouds of yesterday we have had no rain. The sun has been out but only briefly and when I tried to sit out in it I only lasted five minutes before coming back inside out of the chill.

But the poppies are out by the front door and the tarragon is growing well. We had the tarragon with a roast chicken this evening.

I can remember the first time I had chicken with tarragon. The family had gone for a day trip to Windsor and we found ourselves in a restaurant for lunch that looking back now I suspect was rather smarter than what was required. I had chicken breast stuffed with a tarragon butter.

I think today’s chicken was better. I put a couple of sprigs of tarragon inside of it and then put my hand through under the skin over its breast and worked through a mixture of butter, tarragon and garlic.

We had it with just boiled potatoes and peas and it was very good.

Perfect food for putting the Saturday night behind us. A night that had been spent propping up strange bars wearing a good hat.