Rich pickings

The sun has been out today and after thirty minutes sawing up logs and then digging over half the veg patch my shirt was off and I was down to my t-shirt.

The warmer weather has stoked up the compost bin and when I pull off the lid the underside was covered with worms. They fell to the ground as I tipped in the bucket from the kitchen that has been filled with the last weeks potatoes peel, used teabags and egg shells.

Half an hour later an alert black bird was stalking the base of the bin picking over the worms that had not been quick enough back into the ground. He moved on to the turned earth of the veg patch and another blackbird took its place which was then followed by a robin.It was obviously rich pickings for the birds. There was even a wren that flitting out briefly from the back of the greenhouse.

Inside a ragu has been cooking all afternoon.

Yesterday in Liverpool I managed to pick up a signed copy of Simon Hopkinson’s Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, a sequel, of sorts, to Roast Chicken and Other Stories. It was the recipes for mince that caught my eye. I was reminded of a bolognese sauce I saw cooking many years ago on a hob somewhere near Rhode Island in the States and being told how important it was to leave it, cooking slowly, just ever so slowly, for hours on the lowest heat you could get the gas down to. So that is what it has been doing for the last few hours a barely perceptible bubble just breaking the surface. I added chicken livers as well. It should be mighty fine with a large bowl of spaghetti. While it cooked I kept myself refreshed with glass of juice squeezed from two blood oranges.

A spare pork chop

We had a spare pork chop in the house this evening so I bought some more to go with it and we ate ate them with nectarines and sherry vinegar.

The chops were browned in a large pan in some olive oil. Once they were done they were taken out and left to rest in a warm oven. Some butter was then melted in the pan and the stoned and quartered nectarines were stirred in and allowed to take on some colour along with some chopped sage and a teaspoon of honey. As they

started to catch on the bottom of the pan a good shake of sherry vinegar was added to lubricate and then the chops were tipped back in along with their juices.

We ate it with garlic potatoes listening to Willie Nelson.

A little known secret

It is a little known secret that one of the best accompanists for a plate of fried potatoes is some garlic.

We have been eating it this evening and apparently it is good.

Potatoes are boiled whole until there is some give in them with s sharp knife. As they are done they are taken off to drain. As they do so they continue to cook in the heat they have taken on. Once they are almost cool enough to handle they are chopped into quarters (or eighths depending on size) and slid into a pan the bottom of which has been covered in oil. As they take on colour they are turned over so that a couple of sides at least have started to brown. Just before serving a couple of cloves of crushed garlic is stirred in along with a bunch of finely chopped spring onion.

We ate the potatoes with a chicken that had been cut into pieces, fried and the roasted with some grilled peppers.

A beautiful fish

A few years ago now I wrote somewhere that a red mullet is such a beautiful fish you should only cook it for someone you love.

We had it this evening.

They caught my eye as soon as I got to Wards this morning. My mind had been set on something cheap and cheerful and I had been hoping for gurnard But there were none left. Instead there half a dozen or so red mullet giving off with their colour a halfway mixture between pink and gold.

I bought three of them.

They were cooked in a hot oven on top of a sliced tomato with olive oil and garlic.

We ate them with potatoes fried with spring onions and more garlic.

And very good they were.