Sometimes there are days when you want to be transported to somewhere else. Somewhere exotic. Somewhere far away from the sadness in your city.
But maybe in these times, it’s a case of putting one foot in front of the other. Of picking ourselves up and being resolutely normal.
Today I was determined that everything would be normal.
So I started thinking instead about what I could cook to take us away from the awfulness of last night, and remembered I had a pork fillet in the freezer and a small jar of pork and green peppercorn pate in the cupboard.
Which means one thing:
I’m delighted to introduce Ted’s first appearance in the blog! He went to the farmers market today and found the first asparagus of the year – cause for celebration indeed. He teamed it with the most lovely homemade lovage pesto – his own delicious invention – and made us the most gloriously green spring lunch. I begged him to write up the recipe and he did. Here you go.
What to do with lovage, the world and Joe want to know. It’s a vigorous herb which produces lots of big green fronds that look suspiciously like flat-leaf parsley. Unlike parsley, however, lovage is not mildly-flavoured. Its taste is not unpleasant – like a very strong celery leaf – but I’ve always struggled to know what to do with it as it always seemed like it would overpower most other flavours. So I’ve been left with a herb that grows unchecked and unharvested until it kicks out its flower spike in mid-summer and finally dies back.
Then, while gardening one weekend and looking again at the rapidly expanding lovage, I had a brainwave – what about making all those leaves into pesto? It turns out that other people have had the same idea and there are several recipes already on the web. See here and here.
Deep in the countryside, where the South Downs meet the Sussex Weald …
… scrambling through the hawthorn hedge, about to burst into bloom …
… is a secret place.
Let’s go in …
How hard is it to poach an egg?
A lot harder than boiling one, and way more difficult than frying. Mine always end up with runny whites, or angry and rubbery from being overboiled.
But today I had a chance encounter with a perfectly poached egg – well, two actually.
It was one of those rushing-about, not-quite-ready, where’s-my-jumper mornings, with a pinch of tripping-over-the-cat. Then Ted helped me take a small mountain of parcels to Brixton post office, and after half an hour of battling the automatic machine (with help from a very lovely lady) the parcels were finally weighed, stamped and dispatched.
What a relief.
I needed coffee. I stepped outside the post office.
As if by magic, this sign appeared:
The first of the bluebells are out. The way they catch the light – it’s like the first hint of summer, true summer.
The winter clematis thinks so – he’s gone from old boy to old man, strands of his fluffy beard drifting all over the garden.
So yesterday, Ted and I went out for breakfast, in search of something healthy.
Nothing grabbed us on Coldharbour Lane (I miss the Phoenix so much) so we went into Market Row.
Before we could even look at the temptation that is Express Café (best eggs in Brixton FYI) we saw that Kuku, the pretty new Persian place was open.
“I wonder if they do … AAIIEE!” I said. Because who was inside, but Saja! Which of course she was, because who else would be running it, and how daft of me not to realise before.
While it does sound a bit ridiculous to keep puréed, roasted butternut squash stashed in the freezer, it does come in handy at times. Like when your husband stumbles in, as he did last night, exhausted from a really tough day at work and needs some comfort food, stat, but you’d planned some healthy, crunchy, veggie wraps.
This month, I’ve been …
The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante
I confess, I’m completely swept up in Ferrante’s yin/yang story of Lenu and Lila. Ferrante is a spellbinding storyteller, weaving plots around and within plots like the kind of super-complicated crochet only Lettice and Stacey can do. Now at the end of volume 2, all I know is that I might have to ration the third and fourth books, because it will be too, too sad when there’s no more to read.
Second volume in Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet
I had heard from Victoria that the Entangled exhibition was rather special. So Lettice and I set off to see it.
It was so lovely at the station that we almost didn’t leave.
Pick a sunny spot.
But we did, and …
For various reasons, this week I’ve been thinking about female friendship, how we nurture and care for each other, and how we express our friendship through the things we make and do.
More on that another time, but it then got me remembering happy days in the mid-90s when two of my besties and I played house while at uni.
(When I say “played house”, I mean “covered a perfectly nice terraced house in a thick layer of charity-shop cardigans, budget lager cans, Kitkat wrappers and Eau d’Essay Crisis.)
But we shared food, cooked together, learned each others’ recipes and laughed a lot.
(Also there was that time when we fed the chaps’ – now husbands’ – Sunday roast dinner to someone else because they buggered off to the pub. Fair play to him, Ted’s been there for supper ever since.)
We had a chart on the wall listing things we liked, and things we didn’t, and top of the likes was chicken liver pâté – or CLP as it was known to us.
So I made this today to celebrate female friendship, and to remind myself of happy times with Pippa and Mary at 95 Marlborough Road.