Now, you might think that with all this time available what with the internet being down and an unexpected weekend at home. I would have turned my hand to some serious cuisine efforts, but certainly on Saturday, I was feeling very uninspired.
Having proudly blogged my menu plan for July on Friday, I realised when I got home that day that I had forgotten to take the planned salmon out of the freezer in time, so the kids had fish fingers and chips before the school discos. I got out a couple of pieces of salmon out for the Husband and I in the hope that they would defrost in time, but when I eventually got home, head thumping from one too many renditions of Nellie the Elephant, from dealing with the indecision of numerous children with £1 to spend and far too much choice, and slightly sozzled after a couple of illicit glasses of wine produced by the school facilities manager for those of us helping out, it was nearly 10 p.m. The Husband was ravenous having not eaten, and was out of the door like a shot to the chippy. Not a patch on Mr Stein’s, but just what was needed.
This left me with 2 pieces of salmon that needed to be eaten up. For those of you who think I must be some unbearable paragon of unprocessed food virtue, you will rejoice to hear that I found a pizza express pizza and some garlic bread in the freezer and fed that to the kids on Saturday evening (although I’ll admit to making them eat salad from the garden alongside – I do have some standards). The Husband and I did however have grilled salmon (I rubbed a little sesame oil on, but nothing else) with new potatoes out of the garden and some green bean (which weren’t). It was lovely, simple food (well, that's my excuse!).
And this is where this weekend has been really lovely. After all the miserable rain, the garden and allotment have suddenly produced real food for us to eat. True, we’ve been eating salad from the garden (lettuce and rocket) for a few weeks, and there’s been rhubarb and beetroot, but it’s all been a little bit hit and miss. But not this weekend.
This weekend, we have had raspberries, strawberries, red and blackcurrants, and gooseberries.
There has been new potatoes,
Somehow the sight of all this lovely produce galvanised me into action.
Most of the fruit has gone into the freezer for now (watch out for summer pudding, coming soon to a blog near you), but it was the turn of the gooseberries to get the straight-out-of-the-garden treatment and got turned into gooseberry and orange drizzle cake.
The veg – well, we ate them for supper on Sunday. I boiled the new potatoes and steamed the carrots and broad beans on top. Just delicious.
Broad beans are one of my favourite vegetables, and the thing is, for all the fancy things you can do with them, I really love them just steamed, as a vegetable. There are plenty of amazing vegetable cookery books available that will give you plenty of things to do with veg once you are sick of eating them as is, but really, you can’t beat them straight out of the garden just served as they are.
The other thing about broad beans is that they go really well with gammon. Now, I was intrigued to read a fellow blogger ‘s post about slow cooking a piece of gammon and had bought some with (a) the broad beans and (b) the slow cooking idea in mind. I don’t use my slpow cooker as much as I’d like to and tend to just do straightforward casseroles in it, but I would like to use it more because I just love that – “Oh look it’s all done!” feeling at the end of the day. Anyway, I couldn’t go back to her blog to check out how she’d done her gammon, so I had a look at my slow cooker cook book for an idea of how much liquid to use, and came up with:
Cider slow cooked Gammon
Ingredients: 500g smoked gammon joint, 500ml cider (I used homebrewed stuff from last autumn), an onion, a carrot, 2 cloves and a bay leaf, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of crème fraiche
Method: Remove all the packaging from the joint, place in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak overnight. Drain off the water from the joint and set aside. Heat up the slow cooker on the high setting.
Peel and slice the onion, and fry in dash of oil for a few minutes with the bay leaf and cloves till the onion is starting to soften. Pour in the cider and bring to the boil. When the liquid is boiling, put the gammon joint into the slow cooker, pour on the boiling liquid, put the lid on the slow cooker and leave for 5-6 hours.
Once the gammon is cooked, remove the meat and strain the cooking liquid into a pan. Make a sauce by bringing the liquid to the boil and whisk in the Dijon mustard and crème fraiche. You probably won’t need any salt but you might want to grind in some pepper.
Serve the gammon with new potatoes and broad beans – and any other veg you feel like – as fresh as possible - with the sauce on the side.