Best laid plans of mice and butchers….


Best laid plans of mice and butchers....

Ok…where was I? Tuesday I went shopping for the rest of the week’s meals and went to a mighty fine establishment in Windermere called Booth’s. Normally, it stocks a fine range of food, especially the butchers…but my plans went awry when I heard the butcher say in a rather too casual way for my liking, ‘sorry, we have no pork tenderloin.’ That scuppered Wednesday’s fare. And it got worse….they no longer stock ham shanks…the reason was fairly bizarre but seemed to be along the lines that they did not keep long enough. I was left speechless. I have never heard such a ridiculous  excuse for not having an item! Hey ho! So, I had to alter Tuesday’s meal, which is what you see part compiled above – here are the ingredients for 4 – see May 9th for recipe.

60 gm of lardons or cubed smoky bacon – or pancetta even
340 gm Puy lentils – or any green ones if not
Some chopped fresh rosemary but you’d be fine with dried
A large red onion chopped finely – or white if no reds handy!
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
800 ml of chicken stock
red wine vinegar
olive oil

I used a kilo of lentils for 15 of us and 3 litres of stock. I also added to the pan for the last half an hour – a small smoked gammon joint cut into cubes (I had boiled it gently for an hour beforehand), 12 fabulous pork and black pudding sausages pan fried and cut in half – the butcher partly salvaged his reputation here, they were fabulous – chorizo sausage sliced and pan fried, and several slices of pan fried pork belly cut into bite sized chunks. I served it with copious baskets of rustic bread and ficelles. And it all disappeared! I had served a large garden mushroom to each person as a starter baked in the oven with fresh oregano, garlic and butter on a bed of salad leaves. We finished off with pan fried nectarines in brandy with cream.

Last night we had meatballs and pasta – I got up early and made 70 or so of them – beef mince with cumin, rosemary and thyme and some dried crushed chilli. We went for a stonkingly long walk yesterday to Blea Tarn– well it felt like forever – it was only 3 miles there and back – but as it rained most of the way there it took the edge of it a tad. I felt like Noah who realised he forgot to anchor the ark down. I did dry out on the way back though and I also got to the pub by 6pm for an hour before cooking. So all was dandy in the end.

Tonight it is salmon steaks with a lime and mayo sauce and salted crushed new potatoes. And for those of you who are interested sufficiently to scroll further, here are a few more pics, including the house we are residing in for the week. Keep well!

IMG_4088Birch House…sleeps 15 and comfortably too!

IMG_4080Blea Tarn arising from the mist and rain…

IMG_0583The younger members of our group! My two are far left and 3rd from the left….

IMG_4066Little Langdale….saw kites several times sweeping overhead.

IMG_4071Canopy of forest up by the tarn where we took shelter and had a soggy picnic!

Lakeland tales part two…


Lakeland tales part two...

I have written earlier in this blog about the table being king – being the centre of the universe and here is a photo of our crowd last night – young and old all gathered around and chatting, laughing and eating together for several hours. I made the tikka lamb dish – recipe is on this blog on  June 9th- using 3 legs of lamb for 15 of us – and it all went! I served it with two large platters of crushed Indian salad (also June 9th), coriander buttered rice, chapatis and several chutneys. It was a great evening and the rather temperamental cooker did its bit. Thankfully! Earlier in the day we had been on a stunning 6 mile walk around Elterwater. At every turn there was different breathtaking scene – best of all the fabulous torrent of Colwirth Force. Mother nature in full flow in every sense. I was only slightly knackered on our return but after a hot shower I was fine – I put the lamb in at 4.30pm and it was ready by just before 8pm – I made a start at chopping all the ingredients for the salad and then managed to stumble the 72 paces – yes I have counted them – to the local pub for a well earned swift pint of a rather fine brew called Hawkshead. Mornings are always slow – the teenagers rarely rise before 11pm – but we are heading out at around midday on a shorter ramble. I cooked poached eggs for 4 of the adults an hour or so ago and we ate them on the patio. So, all is set fair for today. Tonight I am rustling up two large pans of Penne con Sugo di salsicce – see July 12th! Lots of cold meats to begin with and some dips if I get time to make them.
All I need do now is win the lottery and I can do this for ever! Now that I would like. Enjoy your day wherever you are and thank you for all the kind comments you leave when you drop by – keeps me going! Here are a few more snaps from the walk yesterday to finish off with.





Langdale Update…rain, rain and…ooh a bit of sun!



So, here we are in a gorgeous house in a quiet corner of the Lakes that feels like a little bit of Hobbiton. I would not be surprised to see Gandalf strolling down the lane or the Riders of Rohan to come sweeping down the valley. (My mind clearly wanders too much in the silence of this place! ) The kitchen is well equipped though the electric’ faux range’ cooker is not great. I think I am getting the hang of it but the dials have no numbers so  it is all guesswork. First night I made 15 naan bread pizzas – all topped with mozzarella, serrano ham, olives, sliced chillis, olive oil and rocket. The oven does get red hot so I managed to turn them out more or less at the same time. I used garlic and coriander naans and they were delicious. The dining table is of the board room variety so it seats us all comfortably. Yesterday was a wash out walk-wise – it hammered down – at one point the rain was sweeping sideways down the valley. We ended up playing what felt like a never-ending game of trivial pursuits which was way out of date but provided lots of laughs along the way. I now know what the palatine uvula is , which eye Moshe Dayan wore an eye patch on and that Mike Hawthorn was the first Englishman to win the motor racing world championship – I am sure such riveting knowledge will be of great use to me in the future! Hmmm….last night I made 2 large pans of paella which was interesting challenge on this dinosaur of a cooker. Anyway – it all turned out fine, though with everyone standing and chatting around me it was akin to  trying to cook on a busy pavement in London! I started off with several bowls of a basil, chill, lemon and cumin hummus which went down well. We have already got through a lot… a lot..of wine…. and last night ended with a few rounds of Spanish brandy…hey..I slept well. I marinated three legs of lamb before i went to bed. It is the tikka lamb recipe that I posted a month or so ago. At least now I can enjoy today and as the sun is shining the cabin fever is about to cease! The hills look inviting and the air is vibrating with an almost tangible freshness. Will try and post more soon. I hope all is well with you back in civilisation!

Wandering lonely towards the clouds…..


Wandering lonely towards the clouds.....

I love being on holiday…don’t get me wrong…but I could do with just staying put for a while…we have had fantastic times the last month in Spain then Burgundy…now tomorrow we are off to the Lake District for a large family gathering that occurs every 2 years in August. I know I will enjoy it when I get there – and I love the challenge of cooking for 15 people every evening – the house we are staying in has a fantastic looking kitchen – can’t wait for that. Hey..I am going to stop with the moaning…I’m lucky to be able to do all this…there will come a day when I can’t so let’s make the most eh! And I know fine well that when I am back to work I will be pining for these days. I am also a big fan of romantic poetry and especially of William Wordsworth – I always pack his poetry and biographies when I go to the Lakes – I feel near him.

The food up there is also fantastic and I especially love going to a family run store in Windermere called Booth’s. I have sorted out the menus for the next 7 nights – and I shopped til I almost dropped this morning. The car will be low sprung when we set off tomorrow! I love the challenge of feeding everyone for about £5 a night including antipasti and cheese boards. I will wi fi permitting try and share what I cook with you all over the next week. Much of it will be familiar to you, but hopefully the photos and atmosphere will entertain.

Tonight I knocked up a very tangy Thai chicken curry – lots of coriander and lemon grass and green chillis. So simple and seemingly cooked in every kitchen these days on a regular basis. Car is packed now and only the fresh food to go in tomorrow morning. Poached eggs and black pudding for breakfast on the morrow then we will hit the high road. I hope you all have a fine and dandy week. Will be in touch here soon!

English: English poet William Wordsworth

English: English poet William Wordsworth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)