Oh yes Summer is here and the garden beckons

Despite not having a pizza oven or Green Egg (like L’Ortolan) I still love to eat in the garden whenever I can. Last week we celebrated Jordan‘s birthday for what seemed the 8th time, she is very similar to my daughter Rachel! She had some friends and her dad over and we had various friends drifting in and out over the afternoon.

My favourite sort of entertaining is informal, friends popping in, enough food to sink a battleship, home made watermelon juice, so easy and delicious and a jug of Pimms. The new Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms is wonderful, I am thinking of stockpiling it as I think it is a special edition for the summer and it is lush. I grow very little, my growing skills (or lack of them) are renowned. At WBMencap we have a horticultural project called Growing For All and it has a little hidden line that says ‘Not You Leila!’ I have seen Julie, the manager, weep as she puts the plants I buy into the back of my car knowing she is sending them to their death. My intentions are good, I only grow plants I can eat or smell, mostly herbs. One year I grew potatoes and onions but got the same out as I put in which seemed a bit pointless, particularly as they were smaller. Last year I had an operation and in my morphine induced state bought 20 cauliflower plants (I hate cauliflower), 4 watermelon plants, something called chard as well as cucumber, tomatoes and chilli. I got one chard, two tomatoes (two single tomatoes) and two lacy cabbages (which is what the cauliflower turned out to be). That would have been one expensive salad if I had had the courage to pick any of it but I couldn’t. This is a common problem apparently, I have nurtured both tomatoes, how can I pick them and eat them even though I would love to. It would be like murdering my babies. Not there yet emotionally. By the way in the same morphine haze I bought 20 pairs of shoes. They shouldn’t allow me to have a pc in hospital.

Soooooo …….. every year we get the garden razed to the ground and I plant some things in the hope that they wont go brown or worse just burrow back down into the brown earthy stuff in the pot desperately trying to get away from me. It has taken me years to grow the things that apparently are like weeds, mint and one horseradish, no success with the wild garlic though. I am a plant graveyard. I spend months nurturing plants that my green friends sweetly tel me are weeds. I spent years putting lavender on lamb because I thought it was rosemary (although I noticed Daniel Galmiche from the Vineyard recently copied this recipe so I don’t feel so bad).

Once the garden has been razed and I am not at risk of losing children and animals in the long grass it is time to enjoy the garden and the sunshine. Time to invite friends, prepare food and fire up the barbecue and spa. I am a great believer that our life is made up of our memories and we need to create good ones. Family, friends and new friends, these are the things that make our lives so special, not things (yes yes I know, pizza oven and Green Egg) but good times, happy times, shared laughter and joy. This is what we will remember in times to come, as will those that share those times with us.

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Some of the afternoon session

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A spa with only three people in, I think we got enough people in later on to make the water go over the edge.

bbq lamb july 2013

A boned shoulder of lamb from Two Cocks Farm marinated in yoghurt, garlic and ginger then barbecued.

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Same shoulder of lamb resting on rice in the giant hand hewn bowl from Aden that my father gave me. To be honest it needed a yoghurt sauce but I had made two salad dressings using different vinegars, strawberry and mint was one and lime, black pepper and lavender vinegar from Wolmersly which I had picked up at the fantastic Newbury Food Market and they did the trick.

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More food included poached chicken (to keep the moistness) charred off on the barbecue, smoky marinated ribs, burgers and sausages from the local butchers.

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A large piece of rib eye steak which was charred then sliced, this came on the bone and was just exceptional and especially for my friend Richard who needs protein.

I haven’t done pictures of my ice cubes but I used 1.5 inch plastic tubs, filled them with water, added borrage and mint and froze. They lasted for ages and looked lovely.

Oh yes, summer is here, now all I need is a pizza oven or Green Egg!!

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