Love them or loathe them, barbecues are a sure sign that summer is upon us. Burnt sausages, charred chicken and rubbery meaty burgers seem to be the delight of many! For me, it's the accompanying salads, the radish, home-grown tomatoes, cucumbers, salad potatoes ... the list is endless. Give me a bowl of freshly picked broad beans, shelled and boiled with a little butter, salt and pepper with crusty bread ... mmm a meal in minutes!
I do love meat, though. Succulent chicken drumsticks marinaded in yoghurt and mint, or in olive oil, chilli and ginger ... or a great piece of fish slowly cooked in a foil parcel in the barbecue charcoals – oh, I could go on, lovely summer time food, eaten outdoors.
In the early evening, the rolling hills of the Towy Valley cast shade over the Pumpkin Patch Garden at Allt y Gôg Farm, whilst valley below continues to be smothered by evening sun, giving warmth and light well into the evening. For us shade dwellers, we've re- discovered the camp-fire, a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors well into the night, whilst providing heat and light and an alternative to the barbecue! A few years ago Sam, our eldest son, and an outdoor enthusiast, convinced us to purchase a fire tripod ... what an investment! We now boil, fry and steam a variety of meals for breakfast, tea an supper! Not just for a late night feast either – we’ve even cooked our Sunday morning sausages on the camp-fire – slightly crazy but a delightful and relaxed way to wake up at the weekend!
For safety reasons The Pumpkin Patch hasn’t been introduced to this way of cooking yet, but I'm sure the teenage class will soon enjoy a camp-fire evening – I can't wait!
If cooking in the summer months is more of a chore than a delight, and if you can't bear to stay indoors more than you have to, I recommend the “tripod” - your evenings (or mornings for that matter) will never be the same again! Failing that, the traditional charcoal barbecue or a gas equivalent is an ideal way to cook and spend more time in the garden. If you are out and about, I find the quick and easy throw away barbecue in a foil tray also work really well, but they can be small and are only hot enough for a short while. A great alternative is a small gas camping stove and a frying pan. Keep them in the boot of the car for impromptu meals on the beach or in picnic areas.
REMEMBER…Don’t forget to check any rules and laws relating to campfires, barbecue and gas stoves before you start cooking, and always leave the beach or countryside as you find it, and take litter with you.
Half Term Fun!
This week is half term, and providing that the weather is dry, this is a great time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. Introduce young children to camping by pitching a tent in the garden, and allowing them to play in it during the day. Hours can be spent ‘pretend’ camping and enjoying a teddy bears picnic! Let toddlers prepare their favourite sandwiches, and eat their picnic tea on a rug on the lawn. These simple pleasures are some of the most memorable and can beat expensive days out.
Things to do with the family this week
- Make home made fruit juice lollies or flavoured ice cubes for hot days
- Pitch a small tent on the lawn for youngsters to play in
- Make some bread dough for home made healthy pizza or tiny pizzeta snacks - see this week’s recipe
- Go on a country walk and take photographs to make a photo collage on a rainy day
Fantastic Flat Breads
3 cups of flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or yoghurt)
Lukewarm water (approx 300ml - 400ml)1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons dried yeast
- Place the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix
- Start adding the water, bit by bit, mixing the dough with a spoon
- Add enough water to make a very soft and almost sloppy dough
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes
- Place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel (or shower cap!!)
- Allow to rise in a warm place for up to an hour
- When the dough is ready, shape into small flat shaped breads
- Gently fry in a frying pan for about 4 minutes per side until cooked
- Serve with barbecued foods
TIP: These breads can also be made on the barbecue!