Monday, August 10, 2020

The Wind in the Willows



"Why didn't you invite me, Ratty?"
Illustration by Tasha Tudor

I recently reread Kenneth Grahame's classic novel, The Wind in the Willows, concerning a collection of rather well-to-do animals at times skittering about, languidly discussing ideas, or extolling the virtues of nature. Such wonder! There's a grandiose, preposterous (while still quite amiable in his delusions) toad on the wrong side of the law, a couple of critters who nearly succumb to the sea in response to the siren song of the Sea Rat and his wayfaring ways. And also, lovingly wrapped in the pages--a pausing meditation on dawn.

And boy, do the little fellows love to eat! They rarely ever stop--if not eating, they're talking about eating, or talking about food while eating! I was enamored of the fat, wicker luncheon basket that the Water Rat and Mole share, its contents including, "cold tongue cold ham cold beef pickled gherkins salad french rolls cress sandwidges potted meat ginger beer lemonade soda water..."

We had a few friends over and I served such things as these one entirely civilized afternoon. Perhaps I skipped the tongue and potted meat and watercress but the package of DAK boiled ham, Pillsbury crescent rolls, thinly sliced cucumbers on buttered white bread, bread and butter pickle coins and figgy orange jam stepped in nimbly and rose most admirably! Pink fizzy lemonade, fruity seltzer water and an excellent chilled white Chardonnay-Viognier refreshed the gathering.



I also happened to find an absolutely charming copy of The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook (pub. 1983) on ebay, with recipes by Arabella Boxer and fine illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. Contents reveal FOOD FOR varying occasions such as, "...staying at home...excursions...the storage cupboard..." I found a recipe for Refrigerator Cookies from the latter section while perusing other things such as Snowfalls in Dark Woods, Leafy Summer Lettuce Snacks and Very Easy Flapjacks.

A guideline for Refrigerator Cookies may be found here thanks to allrecipes.com. However, the recipe in The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook simply deals with 6 TB butter, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, 1 egg, 1 1/2 cups self-rising flower and a pinch of salt--dispensing with the cinnamon, walnuts, baking soda and cream of tartar called for on allrecipes.com.



"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats..." And eating, apparently! Do enjoy!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Sumptuous Summer Salad




This salad was so beautiful and delicious, each bite a different delight! The method is simple too and only requires just a touch of artistry when composing--summer does the rest.

Scatter fresh arugula leaves on a platter, shred some proscuitto, slice up ripe stone fruit (we used white peaches) and arrange artfully. Drop a luscious orb of burrata cheese on top--if you are not familiar with burrata, it's high time you become well-acquainted. A ball of mozzarella cheese holds a treasure of luscious stracciatella and cream, which oozes out when cut open. Yes! Drizzle some olive oil and a squeeze or two of lemon over the whole thing and season with some freshly ground black pepper and Maldon sea salt flakes. Add your favorite herbs if you like, or add some fennel fronds to the mix. 

Instead of stone fruit, perhaps you have some juicy melon on hand? Try that with some fresh figs and take a bite out of summer!