Thursday 9th April
The prodigal daughter and grandmother return from Edinburgh. They’ve had a great time but two nights was enough. Grandma’s opening statement at the station is that she’s never playing another word game again. They’re bickering as they walk into the station car park.
Ollie embraces Daisy solemnly. He has missed her a lot. I am hoping this means an armistice on the sibling-fighting for the rest of the holidays.
We get back to the house. It’s lunch-time. I make a pot of tea, then start on the rostis. Grandma sits in the green wicker chair and tells me about their Scottish adventures. They went to the castle and the zoo, and on an open-top tour of the city (twice); but the highlight of Daisy’s trip was pretending to be blind, stumbling around the hotel corridors.
Grandma is surprised the police weren’t called: she went to the bathroom at one point, and came out to find Daisy behind the curtain, gesturing wildly to people at the bus stop below, acting as if she was being held against her will. There was a kerfuffle and grandma had to forcibly remove her from the window as she was starting to attract the attention of passersby.
I feel partly to blame; I’ve been positively encouraging her to practise her miming skills outside of drama club. Not quite to this end though.
The rostis are supposed be a quick lunch, it’s just some grating and shaping, but the whole thing seems to take hours. Partly because it’s hard to cook and talk at the same time, and partly because grandma has unearthed boxes of my childhood stuff which must be sorted.
The first box I open contains a whole filing system. I’m shocked! I had more of a grip on life admin in my mid to late teens than I do now as a fully-fledged adult. I resolve to go home and be more organised.
Perfectly preserved in my filing system is the Cascade form from when I was 15. It states the computed-generated best-fit career choices for me based on my interests and school subject choices. I scoffed at it at the time, but it’s proved to be fairly accurate regarding teaching, with a bit of drama thrown in.
We sit down for lunch. It’s mid-afternoon and we are ravenous. Daisy is surprised at how tasty the rostis are. I like them but want to have a go at making them without egg. Ollie refuses the rocket, the feta, the sweet chilli, or the fried egg. His plate looks very empty with just one rosti in the middle.
The kids need a run-around so as the sun is beginning to set, we drive up to Huntington churchyard to see the plot where my grandparents ashes were buried in September. As we leave the house, Ollie points out a huge hot air balloon at the end of the road. Halfway round the rinroad he spots it again; and as we come into Huntington village it looms so low, that we think it might land.
The grave plot looks over the river – one of great-grandma’s favourite places to walk – and as we get closer, we see that someone has planted daffodil bulbs.
It’s a beautiful evening so we make the spontaneous decision to walk along the river to my grandparents old house. The children gallop ahead and I spot a water vole (or rat?) and the first catkins of the year. (I have to stop here on the nature commentary as this blog is becoming less about food and more like SpringWatch).
We walk for an hour and when we get home, muddy and tired, the kids have a bath followed by Heniz tomato soup and tinned peaches for pudding. One home-cooked meal is quite enough for one day.
Vegetable Rostis and Eggs
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- baking potatoes, 2
- carrots, 2
- onion, 1, thinly sliced
- olive oil, 3tbsp
- medium eggs, 6
- rocket, handful per plate
- feta cheese, 40g crumbled
- smoked paprika, to sprinkle
- chilli sauce, to drizzle
Preheat oven at 190 degrees / Gas mark 5. Grease a large baking sheet with a little oil ( you may need two sheets).
Grate the potato and carrot. Place in a large bowl. Add the onion and combine. Tip the vegetable mix onto a clean, dry tea-towel and squeeze gently to extract as much moisture as possible.
Return to the bowl. Add one beaten egg, plus seasoning and mix well. Take a small handful of the mixture and press into patties between the palms of your hands. This is easier said than done. (I added half another beaten egg to the mixture to get it to adhere better).
Place the patties on the baking sheet. Don’t make them too thick – you don’t want them raw in the middle. They will seem a bit fragile but they stick together during cooking.
Cook for 10 minutes. Turn over and cook for another 10 minutes. When they are golden, put a frying pan on with 2 tbsp of oil to start frying an egg for each person. In theory you can crack eggs onto the baking sheet and oven-bake the eggs. I’ll try this next time.
To serve: place the fried egg on top of a rosti or two. Sprinkle rocket around the plate and some cubes of feta. Sprinkle some smoked paprika and a large drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.
Original idea from Sainsburys magazine, May 2015. http://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk
And if you’re serious about your rostis, you’ve got to read this: