Hello, thank you for dropping in. I'm always pleased to see you here and if you are kind enough to leave a comment, I'll reply. May is turning out to be a bit lovely: we have had sunshine and warmth during the daytime and I am making the most of my summerhouse, but the nights have been cold, we even had a frost this week so I'm glad I haven't planted out any tender annuals yet.
This time last week I was up to my elbows in egg custard. Why? The Eurovision Song Contest, of course! If you've been visiting here for a while, you might remember that every year I celebrate this event with a bit of a party, with a buffet featuring recipes from the host nation, score cards and general merriment. I explained how this has come about in this post three years ago but basically, I've been doing it for more than twenty years. When Portugal won the contest last year my friend and I were delighted because we've never done Portuguese food before. "Custard tarts!" I said. "Salt cod!" she replied, and so the beginning of the menu was born.
We spent the previous week doing online research - neither of us has actually ever been to Portugal, so Thank Goodness for the internet. We discovered that as well as custard tarts and salt cod, sardines and rice would be essential and the national vegetable seems to be kale. On Friday I wrote out my recipes, which led to my shopping list, and sallied forth to buy provisions, which enabled me to spend all day Saturday in the kitchen, accompanied by a profusion of Eurovision songs from past and present on the radio, including an Abba party. Oh, I couldn't have been happier! I cooked up some sardine pate, corn bread, a warm salad of black-eyed beans and kale and ten custard tarts. Meanwhile, at her house, my friend was preparing a tomato salad and cooking tomato rice, meatballs, chicken skewers, salt cod fritters and orange cakes. In a very jolly mood, I packed up my car with food, a bottle of port and my husband and tootled round to her house.
We had a terrific evening in very good company - my friend's sister and her husband had travelled from Sussex on the train especially! The food was delicious and I intend to make all of my recipes again - in fact, I have already made the bean and kale salad again. Tom Kitten loved it. I awarded each act marks for the song, the performance, choreography and costume. My favourite was Denmark, a stirring Viking anthem backed by drums which was sung by men with long hair wearing long coats and boots and at the end...it snowed! Honestly, what's not to love about any of that?! They came eighth. Netta won for Israel with a quirky performance of a song about female empowerment. "Avocados!" I said. "Hummus!" replied my friend.
Of course, as a song competition, it doesn't really matter at all, which is just as well because it seems that the UK is unlikely to win it ever again, no matter how good the song or the performance and to be honest, I can't blame Europe for failing to vote for us when our country has voted to leave the European Union. It's like saying, "We don't want to be friends with you but we want to play your game so please vote for us in your competition." I don't think so! I heard a BBC reporter say that it's not really a song contest but a festival of diversity and friendship. I like that. For one night a year I can celebrate being in communion with people from a whole host of other nations whilst unashamedly indulging my love of good food, pop music, glamorous costumes, cheesy choreography and... artificial snow.
May I just return to those custard tarts for a minute? They tasted divine, subtly flavoured with cinnamon and lemon and because I bought a box of puff pastry from the supermarket, they were not difficult to make. I used this recipe and I heartily recommend it. So does Tom Kitten.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x