Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Darling Buds of Spring

Ahh! I love the scent of rosemary.

Purr! I love getting a tan on my tum! (Permission to quote given by Shama and Remy)

The cats and I are in hiding this weekend. It is "Springtime On the Mountain" this weekend, starting Friday just past. My landlords have opened the property for those in the community and from areas far-reaching to come and wander around, making the obligatory murmurs of wonder and awe at their garden in all its glory.

With a broad ribbon of red and white forming barricades of where the can stroll, it kind of looks a little like a crime scene out of "CSI" or "Law and Order"! Fortunately, my cabin is in a roped off area, not allowing the gawking crowds to invade my privacy. I feel a little like the "Mad Woman of Chaillot". I think I'm becoming eccentric enough to fit the bill!

Wanting to fire up my Hibachi to barbecue a chicken later, I'm a bit hesitant to do it earlier as the aroma might draw the madding crowds to my front patio. If I had a few more chickens, I could offer them a price! I've picked some fresh herbs from my vegetable plot, which I am going to finely chop, add to some butter and crushed garlic. Then, very carefully, I will lift the skin on the chicken which has been cut down its back-bone and opened out flat and rub the butter mixture in between the skin and flesh. Firstly, the chicken, skin side down, will be placed on the hot grill over hot charcoal to brown, and then flipped for the balance of the cooking time.

By the way, I intend laying some long stems of rosemary and marjoram over the coals, too, to further enhance the flavour of the chicken.

I have a large four-burner gas barbecue with hot plate and grill, but I've had this unscratchable urge lately to cook over hot coals. Exploring through a legendary junk-yard up here on the mountain the other day, I found exactly what I was searching for, although I didn't know it until my eyes landed upon it. A very old, rusty, decrepit base of a Hibachi barbecue lay hidden amongst other cast-offs under a pile of rubble. A thrill of discovery tingled through my body. I had to have it! Then, to top off the simple joy of my success, I found a metal stand, about hip-high on which the ratty old barbecue base can sit on, allowing for ease of cooking. I've scraped and cleaned up the tray with a metal brush. Eventually, I'll paint the stand with "Bristol Green", so it blends in with the plants on my patio. After I've burned a few coals in the tray a few times, no one will know the difference, whether it was a beaten-up, old unwanted relic or not! I've given it a new lease on, I'm happy!

I believe there are not many among us who don't enjoy the ambience of an open fire. And let's be honest, food does taste exceptionally wonderful cooked over hot coals.

So, I'll wait until the madding crowds have dispersed before I fire up the "barbie", open a bottle of wine or they might descend upon me as hungry, thirsty hordes!

In the meantime, I'm going to curl up with my book...and wait!


  1. My goodness I didn't realize that you lived on such a beautiful estate.
    All those pesky gawkers spoiling your weekend, although I probably would be one of them if I lived nearby.
    I do enjoy a nice garden that I do not have to take care of.

  2. Yep...the surrounds here where I live are quite lovely, is the rest of the mountain. It's a beautiful area.

    All is quiet outside now...the gates of the mountain gardens closed at we can revert to peaceful living! ;)

  3. Hi Lee ~~ Loved the photos but the top one is my favourite. It's great. Your Barby sounds good, so why do you want to cook n coals? Thanks for your comments, I just turned to hear that Melb. Storm won, but it doesn't interest me as much as AFL or Cricket. Take care,
    my friend, Love, Merle.

  4. I like cooking with coals, Merle, because they give more flavour to the food, I believe. And it's fun!

    The top pic is of one of the ponds on the is lovely, isn't it? :)

  5. Opening the grounds to the public, eh? Hope you got your shotgun out to keep the intruders away.

    A friend of mine used an old washing machine tub as a barbecue.

  6. I did feel like doing that, Liz! ;) Now Monday is here and the intruders are gone...thank goodness...I have the place to myself again...and loving it!

    Yep...anything can be used as a charcoal-burning, that's the beauty of it.

  7. When I lived in Canada and in the Netherlands I had a gas barbeque - and in Africa we always used coals - and it did taste better - so - when I moved here to the UK, it was back to coals for me. I also throw rosemary on the coals to add flavour. It will be interesting to see which way I go when I move back to Canada...I guess whatever way will allow me to continue to cook outside in the ice and snow! There is nothing like outdoor cooking when it is 30 below.

  8. Hiding out with a book was an excellent idea until you could cook on COALS. I have never had a desire for a gas grill so coals it is for me. An open fire makes one feel the blood of your ancestry flow through your veins. Cherokee for me.

    The cats were really enjoying the sun and herbs. Rosemary on the fire, I am very stingy with the 5 little sprigs I have. Maybe next year I will have enough to throw on the fire.

    It is Sunday afternoon and Wilson's brother and family are coming over to enjoy burgers cooked over coals.

    I simply love the fact you resurected the little grill and stand.

    love and prayers

  9. Hi Rebecca...ummm...perhaps a log fire indoors with a grill over it might be the way to go in 30 below! ;)

    My rosemary bush is just that, Lady Di...a huge, huge bush. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger, wider and wider. I bought one little plant at the markets about three years ago and it's never looked back from that point. And of course, the more you pick it, the better the plant grows and thicker it gets. I'm always giving away bunches of it to friends. I love rosemary and use it all the time.

    My marjoram has gone wild, just keeps multiplying and multiplying.

    I use fresh herbs a lot...I love them. My parsley plants (curly and Italian) have seeded, spreading the seeds so I have more coming up everywhere and have put some into pots as well.

    There certainly is something extra special about coals...a fire is so hypnotic.

  10. I didn't know your cats were so literary! They are lovely. There is nothing like food cooked over hot coals - and with herbs as well. You are very wise to wait till the crowds go home or you'd have a stampede , what with that aroma! Enjoy, Lee - you deserve it! Love from Simi and me in Sicily.

  11. Thanks, Welsh. I do have an admission to make though. By the time the hordes left, I couldn't be bothered setting everything up as I had become so engrossed in my book and I decided to leave it until today. I've just finished putting everything together in readiness so I'll have a late lunch-early dinner. A bottle of red is waiting to have its cork popped with no unexpected interruptions!

    I did have a lovely weekend of reading, though and watching a couple of shows I'd taped during the week, so all was not lost. :)

  12. there's not much in life as satisfying as seeing a cat enjoy the spring after a long winter. what gorgeous photos!

  13. Good to see you again, Andree...thanks for stopping by. :)

  14. Being that it's getting close to Halloween here, I'd be tempted to have a bit of fun with the visitors. Maybe barbecue something with a sign posted nearby, "Roasted Shrew, $2 a sample." Heck, if they think you're the "madwoman" anyway, might as well go with it.

  15. lol Why the hell not, Dave...great idea! ;)

  16. I'm going to burn a few coals and get some of that paint and put it on me to see if I can ressurect this old relic.
    If I visited the landlords property I'd pay for your dinner.

  17. No, Cliff...entry fee is a bottle of wine only! ;)

  18. PS...Only Kermit is allowed to be green, Cliff!

  19. What a lovely photo of your cats, Lee. I cannot resist rubbing a cat's tummy when they present it to me. However, Oscar was ticklish, he would wrap his paws around my arm and kick like claws, though. I was always amazed at the strength he had. He could have ripped my arm to shreds if he wanted.

    Thank God, I don't have to worry about Jane and Fred having open gardens...I'm glad that your landlords roped your place off. I think I'd be quite resentful of any invasion of my privacy by the hordes.

    Enjoy your wine. I've just come back from getting some more...someone drank all mine.

  20. Ha! I wonder who that was, Puss! ;)

    I've made up today/afternoon for the invasion of the unwanted over the weekend. (As you say, I was thoughtful of my landlords to rope off the area around me...they understand me well!)

    First, my landlords came for a coffee and tea this morning. I saw them removing the crime scene ribbons so I invited them over and we sat out on the deck/patio area. As I said in an early comment, I didn't end up doing the barbecue was the day. I was just starting to fire up the fire when another friend arrived out with the fire, and on with the wine!

    He left, so I started the whole procedure again. In the meantime, a double CD of Pavarotti I had bought through Amazon arrived...and that was the beginning of a fun afternoon...just me, Pavarotti and my old Hibachi! And of course, some more wine!

    So as Pavarotti serenaded the mountain, I sipped on red wine and waited for my chicken and trimmings to cook...all very nice! ;)

  21. The final chapter is now behind me Lee. I have wiped the tears and am okay now. What a fling. I loved carol. I have known her in the past and could, right now, if I allow myself to play that game.
    Have you noticed that good management prospects are those who you've never heard gossip or speak poorly of a fellow employee? Also I've noticed that if you don't hear gossip it's because you aren't one who gossips.
    The old saying that small people talk of other people is true.
    Thanks for the journey.

  22. You're welcome, Cliff. So true about those who gossip. I have no time for gossip, nor those who partake therein! :)

  23. Ooo, nothing beats cooking over hot coals!

    O no! 10 to 7 and it's dark already!

  24. Hi Lee,

    You make me want to cook outside again. I now have a covered front porch (closest to the kitchen) and a covered back deck.

    I love charcoal/coals for cooking and have 16+ AC of trees to harvest some oak for the coal bed.

    Now I just need a place to put the fire! I may just spring for a nice charcoal grill, or weld one up out of steel plate.

    Like you,I am not fond of gas grilled food. I can do that in the gas kitchen oven. (real good for marinated pork loin tho)

    I need to start posting some on our own blog. I have tonnes of pic's and need to make time. Many fewer posts at LST would help. I am tired of the turmoil there anyway.

    So, TTFN Lee,


  25. Burning coals in the dark is great, gled! ;)

    Marc, I'm sure you'll find a suitable spot and just about anything can be used as a base for your coal-burner...even dig a pit, perhaps, except you have to bend over it. I found a suitable steel stand, hip-high that was just perfect for the old Hibachi base tray that I found. It works well and enables easy access. I didn't get the grills with the Hibachi but I used a long cake cooler as the grill and it worked well. If you can get your hands on an old 44-gallon drum...cut it in half and then you've got two! ;)

  26. Actually I was thinking 1/2 of a 55 gal drum a couple weeks ago, or cut a lid into the side of a whole drum and put a smoke pipe up. I need to find grill material though.

  27. My solution to the grill was simple...I used a cake rack. I know grills can be found here that suit the 44-gallon drums (you mention yours are 55-gallon)and I guess similar would be available over your way, Marc. Perhaps cut the drum in half, length-wise and fine a long grill instead of a round grill...just a thought. If the drum is cut lengthwise, then you could also add a "spit/rotisserie" to add to its versatility. Start raiding the junk-yards, Marc. :)

  28. yea! Pictures of your partners in crime, what a charming pair they are.

  29. Hey, gto...good to see's been a while! :)

  30. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Excellent article. I am experiencing many of these issues as well..