Last night the rain...

...woke me. In the dark a loud volley of drops ricocheted off the Velux window, rushed and hard, like rain wanting to pass and getting it over quickly. This morning the sky still holds its echo and the espalier wire around the cherry trees hangs onto its presence: a flick would send them bouncing. 

after the rain
Does rain make you nostalgic? I remember picnics on the back seats of cars. Plastic raincoats that unfold from a packet the size of a matchbox. The smell of rust on a metal drainpipe. What's your memory of rain?

But before the rain we ate outside, a trial run of two new recipes - chicken tikka and chicken satay, grilled on the barbecue. I've listed the recipes at the end of the post.

chicken tikka and chicken satay

chargrilled red peppers, chicken tikka and satay skewers,
peanut sauce and tikka sauce
Then later we took the tractor around the orchard.

sunset in the apple orchard
Some days seem to unwrap themselves organically with no effort from us, each segment evolving perfectly into the next. 

Other days resist our every move. As Tony can confirm. He fell over five times on Sunday. 

Helping to lever the mower onto the tractor he stepped back into a dip and fell into a bed of thistles.

'You alright there, Tony,' Aaron the tractor man asked as Tony wiggled around, trying every which way to get up without pushing down onto the stingers.
'Yeah, fine, having a great time. Just call me Brer Rabbit.' 

Later the nozzle on the pipe from the diesel tank refused to click off when he was filling the tractor, spilling the fuel over the engine, so he grabbed the nozzle then slipped in the fuel that had pooled on the hard standing. He got up, stuck the nozzle in an empty can and went to run towards the packing shed to switch off the electric pump... and slipped on the fuel again.

'You should have seen me,' he said. 'I was like bloody Spiderman sliding around on the concrete.'

After he'd cleared up he got on the tractor to go cut the grass in the orchard but as the soles of his boots still had traces of diesel on them he slipped off the footstep banging his shin.

And finally, when he got off the tractor between two rows of apple trees he stepped back into a big mound of dried grass and went arse over heels again.

I didn't laugh once. Well, not at the time because I wasn't around to see any of them. But I was wiping tears from my eyes when he recounted each fall that evening. 

As I said, some days are just the best : ) 

Hungry Writing Prompts
  1. Write about the sound of rain.
  2. Write about a picnic.
  3. Write about falling.
  4. Write about a cartoon character.
  5. Write about the best.

Chicken Tikka Marinade
I came up with this after reading a number of different recipes and adding a few personal substitutions when I didn't have any particular ingredient.

150 ml full fat yoghurt
1 tbsp oil
1 heaped tbsp of Very Lazy Ginger - chopped more finely.
1 finely chopped garlic clove
quarter of a teaspoon of hot chilli flakes and a good pinch each of cardamom seeds and fennel seeds, ground to as fine a powder as you can manage
1 tsp of curry powder
half teaspoon of turmeric
1 tsp of salt
30 gr of grated cheddar (I know, it sounded weird when I read it in one recipe but I gave it a go. Though I think you could leave it out and the marinade would still be nice.)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 beaten egg
2 heaped tbsp of ground almonds

Mix everything together really well, add to about 400 gr of cubed chicken breast, stir it all up and leave in the fridge overnight. 

This makes 4 reasonable skewers or 3 unreasonable ones.

If you're using wooden skewers make sure you soak them in water for a few  hours before threading the chicken onto them and barbecuing as this will stop them burning up completely. 

I had some marinade over so I heated it up (to avoid poisoning anyone with the raw egg), added a generous couple of dollops of mango chutney and some more yoghurt, warmed it through again and served it as an accompanying sauce.

Chicken Satay Marinade & Sauce
400 ml can of coconut milk
45 gr of dark brown sugar
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
2 tbsp of curry powder
1 tsp turmeric

Mix all these together and use to marinate about 600 gr of cubed chicken breast. A couple of hours will do but overnight is even better.

Drain the chicken, and thread onto skewers, and heat the marinade to a boil with another tablespoon of soy sauce and a small jar of crunchy peanut butter. Mine was 227 gr. Simmer and keep stirring until it thickens - the sauce starts to come away from the side of the saucepan. Add a tablespoon of lime juice, or more according to how zingy you like it.

Serve with the grilled chicken skewers. 

The skewers don't take long to cook... a matter of minutes on each side. Enough time to open a bottle of chilled rose and make a toast. Bon appetit. After a short while your table should look like this.