A Train, Tears, and Tomatoes. Plus a Tuber!

It has been a week of extremes.  From sitting in meetings with clients who have said they are very pleased with the outcome of our work with them – to sitting in a meeting with tearful participants (nothing to do with work).  From picking red ripe tomotoes, aubergines and peppers – to looking at never-ending green tomatoes.  From going through some very old-fashioned recipes – to finding some surprisingly modern ones.

The tears?  Our house is very near to the proposed High Speed Rail line (known as HS2).  We will face on to a viaduct.  Carrying 18 trains an hour…

This is what the viaduct, running in front of our house, might look like...

This is what the viaduct, running in front of our house, might look like…

At the moment, only houses that are within 120m of the line can be compulsory/voluntary purchased.  We are just outside that arbitrary limit.  I represent our road at meetings with HS2.  As somebody who used to be an environmental lawyer, I do find it quite fascinating, both legally and intellectually, going to these meetings, the like of which I used to be paid to attend. These days I attend as a ‘lay person’.  And it takes the near-crying/somewhat-tearful passionate displays of emotion from some around the table to remind me that this is an issue which will affect many people’s  lives.  I cannot help being objective in the meetings, rather than emotional!  And, I do want sometimes to remind the tearful ones that nobody is going to die,  that governments around the world make decisions that affect the small person’s life with no compunction about doing so,  that we all travel on roads and trains that have ploughed through beautiful scenery, ploughed through people’s lives.  And have most of us ever given a thought to the ruin that has happened to country side and lives until it happens to us? I think not…

The day I was due at the meeting regarding HS2, I had had a number of busy days at work and was somewhat ‘zombie like’ in my energy levels that day.  I think we all know the feeling!  So I quickly scoured Miss Reeve’s recipe books for something quick but sufficiently energising to get me to the meeting and beyond.  Imagine my surprise to find a recipe with garlic in it.  Whilst many of Miss Reeve’s recipes do contain what must have been, in those days, ‘foreign’ tastes, I was surprised to find one written down on a particularly well-worn page.  Here is the recipe:

Garlic stuffed potatoes

Sideways photograph again...

Sideways photograph again…

The reality is that I couldn’t read all of the writing!  And of course the photo is sideways (at some point wordpress will make it easy to format in the same way each time!).  So, here is the recipe that I used – adapted to take into account that I didn’t have the parsley mentioned, that I didn’t want to use the butter recommended, and that I had an overflowing plant of chilli  peppers and needed the energy buzz that a hot chilli always gives!

  1. First, take a large baking potato (or however many you need).  Prick them.  Put them in the oven until cooked.  Hopefully with a nicely crisp skin.
  2. Take out. Scoop out the potato from the skins.  Cut them in half to do that – may sound obvious but I am assuming that some of you are as ill-equipped with basic skills of common sense when it comes to cooking!
  3. Then, mash into the potato some finely chopped chilli peppers (take out the seeds remember, unless you want your  head completely blown off – although even doing that, my chillis were still very hot).  Add butter (if you wish),  some cream cheese, some minced garlic, some parsley (or any green herbs that you like – I had loads of basil and as I was also serving tomatoes, I used that.)
  4. Then I stuffed the potato skins with the filling,  topped them with grated cheese,
  5. Popped it all back in the oven for a while until it browned slightly on the top.
Not too many ingredients - for a tired person to manage!

Not too many ingredients – for a tired person to manage!

All in all, it did the trick.  Easy to assemble from the ingredients I tend to have;  quick to make;  and got me to the meeting with a bit of energy, fired up by the chilli pepper!

Perfect for the tired time-poor person

Perfect for the tired time-poor person

I mentioned the overflowing chilli pepper plant.  Not just chilli peppers – ‘normal’ (ie. sweet) peppers too and even some (tiny but tasty) aubergines are emerging from my plants, carefully looked after and cossetted in the conservatory.

Peppers, chillies and teeny aubergines

Peppers, chillies and teeny aubergines

I even have some tomatoes ready, as seen on the photo next to my potato. However…

Massive tomatoes - will they ever ripen?

Massive tomatoes – will they ever ripen?

And yes, sideways photo again!

Finally, my flowers! I have never had success with dahlias. This year – success.



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