I was about to start writing about how the weather has recently taken a turn for the better, but as soon as the thought of sunshine entered my head, a black cloud appeared and cast a bit of a shadow over proceedings. But let’s just ignore that and be positive and pretend that the sun will be shining permanently for the next few months because otherwise this blog post might not work so well. Agreed? Ok, now that’s out the way, let’s think about how you’re going to spend all that time outdoors…picnic perhaps? And I’m guessing a spot of barbequing might occur at some point, whether it’s of the all-singing, all-dancing massive gas barbeque-type variety, or a small deposable tray for the supermarket. Well, I’m not here to dissuade you from your usual barbeque and picnic fare – be my guest, help yourself to burgers and sausages and sandwiches. I don’t think there would be much mileage in me telling you how amazing and ground breaking it would be for you to make your own sandwiches. No what I’m on about today is trying to make you think twice about reaching for those little extras in the chilled aisle of the supermarket when it’s perfectly possible to make something cheaper and tastier yourself.
Let’s start with dips. I don’t know about you, but by the end of the summer months, if I see another tub of houmous, there’s a strong chance I might lob it out of the nearest window. And the same goes for tzatziki. Boring dips are boring. But they don’t have to be. Producing your own makes them so much more enticing. There are countless recipes for homemade houmous on the internet so I won’t recite one here, but in short, tin of chick peas, garlic, lemon, tahini, olive oil, food processor, sorted. And cream cheese is a god send – mix some up with a spot of sweet chilli sauce, or add some dry soup mix and you’ve got you own onion dip. But my favourite is tzatziki. The non-boring kind. Grate half a cucumber, put a generous amount of salt on it then leave to drain. Rinse the salt off, squeeze out the excess liquid then mix into some Greek yoghurt with a couple of crushed garlic gloves. Yum.
Now, I have a strong dislike for shop-bought potato salad. And let’s just say ‘strong dislike’ is a bit of an understatement. Maybe this is because I know how easy it is to make a delicious homemade version. Or maybe it’s because I don’t like the taste of powdery, watery, insipid potatoes. Either. Both. Anyway, here’s how to do it – boil up some new potatoes, obviously. Although they don’t have to be the new variety. Anything you’ve got lurking in the cupboard will suffice, just chopped up into largish chunks. Chuck a couple of cloves of garlic in the water to add a bit more flavour (you may have guessed that I have a lot of love for garlic). Mix a few tablespoons each of mayonnaise and salad cream together in a bowl. Add a bit of Worcestershire Sauce, maybe a touch paprika and some salt and pepper. Throw in a handful of finely chopped spring onions, then chuck in the potatoes and mix it up. Oh, and if you liked eggs, then soft boil a few, chop them up and throw in too. By the way, throwing the food isn’t compulsory. You can carefully place it in the bowl too if you want. Less messy as well.
You might be one of those people who like to try out a few fancy pants recipes on the hot coals. Well, that’s all good, but for me, barbeques are all about bangers and burgers, with a large helping of homemade potato salad on the side too, of course. So fire up the, er…fire and stuff your face with proper houmous and until the sun goes down…