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My little brother, who is 13, loves fishing.  He is lucky that we have friends with riverside houses who let him sit on their banks and fish for trout for free.  The weekend before last when N and I went home to visit them, the little brother went out fishing and brought me back a handsome trout for my birthday present.  What a treat!

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And what a beauty he caught!  I accepted the gift on the premise that the little brother would gut it and clean it for me.  He did so willingly.  I must add in here that only a year ago he was too squeamish to even touch raw chicken, so he has come a long way.

So the following day, having returned to our little house in Cheshire, N and I decided to cook the trout for my birthday tea.  The weather was scorching, so N prepared the barbeque and I faffed around trying to decide what to do to my trout.  In the end, we just bunged a couple of thin slices of lemon in its belly along with a handful of garden herbs.  We scored deep gashes into the flesh and poked in some slices of garlic, finishing it off with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper.

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The trout was then wrapped in foil and popped straight onto the hot coals and took hardly any time at all to cook.

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In addition to the trout, we boiled up some Jersey Royals and tossed them with lots of butter and mint.  We picked a bowl of salad leaves from the garden and dried them off in our new kitchen toy – a salad spinner!

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I was so pleased with the way we cooked the trout, it was absolutely perfect, just cooked, still moist and a beautiful blush of coral pink.  If in doubt, just keep checking it.

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Next I painstakingly removed all the succulent flesh from the bones, which took a while, but as the kind of person who can easily be put off by chomping on a bone, I felt it was worthwhile.  This was all that was left of the fishy when I was done with it (avert your eyes or quickly scroll down if you’re squeamish – I must say I think there’s something rather beautiful about it):

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We were left with a big pile of gorgeous pink trout flecked with thyme leaves (we devoured the whole lot!):

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So there you have it – an incredibly simple, incredibly delicious and in fact incredibly cheap meal: baked trout, new potato salad and a pile of salad leaves. 

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We realised that ignoring the minor ingredients such a lemon, oil, salt and pepper that our meal had only cost the price of the potatoes.  The rest was free – a fish from a beautiful Cotswold river (the one below in fact), and homegrown salad and herbs from our garden.

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A big thanks to the little brother for catching us such a tasty tea!

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Very exciting news – we ate our first homegrown from the garden salad of 2009 tonight!  Some may think that I am acting a little too silly about something that could be considered trivial, but if you’ve ever tasted homegrown salad leaves, if you’ve ever tried to eat with the seasons, then your first salad of the year is a very special thing indeed.  If you haven’t done either of those two things, you must.

We needed to eat up some Jersey Royal new potatoes (from Northern Harvest), so a simple salad was dreamed up…new potatoes…smoked trout…lemon mayo dressing…and salad leaves from the garden.  This is one of my favourite combinations and possibly one of the easiest meals to make.

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There is something deeply wonderful about picking up my colander, pulling on my boots and wandering down the garden to pick the first salad leaves.  After so many months of brown, dead, rotting earth, of dormant plants and deep, earthy meals, that first delicate snap as you pinch off a pert green leaf is a signal of good things to come. 

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Enough of describing how it feels to pick the salad, and on to what I actually collected for our tea.  From the garden I picked the following leaves: red oakleaf, baby cos, a selection of oriental saladini, lambs lettuce, buckler leaf sorrel.  To this I added some chives and mint. 

We boiled the new potatoes in salted water, drained, and tossed with a knob of butter and the finely sliced mint.  Not to forget a good sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper.  The smoked trout (from The Cheshire Smokehouse) was flaked over the potatoes, and the homegrown salad simply placed beside them.  No dressing, just a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  To finish off the potatoes, I added lemon juice to a spoonful of mayonnaise until it reached a slightly runny consistency and spooned it over the potatoes and trout.

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An utterly delicious and satisfying dinner.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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