What to do on a dreary, drizzling winter's day? Pretend we're English, of course.
We started with a simple Ploughman's Lunch.
There were cornichons, red onion marmalade, and three kinds of mustard (Dijon - definitely not English - was excluded from the shot)...
A rich, sharp cheddar....
Plenty of crusty sourdough...
And piles and piles of leg ham off-the-bone.
Lunch was followed by A Famous Five Afternoon Tea with friends.
We have been on a relentless Famous Five kick and each and every chapter seems to contain some mouthwatering account of their latest meal - heaps of bacon, stacks of sandwiches, slabs of cake, plates of buns, lashings of butter and jam, and ice creams galore, all washed down with gallons of ginger beer.
Listening to one of the books-on-cd in the car, the narrator uttered the words, "after a meager breakfast" and I almost drove off the road.
Tea (no photos, as I was still cranking out scones well after the guests arrived) consisted of sandwiches (chicken with lime, coriander, and spring onion, and salmon with cream cheese and herbs), Apple Cinnamon Toastie, scones with strawberry jam and cream, glasses of champagne (the adult answer to ginger beer) and pots of Earl Grey, all consumed while sitting by the open fire.
Supper was a Tomato Soup (recipe to follow later this week) inspired by one of our visitors from that afternoon, an extremely talented chef. When he first served us his version, many moons ago, no one at the table could believe it didn't contain cream, it was so incredibly rich.
We gulped it down, fireside, along with toasted cheddar on sourdough and a glass of champagne.
The next day was glorious and found everyone engaged in vigorous outdoor activity: weeding, walking, or waging war on sibling, depending upon your inclination.
This, of course, worked up quite an appetite, calling for another hearty meal. Since the sun was out again, we reverted to Australian fare.
The sausage sizzle. I was first introduced to this most delicious of Australian traditions during a weekend stay at a friend's farm (thank you, Purp!). It is the truest example I know of the axiom that the simplest pleasures are often the best. A sausage, a piece of bread and some tomato sauce (ketchup), consumed in the open air. Unbeatable.
Teamed up with a mug of last night's tomato soup, re-imagined with a dollop of cream, it was a satisfying lunch for body and soul on a brisk winter's day. The sunshine didn't hurt, either.
images from flickr creative commons: flag from Andy1000UK and teacups from evilmidori.