Sunny weekends, barbecues, musical memories

I’ve been thinking recently about music. My niece has just turned 11 and I remember getting CDs (or tapes, I’m that old) as gifts when I was her age, which was a great way to discover new music. And then yesterday, I heard a song on the radio, that I remember being very instrumental (ha) about moving me on from tweeny pop (I LOVED Bucks Fizz, for example. In my defence, I was 7 when they kicked ass on Eurovision and what’s not to love about primary colours and fizzy pop when you’re 7?!) into rockier/lyrical indie and from there into dance and from there into Radio 2 on a Friday night. Oh, OK, there were a few bits in between my clubbing 20s and my descent into the easy listening of my old age, but music always felt like something we discovered with our friends and gave us a reason to rebel against the boring normals.

And I fear that my niece, who I love a lot, won’t have that experience, what with algorithms telling her what she’ll like based on her previous choices, not letting her make musical mistakes or saving up for weeks to spend a tenner on the latest release from a band that only she knows about (or at least she thinks she is the only one). And I’m guessing, what with the demise of the CD player, no one is making mix tapes any more so she’ll just like the occasional song and won’t delve into albums to discover the rest of a band’s musical oeuvre. I still have several mix tapes and CDs made by boyfriends from my youth that I still remember these days. Particularly the ones from a beautiful boy I met on a French exchange trip who was in a band (of course) and would send me tapes of him talking and then singing and then songs he liked. So sweet. I’m sure if I had a tape player and could listen to them anymore, they wouldn’t be as lovely, but at the time, it was just gloriously romantic.

I define my years through my musical tastes and a song can evoke a memory of a certain time, much the same way a flavour can or a scent carried on the breeze. So yeah, that’s what I’ve been musing on for the last few weeks. And which brings me nicely on to the BBQ we had this weekend. A tenuous link, maybe but as I was prepping food on Saturday afternoon, I was tuned into Kisstory. I was a massive indie kid in my youth but my Sri Lankan contemporaries were more into RnB and hip hop and as I’ve got older, listening to things like R Kelly (I know) and Mary J Blige and Shaggy and stuff reminds me of the fun we had hanging out, and frankly I love it. So I had Kisstory pumped up, and had fun cooking and singing along (I’m not sure the wino loved it as much as me, but hell, he was BBQ king, I was kitchen bitch so I got to choose!)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve had a bit of a stomach bug for a few days, so wasn’t really up to eating, but we’d had a date in the diary for at least three months for a family get together so couldn’t really cancel. And it was my folks anniversary and as I’m becoming rubbish at buying gifts for people in a timely fashion, I figured I’d cook for them instead. So I did, couple of recipes below, lots of salads and marinades that were simple and worked even when we maybe overcooked the meat a little bit. Below is a recipe for a mango and cantaloupe salsa that worked perfectly with the Vietnamese chicken. We also made pork and lamb sliders, which I added parmesan to, which gave them a gorgeously savoury/umami note. Other things made included halloumi, new potato and sage kebabs, roasted beetroot, peppers and tomatoes, a new potato and fennel salad and sausages. Because you can’t have a BBQ without some sausages.


Cantaloupe and Mango Salsa

  • 1 x cantaloupe
  • 1 x ripe mango (we used an alphonso as we’ve got some amazing Indian shops around here, but any kind will do)
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 1 x big red chilli
  • 1 x red onion
  • 1 inch grated ginger (peeled)

Chop everything as finely as possible – I did chunks of cantaloupe and melon then attacked them with the knife some more so it almost goes pulpy. You could probably pulse it in a food processor too, but the knife action The onion was chopped into tiny cubes, the chilli into tiny slices. Mix all the ingredients together and then squeeze the lime over the top to give it some freshness. I added a 1/4 tsp of salt and the same of sugar to add some extra flavour to it. It’s a great salsa for anything from fish to meat and even adds and extra element of delicious to a green salad. Definitely one we’ll be repeating over the summer.



Vietnamese Chicken

  • 12 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) You can probably use a whole chicken for this, just chopped into pieces but it was easier to buy it like this
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha or other chilli sauce
  • 1.5 fat red chillies
  • A thumb sized chunk of ginger, grated
  • 6 x garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 x tsp demerara sugar
  • 6 x tsp soy sauce
  • About 15 stems of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
  • 1.5 limes, zested and juiced

Trim the chicken of excess fat and put to one side.

Take all the other ingredients and mix well so the sugar is dissolved. It’ll smell mostly of fish sauce, which can be a little off putting but it gets cooked out so don’t worry too much. Give it a taste to make sure the flavours are balanced and if they’re not, up the levels of what you think is missing – I didn’t go too heavy on the sugar to begin with but added a little more as it was a little tart.

Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage in. Cover and put into the fridge for at least 3 hours – I left mine overnight and this really helped the flavour develop (and the fish sauce smell dissipate).

When your BBQ is hot, but not flaming anymore, whack on the chicke skin side down for the first couple of minutes. Once you’ve got a good bit of colour, turn them over and keep an eye on them – because of the sugar they have a tendency to burn quickly. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning regularly. Of course, with chicken, don’t serve it at all pink – so check it’s cooked through before serving.

Enjoy! Let me know your BBQ favourites – given the weather is so good right now, I’d love to be inspired with other recipes to try.

Oh, this was pudding – a fresh fruit salad, with a plum compote and a orange, lemon and rosemary biscuit.



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