Friday, 2 May 2008

Simple pleasures . . .

Early Birds

Oh, do be quiet, I mutter,
As I listen to their song,
It surely can't be morning,
They must have got it wrong.
It doesn't seem five minutes,
Since I lay down to sleep,
Now these early birds-a-wormin',
Rouse me with their noisy cheep.
Then when I'm fully wakened,
With my senses all in place,
I thank God for the pleasure,
Of this early morning grace.
~Phyllis Ellison

Long about five o'clock each morning, just as the sun begins to peek above the horizon and bathe my world in it's early morning light, it starts . . . the beautiful sound of the dawn chorus. I lay there in bed for a few minutes listening to it, and it makes my heart sing right along with the melody.

The most beautful song of all is that of the song thrush. It's music soars above the rest and if I look out the window I can see his profile sillouetted against the brightening dawn sky as he sits on the pitch of the dormer window over our guest bedroom, his beak opened wide as his song trills out across the garden. It is such a wonderful melody.

There seem to be quite a few song thrushes in our garden. I am always coming across the tell tale hollow shells of garden snails where they have feasted . . . and although somewhat shy, you sometimes catch a glimpse of them as they forage beneath the shrubbery and amongst the flowers. They are not much to look at. Simply brown, with a white and brown spotted belly, there is not much about them that appeals to the eye. They really look quite ordinary, but my oh my . . . when they open their beaks to sing, what a beautiful sound they do make. I could listen to them for hours.

I suppose that is a bit like people in life. It is not always the most beautiful people in our lives that create the nicest melodies, or bring us the most joy. Quite often it is the one with the simple and humble exterior that, in truth, has the most depth and value as a friend. These are the people with substance and the most to share and the ones who really don't mind sharing. They have often had to work very hard for what they have and they know the value of everything that matters in their lives. They are not the prettiest birds in the garden, but they have a song to sing and it's beautiful more often than not . . .

I think good looks can sometimes be a burden to the bearer, for things seem to come easier to them. It is harder for them to develop the inner qualities that are of the most value, such as humility and compassion. Quite often these qualities are developed from the school of hard knocks, needing a bit of chipping away to hone and perfect them. Some people seem to go a long way on their looks alone, and never experience the things needed to really develop them as capable and caring human beings . . . or perhaps I am selling them short here. After all, I can only write and muse from my own experience . . . it could be that really attractive people often present themselves as being unapproachable and we don't take the time to really get to know them . . . or it could be that we fail to approach them or get to know them, simply because we are afraid or in awe of their beauty.

I can only say that some of the nicest, most intelligent, capable and altruistic people I have come across are not the brightest crayons in the box . . . they may not impress you at first sight . . . but when you get to know them . . . the brightness of their inner beauty overshadows the dull appearance of their outsides, and they sing the most beautiful song of all . . . because . . . they sing it from their hearts . . .

Once in a while I like to treat Todd to some lovely lamb chops. Can you believe that I had never really had lamb chops before I moved over here? They were just not something I had ever had the chance to eat really back home. I can vaguely remember my mother buying some when I was a child, but they smelled like wool burning in the skillet when she cooked them and nobody would eat them, so she just never bothered again. Probably not good lamb is my guess . . . good lamb is a delight to eat and we have some of the best in the world over here in the UK. There is no lamb that surpasses the flavour of good British or Welsh spring lamb in my opinion, but then again . . . I could be biased! ;-)

*Grilled Lamb with a Root Vegetable Crush*
Serves 4

Simple, quick and quite delicious! Roughly mashed root vegetables make the perfect bed to serve under perfectly seasoned and grilled chops. Actually the mash goes quite well with most grilled and roasted meats!

1 small swede (rutabaga) peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 pounds floury type potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup of sour cream
2 tsp of wholegrain mustard
4 lamb leg steaks, or 8 lamb chops
olive oil for brushing ( I sometimes like to use the garlic infused)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint, or rosemary

Put the carrots and swede into a large pan of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and parsnips and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Drain well and crush them with a fork. Stir in the sour cream and the mustard. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm while you grill the chops.

Heat the grill (broiler) to high. Season the chops (steaks) well, and brush each side with some of the oil. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Grill them for about 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on how thick they are and how well you like them done.

Divide the root vegetable crush amongst four heated plates and top each with a portion of the meat. Serve.

I like to serve steamed green peas with these. Lamb and peas go very well together!


  1. Good morning! I agree as usual with your thoughts. Lamb isn't something I've had before. It isn't that popular in the States.

  2. I've never had lamp chops. But there was a restaurant called Olga's my mom and I went to all the time when I was growing up. They weren't gyros, but they were sorta like that. The bread wasn't pitas, it was sweet and so soft. Anyway, they had this delicious lamp wrap and spinach pie, so flaky and tender w/ cheese...that's what those lamb chops remind me of! Those were some of my favorite times with my mom!

  3. Oh, Marie! I just love lamb chops. In fact, I have a package in the freezer that I am going to pull out next week sometime. Here in the states, lamb is not at all popular, and I don't understand why. It is so good. One of our grocery stores has FINALLY started to carry lamb and I am thrilled. Of course the prices are through the roof, but for a splurge now and then . . .

  4. All dishes look very delicious. I am interested in the food culture of your country. And I support your site. If there is time, please come in my site. From Japan

  5. You had me at lamb-chop.....

    I hope you have a wonderful (and delicious) weekend.

    And I wanted to ask, how's your pup doing? Any update?

  6. I've never been a big lamb fan but you make it look delicious!!


Your comments mean the world to me, and while I may not be able to address each one individually, each one is important to me and each one counts. Thanks so much!