Onion Sauce and other things

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

‘In my Life’
The Beatles


It’s the end of Easter and the firewood has finally been chopped, split and stacked. Many thanks go to a new neighbour who had to fell a few chestnuts that were overhanging his house, one of which was rotten.

wood

It will have all of the summer and most of the autumn to season and dry out, so it should be good for burning come winter. There’s a mix of stuff there, with some birch, alder and ash, but it’s mostly chestnut, thanks to Dan; cheers, mate!

As I was wheeling around a few bits for my parents next door, I had a look at Toby’s grave. Toby was our most recent faithful hound to head on up to that big kennel in the sky, and he is buried in my folk’s garden in one of the flower beds. He’s only a few yards from Oisín (The Wonder Hound, to give him his full title), his predecessor.

Above left is Oisín, in an old pic. That’s Saoirse, my Dad, me and my Mum, and this part of my folks’ garden was to become our house. Behind the seat is a chestnut I planted as a kid that alas had to come down as it was roughly where our back door is now. To the right is Toby with Holly looking on from the rear.

I’m reminiscing about old dogs, because it occurred to me that the first dog I ever remember having, which was Penny, a collie that came with us from England, is buried not far from the spot where I’m tipping logs next door, though she is now somewhere under a pathway in an estate that was built a good few years ago, just behind where we live. Hence my maudlin’ lyrical choice at the outset. Progress. If ever there was a word loaded with ambiguity…

The local council have this great plan to put a dual carriage-way through our local park. There’s a story to tell here, and I will get around to it in due course. It’s just another one of those things to remind you that nothing stands still for long.

With all the strenuous activity in the garden chopping logs, and the tired Achilles, I stayed away from running over the weekend, and instead went for a paddle on Sunday with Austin. We did about 8k, I believe. Interesting session. We discussed stroke/cadence and the similarities between paddling and swimming. There is definitely a lot more to this kayaking business than meets the eye. But then it’s always good to try new things and challenge yourself. ‘Comfortable’ is a nice word. We seem to spend a lifetime striving for it. But very often when you achieve it, you start getting twitchy again…

By Monday, with the logs all stacked, some plants potted and the garden tidied, my legs were also a bit restless, so I gave Mark a shout and we did 10k in the park. And as chance would have it, the average pace was 5:41… that magic number that you need to keep at if you wish to record a sub-four hour marathon. Good job I’m not a neurotic numerologist otherwise I would have come to the conclusion that my Garmin is mocking me!

So, apart from all that, we had a lovely dinner with the family – the four of us – on Sunday, and we had a leg of lamb. So I share with you now my recipe for onion sauce. It’s called Onion Sauce Deluxe but could equally be titled Feck Everything In.

Onion Sauce Deluxe

One onion, chopped finely
Butter
Milk
Cornflour
Other Stuff (see below)

Make a roux. If you’re a bit hit and miss on making roux, then I have little advice for you here, coz I ain’t no chef. I just melt a lot of butter in a pan, and then add a small heap of cornflour in one spot and gently blend into a paste. I get this skill from working on building sites as a nipper when we had to hand-mix mortar on a board with heaps of sand, lime and cement. Just err on the side of too little flour, if you must. Despite the amount of flavours we are about to subject this roux to, you don’t want cornflour in there in any discernible way.

When the paste is coming together, add in some milk, stirring all the time. At this point, you may wish to consult the internet or a good cookery book and how to actually do this, as you will have noticed my instructions are a bit random and there are no amounts. This may be down to the way I cook, or it could be the Irish half in me; Irish people are suspicious folks, and live by the motto: “tell ’em nothin’!”

Add the onions and keep stirring. Raid the fridge. We are looking for, in no particular order, celery, a decent French mustard (like a Dijon), some Parmesan cheese, and a stub of Chorizo or other salami. Add some chopped celery (and in particular, the green leaves at the top of the stalks), a dollop of mustard, some grated cheese and some finely sliced spicy sausage.

Season with some basil and loads of ground black pepper. I don’t put salt in anything I cook bar scrambled eggs. Onion sauce, like most sauces, will thicken probably more than you imagine, but it’s no great hardship to thin it as required so you can make this in advance while the leg of lamb is cooking with the roasties.

This sauce will go with most things; lamb, beef, chicken… if you make a good batch, it will go well with old leather boots too. With lamb, you do of course still need mint sauce, and you can make gravy too. If your spuds have been roasted with duck fat (and you’ve added some red wine to the gravy), then you, my friend, are in culinary heaven.

In a strange quirk of timing (and in an attempt to bring our kids up to speed on some film classics), we had watched Silence of the Lambs the night before…

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti…”

That night we watched Pulp Fiction. It is our duty, as parents, to mess up our kids as best we possibly can…


If you are looking for a real cookery blog – a decent, proper, that-shit-looks-really-tasty cookery blog – then check out Hungry Breton. Franck not only knows how to cook, but he explains everything in great detail too, and takes some crackin’ photographs. Franck, I humbly lay this recipe at your feet and fully expect a decent version to appear on your site soon (well, not too soon, you know; leave a respectable week or so!) 😉

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