Saturday 23 June 2012

Recipes for Summer Rentals

20120619_140933My nephew Angus reclining on the rocks at Toe Head.

Yesterday I woke to the thrumming of rain against the large hosta beneath our bedroom window. The leaves are as tough as the waxed cloth of an expensive umbrella and almost as broad. It was as loud as someone throwing gravel against the glass and it took me a second to remember where I was.

We’re in West Cork, where the rain can be heavy and insistent enough to wake you one moment, and then, by the time you’ve laid the fire and dressed yourself to face it, it’ll give way to a clear hyacinth blue sky. Which is what happened yesterday morning.

We took our lunch to the beach, a little westward-facing shingle cove a few miles along the coast at Toe Head. We sat in the blustery sunshine watching the dog flirt with the frothy white edges of the tide as we ate lunch. Egg salad sandwiches, crisps, KitKats, orange juice and a thermos of strong tea… I’ve eaten this, or slight variations of this, on beach picnics all my life. It made me think of the things I make every year in the invariably-sparsely-equipped kitchens of houses we’ve rented for the summer. I thought I’d share some of them with you – the kind of dinners I make when I can’t weigh anything or whizz it in a blender, the sort of dishes that don’t mind terribly if you bake them in scratched 70s Pyrex, improvise a lid with tin foil, subject them to a temperamental oven, or let them fend for themselves while you linger over drinks in the pub. These are my recipes for summer rentals, though of course they taste just as good at home too.

Egg salad sandwiches


I like to use a bought, French-style mayonnaise for these. It has a little mustard in it and tastes pleasingly eggy. But use whatever you prefer. For ‘something green, chopped up’, I use either rocket or chives, though I often hanker for classic egg-and-cress and wonder why I don’t grow cress on blotting paper on a sunny windowsill as I did when I was a kid. It makes me a little sad that we live in an age when cress is almost as difficult to find as blotting paper.

If you’re the kind of family who has a cooked rasher or two of bacon left over from breakfast, chop that up finely and stir it in too. We’re not, so sometimes I cook a couple especially to mix in with the egg. A finely-chopped spring onion is also a good addition.

For four to six people:

5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
A generous spoonful or two of mayonnaise
Something green, chopped up
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bread, slices or soft rolls

Optional: A couple of cooked rashers of bacon, finely chopped; a spring onion, finely chopped

Gently stir together the eggs, mayonnaise, green thing of choice, bacon and/or spring onion if using, and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon the salad onto white bread or brown, slices or rolls. Avoid sand.

Today’s holiday reading:
‘Liz sat under the mulberry tree. The fruit was scarlet and black among the dark leaves. Outside this circle of shade, the garden burned and blazed with the hot colours of the bean-flowers, of montbretia, golden-rod, geraniums.

“My dear Arthur,” she had written on a piece of paper; but it had blown away across the flower-border, and, too lazy to fetch it, she had begun again on another sheet.’

A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor


  1. I will try very hard to remember 'avoid sand'. And i shall try to remember to go to West Cork again as its been too long, almost as too long as since yr last blog. Welcome back x

  2. Your egg samwidge with bacon is on the menu for lunch today.

    Your holiday book is on my amazon wish list

    Your nephew manages to make rocks look very comfy

    Lovely to read you again!


  3. Heaven. ADORE egg sandwiches. I'm a chive or spring onion girl myself :)

  4. You're back! So glad you're back. Looking forward to more holiday rental recipes x

  5. MarkyD - Thanks, lovely x
    Scarlett - Thank you! x
    Laetitia - Thanks, dear one. I love Elizabeth Taylor's novels and think you will too - very good on nature/gardens/gloom/repressed emotion and longing.
    TAC - Aren't they the best?
    Katy - Too kind, lady x

  6. So good to see you back!

    I love egg sandwiches and these sound perfect, especially the addition of bacon.

    Greatly enjoying the Holiday Reading too :)

  7. Hello G, Thank you so much. You're too kind. Glad you like the sandwiches, and the reading! x

  8. I loved that post.....and wondered too, if I wanted to grow cress, where on earth I'd get blotting paper. It took me ages to find ink for my fountain pen as the shops here only stock calligraphy ink. I also love your holiday reading! (When we want to feel closer to home, I make us egg sandwiches)

  9. So happy to read this! Am fed up to the back teeth of people making elaborate tarts + composed salads for picnics. All you need is an egg sandwich, some tea, a bar of chocolate, a dog + a beach. Glorious.


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