Talking Point

Sarah’s Soul Food #1

A few weeks ago I posted a comment on Facebook:

“I am seriously contemplating setting up a cooking for good mental health course.  There’s something so very therapeutic, in the midst of unfathomable goings on, to take ingredients and turn them into food glorious food.  Sharing it, or eating it all yourself.  Devouring the love that;s gone into it as well as the ingredients themselves.  Good for the body and good for the soul.  it could be called Sarah’s Soul Food.  Wine included.”

Yesterday was one such day.  After a lovely bank holiday weekend, sunshine, picnics, walking, visiting two National Trust properties; the reality of back to work hit.  So I reached for my very well thumbed copy of Delia’s Complete Cookery Course, as I fancied something that would remind me of good times.  (My copy is so old, she says to be wary of free-range chicken as you don’t know what they may have eaten!)

What followed is typical of my approach to food.

I want to cook something that reminds me of family, that’s easy to do and that I don’t have to buy any additional ingredients for (well maybe one).  I last made this almost five year’s ago for my family two days before I got married.  I served it in two large bowls and everyone had as much, or little, as they wanted – I don’t think there was any left at all!

Chicken, tarragon and grape salad.  Not true to Delia’s recipe, but ‘After Delia’,  (I saw ‘After Miss Julie‘ in Bath on Saturday night, with the very good Helen George in the demanding lead role), so the idea of altering the original appealed to me.

Here’s what you could do if you fancy some nostalgia too, or if you want this to be the start of the memories for this dish.

  • Get up early.  Poach some chicken.  I had two chicken legs.  Add some tarragon to the poaching water.
  • Cool, remove the skin, shred and put into an airtight container in the fridge.  Go out and have a lovely day doing something you enjoy.
  • Come home, take out the chicken and pop it on the side.
  • Get some salad leaves, or lettuce and wash them thoroughly.  Dry.  Shred with your hands (never with a knife it’ll damage the leaves – so said my grandmother, never tried it myself!)
  • Pop the salad leaves in a bowl you really like.  I used one given to me by a distant relation from Canterbury Pottery.
  • In another bowl, mix some mayonnaise (ideally not reduced fat, but it doesn’t really matter) – about six tablespoons for two people*
  • Add two tablespoons of soured cream (ideally reduced fat)
  • Add a good two handfuls of halved green grapes and four – five chopped spring onions.
  • Chop some fresh tarragon – as much as you fancy from one bunch.  Or soak some dried in warm water and add that.  Or use another herb if you have some to hand.
  • MIX
  • Pop the chicken in, mix again and put it into your lovely bowl on top of the lettuce.

Find somewhere lovely to sit – favourite chair, table – in my case the breakfast bar overlooking our garden.

chicken salad

Open a bottle of white wine, pour a glass – offer one to your guest, or get them a beer.

Enjoy the salad (*there will probably be enough for lunch tomorrow too).  We had ours with a few new potatoes and some very naughty but delicious garlic bread from the corner shop (it was bank holiday Monday)


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