JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A picnic in the lowlands of Scotland

Yesterday we spent the day in the car, travelling with increasing urgency to catch the last ferry to Mull - so that, by the end, Lucius was imitating Lewis Hamilton as we roared along the wonderful road from Crianlarich to Oban, fearful that we may not have left enough time.

On Sunday evening, I made a beef sandwich to eat on the way. I made it with some fillet steak I bought on Saturday morning, and a sandwich loaf. Next time I'll do it with a piece of sirloin and a flatter type of bread - it'll probably be for the picnic on the way down, because this is very good travelling food - and that will make it easier to manage. This will do one family for one picnic, or smaller numbers for a longer journey.

We stopped in South Lanarkshire, near Abington, and found a meadow of wildflowers - huge daisies, ragwort, lots and lots of lovely thistles in flower - where we spread out rugs and cut the sandwich. Cherries for pudding (the boys had fun with a stone-spitting competition). Then we made coffee (I have a little stove and a kettle, which I get out at the drop of a hat, to make proper coffee and decent tea ... later yesterday, our host here on Mull found me on the quayside at Oban, waiting for the ferry and brewing tea ... as a fellow tea drinker, he was very pleased). Then back on the road. Half an hour for a proper meal with delicious food. That wasn't the cause of our need for speed, it was a little misunderstanding between driver and navigator in Glasgow (least said soonest mended).

Travelling beef sandwich

One loaf of bread
one single piece of steak
some flat field mushrooms

a breadknife and a board or plate

The night before your journey starts, cut both the ends off your loaf and hollow it out enough to get the meat in (this is not half as tricky as it sounds, and it doesn't need to be neat or a good fit, because later on you are going to squash the whole thing flat, which will hide all untidiness). Meanwhile, cook the steak in your usual way, making sure that it is as rare as you can bear it. When it is cool enough to handle, push it into the bread, then push in the cooked mushrooms. I found that the best way to get the mushrooms into the middle of the loaf was to use the handle of a spoon.

Wrap in greaseproof paper or foil, and put on a plate and cover with weights to flatten it. Put it in the fridge and either pack or go to bed. If you are like me, write a post-it note reminding you to take the sandwich, otherwise you will have to turn back to fetch it.

Quick and easy, delicious, and, I suspect, infinitely variable - why stop at mushrooms?


Toffeeapple said...

Stunning scenery - it's a long time since I was last in Oban, what a lovely place it is too. That sandwich looks very tempting, I wonder how I could justify that for one person??

Mallika said...

Perfect setting for the picnic and you got great weather too. I love a good steak sarnie - it is hard to find quality bread though near where I live.

Anonymous said...

Love the picture of your family all relaxing together! Oh, the wildflowers must be beautiful! What a lovely trip and I can just see you with your little stove brewing up coffee and tea!! Makes me hungry for a big bite of your sandwich! Enjoy your trip!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What a fantastic travel food and trip! I especially like the "least said soonest mended"! Such wisdom.

Joanna said...

Toffee apple ... for one person, you'd make it smaller, and eat it over a longer period ... a long journey, or a couple of busy days when you didn't want to bother with cooking - in fact, now I come to think of it, it's the perfect food for modern life ... make it at the weekend, then eat it Monday and Tuesday evenings with a salad.

Mallika ... yes, we were very lucky with the weather that day (but got very wet yesterday afternoon!) ... if decent bread is a problem, perhaps you could try baking your own ... I'm by no means an expert, but I have various easy breads here, including sourdough made with a starter, which is a loaf that fits easily into a busy modern life (and after all, those redoutable ladies who took the wagon trains west didn't have much spare time for baking)

Tanna - I wish I had as much wisdom as that makes it sound ... it was more in the nature of a reminder to myself ... but although some heated words were exchanged, no lasting damage done, which has been known with one or two of our map-reading arguments ;-)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Okay - I'm taking note! What with a big journey coming up for us. Note of the food and note of 'least said soonest mended'.... I need to have that tattooed on my forehead before next Wednesday.

Joanna said...

Yes, well, Amanda, so do I, so do I ... good luck, and have a lovely holiday!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ah, how I love picnics. And one in Scotland sounds enchanting to me. BTW-Thanks for the tip about the spoon handle! :)

Cottage Smallholder said...

I have just spent a happy half hour on a virtual holiday with you! Thanks for a great trip.

This steak filled bread looks wonderful. What a brilliant idea. I must try this even if it's just for a picnic in the garden.