Monday, December 13

Monday, November 29

One sick carrot!

Whether you see some sort of octopus thing (like I do) or the Elephant Man or something else entirely (you’re sick), there is no denying that this is one weird carrot:

I do not like it, Sam-I-Am!



No, no, it’s awesome.

Monday, November 8

This year's harvest - part 2

This is horrendously overdue, considering it's now November, but back in September we picked some stuff we had been growing over the summer. It took a while, but the cucumbers finally got big enough to be used for something.

We also had a nice steady stream of tomatoes during August and September, which generally just got eaten raw or put in a nice and garlicky tomato and vegetable sauce for pasta - we never really had enough to do anything more long term with, but never mind.

Here is our motley assortment of cucumbers, the bulk of our crop (we picked a few more at the end of September, and there were some left on the plants even then but nothing really happened with them as they stopped growing - good to know for next year).
They looked pretty tasty and tempting to eat raw, but they all had the same destiny: the pickle jar. The recipe we followed was taken from the incredible Scandinavian Cookery Bible that I bought whilst on holiday ... I went for the easiest looking recipe, which basically consists of chopping and pouring over a pickling mixture of vinegar, water, salt and sugar.

I had some help with the chopping while I tried to figure out what a 'gill' of water was in UK measurements.

Then the sliced cucumbers were put in clean jars (which had once been the home of store-bought pickled gherkins).

with alternate layers of dill and mustard seed (we added quite a lot more of both than the recipe suggested - just for kicks).

Then the liquid went over the top...

... see how I match the demonstration in the book (!).

And here we have the product of our labours:

I have to admit to being slightly suspicious of the recipe and the mixture's ability to pickle, but I was totally wrong and the end result was better than I could have hoped for - salty and sweet, with a nice bit of residual crunch, and good for anything (I have particularly enjoyed them in cheese sandwiches). We have since pickled some cucumbers bought from the greengrocers (since the first batch didn't last that long). I think they will be a Donaldson fridge staple for a while to come.
I leave you with another good use for home-grown cucumbers: #1 - the false moustache

Friday, October 15

Ben's Best Cuts

Here are some super tasty pictures from my good friend and illustration-supremo Ben Newman. He's created them for the super market chain Morrisons. Go there. Look at them. Buy meat.

Images copyright Ben Newman. No pinching.

Saturday, October 9

Man Vs Hotdog

Stupidest lunch ever.

Very, very tired now...

Wednesday, September 29

Put a tortilla chip on it, Dad!

Fatherhood, and the attendant exhaustion from sleep deprivation, can make you do weird things.

Case in point:

Take this delicious Swedish treat. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack at ANY time of day or night:

DAY: Sunday lunchish. (My breakfast, Dad’s late morning snack. He’d already been up several hours by this point looking after his two babies.)

NIGHT: Next day, ca.11PM. Just back from the airport. That cheese didn’t stand a chance of making it to the next day! Note the delicious Swedish smoked porter. It is at this point that I cannot resist showing my haul of Swedish treats, even though my camera battery was dead and I couldn’t hold my cell phone still because I was so excited:

Crappy pic. But so awesome!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I was enjoying my first snacks of the day when Dad went back to the kitchen and reemerged with last night’s guacamole-delivering vehicles. He then proceeded to crumble them over his snack:

Also we were drinking coffee:

Hey, it’s not the first time this blog has gotten freaky with the sandwiches. And that Swedish cookbook has loads of weird and awesome sandwiches, including this sandwich gateau! So get over it. Dad says it’s awesome.

Saturday, September 4

Holiday Bounty: Cook Books

Over 2 glorious weeks off (the first holiday Scott & I have had since last year) lots of food was bought and eaten - gourmet curry dinner in the Lake District, tasty Fish and Chips eaten near a lake and the sea, fishy treats from Norfolk pub, The Anchor in Morston etc etc. Instead of chronicling this tummy pleasing adventure I thought I would share something else food related: recipe books.

Whilst away we went to plenty of second-hand bookshops - in Windermere, Keswick, Bowness, Burnham Market, Holt, Norwich - and bought a lot of books between us of various types and genres. I came back with 3 cook books which I would like to share.

In Windermere I bought 2 slim volumes: The Book of Pies by Elisabeth Orsini, published by Pan Books in 1981 & French Country Cooking by Elizabeth David, first published in 1951 (my edition was published by Penguin in 1976).

The Book of Pies is part history and part recipe book, with over 200 recipes adapted from traditions of pie-making and sections dedicated to pastry, fish pies, vegetable pies, poultry and game pies, meat pies and sweet pies and tarts. I look forward to thumbing through this in the coming autumn and winter months. Best of all it has some wonderful illustrations:

The author of French Country Cooking, Elizabeth David, is the heroine of British Foodies, as it was she who brought Mediterranean cooking to England, rescuing us from the blandness of our national dishes. Her French Provincial Cooking was recently named 2nd best cookery book by The Observer Food Magazine. I for one love that the book has chapters like 'Wine in the Kitchen', and it also has some lovely illustrations by John Minton:

Then, in one of my favourite bookshops, Brazen Head in Burnham Market, I picked up a rather weighty tome, The Great Scandinavian Cook Book: An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Cookery translated and edited by J. Audrey Ellison, published in English in 1966 by Allen and Unwin. It lives up to its subtitle as encyclopaedia, with sections on kitchen equipment, food nutrition and menus for parties as well as every food type imaginable. It too has wonderful illustrations, with sketches which strongly remind me of the kind of scandinavian design found in the 1950s, that I so love in the ceramics produced by porsgrund, fiijo & gustavsberg (to name a few) ...

... as well as glossy photos ...

... and more realistic, informative and very thorough drawings of food.

However, whilst flicking through it there was one particular aspect that made up my mind that I had to buy it. There is a chapter on sandwiches, with pages of pictures of open sandwiches with all sorts of food combinations (from the classically swedish potato, herring, chives and soured cream, to the frankly peculiar and pointless sounding grated carrot and banana slices).

And if that wasn't exciting enough, there is a recipe for a sandwich gateau, which you can see below. I can't wait to make this.

Watch this space for the making of recipes from these cookbooks!

Monday, August 30

A terrible beauty is born

It's Bank Holiday Monday. That End of Summer feeling. Helena and I on a morning walk through Victoria Park and along the River Lea to lift the spirits. The Olympic Park, its barricades and monoliths, to drag them back down. "We'll have to have pizza for tea." I go to get the ingredients but forget to buy stuff for lunch. Back home, face in the fridge-light, Helena rummaging the cupboards: Salad? Just lettuce. Cheese sandwich? Only a scrag of cheese.  Toast? Boring. Soup? No. Baked Potato? No No. Quiche? WHAT? No No No. Nothing's right. Then Helena suggests a banana sandwich just as I forage the fridge-back and pull out some Danish Blue from the other day. Dirty, dirty, disgusting thoughts that even the filthiest, firiest priest could not imagine. But it's right. It's bad but it's good. It's exactly what I want. Banana and Danish Blue cheese sandwiches for lunch. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!

Innocent ingredients...
Waahaha! Banana hacked up! Bread toasted!
Dirty cheese! Naughty cheese! In your bed!
Filth! Absolute FILTH!

Thursday, August 26

In which we almost eat Peter Rabbit

Something of a Knife 'n' Spork holiday took place last week. Scott, Lucy, Helena and I got all 'Swallows and Amazons' in a glorified static caravan near Windermere. (I say 'static caravan' - I mean fancy shmancy log cabin with decking and a jacuzzi - Wordsworth wept! Good.) We've holidayed together before and have developed a merry pattern of dog-walking, movie-watching and face-filling - some of which I'll share with you now.

Before I do, I should explain that this post is really a failure. Scott and I had discussed a number of potential holiday/Lake-District themed post ideas: some would have been pleasant (documenting every main meal of the week;) some would have held literary merit (making a Rabbit Pie a la Beatrix Potter or buying some of the Beef Olives from the local butcher as in B.S. Johnson's novel "Christie Malry's Own Double Entry";) still more would have been outright disgusting (The Cumberland Sausage Challenge, The Kendal-Mint-Cake-A-Thon.) In the end we had too much fun for any ideas to come to fruition. Lost hopes. However, having cooked a proper good roast and a cracking curry during the week we were confronted with an impossible choice for our last supper: curry or roast? Roast or curry?

We chickened out, manned up and did both. Here's how:

We started in traditional curry fashion - Poppadoms!

For the CurryRoast meat Scott marinaded a joint of pork shoulder in yoghurt, cumin, turmeric and plenty of mustard seeds. This was left to marinade for twenty four hours and then roasted with onions and tomatoes added towards the end of cooking to make it a bit saucy.

For the CurryRoast potatoes we boiled new potatoes and diced them fairly small before roasting them with black onion seeds, cumin, turmeric, garlic and chilli.

In place of mashed potato we made mashed chickpeas by simmering a couple of cans of chickpeas with some grated ginger and garlic, turmeric, black onion seeds and plenty of salt and pepper.

We considered making cauliflower cheese with paneer but felt that this would probably be horrible. Instead we made a cauliflower and aubergine curry with tomatoes, onion, ginger, garlic and the usual array of spices. Bubble bubble until delicious. We made loads of this so there was plenty the next day when it was even better.

The CurryRoast greens took the form of some hot and sour green beans. Mustard seeds and black onion seeds were heated to popping point in oil then onions, garlic, chilli and plenty of ginger were sweated down with the seeds. Ground ginger and cumin was added before adding the green beans, lime juice and a little water. Boil the water away leaving green beans and jammy spicy-tart onions to which we added chopped coriander.

On the plate it looked like this. And then... this! CurryRoast!