Category Archives: Cookery

Third Post of the Day

Well, I wrote one post, then I wrote another. At that point I decided I needed a third post to link to the previous two. Really I ought to write a sequel to parts one and two of the burger story, but that can wait until tomorrow. My life is so crammed with trivia that it’s hard to fit it all in.

I notice that the clock is nearing midnight, and if I don’t post soon the title will be incorrect.

We were going to have fish pie and roasted ratatouille tonight but it was so cold I changed that to sausages and roasted root veg with cumin and paprika. We put the heating back on on Friday night, which is something we don’t normally do. I also don’t normally need to use successive “ons” in a sentence. It’s always good to do something new.

Whilst seasoning the veg I made two discoveries.

One, the new pot of smoked Spanish paprika is considerably hotter than the old one.

Two, in a kitchen, in the twilight, with aging eyes, cinnamon and cumin don’t look all that different when you are reading spice jar labels. I will put the light on next time.

For desert we had fig rolls and Battenberg cake. Must do better with planning my menus.

The lack of photos may show you how little progress I am making towards my targets in food photography.

 

Roasted Ratatouille

I’ll carry on the burger post later. I thought I’d better do something that involves a photograph for the moment.

The photograph is Sausages with Roasted Ratatouille. It’s not quite the same as the recipe photograph that I had. My vegetables never seem to cook as attractively as the ones in recipe pictures. It also didn’t help that I forgot to buy peppers and couldn’t get the right sausages. And they said red onions but I could only get the small size in brown. That probably made a difference too.

Despite this it didn’t turn out too badly in the end, and with a bit of rearrangement three floppy mini peppers from the back of the salad drawer put up quite a decent show.

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Roasted Ratatouille

I was quite pleased with the way it worked out and it had a good flavour thanks to three cloves of wrinkly garlic (you could probably use ordinary garlic but I always leave mine hanging round for a few weeks to mature) and a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden.

As long as I can use my own rosemary I can pretend I’m a proper cook.

The other good thing about this dish is that I’m never in a hurry to eat vegetables so I remembered to take the photograph. I’m also not embarrassed about taking pictures of my food like I am when I’m in public. (See comments from beatingthebounds in the previous post about this.)

 

 

 

Looking Back, and a False Start

I’m not having a good time at the moment, having just wiped out an entire post just as I was giving it a final edit. WordPress has been refusing to save on a regular basis recently, so there was no previous version to reinstate. It’s been a minor irritant in the last month or so, but after this I’m going to have to sort it out.

Has anybody else noticed this problem?

It isn’t just the annoyance of losing 350 words, which took some writing, as I’m not particularly swift today. It’s also that I feel posterity has been robbed, because the second version never seems as good. The second version, I always feel, should be more polished, but it never seems to be the case; I never seem to be able to recreate a post to my satisfaction.

That is why I’m not going to write about my adventures with Scotch Bonnets, compressors and boiling water just now. I will get back to it later but now isn’t the time.

I may as well just look back on the week – a walk round the duck pond, a damp day in Derbyshire, some new words, birds at Rufford Abbey, some weather and 12 hours bottling jerk seasoning. It’s been, to say the least, an up and down sort of week.

I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s been a case of two steps forward and one step back, as I don’t seem to be achieving much. The exercise is just making me ache and feel old instead of making me fitter and, at the same time, I’m slipping back to eating carbs. Time for a hard look at my life again.

Having reviewed my week, albeit briefly, I’m now going to add a selection of photos from last week and call it a retrospective.

 

 

 

Simple Cookery from a Simple Man

My soup recipe just got even lazier because TESCO are now doing vegetable packs specifically for soup, with everything cut small and mixed with onions and chilli. Add water, a stock cube and a hand blender and you have soup. I put garlic in this one too. And a few extra onions.

At this time of year our kitchen is so cold you can leave it in a pan on top of the cooker with no need to use the fridge. We’ve had it for tea once and I’ve had it for lunch three times. The rest will go in the vegetable curry tomorrow.

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Sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, garlic and chilli soup

We also had the lazy pie this week.

Chop leeks, celery, chicken, mushrooms and tarragon.

Soften the veg and brown the chicken, Stir in some flour and milk to make a sauce bit and bung it in a pie dish.  We had a gammon joint this week too, so I cubed some of it to make this a chicken and ham pie. This is optional.

Then unroll a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, cut off a bit about the size of the pie dish.

Argue about who had the pastry brush last.

Pour a little milk on top of the pie and rub it round lightly with your finger tips.

Add “pastry brush” to the shopping list.

Cook until it”s brown on top. This takes about 40 minutes if you put it in the oven cold but I really don’t see the point in heating up an empty oven first.

Serve with whatever veg you have. We had brussels and red cabbage (which I make in quantity and eat all week).  With hindsight I could have selected a less environmentally damaging combination. Think methane.

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Chicken Pie and vegetables – sorry about the smudge on the lens

I know ready-made pastry and “parachute pies” (ones with just a top and no bottom) are all frowned on on serious pie circles, but ask me if I’m bothered. It’s crispy, it’s flaky and it tastes good. You don’t need all that stuff underneath.

This cooking stuff really is quite simple. I can’t really see how so many people seem to be able to make a career out of it with TV and cookery books and  such. As for Delia Smith being made a Companion of Honour “for services to cookery”, well I am, for once, speechless…

Thinking of Food and Health

We switched the heating on low a couple of nights ago and had the gas fire on last night because it’s getting a bit chilly. The fire was very dusty and didn’t do my throat a lot of good. At around six o’clock this morning I woke up wheezing like a pair of Victorian bellows with a painful cough and a dry throat.

It mainly passed within an hour, and I’m feeling pretty good now, though still a little tender in the throat.

This year is really proving to be a bit of a trial from the health point of view.

The good news is that in general I’m feeling much healthier than I have for some time. I attribute this to large quantities of turmeric and the new low carb diet (which mainly means no chips and no bread). The advantage with not eating bread is that you don’t eat any burgers or sugary spreads either. In truth the feeling of well-being may be coincidence, but by claiming credit for it I’m able to feel both healthy and virtuous.

I’m now looking at articles about superfoods and foods for winter. I’ve been a bit lax about this sort of thing over the last year so it’s time to tighten up.

Overnight oats with fruit for breakfast tomorrow, vegetable soup for lunch and Cottage Pie for tea (incorporating onions, peas and carrots) with sweet potato topping, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. I can probably work lentils and tinned tomatoes in too, so that should do wonders for my vegetable intake.

 

Raindrops on Red Plants…

My Cooking from A to Zzzz project came off the rails tonight. I set the chicken casserole going and stuck a gammon joint in to cook. I didn’t fall asleep tonight but I did immerse myself in writing and forgot about things.

The chicken was OK and I thought the gammon needed a bit more time. The “bit” was slightly wooly as I’d forgotten what time I put it in. As you have probably guessed, I forgot about it until Julia sniffed the air and said: “Is the cooker still on?”

“Ooops!” I said. Or something approximately similar.

There is good news and bad news.

The plastic-wrapped Danish gammons you buy cheaply from supermarkets don’t spoil if you cook them for an hour and a half longer than you should do.

That is the good news.

If you are fussy about what you eat this is also bad news as no quality meat would put up with that sort of treatment.

This morning, little realising what was in store for me, I treated Julia to breakfast at Harvester.

Yesterday I emptied a tin money box yesterday in my search for old-style £1 coins. They are going out of circulation in a few weeks and I would like to get them used before then. After cutting off the bottom with a can opener I was surprised to find only two £1 coins. Fortunately there were fifty £2 coins.  It’s a reminder of better days, when I used to be able to save £2 coins and not notice the difference.

It seemed only fair to treat Julia with my newly-discovered wealth, and after a leisurely late breakfast we had no need of lunch, so it turned out to be quite economical. Iturned down the offer of hash browns as I’m cutting down on carbs so they offered me chips instead. I turned them down too. I’d never thought I’d refuse chips…

I took pictures of some interesting red plants in the pub garden (tentatively identified as Heavenly Bamboo – Nandina domestica ‘Blush Pink’ after looking on the Thompson and Morgan website) and then snapped a picture of a Magpie when we got home. There were a couple of them playing the street like kids.

 

 

After breakfast and before overcooking the gammon we photographed the grey pub. Mentioning this allows me to set it in the timeline and link to it in a cynical attempt to generate more traffic.

Another Day, Another Plan.

It’s about seven hours since the last post, but I’ve managed to sleep and get Julia to work in that time.

I’m hoping that today will be better in terms of productivity, decluttering and writing.

I’ve just about shaken off the bad cold I had last week and there has been no repeat of the nose bleed. I have a weak nostril that often bleeds when I have colds (maybe two or three times a year – but I consider that “often” for an adult).  It was a notable nosebleed, and though I don’t have a proper marking scale I’d rate it as high volume, short duration. My normal nosebleed is low volume but longer duration. Maybe the anti-coagulants are altering the way my nose bleeds.

Practical advice. Forget pinching the top of the nose or putting your head back or all that stuff. Roll yourself a decent cylinder from tissue and shove that up. You can leave gaps, and you don’t need to ram it home, as it’s a nostril, not a cannon. Just make it big enough to stay in without help. I find it usually stops the bleeding quite quickly.

When I finish this post I’m going to sit and write my plan for today. Top of the list will be “make chicken stew” and second will be “make soup”.  Actually, it may be the other way round, as I need the soup for lunch. Butternut squash and roasted Winter Vegetable Soup is the plan. Ready cut butternut squash was on offer yesterday and the veg are left over from yesterday’s tea.

After that I will “make sweet potato, lentil and chickpea curry” and put it in the fridge for tomorrow, “tidy living room” and “hoover”.

There will be other things too, but I’m just trying to convey an impression of the day, and I don’t want anyone asking me if I’ve done it all. Short lists are better for that sort of thing.

Plans, like blogging, are a good way of delaying work, but they have their uses too. They are a bit like meetings -everyone does them but only some of them are useful. About half of all lists and ninety percent of meetings would have been better if they had never existed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to start that stew.