Category Archives: Cookery

Parcels,Pate and Pakora

Disclaimer – there is not much pakora in this post – but I’m a slave to alliteration so I lied. Sorry about that. I did have pakora in my sandwiches last week so I do at least have a slight excuse to mention them. They were sweet potato pakora and, to my mind, much nicer in sandwiches than the falafel we also tried.

Yesterday I breakfasted on porridge, took Julia to work, cursed several cyclists for their ridiculous strobe lights and arrived at the shop far too early.

I had to use a lot of old self-adhesive stamps where the glue has dried out. This means they have to be fixed using a stick of glue. In turn this means that several of them have to be detached from my finger tips. They were a really bad idea as the glue either dries out or forms an unbreakable bond with the backing paper. I’m sure they are good when they are new, but we, as you know, use a lot of old stamps.

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They are First CLass Stamps, but no longer self-adhesive.

My first parcel of the day was a selection of gum cards bound for America. Imagine my surprise when  my fourth parcel turned out to be a group of gum cards. To America. It was the same man, who quite clearly hadn’t thought things through.

Fortunately I have strong nerves and a steady hand so I was able to open the parcel with my trusty scalpel and add the second lot of cards. Two lots of cards. one lot of postage and a substantial refund. Hopefully he will be happy with that.

After parcels (and no more mishaps) I proceeded to do more banknotes. This an ongoing project. I have photos loaded up until Myanmar and will be moving on to Nepal tomorrow. I’m looking forward to Zimbabwe…

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Nepal – bank notes and an unusual head-dress

In the evening I read and replied to other bloggers, wrote a blog post, then wrote a second blog post, though it was actually too late in the end.

Between the two I cooked ratatouille and sausages, made a batch of smoked mackerel pate and did the sandwiches.

The pate recipe is simple and I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often. Mackerel, cream cheese. yoghurt, spring onion, lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish sauce and dijon mustard. Quantities range from two bits of mackerel and quite a lot of cream cheese down to juice and zest of half a lemon and a teaspoon of each of the seasonings. Next time I may leave out the yoghurt and add more horseradish. Or I may just buy the pate and avoid the epic amount of washing up it generates.

It has worked out rather well and Julia can have the third bit of fish. She likes fish. I eat it because it’s good for me. I used the small blender and two bits of fish was enough to fill it. I haven’t used it for a while and couldn’t work out how to get the bowl off . Julia eventually sorted it for me.

You can also make fish pate with smoked haddock, though I seem to remember you can do that with a fork. There’s a look of the shoe sole about a smoked mackerel fillet if you aren’t careful. So far it has provided a decent depth of filling for four medium cobs and will probably do at least two more.

It’s really quite amazing. Some smoked fish and stuff in a blender and I’m already daydreaming about a Michelin star.

Tonight we will finish the ratatouille, add some “French-style lentils” from a packet, bake a potato and have some veggie burgers. This week I have bought the burgers – next week I will be making them. I am also going to start cooking my own lentils. I have become very lazy.I always used to make my own but have drifted off course somewhere.

I’d better try making my own pakora too…

Banknotes of Laos

Banknotes of Laos

Hasselback Potatoes – the Final Photograph

This, at last, is the final photograph. The potatoes don’t look too bad, though I’ve never really mastered the art of making food look good in photos. The stir fried sprouts and broccoli look, to be honest, burnt, but they were actually very tasty. The other, orange, bits were roast carrots and sweet potatoes. The pink bits are gammon.

That’s all for now. I’m just in and need a cup of tea and a warm fireside.

 

Some Cookery Confessions

So, you ask, how was the vegetable soup last night? You probably aren’t asking that, but I’m going to tell you anyway and it seems better if I pretend someone is interested.

Well, the vegetable soup, consisting of some festering ready-chopped carrot and swede, some greying carrots, a wrinkly parsnip, quite a lot of onion and some green bits from leeks, was excellent in parts. It was nutritious, tasty, sustaining, wholesome and almost additive free.

The additives came from a garlic and thyme flavour pot I threw in.

The parts that weren’t good came from the seasoning. It was, to say the least, a schoolboy error. It needs a bit of spice to give it a lift, I always feel, and I decided to test out the new jar of smoked paprika. I’ve only just started using it again, I never think of it as particularly hot and… you can already see where this is going can’t you?

A lesson I learned long ago is to test out each new jar of spice unless it’s one you’ve used before.

This one was quite a bit hotter than the previous one and despite attempts to cool it down with honey and extra dilution, it remained a little hotter than is usual for vegetable soup.

Despite this, the basic recipe was good and it used a lot of slightly manky veg.

Tonight we are having gammon, Hasselback potatoes and vegetables that are still to be decided. I’ve been meaning to do Hasselback potatoes for a while, and once I actually read the recipe I was amazed at how easy they are. They always look much more complicated when you see them served on TV.

This could be a case of “famous last words” because they are still in the oven.

Meanwhile, bubbling away on the hob we have a vegetable curry on the go for tomorrow. It’s onions, sweet potato, chickpeas, some chilli from a jar, garlic from a jar, curry powder and five ladles of spicy vegetable soup from yesterday, because it would be silly to waste it and if you have soup (or spicy vegetable sauce as it is now) you may as well put it in a curry.

You can probably tell from the nature of my ingredients that I’m not one of the world’s most industrious cooks, and that I have trouble with stock control and portion sizes, but I keep on trying. Cooking and writing are both similar in that you have to keep trying, and once in a while, possibly by accident, something good happens.

The photos tonight are chickpea and sweet potato curry and half-finished Hasselback potatoes. If I wait until it’s time to serve I’ll eat them before I remember to take the photos.

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Chickpea and Swee4t Potato Curry, and steam

An Easy Meal

Cut some veg into bits.

Tonight I used sweet potatoes, carrots, swedes, onions and sprouts.

Oil them and chuck them in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 180 C (250 F or Gas Mark 4)

Then add the chicken thighs.

Give it another 30-40 minutes.

Whip up some gravy (Julia insists on gravy) and serve, pretending it’s a proper roast dinner.

Make a mental note that next time I’ll put the sprouts in at the same time as the chicken.

The timings are approximate, as I was watching the Strictly Come Dancing results. That’s why it looks a bit burnt. I think burnt food is more tasty. Apart from sprouts. Burnt sprouts aren’t an improvement.

So there you go – roast dinner, negligible thought or work.

My sort of meal.

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.