Category Archives: Food

Dressing Up Some Leftovers

We had vegetarian haggis and root vegetables last night. We didn’t  particularly want vegetables dressed up as meat, but Julia fancied trying it. It tasted exactly like haggis, because haggis mainly tastes of oats and spices.

I wimped out of the traditional neeps and tatties because neeps, it seems, are Swedish turnips, better known in England as swedes, and in North America as rutebagas. I like carrots, I like parsnips and I have no strong feelings about turnips, but swedes are a bit too strongly flavoured for my liking. As a result I generally eat them with other veg. That’s what we did last night – potato, carrot, parsnip, turnip and swede all mashed together.

Tonight I mashed the leftover veg and haggis together, added half a tin of chickpeas (also mashed), an egg, cumin, curry powder and black pepper and formed them into five veggie burgers. The actual plan was to do four, but there was some left over so I added a fifth. I left the mashed bits lumpy to give plenty of texture. Then I gave them 20 minutes at 200 degrees C, turning about halfway through.

Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burgers

They were very acceptable, even if I do say so myself.

The stir-fried veg was (loosely) based on the stir-fried sprouts and chestnuts we had at Christmas, though with no sprouts I used some wilting broccoli and cauliflower. Henderson’s Relish replaced the soy sauce. I also drizzled on the end of a bottle of Hoisin Sauce because the honey has crystallised in the squeezy bottle. and threw in one  teaspoonful of chilli and two of garlic from my jars in the fridge. I also threw in a few cashews and some almonds left over from other cooking.

Stir fried vegatables

Stir fried vegetables

 

The overall healthy nature of the meal was destroyed when I sliced a baked potato, left over from Tuesday and fried it with some chicken chipolatas left over from Monday. The chicken chipolatas were not a success, being dry and bland. I will not repeat the experience.

More leftovers...

More leftovers…

 

The header picture is an example of what happens when the lens steams up as you photograph food. Or, to be more accurate, when you are hungry and ready to sit down and the lens steams up as you photograph food. You don’t bother wiping the lens, you just switch off the camera and go to eat.

 

Scone Chronicles XXVIII

Cafe Nero, Springfields Outlet Centre, Lincolnshire. A scone-free report.

We hadn’t expected much from the day as we had an electrician coming round to give us a quote and British Gas would only tell us it was between 8.00 and 1.00. Fortunately he texted ahead and arrived just after 9.00. The news was not good – we need to declutter a lot more before they can start ripping floorboards up to rewire.

That left us at a loose end by 10.00 so we set off to look for adventure, This is “adventure” as we now define it, rather than how we used to define it. Standing on one leg to put my trousers on is dangerous enough for me, so we set off to seek lunch and relaxation.

In the car we discussed our spending. Julia is feeling guilty about the amount she spends on herself – which is basically gym membership and hair appointments. She worked it out as £3,000 a year. She really is a bear of very little brain – cute but rubbish at mental arithmetic. The true cost of this spending was, as I pointed out, just £600 a year. Having saved us £2,400 I felt quite good about things. This also diverted attention from my eBay habit, which has been getting out of hand recently.

At Springfields we had a look round The Works and confirmed that the stock situation is woeful, before deciding to have a coffee. Considering our earlier conversation, this ironic as coffee is one of the hidden costs of modern life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two Coffees

Cafe Nero seemed rather empty, to say it was lunch time.

The coffee – the cheapest they had, was just under £5 for the two of us. If we do that once a week it will cost us £250 in a year, which is a lot of haircuts.

We didn’t have anything to eat. The staff were neither good nor bad. They let dogs in. The one that came in whined a lot then dog and master went to sit outside. Fair enough – better than tying it up outside. Chairs are comfortable. Snacks looked well presented but we were saving our appetites so didn’t have anything.

They now have a vegan range, which seems to be the new fashion. You may be expecting some sarcastic comment about vegans, evolutionary dead ends and modern fashions, but you will be disappointed. I like vegans.

Though I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Cafe Nero Vegan Menu

Cafe Nero Vegan Menu

The sound you hear when viewing the vegan menu is that of a bandwagon being jumped on. Once Gregg’s went for the vegan sausage roll, everyone followed.

All in all, nothing to rave about and nothing to complain about. It’s a more leisurely atmosphere than Costa Coffee further down the centre, and I enjoyed the break.

 

 

Breakfast at Sainsbury’s (Scone Chronicles XXVII)

I’m going to have to up my work rate after what I said in the last post. This is therefore going to be the first of two posts today.

We have not had a good time at Sainsbury’s at Arnold recently. Twice before Christmas we went in and ordered Beef Baguettes. The first time we tried, we were told there there were no baguettes. I pointed out that they had a shop full of baguettes. It seems that they aren’t allowed to use them.

The second time it was a lack of beef that interfered with the plan. We had festive toasties instead, which allegedly contained turkey and stuffing, but tasted of cotton wool and ketchup.

When we found that the place was crowded at 11.30 I nearly didn’t bother stopping, but I’d promised Julia a day out, which, in my view, means that she doesn’t have to make breakfast.

The cafe was full, many of the tables for four being monopolised by a solitary coffin dodger who was on first name terms with the staff. Say what you like about quality of a service (and I will cover that fully in a later paragraph) , they know how to treat the elderly and I may well move in when I’m a few years older.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tea – note the cup for a milk jug

i got a table for two while Julia ordered the food. It needed clearing and wiping down. So did many of the others. A member of kitchen staff emerged at one point, cleared the pots off one table, left the crumbs and went back into the kitchen, never to be seen again.

One lady went as far as to get the table wiping equipment from the staff and wipe her own table down, also wiping the table for a lady in a wheelchair. To be fair, we are supposed to take our own pots away, and it must add more work when people are too lazy, or too arrogant, to clear the table after eating. On the other hand the staff should keep the place clean – I’m paying enough and should have a clean place to eat.

When Julia arrived with the tea I noted the milk was in a coffee cup, rather than a receptacle designed for pouring milk. Again, we paid enough for them to provide a small jug.

It’s just minor details, but it’s annoying that people can’t get the simple things right. For an echo of these thoughts seethis post, though I note there are one or two typos in it – sorry for that.

The food arrived quite quickly, and a member of staff took it on a tour of the cafe before finding us, so we were never in danger of burning our mouths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big Breakfast – Sainsbury’s, Arnold

The breakfast report –

Portion size – good

Sausages – excellent and herby

Hash Browns – crispy and delicious

Beans – average, after all opening a can and heating beans is not a skilled job

Mushroom – excellent

Toast – average, another unskilled job that is difficult to do badly

Eggs – borderline – a hint of snottiness to the white means they were slightly undercooked

Bacon – this could take some time. There is a division of opinion on whether bacon should be crispy or pink and juicy. I favour pink and juicy myself but if the cook does it crispy I’ll eat that too. However, I’m not aware that there is a school of thought that says bacon should be cooked until hard, tied in a knot and basted with grease before being dumped on the plate. If there is such a school of thought I can recommend the cook at Sainbury’s in Arnold.

The bacon actually looks quite nice in the photo. But trust me, it wasn’t. And it was salty too.

So, despite the lack of cleanliness, mediocre efficiency and patchy breakfast, how was it?

Pretty good, to be honest. The good bits of the breakfast were very good, the staff are always friendly and cheerful, even if they do get behind with the cleaning and, judgingh by the way they get on with their regular ancient customers, they are providing a valuable community service.

I suspect the staff are great and the management is poor.

Would I recommend it despite my sarcasm and criticism?

Yes, though its constant failings with cleaning and detail are a bit wearing. On a good day it’s probably the best local breakfast, but the good days are, at the moment, in a minority.

Whining Wednesday – Again

I had a letter from the hospital last week. In all the excitement I forgot to tell you. I now have two sorts of arthritis and two joints I’d never heard of before.

I have osteoarthritis, which I already knew without the help of a highly trained medical professional. I also have psoriatic arthritis. This adds a few symptoms (it is apparently the one that makes my fingers swell up) and is a pain to spell. This, as I think I’ve already mentioned, is particularly annoying as, due to a previous poor diagnosis, I’ve only just mastered the spelling of eczema.

There are a number of things I can do to help myself – according to the internet if I lose weight, cut down on fatty foods and sugar and eat more fish and fresh veg this will do me good.

At the moment I’m trying to think of anything that isn’t improved by following this advice. Unless you are allergic to fish and fresh veg this is general purpose dietary advice. It’s as useful as saying that if you want to live a long time you should breathe in, breathe out and remember to wake up every morning.

Incidentally, there’s a link on the internet telling you about the five foods to avoid if you have arthritis. Unfortunately it’s a film and they tell you what the foods are without showing you. This is no use to a  a man with no sound on his computer.

To add to my misery my computer has just started in that mode where it overwrites good stuff if you go back to edit. I forget what it’s called, and even worse, I don’t know how to switch it off.

We went for breakfast this morning. Julia paid. As I’m giving up my day off to act as her taxi driver while she supervises the fitting of a new sheet on the polytunnel, I think this is fair. It hasn’t improved my temper or my views on organisations that can’t organise relief staff, but at least I’m not hungry. After leaving the all I could eat breakfast before I filled myself to the earlobes I am in a good place – comfortably full with a warm glow that comes from having had value for money.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven her.

It does mean that I had a good laugh with my food. A family arrived just as I was putting my crumpets through the toaster a second time. They immediately started getting in the way, though I was intrigued to find that the father, who had a lisp, called his son “son” at every opportunity. It’s good to see a man who faces up to a challenge and doesn’t let a speech impediment restrict his behaviour. On the other hand, I did wonder if they could have chosen a better name – it seems the kid is called Zachary.

And that’s not all. They made a big thing about being vegetarian, even down to asking if the vegan sausages were OK for vegetarians. I know vegans have to check if vegetarian food is OK for them but I’ve never heard an enquiry the other way. I started to harbour suspicions about the vegetarian credentials, and intelligence, of this family.

Then we got onto nuts. Was the breakfast suitable to sufferers of nut allergies. The answer was that the breakfast cereals may have had contact with nuts in the factory.

“Oh, that’s alright, a trace doesn’t matter.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an allergy, an actual allergy rather than a fashion accessory allergy, life threatening and triggered by even a trace of the substance in question? I knew a bloke who was allergic to fish. He kissed his girlfriend after she had eaten fish several hours previously and ended up in hospital. That’s an allergy.

When you interrogate the serving staff about allergens and then say a trace doesn’t matter you are actually proving you don’t have an allergy, just a love of hearing your own voice. (As an aside here, I always try never to irritate anyone who will be alone with my food. I think this is a good policy.)

I’ll finish this subject here, as the next 200 words don’t really add much, apart from a heap of abuse about a woman seeking attention.

I’ll finish the post with my new joints. They were listed as SI joints, I’ve heard of SI Units and CV joints, but never SI joints. Turns out they are sacroiliac joints. I don’t really see the point of them, apart from holding my hips and back in place, which I’m sure could be done without extra joints, but, having read about them, I am now quite concerned. Fortunately, mine seem in good shape at the moment.

That’s the trouble with doctors, the more you see them , the more things get looked at until, eventually, you end up with a new problem. Since finding out I had sacroiliac joints I have had them in my thoughts every day.

Gold Medallion - Richard the Lionheart

Gold Medallion – Richard the Lionheart

 

The gold medallions are part of a series from the Cook Islands. They are 11mm in diameter and weigh half a gram.

When these Kings lived they didn’t know that the Cook Islands existed, but that doesn’t stop the Cook Islands and their relentless drive to make money from the international trade in over-priced numismatic items.

I’m sure these coins are all sold out, but have a look if you want to see the depths to which the coin trade has sunk. We had some, but I’m glad to say we sold them before I started work in the shop.

A New Direction

We watched a few episodes of Diagnosis Murder this morning and ate a substantial brunch. I’m beginning to get used to this relaxation, though I’m definitely going to have to curb my portion size.

I am going to be on bean salad tomorrow, and can only guess at the horrors that will open up as I start eating “sensibly”. That, in my experience, means eating things you don’t like because they are good for you. It’s good, because you eat less of it if you don’t like it. However, would you rather live to be 70 on a diet of chips, pies and chocolate, or would you prefer to live to 80 on bean salad and virtue?

Seventy is a bit close now, so I’m thinking of interlacing a certain amount of salad with the pie and chips.

Tonight it’s home made beef pie. Tomorrow it’s seafood spaghetti and the day after it’s fishcakes with rice and vegetables. Wednesday is sweet potato and chickpea curry.

I’m starting overnight oats for breakfast again and salads for lunch.

I’ll give it a week. I can mange the healthy evening meal, with the odd takeaway, and the overnight oats. But a week of lunchtime salads will be plenty. Man is not meant to function without cheese and pickle sandwiches and pork pies. But he’s not meant to function in shirts that strain at the front with the curve of a galleon in full sail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Overnight Oats with Fruit

The Scone Chronicles XXIII – Afternoon Tea. Again.

The Afternoon Teas were actually ten days apart, despite the two reports being published on the same day. Sorry if this seems like overkill, but it’s just the chaotic nature of my life.

I have reported on Mrs Botham’s Tearoom before. They produce excellent pork pies and capital crab sandwiches.

Today we selected Afternoon Tea. This proved to be a good decision.

At £12.95 it’s a mid-range option compared to the prices of the other teas we’ve had (though the comparison is with the special offer price at the St James Hotel).

It’s a typical Mrs Botham’s production, with freshly made sandwiches and a bit of salad with citrus dressing. This dressing did make a couple of the sandwiches soggy on the lower edge, as they were served on the same plate, but it wasn’t much of a problem as they didn’t have long to wait before consumption, and it’s all going to end up in the same place anyway.

Botham's Whitby

Botham’s Whitby

They were a definite level up from the curly Bettys sandwiches. They may have benefitted from some variety of brown bread, but let’s be honest, there is a reason why soft white bread is a top seller.

Apart from being fresh they were also well-filled, the cucumber being particularly good.

The cakes were, for me, the least good bit of the meal. They were good and fresh, being baked by Bothams and sold in the shop downstairs. The meringue was fine, and about twice the size of the St James one.

The chocolate thing (my command of cakey vocabulary is buckling under the strain here) seemed to have a biscuit in it, probably with hazel nuts, and was difficult to manage with a cake fork, though it did break up when bitten, It was OK, but I wouldn’t go and buy one in the shop as a result of the one I ate.

The fondant fancy was lovely, but rather sweet. And if I say it’s too sweet that is serious sugar, as I’m not known for my sensitivity to sugar. The icing was too sweet and the creamy bit inside was too large and too sweet. I’m a lover of fondant fancies, so this is hurting me to write.

The scones were nice and soft with good texture. We had a clotted cream portion each and it was a perfect way to round off the meal, along with another cup of tea. The tea was prompt and plentiful and there was a jug of hot water to top the pot up.

Sandwiches – they best we’ve had. The salad was good, though you know my thoughts on salad. Cakes too sweet. Scone – lovely. Tea – excellent. Surroundings and service – excellent.

So far, this is the winner.

 

Did I mention the pork pies? We brought some home. I had one for tea, with a cheese scone and soup, and had one for lunch with my sandwiches. Don’t be tempted by the pork and apple.

If you are in Yorkshire looking for an afternoon tea, I’d definitely go for Botham’s in preference to Bettys.

This, of course, brings me to another point. Bettys has dropped the apostrophe and Botham’s have kept it. I think the lesson is clear here. Old fashioned values still rule where Afternoon Tea is concerned.

Please note the picture of the stair-lift leading up to the tea room – they know their market!

Stairlift at Botham's tearoom, Whitby

Stairlift at Botham’s tearoom, Whitby

The Scone Chronicles XXII – Afternoon Tea

Sorry, I had intended managing one instalment of the Scone Chronicles a week, but we haven’t been out much this year and when we do go out it tends to be repetitive. Added to that, I don’t always take photos, I don’t want to admit to all the rubbish I eat and I’m not always very efficient.

This post has been maturing like a fine wine, for over a week. This probably tells you something about my definition of “fine wine”. That, in turn, reminds me of the wine kits they used to sell in Boots chemists thirty years ago. No, forty years ago…

How time flies.

However, I will return to the subject of scones rather than drift off on a digression relating to cheap wine.

Julia’s brother and sister-in-law have been up to visit and invited us to Afternoon Tea at the St James Hotel in Nottingham.

The review is a bit tricky because I don’t want to criticise a meal I’ve been treated to. Fortunately, after we’d left, the in-laws said it wasn’t a patch on their local tearoom and was more on a par with the local Patisserie Valerie. That’s not meant to be a slur on Patisserie Valerie, because they are a chain and a chain does things differently to somewhere claiming to be a boutique hotel. Or it should do.

It is, considering the deal they do, a very good value budget Afternoon Tea – if their website is correct, afternoon tea for two costs slightly less than afternoon tea for one at Bettys. If you don’t get the discount, it’s still a lot cheaper. However, don’t be fooled by the picture on the website, the sandwich fillings were much less generous in real life and the cake selection was not as good.

In fact, the sandwich fillings could accurately be described as meagre, the cakes and scones all seemed to be mass produced and they really should have been quicker on bringing the tea.

However, they surroundings are pleasant, and not as crowded as Bettys at Harlow Carr. The company was, as you would expect, excellent, and the neighbours were sufficiently far away as to be part of the background chatter, again, unlike Bettys.

So – comparisons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scones with jam and cream

Cakes at Bettys were far better. Sandwich fillings at Bettys were better. Scones at Bettys were better (and not dusted with icing sugar – I hate it when they do that).

However, sandwiches at St James’s were fresher, surroundings were more relaxing and the cost was more affordable.

At St James we got one pot of clotted cream between two of us – it’s enough, but it’s the only place I’ve ever been that does that. Don’t know whether I’m happy not to clot my arteries or unhappy at being short-changed.

I’m not sure which was better value, as they both had their good points, and both had their less good points. Nor am I sure if either is worth repeating.

I suppose I’ll just have to keep eating until I find a better place.

 

(Sorry about the quality of the photography – low lighting).