Category Archives: Food

Breakfast Review – Sainsbury’s

This review relates to breakfast at Sainsbury’s Arnold store, just outside Nottingham. As luck would have it, they also had a decent cook on today and we had a good, enjoyable meal. If a proper reviewer had been on the job, you would probably have had a photograph too. But I didn’t take my camera and I left my phone in the car.

I’m not really a fan of the current Sainsbury’s set up as the coffee set-up slows things down and, as a tea drinker, I don’t see why I should stand in a queue for 10 or 15 minutes as people are served, at great length, with coffee. In the good old days, when British establishments served a choice of tea or instant coffee I didn’t mind coffee drinker,s but now I have to stand round while they decide on which of the eight coffees to have I find them quite irritating.

However, today there was no queue, and we soon ordered (two Big Breakfasts and two teas) and sat down at one of the few remaining tables. It was filthy – covered in rings from cups, with a selection of crumbs and some horrible sticky patches with fluff in them.

Breakfast arrived swiftly and was excellently cooked and presented. This is not always the case.

The fried egg looked good, the sausages and bacon were both excellent (for taste and presentation). The hash brown was particularly good today, the toast was also good and so were the beans. Even the half tomato was reasonable, though a half tomato always looks a bit miserly to me.

So, that’s it. When the system is working well it is capable of producing an excellent breakfast. To be fair, it isn’t always as quick, well cooked and nicely presented as this – the last few visits here have included crusty beans and congealed eggs that seem to have been flung randomly at the plate.

In terms of a star rating – if the tables had been clean today’s breakfast would have been 5 stars. On an average day, with a queue and a breakfast that’s been flung at the plate it’s probably a 4 – good but could be better.

At £11.40 it’s not as good as the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast, but it’s almost half the price.

I’m going to try to persuade Julia to make breakfast reviews a regular feature of the blog. Wish me luck!

 

 

Tired of Life

I’ve been browsing WordPress today, when I haven’t been shopping (twice) or visiting or engaging in discussions about my shortcomings as an organiser of Christmas Cheer. We are having two turkey crowns, one for Christmas Dinner and one for sandwiches when we have visitors on Boxing Day. This is not a sign that I like turkey, more an example of being beaten down by tradition and losing interest.

Talking of which, here are the remains of a very early Christmas dinner.

We used to plan Christmas seriously, and over the years we had all sorts of meat, but as the kids got older they wanted turkey. I think that’s when my interest in Christmas Dinner died. For a few years I did the sprouts with chestnuts or almonds or bacon, or combinations thereof, but even that died away.

We are having Bronze turkey as a nod to quality (having decided against Narragansett turkey). The latter is more expensive, less well known and, above all, harder to spell. In fact I’d never heard of it before last night.

Turkey, plain boiled sprouts and gravy made with gravy granules. Then I can get on with the rest of my life.

Next year I may try alpaca. There are places that supply exotic meat. It’s something I’m going to look at next year, as I’ve rather taken my eye off the ball this year.

Blood and Weight Loss

It was blood testing again today. They are bleeding me weekly as my results are failing to impress. There’s probably a pun or two in there somewhere, bearing in mind that I’m not much good at bleeding and am therefore bleeding weakly. I’m also getting bleeding irritated at having to go in every week.

This week I managed to provide a sample after being stabbed in the arm just the twice. This is better than recent results and I’m glad to report I hardly felt a thing.

I thought I’d get weighed while I was there, as I wanted to check if I was actually losing weight or whether the slack trousers were merely an illusion.

It turns out that I have actually lost nine pounds in the last four weeks.

I’ve not used any fancy diets, and done very little exercise, just cut out bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. And cut back severely on chocolate and cakes. I’ve also started cutting down on portion sizes. Simple things, small steps, and so far it’s producing reasonable results.

 

 

 

Eggs California, well bless my soul!

The title is a rough paraphrase of what I felt on reading the breakfast menu on Harvester this morning.

Eggs California are “Smashed avocado and tomato salsa topped with two poached free-range eggs on a toasted breakfast muffin.”

They cost £6.29, compared with the “Unlimited Cooked” which also costs £6.29.

I’m not sure whether the concept or the price leaves me more speechless. (The “Unlimited Cooked” breakfast is, in theory at least, unlimited continental and unlimited cooked breakfast. And unlimited toast. It seems better value.)

I didn’t have time for the Continental as they were so quick with the service, not that I’m big on fruit, yogurt and cereal anyway. I’m still off bread and potatoes, so I didn’t order the hash browns or chips, and passed on the toast.

That left me with unlimited sausages, bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and eggs.

I managed to choke a few morsels down, then sneaked in a couple of crumpets with honey. Honey is good for you so it seemed foolhardy to pass it up.

As I sit here in the evening I am just starting to feel peckish again. Time for some soup and salad, I feel.

Before that I’ll merely draw your attention to the social and environmental costs of avocado. I started eating them regularly last year because they are good for me (particularly Hass avocados) and I’m now seriously thinking of stopping eating them.

Talking of eating…

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.

Book Review – Eggs or Anarchy

Eggs or Anarchy by William Sitwell

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (9 Feb. 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1471151077

ISBN-13: 978-1471151071

Between the wars the government took the view that we should produce what we were good at and import the rest. This meant we were importing about 60% of our food, as we had been doing in 1914. The problem was that the Germans had more efficient aircraft and submarines in 1939.

Fter a successful retail career, Lord Woolton took on the job of sourcing the millions of uniforms needed to equip a new army. He was surprised to find that having ordered the trousers he had to order the fly buttons via another government department.

He managed to sort it all out, and then took on the task of organising food supplies, including issuing millions of ration books and developing a system that was fair to all.

He didn’t just have U-Boats to worry about, he had Churchill and his attempts to use shipping for moving troops. Then he had to organise storage for food in places where it wouldn’t be bombed, make sure our suppliers didn’t overcharge us and iron out inefficiencies in distribution at home. The title refers to the fears that order and morale would break down if he was unable to get the rations out.

One of my favourite moments was when he told visiting American politicians that he would prefer their ships to their good wishes. He was not a conventional politician, having come to it late in life.

As for the famous Woolton Pie… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out his thoughts on that.

It’s an interesting subject, though the writing doesn’t always reflect this, and poses a few questions about food security, which we are going to have to answer in the coming years.

In the Garden Again

Dropped Julia off at work this morning and took the opportunity to take a few photos. They have, as you can see, picked a variety of produce, including sloes. It’s probably a bit early to pick sloes, as the flavour is traditionally said to be better after the first frost. However, you can remedy this by putting them in the freezer. If you pour the gin or vodka on them when they are still frozen it’s supposed to burst the skins, which means you don’t need to prick them either.

I can’t vouch for the flavour part as I’ve never done any competitive testing. Nor can I guarantee that the skins split. What I can say is that we use this method and it produces a lovely smooth liqueur in time for Christmas. Using the freezer instead of waiting for nature to take its course gives you an extra couple of months to steep the fruit instead of waiting for the frost, and this is bound to help.

There are plenty of apples and pears waiting to be picked, plus, of course, the medlars.

The door is now repainted after the attempt at breaking and entering, and is looking good.

Finally, Julia has obtained five waste bins that were going to be thrown away. They are going to have a new life as planters. There were more available, but as Julia said, where are you going to get that much soil from?

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They were bins but now they are planters.