Category Archives: Food

Reminiscing about food (could there be an emerging trend here)

Black forest gateau, a memory of the 70s
Thanks to the Telegraph for this picture















Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I am a bit obsessed with food. In fact I have made a pact not to write any more about my latest diet or the iniquities of supermarkets (Do you know I have lost 7 lb in 15 days and now shop at Aldi? No. Stop!)

There are three things that I think about nearly all the time, unless I am at work of course. They are Food: I’m hungry, what do we need, hope we can try that restaurant some time, those flavours would go well together, what shall I cook for friends/dinner/pudding; Relationships: I’m such an idiot, he’s such an idiot, I wish I hadn’t said that, I wish I was as nice as so and so, that person baffles me; and writing: I could write about that, and that, and that, bugger, I’ve burnt the dinner! Full circle.

Dinner parties were what we did for fun in the ’70s. After eating at Bernie Inns and Bistros we would attempt to emulate their atmosphere at home: Mantovani in the background, low lights, best frocks, white table cloth, wine glasses for different wines, a dinner service, cutlery for each course – starting from the outside and going in towards the plate.

The food would be copied too. Prawn cocktail or egg mayonnaise, Steak Diane or au poivre, Black Forest Gateau or Sherry trifle. You know what? It was great; I love those foods. I have a sudden desire to re-introduce the 1970s to my younger friends.


One final word on the convenience option

Tonight, the fridge full of ready meals of one description or another, I decided that, given the quality thus far, nobody would like any of it. Reluctant to waste it I decided to cook a buffet.

On offer were:

  • One portion of lamb rogon josh from the reduced counter and a pot of rice I forgot to put out! It is still in the microwave as I type.
  • Two portions of pork medalions with shitake mushrooms and strogonov sauce.
  • Three quarters of left-over stuffed crust pizza with the formerly mentioned dubious pepperoni on the top
  • A tray of McCain’s home fries or whatever they call themselves now
  • A whole family tray of Chicken, Bacon and Potato Bake- sadly it had some kind of sauce underneath. It was a mistake to buy this because my two don’t do sauce, well not the bechamel variety.

I left the stroganov sauce off the pork.

I shoved it all in the oven at various intervals. I earmarked the curry for myself but took half in case anyone else fancied some.

Here are my comments:

  • Pork – tough and tasteless
  • Curry – the most bizzarre lamb I have ever encountered. It had the consistency of cooked beetroot and was clearly not cooked in the sauce – which tasted of tomatoes and spices, not unpleasant but definitely not lamby
  • Pizza – too tomatoey and the stuffed crust filling, pasty
  • bake: not even touched although I did get tempted to a small spoonful and it tasted, well, peculiar. I don’t know how else to describe it
  • chips – excellent as ever, why fry when you can bake, but it has to be McCains Home fries/chips (in my”humble”opinion)

We are all full but peed off. The dogs enjoyed the bake.

I know there are lots of people who need cheap food. I watched with the rest of the country as Hugh and Jamie promoted their free range chickens and failed with the broke single mother. But one proper, unflabby, happy chicken can feed a family for several days, and should. The mistake we have made (again IMHO) is not teaching people to cook. Why did that stop? When did academic subjects become more important than practical ones? Don’t you think that we still need to know how to prepare food and construct and mend goods. Recycling has its place but why throw away in the first place?

Have you seen Wall-E? It is thought provoking indeed. In it the human race has left the Earth because polution has killed life. After many decades, maybe centuries, everyone lives in a kind of encapsulated world floating in space and nobody can do anything practical. They wait to be entertained and are so fat they need to be transported on special chairs. Food is manufactured, nobody has seen a chicken or a cow. I wonder if this is such a ridiculous concept. Are we heading this way?

Stand up and be counted. Have cookery lessons, or ask a middle aged neighbour to teach you to cook – we all know how! Shop locally, eat fresh seasonal veg, don’t let the Tescos of this world pull the wool over your eyes. What we ate this week was not food, even if it was nutrition!

I feel I must go back to food

Having read this blog from end to end a few weeks ago – it must have been during the summer holidays – I decided that I went on about food too much and I would cease. Sadly I have had an experience this week that makes me want to revisit the subject, so apologies to my two readers, I just have to say this:

I don’t think that anyone will argue with the hypothesis that married life can be frustrating. Living with another human being, no matter how much you love them, has its challenges. I encountered one of these last week when, pushed to the limit, I asked my family (there are two of them) to help with the washing up after the Sunday roast I had lovingly (and skillfully) prepared for them. Suddenly there were pressing jobs that just had to be done.

In fairness Whizz did have to fly to Ireland that evening and needed to pack his bag – I had to drive him to Heathrow though. Mavis as usual had left her homework until the last minute so I found myself, alone and fuming, with the greasy dishes.

I had a conversation with myself. Who is the idiot here? Why do you feel the need to cook a roast on Sunday? Why aim to please everyone? They haven’t asked you to do all this, they don’t even seem all that interested in what you cook. I made a snap decision – my favourite type – OK I’ll stop. We’ll eat convenience foods, I can throw away the containers and get a life.

I couldn’t wait to get to Tesco. I bought Shepherds pie, lasagne. Spatchcock chicken in garlic butter, pizza with a stuffed crust, ready made mashed potatoes and prepared vegetables. I snuck round hoping nobody would recognise me. Silly me! I met a teaacher from work and felt I had to explain my basket – even though I would normally not even be seen dead in Tesco! None the less I felt really excited to be liberated from the kitchen.

The week started well. As you know I eat a low carb diet so the food I was giving to Whizz and Mavis was not the food I was eating. Mine was delicious. Theirs, it soon became evident, was not.

Shepherds Pie – what can you do wrong with that? Well, I don’t know where the beef came from but I have my doubts that it came from a cow! The lasagne was similarly flavourless. The pizza went down well although the pepperoni I bought to top it had a strange taste we didn’t like much. I had great hopes for the spatchcock chicken in garlic butter. Silly sausage! As with the beef, did it really come from a chicken and how did it get so flacid? Where was the garlic, where was the butter. There was liquid in the tin but if that was butter then its provenance was disputable.

On the plus side the food bill was actually lower than normal and the washing up – well, with the aid of the dishwasher and the recycling bin, I didn’t do any. The food however was – not to put too fine a point on it – disgusting!

So, back to local and free range. We’ve got used to it. I suppose we could get used to the other type of food but do we want to? I had a blinding moment of inspiration and decided that if I don’t want to wash up, and they don’t want to either, we should stop eating. No not really, but I’ve bought foil roasing tins and a catering sized roll of aluminium foil. I’m going to cook on that, simplesk!

Plain Basmati Rice

Fill a pan one third full of water with half a tsp salt and bring to the boil

When it is boiling hold your bag of basmati rice about a foot above the water and pour it in a stream into the middle of the pan until the peak just breaks the surface of the water.

Stir the rice and return to the boil then cover and turn the heat right down to minimum. Set the timer for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off DON’T lift the lid. Turn off the heat and leave for a further 10 minutes.

It’s done!

It will freeze and chill so don’t worry if you’ve made too much. The microwave is a wonderful gadget.


Yellow Basmati Rice

Fry half a tsp cumin seed and a tsp black mustard seed in oil and when the mustard seeds stop popping throw in a chopped onion and stir. Cook gently until soft then add a large mug of rice and stir again.

Add half a tsp turmeric, a cinamon stick and a few cadamon pods and stir so the rice is evenly distributed across the pan. No heaps this time. Top up with boiling water until the water is about half an inch above the surface of the rice.

Stir the rice and return the water gently to the boil

Cover and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 10 minutes with the lid on

DON’T lift the lid. After 10 minutes turn off the heat and leave for a further 10 minutes.

It’s done!

You can actually leave it for longer than 10 minutes now because all the water has been absorbed.

Fluff it up with a fork and serve with the chicken Korma. YUM