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Showing posts from November, 2014

More and less: food banks

In true 'Brit-abroad' fashion I'm putting together some 'essential' items for my month long trip to Florida this Saturday. So far: a couple of mini Christmas puddings, a small slab of iced Christmas cake, bags of my Natco Indian spicy tea and a packet of sage and onion stuffing mix for my 'easy-peasy' stuffing. This involves the very basic skills of making up the mix according to the instructions on the box, letting it cool slightly, then mixing it with the meat from a few skinned pork sausages and a knob of butter. Bake that for 35 minutes until it has a nice crispy topping. Food snobs desist. No sweated over, hand-made stuffing can beat this. I've tried drifts, litters and sounders of home-made pork stuffing recipes and always go back to 'easy-peasy'. And everyone I've ever cooked it for loves it too. 
Hungry Writing Prompt Write about food packed for a long journey.
I am grateful for my life that allows me to make a trip like this. A gratitu…

Triggers: scents and textures of memory

The lingering crisp aroma of home-made chips (cooked in the Actifry pan with just a tablespoon of sunflower oil) combined with the scent of the log fire as I walk from the kitchen into the lounge triggers the memory of my grandparents' house in Dafen, Llanelli. Although the scent of memory lies: those chips would have been cooked in lard, the fire made of coal, the heat localised around the grate in the kitchen rather than filling the ground and first floor of the house as our log burning stove does. 
They moved into that house around the mid 1960s although my first memory of it is from 1966, the date fixed by a family holiday at Butlins in Pwllheli, North Wales and how we called in to see them on the journey home from north to south. I remember the outfit I am wearing standing on their narrow, brick and concrete garden path for a photo, an outfit that repeats itself in the Butlins' snaps. Different shades of green in a photo that is only preserved in shades of grey.

Food and dr…

The magic of apples and other things

I'm sure no one will contradict me when I say that growing or foraging, then preparing and eating, your own food has a certain magical but, at the same time, earthly appreciation attached to it. Tasting the Bramble Jelly I made in August under this November's grey sky transports me to the side of the blackberry hedge again, the one that runs east along the railway line towards Moorland Wood, to the scent of the sun in long grass, the lazy buzz of summer's insects, the grazes and scratches along my arms ignored for the sake of the ripe fruit.
I'm on my last jar: I don't know how long I can make it last.
I made this year's apple jellies  - Mapple (apple and mango), Chapple (apple with chilli) and Whapple (you're probably noticing a pattern now (!) - apple with whisky) - from the leftovers, the occasional overlooked fruit and the windfalls, after the pickers rolled purposefully through the orchard in September then tractored their brimming crates to Chegworth V…

Extreme Baking, or The Revenge of the Jam Tart

There have been a few pastry related discussions in our house over the last week.
1. 'It's frozen,' I said, picking up the box of puff pastry Tony'd just bought.
'Can't I put it in the microwave?' he asked
'No, it'll start cooking at the edges before the centre thaws.'
'I'll leave it to defrost then.'
'But aren't you cooking now? It'll take a good couple of hours to defrost.'
'Oh.'
'I'll go and buy some fresh pastry.'
'I didn't know they sold fresh pastry.'

2. 
'What are you doing?' he asked.
'Trying to unstick your pastry sheet. If you're going to unroll it on the wooden counter, and leave it, then make sure the paper's underneath it.'
3. Me: 'What are those brown marks?'
Him: 'I used the wholemeal flour to roll it out thinner.'
I really am trying to be supportive but when I see someone wiping a wooden surface with a ball of puff pastry 'to pick up all the c…