Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A four way

Bob was been a real Alan TITmarsh (her words) this year and cultivated plentiful veg in her garden.
She harvested the runner beans yesterday and gave some to me, Roast, Chaz, and the rest for herself.
We all planned to cook them that evening and assumed each unique dish would reflect our personalities...

Fran: I had read about a broad bean, artichoke, shallot and white wine stew with polenta in the weekend magazine. Being such a rule breaker I took that recipe and ran right off with it to make a garlic, runner bean and courgettes stewed with sherry. The trick apparently with this is to drizzle good oil and parmesan on it after. Or hemp oil and brie. Whatever you have. It's always welcome.

Roast: Roast is very green. He's recently done a Thames mud flats clear up and advised us that plastic bottles take 1000 years to decompose. To reflect this he only used green vegetables- broccoli, broad beans, the runner beans, peas and pesto, with gnocchi. Al Gore would learn a thing or two from that dish.

Bob: Ole firecracker loves the sting of a dry white wine hitting a hot pan of arborio rice so sizzled up a runner bean risotto with a later chapter of unctuous stock, parmesan and 75g butter oozing off the plate. Obviously given some pep and zip with a handful of pine nuts and chopped fresh summer herbs. That's life. That's her life.

Chaz: She forgot. But no one minded. I bet she ate something much more fun.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dulse a leche

"Mmm thanks I love a plate of brown food", I said as Louis presented me with curried baked beans and toast. His eyes brightened: "What it really needs is some brown sauce. " 
I baulked. 

"Do you not like brown sauce?"  "I've never had it. I don't know what it tastes like." 

He offered me some. I closed my eyes shaking my head, "Eurgh no I'm scared". 

"Fran, you were eating raw seaweed straight off the rocks from the beach yesterday".

Good point. I dabbed a little on my fork and grimaced... Not so bad. It just tasted vinegary. Raw seaweed off the rocks tasted better. 

Later, I collected some more seaweed and looked up how to actually cook it. I cut the ends of the wrack one off (the one with bladders) and pan fried them with red onions as a kind of caper to use with spaghetti. The green strandy stuff is apparently nice fried and crispy but my cooking is more enthusiasm than accuracy and I went for a mush style instead. We had the whole lot as a carbonara. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016


It was really wet on the day of some Germany v Italy match and instead of leaving the holiday cottage Louis had been sneezing on the sofa for the last 8 hours.

I came into the cosy fire lit sitting room after washing up the dinner i'd cooked us. 

"Shall we watch the match?" Louis asked smiling. 

"Hmm that does sound like something I want to do. I'm glad that we can spend our last evening on holiday like this. "

After a quick sulk and tears and make up kiss we settled down to watch the match happily. 

The match was ending on penalties. Louis was very tense and wincing. He said breathlessly, "Oooh Aren't penalties just your favourite part of the game??"

"Hmm I'm not sure. I've never watched a match the whole way through to find out what I think of the other bits."

"Don't you find it tense?" 

"I'm just worried for them. They must be so fed up."

"Do you reckon that's the emotion they're experiencing?"

"Yeah. They just want to go and have their post match bath."

A moment later one of the teams missed a penalty and the other won and I presume the poor player was in really hot water! 

They must have felt as battered about as the elderflower I'd picked early and fried in tempura. I liked them so much I had them for two courses- starter and dessert. 

Battered elderflower heads

250 ml fizzy water, 50 g plain flour- mix and sit off the bench for half an hour. Add whisked egg white in. Then dip the heads in, and holding the stalk carefully fry a head one by one in boiling oil in a pan. 

For pudding I added a shake of caster sugar to the batter and did the same. The pudding version was the best. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Don't clove to others

We were in Fort William stocking up on food and camping gear before descending on the West Highland coast and we stopped at a cafe for a sandwich. 

As I waited for the sandwiches to be prepared two people sitting on stools at the shop's glass front started talking about Louis and Greyson whom they could see on the bench outside. 

"I only like dogs bred for function". 

I whipped round from the queue. 

"Yeah big dogs. Labradors or collies." 

"I don't mind cats too. But not a dog that's essentially a cat". 

Well missy, I don't mind embarrassing myself to embarrass others! On collecting my sandwich, I went to get napkins from the pile by their elbows giving them a hard nudge and stare in the process, then I swept out to ostentatiously pet Louis and Greyson in full view whilst loudly recounting the story. 
Greyson HAS a function: being adorable. 

One thing the man in Go Outdoors advised to keep mosquitos like them away was garlic. We bought a few bulbs and as Louis chopped some for our sweet potato curry cooked on our new camping stove I smeared raw cloves all over my face and neck. 

Hmm not sure if it'll keep rude people away or encourage more insults.


Recently, Mum, Louis, Ro and I walked some of the Camino de Santiago. It's a route pilgrims used to walk across Spain all the way to the Cathedral in Santiago.

We entered in France, and before boarding the train in Biarritz we hauled in a picnic of apricot tarte, flans and pain au raisin with a bottle of cidre and paper cups. The train stopped frequently at alpine villages with no platforms punctuating our views of endless green slopes and snowy tips.

The guesthouse was run by a pencil thin pencil lipped henna bobbed French woman In a jade shirt suit, her terrier Elan, and her absolutely normal for 2016 smiling daughter. Glass domes of marshmallows on the counter.

The problem I have is that I seem to be the only true pilgrim on this trail. We are walking everyday but I think it should go further than that with a spartan spread to greet us each evening. The others went totally lux tonight ordering cod omelette and goats cheese salad and any pudding they liked. I meanwhile grovelled to the €12 pilgrim set menu- cod LESS omelette, goats cheese LESS salad. I might as well have worn my set menu apple crumble round my head like thorns whilst they deliberated over creme brûlée or chocolate mousse. As I say, choice is the devil's dessert.

I luckily don't get much choice on this holiday, sartorially at least, as I only brought one outfit and underwear set for five days. I'm two days down now... I'll let you know in a few days whether I've cooked up my own cod omelette.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Eat your greens

I sometimes can't remember whether Greyson is a dog or a child. We seem to have got a bit confused lately as for some reason we've been trying to give him more vegetables. I'm not quite sure why.
It does feel strange as a vegetarian to be feeding him tins of scraps of old dead animals off the cutting room floor but more vegetables with said animal product doesn't make it fully better.

I have been researching about how to make nutritionally complete vegetarian dog food for him but it takes a lot of time and effort. I put in an order for the ingredients but then left them in the car at my Granny's.

Anyway. More vegetables. I wouldn't say they're his favourite yet. Louis added spinach the other day to his bowl and he just ate the tinned food around it.


You've just really got to mix them well so he doesn't notice. I stuck my hands in and massaged some kale  so throughly with tinned chicken that he gobbled up the whole thing.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Easter rising

Mum asked what I thought she should make for Easter this year.
Louis and I distinctly remember her making a pie last year which had whole eggs baked inside.

She didn't remember and seemed to think the recipe I found a lot of effort.

"How many eggs?" "12". "That's a lot!"  "One for each Apostle. Oh and it's got 33 layers of pastry. One for each year of Christ's life." APPARENTLY the symbolism of the different elements in the pie give it as many layers of Easter significance as there are layers of dough in the crust.

Mum doesn't believe in Christ or my instructions it seems as she only used five eggs and one layer of bought puff pastry. And served it with cous cous..

Here's the basic recipe.

Filling : combine cooked diced onion, cooked spinach once you've made a bit less wet, Parmesan ricotta cheese, 3 eggs mixed in to the mixture. 

Put in pot lined with 12 layers pastry. Make little wells for the 12 eggs.

Put pastry lid on and cook.