Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Currying favour

Living with an expat Australian I've been touched by how generous they are with social offers when new Australians arrive off the boat and don't know anyone yet. I've always been a mingler but I thought this was taking it to new heights.

We had a few newbies round on Friday night for a friend date. Seeing as "what's one more between friends" we decided to invite all the curries as well. We made daal, and saag paneer, and chettiar aubergine curry, and a sweet potato one, rice, and chapaatis. Half an hour into cooking, with them all jostling for attention on the stove, we wondered aloud if we were doing one too many. Hmm. What's the ratio of main courses per guest though? 1:1 right? So we carried on.

I think it was really nice for our guests as it was so hot and steamy in the room that it probably was quite reminiscent of home. They didn't have to make any awkward chit chat with their hosts as we were too busy cooking to talk to them. And it's the Australians that don't eat supper until 9.30pm right?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Mini nightmare

Whilst Mum was away recently I took it upon myself to spring clean her stuff. First load out was a boot full of mugs that make me feel dirty inside when I drink from them. Even worse an offender than the "Mums are special" and the plain white one probably from the village hall,  was the "Cadbury's Mini egg" one. You know exactly the one I mean. Your dentist has one, your workplace has three, even the artisan cafe on Columbia road with the freshly roasted coffee which should know better has one actually hanging on the wall in full sight.

Eurghh. I hesitated at the counter of the charity shop. "Are these any good?" I asked tentatively. Oh yes, yes please we desperately need stock. I wrinkled my nose. "Are you sure you want them though?"


When I came back a few weeks later I found the mini egg mug back on the kitchen shelf. "What is this I see before me? This vile sight?"  Ro suggested Mum had bought it thinking she could now have a set, but I think I might just have accidentally left it in the boot of the car, my hands were so full of all the other bits and pieces I was confiscating.

Something that really couldn't have the eggs left out of it is a lovely broccoli and stilton quiche like the one I made this week for Louis and I. I made the pastry, then popped broccolli, grated courgette and cheese in, then poured a mix of three eggs and milk on top, topped by more cheese. We had it with sweet potato mash and posh baked beans to give it some wet.

Now THAT is taste!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Feeding the Fran-thousand

Walking to the tube at Easter I glimpsed a spindly procession of people winding through the park, singing, led by a berobed Priest holding a sceptre. Two followers were weighed down by the crucifix. It was raining and I felt a bit sorry for their meagre attendance in this confusing modern world in which all people I know definitely don't think it's a good idea to walk around in the rain believing a story in a scroll.

I thought maybe I should join them to cheer them up. Louis tells me he's glad we're together so he doesn't have to eat pizza alone each evening. Maybe they'd be equally buoyed by my presence.

But my new union wasn't to last as long as the one with my beloved (yes, two years, I know right). They and their huge cross congregated in front of the tube as I needed to enter it, thus cutting short my path into Catholicism as they lengthened my journey to Euston. EXCUSE ME!

I reflected on my day as I tucked into my fish pie at Mum's later and concluded that when there's mash and cheese sauce involved  it's much nicer to be alone. Or just have a Mum who's a slow eater.

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Crowing at my triumph

The other day I saw a sign from God.

"You, like the crow, me incarnate, should also eat more leftovers". It seemed to be saying.
Obs God! Of course I eat leftovers. I'm a pre Mum. What else can I do?

Well, it seemed to be saying, "Make the best of the desert of your fridge and only eat what is in there for forty days". Oh I see. As long as I don't have to eat Granny's leftovers out the wheelbarrow.

On Tuesday night Louis made fajitas for S coming back home. We really enjoyed it. Our stomachs were certainly not heaving unlike the plates! The next day Chazzy came for lunch on her last day off school and I cut some lettuce to add to it and we scouped up the fajita mix with some pittas I had lying around.

For supper Louis and I had the same fajita mix again apart from with a jazzed up guacamole called "goddess dressing". Ahem, a bit blasphemous don't you think Thomasina Myers? Now, I've REALLY been touched by the spirit.

I was still sticking to my meagre fare by Thursday. Leftovers Meal 4. I finished the fajita wraps and fillings ready for Louis and I to go out for dinner with my Aunty. They wanted to tempt me way from my four day walk in the fajita desert but I said get thee hence satan, and steered us into the arms of Chilango in Angel.

Friday I was really pleased to find one last wrap in the fridge and cleared it off with some smoked salmon and lettuce.

I should have just used that last wrap to wear as a halo!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Coffing up the patriarchy

Watching the last episode in the season of Girls today I was dismayed to hear Jessa instruct a whimpering man to "BE A MAN".

Don't you mean be an adult Jessa?

She meant he needed to take responsibility for the situation. When people say someone is being a girl, they mean child. Shying away from a hard, scary, dirty situation. Man equals strength, pride and mastery.

Coffee is something men seem to have stolen as one of their own. Dark, strong, gives you a headache, yeah tough guy. I practically ground those beans myself with my huge strong feet. And only my large flared nostrils can take in that heady scent. Hey lady, careful, it might knock you out.

I was getting a coffee at a van a little while ago and the man said "ooh what about a mocha?" and because I'm polite I took it. But I just wanted a coffee! I can drink things without the inclusion of chocolate and nailvarnish you know! or whatever mocha has in it.

Coffee should just be for adults. Unisex. Men already own beards and bikes and vinyl and bookshops, and all tools, beer, lawnmowers, and fountain pens and sticky ribs, and oxford shirts, and ten eggs, and hunks of bread and dripping, and pies with a whole chicken in it stuffed inside a goose stuffed inside an ostrich, and animal fat.

I'm going to start reclaiming all strong flavours as unisex adult. I'm going to make a dish of anchovies, olives, gherkins, chilli, soy sauce and capers crushed with a hammer, then marinated in beer and served as a stew on crusty bread. MMMMMMM.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


This morning I asked Louis what he'd like for dinner. "Something healthy please."

"What about fish?"

He looked at me. "Or why don't I just eat my own phlegm."

Oh. Rude. Just a suggestion.

"No, no hurt eyes- I mean because i've got a cold."


Bouncing back, I made what Ottolenghi deemed good winter comfort food. Carrot, cucumber, mangetout cut into matchsticks. Broccoli sliced very finely. All steam cooked in a miso, soy, sugar, water brown sticky mix. Sushi rice for the veg to lay their heads on and a drizzle of sauce (crushed toasted peanuts, sesame seeds, white rice vinegar, groundnut oil).

In the park about 6pm I started talking to a fellow Mum. She said she'd better get back to do her kids tea. "What are you making" I asked conspiratorially. "Spicy chicken. They always complain but they like it really"

I really like to agree with everyone but I found empathising with her over them a challenge. Mm the same boring animal flesh with chilli on they get every week. Sounds great. Instead I did what a lot of adults seem to do and without acknowledging what she had said I changed the subject to myself.

"Mine just wanted something healthy so that's quite easy. Just popped an Ottolenghi on. Can't go wrong!"

Fake bake

Louis made us a delish lentil bake with carrots, roast potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli. My only problem with it was that I couldn't stop eating it. 

In the kitchen later when I was meant to be washing up I kept picking at the leftovers. 

"Will you take this away from me please?" I called out mournfully. 

"Why don't you try exercising some self control?"

Sad face. 

"It'll expand in your stomach and you'll feel bad then."

"You'll feel worse in bed later if that happens. It's within your interests to physically stop me I think" I replied. 

But help didn't come.

The next day poor Louis was poorly so was home whilst I worked. About midday he emerged blinking in the light for some nourishment. Uhoh. I had been looking forward to the leftovers as lunch. There wasn't enough for two.

"Don't you know you're meant to starve a cold my sweet? I'd get back to bed if I were you and not eat all day."

"Really? But I'm hungry. "

"Yep. Trust me. I'm 1/4 a doctor remember."

Sunday, 22 March 2015

We knead to know

This dessert or tea time thing is causing some problems. I texted my housemates asking if they wanted a veg roast on Sunday and S replied saying we could have the hot cross buns she was going to make for dessert. Hmm well.

Luckily she's on to this and swiftly messaged again "Fran, can you ask your Grandparents if that's appropriate pudding food?"


"What about as bread and butter pudding?"

Ah yes. She gets it.

In the end we settled on an afternoon tea of buns and butter. They're being made right now. Mmmmm.

The recipe is approx: Boil milk, add butter, cool, put flour salt sugar yeast into a bowl making a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter, then egg. Mix to sticky dough, knead until elastic for five minutes. Cover with oiled cling film, rise in warm place 1hr. Tip in spices and orange and lemon zest and mix. Leave to prove itself for an hour. Divide, shape, cook. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Can I please desert you now?

My house mate recently had the MOST traumatic experience.

No, it wasn't that a man offered to cook at our flat for her on only the fourth date. Gross.
No, it wasn't that he asked her if she'd prefer if he made an appetiser or dessert. "Both you tight wad. And why are you practicing this midweek...?"
No, it wasn't that he texted her asking if she could provide milk and butter. "Alright i'll give you the pound!"

It wasn't even that when he was cooking, our hot plate overheated and wrecked his sauce and her provision of almond milk refused to stick together the breadcrumbs.
It wasn't that he's never heard of a restaurant.

FOR DESSERT he bought, not cooked, a dry old Victoria Sponge from Tesco.

I knew this was the most wrong bit. Wikipedia doesn't mention Victoria Sponge in its comprehensive lists of desserts. I asked my Granny and Grampa if it was an appropriate dessert, and Granny said "Well. Yes, but only if you were using it as the base for a trifle" whilst Grampa looked quite confused and or angry. Bob was apoplectic. And she knows her puddings (not a fat joke, she just does).

I'm going to have to have words with Tindr

Enjoy the drop

I've become a bit of a whippet paedophile. Puppyphile? Yesterday I went to Bob's house for dinner, kidnapping the one I was caring for that day. "Are you sure you don't want to pick her up from Stoke Newington? If not I can only drop her off now. Yes, right now. Only this second. No? Okay. See you another day then".
I was especially looking forward to dinner as I was going to start my blog up again to much fanfare but hush you crowds- I can't properly- as this morning I dropped my brand new iphone down the toilet. I hurried hauled it out and then whilst putting it to absorb in a bag of Arborio rice I managed to drop it again- in the washing up bowl full of dirty water.

So I sit on the bus mournfully despairing that my iphone photos of Bob's feast have drowned. No more are my photos of Bob and Chaz enjoying delicious mozzarella pizza with roast butternut squash and toasted seeds and chilli coriander yoghurt with gluten free brownies for pudding. 

I really needed some comfort to cheer me. OOh what's that rustling in my pocket? One of the whippet puppy owners has thoughtfully cut up some cheddar into little squares in a sandwich bag as training treats.

I ate them one by one. Perhaps they'll train me not to drop phones in water!