Sunday, 23 November 2008

From here on in...

Since starting a group called 'Self sufficientish' over on Flickr, there's not a whole lot of self sufficientish going on. In fact, I've pretty much become dependent on poor David, who's been doing the vast majority of cooking, cleaning and general nurturing in our flat - even down to taking the kittens to the vet. Still, ahead of NYE and resolutions etc, I have decided to turn a new leaf and try to prevent teaching from taking over as much of my life as it has (guess that means I'll have more to blog about anyway...)

With this in mind I happily purchased a carton of buttermilk today, with which I plan to make my first loaf of soda bread tomorrow... it's the small things in life, hey?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Happy Birthday

Woops - amidst my excitement over half term recently I forgot to wish a very Happy Birthday to L'Epicerie @ 56. Well done chaps :)

Monday, 3 November 2008

Dig for Britain

Having a garden is obviously a bonus here, but in the meantime I shall dream of the things I might grow from here. Quite like the sound of starting a seed circle, too...

Monday, 15 September 2008

Tomato update - 15.09.08

This is my last tomato update of the season - let's face it, there's only so many blog entries you can get from growing something that's as easy as tomatoes are!

Still, if fortunate enough to have a couple left, why not keep some of the seeds and store ready to sow in January or February? All you need to do is put them into a metal sieve and rub under the tap until the jelly has come off around the outside of each seed. Once you've done this leave to dry before labeling and storing for next year.

These ones here actually came in my veg bag - really lovely plum tomatoes which I always think are quite hard to find in the shops. Looking forward to seeing how they turn out next year!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Stoate's Organic

I never expected to enthuse about flour packaging, but here I go; how nice is this flour bag? Hope the flour's half as a good :)

Friday, 8 August 2008

Art, ice cream and the Savoire Fayre

It's not often I go to private views anymore, but I did last night, and mistakenly thought it to be another small-scale party in Hackney. Oh contraire - it was in a building now owned by a proper artist (Yinka Shonibare) - complete with ice cream van no less! Even more astounding was the olive oil ice cream they were handing out. Quite strange... but not unpleasant. I'd give you details of the maker, but all I know is that her name is Kitty.

Feeling a bit sore today...

Still, on a perkier note, if in town this weekend head to the Savoir-Fayre, taking place tomorrow at Hackney City Farm. Run by my lovely friend Lynn Chambers. The idea being that you "spend less time spending" - learning skills such as bicycle maintenance, crochet (always a fave of mine) or even how to make your own yarn. Fun fun fun.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

How to make Limoncello

Sadly, my lovely friends Nico and Willow have just yesterday left London to move to Stockholm (albeit by car in a Fiat 500, complete with cat!)

Fortunately we saw them before they left at David's birthday party, at which point they presented us (oh alright, him) with a bottle of home-made Limoncello. How rad? Well, we tried it last night and it is absolutely delicious, but better yet, they've posted the recipe and instructions up on flickr.

Give it a go!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Mmmm cheese

Yum! Snapped this morning at the Italian cheese stall on Broadway Market. My personal fave is the creamy young Gorgonzola, on the back right-hand side. It's absolutely amazing, you should try it!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

tomato update - 15.07.08

Today we finally got to eat the first ripe tomato, and let me tell you it was bloody good. Unfortunately it's not displayed in this pic, as we were so eager to get stuck in and I didn't think to take a picture of it until it was gone :(

Next year, I hope to grow more - two plants isn't enough!

Monday, 7 July 2008

A little thrift goes a long way

So Gordon Brown has urged us all to stop wasting food, has he? Shame he hasn't offered any thoughts on how. Still there are plenty of books around to offer sagely advice and tips, and with recent trends towards growing your own veggies there are more available then ever. One book that I thought was very good on the subject was by Rose Prince, The New English Kitchen. She does also now have a book out called The New English Table although I haven't had a chance to check it out (sounds too familiar to its predecessor!)

Anyway, I digress. One great way to start is by making your own bread, as I'm sure I've harped on enough about before. I've found that actually it really isn't that time intensive to make a fairly decent loaf, and for some reason it seems to out-last a shop bought loaf by far (although to be honest with the smell of freshly baked bread in your house you won't need to worry about it hanging around long enough anyway).

Does anyone else have any good suggestions out there for being thrifty with your food? Perhaps this could be the beginning of thrifty pick of the week....? Sure there's bound to be some thrifty tips on here to get you going in the meantime.

And while we're on the subject of thrift, thanks to a weekend fishing trip we've now re-stocked our freezer on mackerel (for suitably smug picture see above)

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

help help help

I wouldn't normally do this, but I have been working VERY hard this year, as many of my friends will know (ie. I hope you still remember what my face looks like!) Anyway, I have a balloon in Orange's balloon race. Please help me by clicking here to help speed my little balloon across the skies of the world wide web. The prize is a trip to Ibiza, and boy do I need it!

Self Sufficientish

I've started a new group over on flickr for people to post up any efforts towards self sufficiency, however big or small. Please feel free to join and contribute.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Growing Communities cont...

It is a little while since I have waxed lyrical about my love for Growing Communities, so I thought I would update you with their message from last week's veg bag. It really struck a chord - their ideals and what they are trying to do is rather refreshing, and even makes me feel hopeful about things.

I hope that GC are able to continue going from strength to strength, and don't suffer under the current problems regarding oil, food and the credit crunch. I hope that people aren't abandoning them in favour of other cheaper alternatives (although I still believe that the service they offer is really quite reasonable), and more importantly I do hope that this represents a new direction in our relationship with food and its production.

"This month's Ecologist features an interview with Julie, our director, on how Growing Communities is trying to re-localise Hackney's food system. "Re-localise" is a hybrid word we know - but it is the best way of describing what we are trying to do - which is to change the way people in Hackney are fed. We want to make sure that people here can buy food which is locally grown and produced in a low-carbon way, and distributed sustainably. As Julie says in the article we're trying to create a system robust enough to withstand both climate change and peak oil. We are getting an increasing number of people from organisations across the UK wanting our help to develop similar projects using GC the model. We do plan to do this - it's always been one of our aims to get other communities across the UK (or even London would be a good first step) to set up their own versions of GC - using our projects and our key principles as a guide. All this is good news, however, given the current climate and a combination of increased food/fuel costs and lower incomes for a lot of people - this is just the time when things could get difficult. We need our members to stay with us. It's possible that the current oil price hike is just a blip - but even so - it's one that gives an indication of what the future is likely to hold. We need people to decide that they want to carry on buying sustainable fruit and veg - and supporting our efforts to set up an alternative to the current system. By belonging to GC you are part of a real force for change. We really can't do it without you."

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Sigara Borek

When I was about 8 years old we went on a family holiday to Turkey. I have many happy memories from that holiday, but one which particularly stood out (I think for all of us) was the joy of eating Sigara Borek every evening. They are so delicious, and although I've not been to Turkey since I suppose I have tried to re-enact this little holiday ritual in my obsessive search for spinach pie whenever I go to Greece. Although this recipe from Binnur's Turkish Cookbook doesn't use spinach I recommend making it with, as we had them at the local restaurant.

My only hope is that when I make these they live up to the memory.

Friday, 20 June 2008

David's delicious dinners

Whilst I've been working away on my never-ending cycle of plan-teach-review David has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen. My favourite from last week was a supper of squid and samphire with roasted potatoes and veggies. Yum!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Eat the seasons

Anyone wanting for up-to-date information on what's in season here in England should sign up to receive weekly emails from Eat The Seasons. Each week you get a brief summary of what's good now (mainly fruit and veggies but also fish and some meat, mostly game) along with recipes and cooking suggestions. What's not to like?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Hackney School Cook's Recipe Book

A step in the right direction... not entirely sure I agree 100% with some of the ingredients but it's a leap on from some of the pap I've seen out there! Unfortunately there isn't a link directly to the news item about it, you can download it as a pdf from the news section on the right-hand side of the homepage.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Tomato update

In lieu of time to do anything else, I am going to have to restrict this blog to tomato updates, which are about my only hands on contact with food at the moment - other than meal times, but I'm not cooking anything :(

Only 2.5 more weeks to go, keep calm and carry on. Soon I will have a life again.

Incidentally the variety I went for is known as 'Gardener's Delight' - apparently an all round winner.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Musical vegetables

I love this. Brilliant! If only there were instructions. This guy is absolutely radio rental - managing to combine two of my favourite things, food and music. The 'radish clarinet' tops the bill for me...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

the tiniest tomato

David has gone away for the weekend - I've had to stay behind as I have so much college work, poop. Still I was able to enjoy a lovely almond croissant and cappuccino for breakfast on London Fields this morning (top pic: view from breakfast bench). And this little chap is our first tomato - obviously, he's got some growing to do...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

My happy tomato plants

I've not got much time for anything at other than school at the moment. It's pretty full on, although at least I'm now avoiding the dinners there. As I sit here at my computer, planning lessons like there's no tomorrow, looking up at these two tomato plants makes me happy. In a moment of wisdom I sowed them back in March - I can't wait to try the first of the summer.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

You are what you eat

I'm not going to lecture here, but I am going to recommend you watch this, which I stumbled upon courtesy of Knotty's blog Managed Objects.

Monday, 2 June 2008


Ok, so not exactly edible. Still, nice to see this little fella making his annual appearance.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Elderflower Season

How funny is this? Our electric hob (yuk!) caught fire not too long ago, and as we only rent this place we decided to make do with a gas camping stove until we buy our own place. It looked hilarious weighed down underneath my ginormous jam pan.

Looking forward to a fresh supply of elderflower cordial - I can easily drink a bottle a week, which can work out to be pretty expensive for something that grows like a weed!

Friday, 30 May 2008

More on school dinners

It's a while since Jamie Oliver bought the current state of school dinners to our attention - and at the time got a very good response (at least from the parents). Alarmingly, this article today highlights how ministers are now going back on their pledge of a minimum spend of 50p for every school meal in the face of our current soaring food prices.

In addition, I have been visiting a relative who's spent time in hospital this year and have to say the situation there is equally as grim. It makes me wonder how on earth anyone is ever supposed to get better eating the food provided? Perhaps odder though is watching someone who's been very sick have very specific advice from a dietitian, only to be ignored by the kitchen, meaning that said patient can't eat anything. The mind boggles.

Still, trying to stay positive the School Food Trust still remains, as set up by the government back when they made their pledge of 50p in 2005, with new standards to be implemented in schools from September onwards. In addition to this the Food for Life Partnership is committed to joining up schools and communities across the country in an effort to ensure good school meals and home cooked dinners. And I suppose I will finally be able to put my money where my mouth is once I'm a qualified teacher...

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Vicky's bread

Sorry... in relating my culinary adventures of the weekend I missed out one very important discovery. Being as obsessed with bread as I am I decided to buy a loaf from the health food shop in Falmouth yesterday, and stumbled upon Vicky's Bread.

I'll just say this; if you are in the area you should seek this out, it's absolutely delicious. Available in quite a few places - get some whilst you can!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A fine time had by all

I've just got back from a long weekend in Falmouth, and boy oh boy do they make some stinky cheese down there! Hailing from Penryn (or 'ryn to locals) Menallack Farm make some particularly fine cheese, as sampled by me from David's plate (sorry David), at Ratho.

I really like eating at Ratho as they always seem to go that little bit further than others. For example, in offering fine cheese made about 5 miles outside of Falmouth, served with handmade biscuits made on the premises - superb!

Sadly Menallack Farm do not seem to have a website, however they do offer a mail order service boasting a wopping 36 Cornish cheeses, 16 of which are made at the farm, in addition to another 5 from outside the county such as good ol' Montgomery's Cheddar.

No piccie, but I hope you'll forgive me... I seem to have been quite slack on the photo front recently, but promise to make it up to you.

On another note, dates for this year's Oyster Festival (again, in Falmouth) are 16-19 October. I should be teaching by then (all being well) so I do hope that falls in the half term!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Birthday goodness

Two books The River Cottage Fish Book and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Both look absolutely awesome and I can tell will get a lot of use. I have found my River Cottage Meat Book indispensable over the past year, and with eight weeks off this summer am looking forward to catching as much with my fishing rod as possible!

Also, last night we went out to have dinner at Ottolenghi in Islington with my Dad and Aunty Stella - it was so good, I highly recommend it. The food was delicious, (washed down with a particularly fine Sancerre I might add) and I also loved the fact that the atmosphere was relaxed: it made for a very lovely meal had by all. I did actually take my camera, but like all good meals when it came down to taking pics I thought "Sod that, I'm eating!"

There you go, one very good reason why I am no good at restaurant reviews: too gushy by far. And so, looking forward to the continuation of birthday goodness this evening amongst friends at the Royal Oak. Hurrah.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

the first mackerel of the summer

Went fishing again this weekend in Weymouth, and David and I managed to catch a couple of dozen mackerel between us - surprising for this time of year, but I'm certainly not complaining!

Friday, 9 May 2008

A note on my Mother

She's alive and well... I hope to bake my first loaf tomorrow (today = Friday) - cannot help but rub my hands in glee. I've been lifting the tea towel off the top for hourly checks on her progress! Looking good mah man - looking gooooood!

BBQ Good-ness

Our first BBQ of the season - and bloody brilliant it was too if you don't mind me saying so: black bream, haloumi, red pepper, courgettes and salad (all veggies via Growing Communities) all washed down with a bottle of rosé. Lovely job.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

On having expensive taste...

David has commented on numerous occasions over the past year or so that we are, in fact, food snobs. I have always re-buffed such claims, suggesting instead that there is nothing wrong with wanting good, honest food. The majority of the time this means I end up undertaking a degree of culinary experimentation, however it also means that from time to time I spend ridiculous amounts of money of things I do not yet have the means to make (such as cheese and wine).

The upshot of this is that the problem with expensive taste is the amount of money you end up spending, particularly when you like drinking half-decent French red wine. So... having just had a little snoop around the St. John site I was overjoyed to discover that not only do they have two fine restaurants - they also have an online wine shop. It looks all too tempting, and better yet, affordable!

Dear readers, I shall investigate very soon!

[the pic used above of course, comes courtesy of their site]

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Pleased to eat you

I have a great food swap going on at the moment. A friend of mine loves fishing, and goes regularly to the reservoirs by Walthamstow Marshes. He catches more trout than he knows what to do with.... but luckily also has a penchant for croissants with jam (can you see where this is leading?) Anyway, we've got a trout for jam deal - suits me just fine! This is the second of the season - yum :)

Monday, 5 May 2008

Small problemo...

In announcing my boycott following a recent price hike on sourdough bread I was perhaps a little hasty... have just looked at what's required to make one loaf of bread, and it sounds like it needs an awful lot of babysitting and attention. Fine in the school holidays, but perhaps not too practical for your morning toast... darn it. Still, it has also been pointed out that there is a potential gap in the market for some healthy competition ;)

Still, day 2 of the Mother and all appears to be ok - it looks suitably disgusting and I'm guessing by the bubbles that fermentation has begun!

On another homemade enterprise note - elderflower season starts soon - better order some citric acid.

Meet my mother

Due to another recent price hike on my local loaf of sourdough bread, I've been prompted to make my own. The exciting thing about this is that rather than using conventional yeast you need to use a 'mother' instead. I suppose it's fair to say that you wouldn't normally associate the word exciting with bread making... but then this is almost more of a home science experiment than anything else (somewhat like my doomed attempts to make ginger beer...)

So, taken from Beyond Nose to Tail by the chaps of St John, here is the recipe I have plumped for. Posting of sourdough recipe shall depend upon my success with the Mother. Wish me luck.

1 stick of rhubarb
210ml water
2 tbsp live yoghurt
50g rye flour
50g wholemeal flour
100g strong white flour

Day 1
Chop the rhubarb into slices 5mm thick and mix with the water and yoghurt. Add the flour and stir until you have a wet, lumpy mixture. Place in a clean container, dust with white flour and leave somewhere warm (around 26-28 C)

Day 2
Just give the mixture a stir and dust with white flour again.

Day 3
Stir it again; you should see signs of fermentation taking place. Add 4 tablespoons of white flour and 4 tablespoons of water, mix well and dust with white flour.

Day 4-5
On Day 4, discard about a third of the Mother and replace with a fresh quantity of all the ingredients except the rhubarb. Repeat on Day 5.

Day 6
The Mother should now be ready to use in your bread making - it should be bubbly and smell strong and sour.

After making a loaf, you will need to replenish the Mother with half and half flour and water, in equal quantities to the amount you took out - so if you make a White Loaf for example, using 100g of Mother, you would have to replace it with 50g flour and 50 ml water. The type of flour you use for replenishment depends on which loaf you plan to make next: for a white loaf use strong white flour; for brown, use 25g strong white flour and 25g wholemeal flour.

After replenishing, leave the Mother to ferment for a day before use. You can leave it in the fridge without feeding for months but it will take a few days to restart it by feeding it - again, discard about a third and feed it equal parts flour and water. Repeat this until there are signs of fermentation.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Hotel Ammos

I forgot to mention where we went on holiday - Hotel Ammos - it was absolutely lovely and perfect for two such worn out people as David and I were when we arrived. The staff went beyond what would normally constitute good service, accommodation was comfortable and luxurious, and of course the restaurant did not disappoint. Highlights included Spinach Pies (pictured above), Zucchini Balls, Fennel Pie and the best Greek sweets I've ever eaten.

I felt so inspired upon return that I instantly ordered this book from Amazon.

Friday, 2 May 2008

hurrah for the internet

My first order of booze from St John (or HG Wines) has arrived!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

extended holiday

Dear Blog Readers,

Apologies but I am going to have to take an extended holiday as college is currently consuming every waking hour... I look forward to re-joining the land of the living this July.

em x

Sunday, 13 April 2008

On Holiday

My dear lovely readers, I am now on holiday (lucky me). No doubt I shall update you on anything made when I return.

em x

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Grow your own

The idea of growing your own fruit and veg seems to be one of the big things over the past couple of years, what with an increasing demand for allotments and an ever expanding desire to be 'self sufficientish' - encouraged all the more by the Guardian's current marketing ploy.

Of course I'm no different, but my complete lack of a garden for the past couple of years has obviously curbed such desires - until now. We're not entirely sure how it will work out yet, but there has been talk of building some kind of platform that sits on our roof, reached and tended via the skylights. How practical this is I'm not yet sure, but I have already got four fine 'Gardener's Delight' tomato seedlings growing (one of which pictured above) and have even managed to germinate one of my 'Alpine Strawberry' seeds, which are apparently quite a tricky. She is also pictured above in the bottom right hand pot, although yes, you may need a magnifying glass to spot her at the moment.

For the more adventurous amongst you (and not to mention, those blessed with a garden) there is a post on about how you might go about growing your own truffles - which would certainly trump the home-grown lettuce card at a dinner party.

I suppose ultimately I find it quite exciting... even when nothing seems to be happening, much the same as I'll try my hand at homemade ginger beer, or pickled onions. It's all one big science experiment to me, and ultimately, there is a satisfaction derived from eating something you've had a considerable hand in producing that you just can't buy, no matter how delicious. God, don't I sound smug?

NB. alpine strawberry has since taken leave (ahem, excuse the pun)... may have to wait until I get a garden for that one.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

life in the slow lane

Our hob caught fire the other day. I say this in a flippant way like it was funny, but really, if anyone's ever encountered an electrical fire I'm sure you'll understand what I mean when I say I shat myself.

Still, it has forced us back to a slightly slower way of cooking things, one of them being scrambled eggs, which David requested for breakfast this morning. Luckily, we now have a wood burning stove (installed in December, in lieu of any kind of central heating) which has two cooking plates on top. Would you believe it? I even manged to cook some mushrooms to go with it :)

Something worth baring in mind though, before you all wistfully romanticize the possibilities of a wood burning stove - the scrambled eggs were really quite weird, more like creamed eggs... something which I think could be avoided by less stirring. I do like the challenge though - and it's so good for slower things like stews and stock.

Friday, 4 April 2008

The culinary delights of Hackney

It's a while since I've been to Victoria Park - and my, how it's coming on. I was making my way towards the lovely Pavillion Cafe in the park, which I'd heard lots of goodness about. Aside from the swarms of yummy mummys chasing Oscar/Matilda etc. away from other tables I have to say it indeed did deserve such praise. Organic and Fairtrade items feature regularly on the menu, and although I've yet to test it, the food looked good, sourced from the likes of Brindisa and the Ginger Pig, and it is now also a collection point for the Growing Communities veg box scheme. Coffee was the Monmouth Coffee people - my fave! Really, I suppose the yummy mummy comment is a little unfair; no doubt in time I'll be just the same, and really, it's my own fault for trying to seek some solitude there during the Easter Holidays on the warmest day yet!

So... coming back to the culinary delights of Hackney, getting back on my bike I cycled via the roundabout, in the direction of Homerton. On my way I passed a promising fish and chip restaurant/take away called The Fish House (we're trying it out this evening), opposite a branch of The Ginger Pig - set to open April 8th. How exciting! Will have to investigate further this evening...

ps - obviously I didn't quite get it together to post this last night and so can report happily that their fish and chips is good!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Hmmm... bread

I like bread (which I think I've mentioned before) so thought I'd recommend something to you, as have recently been making mine using 100% Wholewheat flour from The Watermill, in Cumbria.

Not only is it organic, biodynamic and every other type of 'ic too, it's also delicious, made from UK wheat rather than Canadian and now available in Homerton at the deli on Chatsworth Road*

*No, that's not a plug - I no longer work there ;)

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Make mine a Sledgehammer!

I have often considered writing about the Sledgehammer, but for some reason to have never quite managed it. Well consider it no more! The Sledgehammer is absolutely brilliant, and I often credit it for it's cold-fending-off properties. Really it's best enjoyed right before getting into bed - what more can I say, the name does it all - a good night's sleep shall follow. Basically, it's honey and lemon, with a good few slices of ginger to give it a kick and a healthy dose of whiskey.

Tip 1 - You might want to make sure that the honey's not commercial - they pasturise commercial honey for some reason, wasting all of it's healthy goodness.

Tip 2 - Whilst this can still be made without ginger (or whiskey for the teetotal) NEVER attempt to make it without the lemon, it becomes sickly and horrid.

Tip 3 - Why even wait for bedtime? I'm enjoying one right now ;)

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Converting to vegetarianism

I have often gazed hungrily at Yotam Ottolenghi's New Vegetarian recipes in the Guardian magazine each Saturday, but never attempted one before this evening. Shame on me - if the rest are like this - they're amazing!

Admittedly, half way in I did wonder if it was worth all the faff, but please do persevere. Sadly I have no photo, as the camera was the last thing on my mind, but surely that's got to be the sign of a bloody good feed?

Anyway, Iain and Sophie, if we do ever manage to sort out dinner, I promise I will cook these for you.

** sorry, in my excitement last night I forgot to mention what exactly it was that was so amazing - the answer my friends is Green Pancakes with lime butter - yum.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Beer - in a cake

I want these - a lot! I want to make them (and EAT) now, but obviously it's a little late in the day, and I don't have any Guiness at hand... or cream cheese... Still, come this Friday, I'll be gorging on 'em :)

PS - have since cooked these and am frankly underwhelmed - boo!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The latest...

... in my ridiculous thrifty d.i.y. projects in the kitchen. This time, my first pickling attempt, and seriously, what could be better than making your own pickled onions? Well, exactly, that's what I thought - not a bloody lot! And I've been waiting a long time to sample these babies... oh yes. Forget the two weeks of the ginger beer - I'm talking about three months here - at least. This takes some serious patience and self-discipline.

Again, from my trusty Good Housekeeping Family Library: Jams & Preserves these are really too easy and too good to be true. Anyway, here's the recipe, go ahead and try 'em.

Pickled onions
Choose small, even-sized onions; the silverskin kinds are best(I couldn't get these and just went for normal pickling onions from a greengrocer). Place without skinning in a brine made from 1lb salt to every gallon of water. Leave for 12 hours. Skin, then cover with fresh brine and leave for a further 24-36 hours, Remove the onions from brine and drain thoroughly. Pack into jars or bottles and cover with cold spiced vinegar (recipe to be found here, although you might want to try less cloves). Cover in the usual way. Leave for three months before using.

Moules Mariniere

I really love seafood, a lot. In particular, mussels. When I lived in Falmouth local ones from the Helford River were a given on the menu of any self-respecting restaurant. Usually the Helford River is better known for its Oysters (which, you can buy here in London incidentally) but the mussels win it for me every time. Unassuming, and ridiculously affordable at a mere £4 a kilo on Broadway Market (alas, from Wales, not Cornwall) I'm slightly embarrassed that I haven't cooked them before. Still... there's a first time for everything and tonight was such an occasion. No fuss, I went for the classic Moules Mariniere, recipe courtesy of my good friend Sarah, chef at the Seafood Bar in Falmouth.

Moules Mariniere
Melt a healthy knob of butter in a large saucepan and cook a finely chopped onion and garlic for a couple of minutes (I opted for two garlic cloves, but would actually use three next time). Add 1-2 glasses of dry white wine, season and turn up the heat high. Once the pot is sizzling away add the mussels (de-bearded of course: we had 1kg between 2) and put a lid on - they'll need to be steamed about 4-5 minutes, until they have all opened. Once opened, give a good stir, add a healthy amount of chopped parsley and some double cream and allow to thicken. Serve with chunks of fresh bread after a minute or so.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Bake your lawn

(pic. courtesy of The Cornish Mill and Bakehouse)

I really like this. A chap called Andrew Whitley (baker and all-round organic food champion by the sounds of things) has started a campaign called 'Bake Your Lawn', encouraging people to start growing their own wheat at home. Sadly, as pointed out in the article, if most people were to grow enough to cover the average family's bread requirements they would require 297 square meters - still, it's a step in the right direction, and I never heard of anyone not growing vegetables because they wouldn't be able to cover the entire year's worth.

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this before but I've been making my own bread now for a while, and it certainly does taste better and takes sandwiches to a new level of comfort-eating. I dream that at some point in the future I will have enough land that would enable me to do something like this, but for now I'll stick to using flour from Shipton Mills, or The Cornish Mill and Bakehouse.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Another day, another pie

For the first time since New Year David and I managed to get down to Broadway Market together. And it was nice. We got there early, so it was still quiet and the selection was good. One thing I was particularly keen to show him was a discovery made last week of Les's Game (his choice of grammar, not mine).

Les is a fantastic poacher (and if you're reading this Les, I hope I'm not offending you by calling you poacher, I just don't know the proper term without saying "He's a great hunting, shooting-type person"). Anyway, I digress - he pretty much lives up to all you'd imagine a great hunting shooting type person to be. Fully decked out in army green with a few choice hunting badges proudly sewn onto his waistcoat - let's not be squeamish, it'd be rude not to make the most of the season. This is organic proper meat at it's finest (if not cheapest) so I'm getting stuck in. Last week I bought a rabbit, this week we decided to try his Mixed Game pie - and mighty fine it is too!

With a strapline like "Fine Game, Posh Poultry and Pies" what's not to like? (excusing the veggies out there, of course). Get down to see him at Broadway Market whilst you can - the season's end is upon us.

Les - 07799 176013
6 Whielden Lane, HP7 0NP

ps - have since met Les' insanely cute Jack Russel terrier, named Gooner. It just gets better!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

No Catch Cod

It's a shame, reading in the Guardian today I see that the No Catch Cod company (the world's first organic, sustainable cod-farm) has gone into administration. Although it expensive (it costs around 50% more than wild cod) it is sustainable, and might I add, really bloody tasty too!

Let's hope this doesn't mean the end for guilt-free fish.