Eintopf

I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment, borrowed from the library, naturally. It’s called Consider the Fork, by food writer and historian Bee Wilson. I’m only a couple of chapters in but this history into the nature of the tools intrinsic to our kitchen habits is fascinating. So far, Wilson has discussed pots and knives, two vital components in the modern kitchen, not necessarily the case in years gone by.

She was discussing one pot cookery and those paragraphs certainly leapt out at me. Food in a pot, bubbling away and smelling delicious is primal. Nothing is better in this wet, wet, wet November we’re currently experiencing than a hearty one pot meal. The best of the bunch? Soup. Hands down. In Autumn and Winter, soup becomes one of my main food groups, which also includes wine and roasted parsnips. Not to mention being incredibly cheap to make. My latest batch of curried vegetable and lentil soup, as seen above, probably costs around 30p per portion. And that’s for a decent sized bowlful.  My latest batch of soup was a good one, but they all follow the same basic principle.

IMG_0621

1) Dice vegetables. Add to pot.

2) Add stock to pot.

3) Add spice, seasonings and flavouring to pot.

4) Bring pot to boil.

5) Simmer for a nice long time.

6) Blitz to a creamy loveliness.

This isn’t fancy soup with crème fraiche or chopped fresh herbs or pre-cooked veg sautéed in bacon fat. That would be a delight, sure, but this is more basic, more instinctive, simple and delicious. That’s my favourite kind of food.

Advertisements

Ging gang goolie goolie

I’ve been having a busy time lately. I’ve been rising from bed in the dark and going to sleep in the light. My body clock is just starting to realign itself again and I thought it was high time for a post. Last week, when my working hours were not corresponding to my natural rhythm, I didn’t feel like doing much. Gaming didn’t appeal, I didn’t have the patience for craft and aside from Bake Off and Doctor Who, there was little to grasp my attention on the television. So I picked up a book.

IMG_0431

(Apologies for the glare in the photo)

This was a glorious find from the library. How The Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton was a twee and sometimes shockingly truthful account regarding Brownies and Guides during World War Two. I must admit, I didn’t realise the extensive work that was performed by these young girls. I feel it should have more acknowledgement than just one book, even though this book is a delightful read. I thought Hampton wove the accounts of former Guides with her own research seamlessly. I was a Brownie during my younger years and certain recollections made me smile, as I too remember singing songs and playing Tag at Brownie Camp. But I also learnt a lot from this text, including the state of various occupied territories. I knew there was stark poverty and starvation in post-war Europe, but I didn’t quite realise the extent until Hampton describes the Dutch roasting tulip bulbs to eat. It certainly added a whole new dimension to my WW2 knowledge.

I would recommend this book to any history buff, any girl guide and anyone else who likes a good non-fiction book.

 

PS I hope to return with more regular posts now that my work schedule had calmed down.

Doing it right

Today I went shopping and it was glorious. The purse strings were able to be loosened a little this morning and I had wonderful time meandering around the local charity shops. I also popped into a couple of other high street shops in search of presents in lieu of an ample amount of birthdays in the pipeline. I can’t show pictures, just in case a birthday girl catches a glimpse, but let’s just say I’m very pleased with my purchases. I did pick up one item for myself.

IMG_0394

There is a talk of visiting this fine country in the future and what better way to begin my research than with a book about its famous food. I’m hoping it will tell me more about the varying regions and some origins of the classics.

IMG_0389

I was also lucky enough to find reduced bread in Waitrose. I’m only buying my bread reduced now, I can’t honestly afford it full price and as long as you’re patient, you’ll normally come up with the goods. I’ve visited Waitrose three times this week in search of reduced bread, and today was my lucky day. A loaf of seeded bread and four seeded rolls for the same price as one branded loaf. That’s shopping done right.

IMG_0396

I had a pleasant time this afternoon playing on my 3DS and baking flapjack. I tried a new recipe, using honey instead of golden syrup. It made a large dent in my rations, my jar of honey and box of oats still has to last me the month. But it did yield a good amount of golden bars. The sweet ration is running low, as you can imagine, so I need to bake to make sure I don’t polish off the eclairs!

I’m learning lessons whilst on this ration plan, and I’m going to make adaptations next month. I do think I’m going to stick with it though – my grocery bill is low, I feel healthier and I waste nothing. Not that I wasted much before, but I was guilty of having crisps for dinner or sweets for lunch on more than one occasion. My eating habits are better and I feel better because of it. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

Dear Mrs Last

DSCN2291

I finished reading the collection of your diary entries last night. When I finally closed the book, I had one of those pauses, where you lay silently and absorb everything you have just read. Mrs Last, I salute you.

I can admit now that at times, your constant fretting irritated me. But this is coming from a reader with no prior experience of war. Once your situation truly sunk in, two world wars within your lifetime, I could appreciate why you were always so anxious. Of course, I was also reading with the gift of hindsight. When you were writing to Mass Observation, you have no idea about the eventual outcome.

The pages of your book made me laugh and cry in equal measure. I was delighted with the cookery advice you share and the meals you made for your family. But most importantly, you made me think. Some of the social concepts you noted in your diary were yet to be named, but you were still fully aware of them. I cheered when you recognised when you finally acknowledge that you were not your husband’s slave! I think you would be an extremely engaging person to talk to and you have earned your seat at my fantasy dinner party, alongside Buddy Holly and Enid Blyton.

Thank you Mrs Last. Thank you for providing a human reaction to the era I have studied. You have helped me to understand the reasoning for attitudes at the time. You endured so much and I for one am glad to see your legacy in print.

Regards,

Rebecca

Treasure

The photo below looks like an ordinary grocery haul. In some senses, it is. But I did not part with one penny to obtain this food. It came from the generosity of the chap.

He is off on another jolly holiday and had to clear the fridge before departing. I was there, hessian bag in hand, ready to rescue anything I could. I came home with a real bounty. Thank you my love! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

DSCN1952

Broccoli, double cream, strawberries, Free From bread, avocados, eggs, apples, carrots, red onion, limes, lemon, clementines, light cream cheese, cherry tomatoes

            Now, onto the exciting matter of what I can concoct with my table laden with ingredients. All of the foodstuffs are things I like. Some regularly form part of my weekly shop, some of them I rarely buy. This is either because they are out of reach of my budget, or are not akin to my chosen lifestyle – here’s looking at you double cream! But nothing will be wasted on my watch.

This gift has come at the right time, as I have recently been re-reading Kitchen Diaries II. I have written about Nigel Slater’s wonderful book in an earlier post. His intuitive way of cooking, displayed in the book and on the recent television programme, is a style I wish to emulate. With unusual (to me) ingredients, some store cupboard staples and a little bit of risk taking, I should be able to feed myself this week on a minimal budget. I say minimal rather than nothing, as this Storyteller needs to purchase milk for idea-inducing tea.

By looking at the picture, I’m seeing some broccoli stirred with some cream cheese and herbs to make a lovely baked potato topping. Strawberries and cream will merge to create a decadent pudding. The lime and one avocado, along with a dash of chilli powder with make a cheat’s guacamole to be spread on toast. I can see those ripe cherry tomatoes finding their way to my pasta bowl. The possibilities have left me salivating. What would you make with these ingredients?

Due to my hours at work today, I shall be able to visit the supermarkets just as they whip out the yellow stickers. Fingers crossed that M&S will come up trumps and I’ll be able to get my hands on a couple of items that will bulk out the free food. If I come home this evening with salmon, I shall feel very lucky indeed.

This post has combined my three greatest passions. My chap, my handsome man and his bottomless kindness. Food; I adore every aspect about it and I can’t wait to start cooking up a storm. And being able to write about my culinary adventures on this very blog. It’s nice to start the week feeling content. Now, to the kitchen!

Teatime

It seems impractical to deal with the concept of time on my little blog, but it plays such a crucial role in my life.

We are all servants to the mistress of Time. I do miss the bygone days of First Year where one could attend a lecture (two hours long, max) and then the rest of the day would be free. Now, every moment of the too few hours we are blessed with have to be filled. Each one has to be utilised and time wasting is almost as bad as food wastage.

I flit between Uni work, Cath Kidston work, seeing boyfriend, seeing friends, chores, cooking and sleeping on a daily basis. My life is hectic, but it is my own choices that have made it that way. The rare time off I had last week was blissful. After a joyous time at the farm shop, we went for a meander around town. Both me and my chap love browsing the charity shops, with the Oxfam bookshop being a favourite of ours. Chap walked away with a couple more classics to add to his evolving collection, and I found this . . .

DSCN1026

 

It really is the most charming piece of non-fiction. Nicey and Wifey (aka Stuart and Jenny Payne) have created an intriguing book, filled with factual information and witty anecdotes. It does what it says on the biscuit tin; it’s all about tea and biscuits. The history of tea, what makes a biscuit and different genres of biscuit are examples of chapters I’ve enjoyed so far. This little book has made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, with the British traits that are so recognisable always prompting a chuckle.

It reminded me that taking time out is important. My morning cup of tea is fast becoming a moment of meditation, a snippet of free time that reminds me that everything is fine with the world. Maybe we could introduce “tea therapy” as the new fashionable evening class, yes?

Time flies, that’s its movement of choice. But at least it takes a pause to enjoy a good cup of tea. I would love to be able to add biscuits into the ritual, but gluten-free ones are slightly pricey and finding the time – oh, what am I like. Maybe I do need to rearrange my priorities in order to fit everything in. Or I could just dream of the upcoming summer where free time will return to me once more. One day, there will be time for morning tea, afternoon tea, tiffin and the like, but for now, my few minutes a day will still make me smile.

I’m off to put the kettle on.