Changes at the Dinner Table


Monday, 6 February 2017

As you know I like to cook. For the past twenty-two years I have been a family cook. I've cooked an evening meal nearly everyday of those twenty-two years, I've provided homemade packed lunches for three children throughout their school careers and one for my husband every working day. I've kept the cake tins and biscuit tins full, I've filled jar after jar with jams and jellies and I've baked at least three loaves of bread every week. I've bought in bulk, huge sacks of rice and potatoes, I've frozen gluts of fruit, made pastry and bread for the freezer. I've well and truly stocked up. It's been hugely rewarding and I've loved every minute, but now a lot of those things seem redundant.

Nothing stays the same. The three children are no longer children. One of them, George, has left home, for the time being at least, while he studies at university. Tom is still living with us but is rarely here for meals either eating at work or out with friends. Katie plans to go away to university in the autumn of next year, Tom has plans to move out in the next year or two. It won't be long before I'm cooking for two again. As it is, more often than not I find myself cooking for three.

I see these changes as A Good Thing. I embrace the opportunity to change the way I cook. For too long I have seen myself as an enhanced version of a school cook dishing up wholesome but hearty fare bolstered by plenty of home baking. Now I need to be a different kind of cook, one who provides lighter, smaller meals for two or three people. Meals without the additional calories ravenous teenage boys need. A fillet of sea bass, a few little potatoes roasted in their skins and a heap of green leaves lightly dressed, a marinated chicken breast baked on a tray of roasted vegetables. A warmly spiced stew of chickpeas, peppers and apricots, pasta with a simple sauce of olives, tomatoes and herbs, and vegetables, lots of vegetables This the food I want to eat. Puddings are not wanted except on occasion, cake is not needed except for birthdays, the freezer does not need to be stuffed, I do not need to stock my cupboards as if for a siege and nobody eats the jam I make. It's time to cook the kind of food that will be kind to me.

photos from my archives

Sue Gee


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Do you know Sue Gee's work? You may not, she doesn't seem to be very widely known but she is certainly worth getting to know. Mary's post  prompted me to read Trio and I am so glad I did. It's an exquisite novel of a grief healed by friendship and music. The sense of time and place is deftly drawn and the narrative quietly compelling.

After Trio I read Reading In Bed and The Hours of the Night both of which I found just as enjoyable and rewarding. I'm reading Thin Air at the moment and have The Mysteries of Glass and Coming Home waiting in the wings. Earth and Heaven and Last Fling (short stories) are on their way to me in one of Amazon's white vans and I shall undoubtedly be ordering everything else this marvellous writer has written.

Do have a look at Cornflower's posts on Sue Gee's work.

Nut Butter


Friday, 27 January 2017

I had no idea how easy it is to make your own nut butter at home. It really is. As long as you have a food processor. I followed the excellent instructions here leaving out the ginger and honey to make a simple almond butter.

First you toast the nuts, then you add them to the food processor whilst still quite warm and add a little salt. Pulse a few times to obtain a coarse mixture.

Add a tablespoon of oil and process in 45 second bursts. Until you have nut butter.

After 5 bursts of 45 seconds I had delicious almond butter. The 2 cups of nuts called for on the Food 52 site equate to 11 oz or 310g. It made enough to fill a standard jam jar. I reckon it cost me about £2.70 which is quite a bit cheaper than commercial nut butters. I buy 800g bags of East End almonds from Ocado which seem to be the cheapest. I think I'll try brazil nuts next. Or cashews. Or maybe both....

Thank you for all the positive comments on my last post, they are much appreciated xx

How to Cheat at Marmalade


Monday, 23 January 2017

And just like that I changed my mind.
Maybe there is life left in the old blog yet. Let's see.

Seven years ago today I wrote about making marmalade and so it seems an appropriate subject with which to rekindle the blogging flame. I haven't made marmalade for a couple of years due to my family's extremely slow rate of marmalade consumption. I am actually the sole consumer. I like to have it on hand though and I like making it.

Marmalade is easy to make but it is labour intensive. The oranges must be juiced and cut into thin shreds. This can be made less of a chore by using a food processor but that is still a bit of a pain and means extra washing up. There is an easier way, a way which produces an excellent marmalade with none of the hard work.

This stuff.

Ma Made Seville oranges  -a tin of ready cut Seville oranges and juice. It's available all year round and costs £2.19 for an 850g tin and makes 6 1lb jars of marmalade. 

All you do is empty the contents of the tin into a big pan, add some water and sugar, stir, bring to the boil, cook for 15 mins and Bob's your marmalade. It took me 20 minutes from start to finish to produce 6 jars of homemade marmalade at a cost of 71p a jar. That should easily last me a year, but because Ma Made is available all year round it won't matter if I need to replenish my stocks in the summer when there are no Seville oranges around.

I'm a convert to this fabulous short-cut, has anyone else tried it? What did you think?

This is not a sponsored post, I shelled out my own £2.19 -money well spent.

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