Kedgeree

  
This is one of my favourite ways to eat rice and fish.  Not only because it reminds me of my childhood and therefore gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, but also because for some reason the combination is just perfect.  

Now the more pernicious amongst you will notice that I add peas, which to some, may be an abhorrent idea.  However, I find they are the key to bringing it all together and I can only recommend that you try it before making your decision.

So, how does one put this little bowl of sunshine together?  

Firstly, bake a good piece of smoked fish, such as haddock or cod, in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.  Take out and leave in the tin foil until needed.

Now then, you can do the rice one of two ways.  Either boil it in a pan separately or, like a paella or risotto, cook in the pan with the onions and curry powder, adding water as you go.

Whichever way you decide to cook the rice, pop on a pan of frozen peas adding a sprinkling of sugar and salt to the water.  Sugar?  Well yes, it brings out the sweetness in the peas as, after having been frozen, they can often taste a little bland.

Place a couple of eggs in a pan and boil until hard.  10 minutes should do it.  Takes off the heat and plunge both whole eggs into cold water. 

Slowly fry an onion in a large pan with a generous knob of butter and a good grind or two of sea salt.  My big sister has a particularly fine pan for this kind of thing.  It’s like a frying pan with high sides and makes you feel like a TV chef.  However, if you don’t possess one of those, an ordinarily large pan or wok will be just as good.  You just won’t feel as TV chef-ish…

When the onion has become translucent, add a teaspoon of curry powder, mixing it in with the onion until all the pieces are coated.

If you have opted for the all in together method of cooking your rice, now is the time to add it.  Otherwise, add your cooked rice into the onion mix and stir until coated.

Cut up the eggs into shapes of your choice, flake the fish, drain the peas, and if you don’t live with children who are concerned about flecks of herbs in their food, chop a couple of tablespoonfuls of fresh parsley.

Add all the above, including any juice from the baked fish, into the pan containing the cooked rice and onions.  Stir gently until it is all integrated.

Serve.

Meanwhile, our very clever puppy who has no discernable ability to monitor her own food intake and sees everything as a challenge, today learnt to open the cupboard with the puppy food in it and is now the size of a small donkey…

Bramble & Blueberry Jam 

  
The most amazing thing happened the other day.  Well, let’s put this slightly into context.  Amazing for an inner city jam lover.  Not so blow me down with a feather incredible for those of you who live in villages or small towns, but anyway…

Our jam supply has finally run out, and although I had bought a jar of cherry jam recently, that, too, was rather deplete.  

Now the thing with a jam conundrum at this time of year is not a lack of ripe and ready fruit, but more about which fruit to choose, which led me to thinking, where could I get my hands on some fresh growing, ripe fruit that the dog hasn’t already scoffed?

Every day we walk up our garden path and up the few steps to the front door.  On the right hand side is a mound of weathering sticks within which a bramble bush has slowly wound it’s way through to the light. Recently it’s fruit has begun to ripen, so the other day, whilst pondering my jam conundrum, I opened the door and picked a small bowlful of juicy brambles, washed them, added some jam sugar and a few blueberries we had left in a bowl, splashed in a hint of lime juice and water, and let it do it’s thing.

This was the most satisfactory jam making session I have had on so many levels, but foremost what it made me realise is that you don’t actually have to make a whole heap of jam all in one go.  Indeed you could, if you so desired, make a different one every day.  Which I may try and do sometime soon.

*pops idea on the ‘to do’ list*

And for those of you who are the slightest bit interested, the jam is delicious.

Meanwhile, as the summer holidays idle on by, the wee boy and I actually had an appointment today which I had to, at the last minute, cancel.

‘Why is this?’ I hear you cry, collectively.

Well, we were unable to drive anywhere as the wee boy’s imaginary friend Glados had been playing with the car key and she couldn’t for the life of her, remember where it was.  

Although we did spend some time searching in the back garden where she felt she may have buried it, later on she thought that, actually, it may have been left in the wee boy’s bedroom. Sadly we were unable to chat with her much more after that as she told the wee boy she was tired and needed a lie down. 

Thankfully we eventually found the key ensconced in a pile of cooking dishes and congratulated ourselves with a lovely snack of bread and jam.

Lemonade

 
Even for the amateur drinks maker, lemonade is an absolute classic, and the easiest of things to accomplish successfully every time.  Why?  Because it has just three ingredients which are added in equal measure, and the whole thing doesn’t even have to be cooked.

Let me explain.  Lemonade consists of one cup, teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce, gram – whatever you’ve got really – of freshly squeezed lemon juice, with equal amounts of sugar and water. 

And that’s it.  

To be honest you could just use the lemon juice from a bottle if you don’t have the real McCoy, although that does mean that you would not be able to, if you chose, add an extra lemon tingle via the rind, but hey, that is by no means the end of the world. 

So, lemons as you know, are a natural citric acid.  Therefore, if you add castor sugar to them they will, naturally, dissolve the sugar.  Then you add your water and bada bing, bada bong, your lemonade syrup is ready to rock.  

However, should you wish to be more experimental, put all three ingredients in a pan, with lemon zest if required, and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn the heat off, put the pan lid on, and leave for a while to allow the zing of the zest to penetrate through the liquid.

Strain off the zest.

Add a good splosh of syrup to either still or sparkling water.  Then may I suggest that whatever the weather you go outside and sip your homemade lemonade with pride and  a self congratulatory grin?

Trust me, you will not regret it.

Returning

  
I recently took a couple of weeks off almost everything work time related, except perhaps the odd tweet, as I am slightly blown away, still, by it’s platform which allows you to talk to anyone, (who is also on twitter) about anything.  You don’t necessarily get a reply, but that is the nature of the beast.  Of course when I do receive a reply from an unexpected source, it makes me feel like I’ve won the conversation lottery.   For me, it’s a favourite communication tool.  

However, that aside, my couple of weeks off has given me time to think and reassess my style of food intake, which I have had to do in order to improve my health.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way shape or form dismissing the challenge, Ive just needed a time for reassessment, which I have to say is ongoing, but the foundations are laid.  In actuality I have had to accept that this will be a long, and sometimes laborious process which, quite frankly, needs humour, so I’m delighted that we have, coincidentally, recently added to our family in the guise of a gloriously mischievous chocolate Labrador who has absolutely no qualms about ‘releasing wind’ whatsoever.  

We shall leave it there.

One of the first foodstuffs I’ve had to change is pasta, which actually is a doddle because there are so many gluten free ones around that are just as tasty.  The hardest thing to decipher is home made snacks, which is why I am overjoyed to discover that celery stuffed with peanut butter is an absolute delight – as long as you have your own teeth.

Because, as with the glories of twitter, when you come across something edible that doesn’t have an impact on the global levels of methane, the internal delight is completely disproportionate to the actuality of what you have prepared.  Nevertheless, it is a combination which I highly recommend.  Unlike the gluten free bread I’ve recently made, but that’s another story…

Chocolate Flats

  
We are most definitely getting into the swing of the summer holidays now. Night time bars – a wee boy speciality, which for us means lighting a few candles outside whilst having a drink – have become a regular occurrence as the bed time routine slowly drains itself to a mere perchance if an idea.  In fact, although we are not going ‘on holiday’ specifically, we are definitely managing to fill our days doing seemingly very little, and accomplishing even less.

For example, the other day we arranged to meet a friend who we haven’t met up with for quite some time.  Luckily, there was a mini Breeze happening which meant the small ones could bounce to their hearts content whilst we caught up on the ever important gossip du jour.  

Now the thing is that I do not have the best sense of direction in the world.  To be honest it is not something I feel that has held me back at all, but it does get a little stressful when, having arranged to meet someone in a place you don’t know, you can neither find the place nor their phone number … However, we eventually arrived, a little dishevelled, to find that, due to wind inclemency, any notion of bouncing things being erected had been dismissed post haste – something about the people who live opposite the park grumbling about not wanting a 40 foot blue, yellow, red and purple inflatable blowing into their house – anyway, thankfully there was a play park there so all was well.  

And why am I telling you this? Well, it transpired that our friends have a cheekie recipe they do which consists of melting Mars bars, or their equivalent, and adding rice crispies (or their equivalent) which seemed a perfect day time challenge.  

Yesterday therefore, our ‘must at least do one thing’ mission was to make, what the wee boy has named, Chocolate Flats.  We did exactly as was prescribed but melted a little butter before placing the Mars bars in to melt, and then added a tablespoonful or so of cocoa powder to soak it up.

Surprisingly they don’t taste too sweet at all and compliment a cup of tea perfectly.  Probably a little too perfectly if truth be told, but hey, we’re on holiday… 

Fruit Loaf

Fruit Bread

One of my favourite indulgences is eating in bed.   It’s something I have, for as long as I remember, always relished.  Initially, it was reminiscent of recovery – tomato soup, warm bread roll and honey – the usual ‘getting better’ food.  As I sashayed into adulthood it captured the lazy day off when nothing and nobody came between me, the radio, and my bed. Other than perhaps a long bath.  The icing on the cake being the warm sunshine streaming through the window and gently stroking my face. In fact, afternoon eating in bed has become a feature of every stage of my life. These days it is something I love to indulge in with the wee one, and the other day we did just that.

Invariably, these moments are not planned which gives them an even more heightened sense of guilty pleasure, although it does also mean that the food in question can be a mish-mash of things we have in, rather than a gourmet dinner. And so it was that, on our most recent afternoon of indulgence, fruit loaf became our piece de resistance.

Toasted, obviously, and then lathered with butter, fruit loaf slices placed perfectly on a plate, the delight of taking it back upstairs, plumping the pillows, putting the cup of tea on the side ready for that mid meal slurp then turning up the radio, is indescribable.  A moment worth savouring if only because of the heightened sense of anticipation it stokes.

We may not be in the South of France, in fact the sun may only be making a guest appearance, but my oh my do we know how to live.  And if you’ve never tried this act of complete indulgence, may I suggest you do.  Not for just breakfast, but in the middle of the afternoon when you know you should be doing something else, or at least out of bed.  I tell you, there is absolutely nothing quite like it.