Spaghetti

spaghetti&parmesan

I realised recently, that spaghetti plays quite a big role in my life.  Mainly because it’s the wee boy’s ‘go to’ food, but also because it is so very versatile.

Almost any sauce goes with spaghetti, as has been proven by the realms of recipes around.  But our favourite, the ‘go to’ lunchtime spaghetti recipe, is probably the most simple.  Grated cheese and a little sprinkling of black pepper.

Now I know that many would recommend a glug – as Nigella so often refers to it – of olive oil to coat the spaghetti before sprinkling the cheese on top, but I find this takes aways the nuttiness of the taste, so instead, I tend to drain the spaghetti so that it has a slight dampness from the liquid it was boiled in before adding anything else.

And that is all there is to it.

Of course, if you want to go that extra mile, a few drops of Tommy K on top of the cheese is also very delicious…

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Popcorn

popcorn box

So here we are, the very last day of 2014.

We have worked, partied, played and pontificated in equal measure over the last few weeks, with some of the loveliest people in our lives.  And now, in the final hours of 2014, we are sat at home with the fire burning wood from our garden, and access to as much popcorn as we wish, via a Christmas present to the wee boy of a popcorn machine, courtesy of my lovely big sister.

What more could a girl wish for?

So, whatever you do this evening, I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to sharing some more little titbits of food and nonsense with you in 2015.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this…

At the wee boy’s 5th birthday party, he eventually blew out the candles on his cake and was encouraged to make a wish.

Later on his grandma turned to him and said,

‘What did you wish for?’

To which the wee boy replied,

‘I can’t tell you, it’s between me and the candles’

Which still makes me smile from the inside out.

Chillies

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I love chillies.  I love putting them in food, I love putting them onto food and I even love them in sweet things.  My family, on the other hand, are not so passionate about them.  A consequence of which is that I keep a secret (not really, anyone can find them; artistic licence) stash of whole chillies which, every now and again I allow to dry slightly before chopping up with one of my favourite kitchen tools, the Mezzaluna.

If you have not had the pleasure then let me explain.  In fact, why have a dog and bark yourself, let me allow Wikipedia to explain:

‘A Mezzaluna is a knife consisting of a single or double curved blade with a handle on each end.  It is often used for chopping herbs  or very large single blade versions are sometimes used for pizza or pesto.’

It is, in my view a small piece of perfection.

It also allows me to chop up chillies as small as I like.  Which comes in very handy as it means that, if I’m feeling a little frivolous, I can chop the chillies so they just give a kick at certain points, or I can finely chop them to create an overall heat.  Either way it comes in very handy when we’re eating certain foods as I can just sprinkle my dried, chopped chillies over the top without ever having to endure the ‘ooo, it’s a bit spicy’, or just the crinkled up face, ever again.

Everyone’s happy.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, if you buy fresh chillies, just leave them out at room temperature on a wire rack and they should begin to dry out without going mouldy.  Chop them up before they’re completely dried out, and leave them overnight or until totally dried.  Then pop into a jar with a lid on.  You will find they last quite a while.

My pleasure.

Eating Leftovers

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It is doing the proverbial cats and dogs outside, and therefore I have absolutely no desire to venture out.  Even though summer rain is never cold where I live, sometimes the thought of having to do anything in mild dampness is just not appealing.  I understand that if dressed appropriately one can overcome these obstacles, but I just do not have enough impetus to stroll along that avenue.

Alongside the inclemency of the weather, I am becoming more and more aware of how much we throw away with not a hint of irony.  Food especially.  I think this begins when you are young.  If children are brought up without a respect for food and it’s ceremonies, they will grow up with a similar disregard which is harder to shake off, as it becomes a default setting.  We were brought up believing that food was deeply important, not just for sustenance, but as a social interaction and communication tool.  Similarly, having parents who spent their childhoods with post war rationing, the respect for food had a much greater significance.  Something I try to teach my own children.  Interestingly, the ceremony of the birthday cake still resonates even in households who may have not eaten round a table in years.  But I digress.

Taking everything into consideration it is still difficult to fully appreciate food that is, shall we say, unappetising (I’m being polite).  Therefore, my philosophy should really go hand in hand with something that is at least palatable.

With the aforementioned in mind I am concocting a left overs dinner for this evening. Something which I am not always successful at, but insist on giving a go, even if just to ease my own conscience.  So far I have made potato cakes from left over sweet corn, potato and grated carrot.  They are, as we speak, lounging in the temperamental fridge, probably fighting off the desire to freeze, coated in home made bread crumbs.

However, I have now reached an impasse. What goes with potato cakes?  As I sit and ponder, an occupation I do relish, I have a wonderful compilation of rain songs going on in the background and, quite frankly, a feeling of having all the time in the world.

Think I’ll just pop my nose in the fridge again, it’s sure to inspire me, and if not, I do have a plan B…

Making Bread

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Every so often, I make bread.  Now don’t get too giddy just yet, because, I don’t do the whole ‘mother earth’ thing and knead until I’m coming out in a small sweat, no, no, no, I have my outfit to think of.  Although I was given the loveliest of aprons as part of a Christmas present from my big sister a couple of years ago, but I digress.

My favourite recipe is as follows: 14 fl oz of warm water taken from a kettle which has boiled recently, but not too recently.  My rule of thumb is, if you could make a cup of tea with it and it doesn’t taste like dishwater, the water is too hot.  Next I add two tablespoons of butter, although I have used olive oil and it is just as delicious and great for those who are lactose intolerant.  The way I add my flour may seem a little kookie to you, but I tried doing it all in one go and it just didn’t taste the same.  So, I add 10.5oz of strong plain white flour followed by another 10.5oz of the very same strong plain white flour.  And here I must write about the flour.

I always use ‘Bradshaws, ORION high quality strong white flour which is grown, ground and bagged within a mile of where Big Dave lives.  Big Dave is my dad.  Every so often he will call me up and we arrange to rendezvous, him with a bag of flour, me with a bag of buns.  I promise you it is the most loveliest of flours you will ever bake bread with.  And, I believe, the secret ingredient.

On top of all that I put two teaspoons of sugar, two teaspoons of salt and two teaspoons of dried yeast.

It is all then put into the bread maker, popped onto the dough setting, and left to do its thing.  I leave it for another ten minutes or so when the bread maker has finished, before putting onto a floured surface, kneading for moments, cutting into small circles and placing onto floured baking trays.

I then let the little plump circles of potential heaven, (a nod to Nigella there) rise for around fifteen minutes in a warm space with a tea towel over them and finally pop them into a warmed oven, gas mark 6, for around ten minutes.  Remembering, of course, to remove the tea towel.  You may think it would be impossible to forget, but trust me, in my ‘looks to camera’ moments, I almost have.

There is nothing quite like the smell of home cooked bread wafting around the kitchen.  Except for perhaps, the taste of just cooked bread, buttered, with a glorious cup of tea.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I add honey… delicious.

One goddess point for me I think, no?