Bottled Water

frozen water

We keep bottles of distilled water in the fridge.  The bottles are beautiful, flip top ones, bought from a well known Swedish retailers (Ikea) and make that glorious ‘glop’ sound when popped.  Recently, and by recently I mean in the last 18 months or so, which I realise to someone relatively new to life may seem a long time ago, but to me feels like a mere drop in the ocean of life, the fridge began to regularly over cool any water that remained in the bottles.

I think it looks like an iced Christmas Tree which I find quite beguiling, however, I cannot help but wonder whether this is our fridge slightly over egging it’s role.  Consequently, I find myself considering much more than is healthy, the need to defrost the fridge.  Obviously, as with so many other things on my ‘to do’ list, the amount of time I spend considering a task to perform, greatly outweighs the actual time it would take to complete the task.  But still, it niggles away at my sub conscious, coming to the fore only when yet another bottle recreates a winter scene.

In my heart of hearts I know that this means our fridge is probably coming to the end of it’s useful lifespan, which I also find quite irksome as I expect everything I buy to last for ever.  Apart from kettles and washing machines which, if they last over a year I feel eternally grateful for.

I would like to be one of those people who factors in the lifespan of white goods into some sort of financial structure whereby, after so many years it is a given they will need replacing and therefore the resources are there.  Knowing I should at least attempt this tactic does not, in the slightest, change my reaction of absolute disbelief verging on panic when, either because they just stop working, blow up, or refuse to continue in the manner with which they were first purchased, I find myself having to consider replacing that item.

And so it is that, at the moment, I find myself on the white goods precipice of replacement but not quite accepting that the inevitable will occur, believing instead, that if I just let it ride, something miraculous may happen and the fridge will have a word with itself, realise the folly of it’s ways, and stop freezing everything that is put inside it.

Meanwhile, until it conks out completely, I am going to revert to type and behave like an ostrich.

*sticks head firmly back in the sand*

Purple Sprouting Brocolli

Purple Sprouting Brocolli

This is one of the most beautiful named vegetables I know.  It has elegance and aplomb usually reserved for fruit.  And the colour combination is, in my opinion, sublime.   It’s also pretty tasty, which is a relief as we have loads of it, thanks to our recent venture into ‘the veg box’.

Now I am sure some of you will completely dismiss the idea, whilst others, lucky enough to live in or near the countryside will wonder what all the fuss is about.  Both valid stances, neither of which I have any intention of discussing or dismissing.  But for us, surrounded by the dirt and grime of city life, a little glimmer of well looked after food going into our bodies feels like a pretty good counterbalance to this.

Hence the veg box.

We could, of course, grow our own.  But we have to be honest with ourselves, and right now, this just wouldn’t happen.  Instead, it would go on the ever increasing list of things we’ve started but not as yet, managed to complete.  Accompanying that, would be another notch on the guiltometre.

We could source a local-ish grower and drive there every week.  But that is petrol, time, and expense that we just don’t have.  So instead, we have opted for the veg box which is delivered, as part of a job lot, to the wee boys kindergarten, weekly. Incorporated into this new venture, we have challenged ourselves to cooking with everything that comes our way, without opting out and waiting until it has gone past it’s best, before putting it into the compost bin.

Within our box this week we had, what I thought was, celeriac.

I have never cooked celeriac.  I have only seen respectable people discuss it, some rather lovely chefs cook with it, and some often pompous people, eat it.   So, my experience of celeriac has been gleaned through a screen.  Imagine my surprise therefore, when today, having decided that one of the knobbly things in our box was celeriac, I got out said vegetable to peel and prepare for cooking and mashing, only to find it was beetroot!

And momentarily, my heart sank, as I realised another day would go by without me experiencing celeriac in person.  Put into perspective though, I could always nip out and buy some, so let’s swiftly move on.

I have also, without too much distress, managed to defrost the fridge freezer today. Probably not a moment too soon, as the ice from the back was beginning to greet me when I opened the door and envelop various items on it’s way – I kid you not.

So I am now feeling pretty self righteously smug, and only slightly concerned, that the wee boy thinks we have bought a new fridge.

Omelette

omlette

Making an omelette is my bete noir.  Actually one of my betty noirs, as I have more than one.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that, were I to enter into an omelette making competition right now, and I were a gambling kinda gal, I would put a whole 50p on me not winning.

That, in no way, stops me from occasionally trying to make an omelette though.  Oh no.  Obviously I don’t do it often, as I am always disappointed in my efforts and astounded that I haven’t got any better at the process, but still need to check whether, by some miraculous force, I have embedded the perfect omelette making technique into my psyche through osmosis of the mind.

What, you don’t do the same?

Oh….  *moves swiftly on*

This weekend we have very little on, which I have to say is quite a relief.  It’s amazing how one weekend day packed full of irregular ‘to do’ items, really throws your rhythm of life.  However, that is not to say we’re all sat around doing sweet diddly squat.

I, for example, am seriously considering defrosting the fridge and therefore have made a lentil dhal and a saag aloo.  Because you see, the thing is, I am not a fan of cleaning in the slightest.  I know it needs doing, and, when done, I know it will look great, for the five or so minutes when no-one touches anything.  But that is just not enough of a motivating factor, in my book.

Yes, I’m happy to prance around the room with a feather duster for five minutes or so, as that is instant gratification for very little effort.  I’m even not completely averse to pushing a hoover (or is it vacuum?) about for a shortish amount of time – obviously with the exception of stairs – but a fridge?  That involves taking everything out, turning it off, letting all the ice turn to water, cleaning it, putting it back on, and filling it back up.

I think I’ll do it tonight…

Carrot and Coriander Soup

carrot and corriander soup

This is probably one of my favourite soups.  Not only is it a doddle to make, but it always smells and tastes divine.

And this is how it goes…

Chop up a couple of onions and dice some carrots.  Fry the onions in a little butter, add the carrots, a splash of salt, a sprinkle of coarse ground black pepper and a teaspoon of cumin.  Stir it all around then add chicken or vegetable stock and some boiling water.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are soft then add a good handful of chopped coriander.  Let it all simmer for another couple of minutes.

Take off the heat and blitz.  I use my trusty hand whizzer, but anything that makes it look soup-like, works.  Then add another big handful of chopped coriander and stir.

It is now ready to eat.

Sadly, my gang are still in the ‘munching through boxes of sweets’ phase so have turned down the offer of soup.  Thankfully a lovely friend came by and happily shared a bowl with me.  The rest I have placed in a tupperware box with lid and put into the fridge, where it will either freeze, or just sit there for days until it begins to emanate a slight odour.

At this point I will either take it out, reheat and eat the last portion on my own, or, if it’s gone past the point of no return, throw it away with my head hung in shame.

You see that’s the thing about leftover food, it’s all fine and dandy transforming it all from one foodstuff to another, but if those you are feeding have no appetite for such delicacies, it remains uneaten.

There is, however, a slight chance that somebody may have a pang for something savoury in the next few hours which will vindicate my desire to have ‘just in case’ food prepared.

And it is with that eternal optimism that I am now going to retire to the sofa, having eaten enough Christmas cake and cheese for the week, in just one sitting.

Wild Mushroom Pate

Wild Mushroom Pate

I don’t know about you, but I love mushrooms of any kind, be they fresh, dried, in soup, on pizza… you get the idea.   Therefore, it will come as no surprise for you to learn that, having done a little research, I have found a recipe for mushroom pate which I felt would do the mushrooms proud.

Oh my giddy aunt, if you love mushrooms, you will be smitten with this little number.

The ingredients are as follows:

20g dried wild mixed mushrooms

50g butter

375g flat mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons brandy or whiskey

60ml double cream (I believe Americans call it Thick Cream)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon juniper berries, ground

And here’s how you make it:

Soak the dried mushrooms in 250ml hot, not boiling, water.  Leave to replump. Have a cup of tea, eat cake, chat to friends, go shopping, anything which takes up 2 hours. Return to the mushrooms and drain, leaving 2 tablespoonfuls of the liquid in a cup for later.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms, garlic, dried mushrooms and their little bit of liquid.  Cook for 5 minutes or so.  Then add the brandy and cook for another couple of minutes.

Leave to cool.  Maybe enjoy a little sherry.

Put the mushroom mixture and everything else, including 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, into a food processor.  Whizz up until smooth.

Now then, it is at this juncture that I have to admit to not owning a food processor any more.  Unfortunately, the processor and I fell out one day when I left it alone for a very short while, only to return and find it had whizzed itself off the kitchen surface, and now lay, silent, on the floor.

Since that episode, I have used a hand blender, which I have to say, has done me proud.  A replacement food processor is obviously on the list, but no where near as essential as I originally had thought.

Where was I?  Oh yes.

The amalgamated pate needs to be put into a bowl and left to refrigerate for a couple of hours, or until solid.  Which in the case of my fridge, is around 10 minutes.

It is delicious with raw vegetables, on toast, or even on Melba Toast if you can cope with it’s slight hint of sweetness.  If serving upmarket style, may I suggest toast, pate, dollop of creme fresh and leaf of flat leaf parsley?

Whichever way you decide to devour the pate, if you like mushrooms, you will love this.

Obviously if you don’t like mushrooms I really wouldn’t bother making this recipe, unless you’re being extra specially wonderful and just making it for mushroom lovers.

Sausage Curls

photo (92)

 

More often than not, there is always something left in the fridge that didn’t quite get used by the time you thought it would.  Now, with my temperamental fridge, I do get a little more leeway than most as the majority of the food in there is suspended in time.  Which does mean I can often go over the recommended date with a large proportion of foodstuffs.  However, inevitably, there comes a point where I have to make the decision…

Does it stay or do I throw?

A little pun on a Clash song there for anyone who’s interested.  Thank-you the lady at the back.

And…  *slight pause for everyone to re-compose themselves*  continue…

Todays ‘use by’ was sausages.  The wee boy has taken quite a shine to sausages, so I have taken to keeping some in the fridge.  But somehow the most recent ones have been demoted and forlornly left at the back, in silent contemplation.   Noticing that they were ‘on the turn’ I decided to make some sausage curls, which my mum used to make as party snacks, but I make as through the day nibbles.

Being a culinary clever clogs that I am, (she says without a hint of irony) I have also taken to having some already made pastry stored in the freezer.  It only takes a couple of hours to defrost and is perfect for those throwing together foods.

Which brings me onto the making of sausage curls.

Firstly, defrost the pastry.  Then put the sausage meat in a bowl.  At this point I add some passata and mix it into the sausage meat from my store in the fridge, but to be honest you can add stuff, or not.  Whatever takes your fancy.   Unroll the pastry and spread the sausage combo over it.  Then roll up the pastry and give it an egg wash.

At this point I cut up the large roll using a bread knife, as a normal sharp knife just doesn’t seem to do the job properly.  Then place each curl onto a slightly greased baking tray and put into the oven, top shelf, gas mark 6, until they look cooked.

Take out of the oven and place the tray onto a wire rack for a few minutes to allow the curls to get themselves together, then take the curls off the tray and allow to cool completely on the rack.  They are pretty tasty warm as well though, just in case you feel you can’t wait.

Thinking about it, I’m sure the sausage roll would be just as delicious cooked in one large piece and sliced warm, served with a lovely salad.

Note to self, must try that.

 

 

Plum Jam

photo (86)

I have, for the last few days, been trying to ignore the pot of plums that have been idling away the hours in our temperamental fridge.   Thankfully, the fridge tends to somehow suspend any type of rotting process for a good few days, which has allowed me to go away and return without having to open the fridge and deal with an ominous odour.

Today, though, became cook or compost for the last remaining plums.  So, I diligently took them out of the fridge and washed them but couldn’t quite face de-stoning them as my finger nails still haven’t quite recovered from the last lot, so I threw caution to the wind, weighed them and bunged them in the pan.

Of course, the thing with plum jam especially is that you need to match the weight of the plums with that of sugar, which I duly did, completely forgetting to take account of the stones, until I had put the whole lot onto the stove with heat underneath it. So, in my attempt to rectify the situation I opened the fridge door to look for the lemon juice.  ‘Give it a tang, and counterbalance the sweetness’, I thought.

And then, a flurry of I don’t know what came over me, and I reached for the lime juice, whipped off the lid, and shook a good splodge in.  Bearing in mind the plums and sugar already had some vanilla extract in there, I was slightly concerned at the amount I had splattered about, but decided that, as it was the last few plums, I could relax and just see how it worked out.

Well let me tell you, this jam tastes absolutely amazing.  Firstly, I need not have concerned myself over the stones as they merrily popped up to the surface and although there is a slight chance that one may be lingering with intent, you can normally tell with jam can’t you?  So, gaining in confidence, the wee boy and I treated ourselves to some fresh bread and slightly warm jam.

I have to say, if you enjoy your plum jam and are not averse to the taste of lime, you will be blown away with this little number.

May I recommend you try it, and give me your verdict?  Alternatively, pop round to mine and have a taste of ours.  Best not leave it too long though, eh?