enitharmon: (Default)
Metric Luddism

Ned Ludd is alive and well and living in Bradford. Resistance to metrication doesn't get much sillier than this label from Morrisons (I'm making pork and beans tonight. I'd sooner get the belly pork from a proper butcher but I needed to get at the scrapings of my bank account with my card)

Firstly, I'm not at all sure that belly port is ideal for roasting, but I suppose it would work. That's not the point though. It's the timing suggestion. 25-30 minutes per 454 g indeed!

All right, I know as well as anybody the old rule of thumb of 30 minutes per pound plus thirty minutes. But we've moved on. Get real. At worst, say "30 minutes per pound plus 30 minutes". But 454 g is ridiculous. My basic kitchen scales only measure to an accuracy of 25 g anyway, so aren't going to recognise the nicety betwen 450 g and 454g. They might not reliably distinguish between 450 g and 500 g, and 500 g is what they should have said anyway. Or even easier, one hour per kilo!

It's not as if such accuracy is necessary anyway. The timing is given has a 12% uncertainty and there's a warning about different performances of ovens.

Come on, let's get real. There's nothing to be gained, in an age of international trade and travel, in clinging to the past. Metric measurements have been taught as standard in schools for nearly forty years now. At this point somebody chimes in and says that in French and German markets, goods are sold by the livre and the pfund. Well, fine by me. Those shoppers get half a kilo. If we want to order by the pound, then define a pund legally as 500 g - that way we won't get 46 g shore every time, at least!
enitharmon: (Default)
Christmas Puddings

I seem to have rather a lot of pudding this year! Triplets, each of them bigger than most shop-bought ones.
enitharmon: (Default)
Oh what a wonderful thing it is to go for a swim between courses of Sunday dinner! And even better to come back to freshly-backed gooseberry pie and ice cream!

NB: You'll get your own back in a few weeeks when the equinoctial gales come roaring in off the Atlantic and the winter rain sets in...

Anyway, I wanted to comment on using local produce. There were always going to be things I'd miss coming up here - there's no Polish deli to be had and although the vegetables in my box are excellent, there isn't the range of different veg that could be had from Riverford's farm network down in Deb'n. That's not surprising, as you see very land around here under crops, but a lot of hill pasture and coastal marshes. And thank goodness for that, you may say - that's what makes this corner of England special.

There's lots of sheep too. I'm looking forward to some Herdwick hogget from the hills come the winter, but it's the ones that graze on the marshes that are special. Down South, saltmarsh lamb is a rare find and costs a fortune from specialist butchers like David Lidgate in Holland Park, as most of the lamb reared on the saltmarshes of Kent and Sussex goes to France, where they appreciate such things, and barbecue it en camion by the side of the road. Up here there's lots of saltmarsh lamb to be had, and I got a half shoulder to try.

I roasted it plain and dished it up with new potatoes and cauliflower from the Howbarrow veg box, and to make it a bit different I made a gravy with kriek beer, drinking the rest of the kriek with the meal. It was delicious - the lamb is definitely special.

It's swings and roundabouts, of course. What you lose in vegetable variety and Farmhouse Cheddar you gain in the special lamb, proper Cumberland sausage and ubiquitous Lancashire cheese, sharp, salty and crumbly. It will be a sad day when the megacorporations ensure that you get exactly the same thing everywhere you travel. Vive la difference!
enitharmon: (Default)
Though it was a wrench to part company with Riverford, I have found a box scheme that looks good by Howbarrow Organic Farm of Cartmel.

Here's the fruit box they sent me:

It contains apples, oranges, pears, bananas, lemons, kiwis, cherries.

And here's the veg box:

There are potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, some kind of lettuce and some unidentified leaves that look a bit brassica-ish.
enitharmon: (Default)

Yes, we have a fresh invasion of the Vegetables from Outer Space!

As well as a kohlrabi, this week's fruit & veg box contains:

  • One cauliflower
  • One Sweet Mama squash (I really don't know what to do with all these squashes - ideas, anybody?)
  • Two avocados (yummy!)
  • Three courgettes
  • A box of cherry tomatoes
  • A bag of red russian kale (I have learned to love kale)
  • Six bananas (all ready for the Half-Marathon then)
  • Seven Royal Gala apples
  • Four pears of unspecified variety (but they look an unusual pink colour

Looks like a good week then!
enitharmon: (Default)
It's a Small box this week. It contains

  • 1 bag of potatoes (variety Orla)
  • 1 bag of carrots
  • 1 lettuce (but I never know what to do with these)
  • 1 bag of cherry tomatoes (nice!)
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 bag of spring greens

The leeks and cauli are destined for soup. The spring greens will find themselves cooked up with onions and some Polish sausage.

Any other ideas?


Mar. 30th, 2006 03:19 pm
enitharmon: (Default)
For the Annual Dinner of the Reading Writers - which takes the form of a pot luck supper in recent years - I made some cheese and potato pierogi and some spicy tomato sauce to go with them.

The pierogi - a Polish speciality somewhere between ravioli and a cornish pasty - were well-enough liked, but the tomato sauce went down a storm.

I suppose you want the recipe, don't you?

Oh, all right then...


You need:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 dried chillies, seeds removed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 400g tin of tomatoes
150 ml vegetable stock
1 Tbsp tomato purée
A pinch of brown sugar
1 Tbsp dried basil (a handful of torn fresh leaves is better if you have them)
salt and pepper to taste
1 shot glass dry vermouth

Cook the onion and chilli gently in the hot oil for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and garlic, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

Add the stock, tomato purée, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Tip the lot into the blender and whizz until smooth.

When ready to use, add the vermouth and reheat.

Do you want the pierogi as well?


For the Pierogi:
150 g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg
water to mix

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and break the egg into it. Mix it up together from the middle out, adding water a little at a time until you have a dough that is soft but not sticky. Cover with a damp cloth and leave somewhere cool for an hour or so.

For the filling:

150 g potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp ricotta or other curd cheese
Lashings of grated (proper) cheddar cheese (the more the better)

Boil the potatoes. Drain and mash with the ricotta and CHeddar.
That's it.


Take a small amount of the dough and roll it out very thinly on a floured board. Cut out circles with an 80mm (or thereabouts) pastry cutter. Repeat until the dough is used up.

Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Moisten the edge of the circle. Fold over and seal with a fork.

Add the pierogi a few at a time to briskly boiling water for 5 minutres. Remove with a slotted spoon when done.

Serve with tomato sauce.



Jan. 10th, 2006 10:55 pm
enitharmon: (Default)
My bank screwed up big-time today, and paid a standing order twice leaving me way over mu overdraft limit. They have apologised and done the decent thing but that still left me unable to go to the cashpoint. And it was cold and damp, and I was short of good things to eat.

So I went to the butcher and got what I could get most of for least, which means a bagful of assorted game. The great thing about having a butcher who is a proper licenced game dealer is that you get lots fo game at a low price, and wild meat, however cheap, beats farmed meat every time. Anyway, this was anonymous mixed game which I suspect was a mixture of rabbit and venison.

I made it into a simple, warming casserole. And it was utterly delicious. Move over Jamie, sometimes the basic peasant fare is what you need. This is how I did it - but you know how to do this, don't you?

Cut the meat into cubes and dredge in flour. Finely slice a couple of medium onions. Brown them in olive oil for five minutes or so, then add two crushed garlic cloves, a couple of dried chillies with the seeds removed, and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Stir everything about for another five minutes then transfer to the casserole dish. Put the floured meat in the frying pan and brown for five minutes. Transfer to the casserole. Add a handful of celeriac chopped into cubes to the casserole. Take the frying pan off the heat and add 250g of stock a little at a time, mixing it with the remaining flour and oil. (If I were feeling like being more elaborate I'd use beer instead of stock, and for game in particular I'd use a Belgian kriek bier). Bring to the boil and let the stock thicken, then pour into the casserole. Top up if necessary until the liquid is halfway up the other ingredients, then cover and put in the oven for a couple of hours at 180C.

I served mine with mashed potato and kale, and that seemed exactly right.
enitharmon: (Default)
The veg box man didn't come until mid-afternoon again. This time he rang my doorbell instead of leaving the box in the porch, so now I know the reason for the lateness is that I have a different delivery man, or perhaps a temporary substitute.

This week's is a Fruit & Veg box and contains:

  • Four tomatoes
  • Cavallo nero (black kale) (so I can go all yuppy this week!)
  • One lettuce of unspecified loose-leaved variety
  • A box of mushrooms
  • Three sweet potatoes
  • One cucumber
  • Five Kids Orange Red apples, and very nice they are too
  • Three oranges
  • Five bananas, all still green
  • One rather strange-looking lemon.
  • One bag of brussels sprouts (OH EUCH! The first thing they've sent me that I just can't eat)

    Any ideas?
enitharmon: (Default)
This morning I was beginning to think this was going to be a crappy day. That seemed to be confirmed when my veg box didn't turn up.

But now it has, albeit four hours late. And the veg man brought me:
  • One bag of Cara potatoes, which aren't so good for mash or chips as the usual Cosmos but which make better rösti
  • One bag of carrots, which are not bunched with their tops on like the carrots I've had before and they need evaluating
  • Two red onions
  • Two leeks
  • One bag of swiss chard
  • One white cabbage, which reeminds me it's time to make a bigos
  • One box of mushrooms
  • One butternut squash, which sadly replaces the promised sweet potato
  • One large bag of onions, which I ordered separately from the box

It's liver and onions with curly kale, mashed tatties and gravy tonight. I'm ready for some comfort food.

Oh, and while I was ordering an Italian dictionary from Amazon I also ordered Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food - a classic in its field, I believe.


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