Archive for October 2007

Banana Toffee and Raspberry Caramel Infusions

October 26, 2007

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I know, I know, they sound simply vile, don’t they?  But they’re not, I swear. Well, if you like that kind of thing… which I do.  I picked up the Banana Toffee infusion in Wholefoods from their extensive collection of exciting teas and brews in a kind of ‘hee, hee get a load of this’ way – however was then compelled (by Tito) to purchase it for a thorough investigation at home.  The ingredients are:  honeybush, cinnamon, liquorice root, pineapple, natural banana flavour (5%) and natural flavour (5%) – so slightly less than pure, unadulterated plant material seems to be in there, but hey, it’s a heck of a lot more diet-conscious for satisfying a sweet tooth than, erm, a toffee banana?  I also grabbed the Raspberry Caramel one yesterday, as I had to make a trip to High Street Kensington anyway to get the security tag removed from my *fabulous* party dress purchased on Sunday at Oxford Street’s swarmingly busy Topshop (glad I noticed beforehand – ‘shoplifter’  was not the image I’d hoped for on my 30th!).  But I digress.  The Raspberry Caramel infusion is delish – creamy and sharpish and very, very strongly scented.  They both looked so nice perched on the table in Wholefood’s lovely café area, looking out on the high street.  I sat there as I lunched on a selection from the hot buffet.  That meal is a different story, and is as yet too painful to recount.  I have satisfied my curiosity regarding the hot buffet – and my advice is DON’T.  EVER.  Do yourself a favour, and buy some unusual infusions and lovely teas instead.

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Gorgeous Foodie Print Bowls

October 24, 2007

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I don’t have any smarties, olives or crisps in the house right now, because if I did I would immediately proceed to scoff the lot.  But I am absolutely desperate to entertain so that I can buy some of each and display them fetchingly them in these gorgeous foodie print bowls.

Fresh Apple Salsa with Roast Pork and Veg

October 23, 2007

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My mum, a very traditional British-style cook, has always served apple sauce with pork, and it’s certainly very common to enjoy that touch of sweetness with the meat.  I don’t, however, have the faintest idea how to make apple sauce, as when I lived at home I was far more often listening to the tender vocalisations of Axel Rose and Sebastian Bach in my bedroom than learning how to cook from my long-suffering mum, more’s the pity.  However, when faced with a tasty hunk of meat to jazz up without Tito’s magical Peruvian spices (he’s working late tonight) I fortuitously came across this super salsa recipe on Heidi’s rather inspiring site 101 Cookbooks, which in turn is from a Fran Gage book.  It’s zingy, healthy and satisfying and combined deliciously with the gem squash, sweet potato and spinach I had prepared. 

Fresh Apple Salsa

2 tart apples, locally grown if possible
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno chile
1 fresh
Anaheim chile
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted
2 tablespoons peeled and finely slivered fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut the apples from the cores, leaving the skins intact, and cut the fruit into 1/4-inch cubes.Toss the apple pieces with the lime juice and set aside.Cut the chilies in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white ribs. Slice them thinly. Add to the apples. Add the onion, cilantro, walnuts, ginger and salt and mix thoroughly.

Serves 4 to 6.

Haloumi Cheese and Sweet Chilli Sauce

October 18, 2007

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Some may say that no-one cares what you had for lunch today but I beg to differ.  This is a food blog and I really do care what you had for lunch, and I absolutely need to tell you what I had for mine.  Well, whenever I make roast veg I am careful to make lots so that there are leftovers for the next day.  After all – what’s the point in turning on the oven to roast half an aubergine if you can roast a whole one?  If there’s one rule about roasting, I’d say that it’s that it always takes much longer than you could possibly expect – so make the most of the oven being on!  Last night we had The Food Doctor’s winning combination of: roast red onion, baby tomatoes, aubergine, and courgette, with a few cloves of garlic thrown in for good measure.  It’s nice to add some paprika, dried mixed herbs and a drizzle of olive oil, and when turning half-way through add some lemon juice too. 

Having these leftovers for lunch called for a little more protein.  I fried up some haloumi cheese and toasted a wholewheat pitta… and then wondered what I could do to add a little extra pizzazz, and general lubrication, to the undoubtedly tasty, but rather dry affair.  Sweet chilli sauce came unexpectedly to the rescue, so much so that I felt compelled to tell you about what a great partnership was born.  Honestly, try it. 

Planet Organic Bans Plastic Bags

October 16, 2007

Popping into my local Planet Organic this morning I was super chuffed to read a sign in the window stating that they are not going to distribute free plastic bags anymore, and will only give out a biodegradable option at 4p, or sell thicker cotton bags to customers.  Why doesn’t every shop follow suit?  People will remember to bring their own bags if they are charged 4p for each one when they forget.  I simply cannot understand why people think it’s their right to get plastic bags at all. 

It seems to be the same all over the world with plastic bags, even in poorer countries where people consume so much less, bags are still a menace.  They still use plastic bags like they are going out of style, just flimsier ones.  This plastic bag addiction is plain to see in Chiclayo’s desert region.  Anything that can be consumed is eaten by stray dogs, everything that can be recycled is picked out by desperately poor dump scavengers, but the once-used plastic bags are entirely useless and free to blow across the desert and become entangled in scrub, flapping in the wind indefinitely.  It ain’t pretty.

Picture of desert mountains on the outskirts of Chiclayo. Taken 2007-05-15 in Chiclayo, Peru by traveler DJTWISt0.

Make Time to Have Lunch

October 15, 2007

One of the many reasons I decided not to become a teacher?  Honestly?  The fact that most teachers I met didn’t seem to have time to eat lunch.  Untasted cups of tea sat quietly steaming away during break as teachers hurriedly checked important ‘A’ level essays; sandwiches were sadly and unselfishly pushed aside to run lunchtime activities or supervise detentions; chips were noshed in famished desperation at the pub after school to make up for those missed meals. 

                                                                                                                                                               

I, as a training teacher, often did escape to the staffroom which had the luxury of a sink, fridge and microwave.  I felt quite guilty for wanting to savour my midday meal uninterrupted by frequent knocks at the English office door and the startling slams of lockers being tipped over in the corridor.  As an observant fellow staff-room user correctly pointed out – the making of my lunch was a special ritual involving little tupperwares of the correct amount of seeds and seasonings, tiny bottles of homemade dressings and sauces, and boxes cleverly sectioned to keep various ingredients separate and fresh.  Another teacher pointed out, awestruck, that I had the best-looking salad ever.  She was possibly right. 

Simple pleasures are what I live for.  And the joy of lunch is non-negotiable.

Coffee Shops: Renting a Refuge from London

October 12, 2007

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I truly realised that I was a Londoner the other day, as I flicked idly through a copy of Time Out magazine.  In ‘The Big Smoke’ section at the front of the magazine they always have a photo of some aspect of London life sent in by a member of the public, and in issue No.1930 this was of a homeless man sitting outside a Starbucks.  The photo is entitled ‘Inside and Outside’ and effectively uses the glass shop-front to illustrate the divide between the smartly suited man inside enjoying an over-priced extra-tall latté, and the ragged man outside falling asleep over an empty paper cup.  It occurred to me as I looked at it  that I knew exactly which Starbucks it was, and also exactly which homeless man (granted, he’s got tattoos on his face so he is fairly recognisable, but still…).  This hit me with an odd sense of belonging here – after spending two and a half years feeling like a newbie, I ought to embrace my status as a Londoner, dammit. The other thing that occurred to me is how so much of the population of a modern city do rely on coffee shops to get them off the streets, into a quieter place where they can think, relax, meet friends, or get some work done.  Coffee shops in cities are so ubiquitous we now take having one on every corner totally for granted – we expect it.  I adore the treat of good cup of coffee, but I rarely go out simply to get one of those: I can certainly make a better cup at home for a fraction of the price, with coffee I know to be fair trade, etc.  What I go to a coffee shop for, personally, is the sensation of being part of the city life, yet released from the hectic streets and in a position to watch life in all forms as it passes, to be inspired by it – but not directly involved in it.  The price of my coffee is the price I pay for a little corner of London to contemplate in.