Tuesday, 31 March 2009


I am mostly...

tired from the clock change. 7 still felt like 6 this morning but at least it is light when I leave work now.

packing. The books and records are done (and in about 60 boxes, I hope the removal guys are fit and ready for those 5 flights of stairs) so time to start on the clothes and kitchen stuff.

deciding whether to buy a green APC dress for summer before it sells out.

daydreaming about window boxes full of herbs and proper windowsills which might be adorned with something from here.

Maybe this...

or this for the breakfast table...

or this just because...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


I wrote a post last week about seeing the blossom on the trees and the start of Spring.

You'll have to trust me when I say it was a sweet little post because I wrote it but then didn't ever find the time to edit or post it.

What was I doing?

Watching American Idol, starting to pack books ready for the move, taking the train to Sussex for the weekend.

It's in Sussex that the pale pink blossom was pushed aside.

On Saturday we ate breakfast in the garden before jumping in the car to go to West Wittering beach. We bought ingredients for an impromptu picnic - rolls, cold meat, sliced goat's cheese, sausage rolls, a cold bottle of Copella apple juice. We got to the beach where the sun was shining but the cold wind kept us in our jackets even though some people were braving the sea. We ate our picnic and then walked along the beach taking photographs of beach huts, watching kites flying, laughing at the dog who didn't want to get its feet wet. We had goosebumps but I came away with a pink nose and the start of my 2009 freckles.

On Sunday we spent the whole day in the garden. We ate breakfast outside. We sat on the swing seat in summer clothes and sunglasses. When it was time to eat lunch we dragged two tables into the middle of the lawn and sat down to roast lamb with roast new potatoes and vegetables followed by more pudding than should really ever appear on one table.

Do I need to tell you that it was near impossible to drag ourselves away to get the evening train back to London? Do I need to tell you that when my Mum offered to drive me to the station in the morning to get the train to work instead I actually considered it even though I had to be at Euston for an 8am train which would have meant getting a 6am train from the local station?

The one consolation was that by the time we left the sun had gone in. It hasn't been anything other than blustery March weather since.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


When Chris spied the cavolo nero on Sunday I had a vague memory of a recipe involving cavolo nero with an egg perched on top. Eventually that vague memory became more solid, more identifiable, more Orangette shaped. I had remembered it as curly kale but no it was, handily enough, cavolo nero/Tuscan kale/black cabbage.

No one likes having to pick favourites (it is a bit too close to those uncomfortable days of being picked last or, on a good day second from last, for the team during double hockey on a Wednesday morning), but if you made me choose just one blog I wouldn't even have to think about it. It's not that I don't enjoy the rest, I do, but I would have to pick Orangette. It is the only one that has me checking for updates every Tuesday morning while I watch the news and eat breakfast. It is the only one that makes me a little bit sad when there is no update ready for me to read before I leave for work (a rare event), and the one that gets me most excited about cooking, writing, and bettering my attempts with a camera.

So, when I saw that UK Amazon had the book ready to ship a week before its publication date I was pressing 'express delivery' without a thought. We ate the chana masala last week and, thank you Brandon, it was delicious. I need to find a reason to make the cornbread for mopping up maple syrup, the berried pound cake, the chocolate cake so good it became a wedding cake, the pickled carrots, the oven roasted tomatoes, the French toast... I think you get the gist. I read the book too quickly (when will I learn), it was finished and it had made me cry twice, proper tears, on the bus. The wedding almost got me as well but I just about managed to hold it together, if I had been at home on my own it may have been a very different story, one involving swollen eyes and a very red nose.

I thought I would make one of the recipes from the book to post with this but actually, now I think about it, this kale recipe is the perfect choice. When I think of Orangette I think of baked goods that make you want to be invited round for a cup of tea and a chocolate chip cookie, or banana bread (she shares my obsession here), or that chocolate cake. I think of the story that comes with every recipe. And I think of vegetables that are usually dismissed as dull, cabbage, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, but become utterly desirable when chopped and sauteed and photographed on that white table under the window with the soft Seattle light shining through.

Boiled kale with a fried egg and toast. It may not sound like the most earth shattering stuff but try it and see and for that I will hand you over to the girl in question...

Monday, 9 March 2009


I've been a little preoccupied lately.

In January we found out that we have to move out of our flat at the start of April and so begun much tedious trawling of flat hunting sites. The housing market is quite exceptionally dull at the moment so the same rubbish overpriced flats kept appearing but with more and more agents as the owners became more and more desperate. The fear of the unknown was starting to fray my nerves, meaning bouts of 5 am wakefulness until, on Saturday, we put a holding deposit down on a flat about three minutes walk from where we live now. We move on the 4th of April. Favourite things so far - parquet flooring, windows in all of the rooms, a balcony. Least favourite - fifth floor, no lift. Oh well.

After all the excitement we were relieved and tired, in that order, but woke up early on Sunday morning and, as we were both uncharacteristically wide awake and the sun was shining, Chris suggested heading over to Marylebone Farmer's Market. We have been saying it and saying it and saying it but somehow Sunday mornings came and went and still we stayed in bed and lazed around drinking coffee and left the house at 2pm while wondering why weekends keep disappearing so quickly. So, with this uncharacteristically early start, we were at the market by 11. After a few circuits we snacked on a spinach and cheese borek, bought some bread to have with dinner and decided to pick up a few pieces of veg to eat during the week.

A few pieces of veg became celeriac, carrots, parsnips, leeks (which have all (bar one leek) been made into a vat of soup, the last leek is destined for pasta), jerusalem artichokes, purple sprouting broccoli (more on those shortly), beetroot (to mix with chickpeas and feta for packed lunches), an onion, and some cavolo nero (I'm not sure what to do with this yet and have never cooked it before so any ideas very welcome). An impressive haul and, at just £9.90, a bargain to boot.

So back to the jerusalem artichokes. I chose to ignore their well reported trump inducing properties and flicked through a few books before settling on Nigel Slater (I know, I know, so predictable but isn't a new ingredient exactly when you most need Nigel's reassurance?) and his suggestion for roasted jerusalem artichokes.

Serves two

500g of jerusalem artichokes
One lemon
Three bay leaves
A few bushy sprigs of thyme
Butter and olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Scrub and peel your artichokes and slice them in half lengthways. Put them into a roasting dish and squirt over the juice of the lemon, dot with a little butter, add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the dish, tuck in three bay leaves and add some thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally until soft and slightly sticky.

We ate this with lightly cooked purple sprouting broccoli and some thick sausages but toyed with the idea of melting cheese over the top instead or just eating the artichokes with a big green salad.

Oh and the trumping properties? They have not been overstated but, as Nigel says, who doesn't secretly enjoy a good fart?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


I knew there was a good reason for having a freezer full of bananas. The numbers are not reducing as quickly as I would like but we found a new use for them last night...

If your baby is teething (and starting on solids) then just let them knaw on a peeled frozen banana. We tried it with a friend's six month old baby last night and it seemed to work (or maybe he just really likes banana).

A word of caution though, just remember to peel the bananas before freezing. I had to saw one in half with a bread knife before using the vegetable peeler to scrape away the skin. Not ideal.