Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.


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As a result of unexpectedly changing our plans on the weekend, the planned homemade pizza dinner on Sunday night didn’t happen. (Homemade bases, yum!). So I decided to use up the bulk of the ingredients in a pasta dish on Monday night.

Except I was tired and a bit dopey yesterday, so I kept forgetting what I wanted to put into the dish and which order to put them in.

It started out as a flavoursome oil-based sauce for some lovely tri-color spiral pasta shapes we had. Onions, pancetta, zucchini (courgette), whole basil leaves, then deglazed the pan with some left over red-wine. I was considering finishing it off with the rocquette that was in the fridge, tossing it all back into the drained pasta pot, adding a slather of good olive, mix it all together, serve.

Then I remembered that I had some creme fraiche to use up, and decided that zucchini needed tomato if I was going to make a creamier sauce. So, in went some tomato paste as well as the creme fraiche. This wasn’t the strong flavour hit I was after, and was more reminiscent of a mild nacho dish than a sauce for pasta. Then I remembered I meant to add some chopped up cherry tomoatoes with the zucchini. So they went in after the creme, as did half a tin of tomatoes to take off the dominant creme fraiche taste .

Then, I remembered the grated mozzarella and the parmesan in the fridge and decided to make it a 2 cheese-cremey-hint of tomato pasta sauce. Which thankfully tasted fine, as it was behaving more like an omlette by the time it had finished cooking. All that cheese.

The boys happily ate it up, I enjoyed it, but I would certainly have never set out to make such a strange hybrid. Oh well, the joy of experimental cooking to use up what’s in the fridge.

Edit: Maybe I should have made this Zucchini Pasta Carbonara instead.

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As an anti-dote to the Things that are Weird posts, since there are (of course) more good things about living here than weird things.

1. The light quality. It’s so much softer, more restful. Still bright, but not scorching. Love it.

2. Clouds. I’ve always loved looking at clouds, I even have a Flickr set devoted to photos of them. The clouds here are fantastic. They scud across the sky, or hang there as a gigantic sky sculptures.

3. Plants. They are green and lush and just everywhere. Wildflowers tend to be the flowers I love – foxgloves, sweet pea, blackberries (OK not a flower, but I love looking at them), and ones I am recognising and coming to appreciate.

4. The cafe downstairs from work with the lovely Italian men who call me Bella, and say Bourgiorno to me every morning and make my toast and coffee without me needing to say a word. They also the best steak sandwich on the planet. Tender, juicy, right balance of ingredients. It’s been a goal to find a good steak sandwich for years. Yay Italian cafe that is a restful place in the morning just before work! Wish I could take them with me to all future employment situations.

5. Summer is lovely. I don’t care what the popular opinion is, summer is really pleasant, like a few months of the nicest September or March days in Sydney, not too hot, lovely breezes, long twilights.

4. Berries! I didn’t really get the love of berries in Australia. With the exception of fresh blackberries. English strawberries are divine, raspberries are to be consumed whenever possible.

5. Most people speak softly. This has reduced my incidence of noise sensitivity which is fantastic. One less stress point is a very good thing.

6. Variety of ingredients. Sydney – Newtown has a better selection of places to eat, but England has a much better selection of ingredients, which are easier to access. Perhaps this is why I am doing more cooking here. Which is also a good outcome.

7. In my opinion the discourse around sustainability is more balanced and advanced. This is probably the subject of a future post. Or one in a related blog if ever I get it up and running which will focus on policy/sustainability rants, rather than muddy-ing the two together.

There’s more, but 7 will do for now.

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Happy faceOne of my favourite subjects!
(The photo at left is not something I ate this week, it’s an old photo, but, there were no photos this week as my camera is not working. Hopefully only needs new batteries)

There were lots of food experiences this week. Nom!

Monday was a bank holiday. I’ve just finished reading a series about an English woman who ends up living in Liguria, Italy, which was peppered with tasty food descriptions. So I couldn’t resist cooking up a meal of antipasti, and inviting some friends over to share.  Crumbed sardines, roasted marinated baby eggplants, cherry tomatoes filled with pesto, roasted zucchini/courgettes in tomato jus (which I made up from the scopped out cherry tomatoes centres), chorizo, pork pate, baby spinach leaf salad.

All accompanied with some griddle bread, which was suprisingly easy and very tasty. I made the dough up at 6 pm and let it sit while I finished the other dishes, then pulled off hunks of dough, flattened them by hand on the bread board and did two at a time in the fry pan. we ate at 7.30. They were still a bit moist and chewy in the middle, but cooked. I’d highly recommend this if you need something to accompany dipping type foods and don’t have any biscuits or breads to hand. (Note I put in much less salt than this recipe calls for. Salt is good in bread if you need to store it for some time, otherwise you can use much less).

Last night I did a roast chicken with veges and salads for another couple of friends, including home-made gravy. I’m now officially confident in my ability to make a really yummy roast dinner and will stop asking Jed if it’s tasty. I’ve always been really confident at cooking East Asian foods, thanks to the year in Thailand, and Italian foods, thanks to growing up in Sydney, but traditional English/French style foods were a bit of mystery to me. I used to call up my sister whenever I needed to do a lamb roast to ask her how long it needed to cook. However, as I now own a copy of The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander, having watched how a trained chef friend and her husband used to throw together a Saturday afternoon lunch this gap has mostly been filled, and cooked many roasts in this country, I am happy that I can turn out a very good roast and gravy.

Jed made (under my direction) a simple apple tart from apples that a colleague picked from her allotment tree. Not surprisingly they were really, really crisp and fresh. Also, not surprisingly there were a couple of worms inside the apples. Truly fresh and natural apples.  The planned tart turned into an upside down crumble as I forgot to defrost the shortcrust pastry and so we made a biscuit base instead. Still, really tasty.

There’s lots of apples left over, so I’m thinking baked pork with juniper berries and apples later in the week, as I found a recipe for that in the foraging book that Jed bought me. we have a cabbage to use up as well, to might try to become proficient at braised apple, cabbage and cider vinegar.

Otherwise, we tried out the other local Italian place on Thursday night and were happily impressed. Had supper with Scruffy and Bec in a hippy organic pub in Brighton on Saturday. (and had Domino’s pizza on Friday night, but don’t tell anyone. shhhh!)

While on the subject of food, here’s a list of food blogs that I regularly read, which you might find interesting, or a good source for recipes:

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