The Art of Digestion

The joy of being a Londoner is that you never run out of things to do or see. Man and I are often lucky enough to be able to skive off mid-week and spend an hour or two wandering around the capital’s museums and exhibitions. Art in particular, from the medieval to the modern, is high on our list of interests, to admire as well as to buy. Continue reading “The Art of Digestion”

A Tale of Two Picnics

The view from Snowdon
The view from Snowdon

A picnic is ‘an occasion when a packed meal is eaten in an outside setting’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The British enthusiasm for picnics is truly the triumph of hope over experience, be it parked up in a lay-by, surrounded by wind breaks on a stony beach, or on rare occasions, lying in long grass contemplating the Magritte clouds passing by overhead in a pool of blue sky. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Picnics”

Hydropathic Pudding – once an invalid food, now all that is best about summer

Soft Fruit Simmering

Gone are the days when Doctors visited the sick at home. It was common practice in 1950s Essex. I wasn’t often ill, just normal childhood ailments which weren’t fussed about or vaccinated against.  But when a sore throat turned into tonsillitis and the Doctor was called, then I was worried. Continue reading “Hydropathic Pudding – once an invalid food, now all that is best about summer”

My First Joint

Roast Breast of Lamb

No, not that one. That was decades later.

The Sixties were definitely swinging, or so they said, when I moved to London at seventeen. I was accompanied by two large suitcases, a map of how to get to Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, and a fiver in my pocket. Progress was slow as I made my way, burdened down, along the Cromwell Road. The grey buildings towered above me, a small cog hoping to join the wheel of metropolitan life. Continue reading “My First Joint”

Rationed Chicken – the three meal bird

My Guiding Hand
My Guiding Hand

My maternal grandmother (Nanna) was born in the 1890’s, and lived through two world wars with their accompanying ration books and shortages of food. When I was born, partial rationing was still in force and ‘frugality’ was well entrenched in Nanna’s mortal soul. Blessings had to be counted – stockings were mended, collars turned, and clean underwear always had to be worn in case you were run over by a bus. This frugality didn’t stop at the kitchen door. Waste was not to be tolerated. One of my kitchen duties was to scrape the cake mix out of the bowl with a teaspoon, on a promise of the last lick. Every last spoonful, I was told, was enough cake to feed a starving African child. We didn’t own a spatula, so I was amused to read in Bee Wilson’s ‘Consider the Fork’, that rubber spatulas were once referred to as ‘child cheaters’, for their knack of removing every last gram of batter. Nanna would have approved of that. Continue reading “Rationed Chicken – the three meal bird”

Grow What You Eat – tales from the vegetable plot

Furry Scarecrow

My vegetable growing career began in Leipzig, Eastern Germany. Man and I lived in a converted leather factory, whose apartments had balconies suspended over the Elstermühlgraben –  an old mill stream. We lived and barbecued on this 1 metre by 5 metre space from late April to early October. To protect our privacy from neighbours intrigued by our foreign cooking smells, I decided to grow window boxes full of climbing vegetables. Now back in urban London, I grow vegetables on a sunny south facing terrace,  utilising a combination of wooden troughs, long window boxes and a variety of pots.

Fiona, on the other hand, has had at least two proper gardens. One in the Welsh Borders, full of raspberries, lettuces, and beans neatly in rows, with chickens grubbing around and probably the odd Peter Rabbit nibbling away. The other was on a French hillside with gnarled and garrulous farming neighbours clucking over the fence at her very English attempts to grow vegetables in their native soil. Continue reading “Grow What You Eat – tales from the vegetable plot”

The Art Of Eating Solo

Supper for One
Supper for One

It’s the middle of May. In London the sun makes a rare appearance and then disappears off again behind thick white cloud to be replaced by soft spring rain. Man disappears as well, off to the sunnier climes of East Africa for six weeks, leaving Dog disorientated and searching the house for the missing part of his pack. Dog is not the only one a bit lost. After forty years of planning meals for a full house of four children and four (successive) partners, I am not used to cooking for one, never mind eating on my own. Continue reading “The Art Of Eating Solo”

Our Daily Bread – simple, no fuss bread rolls

Breakfast

Do you feel that bread is ‘the staff of life’, an essential part of your diet? In Europe we’re a ‘grain’ culture, part of the 35% of the world’s population who depend on wheat as a staple food. In other countries with different climates, different grains are used. Continue reading “Our Daily Bread – simple, no fuss bread rolls”

Comfort Food – turning to one’s roots

 

Back to Your Roots
Back to Your Roots

What a week! Politically I mean. Are you as exhausted by politics as I am? Theresa May calls a snap General Election in the UK, leaving many people not knowing who they will vote for. And by the time this post is published, the French will be going to the polls to vote for their next President. There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner from any of their parties, so the French are in for a cliff hanger until May 7th. Anyway, with this political and meteorological chill in the air on both sides of the Channel, my thoughts turn to comfort food and going back to my roots. Continue reading “Comfort Food – turning to one’s roots”

Why Is French Food So Brown?

Undercover

It was an early April morning, light cloud sitting over the Seine masked the attempt of the sun to break through. A winter’s chill still lingered in the depths of the side streets as we headed towards the light of the river. We were in need of caffeine. Continue reading “Why Is French Food So Brown?”