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”

Rich Rice Pudding – my favourite comfort food

A lot of milk and a little rice go a long way...
A lot of milk and a little rice go a long way…

My mother hated rice pudding. As a young teenager, she was evacuated during the war from a bombed-out Birmingham to the relative peace of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The family who took her in had their own cow, so there was plenty of milk, and a good cheap way to fill up young stomachs during war-time rationing was with rice pudding (it still amazes me how a tiny amount of rice can end up filling an entire pudding dish, thanks to all the milk!). Continue reading “Rich Rice Pudding – my favourite comfort food”

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”

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”

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?”