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Making Kimchi Latkes from a great new book — a review and lots of inspiration.

When my review copy of Fermented Vegetables arrived from the publishers, I felt upon first leaf-through an electric surge of creativity.  From my own larder and imagination, I dressed a salad of grated swede and carrots in a Plum Kimchi vinaigrette.

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threw some RubyKraut in some lentil soup with assorted leftovers

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and made a quick potato salad mixing plain old sauerkraut with potatoes in olive oil with spring onions and chives.

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All were yummy, standard Kitchen-Counter-Culture type food preparations, but I needed to get past them to let in the light of the whole new universe that Fermented Vegetables opens up.  It’s a beautiful book with exciting and original recipes and has regenerated in me a can-do sense about all the ways to continue fermenting and use my fermentations as ingredients.

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KITCHEN COUNTER CULTURE LOOKING BACK AT THE DEADLY SUPER-TYPHOON, FEELING INSPIRED BY THE CLIMATE WALK IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND MAKING ATCHARA, A FILIPINO PICKLE, TO TIE IT ALL TOGETHER.  REFLECTIONS AND A SONG, A RECIPE, AND A VIDEO….

Nearly a year ago, Typhoon Haiyan / Typhoon Yolanda was forming, to assault the Philippines (and other countries too) with incredible violence, killing at least 6,300 people and destroying huge swathes of towns, homes, communities, and property.  The strength of the storm was terrifying, and watching the destruction unfold very upsetting and deeply life-altering for people who lived through it.  For anyone who’d imagined Climate Change in the future, here it was now, announcing itself with fury and catastrophic chaos.

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Squash-leaf Soup with Flowers and Corn Dumplings in a Lemony Pork-Rib Broth. Meals evolving, like dancing on graves, creating a new cuisine. I saw this supper as a kind of exploration and experiment, which I guess is really my favourite way to cook and share food, learning as I go….

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All week I’d been throwing things into a small stock pot: onion and leek scraps, parsley stems, skin from roasted pumpkin, carrot scrapings and beetroot skins.

I simmered them and made a stock for a nice lentil soup (which included some #pumpkinrescue pumpkin).  Beet is a wonderful ingredient in stocks, but sometimes it’s the only time the gorgeous colour feels wrong, because it announces itself rather than coming in with stealth. Unannounced, beet is a great suggester of the richness of meat– there’s something of blood and iron in the flavour.  It’s great grated into vegetarian “Spag Bol” variations for this reason, though again, the colour needs to be accepted in this instance, not fought.

We’ve been busy, and the extra “stock” was sitting out on the stove stop, unstrained, unrefrigerated.  Yesterday I sieved out the vegetable bits to put the liquid in the fridge.  Tasting it, it was sour, and I thought, off.  And was about to chuck it.  Me!  Ms Ferment, Ms Anti-Waste, throwing out food!.

But I thought again, and tasted a bigger sip.

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Mission #pumpkinrescue: Thoughts on the comprehensive culinary flexibility of pumpkin, as well as links on juicing, sprouting, fermenting Harry Potter style and DIY skin treatments… Read the rest of this entry »

A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

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There are times when I find no inspiration for the daily grind of family cooking, and feel just as much a novice as anyone.  Mostly however, and especially writing this blog, there are always more food ideas that I’d like to explore than time ever allows. So I woke up last Sunday with 20 projects on the go, and couldn’t conceive how to make progress AND make lunch.  That’s when the Venn Diagram came to mind.  Why not draw some up and decide that way what we would be eating.

Number One: I’m very interested in Peasemeal as an historic Scottish staple, a flour dating back to Roman times, made of ground roasted dried yellow peas.  I wrote to the people at Golspie Mill, a restored Victorian mill way towards the top of Scotland, and asked if I might have a sample bag, and was generously obliged.  The guiding thought was that peasemeal might be a good substitute for gram flour; it’s a relatively local (at least British) staple with culinary possibilities to span the globe. And it’s a Slow Food Forgotten Food included in their “Arc of Taste,”, and interesting for this heritage.  When I asked friends what they made with gram flour, many responses looked to India– not surprisingly! — and flatbreads and pakora.

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Spend eight minutes listening to Jack Monroe talk about food politics. For her this means many things– economic policy, inequality, class assumptions, gender, zero-hour contracts, the austerity downfall of social services.  And the politics of kale and “peasant food” and being able to feel proud of what can be cobbled together on very little.

Her voice quivers as she speaks her truth. She is powerful and righteous and speaks from personal experience.

You all know her blog, yes?  I look forward to many years of learning from her as an important public figure.

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Something kind of momentous happened today.  I read the Rumi poem “Chickpea to Cook” for the first time. What a feat of imagination, to identify yourself as a chickpea being cooked, and to conceive this as a metaphor for how life shapes us.  A chickpea, anthropomorphised.   I recognise that there must be great artistry as well as contention between translations of Rumi, because the first version I include feels so darn contemporary, especially compared to other, earlier ones.

Chickpea to Cook (translated by Coleman Barks)

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Ah the infinities of interesting worlds on the internet…  I have a file “Links for Blog” into which I save items to share; despite good intentions, they languish and amass.  I’ve now prepared this post and am aware it might be overwhelming.  Please forgive me if so!  May some of it be useful to you…  Mostly Food Politics on the top, then a nice round-up of cooking and food links.

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