Archives for category: What to Make?

IMG_20160522_183615.jpgMy son and husband write a film blog for fun, and sometimes my daughter and I join them watching the classics. Recently we all were swept away by Satyajit Ray’s trilogy, “The World of Apu.”  They are soon to post a joint review on their blog, and I felt called to join in.  This is what I wrote: not quite a proper film review, not quite a proper food blog.  Something in between, with a culinary record of how I wanted to celebrate the beauty of this stunning work.

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“Pather Panchali” is a transfixing film with a plot that unfolds around carefully revealed characters and personalities, and big themes like love, loss, kindness and pettiness , meanness and generosity, being young and growing old. The Ravi Shankar soundtrack gives constant goosebumps; the cinematography is both sweeping -exploring landscapes, monsoons, the rural industry of electricity and railroads – and intimate: an old woman’s skin, domestic architecture, facial expressions of joy, anxiety, and grief.  The acting never feels like acting, the plotlines never scripted, the observations never didactic.  It feels to me the most perfect film ever, not least for how I wept towards the end in a state of total lack of separation from the fact of watching a film: I was there, I was “her” in this scene, feeling a mother’s despair at the loss of a child, in this case Djurga, whom the film viewer has watched grow and come to love.

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Because the film observes life so carefully and directly, food culture of course becomes central, and I enjoyed this aspect very much.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Not the prettiest pictures; actually they are so unappealing to look at, I take a certain contrarian pleasure posting them on a food blog where there’s the expectation that food needs to be beautiful.  (The reality is ferments often lose a lot of their initial vivid colour.)

Even if visually not so lovely, fermented Snippled Beans are an easy and delicious side dish. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tonight I made pakora with cold strands of spaghetti squash and slivers of spring onion, in a batter made with Hodmedod’s Fava Bean Flour— I added salt and chilli flakes and cardamom powder, and fried the fritters in coconut oil.  Children and I still remembered the tasty Pumpkin Peasemeal Pakora I’d made in a flurry of you-don’t-need-a-real-recipe, and indeed you don’t.  This time I just mixed the pulse flour with baking soda, salt, and slowly whisked in water, and then fragranced it with the warm spice I most easily found in an overcrowded cupboard in which no garam masala was to be found, or concocted.  Then I dredged spoonfuls of the squash in the batter, and sauteed whereas perhaps I should have deep fried.

I say this because I hate frying, and I don’t feel I’m any good at it. So, delicious as some of the pakora were, or parts of each that managed to get properly browned in oil, even perfectly crispy, they looked unappealing and were inconsistent.  (To be fair, wet squash is a more difficult fish-to-fry vegetable than something, anything, dryer.)

So I’m determined to learn to fry pakora because they are so delicious.

PLEASE: all advice about frying is welcome. Anything you think readers and I should know that will help me/us to get good at treats like this. THANK YOU.

Do people know this marvellous collection of recipes, Yamuna Devi‘s 1987 Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking?  It’s a labour of love, and a true gift as a document of the devotion of Yamuna Devi (nee Joan Campanella) to Swami Srila Prabhupada, with whom she travelled much through many regions of India, Read the rest of this entry »

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“Mum, I’m not very excited about this meal,” my 11 year old son confided, when I told him I was making a WWII ration recipe for Lentil Sausages. I mustered a tone of enthusiasm to explain that today is the 100th birthday of the great food educator and cookery writer Marguerite Patten, and that people all over the world are cooking from her great oeuvre.  And because it’s also British Sausage Week (to coincide with Bonfire Night tomorrow) and there’s a climate crisis in which meat plays a not insignificant role, I find myself especially interested in mock-meat kinds of meals.

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So it was that earlier in the day I’d set out to join in on #Marguerite100, an international cook-along networked through social media and documented in this Storify. Read the rest of this entry »

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Custardy Squash Prune Barberry Squares

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Custardy Quince Squares

Gratitude to the culinary grace of cookery writer Dorie Greenspan for these wonderful Custardy Apple Squares. She writes that she sees the recipe in the link as a “back-pocket recipe.” In the few weeks this recipe has been in my life, I’ve come to consider it a “back-pack” for the ways that it can travel, light and flexibly, be adapted to ingredients on hand, rise to an attitude of perfection or laziness as befits one’s mood, and sit somewhere on a continuum of cake, tea time snack, and pudding (in the various British senses).  And it doesn’t seem to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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Would you call this performance a kind of Housewife Burlesque? I don’t know but I think she’s fabulous! Watch and tell us what you think.

“Everybody’s good at cooking something, I’m good at cooking Crumble.” Since May when Lorraine Bowen was on Britain’s Got Talent, my kids go around singing this song, so I sing it too now.  We all sing it–it’s catchy!

Here we have a large forage of end-of-September blackberries picked by husband and son.

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And despite that it’s now October, there are still perhaps some bramble bushes fruiting in abundance. Read the rest of this entry »

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LEFTOVERS; FERMENTS; RESISTANT STARCH; GREAT SALADS

Yesterday I made this delicious Moroccan tomato salad inspired by a recipe in Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco.  It’s a great late summer/ early autumn dish, with tomatoes and grilled peppers and onions in a lemony (in fact preserved-lemony) vinaigrette, spiced with paprika and cumin.

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But we didn’t finish it in one meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Have I raved to you about Penelope Casas’ Green Bean recipe, rightfully enshrined as a Food52 “Genius Recipe?” Read the description and follow it closely.

You take your beans and sear them in a hot, oily pan, and they steam and char at the same time, retaining lots of bean-taste. When they’re done, toss them in chopped garlic and salt.

This method is flexible to flavours that go around the world– ginger and garlic and soy sauce for a Chinese mood, mustard seeds and chilis for South Asian, add coconut milk for a Thai feeling.. you get the idea.

I’d been wondering about Runner Beans, those prolific stalwarts of the British summer veg patch.  I’ve never managed to love them as deeply as I do green beans/ string beans/ French beans (as they are called here). Read the rest of this entry »

Hello George Monbiot, here talking about roadkill as ethical meat, and I’m with him on this one, for all the reasons he dislikes most farm-bred meat, mentioned in the video above and discussed here and here.

And I have friends who, as foresters and re-wilders, deeply hate the grey squirrels of Britain for the damage these invasive creatures do to (re)foresting efforts; these activists see eating squirrel as a vote for a wider notion of Ecology.  Here’s a blog from a journalist in Scotland who writes about eating squirrel from this point of view.

When I wrote about rabbit over a year ago, I catalogued recipes in my cookbooks to give readers a sense of culinary possibility, and myself a future reference.  I’m reposting this list for everyone who might be inspired to try something new.  Squirrels are meant to cook very similar to rabbit, hence the recipes can be transposed.

For me eating squirrel is hypothetical so far, I should add– though there’s a dead one, courtesy of our cat, in front of our house, and I’m talking to kids about the succession of creatures that eat and rot the dead, especially the gorgeous bottle flies with their metallic blue-green jewel bodies.

Rabbit/ Squirrel Recipes Read the rest of this entry »

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Is it a dip? A pate? Not sure, but three times I’ve found myself bringing spreads made of pumpkin seeds, onion, fresh coriander and pickled jalapeños to parties.  Originally I read a version of Sikil Pak, a Mayan Yucateco dish, interpreted in an extravagantly chef-like way (orange zest, really?) on Tasting Table, and have sought since to backtrack to something more simple to learn about what it could be.

Read the rest of this entry »

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