Monday, 19 March 2012

Cash Mob

Just to remind you I only survive shopping locally and independently because of the almighty Horsley Community Shop.  This is where I can buy all my basics, cleaning stuff and oodles of treats for the kids.
In Cambridge they are trialling an American idea of "Cash Mob", an alternative to the "Flash Mob" that feel You tube. What it means is a group of people pile into an agreed local shop on a particular to show them it's support, to raise awareness of the store and hopefully pick up some new customers along the way.  A fantastic idea and I'm sure exactly what our small independents could do with at the moment.

It's not how you eat but how you shop

I overheard two ladies whinging about cooking and saying how they were bored with their same repertoire, then one said 'I just go round Tesco's looking for new inspiration", she doesn't find it.
How have our large supermarkets blinded people to think there isn't an alternative.
There is and that's the High Street, SHOP LOCALLY,  talk to the experts and the producers and they will recommend what's special and how to cook it.  Start at your local butchers, buy some pork from them, it's cheap and I bet cheaper than the supermarket.  Follow this on with a trip to your greengrocers, buy what's seasonal, our local Bramleys, sells bowls and bowls of fruit and veg for £1 each.  Take it home in a box with change in your pocket and zero packaging for the landfill.  Follow this up with a trip to your local bakers, buy a fresh loaf ideally an overnight dough, you won't have to keep it in the fridge and it will last a week.
Try it please, you might even like it, let me know how you get on.

Cooking with kids

The best way to inspire kids is to involve them.  Let them cook with you, it makes a mess it's hectic and they love it.  Eat together, if your kids see that food is something to celebrate they join in the celebration.  
By all eating together you have a more varied repertoire and they get to eat what you like.  As an antidote to this our kids have a weekly Little Chef night where they get to cook whatever they like and ideally shop for the ingredients too. The kids use the Usborne kids books lots, and love them, they have an ordinary old fashioned one, a world food one and their baking one.  I had a proud moment the other day when I asked my eldest daughter to get the Nigella Lawson cookbook and she responded, "How to eat" or "Feast". It made me laugh but I was impressed, we use both of these cookbooks really regularly and both have kiddie recipes.
My kids have also learned from their failings, the boy made a marble cake but mixed both batches together to make a chocolate cake.  And both have learnt that you need to follow the instructions and not just read the ingredients.
Tom's new book, The Fabulous Baker Brothers has some great recipes to inspire kids.  We have made the fish fingers, the burger and their baps and the demon chocolate cake.  My kids love to bake and recently baked a loaf when they had friends round, because hopefully they are realising it's as much about the sharing as the eating.  

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Good parenting

Just occasionally I have good parenting moments worthy of sharing.
1: buy your children sketch books, it's a great way to see there drawings and ideas year on year, it avoids recycling their fine art, they love it
2: my children used buttons today in their shop as money, genius idea - if buttons were money we would be rich

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The best sort of present


It's not how you cook it's how you shop....'s about knowing how to use a 3euro crate of peaches

All cooking is a science and if you teach yourself some basic proportion facts, you can cook anything,
for example, pastry can be as simple as half the fat to flour.

Your cooking will thrive if your kitchen is your favourite room where you will want to spend time.
-Aga's are wonderful for this as they put the warmth into your kitchen, why wouldn't you want to spend time with it.
-Views and daylight are good.
-I have been hanging fat balls outside my kitchen window so I can watch the birds as I cook.
-Fill your kitchen with daffodils, they'll make you happy
-Fling open the doors and window and cook till your heart is full.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


For us our obsession with food is as much about the experience, rituals and memories as it is the actual food.  A lot of our desire for food is about trying to recreate the experience as much as the taste.  When we were in Scotland last year we arrived after a hideous journey at our friends house, where we had been invited for tea in the afternoon.  Tea means different things to different people, for us it means a good cuppa hopefully with a lush piece of cake, for others it may mean cucumber sandwiches and a cream tea, then for some it’s their evening meal A.K.A. dinner or supper.
The tea we had that day was aspirational and I have been trying to recreate it ever since.  A cloth covered table, laid with beautiful plates, tea cups and saucers.  In the centre of the table lay some warm cheese scones, a lemon cake and a pot of tea.  For me this is the perfect tea, simplicity, homely deliciousness.  This is what food should be about yet all too often we try to complicate it.
If your confident in your ingredients and proud of what you have bought, then serve it simply.  A few times recently I have been caught out by unexpected visitors and with an empty cake tin I have raided the bread bin and made oodles of toast.  Bread, the best we can offer, served with a good knob of butter and some homemade preserves washed down with a good pot of tea. Unadulterated bliss, simple.
My favourite cheese scone recipe from Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet,
Makes 6 scones
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal or rye, I used spelt
2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt, I used sea salt
1 tsp brown sugar
i clove of garlic mashed
50g unsalted butter, cubed
200g cheddar, diced
1 large egg
4 tbs plain yoghurt
Place the dry ingredients and garlic in a bowl (I used my kitchen aid), rub in the butter, then toss in the cheese, beat in the egg and yoghurt until formed a soft dough.  Get your husband to mould the dough into scones.  Bake in the oven 210c for 20 -25 minutes.

Our dear friend sent us the Delia recipe, but we think Dan wins.

Cheese Crusted Scones

175g self-raising flour
25g butter
75g finely grated strong Cheddar cheese (I used Parmesan)
2-3 tablespoons of milk
half a teaspoon of salt
half a teaspoon of mustard powder
a couple of good pinches of cayenne pepper
and a little extra milk

Make as you would make scones and then at the end brush the tops with milk and add a little of the grated cheese and a faint sprinkling of cayenne.
Bake at 220 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.