Delia’s Fast Roast Chicken

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“If you sometimes feel depressed or let down, if you are suffering from the pressures of life, or simply having a plain old day, my advice is to roast a chicken”

This is the start to chapter 4 of Delia How to Cook, Book 2 which is where I decided to start,  because there was a chicken in the fridge and becasue it is February and I find February a hard month to get through and Delia is right, a chicken roasting in the oven (especially one with a lemon up its bum) just makes the day feel a little bit more golden.

So I started with Fast Roast Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon and I was worried, really worried about the timing of this because I have it ingrained within my internal cookery book that a chicken cooks at 20 minutes a lb plus 20 minutes so to be told that my 3lb chicken would cook in 45 minutes had me feeling very nervous…

But it works, it does, bang on 45 minutes the chicken came out and it was done perfectly…and the gravy was spot on and we were all happy and feeling that little bit more spring like…and there were leftovers (2 stir fries and a chicken sandwich).

This is probably the easiest recipe to do from the point of view that all the family will eat it…chapter 1 is patchy, chapter 2 (fish) is for me alone…

Doing Delia

 Conjures up horrible pictures that title. Hopefully however most of you reading this won’t have such a smutty mind as me and interpret it in the way it was meant.

I am in a good place mentally and as a result don’t have the urge to bake quite so much at the moment – also since Spider’s birthday there has been a lack of occasions in my diary requiring cake. I’m not cooking either as Husband, realising quite how knackered I am after the commute has taken charge of putting food on the table in the evening.

In fact I am in danger of becoming a non-cook…

I thought I’d better challenge myself to something, just to keep my hand in. I am therefore “doing Delia”…which correctly interpreted means that I shall be working my way through her “How to Cook” books 1 & 2…

I am not however going to report my progress for the first 10 pages as I’m sure the world does not need to know how I got on with “learning to boil an egg”…anyone got any Lime Pickle though or can suggest a substitute as her first proper recipe is a curry which uses that as one of its main ingredients…

Delia’s instructions for boiling an egg can be found here

Just Bento’s bento box challenge

Just Bento and Just Hungry are two of my favourite sites. I stumbled across them last year when I started taking a packed lunch to work again…something I should have been doing anyway but rarely remembered except on occasions when my Mum hands me sandwiches when I dropped Spider off.

The spur to being more organised was Spider’s pre-school starting a lunch club. As it was on mondays it was an incentive to think about packed lunches over the weekend for the rest of the week (admittedly perhaps FQ and I did spend slightly too much thinking about it and from time to time wasted hours discussing what to put in our childrens lunch bags). Anyway, it worked, for the space of a term I remebered to take lunch with me everyday.

I should point out that when I don’t take food with me, I don’t buy lunch elsewhere – I just don’t eat. Which is a bad thing for many reasons and can contribute to a weight problem as your body gets used to storing calories when it gets them !

I used the internet to get ideas for lunches as I have a limited interest in sandwiches and quickly discovered Lunch in  Box which reminded me about bento boxes, and searching for that brought up Just Bento. Both these sites are jammed packed with ideas not just for lunches but for speeding up preperation of lunches and greater use of the freezer for staple items (I am as you may realise from early posts totally dedicated to my freezer).

I have treated myself to a genuine Bento Box from the Japan Centre but I haven’t used it much – mainly because there was no lunch club last term and as a result I stopped taking lunch – besides  I  found  a cheap partitioned plastic box from a supermarket much more versatile (and its dishwasher safe !).

Anyway, not only is lunch club back this term but Just Bento is running a bento box challenge, starting on the 11th January – it has 3 stages to it Basic, Going Deeper and Weight Loss (in theory the size of your box can be related to the amount of calories it can hold – but that I guess depends on the type of food you are putting in it).

So this is my new years resolution, make lunch for work daily and to keep me on track I am taking the Just Bento challenge…cooking my way through Delia How to Cook 1 & 2 is a personal challenge and not a resolution and I’m giving myself a year for that one due to financial constraints…

Egg-spert in the kitchen

I know, that is an appallingly bad pun but its “difficult to get excited about a hard boiled egg” (digression – when I was 18 I travelled round europe. In Amsterdam I met some americans, and for want of anything else to talk about I asked them what they thought about their new president (George Bush sr) to which one of them replied “he’s a hard boiled egg” and then explained “its hard to get excited about a boiled egg”).

Anyway, for want of any other plan for the year I decided I may was well cook my way through Delia, especially as we appeared to have all the ingredients for her Egg and Lentil Curry with coconut and pickled lime (except the pickled lime and half the spices are with FG) and the Chorizo Hash with peppers (chorizo is one of my kitchen stand bys).

I was all set to do the Chorizio this evening (Husband doesn’t really do curry) and asked Husband to pick up some potatoes to which he replied by volunteering to do baked potatoes with an idea he’d had involving pate (which needs using).

Anyway, since the potatoes would take 1.5-2 hours (how to cook volume 1 page 174) in the oven I volunteered to do a rice pudding also (page 212)…the potatoes I have done as per the recipe and the rice pudding I have amended a little. With the rice pudding I have upped the temperature a bit (and lowered the potatoes) and shortened the time. I didn’t have any evaporated milk so I watered down some condensed milk…I also halved the quantities as there would only be 2 of us eating it.

Anyway, that’s all doing its stuff with no interference from me and I have just stated hard boiling some eggs (page 17)…only with a slight difference. I can get excited about hard boiled eggs, a good egg sandwich for me is a little bit of heaven. Spider can’t stand them ( a texture thing possibly) but lunch club starts again this week and I need something to perk up his lunch box…so when they have boiled I will be sticking them in ice cream biscuit moulds and plunging them in cold water – for moulded hard boiled eggs please check out Lunch in a Box.

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Picture when they are done…at the moment I’m waiting for the eggs to warm up…Delia doesn’t approve of keeping eggs in the fridge…well tough, I may be following your recipes but I refuse to toe the line !

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Delia, Diets and Dilemmas

OK I know its a cliche going on a diet for the new year but it seemed timely in view of the government’s latest healthy living campaign besides I’ve also taken a break from alcohol – thought it was time to give my liver a wee rest following the extensive use I’ve made recently of the 2 bottles of gin I had for Christmas.

Also it fits in with my attempt this year to change the way I cook, meals being dictated more by what I have in than by cookbooks (finished my kitchen stock take, was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I found lurking in the freezer, threw a few frozen kitchen experiments away). I’ve also started Fitday again as I found that useful for keeping an eye on calories and exercise…and will be taking up the Bento challenge on the 13th. I don’t intend to mention this again in the next 6 months but Islay if you are reading the starting weight is 11st 11lb…

The cookbook cull continues and I have a dilemma over Delia. I do not read Delia for pleasure ( I prefer cooks with passion for food, the only passion I’ve ever seen Delia demonstrate was her infamous shouting at the crowd when Norwich were losing) , I wasn’t even taught

how to cook from watching her programmes ( I learned from watching Mum and trying to pass an o level in Home Economics – allegedly I even know what those symbols are on clothes labels…allegedly). However there is a generation and a half out there, about 30-65 which keeps a copy of Delia’s cookery course in their kitchen as a sort of lifebelt…It’s like that game “What would Madonna do” (or perhaps that only happens in India Knight novels) instead when you don’t know what to do in a cooking crisis you ask “what would Delia do”. Me I phone Mum and she consults her copy of Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. ..I only have her How to Cook Books 1 and 2.

There are things I would like to do properly, for example I can’t make rice but Husband can. One day after grimacing his way through my latest offering he took control, went into the kitchen for the How to Cook and next time we had rice he cooked it – and sickeningly it was perfect.

So do I stick it on Amazon as secondhand or do I bite the bullet and as a new years resolution work my way through it…we do have an abundance of eggs in the fridge at the moment…and cheese…and Husband did enter my life some years ago complete with his own omelette pan…