Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater

So last night I took delivery of the latest version of the Kitchen Diaries which I have been lost in for a large part of the last 12 hours

It’s too early for a review. I can say that the prose does not disappoint but the recipes have left me wondering on several occasions “where the hell will I find that in rural Warwickshire !”

More later I have to work

Spag Bol

I made Spaghetti Bolognaise on Friday night, it’s the same recipe I’ve used for years (but these days without the mushrooms) I learned it from my Mum, probably one of the first more complicated things I made – the best bolognaise I ever tasted is the one from Kitchen Diaries:Nigel Slater but I wasn’t in the mood for following a recipe, I just wanted something comforting and routine.

I made it partly to make amends and partly to calm me down and get my head straight as I’d just thrown my toys out the pram. I behaved appallingly but I am not apologetic for it, sometimes I think it needs to be done. I don’t make a fuss as a rule and sometimes when you don’t make a fuss you can get overlooked.

Things had kinda come to a head on Friday evening. I was finally getting fed up of the neighbours treating our garden as a thoroughfare because we had no fences up, I’d shouted at one of the neighbours visiting children the previous day because he’d ignored me when I’d told him not to go in our garden to get his ball, and that he should be asking me if I could get it for him – can’t remember what I said aside from emphasising that the garden was dangerous.

Anyway I insisted to the family that this weekend that we were sorting out the backgarden. Not sure how the Student got involved as we hadn’t actually asked him to help out but he started getting arsey about the fact I wanted to do it this weekend and how it was messing up his arrangements as he had to be in Rugby tomorrow to “see his boss about holiday work” and then he phoned someone and started slagging us off on the phone whilst we were in earshot about how the “people here keep changing their plans, and the plans are changing by the minute etc etc”. So I sort of told him that as far as I was concerned he could go home now, this minute, that I didn’t want him here and that his “attitude stank” and I’d rather a willing volunteer than someone who felt pressganged.

I suspect that Student thinks his Stepmother has an irrational hatred of him, no I have a very rational dislike, based on the fact that he is an arrogant knowitall who hasn’t the human social skills to realise that talking about someone in front of them, implying that they were too stupid to plan ahead might perhaps annoy them a little ! A dislike which is intensified by the fact that the very thing he is accusing us of is one of his biggest character flaws – he doesn’t think ahead and he expects us to change our plans to fit in with him – well sorry Student, but you are 20 now, you are an adult, start using your brain, start planning and start realising that other people (parents and such like) have lives too !

Poor Husband I think is feeling a bit bruised as he probably had to put up with Student sounding off in the car as he was taken back to Rugby…and was then probably worring that I’d give him an earbashing when he got home – nope, just Spag Bol !

The Spag Bol made an appearance the next day too, mixed with veg and hidden under mashed potato as a cottage pie.

I’ve also tried to make amends concerning the current state of the house – its tidier than it has been for weeks – well since I went on strike following the mess the house got in when Husband and Student came back from Le Mans – and ruined the hard work I’d put in to finding a place for everything in the 6 days they were both out of the house.

Tomorrow I may even clean the goldfish out…

Tomorrow, is the first day of the rest of your life…

Tomorrow is the first day of my campaign to get me eating healthily – I would like to get the rest of my family eating healthily but that might be slightly more than I can manage (Spider has potential he eats the more colourful members of the vegetable world).

Yesterday I tackled the building site of the back garden – its going to be a long job but at least I’ve strimmed the grass and made a start at stacking all the dead wood in one place

back garden pre tidy

back garden pre tidy

I have also organised the shed, camping and toys on one side and my gardening equipment on the other. Am contemplating drawing a chalk line down the centre…have threatened dire penalties towards anyone messing up my “sanctuary” if a dark dingy cobwebbed infested place can be called a sanctuary.

All my tools are finally in one place, soon to be joined by all the various seed packets that inhabit every spare drawer in the house.

Unfortunately all the plants I grew in February and March have died off as I had nowhere to put them after the allotment fell through so I am looking for free or cheap plants of whatever sort I can get my hands on.

Later today I shall make the last cake (other than my Mum’s birthday cake) that I intend to eat until I have got my waist measurement down to 28 inches – still cooking for other people though..

I am also part way through 2 soups. There was a report on the BBC website last week that scientists thought that soup might be the key to dieting as it makes your brain think you are not hungry for longer – sorry can’t find the link. I am part way through as one of the recipes involves soaking beans overnight and then cooking them. I don’t have a lot of luck with dried beans so I doubled both the soaking time and the cooking time and I think they are now “cooked, with a little bite left”.

The recipes in question are Nigel Slater’s “White Bean and Tarragon Soup” replacing the borlotti beans with haricot and the tarragon with possibly thyme (I actually grew some borlotti beans last year and they were very easy and so beautiful to look at). The second recipe is from a blog I read Glittyknittykitty (Potage Crecy with Peppers – January 16th) and is purely because I have been given a jaw of Peppardew peppers and have a large bag of carrots in for Spider.

Nigel last year, Nigella this…

Last year I cooked a “traditional” Christmas dinner, turkey, gravy, small sausages, roast potatoes, hell I even did sprouts and chestnuts.  We had a home made christmas pudding (as did several of my friends as I made slightly too many) and a home made iced and marzipan’d Christmas cake (both from The Kitchen Diaries: Nigel Slater)

One of Mummy and Spider's joint ventures

One of Mummy and Spider's joint ventures

Now you might be wondering why is this even worth mentioning ? Well perhaps because this isn’t how my family normally has its christmas’. About the time I was 13 we had a family discussion and decided that Christmas would be about food that we wanted to eat because it was good and tasty not simply because it was traditional.

Anyway, last year we wanted to introduce Spider to tradition and besides both Husband and Dad like turkey (and sprouts) and I adore christmas pudding. I also splashed out on a gingerbread train kit from the American shop  in Milton Keynes… of the bakes stuff, the pudding was lovely but I wish I’d left the figs out as I don’t like little hard seeds, the cake was nice but as a family we are not keen on the icing and marzipan…the gingerbread kit was horrible and besides Spider lost interest half way through…and more icing went on Spider than on the cake when we tackled that.

So this year we will be doing one of Nigella’s many alternative Christmas cakes – although not until the weekend as I have yet another cold and I don’t cook for other people when I’m ill, it just doesn’t seem hygienic!

As for last year, well Nigel’s pudding recipe is here as is the cake recipe just slightly further down the page

The first Christmas cake

So called because this is the first Christmas cake I am making this year, for the works Christmas Cake competition – the idea is that anyone who wants to enter makes a cake and then people who want to try cake pay a £1 for charity (probably Water Aid) and then vote on the winner.

Anyway, my entry is not a traditional cake but is something that I associate with Christmas, gingerbread or rather ginger cake…my kitchen is currently full of the lovely smells of ginger and cinnamon and caramel and…cake ! The version I eventually went for is from The Kitchen Diaries:Nigel Slater and is one I am particularly fond of because it has a hidden surprise of real stem ginger hidden deep in side. The recipe for it was published some years ago in The Observer also [here] and its kinda appropriate as when Nigel made it for his article in the observer “the rain is crashing down on the kitchen roof”, and that’s just what it’s been doing here all day.

The intention tomorrow is to ice it with the lemon icing for Ginger Cake in Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess because as she points out, its hard to sell something which is so unrelentingly brown…

Other than the cake today has been quite quiet, Husband went down to pick the Student up from Cardiff and Spider and I cleaned the living room, including moving the sofa which is where I found the Toffee Brownie recipe – I have now amended the quantities in the recipe I posted several days ago.

Next weekend I will be making this years actual christmas cake – again not traditional because last year we were still eating it at the end of January…

Double Ginger Cake with lemon icing...

Double Ginger Cake with lemon icing...