O is for onions and alliums in general

I had been planning on missing out “O” until I’d written the post for “P” as “O” was going to be all about Onigiri but since these would be for my lunch over the week it seemed pretty pointless making them and writing about them on a Friday…but then this weekend has been so busy that I haven’t had chance to cook (except for a long thin sponge) or write until now.

As it is the news about the allotment has perked me up enough to start thinking about what to grow and first on the list is onions/garlic/shallots/spring onions as most of my non baking cookery tends to start with “take 1 onion, chop” – certainly if I don’t know what to cook for dinner I’ll usually start chopping and onion and waiting for inspiration to strike.

The other thing onions have going for them is they are the only thing the slugs in my garden don’t seem to touch. Last year I lost the tops of the onions, garlic and shallots to the slugs but the bulbs themselves were ok – got a bumper crop of shallots but the onions I think may have been too closer together in their container…

I had vague plans to either make french onion soup (my mum’s recipe) or an upside down onion tart which I have vague memories of from a Nigella recipe.

As it was we spent Sunday morning pottering around the wet wasteland at the end of our houses trying to work out what size the allotment should be and where…and now here we are at sunday evening when I have to think about packed lunches for the week and and could both make and write about about rice balls, but I find myself with a fridge of leftovers and no need to make something specifically for lunches. My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this weekend…looks like we are in for another week of creative cooking.

I may make the Leon lentil soup in the next few days…it got a good write up on Lacer’s Life…and once again my stomach is in turmoil from anxiety and I need something gentle to calm it down…thank god its payday this week !

ps been a bit of a week for people passing away, John Mortimer on thursday and Tony Hart this morning…

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I can’t get this man out of my kitchen…(cookbook clearance)

I am not planning on doing any recipe cooking for awhile.  On the cake front I’ve just made the Brownies which may take some time to shift as I’m taking a break from sugar laden foodstuffs for a short time. On the savoury front we are still clearing the fridge of leftovers, last night was refrigerator rice (or refrigerator velcro as I’ve heard it called) and today I made 2 soups, one of which is known as “End of Life” soup and as you might expect has a variable ingredients list.

This year I am also cutting down on my reliance on recipes and returning to how I used to cook (what have we got, what needs using etc). Over the years I built up a collection of probably some 50 recipe books. In the last year this has been slashed dramatically due to lack of space (yes, I still lack enough space) and cash… periodically I list the surplus books on Amazon and on the intranet at work.

There is one cook book that I will never use, but I will never sell. Not because I’m particularly attached to it but because Husband would probably divorce me if I tried to get rid of the book.

The book in question is White Heat: Marco Pierre White.

I will never cook from this book because, MPW’s food, nice though it probably is, is just not the sort of food I want to cook or can afford to for that matter, even his pasta dough is OTT on the egg count as far as I am concerned – I’m sure if I had a really discerning palette then I would notice the difference, and if I’m paying those prices then I’d expect something above average.

So why will Husband divorce me if the book leaves the house ? Am I perhaps a very lucky girl and has a husband who cooks to Michelin star standard ? No, I have a husband (and whole family for that matter) who is heavily into photography and the photos in this book were done by Bob Carlos Clarke…I still have the text message my husband sent me in March 2006 which says simply “Bob’s Dead” and yes I knew who he meant.

ps. Husband has just been reading over my shoulder and has relocated Marco from the kitchen to the living room where the other photography books live – yay !

Cupboard clearing…

Haven’t been baking much the last 10 days as there is plenty to eat and I keep being given left overs from people I know.

Started sorting the cupboards out last night, doing a stock keep of what I have and what needs using up, other than the obvious stuff in the fridge…

Still feeling run down so trying out a “tonic” rather than copious cups of tea as I still have some ginger left from my cold cures and I discovered some forgotten lemon grass in the freezer, which if I was in the mood I could turn into a Thai curry (as there are 2 tins of coconut milk lurking with the rice pud) but I am not in the mood…although there are still loads of goose bits in the fridge…and I wonder if the co op sells corriander…

Anyway rather than the curry I haven’t made here is the tonic (makes 4 cups, I’ve only made 1 as I may use the rest of the lemon grass on something else)

Lemon grass and Ginger Tea (Cook at Home with: Peter Gordon)

2 stems lemon grass bashed flat with a hammer or rolling pin

100g ginger skin scrubbed and roughly chopped

1 litre cold water

sugar, elderflower cordial or honey to taste

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, out the lid on and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain before drinking.

lemongrass tea - a break for the liver

lemongrass tea - a break for the liver

ps ooooh, whilst rooting around in the veg drawer for the ginger I found the beetroot I bought just before christmas to do Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s Beetroot Brownies, so I may do one last baking session before new year…

verdict on the tonic: Well I feel invigorated, the ginger was a bit strong for my taste, but perhaps its less intense if you drink it hotter, mine was a bit on the cool side as just as I made it, Spider dragged me off to show me a 3 he had just found – we’ve been playing a number recognition reward game, if he correctly names a number then he gets a small toy as a reward…it probably would be cheaper with sweets…!

The cupboard is bare

Actually that’s not quite true. I know this because I did a stock take the other night to establish what we have/have not as all our various resources are low.  I used up the last of the plain flour on Tuesday night making the Baseline Brownies and can’t justify buying any more until next Thursday as all the bank accounts, those that are not already drastically overdrawn, are dangerously low.

The more serious problem is that I can’t afford to put fuel in the car in order to go to work. My home work journey is 134 mile round trip. I used to do this journey by train but it is 50% cheaper by car. I have negotiated with work that I will occasionally work out of a local office nearer home but somehow I think they would object if I spend all next week in a different office.

We have been surviving this week by creative cooking and lucky bargains from the local co-op.

Monday – end of date sausages and mini baked potatoes. I made more pumpkin soup for my lunches out of the pumpkin my Dad grew.

Tuesday– “hope” omelette, as in “I hope this tastes OK”, primarily leftover potatoes and roast lamb bound together with egg. Husband had the leftover sausages from Monday as his lunch.

Wednesday – Toad in the hole with more reduced sausages and mini bakers.

Tonight I intend to use the leftover potato from yesterday with the remains of the pumpkin to make gnocchi. Using rye flour instead of plain and making a sauce from onions (the only veg left in the fridge), passata (soooo cheap from Aldi) and the meat from the remaining 2 uncooked sausages.

Can still make Toddler some muffins though as I still have SR Flour (along with several other more exotic types of flour) and a big bag of prunes which he won’t touch (doesn’t like the colour) unless I cunningly disguise it as something tasty. I may have to try my hand at bread dough as it is a truth universally acknowledged that children will eat almost anything if it comes in the form of pizza. Suspect that might not include lentils though…