Skip to main content

A foodie post

Despite the title of the blog and the tantalising picture of caramel slice at the top of the page, some of you may be feeling that my entries have been sadly lacking in food content. Rest assured that I haven't given up cooking in the least, and would like to prove it by offering some photographic evidence of the latest creations.

So, first up: the other day at work one of my colleagues grabbed a left-over piece of bread dough, rolled it out thin, slapped some pepperoni and cheese on it and rolled it up to form what she described as a stromboli - basically a rolled-up pizza. I'd never even heard of this delicacy before, but after one slice, hot out of the oven, I had to make it for myself. The ingredients are up to your imagination and whatever you happen to have in the fridge, so mine consisted of a smear of tomato paste, a few blobs of ricotta left over from a spinach-and-ricotta-lasagna experiment, some grated cheddar and parmesan, chopped slices of sandwich ham and some fresh oregano from the herb box. If I did it again I think I might give it half an hour to prove before putting it in the oven, but even without that it came out very tasty. And it was even better cold the next day for lunch!



The second was more of a joint effort, thus showing that baking is an ideal bonding opportunity between husband and wife, or some such thing... anyway, it was fun. It was cheaper to buy a bag of six lemons at the supermarket than three single ones, so that's what I did, and hence ended up on the look-out for lemon recipes. On Friday at work I was making lemon meringue pies (bake off pre-made frozen pie shell; mix water with lemon filling mix, add; mix water with meringue mix, add; bake until brown) and halfway through dinner suddenly realised that the actual thing could be a possible repository for some of my excess lemons. Graham said, "Let's do it now!" so we jumped into the kitchen and got going.

In this land of the baking mix and the ready-made, actually cooking something from the raw ingredients requires an extra adjective, and so the activity we were about to undertake is referred to as "scratch baking" - usually accompanied by a look of incredulity: "you made this from scratch?" Yes, and if you looked more closely at some of the supermarket products, you would too. I was serving a gentleman the other day who asked what the ingredients were in a particular cheesecake, so I gave him the label. He scanned it quickly and remarked, "sounds like a chemistry set!" In order to achieve the uniformity and shelf-life required by such huge organisations as supermarkets, a whole variety of stabilisers and preservatives have to be added, which I can't imagine contribute vastly to the nutritional content of the product.

It seems worse in America, for some reason; I still haven't got over the fact that regular cheddar and such is invariably labelled "natural cheese", which is necessary to distinguish it from the processed cheese slices that have a texture little different from their plastic wrapping (although they are not, I've noticed, labelled "unnatural cheese"). A whole raw chicken for roasting proudly proclaimed that it was "minimally processed" - well, you'd hope so! But this is a land where a certain fast-food chain ran adverts showing that you couldn't buy the ingredients for its fried chicken for anywhere near the price it was selling it at. This didn't make me want to rush out and buy it, but rather raised the question, "what on earth do they make it out of then?" Some kind of super-processed chicken?

Anyway, back to our genuine home-made scratch-baked minimally-processed no-preservatives-added lemon meringue pie. Graham made the pastry and meringue, I provided the lemon filling and overall direction (ie reading the recipe book), we entertained ourselves with a game of tennis on the Wii while it was baking, and very shortly we had ourselves one very presentable and delicious pie to eat! Preservatives were definitely not needed, as it vanished remarkably quickly.

Comments

John Evens said…
Yay! Food! The Calzone is quite popular here, which is a pizza folded in half a bit like a cornish pasty (although no-one know whether or not you pronounce the 'e', as you would in Italian). The name 'Stromboli' rings a bell, but I couldn't have told you what it was and I'm sure I never eaten one. Kristal got a book at the library called 'The New Best Recipe', which is a huge tome of 1000 classic recipes that have all been exhaustively researched to find out what ingredients and techniques really work the best. So far it has provided for tip-top pound cake & pork stirfry. We're testing out the turkey burgers made with ricotta tonight!
Love John
Anonymous said…
Here are some more lemony drink recipes. They may be useful as you head towrads summer. We have a lemon tree in the garden so I have a few. One of my favourite is homemade lemon curd - especially good as a filling for cakes, biscuits and meringues. Anyway here are the drink recipes:

CLASSIC LEMON CORDIAL
3 large lemons; 2 cups sugar; 3 cups boiling water; 2 tsp tartaric acid; 2 tsp citric acid; 2 tsp Epsom salts
Grate the lemons and put the zest in a large bowl. Squeeze and strain the lemon juice, then add to the bowl, along with the sugar and boiling water. Add the tartaric acid, citric acid and Epsom salts. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Store in bottles in a cool place. Dilute with water to drink.
LEMON CORDIAL
2-3 large lemons; 2 cups sugar; 2 cups boiling water; 1 tsp tartaric acid; 1⁄2 tsp Epsom salts
Carefully pare the rind from the lemons with a potato peeler. Put the sugar and rind into a food processor and blend until you have yellow sugar. Place this mixture into a large bowl and add half the boiling water, stirring to ensure that the sugar is dissolved. Squeeze the lemon juice and add to the sugar mixture along with the rest of the boiling water, the tartaric acid and the Epsom salts. Strain into bottles and seal. Store in the refrigerator. Dilute with water to drink.

LEMON SQUASH
1 cup lemon juice, preferably Lisbon type; 11⁄2 cups sugar
Put juice and sugar in a stainless-steel bowl and rest the bowl inside a saucepan of water. Bring the water to the boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Cool and pour into bottles stored in a cool place.
LEMON BARLEY WATER
1 heaped tbsp pearl barley; 4 cups water; 1 large lemon; 2 tbsp sugar
Put the barley in a saucepan with the water. Use a potato peeler to cut a curl of zest from the lemon. Add this to the saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve and add the lemon juice and sugar.

Popular posts from this blog

Baby Language

For some reason baby equipment is an area in which American English differs markedly from British English. As well as learning how to care for a baby, we had to learn a whole new vocabulary! Fortunately we are now fluently bilingual, and I have compiled a handy US-UK baby dictionary for you. Diaper n. Nappy Mom says if you can read this change my diaper. The first time you change one of these you will be all thumbs and stick the little adhesive tabs to yourself, the baby and probably the changing mat before you get them where they ought to go. A few years later you will be able to lasso a running toddler and change them before they even know what's happened (yes, I have seen it done). You will also get through more diapers than you ever thought possible, creating scary amounts of expense and waste. Hence we are now mostly using: Cloth diaper n. Reusable nappy Cool baby. No longer those terry squares, the main drawback is that there are now so many types it can be qu

our new apartment

Moving was a slightly surreal experience given that our new place looks almost exactly the same as the old one, except for being a different layout. That's what you get for living in a throw-'em-up-and-pack-'em-in apartment complex I guess - albeit a very nice one. So, entering apartment 433: To your right is the master bedroom: with en-suite bathroom: and looking back, from your left, that's a walk-in closet, door to the hallway and door to the bathroom: Following the layout so far? OK, go back to the hallway and put your back to the front door again, and this time walk straight forwards into the sitting room: As you can see, ahead of you is the door to the balcony: for which I have grand plans for a herb garden and other plants. Leading off the living room is the dining area: and if you walk through that and round to your right you reach the kitchen: Go back through the living room again: and if you turn right (

Speedy Steamed Pudding

One of the highlights of being in catered halls for a couple of years at university was the sponge puddings. Great big sheets of chocolate or vanilla sponge, carved into hefty blocks and doused with thick custard. The main courses were edible at best, but those puddings would fill you up for a week. Good solid puddings, whether baked, steamed or boiled, have been a mainstay of English cooking for centuries. Something about the cold, damp, dark winters inspired British cooks to endless variations on suet, jam, currants, custard and other comforting ingredients. Once I left the nurturing environs of my parents' house and university halls, pudding stopped being an everyday affair and became a more haphazard, if-I-feel-like-making-any event. And steamed puddings especially, with their two hours over simmering water, don't really lend themselves to spur of the moment dessert-making. However, technology has moved on since those first days of puddings. I'd been vaguely