Mostly Concerning Food

If something is essential, then I believe that it should be made special. The wow should be in the ordinary. Sleeping, eating and breathing should all be elevated and celebrated. Beds should be frighteningly comfortable. Sleep nothing short of a nightly treat. As a trumpeter, I’ve always valued the joy of a good lungful of air. As a reformed smoker I enjoy it still more. If Joseph Priestley is going to spend his life discovering oxygen and its qualities then I am going to savour it and live a little richer. Food is simply one of the true gateways between this world and a much better one.

I’m not a gourmet. I do like to try things out and I have come to like things I would once have regarded as being “a bit posh” but I feel uncomfortable among truly refined diners or when the  food is over-fussy. I do like an oyster or a lobster but am equally content with a plate of sausage and potatoes or a good pie. I was brought up near Scrabster where lobsters were ten a shilling and crabs were given away. Oysters, even in London, were the food of the poor and added to meat pies as bulk to save on the meat bill. I’ve remained classless for most of my life. My qualifications and mode of income preclude me from being able to claim true brotherhood with my agrarian and proletarian roots (though that is where my heart lies). I’ve never been comfortable with middle class smugness or aspiration. These days I work for myself and spend as many hours with chisel or saw as I do with pen or computer. I have as much as I want to have and can thereby call myself rich indeed. I can be any class I want to be or none at all and I reflect this in my diet. One thing I insist upon is honesty whether it be in friendship, faith or food. Good ingredients well prepared and well cooked. Taste, texture and colour. And I’d prefer it if it did me good. If it doesn’t and its tasty, I’ll eat it anyway and compensate with an apple or an orange.

We keep the wow in the ordinary and spend the Johnson pound on a more comfortable mattress, a nicer garden and more exciting bag of groceries rather than on the cruise or the fancy car. It wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes but it makes me happy. Very happy.

DSC_0016How to make a sausage sandwich. Take a third of a baguette. Open it up and load with meaty sausages. Smear with English mustard and squirt with ketchup. Ideal drink: a mug of tea.

DSC_0018Couscous with peppers and duck. Ridiculously easy to make delicious meals with. If you gave a good chef some couscous and a few other ingredients on Ready Steady Cook they’d wonder what to do with the other 15 minutes.

DSC_0021In the foreground cauliflower cheese. In the background a really tasty, malty, seedy loaf from Lidl. Another way of reaching the culinary heights via the primrose path of dalliance.

DSC_0020The good, the bad and the Tall T. Untypical of my snacking food while watching westerns but nonetheless enjoyable …well, for the first five minutes… then the flavours seemed to change from those you’d expect to create in the kitchen to those you’d expect to create in the science lab. If you haven’t seen the film I recommend it.

DSC_0023This is more like it. Slices of baguette lightly toasted in the oven and served with Orkney crab paté. A squeeze of lemon juice does make quite a difference.

DSC_0025A bowl of porridge with Demerara sugar melting on top. (Not the same but very similar to a photo I put up a few weeks ago). I may well print this photograph and frame it and make it my entry for the Turner Prize. Entitled “Simple Happiness”.

DSC_0027Supermarket of current choice, Lidl, has much tastier and a better range of cured meats than any of its competitors. OK I didn’t try Fortnum and Mason’s or the Harrods’ food hall but they aren’t often seen as direct competition to Lidl in Darnall. It might be a loyalty thing but very few people seem to use both.

DSC_0028Savoury snacks from their bakery. That’s goats cheese on the left. Can’t remember what flavoured the twist but I can remember looking to see if I’d bought another. Very moreish.

(British modern adjective:so pleasant to eat that one wants more.
“a moreish aubergine dip”) Cambridge English Dictionary and an example of oxymoron.
DSC_0029I’m not sure but I think the chilli came out of a can. Not great on its own but not bad with rocket, grated Red Leicester cheese and soured cream in a tortilla. Eaten while watching The Good the Bad and the Ugly. A film worth making good food for.

DSC_0033They sell yoghurt by the pailful in Lidl and almost every customer (it serves a truly multi-ethnic customer base and is the happiest shop I know) buys a bucket of it. I’ve taken to doing the same. Next to porridge, yoghurt and fruit (in this case sour black cherries from a jar) is my favourite breakfast.

DSC_0035Croissants used to be my favourite breakfast but I found that one croissant was something of a gateway drug and soon I was gorging on three or four and finding (unusually for me) my stomach ballooning. I even used to load them with butter and jam. My hat! These bad boys are full of butter as it is. How on earth do the French remain so slim and elegant? If I was French I’d resemble Alec Baldwin.

DSC_0039So here is a photograph of some typical English health food. A venison pie with chips.

DSC_0041A second way of making a sausage sandwich. Toast pitta breads and open them up. Bung in a couple of sausages and garnish with Gruyere cheese. Eaten while watching 3:10 to Yuma.

DSC_0043Home baked wholemeal bread.

DSC_0045With cock’a’leekie soup with cream stirred in. Very nice.

DSC_0044And with cream drizzled. Much nicer.

DSC_0049A Monday roast dinner. One free range chicken spatchcocked and served Tudor style. It was never intended to all be eaten in one sitting. The birds actually made two other main meals. It was a very easy way to serve and added a little element of feasting. No bones were thrown over shoulder amid Brian Blessed impressions while eating this meal. (Even though a dog waited patiently just in case).

DSC_0053One of the other meals was this chicken risotto. Risotto is my current favourite meal. If heaven exists they will serve risotto.

DSC_0055Another of those special treat meals I make for myself when I’ve been working on the house or garden. Lamb chops with new potatoes, mange tout and mint sauce.

DSC_0056Seafood pasta. Tagliatelle with mussels, cockles, prawns and baby squid and creme fraiche.

DSC_0067I got the recipe for these off a fellow blogger who has an amazing site full of fabulous recipes for vegans. These are kale crisps. Lightly oiled kale leaves are roasted in a oven for 10 minutes each side  and then sprinkled with sea salt. Very moreish!

Hope she doesn’t mind me adding a link.

Bon appétit!