Tuesday, August 26, 2008

R.I.P. Basil 2007-2008

Let's all take a moment to remember the delight Basil brought us all. More than a pet, we've lost a best friend.Basil: Haiku in Memoriam

Legs up in the air
Basil was flat on his back
The end came too soon.

Now lettuce has a name!

This is Salanova® lettuce. There were rows and rows at the store today and it looked so gorgeous I had no reason not to buy one. It's a gorgeous head of lettuce, if I've ever seen one. It looks eyecatchingly different than any other lettuce I've seen. Now I'm wondering of the ethics of buying trademark lettuce... The website's tag line for the lettuce is "Now lettuce has a name!" I'm not sure if they were missing something?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Joel leaves, home subsequently shatters.

  1. Food waste is up. Way up. So far I've had to throw away:
  • a half bag of salad
  • leftover couscous with sweet raisin/apricot chicken stuff
  • leftover rice (it was too late for rice pudding)
  • an apple
  • a lime
  • there's some ham nearing the end.
This is getting dire, folks! I need the man's belly!
  1. Basil is down. Something is wrong with my adorable wee beloved cretin. He isn't as fiery as he used to be, he isn't even trying to bite my fingers when I stick them in his cage. When I hold him he doesn't resist me pulling out of his cage, and he doesn't run for my shoulders right away either.
  2. These numbers are all messed up. There's two number ones and these are ALL the sort of problems no one but JOEL can fix. Let's petition for him to come back.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

London

Joel says I should post on London. Okay... but I'll be thinking about food in the back of my mind the entire time. We stayed with a lovely Couchsurfer from France. This made our time in London a time we were unwilling to leave.

Joel the Tourist here on The Strand. This is his "searching the map wearing my hat beard and tie dye and trying to fit in like I'm perfectly normal" pose. Is it working?

We went to the original Twinings shop on The Strand, which has been there since 1706. We liked the Chinaman holding the real live pigeon (look closely!).

Next time YOU are in London, go to the Algerian Coffee Store. They have a billion different kinds of coffee and tea. I bought a few of those amazing tea explosion thingys that are like a globe of tea, then when you put it in hot water it opens up into the most beautiful delicate flower blossoms... makes good gifts. Joel got some Arabic coffee and some Peaberry coffee. Mmm deliciousness.

Another highlight was seeing King Lear in the Globe Theatre, Shakespeare's theatre. It sounds like one of the tacky touristy things to do, but it was seriously cool! All the costumes are made in traditional methods, meaning they take like 5,000 man hours to make.. and they had old school music. All for only £5 a ticket! For the standing floor tickets. It was pretty sweet being close enough to the actors to touch them.

It sounds like we did tons, but it was actually a relaxed trip. Since this was our 2nd time to London, we didn't have to go to all the top tourist attractions and we could chill and go on nice walks instead, and see some of the other little things. We went to Camden markets too. One afternoon we took the underground to the very last westernmost stop, and it took us to Richmond, this romantic riverside grassy area with ice cream and boats. This is the Thames! Pretty different from the city part of the river. We enjoyed the sun and relaxed and then I got dog poo on my jacket. I'll leave those photos out today. I enjoyed this trip to London immensely more than our last. Last time it was early january and it was freezing and we were cold and hungry the whole time. Now I see that I could actually live quite happily in London. (Just like 80% of the rest of the world.) Now it's your turn! Go see London! And visit us while you are in the same time zone.

Bramble & Chocolate Bread

Mmmm Mmm Mmmm. Come on, say it with me. Mmmm Mmm Mmm. Oh yea, there we go. Oh yea it looks so amazing, looks so delicious, looks stellar! Let me tell you, it is. It is. I made this from a recipe from A Cook's Tour of Scotland, by Sue Lawrence. This book is a glittering gem with tons of classy recipes using local produce. It tells a bit about the different areas of Scotland and some culinary traditions in each area. There are some recipes I may not use quite as much (Fresh Dulse Soup - Dulse is seaweed. This recipe is prefaced by "When picking wild seaweed, ensure it is from clean water and that there is not a sewage plant lurking just around the bay!"). But there are tons of recipes I am eager to experiment with (Gooseberry Crisp). Oh speaking of gooseberries, I was at the little produce stand the other day and the worker was saying the gooseberries are really cheap today. I asked, "What do you do with them?" and he so cleverly replied, "eat them."

Anyway, back to the Bramble & Chocolate Bread! Brambles are blackberries. I'm not sure if it's a Scottish thing to call them brambles or what. Please tell me if you know! I am still a novice at yeast-related matters, but this was absolutely delicious. My bread has never gone horribly wrong (touch wood) (Did you know here they say "touch wood" whereas back home everyone says "knock on wood"?). If my bread ever did turn out horribly wrong, I would probably give up altogether so I think I have God's blessings in my bread-making attempts.

I used some leftover mini milk chocolate chips we had, together with Green & Blacks 70% Dark Chocolate (i.e. what heaven is made of). Green & Blacks is the only choice for an aloof chocolate snob. It will even turn the snobs into beautiful human beings with consideration for the earth and an understanding of all things lovely. It's that amazing. I think mixing some dark and milk chocolate is definitely the way to go with this recipe. If you eat the bread cool, you can taste each kind encouraging each other, and coating the blackberries to reach glittering paradise in your mouth.

I still have half of the loaf left (yes, I shared). Do you think it will last till Saturday when Joel gets home?

If you want the recipe I could post it. Or email it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Summer Spinach Superbity & Joel's Protein Salvation

On the day of summer Glasgow had last week, a simple salad felt like the perfect way to eat without spending time with the oven on. Then we could spend more time outside! I made cous cous with sundried tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, and lots of cumin and sea salt. After throwing this into a fresh spinach salad with olive oil and lemon juice, presto! Five minutes and we were eating our Summer Spinach Superbity. Mmm.

Afterwards Joel timidly said ... he was still hungry. It had slipped my mind that he is a huge man with very real protein needs. So my enterprising self threw together Joel's Protein Salvation. I sliced some fresh sourdoughy bread, topped it with cooked minced lamb and mushrooms with rosemary, then some cheese and left under the grill for a few minutes so it was all cheesey-melty and crisp-bready. That satiated him. The sunshine gives me energy, thus the quick thinking and relatively successful results.

Habitual Pudding

Ever since we've known each other, one of Joel and my habits has been to make rice pudding. It has been a happy result of my inability to estimate the dry rice = cooked rice ratio. I usually end up making far too much, which leaves us with plethoras of cooked rice. Thankfully, rice pudding is a wonderful thing.

When Joel's parents were here, we ended up making rice pudding once again, and promptly devouring it. Then getting to admire my beautiful bowls. (5 gorgeous bowls for £1, charity shop in Orkney. Oh yeah.)

How do you like your rice pudding? We like ours warm with plenty of raisins, cinnamon, vanilla and/or almond, and sometimes if we are feeling amazing, rum. Then we smother it all in plenty o' delicious milk. Joel's parents thing eating leftover rice pudding for breakfast the next day is appropriate. I can't seem to justify that. How 'bout you?

The Kirkwall Hotel & Restaurant

While in the Orkney's, we ate a superb dinner at The Kirkwall Hotel. Above is our appetizer, assorted seafood deliciousness. The Orkney's know their seafood, and they don't joke around about it. It's serious stuff. Serious seafood deliciousness.

Apparently they joke a little bit with their salads. Above is our side salad that came with the meals. Quite adorable, really. I've recently begun a quest to like tomatoes, but it didn't feel necessary to eat the yellow one you can see there. When I signed up to like tomatoes it didn't include yellow ones.
In true form of the Shaver's trip to visit us, 3 of us ordered the same thing: it was Seafood Pasta this time. I took a picture of it but it does not look appetizing at all in the photo, so I instead will regale you with the deep satisfaction it brought me (and a photo of the Orkney Sea the seafood came out of). Penne pasta with mixed seafood, in a garlic tomato goodness sauce. It was fabulous, but I do have to admit it wasn't quite as earth-shaking as the pasta dish I had a O Sole Mio in Glasgow a few weeks prior. That one was stellar, it was Fusilli with Salmon in a cream and vodka sauce. Oh, man. That was undebatably Heaven expressed through pasta.

After the meal we couldn't resist having some Orkney Ice Cream (reminiscent of earlier that same day when we couldn't resist Orkney Ice Cream, and the day before, when we couldn't resist Orkney Ice Cream...). They know how to treat their cows in the Orkneys.

Joel can post on the non-food-related aspects of all of this when he gets back from Brighton.

Grilled SeaBass

I found a great deal on whole seabass, and our group of seabass virgins enjoyed it immensely! Before cooking, I rubbed it inside and out with olive oil and "Nantucket Off-Shore St.-Remy Rub". (Who can resist anything with a picture of Van Gogh barbecuing aubergine??)After throwing the seabass under the grill, we whipped it out and Joel's mom (hereafter referred to as "Mom") showed me a simple substitution for filleting a fish. After it's been cooked, you gently begin to tug on the tail, and firmly keep tugging and the tail gradually separates from the fish, bringing with it the spine and all the bones! You tend to use fingers a bit at the start to begin the fish/bone divorce. Then you are left with a gorgeous seabass fillet. Kudos to Mom. One of the many benefits to family in town.