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Archive for the ‘Packed lunch friendly’ Category

It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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When you have good butter you really need some good bread to enjoy it with. In such cases bread and butter becomes a real treat. When I was little Mum would feed my brother and I bread and butter as a snack if we said we were hungry – it’s good wholesome food for growing kids but not exciting enough that we’d ask for it when we weren’t really hungry. I used to love having a piece of hot buttered toast with a glass of milk before bed and, although I’ve long since given up bedtime snacks, I still enjoy my bread and butter. I spoiled myself to some wonderful raw butter from Isigny-sur-mer, it’s so creamy, almost a little farmy in flavour, and is flecked with big, crunchy grains of sea salt from Guérande. I’ve been happily spreading it on the lowliest of bread including the scraps of crust leftover from my blackberry and sloe gin puddings but I can’t help but feel it deserves something more. Something with a little more sophisticated than a slice of Hovis. (more…)

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Hello folks! Just a quick announcement before getting on with this post. Food Magazine‘s 2013 Reader Awards are accepting nominations for your favourite West Country food producers, shops, chefs, cafes and restaurants and, for the first time, bloggers. If you have any favourites that you think deserve some recognition you can vote for them here. And if you’ve enjoyed reading this little blog I would be over the moon if you nominated it. #awkward! Thank you!

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It’s another Avignon-inspired recipe for you today! Going back to Les Halles market – the one to give you foodie dreams for years to come – I mentioned the boulanger who sold apple pie by the slice. His pie/tart was not the usually fancy affair with neatly sliced apples delicately arranged in concentric circles but a handheld, picnic-friendly pud.  A sweet apple compote was sandwiched between two layers of flakey, buttery puff pastry while the top was covered in a crackly layer of golden sugar. Thin squares of pie were sliced up and wrapped in a napkin for eating on the spot. The perfect end to a simple lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes eaten on a sunny park bench overlooking the Rhone river. (more…)

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In an unwise decision the other night I decided to reclaim my cast-iron griddle pan from its box in the loft where it has been temporarily stashed since the start of our kitchen renovation, and introduce it to my temporary kitchen-in-the-lounge. Bad move people, bad move. My hankering for charred courgette salad nearly drove us out the house: the lounge’s complete lack of an extractor fan meant the room rapidly filled with billowing smoke − a good test for the fire alarms but a total common-sense fail. Whoops! Having safely deposited the rabbits in the back garden, we had to open up all the windows and doors to properly vent the smog. Goodness knows what our neighbours made of it all. Rest assured, for now the griddle pan has been retired back to the attic and any griddling action will take place on the barbeque if we ever get a long enough dry spell in the midst of all this rain.

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I like a fancy cake as much as the next person, probably more so. Crumbly tops, fruity fillings, chocolate, they all float my boat. But so do basic, unassuming cakes, ones that seem almost dull in their simplicity. In fact, the more simple the cake, the better it has to be; there are no whistles or bells or, you know, lashings of frosting, to hide behind. It doesn’t get much more easy than this one-step cake and, to my mind, it doesn’t get much better. (more…)

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Horray! It looks as though we’re through the ‘hungry gap’ where the last of the winter vegetables are running low and the first of the spring veggies are not quite ready. If you subscribe to a veggie box or community agriculture scheme the hungry gap can play havoc with your menu plan: unexpected frosts can spoil crops, supplies can run out early and you end up with the occasional unexpected substitution. Last week was one such occasion when I had made planned to make pumpkin falafels and ended up with a cauliflower. Granted, it was a lovely cauli but I struggled to come up with an interesting idea for dinner that went beyond the standard cheese pairing. (more…)

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