The vegetable garden suffered this year. Not only was the weather appalling but the Husband, lulled into a false sense of security by our bunny-killing machine (aka Puddy Cat), took down the rabbit-proof fence – the week before the cat up and died on us. It didn’t take long before the rabbits realised that our newly planted leeks, beans and kale were an all-you-can-eat buffet. The only things that survived were a few plants of perpetual spinach, some Swiss chard – and, thankfully, the squash.
36 Search Results
Although there has been lots of salad planted in the garden on recent weekends, including mustard greens, rocket and mizuna (at least I’ll be able to distinguish between the plants after cramming in Ballymaloe for the salad leaves and herbs exams!), it’s going to be a while before any of the leaves are big enough to eat. Then, of course, because our planting in succession routine is not entirely developed – despite best intentions – we’ll have another glut to work through. But that’s all ahead of us and, until then, I’ve been growing my own salad on the windowsill.
This is the perfect book for any foodie who’s ever spent hours puzzling over unfamiliar ingredients in their local delicatessen or ethnic food shop. Glynn Christian, originally from New Zealand, has been a food writer and broadcaster in England for many years, and as a result, has a rare international perspective. His breadth of experience also includes setting up the legendary Mr Christian’s Delicatessen in London’s Notting Hill in the 1970s.
Cookbook sections in secondhand bookshops can be a little hit or miss. There’s always a pile of microwave cookbooks – no one, for some reason wants to hang onto these dodgy and dated texts – a scattering of horrible diet books and often lots of ancient Family Circle publications, with their “triple-tested in the test kitchens” claim, but, rarely something that you actually want to cook from, let alone buy. Still, I live in hope, so a recent trip to Athlone had to include a browse in the local secondhand bookshop (I still haven’t discovered its name) which turned out to be a most amazing example of its kind.
In London there is a wonderful shop called Books for Cooks. A bookshop, filled with – what else – cookbooks, it is situated at 4 Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill and is the kind of place that Sunday supplements wax lyrical about. As does anyone who visits the shop. It is small, not so very wide, and has bookshelves from floor to ceiling, crammed with hundreds upon hundreds books of amazing dishes, foods, ingredients, people. There is a cosy, albeit battered, couch in the middle of the floor, right between a piled-high table and a low shelf – just the place to sit and leaf through one of the many books that will take you on a journey to far off lands or reveal more about your own culinary surroundings. All this, and I haven’t yet got to the best bit.
As I finished up at work on Friday, I suddenly, as I looked out into the showery evening, got a yearning for gingerbread. No fancy stuff, I just wanted a damp and aromatically spicy loaf, the sort of teabread that would go perfectly with a cup of tea on a weather-swept Saturday. When I was younger, this kind of longing would be easily satisfied with a squashed loaf in a packet that said “Jamaica Gingerbread” but now, with a well-stocked baking cupboard, spur-of-the-moment cooking decisions aren’t too much of a problem.
Although the huge green-lipped New Zealand monsters nearly put me off mussels for life – too big and way too chewy! – last week I tried cooking Irish mussels for the first time. Coming home from work one evening I nipped in to a local shop called Donnybrook Fair to pick up some essential supper supplies. Walking past the seafood counter down the back, a big sack of navy-shelled mussels caught my eye, along with the price – €2.99 a kilo. Instantly, all thoughts of cheese on toast went out the window as I got a kilo of the mussels, picking up a length of crusty French bread and a bottle of sauvignon blanc en route to the checkout.
Dal – also known as Dhal – is one of my favourite comforting winter meals. On a cold evening when you’ve got wet through on the walk home and don’t feel like leaving the house again, it is enormously reassuring to find that there’s a packet of red split lentils and some spices in the press and a few onions and garlic looking lonely in the vegetable rack. There are as many recipes for dal as there are vegetarians in the world so if you don’t have the exact ingredients mentioned below, don’t worry. The split lentils, onions and garlic are absolutes but you can play around with all the rest.