Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Secret Ingredients.....

Every cook has a secret ingredient, which you can add to fairly bog standard things to make them more interesting/tasty......

Mine is:

"Geo Watkins Mushroom Ketchup. This rich mushroom ketchup was the secret of success of many Victorian cooks in making steak and kidney pies and puddings, roast meats, sauces, and soups. Try it on traditional cuisine or as a new flavor to modern cooking. (This is not a ketchup as Americans think of it, but closer to the ketchups which were used in the 1800's. Its consistency is more like a sauce.) "

Great in stews, chillis etc for a meaty flavour. I originally bought it because it has fantastic retro packaging.

Also Alistair's favourite...Tabasco Sauce.

Highly Recommended: OXO cubes, Ketjap Manis (Indonesian soy sauce...it's sweeter) a pinch of sugar (good with winey/beery stews) Mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine).

Monday, 29 September 2008

Strange Bread

A top tip:

Do not, as often advocated, try to 'relax' by making bread. I thought my arm would die from the kneading...so I don't think I did it long enough...so my bread was strangely lumpy and dense.

Also I was distracted by How we Built Britain (the C20th the South) with the Hindu Temple in Neasden and the Amazing Granada Cinema Tooting! Must visit..........

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Steel Romeos

Suitably fortified after a hairy but ultimately triumphant day of work by...
M&S Beef Wellington
Clos de Riviere 2004
Homemade Tart Mamy

Strongly recommend a brilliant BBC4 programme The Shock of the New.
With sinister black leather clad presenter.
It was one of those progs where you feel brainier after you've seen it.....
Anyway reference technology, war, the new, art, consciousness.
Exhilaratingly intelligent and witty.

If you like this try the fantastic Kenneth Clarke Civilisation
and the Angela Carter book The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman.

The Steel Romeos are in the painting The Bride Stripped Bare by her Batchelors Even which is both suggestive and sinister......

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Cool Places to Shop in Aberdeen - honestly!

Some of my fave shops in Aberdeen

CocoViolet (retro style dresses, shoes, accessories) The Green
also online http://www.cocoviolet.com/shop/index.php?app=gbu0&ns=display&ref=splash
Retrospect (funky 60s/70s/80s vintage) St Andrew St Vintage Phoenix ( posher vintage, customised and handmade items) Chattan Place
Oxfam (specialist shop for books) just off Union St by churchyard
Barnardos (possibly) anyway on your way down George St on right from rear of John Lewis
(for books, records and 70s vintage)
Lush (amazing bath stuff, toiletries etc and the staff are Lovely) Union St
Plan 9 (comics, games, goth stuff, jewellery) Rosemount Viaduct

Anchovy of death

Apparently the humble, pizza loving anchovy is now an endangered species. Reminds me of that Futurama episode.......
Anyway this one obviously knew it as it stuck a fishbone right in my gum off my tasty pizza last night. 'Agent X gave his life to save us all. That's one anchovy murderer down, only 30,000 to go.....'

Went shopping today intending to splurge on autumn fashions. Worryingly, I actually bought three curved upholstery needles, a thermos flask, a body scrub and a sandalwood room oil. Fashion You Have Failed Me!

The bread was a great success although my flatbreads were more fatbreads.

Tonight is an experimental dinner of vietnamese chicken salad with cold soba noodles.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sundays for Usefulness

Sundays are for usefullness.

We made two more flat pack bookshelves, slightly denting the titanic overspill of books around us. At the risk of inducing a catastrophic incident, I think we are getting the hang of them, having now built eight of them. And yes, we live in a pretty small flat.

Sundays are also for comforting stodge. Alistair is doing his famous macaroni cheese, the secrets to great macaroni cheese are mustard and extra strong cheddar. French crunchy dijon is nicest as it gives you a bit of texture.
I am going for attempt Breadmaking for the first time with a garlic flatbread. There are some areas of cooking that give me the fear. Yeast cooking, pastry, sauces, roasts. I have cracked cakes lately though.....although they sometimes sink in the middle if you put enough icing on it fills the hole! Yay!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Feministy Rant

It's probably really bad to post twice in one day.
But I was watching this programme 'Dawn gets Naked' on Iplayer. It's about women's embarrassment about their bodies. I was a cripplingly shy teenager but following a sojourn in art college involving a combination of life drawing (big up to my friend and my Dad's ex girlfriend Christine the model, a larger lady) outrageous clothes and bad karaoke sessions I am now fairly confident actually.

Did you know that ALL those beautiful women in magazines are retouched using computers, that NEARLY ALL models have eating disorders and that we spend A FORTUNE on beauty stuff? Get real ladies! We're all lovely and should love ourselves. And if anyone doesn't like that they can get stuffed!

And yes, I'm enjoying a nice glass of wine as I rant here (French Colombard Chardonnay.)

Wierd cat sculptures.

I was in the castle giftshop today. After an initially quiet start I was gobsmacked when at 4.30pm a lady came in and asked to buy our wierd cat sculpture. This is the one we thought we'd never sell as it is both vile and £350. I almost died. Apparently she collects garden sculptures and her garden already boasts a gypsy caravan.......

I am now having a gin and tonic to recover from this adrenaline (sic...) inducing moment!

Dinner tonight (when Alistair returns from his endlessly demanding clients) Chinese Chicken stirfry with mango puree. I was amazed to find the puree which struck me as mega obscure. Reminded me of this fab Asian supermarket I used to go to in Ashton, Manchester. It stocked Everything but none of it was labelled in English.....

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Mud, cows and nettlerash.

Another castle exploring day today. My husband asked in bemusement 'and this is what you do on your days off?' No wimpy places with cafes and shops, no, the castles we favour are ruined, unsigned, often unmapped, past 'No Entry' signs and swamped in nettles and ivy. But also peaceful, romantic and undiscovered.
My friend and I were, however, repeatedly lost, wet, muddy, stung, exhausted and chased by a herd of cows. Maybe next time go for the cafe option. Although my skills with an OS map are improving......
I suspect Aberdeenshire may have more castles than anywhere else in the world possibly. It's hard to find any road where a ruin does not stand gaunt on a hill or turrets point from thick woods.

A much needed dinner tonight consisted of the highly recommended (although other supermarkets are available) Sainsbury's Chipotle Chili Burgers, oven chips and a beer.

Last might in a mega knitting marathon while hubster was playing World of Warcraft I finished the baby cardi for expecting friends. Despite it being lime green and slightly malformed, I hope they like it. Big knitting up to my friend's mum for her fab 'Housekeeping Mouse' all in knit, even a duster!

First day of blog!

This is my first day of my first ever blog! I can feel writers block coming on already.....

Today I was at work at Castle Fraser. It was one of those wonderful sunny, frosty autumn days which are my favourite kind. I pootled about happily with my big box of housekeeping equipment (fluffy brushes for dusting, static cloths for woodwork, metal polish and silver cloths.)
The sun shone in over the old and slightly threadbare carpets and the faded wallpapers.
I was late home cos I sat in the courtyard for far too long, unable to face the long walk up the drive to the carpark.

Tonight I cooked pork chops fried with a sauce of anchovies, capers, garlic and lemon juice, served with gnocchi. I like gnocchi cos of the way they float to the top of the pan when they're done.

Later I'll have a cup of tea with this weeks cake (carrot, orange and pistachio).