12 January, 2010

I’m watching a US foody prog called Top Chef: Masters (it’s on the Food Channel), and one of the judges is an American food critic called James Oseland.

He has a most peculiar way of speaking. What’s weirder, though, is that he looks a lot like food critic Lloyd Grossman, who also has a most peculiar way of speaking…

Is it something about people who look like this, d’you think? That odd way of torturing their voooWells?? Something to do with the shape of their mouths, perhaps? Possibly they’ve eaten too many scrummy meals. Maybe I’d better watch oooot!

Uh-oh… I think it’s starting…

James Oseland

Lloyd Grossman

Yummy Thai salad (sort of)

11 January, 2010

Catching up with the Cookery Channel yesterday evening I spotted Peter Gordon of the Sugar Club restaurant describing this ultra-yummy recipe on a Rick Stein programme. Everything Peter Gordon does on television looks wonderful to me *drool*

He made it with kangaroo (um…), but he said lots of other things would work well: chicken, lamb etc etc


1. Take about a tablespoon of white rice (e.g. sushi rice, basmati), pop it in a bowl and toast it in the oven (180) for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and then grind it up quite finely (but not to dust–leave a bit of texture) in a little grinder of some sort.

2. Toast a couple of good handfuls of unsalted peanuts as above, and when they’re cool bash them around a bit in a mortar with a pestle until they’re crumbled.

3. Finely grate the zest of 3 limes into a bowl.

4. Squeeze the juice of all 6 limes into the same bowl.

5. Grate in about 80g of palm sugar.

6. Add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce

7. Add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce

8. Thinly slice a couple of shallots and add them to the mix.

9. Thinly slice your freshly-cooked and still warm meat/fish/whatever and add it to the bowl.

10. Take some fresh coriander and mint leaves and sprinkle them in.

Toss it all around and enjoy!

Hmmm… a handful of rice noodles would be a good addition, I reckon.

Edited: Oops! I left out the shallots…

Ingleton — dinner!

7 January, 2010

Peeling chestnuts — a cunning trick

27 December, 2009

Anyone who’s tried peeling these blasted things has probably had the miserable and frustrating burned fingers/bits of chestnuts stuck behind nails experience.

I came across a cunning ploy via the internet yesterday, though, which is worth passing on. Shove the little buggers into the microwave for a couple of minutes, after scoring a cross in the round side, and it’s then possible to slip them out of their cases very easily indeed. The skin stuff comes off easily too. Yum!

30 minutes to Christmas dinner…

26 December, 2009

Yes, we’re having it on Boxing Day, as we went to see Daddy y/day and weren’t sure what time we’d be home.

Didn’t get the sausages/bacon things done, and only remembered the roast parsnips at the last moment. One of the 3 of us is a total veggie and has to have roast potatoes in groundnut oil, rather than goose fat, and one of the others had a heart thing years ago and objects to even the merest smear of butter. FFS… but I shall soon be piggling out in a buttery, turkeyish feast 🙂

Here’s Sting doing Gabriel’s Message (his version of The Angel Gabriel, my favourite carol), which was on the same album as the Alison Moyet thing I linked to y/day. I love this!

Chicken Out — Some 2009 Successes

24 December, 2009

Some good news, here, for those of us concerned about the conditions in which farmed chickens live and die.

Crubeens crossed for more progress in 2010.

Compassion in World Farming are also very grateful, on behalf of the animals for which they campaign, for any financial help people can give them. Just in case anybody would like to take a scan, there’s a secure donation page here.


20 December, 2009

Eyebrow threading

Feeling almost terminally scruffy, I had my hair cut a couple of days ago (about two months overdue–very short again now) and thought I’d try out some eyebrow threading.

Incidentally, did you know what the function of eyebrows is? I didn’t, until I looked for a ‘threading’ link. Apparently they exist to prevent sweat from running into our eyes. Hmmm… clearly they weren’t invented in the North of England, then. To prevent hailstones from slipping down into our eyes? Maybe.

Anyway, I looked all smart and shiny again and so took Piglet for a celebratory walk. On our arrival back at home, though, she was so excited that she leapt up and scraped great tramlines down my chin with her claws! (She swears it was an accident, but the cat says she isn’t sure.) Anyway, I now look a bit like a skinhead who’s been in a fight. Not a good look for work, really, particularly since I couldn’t find any concealer.

Piggly and I are now off to Waitrose to buy yummy dinner supplies. I don’t like to leave her in the car, but she says she’d rather that than have to stay at home. I’m wearing my Cioch trousers (extremely muddy) so I hope they’ll let me in. The plan is to stop for a walk in the woods on the way back if it isn’t too disgusting outside. Right now I hear gale-force winds and sleet slopping up against the windows, so we may just give the walk a miss.

I’d like to get out, though: I like to be wrapped up warmly against foul weather with my little MP3 player and the sight of little Piglet skipping ahead of me through the sandhills.

The Restaurant, and work

19 December, 2009

Well, this series has finally dragged itself to a conclusion, and The Winkers won.

Ludicrous as it seems for RB and his partners to have chosen a team that doesn’t include a cook, I have to say I think it was the right decision between the two couples they’d left themselves with. Chris was a good cook, but I’ve already made my feelings about Nathan clear i.e. lazy, rude, careless. I think it would be madness to embark upon a business venture with him. The Winkers, on the other hand, are at least keen and inventive and they don’t give up (what a save with the cocktail, after the disaster with the souffle!), and they undoubtedly have spark and some charm.

If the restaurant doesn’t work out then I’ve no doubt that it would be possible to convert it into something the Winkers *can* actually run–another cocktail bar, for instance. Perhaps RB and his partners wouldn’t mind expanding into that market? I dunno.

I formed the impression, increasingly, that the Winkers simply wanted to go into any kind of business with RB, to gain his financial backing and the benefit of his experience–understandable–and that RB and his partners were more focussed on finding good business partners of *any* sort than potential restauranteurs. I suppose they already have plenty of restaurants between them. Understandable again, although a little unfortunate that the exercise took place on television within the context of a restaurant-running competition.

I still think, though, that Rebecca and Steve were the best qualified to win the competition according to its stated terms i.e. the couple best suited to provide satisfying food in a pleasant environment. Having said that, the standard this year seemed woefully low. I say that knowing and readily acknowledging that I have trouble boiling an egg, but I’m not holding myself up as a person qualified to run a restaurant.

Speaking of restaurants, work was pretty exhausting last night: 6.5 hours (6pm to 12.30am) of frantic service without a break. Others had been in much longer than me and they hadn’t had a break either. That’s simply the way it works there. Yes, it’s illegal, but those are the terms and I’m pretty sure they stand on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

I’m lucky in that if I get fed up I can afford to leave, but it’s bit of an eye opener about the conditions in which some people spend their working lives. Having said that, everybody was cheerful and friendly, and worked happily as a team. I’m still enjoying it. I’m a little daunted at the prospect of just how much busier it’s likely to get in the rest of the week, though, as the holiday comes to a head.

Compassion in World Farming — Short film about veal

17 December, 2009

Compassion in World Farming is the only charity I’m a member of. They’re in no way one of the nutty animal charities, and they’re not campaigning to stop people from eating meat. They’re simply attempting to improve conditions for farmed animals.

Here‘s a link to a short film they put up today about veal available in London, and the confusion that sometimes surrounds its origins.

I found it quite disturbing, because although I do eat meat I always ask in a restaurant whether it’s free-range before ordering it. To be honest, I don’t normally bother to order meat when I eat out because, around here, so little of it *is* actually free-range. If I feel there’s a possibilty that it might be, though, then I’ll ask. It’s very disturbing to see that even in the Connaught Hotel it’s possible to be given the wrong answer 😦


16 December, 2009


I’ve just eaten as delicious a steak as I’ve *ever* eaten.

I bought a lovely, thick rump steak from the Westmoreland Farm Shop yesterday, and cooked it this evening. Two minutes on each side. A baked potato and a little salad. Heaven!

Piglet got the trimmings…