Sunday, 3 January 2010

a little fud, mainly drink ;-)

A very simple little post, to mark one of the best new year's eves I've had, spent at a lovely big bonfire at the land squat at Kew Bridge, music, dancing, smiling, a full moon and a little falling snow mixing with the sparks from the fire in the air around us. No pictures, other than the ones in my head; suits me.

Fud: a recent discovered pleasure is lightly toasted cake - in this case shop-bought Mrs Crimble's apple cake, heated in pans at the edge of the fire, it gets a lovely crisped edge, lovely & warming hot.

Drink: Zubrowka ('bisongrass') polish vodka with hot apple juice - lovely, I just wish I'd brought more than just the remaining third of the bottle I'd had left. I'd been introduced to it with cold apple juice in summer by a polish friend a while back, but had heard it worked hot too - and by 'eck it does. We did dither a bit whether to pre-mix in the flask or keep it separate, but at least the separation meant non-drinkers could share a little too. Zubrowka has a bit of an apply taste neat anyway, but I suspect any vodka would work well with this. In fact any spirit could be worth a try... ;-)

Anyway - I don't do resolutions, but it would be great to get this blog going again. I hope to document experiments on the tiny range I now have on the boat, but also welcome contributions from others - do prod if you'd like posting access...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Freegan Fud

The new eco village on land on the north side of Kew Bridge has strong guidelines - no drugs (including alcohol), no amplified music (alas, for me) and no dogs. In addition, they're, where possible, avoiding purchasing food, preferring products discarded & dumped by the local shops. This seems to be working well. My visits tend to be a few hours here and there, but I was around for an evening meal on one of my first visits, and very good it was too - a vegatable risotto, with pototoes (with mayonaise for the non-vegans), salad, and a bread roll (warmed over heat to soften slightly). Cooking is done using a 'rocket stove', although I didn't see it in action - it uses a controlled draft to burn smaller material quickly, to get a high temperature for cooking. The italians on site have built themselves a pizza oven, too. ;-)

Friday, 29 May 2009

one-ring cooking

Having used the Remoska oven pot a few times (largely roast veg with chickpeas & herbs, and in one successful experiment adding a bit of tomato puree to that), it reminded me of previous thoughts about how many- most, in fact - use two or even three separate heat sources. It's difficult to generalise, but on full a cooker ring or oven can take around 2kW, and induction hobs and fan ovens more, as far as I can work out.

If cooking for several people it's probably reasonable, but for smaller meals I'm looking for meals that all happen in the same pan, or at least heat source. Obvious things are bakes/roasts/crumbles, as above, and soups (although in both cases it's worth taking into account how long each needs on the heat). One problem with curry type meals is that there's frying & boiling needed - I must look into how a biryani is made, I assume cooking the rice separately, but not necessarily. I've personally yet to eat an enjoyable rissotto/paella, but it's a thought too.

I try to stay pragmatic about energy use rather than be obsessive, but it does no harm to consider the options, especially when, frankly, I'm cooking for one, and eat to live rather than live to eat.

Thoughts/suggestions about things to try?

Monday, 13 April 2009


I spent Christmas of 1996 in Prague with Kirsten, my girlfriend at the time - we'd rented a small flat through the travel agents. It was lovely actually, complete with strolls around the place in the snow and drinking foul tasting hot red wine from street sellers. Anyway, although technically self catering, there was no oven for our nut roast for the christmas meal - we mentioned this to our local contact, and they produced a strange electric saucepan gadget, we were sceptical but it did the job.

Last night after a very late journey home from the boat (would have been earlier, but I got waylaid half way down the moorings by beer), left outside a house with a note saying 'please take me' was, amongst other things, a strange electric saucepan gadget, which is now in my kitchen.

Turns out it's almost certainly the same model from the same factory, the Remoska; Lakeland Plastics import them from the Czech Republic. It's 470W, with no controls other than an on and off switch, but it gets rave reviews (from those who find it useful, obviously my neighbours didn't, unless they're doing the trendy 'decluttering' lark...).

I'm looking forward to having a play - I hardly ever bake stuff, I feel very aware of how much energy the oven uses, and more generally is always seems crazy for any meal, especially for one, to have two or three large heat sources running at once; trouble is I like a lot of texture in food, and a one pot stew rarely manages that. Cooking everything in a small oven may well be a more efficient way of doing things; we'll see. Interestingly it's energy efficiency is mentioned, amongst other places, in this blog post - I must have a read through the rest of the blog, recording a year's worth of ecnomising, too.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Hemp seed

I have a bag of hemp seed (from France) that I don't know what to do with. I looked online at various recipes and they're apparently full of nutrients but there's all sorts of conflicting advice. One site talks about cooking them, another says on no account should they be cooked because they become carcinogenic! One site says they must be washed so that the seeds float and the grit falls to the bottom, another, that they must be washed in a seive. There's talk of eating them raw as snacks but I can see that they're hard as hell. Anyone used them before? Or should I feed them to the birds?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Moroccan vegetable nut roast

.. or Posh Pie as I call it. My daughter and I made it for our Christmas dinner while the rest of the family ate some creature. I've only just found the photos we took, so belatedly, here's our Christmas dinner!

I love cooking with my daughter cos she has the same 'let's try a bit of this instead' attitude as me, but here's the recipe:
10 shallots
2 red peppers
1 butternut squash
1 medium aubergine (we don't like this much so we used cooking apple instead)
3tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic (we chucked in loads)
5cm ginger
400g canned chickpeas (found it was too much, used half)
handful chopped coriander
125g toasted almonds
125g shelled pistachios
75g melted marg (we used oil)
1x200g pkt filo pastry
What to do: Heat oven, Gas mark 4, 180 C/350 F. Chop up the shallots, peppers, squash, & aubergine, mix with the olive oil, spices & garlic, roast in the oven for 20 mins.
Finely dice the ginger & mix with the chickpeas, coriander, toasted almonds and pistachios. Stir this into the roasted veg once they've finished cooking.
Oil up a baking/flan tin. Lay 2 sheets of filo pastry, and brush liberally with the melted marg, coating both sides of the overhanging sheets. Add 2 more and coat again - keep going till you've used them all up.
Put the veg mix into its 'bed', then fold the overhanging pastry into the centre, crinkling it. Brush all over again with the marg/oil and bung in the oven for 40 minutes. Loads of work but makes a great special occasion dish.

Friday, 13 February 2009

'Barley ate my hamster'

I really don't mind if I never set eyes on barley again. I knew it took quite a while to cook, so I thought I'd make plenty of it but my hand slipped too, so I ended up cooking TONS of it. I had to keep adding water as it grew and grew and drank more and more. Then I had to pour it, mid-cooking to a bigger pot. I separated off a big bowl of it and added tinned tomato to the remaining mass. Then I needed to add a second tin and some onion and chilli powder to make a soup which was still too thick so I watered that down. Reader, I ate it for three days. Each time I came to re-heat it, the grains had swollen further, needing more liquid to soupify it so that it seemed to never get any less!
Meanwhile, the separated bowlful went out to the ducks who seemed to love it. Little do they know that it's like gremlins - once you add water, it mutliplies.