A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Month: October 2021

It All Started on Friday…

Happy Halloween – Bakewell Tart

I can’t believe it’s Friday already as it suddenly dawns on me the weekend coffee share is upon us.  The beauty of a four day week as I’d taken Monday off as part of last weeks half term. 

Monday felt so refreshing, a blue sky day, and I was productive.   The exhaust and new tyres on the van.  Cycled here and there, topping up on a few health (nuts and grass) store essentials along with returning some library books.   The library round the corner is still being used as a COVID test centre, so it’s a hike across town to a different branch holding strange hours that I’ve not got my head round.   I’m just glad it’s back and in operation, having it closed for a book junkie was like having my right hand cut off.

The weather since has been dark and dreich, constant rain.  Enough said!

On cooking front,  I’m tackling the Rye Bread from the guardian.  I’m in the final stages and it’s looking good so far.  My sourdough starter bit the dust a while back when we sort of gave up bread as a low carb diet experiment.  So to be able to build something up over the course of a few days using a slow ferment like this might be a revelation…..At the same time, I can’t go back to the high carb diet! 

Veg box had potatoes in it this week despite us specifically being on the list for no potatoes (that low carb diet again).  I’ve got a great chickpea and potato recipe inspired by Dishoom for this and the relatives are coming round for an overdue visit so mischief managed.

Halloween seems to be the theme of the weekend with a pumpkin/squash also in the box.  I’ll be hunkering down trying to avoid the cobwebs pairing the squash with a piece of Cod or Haddock.   The boy has a couple of parties to go to so there might be a bit of hair a makeup required, but as a teenage boy the days of lightning on the forehead has long since gone and we are now talking about curfew times as opposed to which face paints to use.  Oh for simpler times!

Thank you for those folk who came for coffee last week, really appreciated those battling with my comments section on the blog.   I think I’ve got a cache problem with the host service.  Which is really frustrating, wasted a lot of time for me which meant I didn’t get round to other folks posts.  Apologies.

…..and then Saturday came, I hadn’t managed to post this. The squash and Haddock soup was amazing. The bread….hmmm the jury is out, showed so much promise but may have been in the oven too long.

…..and then Sunday came and I’ve moved host again! A lot quicker this time, a little bit less stress (but not stress free). JetPack looks to be firing on all systems and no caching problems. There’s a media problem, but nothing I can’t handle and needs to coincide with a content review generally. …..and windows 11 available for my PC has popped up……I may be gone for some time!

On that note…..Happy Halloween!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Taking a Day

Got the day off to myself….one way to kill those Monday blues!  The exhaust on the van is in a bad way so I’m up early and dropped it off at the local exhaust depo.  I knew from several calls over the last week it wasn’t going to be a quick fix.  I seem to remember as a boy the exhaust depo having rows and rows of exhausts to pick from whereas now it’s all ordered as and when required.  Don’t think Amazon have cornered the 1-click exhaust market yet.

So I’ve popped round the corner to a local café, nice and empty.  I’m able to pick the seat nearest the radiator which I’m not quite hugging.  I’ve ordered the wrong kind of coffee hoping for a mug rather than an espresso with a drop of water added.  Which is what I seemed to have received…a long black.  Have to admit though the taste and zing is a good jolt to a cold Monday morning.  I was about to plug my own tunes in, however the Beatles are playing in the background which is a nice tonic to the pop music I’ve been playing lately.

In terms of a weekend in review, it was a day of travelling on Saturday, finishing off the cheese we had left over for tea with a couple of tins of soup from the cupboard.  Returned back from the Peak District with a 101 things rattling around in my head, the joy of a break and stepping off the hamster wheel for a few days can do that for you.

Sunday a more leisurely affair.  I’m keen to embrace the more flexitarian approach to living so the weekend saw me dabbling with a corn and cauliflower soup from Anna Jones book.  A long with the inspiration for a squash and sweet potato stew.  I took one of the frozen curry pastes I’d had sitting around in the freezer for ages (I’m embarrassed to say Feb) and sweated it down (ice and all, bit of oil, the stalks from the greens. Added a can of coconut milk,  a small squash peeled and diced into bite sized pieces, same for a couple of sweet potatoes.  Topped up with a little water, brought to a simmer for 20 mins, then added a can of drained black eyed beans that I’d crushed a little.  Which did a great job of thickening the stew.  Simmered a little longer and then added some shredded leaves to wilt.    Served in a bowl, topped with some diced feta. 

….Monday and I’m thinking what to start with first!

Lagom, One Pot, a week in the Peak District

It’s been a week of tumbling leaves caught on the wind, dancing on the change in season. The air not quite in Winters grasp as the feeling of Autumn try’s to hold tight to it’s the colours in the trees. There are moments of bitter cold that cut through to the bone. Another layer of clothing is required to make the best of the day.

A week away from the four walls has been a welcome a break from living at work. The change of routine has been great for the mind and despite the cold and the wet we’ve explored the area with our bikes. The old railway tracks now used for recreation and wonder. Cutting through the hills and a great way to get the heart going. There are tunnels that take you from one valley to the next and a reminder of the industrial age in which they were built. Still coloured by coal and although it’s been a long time since a train passed through I swear I could hear the clatter of the pistons and the noise of the steam engine chuffing along, the ghosts of yesterday playing with my mind.

There are walkers too, making the most of the footpaths. The odd one sat by the side, annoyed as another cyclist flies by and doesn’t ring their bell. Some stare like a bike is a new invention, I want to shout out the train will be a long in a minute just to try and add a little humour to the day. I keep it to myself. This trail is amazing and I’m out the office exploring the land and that’s enough. Pheasants roam the fields and I’m reminded that the game season will be upon us soon.

The kitchen at the place we are staying is small and a little disappointing for the cook in my soul. Only one saucepan, a wok and an oven to table roasting dish that isn’t hob friendly. I know I’m spoiled and it’s given me a bit of a challenge as I fry and decant to the roaster. The thing I missed the most was a set of oven gloves. That oven to table pot gets mighty hot! The kitchen a minor niggle, otherwise the place has been great. Minutes away from Bakewell, an old marketing town a short distance away from Sheffield and famous for it’s Bakewell pudding although I prefer the tart.

Chatsworth house is a stone throw away.   We tried to cycle to it via safe traffic free roads but we were foiled by the rather impressive gates!  The estate farm shop is a beauty and a real treat for the foodie.  A butchers, a fish counter, a cheese counter and all things in between.  I couldn’t resist the various sausages they had on the go,  Venison from the estate along with an Old Spot (heritage pork breed) sausage.

When we go away and space isn’t a problem I like to bring a big plastic box with us.  Easily holds a couple of cooking books, a few pens, a couple of notebooks (my current bullet journal and my writing journal), the iPad along with cables and a set of headphones.  If I’m lucky and sometimes by design I manage to carve some time out and land myself in another world.  I read the introduction of the new book and allow the premise to flow into my thinking.  I’m a bit of an intro junkie.  There are some cookbooks, that just leave it there, the usual sections ensue.  Typically follow a set standard, glossy photo and then a recipe. Page turners for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  These definitely have a place in my heart and they are great when I don’t need to think and all I can do is skim read. 

Then there are those books written and carved by time and toil by a cook who cares enough to share their world, to take someone on a journey themselves to impart wisdom and wizardry.   I love these books and I want to give them time and attention.  Skim reading is so easy but wrong! So I try and find time and carve out a moment where I can give the book my whole attention.

A bit like when a new album is released or a new film. Time is specifically given to listen for the first time, to watch for the first time and in my case read for the first time. Bringing the books on holiday is my way of trying to take my mind on a journey a quest for knowledge whilst I dive into something that will transport me to another kitchen, give me a new way of thinking and the chance to embrace new ideas.

This week I’ve brought One Pot, Pan and Planet (a greener way to cook for you. Your family and the planet) by Anna Jones and Lagom (The Swedish art of eating harmoniously) by Steffi Knowles-Dellner which was recommended by another weekend coffeeshare, Thistles and Kiwis

Needless to say the week has flown by and I want to give a special thank you to Natalie this week. With moving my host provider for the blog have I’d had trouble with comments section, along with the followers. I thought I’d nailed it with a Jetpack re-install to find they were still not working. The re-install tweaked the settings I’d been playing with! Natalie has been really patient and helpful with regarding testing my comments. I don’t know if they are fixed yet and without being back at base I haven’t had the chance to get stuck in with my desktop. I may need to go nuclear and do a complete re-install. Hopefully though, I’ve fixed it. If you did attempt to leave a comment and I didn’t get back to you, please accept my apologies and thank you for stopping by!


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Rajma with a friend

If we were having coffee I would tell you about the highlight of my week.  Which was cooking over zoom with a friend.  We’d agreed a new approach of cooking together online, having found out that our local adult education programme wasn’t running its courses in its traditional style of ten weeks on premise in the school.  Instead lessons were being run online, a mix of 5 weeks watching a demo and 5 weeks of online conversation.  It just didn’t appeal.  So we hatched a plan to catch up ourselves, picking a recipe each to concentrate on with the premise of it being tomorrow night’s tea.  We’ve managed twice so far in the space of six weeks.  Home and work interruptions making it impossible to do  more.

This week we took on Rajma, a really simple recipe of spiced onions and Kidney beans.  A recipe I’d been meaning to try since I got the Dishoom cookery book in 2020!  Perfect for the Vegan family at the other end of the screen and a great way for me to exercise the flexitarian in me.   I also couldn’t help myself and added an aubergine and a pepper.   Slow cooked in the oven after the call ended and left overnight.  A warm and velvety affair perfect for the dark nights that have crept in.   A delight to be able to have tea ready in the time it takes to cook rice. 

Really noticing the dark mornings.  So much so I’ve mixed up my schedule to start my writing first in the dark, before taking in some daylight.  It’s a real struggle to get out of bed now,  but the watch buzzing at more than an arms length away and sometimes in the next room really pulls me out of bed like an invisible chord.  The snooze button on the bedside clock is redundant.

The other exciting news is that exercise bike has arrived, which I started to assemble last night.  It shouldn’t have been so tricky to assemble and no mention of the tools I would need when I bought the bike.  My wife popping in at those perfect moments where a bead of sweat is about to appear.  Helpful comments like, don’t do it now if it’s going to take this long.   Just as I’m threading a hexadecimal locking nut whilst balancing on my head holding a torque wrench.  Amazingly I managed to walk away half way (at a good point), not my style as I’m a compulsive completer when it comes to things that need building.   Just need to install the little computer and it should be good to go.  

I’ll finish up with a few pictures from my walk this morning,  the low sun a tonic for the day ahead, the trees shedding their leaves and bedding in for the winter.   The rhododendrons hanging on in there, the cycle of autumn kicks in.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Rajma – Kidney Bean and Aubergine

Rajma

Veg box came with an aubergine and pepper this week so along with my cook with a friend evening I thought I’d combine it with the recipe we’d picked.   This is really loosely based on the Rajma recipe in the Dishoom cookery book.  Let’s say it’s more inspired by the recipe as the book has you jumping off here, there and everywhere for other base recipes and this does nothing of the sort!

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large white onions, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves crushed
Large thumb of ginger, finely diced
 
1 Red Pepper, stalk removed and diceOptional or could use a chilli instead, watch the heat
1 Aubergine, diced bite sized pieces  Swap for a courgette, sweet potatoe or squash
1  tsp chilli powder of your choice 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp chilli powderCould use a half small jar of curry paste
2 tbsp tomato purée 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes 2 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed 

This way of cooking is essentially a way of building up flavours, a base for those robust healthy beans.

Heat the oil in a large deep oven ready pan over a medium heat and add the onions cooking for 10 minutes,  stirring regularly whilst you chop the other veg

Add the garlic and ginger, stirring through at regular intervals to avoid any catching on the bottom of the pan.  Add the pepper if using and cook through, 10 minutes or so.

Add a splash of water if you need to stop it burning, caramelising and soft is what we are looking for.

Add the aubergine, turn over into the onions and cook through for a minute.

Add the spices and the tomato purée cooking through for 2 minutes.

Add the tinned chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and bring to a simmer, then place into the oven on a low heat (150°) for an hour or so, check in on it at the half way point, turn it over and add a little water if needed.

Curry and a Movie

No Time to Die – Bike from the Film in the Foyer

Aside from the first four hours of the night my sleep was broken, more from excitement….today we finally get to see the new James Bond film. It’s been a long long wait! It’s a full family affair, the first son coming home for the weekend, with seats booked at a local independent cinema, it’s going to be a real treat.

The Saturday Guardian is covering fish and I’ve made a note to follow up on Rachel Roddy’s Cod with tomatoes and capers.  I’ve recently been struggling to write up some thinking on fish after my son asked how he could get more into his eating.  Will try and scale this recipe down for him.

On the menu this weekend is a couple of curries, and a dahl.  Youngest son has a couple of friends over to stay and stipulation from the boss was that tea needed to be easy post the film.  A reheat so to speak.  So I made the lamb rogan josh last night.  A slow cook affair with aubergines.  The chicken korma I made this morning along with the dahl.  Followed by an apple and summer berry crumble.

Time for blogging this weekend has been short, that and the fact I switched web host providers this week.   A renewal was going to be a bit like daylight robbery which would give leading insurances providers a run for their money.   Any glitches please let me know,  I’ve had a few gotchas as the new provider installed various annoying freebies rather than a vanilla WordPress install.  The archive and historic categories appearing and disappearing with no rhyme or reason. Images have disappeared on some, so there was some sort of glitch on the migration. A little autumn clean-up is ongoing!

It’s Sunday as I finish this post, the film has been watched and I promise no spoilers in case there are any JB fans out there. The eldest is being given the curry left overs to take back to university, a couple of re-heat meals to keep the wolf from the door with a portion for us and the prospect of using the remains of the veg box up.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

October 21

Muesli

Scribbles for the weekend #8

Wow, here we are in October.  Sunrise at 07:16 and Sunset at 18:48!

The blueberries are local,  from Fife just across the water.  They are rugged not conforming to the military pea size shape that I’m used to, with a taste to the bite that bursts in the mouth. This always seems to wane with air miles and I wish they could be like this all year round.   I’m also finishing off the Greek yoghurt which feels decadent for breakfast and I remind myself it’s been a tough week with back to back teams calls, be kind to yourself!

This week’s morning routines have been effected by rain, the most we’ve had in a long time marked by the fact I had to do a school run, which happens once in a blue moon, or in this case Monday morning where the skies just opened up.    Everything feels fresher for it, but with a cold that starts to bite if you’re not moving.  The Tuesday morning run is certainly a lot colder and a mental note needs to  be taken, I really need to get the gloves out for the next time.

This is the month of pumpkins and apples, with the leaves turning, gathering in piles as the wind swirls them into position.   The veg boxes are typically a little heavier loaded with a squash, a Savoy cabbage and a Cauliflower in this weeks one. 

I’m hoping to cover a couple of recipes this weekend, but still haven’t got myself organised as to what they might be.  Although I’m definitely inspired by this parsnip and ginger loaf that popped up in my Instagram feed.  I’ve currently got my head in the same book that the recipe comes from which is a bonus.

On the writing front, this six months of ‘Writing in Community’ has come to an end and I’ve decided to enrol straight into the next starting on the 11th which means I’m feeling a little in limbo, at the same time as excited.  Every day now I try to write a few words and as a consequence I’m on my longest streak with the weekend coffee share!  It’s all about the practice.


The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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