January 6, 2012

So, one of my Christmas presents this year was Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘Veg Every Day‘ book which is part of Hugh’s crusade to make every home cook in the country dirty every dish in the kitchen every day – sorry, eat less meat AND dirty every dish in the kitchen. I’ve long been trying to have at least one meat free day a week, much to the other half’s disgust, so I seized on this as an opportunity to try out some new vegetarian – and even vegan – recipes. We came to a bit of an arrangement – for the next month we’d try out one or two of the recipes each week and he had to not complain about there not being any meat and I had to not complain about trying new vegetables. OK, well, ‘not complain’ is a bit strong, but we had to eat the results anyway. Now, regular readers may remember that I’m not the most adventurous eater in the world, although I’ve come a long way from my entirely non-vegetable-eating childhood, so I started to get a few twinges of doubt on this deal once the other half started leafing through the pages and chuckling to himself ‘oh you’re going to have to stretch yourself a bit’ (he’s particularly looking forward to the part where I have to eat mushrooms other than chanterelles) but I’ve stuck to my side of the bargain and he’s stuck to his – indeed, more than stuck to it because the first week is barely over and we’ve had meatless suppers for three out of six days (and, er, steak on one of the others – but that was our 20th wedding anniversary and I wanted to last out at least another few years).

So far it’s gone reasonably well, although there has been predictably large amounts of washing up to be done. We’ve had squash and red onion pasties, stir-fried cauliflower, spanakopita, spicy chickpeas and we’ve been getting through a backlog of lentils of various colours that have been hanging around in our cupboards for long enough that I had to do a quick ex post facto google on ‘will sprouted lentils kill you?’* The culmination (so far) came tonight when I cooked ribollito which is Italian for ‘all the things townmouse doesn’t really like, poured over garlicky toast in a bowl’. Had I been served this up as a child, I would have just sat there sobbing at the table for the entire meal and yet here I was not just cooking it but eating it. Not, in the strictest sense of the word, enjoying it – let’s not get carried away here – but eating it. Although even I have to admit that the garlicky toast part is actually rather yummy. Apparently it’s better the next day. Which is good, because there’s loads of it left.

So there you go. I don’t really have a snappy ending to this one, except to say that it turns out after 40-odd years of picky eating, a few vegetables really won’t kill me after all. And nor will not eating much – or much less – meat. And, nor, if it comes to that, will slightly sprouted lentils. Although I’m still not 100% convinced about mushrooms.

*just out of curiosity, you understand


Rocket Fuel

June 16, 2010

‘What are we supposed to be eating tonight?’

‘Pork chops’

‘Did you take them out of the freezer?’

‘Er, no.’

‘Think they’ll thaw in time?’

‘Probably not’

‘Got any other ideas?’

there was more, but we ate it (we ate the rest later)

This is the point where, in London, one of us would have nipped down to the shops. Instead, not fancying a 16-mile round trip, I dug up the first of the potatoes (Rocket, although I had actually lost track of which potato I’d planted where – thank goodness for the internet and specifically the British Potato Variety Database which, among other information, gives you the colour of the flowers so I was able to work it out. Phew. Wouldn’t want to confuse potato varieties, now, would we?) while the other half did a bit of googling and a bit of improvisation and came up with a potato salad that was almost a meal in itself. Part-steamed cabbage, new boiled potatoes*, pancetta fried with the cabbage, all combined with an oil, vinegar and mustard dressing and some chives. You’re supposed to leave it to cool before eating, but sod that, we were hungry. Serve with mackerel fillets on toast and yum. I think we have a new favourite salad.

Unfortunately we’re on the salad-leaves treadmill at the moment because my baby leaf lettuce is now fully on stream. We can just about keep on top of it as long as we have a salad every day. So now we’re having salad and salad at some meals, which, for anyone who knows me well, is just about unprecedented. If this continues we’re in danger of living healthily. If the Scots find out, we’ll probably get evicted…

* I can also report, following up from last year, that Rocket makes for nicely non-exploding potatoes.