Monday, November 3, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Spring, I love you.
Relationships – good ones – should change and grow with time. For two-and-a-half years you’ve given me a small space here in which to indulge a passion for food and photography. In the process I’ve learned much about myself, gained some previously unimagined skills and, most amazingly of all, found a community of like-minded individuals.
But this is no Farewell to Blogging (can you tell I’ve been reading Hemingway?). This post is simply a fond Farewell to Blogger. Blogger, you’ve been good to me, but a newer, fresher space is calling. Loudly.
The boxes are packed, the removal van is in the driveway and this little weblog is moving to a new home.
If those of you who link to Nourish Me on your own sites would be kind enough to change the address in your link list, that would, of course, be wonderful.
Thanks. Can’t wait to show you 'round.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Digging around in the pantry these last few weeks has been quite enjoyable. A jar of wild rice – long sleek grains of black and chocolate brown – and a packet of dried porcini were unearthed this weekend. Soup season may have dug its heels firmly in this week, but I’m nowhere near done with it. Not while the celeriac looks this good, anyway.
Clean is Deborah Madison’s typically spare description of this soup and she is, typically, spot on. Clean, as a descriptor, may not seal the deal on recipes ordinarily, but by this stage of winter I find myself longing for something lighter. There’s been a lot of stodge eaten in these parts of late. So this beautiful and yes, clean, balance of warm, wintry earthiness and toothsome, lightly-cooked vegetables seemed to say all the right things. A cloudy, fragrant stock from simmering wild rice and dried mushrooms together; a little soothing creaminess stirred through at the last moment and I served it with a little saucer of amber sesame oil to dribble, at will, across the surface.
It is excellent. A timely reminder that spring, and change, are not too far away.
A wild rice and celeriac soup – feeds 4
Wild rice smells intoxicatingly good as it cooks. Too often that scent is lost in and amongst other grains. Not here. Here, it is star. Attention paid to the quality and flavour of your soy milk will make all the difference if cream is not your thing. Adapted, heavily, from Deborah Madison.
3 handfuls of wild rice (about ¾ cup)
1 handful of dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, etc)
Toasted sesame oil
6 cups of water
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or a mixture of butter and oil)
1 large bundle of spring onions
1 bunch of parsley
2 stalks of celery
1 fist-sized potato, scrubbed well
1 small celeriac
1 bay leaf
A few healthy sprigs of thyme
½ cup soy milk or thin cream
Place the wild rice in a saucepan, add the mushrooms, a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and the water. Bring to a boil, add ½ a teaspoon of sea salt and reduce the heat to a burble. Set a lid, slightly ajar, on top and simmer for 40 minutes. When ready – the grains will butterfly open, bursting from their skins – set a strainer over a large bowl to collect the rice stock and drain. Set both stock and rice aside separately.
Warm the olive oil in a wide saucepan over a gentle heat. Trim the spring onions and chop finely. Slice the parsley leaves from their stalks, reserving the leaves. Finely chop the stalks. Add the spring onions and parsley stalks to the saucepan and cook while you chop the remaining veg. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Cut the carrots into thick slices and then into large irregular shapes. Trim and slice the celery stalks. Cut the potato into large dice then thickly peel the celeriac and cut it too into large dice. Add the vegetables to the saucepan, up the heat and fry for about 3 minutes. Throw in the bay leaf and thyme and pour in the reserved rice stock along with another cup, perhaps a little more, of water. Bring to a boil, add 1½ teaspoons of salt then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Chop the remaining parsley leaves. Add the soy milk or cream to the soup, remove the bay leaf and tip in the rice and mushrooms and most of the parsley leaves. Warm through and serve in deep bowls, each garnished with a little parsley, lots of pepper and a few droplets of toasted sesame oil to round things off nicely.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Thick, luscious, salty, citrussy. Like nothing you can buy.
Last year, Kathryn of Limes and Lycopene offered a month long series of posts encouraging readers to gain more energy. This year, for the whole of August, she's revisiting the idea with an eye on your diet.
Each day, Kathryn, or one of a series of guest hosts, offers helpful, practical and, most importantly, achievable ways to get you feeling good about what you eat.
Head on over here to get on board. Invaluable dietary and lifestyle advice.
Required reading this August.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Almost eight years ago, at the age of twenty-nine-and-a-half, I swapped a love affair with cigarettes - sucked back with such delight, such seriousness - for a less-labored daily climb to my second-floor home. By the light of a flickering television, I knitted, furiously, a length of scarf not unlike Tom Baker’s Dr Who might sport, to wrap around and around and around. To hide within. As it lengthened, the stitches became calmer, looser, found a rhythm of their own. Six months later I emerged, smoke-free.
The Artist, rather fortuitously, turned up at roughly the same time. At thirty, an astonishingly gifted astrologer lunged for the polished chunk of rose quartz I wore around my neck, cooed and held it in his palm. I felt it almost burning as it fell back into place. ‘He must be dynamic, this fellow’, his tape recorded voice declares, ‘to have captured the eye of a Leonine woman’. He was. He is. I have listened to that recording of my younger self, chattering away merrily with the astrologer, many times since. In between the giggling, I hear forgotten hurts and a voice teetering, at times, dangerously close to tears. Des read me like a book. And I’m thrilled, each time, that he did.
So we sensibly drank the champagne in front of the fire instead.
I’ll stow the idea away for Christmas, perhaps, for warmer weather and other celebratory nights. Simplicity wins out every time. Besides, I know, somehow, you’d much rather this Apple and Olive Oil cake, adapted from that marvellous, wonderful, beautiful Anna Del Conte. In fact, I think you should down tools and go and make it right now. Think of it as my birthday gift to you.
Anna Del Conte’s Apple and Olive Oil Cake
The thing that irritates me most about baking is the butter. I have little patience with it anyway, but waiting for butter to soften drives me nuts-o in winter. This moist, delicious cake uses olive oil not as substitute, but in preference to the stuff. I mean, how clever is that?
120g (4 oz) of sultanas
Freshly brewed tea
500g (1 lb) of apples – about 5 small ones
150ml (scant 2/3 cup) of olive oil
200g (7oz) sugar
2 organic eggs
175g (6 oz) of wholemeal (wholewheat) flour
175g (6 oz) of ‘strong’, Italian ‘00’ flour
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons of bi-carb soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt
Soak the sultanas in enough tea to cover. Set aside to plump for 20 minutes. Peel and core the apples and cut each into small dice.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and line a 20cm (8 in) springform cake tin.
Beat the oil and sugar together until well amalgamated. Break the eggs into a teacup and add them, bit by bit, beating all the time. You’ll end up with a creamy mixture. Set a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour, cinnamon, bi-carb soda, baking powder and salt.
Mix to a stiff batter with a metal spoon – I cannot claim to understand the reasoning behind this, but do so as it is often suggested. You don’t want to go upsetting the baking gods. Drain the sultanas well. Fold through the mixture with the diced apple. This is a very stiff mixture and will be visibly studded with fruit.
Scrape into the prepared cake tin, smooth down the top and bake for at least 1 hour – mine took 1 hour and 20 minutes and needed to be topped with foil halfway through to prevent it from burning. Watch it closely and check for doneness with a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. If it comes away cleanly, your cake is done.
I’m completely besotted.
Oh I do love a good birthday.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Look, it was quite hard to pick just ten favourite images and, in the end, I couldn't. Quite.
So eleven it is.
I seem to take hundreds of photographs for each post...the act of going through them, deleting merrily along the way, has taken a lot longer than initially anticipated. Clearly I have a thing for a) diagonals and b) shadows. Some of the ones I was contemplating were quite obscure. I like obscure. Always have. But, in the interests of keeping this food-focussed, I settled on things you've already seen.
Thanks to Vegeyum and Holler for the kick needed. I can de-frag now. With a cup of tea.
(Thus that sneaky eleventh photograph of tea.)
I know I threatened to 'tag' a few people recently with this one, but it's entirely up to you. Play along (and clean up your filing in the process) if you like!
Friday, August 1, 2008
Stir-fry of smoked tofu, greens, spring onion and shiitakes.
All in my new favourite bowl.