Forgot to mention last night’s excitement …

We live 5 minutes from Princes Avenue, which has loads of bars and restaurants that are very busy on Fridays and Saturdays, thus, we often hear rather drunk people on their way home down our road.  They always sound good-humoured and often sing … sort of.  They’re never remotely alarming,

However, last night, about 11:30, someone was coming down the road shouting his head off, sounding incredibly angry. Whatever language he was shouting in, it wasn’t English.  We live in an end terrace with a narrow alley between us and the next block, which is secured by a locked metal gate either end.

The house literally shook suddenly, and we think this guy must have been rattling the gate, and seconds later, there was the sound of smashing glass – not, thankfully, from our house, but further up the road (although I did make Pete go and and check, not least because the cats like sitting in the front window and watching the world go by).

When we went past this morning, their bay window had been boarded up – I can only guess that this guy was hoping to get into the house via the back yard and alley, and when he couldn’t open the gate, he went for the window.  *I* was scared, so the unfortunate occupant(s) of the house must have been utterly terrified.

an elderly tin of butter beans

We had planned to go out for lunch today, but of course the delivery of Shelves! to sort out the shed once the big freezer is Freecycled today has not yet turned up, so we didn’t dare leave the house. And there wasn’t much in for lunch.

So I rummaged in the tin cupboard and found some butter beans. Drained and rinsed them, looked at the bottom of the tin … and tasted them. They were fine.

Fried up a packet of pancetta cubes. Into a bowl they went, with the beans, a finely chopped small onion, a packet of seeds, some parmesan shavings, some torn basil leaves, and a dressing of olive oil, walnut oil and red wine vinegar.

I filled a couple of wheaten wraps with the result, which promptly fell apart – I have no idea how you get these things to behave. Made a very nice change.

“How old were the beans?” I hear you ask. Um … best before November. 2002. Oops.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

freezer consolidation

The new freezer has arrived, been unpacked, stowed under the stairs, left to stand, and then switched on till it’s properly cold.

We have transferred everything from the old (bigger) freezer – of course there was far more stuff in there than we realised, and so some stuff has been left out to cook in the next couple of days, and the kittins will be very pleased that we have found some lamb offal for their Easter treat.

So look out for posts on:

  • one small piece of gammon – very salty, if I recall correctly, so it’s soaking now, and I’ll change the water several times
  • one pound of mince, which will be tonight’s supper in some shape or form, providing it thaws sufficiently
  • one piece of belly pork, which I think I might try in the slow cooker with lentils, but haven’t decided yet.

And we have enough beef to open a market stall (but it did all go in) …

Now then – if anyone in the Bristol area would like a nice 3/4 height freezer, it’s theirs for the taking away.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

Roomba v cat toy

Roomba v cat toy

Originally uploaded by ramtops

Ron’s very favourite toy is this little blue glittery ball – it’s made of foam rubber, so it’s very light and he likes to carry it around in his sharp pointy teeth.

It vanishes from our view occasionally, but he always knows where it is and fetches it out again when he wants to play with it. Unfortunately, he did so this morning while the Roomba was roaming the hall, and so an Unfortunate Incident occurred.

I think the toy won as, although the Roomba swallowed it up, the poor machine made its mournful lowing noise, and had to be evacuated.

Originally published at the Tribe.

chickpea and vegetable tagine

Sorry for the lack of posts – too much work, combined with end of year accounts and VAT return due – and the new freezer due for delivery at the end of this week (hurrah!) has meant that we are eating out of the freezer, mostly. It’s stuff we’ve cooked and frozen, but not very exciting to write about.

Anyway, we had a running about day on Saturday, so I thought I’d do a slow cooker thing for when we got home. I soaked a stack of chickpeas on Thursday night, and slow cooked them on Friday in readiness.

Then on Saturday morning, I fried up a chopped onion in olive oil, while Pete roasted and ground some spices (cumin, coriander, allspice, and can’t remember what else). I whizzed up some garlic, fresh ginger and a red chilli and added that to the pan, then added a chopped up aubergine and yellow pepper to the pan (both of which were getting close to their end), together with the spices, and stirred it about until the veg were all softened and coated with spices.

Into the slow cooker they went with the chickpeas and some vegetable bouillon, and out we went. When we came back, I sneaked a little taste and it was very hot – the chilli was mild so I left the seeds in, and it was a tad vicious. I soaked some dried apricots in boiling water for ten minutes, and hurled them in, and added a little honey, then we rushed off out again.

That sweetness made all the difference – ’twas lovely.

The law of fives

The Tribe

Originally uploaded by perlmonger

We don’t often get the entire tribe in one place at a time (though we have shared ourtheir bed with the lot of them a couple of times in the current chill weather); yesterday, I found this collection in the shelves to the right of my desk.

I really cannot comprehend people who dismiss cats. Not liking them; oh, I can understand that, but their evil, scheming, murderous, loving beings are as individual and unique as human-style people. I haven’t the words, the eloquence, to do justice to the ones we live with or the ones we’ve lost, but I’ve just been smiling in recognition through prickling eyes at this posting about a cat, twenty years on from Crescent Dragonwagon. Just a cat, you know, they’re all the same.

Originally published at the Tribe.

steak pudding

I would have preferred it to be steak and kidney pudding, but ‘im indoors won’t eat offal, so steak and mushroom it was. I made a batch of steak and mushroom pie filling a while back, and put half in the freezer, where it languished until Friday night.

The potential problem with a snake and pigmeat pudding is the timing – if you eat around 7 p.m, as we try to do, you need to put it on about 3 o’clock, and then you’re fairly tied to the house – making sure it doesn’t boil over, and topping it up with boiling water, and having a kitchen full of steam. So I wanted to try out the slow cooker for this.

Whipped up some suet crust pastry – 6 oz plain flour, 1 tsp of baking powder (you could use self raising flour and leave out the baking powder, but I rarely have SR flour in the house these days), 3 oz suet. Mix together with half a teaspoon of salt, and I added a little dried rosemary.

Then carefully add water, a little at a time, so you get a nice doughy texture – don’t make it too wet. Roll the dough into a circle, and cut out about a quarter, which you will use for the lid. Then grease a pudding basin (I think mine was a 2 pinter), and carefully place the dough in it; the cut out portion actually makes it a bit easier to manoeuver. Make sure there’s no gaps in the pastry.

Then in went the pie filling, I rolled out the lid dough and placed it on top, pinching the edges together, and put a tin foil hat on it, secured with a rubber band.

I put a small trivet in the bottom of the slow cooker, put the pudding basin on top of that, and filling it with boiling water – a full kettle’s worth. Set the slow cooker on high, and crossed my fingers. We ate it 4.5 hours later, and it was really lovely – the pastry was very light. If the pie filling weren’t cooked, I suspect it would need closer to eight hours, but I will investigate in due course.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.