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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

hello again

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Right then. Back to the blog.

Since we spoke last,  I have:

Given up my FUMSI editor job. Finished off my Open Uni Certificate in Contemporary Science. Passed the Requirements Engineering exam. Got an allotment and an extra chicken. Made croissants.

I’m particularly pleased with the croissants.

Written by Karen

January 18th, 2010 at 6:08 am

Posted in food,fumsi

In Defence of Food

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Finally got round to reading In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan. Perhaps I’ve been over-exposed to the concepts in the book but, in spite of wholeheartedly agreeing with Pollan, I found the book itself a bit, well, flimsy.

I read it in a day and it seemed to come to a rather abrupt halt. That feeling was exaggerated by the wodge of sources, acknowledgements and index – it seemed there should be at least 5mm more story to go.

His core message is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. Of these only ‘eat food’ needs much clarification as Pollan is encouraging us to avoid processed industrial foods, largely anything your gran or great-gran wouldn’t recognise as food. (must remember to check how long Ribenna has been around).

The book also reminded me to be angry about the current government marketing campaign, urging us to cut down on saturated fat. The BBC coverage reminded us that “grilled chicken breast without skin contains a third less saturated fat than with skin”. I’m sure it does but grilled skinless chicken breast is utterly pointless. I’d rather eat a carrot.

Pollan uses quite a lot of the book to highlight how inconclusive the scientific evidence against the evil fat is. I’d much rather see the government spending our money on encouraging us to grow our own veg, or cook from scratch. I really don’t think we’re all getting obese and dying of heart disease because we’re leaving the skin on a piece of grilled chicken.

Written by Karen

April 25th, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in food

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food is a sub-category of women

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I remember when I was first working with the UNESCO thesaurus I was amused to see that ‘home-makers’ was a sub-category of women. I just thought that reflected the age of the thesaurus (it has some particularly lovely terminology around disability too).

Now I don’t expect the Daily Mail to demonstrate cutting edge social attitudes, or to be honest , to have particularly great information architecture. So I really shouldn’t have spent quite so long trying to figure out where their recipes section was buried. There is a shortcut on the homepage but I’d come in via a search engine and foolishly thought I could work out the main nav to get me to my destination.

The penny dropped eventually. It is nestled in the ‘Femail’ section,  of course!

Food | Mail Online.

Written by Karen

April 6th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

sheep in a box

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We’ve got in the habit of buying whole pigs direct from the farm but I’m more comfortable buying supermarket lamb (they don’t tend to be intensively farmed either way). Mutton, however, is still a rarity in the supermarket so we’ve shelled out on a whole sheep, which comes as:

Pile of mutton

Also known as:

  • 4 Leg Joints
  • 4 Shoulder Joints
  • 10 – 14 Loin Chops
  • 12 Cutlets
  • 4 Chump Chops
  • 4 Pieces Scrag End
  • 2 Breasts Rolled
  • 2 Kidneys
  • 1 Liver

All in all, about 20kg of the stuff. That should see us through to pig-time.

Written by Karen

August 9th, 2008 at 6:40 am

Posted in food,thrift


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Went blackberrying yesterday with Mum & Dad in the Lee Valley park, up near Turnford. And yes, as countless dog walkers and cyclists asked us, it is a bit early for blackberries. But global warming being what it is, we still came away with 2kg of blackberries. If the number of green berries on the brambles is anything to go by, then the next couple of weeks should see a blackberry bonanza.


So my half of the haul was a 1kg of blackberries, earned from a half an hour ramble through beautiful woods with M&D. The walk is something we’d normally do so the blackberries are effectively effort-free. Tesco’s blackberries are on special offer at £1.99 for 150g so my tub of berries is worth around £13.

Mum will make jam but most of mine will become blackberry frozen yoghurt.

Written by Karen

July 27th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in food,thrift

cherry crumble cheesecake: a slow exploit

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This cheesecake is one of those all day baking exploits. It is very easy (apart from the flipping at the end which really requires two pairs of hands) but you have to make sponge cake, bake, mix up the cherry layer, make crumb topping, make cheese layer, put it all together, bake, bring to room temp, refridgerate for hours, flip, remove foil, eat.

I made it more complicated by using fresh cherries so there was the extra painful step of stoning cherries. It took me all day and a lovely day it was too. So what if I got nothing else done?

The resulting creation is huge and PW will be able to feed off it for days, sparing him last week’s fate of eating a whole box of muesli.

And yes, we did eat some for breakfast.

Written by Karen

June 22nd, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in food,happiness,speed

romanticism, environmentalism or just plain perverse?

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Also on the Thinking Allowed ‘Hoodies’ episode that I mentioned a while back was a piece on city planning.The piece covers ‘the traditional and futuristic notions of what makes a good city’ and decisions that we now perceive to have been destructive but at the time were motivated by a desire to get rid of Victoriana, to build better roads etc.

It seems that one generation’s modernisation is often the next’s wanton destruction. The romanticism that my generation has for things from my grandparents time horrifies my parents. They see it as a retrograde attitude. They have none of the nostalgia for period properties & antique fittings, they merely associate them with the hardships and limitations of their childhoods (cold & drafty houses, filled with dark wood and laboursome devices). Their values are of the 60s, warm, clean, light modern houses, scandanavian furniture and labour-saving, electronic devices.

My mother-in-law was amused to see we have a manual coffee-grinder and politely inquired if we knew there were electric versions available. We got it partly because we’ve been looking at our electricity consumption and also trying to buy devices that last longer. I’ve been increasing shocked at how many electronic devices I end up chucking. But there’s also a kind of motivation that I call the From Scratch Diet i.e. you can eat as much as you like of anything that you make from scratch. Sod Atkins…bread can’t make you fat if you had to knead the bloody dough yourself. Not that coffee makes you fat but you get the idea.

Mum just thinks we’re on some weird puritanical kick.

Written by Karen

May 31st, 2008 at 9:30 am

bank holiday, getting things done

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It’s been a postively pastoral bank holiday weekend, in which I…

  • skinned the bunny. Urgh. Not much choice about this as Pileswasp had killed it the day before and then broken his collarbone and two ribs, putting him out of bunny skinning action.
  • made rabbit & leek pie. Our leeks and homepage pastry. Herculean effort but tasty.
  • made bread. With old fashioned yeast rather than the speedy packet stuff. A faff but way more yeast smells in the house. And biscuits.
  • made chicken of the woods pasta. Another picking up the baton for the injured husband. He brought the giant mushroom home from a pre-injury forage and it needed eating.
  • harvested shed loads of herbs for cocktails and yoghurt sauce for burgers (lemon balm, borage, fennel, chives and mint, I think)
  • made pork, leek & noodle hotpot. That’s the last of our leeks.

All gently satisfying in “I grew this/picked this” way. Or in a gruesomely satisfying way for the “I butchered this” bit.
Continued the pastoral theme with garden activities:

  • potted on the morning glories, mina lobata and fuschias
  • sowed late courgettes and pumpkins
  • weeded lots (and then fed it all to the rabbits)
  • moved some succulents around to try and defeat the blasted slugs

But it wasn’t all John Seymour. I did some 21st Century stuff too.

  • wrote my FUMSI editorial for June
  • started my latest OU course – Archaeology (going to be a challenge to get IA themes out of that one!). Admittedly the topic is a bit backward looking but the OU is all digital these days.
  • wrote lots of blog posts
  • started secret mission, inspired by big sis. More on that later…

Why so productive? Well three days feels like space to do stuff. And being around someone who is only really able to watch telly and surf the net made me really appreciate my ability to do practical stuff. And I guess the coffee was good.

Written by Karen

May 26th, 2008 at 10:44 am

Posted in food,gardening,gtd

women ‘prioritise chocolate over information security’

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Blatant conference-promoting-linkbait but there you go:

Women 4 times more likely than men to give passwords for chocolate

Written by Karen

April 21st, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Posted in food

RSS food feeds

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As I got increasingly disaffected with newspapers I got to a stage when the main reason I bought weekend papers for the food section. No matter how predictable the news stories, infuriating the fashion pages and relentless new media bandwagoning (folksonomic zeitgeist anyone?) I always liked the recipes. But then I like recipes. At the time I also subscribed to a food magazine and bought cookbooks all the time.

It was an expensive way of getting something to eat. So these days I get cookbooks from the library and <a href=’http://www.swapshop.co.uk/default.aspx?referrerid=4c3b6e30-6031-4bde-bdc7-a57ae8f30baf’>swapshop.co.uk</a>

I’ve unsubscribed from the magazine until I’ve cooked all the recipes I’ve clipped from it (i.e never). And I’ve subscribed to loads of RSS feeds of recipes

The internet is a great thing for recipes. It’s also a terrible thing for recipes. There’s lots of noise… lots of dodgy recipes. Definitely a field where I welcome a bit of curatorship. It was always a bit frustrating that there were so many Ready, Steady, Cook recipes in the BBC recipe finder. I wanted great recipes not those ‘conjured’ up with whatever the contestant happened to bring.

The top food blogs are fine, sites like Nami-nami, Hooked on Heat, Zaiqa, What’s For Lunch Honey. These are the new curators. But my favourite source remains the weekend newspapers so I was very pleased with myself when I realised I could subscribe to food feeds from the newspapers.

I subscribed to the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph, all no problems. The Times doesn’t seem to have an RSS feed for the food section. And the Daily Mail, The Sun & The Mirror don’t seem to have recipes online.

For all the newspapers though there is a frustrating lack of information in the shortened feeds, making it hard to make a snap decision about which recipes to read. Which seems ill-thought out with recipes. I mean you could provide 95% of the article in the feed and a cook would still have to go to the site for the final 5% of the recipe. The bloggers win on this point.

Written by Karen

April 10th, 2008 at 9:00 am

Posted in food