I’m so hungry, I could eat a …

11 Feb

Horse?

Several people have asked me recently about the HORSE MEAT SCANDAL, since it appears I’ve started to be known as “the offal lady”. What do I think? I’m not bothered about eating horse (however it appears that all these horses were actually PETS and that makes me quite sad). Horse is delicious. Findus pancakes are delicious. Am I the only person to see a common denominator?

However, naughty huge companies shouldn’t lose track of their labelling, whether through translation, a lack of sticky tape, or a Blind Eye. They make enough money to have better quality control. The thing that keeps striking me was summed up on the news:

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Yup, that’s a map of Europe that various meat parcels have travelled across. The number of hands it all passed through increases the likelihood of a mess-up considerably.

I think the whole thing is the best advert for choosing a reputable butcher and going and choosing your own meat and then making your own food at home. Convenience food is convenient, but delicious as crispy pancakes are, you can make proper pancakes in the time it takes them to bake!

KFC

29 Jan

Dear Offallygood Friends,

I ate it. I had the most delicious chicken bucket EVER. It was very tasty.

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The wrapped packages are corn on the cobs! Obviously, the flash wasn’t on. Ooops!

Below: Obligatory GET IN FACE SHOT …

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In all seriousness, now that I’m back to eating meat. Like not feeling guilty about having lasagne with mince, or chicken thighs. I feel a bit bad. I’m pretty sure the cows that died for my Morrisons lasagne didn’t live a skippy-happy life. Don’t get me wrong – it is delicious, but the sour taste in my mouth comes from ethics. Perhaps Offfallygood has turned me vegetarian after all?

One idea I am nursing is to be vegetarian all week, then eat some well-chosen meat at the weekend. Maybe from a meat box that we freeze?

To me, I just don’t feel very happy with this carnivorous liberty I have now. I don’t want really to eat meat that I’m not confident in. I guess the legacy I have now is much more of a conscience about food. I started out to relieve my offal debt – and I have totally done that pound for pound – however I do feel much more a responsibility to make low-impact choices, to try and live increasingly respectfully and to try and offset decisions I feel are neccessary but bad.

I’m sure lots of people already live this way, but all this blog has ever been is a chronicle of journey. The offal year has closed. I’m looking forward to the future, but won’t need to share it as often. Yes I have a few drafts that I’ll be sending out and when I cook my penis, you’ll be the first to know, but for now this is a offally grateful, offally humble, AU REVOIR.

 

P.S. In case you’re worried – my vegetarian cooking is just as experimental as my offal cooking – tonight Triple* Celery and Walnut soup.

*celery, celery seeds and celeriac … I love celeriac

 

Happy New Year

4 Jan

Well, December slid by didn’t it? My last month of offaltarianism morphed (mostly) into vegetarianism. I think I just got a bit tired of being inventive. I fell back to random tomato based curries and soups. I did invent a new soup to get around the fact I couldn’t use bacon in a brussel sprouts soup – Brussel and Anchovy Soup. Much more delicious than I thought it would be!

I had two Christmas dinners: with my family in Norfolk we had a big chicken, so I had a wing (thanks Anissa); then in Leeds with my partner and his son we had sausages. Getting others to agree to an offal Christmas dinner was harder than I had anticipated! I introduced a friend to the joys of chicken liver curry (the livers marinated in pomegranate juice … mmmm mmmm), but mostly I made the most of my veg box and as it got closer to the festive season, tried to make toblerone the major component of every meal.

So what now? To be honest, I don’t really know. I have eaten only offal for a year. I have relieved my offal debt. I can return to how I was eating before?

I won’t. My whole year of experiences has made me think much much more about what I put in my body. In this flush of eating what I like, I’ve scoffed a lot of bacon and am planning KFC VERY SOON. I’m excited to roast a chicken one weekend. Once this flush is over – what then?

I did have the idea of trying to only eat meat where I knew exactly where it came from. In a way, that is so much harder than just eating offal. Questioning people? Conversing, rather than mumbling “I’ll have two kidneys please” – not sure about that. When we’ve got our shed sorted and a chest freezer purchased I do want to buy a whole/half animal and eat it across a year. Not yet though …

So Happy New Year! I’m still cogitating on my offal journey and how it will impact on the rest of my life. Please look through the archives – I’ll be adding some outstanding ones including Homemade Haggis over the coming months. Enjoy offal. It is delicious. Respect the animals by eating it too. I would be well pissed off if I was killed for my meat and then my heart was passed over – wouldn’t you?

This and That

29 Nov

Please don’t think I’ve not been busy in the kitchen! I have, I promise, but the offal has been a bit of a slow burner lately. Health issues and a natural inclination to scale the offal feasting back, mean that mostly we’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian food. Yeah! If you know me personally, you could see that as a Bad Thing – mostly because of my epic curried parsnip in white sauce episode. Kind of gross.

Yet, lately I’ve not managed to curdle white sauce with a parsnip. I did make some AMAZING parsnip burgers:

That’s parsnip and fenugreek burger, on a layer of red pepper and walnut pesto what I did make too!

I’ve also learnt how to keep my kale perky:

That’s right – kept in a pint glass of water in the door of the fridge, it keeps for BARE TIME. You also get new tiny baby kales growing in the middle and they are just so cute. So cute.

And that Waitrose labels the fish that is sustainable that it sells! I felt same eating these fishcakes.

I would like all fishes to have this label. BUT it is confusing because I saw some cod with that label (aparently it was a very specific cod catching area and method) AND cod is meant to be almost an endangered species. I still won’t eat cod. I don’t think you should eat any endangered species, even if the bit of it you’re eating isn’t. That’s why I don’t like to eat tuna nowadays. Some tunas are worse off than pandas.

I also thought people might be interested in my CURRENT BEST INGREDIENTS. Only capitals will do. I have phases in my cooking. The blood phase. The lovage phase. The aromatherapy oils in cooking phase. Some of these are with me long time – neroli in the Christmas cakes as we speak. Others – like lovage – are waiting for Spring. The blood phase, well, I will make black pudding and I will make it soon. The point is these are my current favourite things and if you have the (mis)fortune to dine chez moi, these things will probably be in the dishes. Maybe all together, maybe separately, who knows? I’ll keep you guessing.

So there’s Herby Salt from Dilston Physic Garden, Fenugreek seeds which are apparently a cholesterol buster and Nomu dukkah which I got in FPP parcel. I know there’s a lot of talk about how salt isn’t healthy and YOU’RE RIGHT, but we do need salt for our bodies to work and I reckon having a bit of lovely delicious salt used in either the cooking or the condimenting bit, you’ll be OK. Don’t eat it by the spoon though. Personally I find it quite strange ‘using salt’ because I grew up cooking without it (aged grandparents) and it wasn’t until recently that I began. Now I’ve flavoured some of my own salts: lovage salt, juniper and orange salt, rosemary and lavender salt. All are good. I’m working on an ‘Asian’ salt currently! Fenugreek has a lovely gentle curry flavour. I also love how knobbly the seeds are, like potatoes for Borrowers. The dukkah is basically ground up nuts and spices and I can’t wait to start making my own when this is used up. You sprinkle it on whatever you want – soup, stew, vegetables, burgers, all the things. A word of warning though: if you put it on everything, all the time, don’t be surprised that everything tastes the same. It is pretty powerful stuff!

If you’re missing me talking about fresh and juicy offal. Don’t worry, the offal is rising and I’m defrosting an ear as we speak!

Serious Business

28 Nov

It turns out that writing about sustainable eating is a serious business!

I’ve been invited to give a talk VERY SOON. I was invited by the Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute. You can find all the deatils here and if you find yourself in Chelmsford on Monday 3rd December – please feel free to come along!

If you’re a regular reader, let me know if there’s anything I *need* to include … Topics I’m going to trot through include why I took this journey up, the changes I’ve had to make (Arthur the pig’s head will undoubtedly make an appearance) and why it is important for us to all think in an engaged manner about what we put in our bodies!

 

 

Six weeks left!

15 Nov

I realised today that I had six weeks and four days left in my offal adventure. I’m pretty amazed that the end is drawing so close so quickly. I still have posts to write up and projects in the pipeline. I even still have offal to try! The offal freezer drawer is two thirds full still. Decisions, decisions …

What I am doing today is sharing the things I’m going to try and make in December (once I have my job applications, lectures and articles out of the way). Really I want to pick your brains, avid reader, and see if there’s anything I’ve left out.

  • BRAINS … I’m not a zombie (and I not sure I get the zombiefication of popular culture), but I do want to eat some brains. I think maybe a venison brain? If not it will have to be a pig brain.
  • PIG STOMACH: the Tripe Shop in Leeds market sells them. You’re meant to eat them dressed in salt and vinegar. That seems like ultimate offal to me. I do however, enjoy a challenge. If I eat them all can I call myself a Yorkshirewoman?*
  • CURED KIDNEY – so I am made pancetta, and am clearly now a curing goddess. I’m going to try and salt some kidney. I don’t know where that will take me, but I’m willing to find out.
  • Real MINCEMEAT. I don’t think that’s particularly offal, but it is pretty medieval. And festive. And I love Christmas. I *will* get unbearable; I like the John Lewis adverts; I own TWO Christmas jumpers (not even ironically).

What else? What else have I discussed and tweeted and forgotten to write down? What would YOU do, if you were me?
And just to get you in the mood, here’s a photo from two years ago, of me getting intimate with the YULETIDE BEEF …

 

*I would never do that. I am totes Lincolnshire, through and through.**

**I hope my insides don’t look like the inside of Lincolnshire which would be mostly brussel sprouts, sausages and illegalr migrant workers.

 

Noffal

8 Nov

Noffal means Not Offal, which is a term I coined when I was shopping today. I posted last about losing my offal mojo, but trying to not make a big deal out of it. Some people were concerned that I was abandoning my project and had hunkered down to steakdom. Don’t worry. Let me alay your fears. I’m still not eating regular meat – but am probably now an ethical pescatarian (?) – what I mean by that is I will eat fish, but only ones classed as 1,2 or 3 on the Marine Conservation list. Tuna is out. Cod is out. Tilapia is IN LIKE FLYNN. I am also dipping my toe into tofu and its philosophy.

Tofucianism has been a concern of mine since I heard a BBC Radio 4 food programme that discussed the impact of soya on the world. It was bad. I had tofu guilt. Basically soya is produced in a lot of developing countries who cut down their natural resources (like rainforest) to make room for the soya. Most of the soya, however, does not go to Alpro (who say they use sustainable soya) but to make cheap animal feed – particularly for cattle. This concerns me because basically I don’t want to be the wanker at the farmer’s market asking producers if they feed their cattle soya. Minefield. But a very thought provoking programme, which you can still listen to here.

So, what was in my shopping basket today? (One Sunday paper always used to have a feature where they judged  the celebrity by their shopping basket – so judge me? Or informed opinions on what else I could be doing please)

I also bought some anchovies in oil. What keeps striking me in my use of the sustainable fish list is how you have to be really sure of the geographical area of where your fish come from. With anchovies, you should only have them from the Bay of Biscay, not from the Portugese coast or the north-east atlantic. Equally, the fishing method is important. If you search for salmon – sea caught salmon is a no-no, but organic open net farmed is a 1. (I am still learning about farmed fish, and understand that there are a lot of concerns, but bear with me as I am a beginner.)

Sausages are allowed. An initial straw poll asked the question and the answer was a majority YES, because of course traditionally sausages were where all the BITS were used up.

The other thing that has been inspiring my Noffaltarian flight of fancy is my weekly veg box. I may do one of those ‘look at my veg box posts’ in a bit, but at the moment, suffice to say, I like it. I always have veg now. No excuse.

So what other vegitarian/fruitarian/raw/vegan treats am I missing out on?

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