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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!

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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?

Scallops! (That’s not an offal, you cry!)

4 Apr

I went to see my Mum in Norfolk yesterday and because I am her poor daughter, she gave me half a bag of her supermarket scallops as a treat. What a lovely Mum! On the way home (4 hour journey) I heard ‘Costing the Earth’ on Iplayer. The episode is linked below and looks at how the Southern Ocean around South Georgia has its fish stocks under the tightest supervision and control in the world.

Costing the Earth

As I was cooking tonight, I felt quite uneasy. What if I had through thoughtlessness and excitability, forgotten follow some of the first discoveries I made with this blog (ah, the eel episode)? Where was the packet? Under some DISGUSTING mank in the bin – not going there again. Quickly, I went to get my kindle to check my pdf of the Sustainable Fish Guide. Alas, my kindle broke on Monday and the new one isn’t set up for wireless yet. Now, my scallops are close to being overdone. Oh woe!

Reader, I ate them. With the promise to check about scallops in my engorged post-“Chilli Scallop and Pattypan Squash Pasta” coma. You’ll be glad to know, that the Marine Stewardship Council lists all the fish and seafood products that it lends its label to. The label looks like this.

Keep your eyes peeled for it – if you are at all concerned about whether your fish is sustainably sourced – if you’re not that’s OK too, but I hope you’ll start to notice it more over the coming years. The label means that the fish comes from a Marine Stewardship Council certificated fishery. This means that every fishery that wants the label must be a sustainable one. The guidelines go along the chain of sale, so a producer has to ensure that only MSC sustainable fish ends up, for example, in their fishcakes. I think this is all very interesting. However, one thing to bear in mind is this DOES NOT COVER FARMED FISH. However, I did read somewhere, that a mark of good fish farming practice is being introduced.

I was lucky. My scallops were from a MSC cerificated Tesco packet.

Phew!

The MSC website is very detailed. There is a page dedicated to scallops under the ‘Fish you can eat’ byline. What I am going to look out for now is that scallops I buy come from the Isle of Man. Food miles isn’t something I think about a huge amount (and I know I ought to), but I saw this new blog today from someone who is dedicating themselves to only eating British food for a year (including spices!). As a result I’m going to try and bear things like that more in mind. Eating, if you think about, is very complex!

There are lessons to be learnt from Alice! We should be more like Mother Oyster than the Walrus …