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What to do if you don’t like offal

30 Dec

This whole journey has been about me trying to make a change in my life, to balance what I saw as something wrong with how I viewed and ate meat. I am eating offal for a year to balance out my ‘meat debt’. I’m lucky. I like offal. Some people (some friends amongst them) don’t. I thought it was about time I did a post for YOU. My valiant readers who follow what I’m doing even though you don’t like looking at the web page.

I believe there are two important parts to eating meat. The philosophy you use and the practicality behind it.

In the western world we are all  used to eating meat when we want and pretty much however much of it we want. As an undergraduate student I regularly bought the well cheap mince and chicken in the packets in the supermarket, making the excuse of “I’m poor, I can’t afford quality meat”. What I was eating was from badly looked after animals, filled with artificial drugs and probably killed in an unfriendly abattoir where their bodies filled full of fear hormones just before their death. Not very tasty. What I didn’t realise was that BEANS, LENTILS and CHICKPEAS are all much cheaper and also excellent sources of protein. If you’re using the poverty excuse, I have done too, and appreciate it. However think about how you can shop differently …

There’s the psychological factor there as well – if it doesn’t have meat in it, it’s not a meal. Going off to uni for the first time, I would have probably agreed. Now I think a meal can be whatever you want it to be.

My offal journey has been over for a while now – but the changes I made have continued on – I eat much less meat in general and have a “think twice” rule while shopping – it goes something like this (in my stream-of-consciousness). “I really fancy mince, where am I? Morrisons. I’m not buying the frozen mince.  [First though] Hmmm. The fresh mince looks dubious. Sweaty. Sweaty mince. Sweaty, unhappy mince from animals I don’t know where from and where they died. Do I really want mince? I probably just want protein. What other protein would I like? [Second thought] Tofu? Not today! Quorn? Quorn mince exists. Bolognaise is back on the menu.”

My lasting advice would be to always think twice about what you put in your body.

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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:

Image

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!

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!

The versatility of Cold Oxtail – part 2

18 Sep

In the part the first, we saw an ox tail ramen soup made purely from the ox tail stock. You can find that post here. It was of course concerned with the stock. Now we turn our salivating attention to the meat. Lovely, sticky, cardomanny, tamarindy meat.

The reson I decided to cook an ox tail and eat it cold was due to the paucity of cold offal snacks available to your average offaltarian. Do you ever see kidney sandwiches in the supermarket? No. Is there a liver salad waiting to be dressed in the chilled cabinet? No. I work. Sometimes I get tired of cheese sandwiches. Or tongue sandwiches (also packets of cold pressed tongue are phenomenally expensive – 75p per slice – I’m not Midas). Anyway you don’t get pre-made tongue sandwiches in Leeds.

So, to cold lunches. Salad. And ox tail. Ox tail salad. Lordy lordy! I was well addicted to ox tail salad for a while.

Here is one salad I made. I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by telling you how to make a salad. This one was based around spinach, broad beans, oxtail and a stale packet of mixed nuts.

Here is a tupperware salad, made of spinach, coleslaw mix and ox tail.

The secret behind these salad is of course the dressing. This I will tell you about, at length and naturally in excruciating detail, for my laws on salad dressing are Gospel.

The joke is, my dressings are pretty easy. Oil (I use Neals Yard Beauty Oil) which is a blend of hemp, avocado, flax seed, pumpkin seed and evening primrose oils. I think it tastes really nice. Then I use usually either lemon or lime juice. And I’ll add maybe some garlic, or some harissa, maybe mustard!

This summer I got well into flavouring my own vinegars! The idea first came to me on the old herb course as vinegars are another traditional way to preserve the qualities of medicinal herbs. I didn’t make any medicine-grade vinegars, but I did make strawberry vinegar, thyme vinegar and honeysuckle vinegar. Now I’m adept at the vinegar-making, I’m going to make some Autumn vinegars too – bramble and elderberry are on the list.

Again, it’s another fancy thing that’s really simple to do. For the strawberry vinegar, you add some strawberries to some cider vinegar, leave it on the windowsill for a week then strain. For the honeysuckle a couple of weeks. For the thyme one month. Strain and bottle.

Ox tail salads, in their infinite variety, are IMMENSE. Next time you buy one, reserve some meat and eat it cold. Yumyumyum!

Venison Liver and Holistic Cauliflower

15 Sep

Less of a post, more of  a handy hint: did you know that venison liver is awesome? Try it. I got mine from Round Green Farm at the Kirkstall Farmers Market and it is SUPER TASTY. I’ve eaten it before and always look out for it. The simplest way to cook it is to flour it all over and then fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Did you know that you can eat the leaves of cauliflowers as well as the florets? I didn’t and I come from the Land of the Brassica (tip courtesy of the lovely lady a B Whiteleys Vegetables). Don’t eat the woody tough bit that runs down the middle of the leaf, but the floppity leaf bits at either side. I snipped them away with scissors and them steamed them briefly. Lovely, cabbage but not, if you will. I’m sure this is old hat to some people, but it was flash of enlightenment for me! What other overlooked leaves can you eat?

I also made a cauliflower cheese. What a nice dinner! I do like going to the Kirkstall Market …

And I’ve been on the radio too …

2 Aug

5.45 On BBC Radio Leeds:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00vq6g9/Andrew_Edwards_01_08_2012/

a less fine hour was on the breakfast show when my phone went strange, but still …

7.48 ish

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00vq6g1/Martin_Kelner_01_08_2012/

UPDATE:

Radio 1010 Newstalk in Toronto – the clip has a picture to make it easier to upload: