Category Archives: Main Course

Chicken Noodle Soup (or, Notes from the Pandemic)

IMG_20200414_135527767

Chicken Noodle Soup is always good for whatever ails you.

I recently learned that the Beaford Archive, in North Devon, is asking for help to document the day-to-day life of people’s experiences during the pandemic. They are looking for photographs which answer the question:  “What are you experiencing right now?”

Everyone’s setting will be different. You may be at home with children, or with your parents, or caring for someone. You may be a key worker, or helping the  neighbourhood, or working the land. All our lives are changing in ways great and small, and whatever you’re experiencing is worth saving and sharing with future generations.

I’m so pleased that they are doing this. The quotidian life is the one that we rarely see in history, but to me it is what makes history come alive. How people manage their day-to-day existence can be fascinating when you realise just how different it can be from town to town, country to country, century to century. Or in this case, month to month.

In our little corner of South Devon, we are more or less into our fourth week of lockdown (the kids, The Author, and I all started on different days), and we have been able to stay isolated and safe very easily. We are very lucky to be living in this beautiful, rural area, but the enforced seclusion has taken its toll on all of us in various ways. Noteworthy events from last week include:

Continue reading

Turkish Bulgur Salad (or, Necessity is the Mother of Invention)

Turkish Bulgur Salad with Poached Eggs

It’s been about two weeks now that my family have been in lock-down. We are hardly social at the best of times, so the enforced distancing, in our very rural neck of the woods, has meant very little to us. In fact, considering what is going on around the entire world, our lives here are embarassingly pleasant and trouble-free.

Oh don’t get me wrong, there have been some problems: the shops are out of the gin that The Author and I prefer, and we have resorted to a gin with fewer juniper notes. (I know!) And the lack of school for the kids (now actually all teenagers in various degrees of hormonal angst) means that The Author and I have to force them to go outside in the sunshine, otherwise I think they would moulder away with their phones in their withered hands.  Continue reading

Homemade Ravioli (or, Some Things Stay the Same, Pandemic or Not)

Unlimited time at home has had me making lists of projects to start (and hopefully finish) around the house. I’ve got plans for the utility room, the kitchen, the living room, the twins’ room, the garden… I also have ideas for how all five of us can productively spend our time, and you can imagine how thrilled the other four people in my family were to hear this.

But, as the saying goes, water seeks its own level, and I find we are mostly just pottering about doing what we always did: a little gardening, a little reading, a little binge-watching, some social media, some dog-walking, and – in my case – a whole lot of cooking. I can’t help myself; it’s what I love and what I do given enough time and a set of ingredients.

In this case the ingredients were 500g grams of delicious salad greens from Sarah at the Walled Garden that were reaching their last usable day, some bits of mozzarella that I had squirreled away in the freezer, and basic pantry ingredients that I always have on hand. Continue reading

Turkish Lamb Pizza & Moroccan Pickled Vegetables (or, How We Communicate)

lamb_pizza_and_pickled_veg

The Oldest has a penchant for hunting horns. None of us hunt, or even ride for that matter, but the horns have come in handy for one very specific reason: when the kids are outside mucking around, and the noise of the river is drowning out all means of communication, we blow on one of the horns, which can be heard all over the valley. Within minutes, the kids come swarming in from the fields. It’s amazing how well this works, and that they respond at all, being, er, at a certain age of independence.  Continue reading

Crespelle, Crêpes, Pancakes (just trust me)

SAM_5208

You know how sometimes – maybe all the time – you come home at the end of the day and the last thing you want to do is cook? And you know how, sometimes, if you make that little bit of effort with a dish you’ve been wanting to make, it’s all worth it?

Well, this might not be that dish.

First of all, perhaps I should tell you what this dish is: a combination of light and flavourful crespelle (aka crêpes or pancakes) rolled with three types of cheese and whatever garden green you have going at the moment. Then the whole thing is baked together, which doesn’t seem like it should be as good as it is, but it is.

In fact, it’s great; I will not lie to you. Continue reading

Stuffed Onions (or, My Roman Holiday)

Sourdough bread

The inspiration for an entire cuisine.

The five of us recently spent 9 days in Rome. Highlights included gelato (as many as four times a day, some days); poking around the Forum trying to find artefacts; the energy of our neighbourhood, Monti, where on the first night we were bemused by the presence of a klezmer band marching up and down the street playing Hava Negelia, and the buzz continued from there; the Colosseum, both in the day and at night, when – as The Son wrote in his journal – “It is a marvel, lit up like a golden monument”; and the constant and abundant supply of good food and wine. The Author also had the opportunity to meet a couple of fellow writers, which is not an easy thing to do when you work from home and have a solitary craft. And I managed to cook for a morning at a restaurant in Eataly.

Leaving one kitchen in one country to go work in another kitchen in another country might not be everyone’s idea of a holiday, but that’s just the kind of gal I am. Anyway, it wasn’t intentional. Continue reading

Aubergine Rolls with Goat Ricotta & Basil Sauce

SAM_0976

When I was growing up, in Vermont, one saying that I particularly loved hearing on the weather reports, especially in the summer, was that we were in for “good sleeping weather.” That means cool but not cold, maybe just the perfect temperature for having the window open and a cosy blanket to snuggle in.

That window of opportunity for good sleeping weather is surprisingly small in our little north-eastern state, where the annual temperature range is anywhere from -30C to 35C, and on a daily basis the weather can change from an idyllic sunny day to a blustery, gale-force storm. So Vermonters also have another saying: If you don’t like the weather….wait a minute.

The same could be said Continue reading

15 August 2015

Polenta with Fresh Garden Ragout and Goat Cheese (GF)
Braised Cannellini Beans (GF, V)
Fresh Pickled Mushrooms (GF, V)
Garden Salad & Vinaigrette (GF, V)

(Dishes that have a link to a recipe will be underlined. The others will – hopefully – have recipes coming soon!)

14 August 2015

Garden Minestrone with Basil Cashew Pesto (V)
Old Fashioned Potato Salad (GF)
Cabbage, Fennel & Mint Salad (GF, V)
Caramelised Onion Bread (V)
Triple Chocolate Cookies

(Dishes that have a link to a recipe will be underlined. The others will – hopefully – have recipes coming soon!)

Aubergine Fritters (or, Fritters of Harmony)

SAM_0986

Napkin rings – my new peace-keeping weapon.

With five of us in a very small house, things can get what you might call a little hectic. As I write, The Poppet is rollerskating around and around the table. “You’re going to have to stop going round and round in circles like that,” I say to her, and she responds, “I’m going in hexagrams.” Well, at least she’s learning something.

At dinner time, a time that The Author and I look longingly toward every day – anticipating a good meal, a well-deserved glass of wine, and some scintillating talk – the three topics of conversation that the kids want to engage in are: 1. miscellaneous facts and questions about The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings; 2. what it is about this particular meal that they don’t like; and 3. who took whose napkin.  Continue reading