Stuffed Gould.

Thursday 5th July 2012

I’d like to start by saying that it wasn’t my fault!

I pulled this meal together with some bits that were left over in the fridge. A handful of basmati rice that had been in there since Saturday. Some fried white cabbage with onion & bacon that we ate with a fish supper on Sunday. The pork mince came from the freezer & ok, I did leave it on the kitchen top for a couple of hours to finish thawing, but it was wrapped & it smelt good. And finally, the brie which had been ripening nicely for the past month.

I was really pleased with myself for being able to pull a well balanced meal together without having to work too hard for it so I was rather deflated when my son, Zephyrus, brought the whole lot up about 30 minutes after it had gone down.

My wife & I hadn’t eaten ours as we weren’t hungry after a big lunch, so obviously my first thoughts turned to my thrifty choices of ingredients.

I’ve always been super aware that something should be in date & smell right, that is up until a few years ago when I realise that a yoghurt is more likely to survive a nuclear attack than I am & that being one day out of date doesn’t necessarily make food inedible.

Here in Spain, there has been a significant increase in the amount of people rummaging through the supermarket waste in search of food. It used to be the squatters who were waist deep in the plastic bins fishing out the out-of-date produce but more often than not, now you can see pensioners getting in on the action. It’s not unusual for a bounty to contain bottles of beers, legs of meat, bread, cakes & I’ve even seen packs of bottled water being liberated from the containers.

My limited understanding of the matter is simple; there is no shame in recycling, only in waste. But it’s one thing to see fit, young, healthy kids choosing a lifestyle that involves living in abandoned properties & scavenging through bins for whatever treasures they can find, to seeing old people doing it out of necessity. I guess this is one of the many indications that we are indeed, in a world recession.

But I digress.

Anyway, the boy made it through the night & woke up as hungry as a horse the next day. A day off school & some TLC seemed to raise his spirits. I tentatively ate my stuffed gould for lunch the next day & it was delicious.

So you see, it wasn’t my fault!

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Posted in Dinner, Pork, Rice | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Roasted Camembert with Deep Fried Pitta Bread.

Tuesday 19th June 2012

As far as I’m concerned, I only ever had one Grandad. He was my Mum’s Dad.

Bill, my Grandad, fought in the Second World War & as a result, suffered very badly with nerves. He would often be brought to tears for no apparent reason but by all accounts, in his youth, he wasn’t a posed to fighting for somebody’s honour during his lunch break in the pub, before returning to work for the afternoon. A real dichotomy.

My Dad’s Dad was briefly known as Grandad before being refereed to as ‘Dad’s Dad’. The reason for this being that as we didn’t see him for many years, I never had a relationship with him. Therefore it didn’t seem right to give someone I didn’t know the grand title of Grandad.

From the off we decided that Zephy’s grandparents, on my side, would be known as Avi & Iaia (Granddad & Grandma in Catalan). Firstly to differentiate them from Grandad & Grandma, on my wife’s side but also to make it easier for him to speak more fluently about his family with friends rather than having to translate.

At first it took a bit of getting used to but after time my English relatives have taken on these foreign words & use them as freely as they would the name…

Zephyrus!

It’s important for kids, & boys especially, to have positive male influences in their lives who nurture, influence, sculpt, guide & generally take an interest in them. These are big boots to fill. But both Zephy & I have had the great fortune to have just that. Me, an unconditionally loving father & Zephy, a thoughtful & caring Avi. Even if he doesn’t realize or appreciate it right now, he will.

“Dad, can have something sweet please?” Zephy asked poking his head around the kitchen door.

“No, if you wait 3 minutes I’m going to bring you & Avi an aperitif.” I told him dropping the last four quarters of pitta in the frier.

He moved in closer to inspect what was already cooling on a piece of kitchen towel.

“What these?” He enquired.

“Yeah, with a whole roasted Camembert.” I said fishing out the remaining four pieces.

With this he ran back to the tv room with a skip in his stride.

“I’m getting an aperitif!” He relayed to Avi excitedly rubbing his hand together.

Happy Father’s Dad. You are priceless.

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Posted in Afternoon Snack, Bread, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Banana Muffins with Vanilla Butter Icing.

Tuesday 5th June 2012

“How time flies!” Is a phrase that meant nothing to me until I had my son, Zephyrus. The whole idea of time passing faster than is desired was an alien concept. Since then I’ve watched it rush towards me at a frightening rate. It feels like only yesterday that I was bathing him in our make-shift bath, which was an inflatable dinghy, in a dimly lite room or running along side him while he rode his bike for the first time. Indeed, how time flies!

Our story started one hot & barmy night at the end of May when my wife broke her waters around midnight. He had obviously spent long enough in Mum’s tummy & wanted out. After a nail biting taxi ride, a very tiring few hours for my wife & an impotent few hours for me, a shrivelled up new born baby was placed in my arms. He had skin too big for his body & a mass of black hair.

For the next few days the three of us huddled together to comfort each other through cracked nipples, ravenous hunger & constipation. And that was just me! After 3 days & nights in the cold hospital environment we were granted our freedom.

It was stormy & beginning to rain outside as we swept our beautiful baby boy into an awaiting taxi, both of us vexing about whether we should put the seat belt around the boy or not.

On arrival at our now family home, we exhales & shed a little tear as we placed our sleeping bairn on the sofa.

We had done it!

Now all we had to do was navigate our way through the next 50 odd years without traumatising him too much. Failing that, there’s always therapy!

These were the cakes I made for his birthday party. But as you may already know, Zephy isn’t mad keen on cakes so we decided that if we put a sweet on top of the cake he might be enticed into trying one. But alas no. He just ate the sweet & left the cake on the plate. But a day later he told me that one of his friends at the party had commented on how delicious they were.

“Did you save one for me?” He asked while we were reading bedtime books.

“Yeah, I think there’s one one out there for you. Would you like it now?” I asked eagerly.

A few minutes later he was noisily scoffing his cupcake in my ear.

“That…” He said pausing for effect. “is lovely!” He continued.

Happy days. :)

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Posted in Dessert, Eggs, Vegetarian | Tagged | 3 Comments

Stir-fry Noodles with Tofu.

Tuesday 22nd May 2012

In complete contrast to my last post here is a meat-free, dairy-free, vegan meal packed full of veggies with a creamy ginger & coconut milk sauce. Yum!

Last Monday morning.

“Dad, can we have noodles for dinner?” My son, Zephy, asked.

He had decided, on this Monday morning, at 8.30am, during the walk to school, that he wanted to eat noodles for dinner later that night.

“Not today, because I’ve already got dinner sorted for tonight but I’ll try & sort something out for in the week.” I told him.

For the last four weeks (& the foreseeable future!) I’ve been going through physiotherapy for a persistent adhesive capsulitis. The therapy session starts at exactly the same time that we would all be sitting down for dinner so I’ve been trying to prepare our evening meals at various times during the day so that when we arrive home from football practice or whatever it is we are doing that day, all I have to do is warm it through & serve up before dashing off to rehab. This takes some organisation on my behalf. So as all the prep needs to done beforehand, the one pot meal has become the order of the day. Unfortunately the meal Zephy was requesting needed to be cooked fresh, to order.

Tuesday evening walking back from football practice.

“Hurry up!” I said. “Put your foot down! I’ve got to get back to put dinner on.”

His eyes light up.

“Oh yeah, we’ve got noodles tonight, haven’t we?” He asked slowly losing his smile as he noticed I was grimacing.

“Eh no, not tonight big guy.” I guiltily replied.

“Oh Dad! You said!”

“I don’t have time on Tuesdays sorry. I’ll sort it out for Thursday, ok?” I said trying to placate his disappointment.

“Thursday!” He exclaimed. “That’s ages away. Why can’t you do it tomorrow?”

“Mummy cooks on Wednesdays, doesn’t she? Because I get back late. I’ve got more time on Thursday, I’ll do it then.” I promised him.

The heat was on. I had to come up with the goods or be labelled a nominal father for the rest of my life.

Thursday morning, I spent the hour I have free sourcing the various ingredients I needed. Water chestnuts, tofu, coconut milk, noodles, veg & coriander. I then spent the other hour I have in the afternoon, before ferrying him to various clubs, chopping it all up, making the garlic & ginger paste & portioning the raw ingredients into 3 separate bowls ready to throw together when we arrived home.

After school on Thursday.

“Come on dude! We’ve got to get our freak on tonight ‘cos I’ve gotta cook dinner before I go out.” I informed him striding ahead.

“Have we got noodles?” He asked eagerly doing a half run half walk thing behind me.

“Yup!” I replied grinning.

I threw together two steaming bowls of noodles at lightening speed, announced I was leaving & ran out the door leaving my wife & Zeph in the middle of the bath routine.

When I returned an hour later, I spied two very empty bowls just where I had left them.

“How did the noodles go down big guy?” I asked poking my head around the bedroom door amidst story time.

“Yeah good…thanks.” Came the reply.

Evidently, a way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach.

*Footnote: Just before going to press I asked Zephy what made him want noodles that day.

“I don’t know. It’s just that my brain & my taste buds were telling me that that was what I fancied.” He explained earnestly.

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Posted in Dairy-Free, Dinner, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Liver & Bacon with Onion Gravy.

Tuesday 15th May 2012

I’ve had the fortune, or the misfortune as a certain vegeterian may comment ;) , to try some rather unorthodox foods in my life. Some of which have been appreciated more than others. An entire tête de veau took a bit of stamina to get through whereas the barbecued chitterlings, served with chips, were something I’d gladly eat again.

Once I’d ditched my pseudo-vegetarian beliefs back in ’94’ anything animal based was fair game & I worked my way through all of these with gusto. Crispy pig’s ears, barbecued shark, devil’s kidneys, stuffed lamb’s hearts, cold tongue, roasted snails, foie gras, pig’s trotters, baked goat, crocodile, pig’s cheeks, goose barnacles, deep fried lamb’s brain, bone marrow, tripe in milk, ox tail, emu, lark’s tongues, wren’s liver, jaguar’s spleen, chaffinch brains & jaguar’s earlobes… Ok, that was a joke! I’ve never tried ox tail. I nearly had you there though, didn’t I. :)

When feeding a child, as I do everyday, there is a temptation to trick them into eating certain foods. Whether it be by smothering it in ketchup, mashing it out of all recognition or just plain lying.

So far, we’ve not had to employ any of these tactics to get my son, Zephyrus, to eat but I remember very clearly when I was a child, & we still joke about it now, telling my 5 year old brother that we were eating Chinese food when in fact we were eating Indian food & visa versa. He was obviously trying to regain some control over what he ate & decided that he wasn’t keen on either Indian food or Chinese food. His only problem was, that he couldn’t remember which one he wasn’t supposed to like. We would just inform him each time that it was actually the other one that he didn’t like & with that he seemed satisfied to chow down on whatever was on his plate.

Thankfully, my wife & I have successfully navigated our way thought the minefield of food persnicketiness by, amongst other things, telling Zephy what it is he is eating.

“Is that the guts Dad?” Zephy asked as I was washing the liver.

“No, you can’t eat the guts of an animal. Although you can eat most other parts.” I told him. “It’s liver.”

I watched his face for any signs of a curling nose or a turned up lip but nothing came.

“Can I touch it?” He enquired.

“Yeah,” I said plonking a wet blubberous pieces of liver in the palm of his hand. “What d’ya think?” I asked.

“Yeah, very good.” He said handing it back & running off.

He obviously wasn’t fazed by what he saw because he managed to polish off everything on his plate at dinner.

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Posted in Dairy-Free, Dinner, Pork, Potatoes | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Toasting Marshmallows.

Tuesday 8th May 2012

Everyone loves a bonfire, right? Then I’m no different. But they’re not what they used to be 30 odd years ago.

Back in the day, we were able to blaze up at anytime of the day or night as long as the neighbour’s washing wasn’t out on the line or, at least, if the wind wasn’t blowing in their direction!

We had a patch of grass at the bottom of Mum & Dad’s garden that was left to overgrow, where we lite our fires. In those days, it was standard practice to dispose of anything in the flames from newspapers & broken down cardboard boxes to empty plastic coke bottles & metal tin cans. Literally the whole rubbish bag was fair game. In fact I have a battle scar on my thigh from an airborne shard of burning plastic that managed to land on my bare legs.

Ah, the 70s. ;)

Cooking on the pyre was difficult, owing to the noxious fumes, but not impossible. There was always space for a few foil wrapped potatoes to be thrown into the embers to be retrieved later, shrivelled & nigh on inedible. Nevertheless, we would smother them in butter & eat the charred remains.

Marshmallow, on the other hand, had to be regulated a bit more intensively & so were taken indoors to be toasted by the open fire on long silver skewers. Whereupon my sisters & I would set about cremating our fluffy, cloudlike delights.

Thankfully, some things in life have changed for the better. Gone are the days of only having one rubbish bin in the corner of the kitchen & the liberal attitude towards pyromania in your own back garden. But through it all, the marshmallow has risen from the flames (Honestly, I couldn’t have made that up if I had tried.) & claimed its rightful place as the toasting aliment of choice.

Zephy came up with this idea as we were walking around the supermarket. We all ate them as an afternoon snack. Well, I say we, but after a couple of slightly over-cooked ones he decided that I should eat any he didn’t like the look of, which meant quite a lot.

The single-flamed candle is the best I could do at such short notice. :)

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Posted in Afternoon Snack, Dairy-Free, Dessert, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cheese Icing.

Tuesday 1st May 2012

My beautiful wife has just completed her 42nd year on this mortal coil. This is what I baked to celebrate the occasion.

It’s rare that I bake a cake. Apart from the fact that my baking acutraments leave something to be desired, 2 out of 3 of us in residence aren’t that fussed about cake. Having said that, a birthday is not complete without one & so around this time every year I root out my hand-me-down rusty cake tins & set about making birthday cakes.

Zephy used to take in a cake to celebrate at school which was quite a challenge as it had to be enough for 50 kids (2 classes) but they put a stop to that after only but a few years. It has now been whittled down to two. One for celebrating with friends & another with family.

Last year I made a Barcelona FC flag for him & his friends.

“How did the cake go down?” I enquired.

He generally has a picnic in the park after school on a Friday which means I can’t attend as I work late that night.

“Yeah, good.” He replied not making eye contact with me.

“Really!” I said taken aback, knowing that he doesn’t usually lavish such high praise on a baked good.

“Well,” He continued. “I didn’t actually have any myself,”

“Oh.” I said looking down with a little too much disappointment.

“But everybody else did & they loved it.” He consoled touching my hand.

Blessed are the meek. 1:50

He did, however, manage to force down a slither of Mummy’s though.

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Posted in Dairy-Free, Dessert, Eggs, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 3 Comments