Ever Tried Black Garlic?

You know you’ve got a cooking problem when you see some new random ingredient in the supermarket and you just have to have it!

black garlic and mini chillies

I came across this the other day whilst looking for fennel seeds (keep an eye out for an excellent soup recipe coming soon) and I just couldn’t resist. It’s garlic that’s been aged, meaning the harsh flavours have mellowed leaving you with a sweet bulb of balsamicy, squishy goodness.

Seriously, this stuff is so nice I kept just biting bits off to chew. It’s just that morish. I decided to cook it with some chillies from the plant my friend gave me as a thank you for providing her with Spanish lessons (on CD that is. Me no hablo… or something like that), and I’m glad I did. The spiciness complimented the sweetness very well, though admittedly next time I’d use a few less chillies; Phew!

sweet and spicy pasta

I just fried some chopped onion, added the garlic and chillies (also chopped), chucked in a couple of sliced chestnut mushrooms, two diced tomatoes (some tomato puree) and a sprinkling of oregano – pausing between steps to let the previous ingredients cook – and that was it, job done. Simple huh?

Chuck that in with some al dente pasta et voila, there you have it, a bowl of nice simple flavours that compliment each other really well. If you get a chance to have a go with black garlic I highly recommend it. It has a unique taste that your palate will thank you for trying at least once.

Potting Triptych

Decided to get all green fingered, as the sun is out and it’s a Sunday. The result of my efforts are thus…

jamie pots

Someone got me a Jamie Oliver starter kit for Christmas. It’s a bit twee, but a pot is a pot, so I planted the basil it came with but swapped out the chives for some red chillies instead, as I already have some chives on the go.

lettuce

Decided to get some salad on the go again this year, as I always end up wasting half a bag when I buy any (not a big salad fan, but I do like the odd bit on me burgers). And just for laughs I got a pumpkin as well. Dunno how big it’ll turn out, but I hope it’s MASSIVE! 😉

windowsill

And finally my fairly well established windowsill. Only the coriander is new; the two mint plants, the chives, and the bonsai tree (not for eating, obviously) have been on the go for a while now. Gives me something nice to look at when I open my curtains in the morning.

Can’t wait ’til I get my own house with a proper garden, then I’ll have loads of veg on the go. Plus, some time soon, I’m going to start growing a dozen cherry trees so that one day, when I have my country home, I can use them to line the avenue leading down to the house. Then every year I can enjoy the gorgeous cherry blossoms that bloom, as well as harvesting the cherries to stick in my pies and muffins. That’d be awesome! 🙂

Lemon Dribble Cake

Ok, so I know it’s normally ‘drizzle’, but this really is more of a dribbley recipe. It’s funny, coz you end up with a sort of wet patch down the middle (stop giggling) but it kind of works. You’ll just have to try it to see what I mean.

lemon dribble cake

200g plain flour
170g margerine
170g unrefined cane sugar
Egg replacer equal to 2 eggs
2 tbsp water
30g ground almond
rind and juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 1lb baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Cream the marg and sugar. Add the flour and egg replacer, and 2 tbsp of water, and mix. Add the ground almonds and lemon rind and mix again.

Spread evenly into bottom of baking tin and put in oven for 50 minutes.

Once golden brown let cool slightly whilst whisking the icing sugar into the lemon juice (don’t worry about the odd lump).

Remove from tin, place on a chopping board (or something like that), and prick the cake all over before pouring over the icing sugar and lemon juice ‘dribble’. Let it soak for a second before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

lemon dribble cake, slice

With mine I found that there was a slight depression running the length of the cake, which allowed the sweet lemon juice to pool slightly before soaking into the cake. The creates the afore mentioned wet patch, which you can see in the slice above, but rather than being a problem I think it actually adds to the flavour/texture of the cake, setting it apart from others. I hope you do too. 🙂

A steep learning curve

Ok, so here’s what I’ve learnt from my first week of blogging:

1. Don’t make proclamations you want to be true but which never will be.

ie: I ain’t giving up booze. I could barely last a week without a drink. First thing I did when I got home yesterday was go out and buy some beer. Much as I would like to not need the odd drink now and then it just ain’t gonna happen, so let’s just deal with that fact and move on. Maybe one day, when I’m more spiritually enlightened I’ll pack in drinking, but not today.

The point is to not get bogged down in this stuff. Things like drinking, or listening to your iPod, are just tools for separating yourself from the world. Cocoons to hide in that keep you ‘safe’. That’s what I want to do less; less hibernation. I want to deal with the world more, not hide away. So that’s what I’m going to do, not a blanket ban on things, but just less, with more of other more constructive things taking their place. That should prove more effective than what I’ve been doing so far.

2. Don’t be a slave to your blog.

As the strangely rambling post below about Buddhism shows (now deleted because it was complete gibberish), whilst it’s ok to want to write something every day, some days you’re better off just leaving it ’til tomorrow, when you’ve got something to say. Or when you’re not on dial up. Or when you’re not getting interrupted every five minutes. Your blog deserves your full attention, but only when it’s convenient to you.

3. Focus, damn it; focus!

Your blog needs a goal. It’s no good to ramble on about whatever’s in your head, you need to have a clear purpose, otherwise why would people read it. So, with that in mind, here are the new blog/challenge rules, as of now:

First, this blog will last a year, starting January 1st 2010. By the end of it I will have

a, a home (bought, or rented, but out of town and with a decent view of some sort)

b, a new revenue stream (so I don’t have to spend my days broadcasting second rate porn to lonely Norwegians)

c, a missus (kids optional)

d, a car, and a dog (non-essential)

Since pretty much everything in life centres around money I’m going to focus a bit on that. I’m going to work on my script writing, the simplest way I have of making a lot of money quickly without major effort on my part. If I work every day I’m not working at my ‘real’ job, I should be able to do one every two months fairly easily, giving me 6 complete scripts in 12 months to approach agents/producers with.

I’m also going to work on veganising my favourite recipes, two a week, so by the end of the year I’ll have a fairly decent cook book of over a hundred recipes. Another possible money maker.

As well as these two ideas I’m also going to continue doing something new every week, as well as the odd random weekly/monthly challenge I’ll set myself just to spice things up a little and thereby increase my chances of meeting Miss Right. The results of all this I’ll be putting in my weekly report, published every Sunday, summarising the results of my actions.

I think that’ll do for a start. I’ve got the rest of the month to mess around with the format, fine tune it a bit, but come January we are good to go.

What to do, what to do

Just a quick missive. I’m at my parents’ place and all they’ve got is dial-up (Can you believe it? In this day and age!), and it’s so unbelievably slow if I don’t get off here soon I’m going to go mental. I hate waiting.

Figured out what my new thing will be this week. I’m going to travel first class. Ok, so it’ll be first class on a train (and a Virgin train at that) but still it’ll be first class; and I’ve never travelled first class before. I’ve pee’d out of a first class compartment window many years ago – which was no mean feat let me tell you, as it was one of those wee narrow slots at the top and I had to climb up and wedge myself against the ceiling and the top of the chair and the window frame to get ‘myself’ outside, and yes it was incredibly undignified out me, and really quite bizarre (and thank God no one came along to see me), but in my defence I was absolutely busting, all the toilets were occupied, and it was either that, in the carriage, or the emergency cord – but I’ve never sat there for the entire journey and lorded it up with the rest of the upper classes (in my head I’m travelling on a steam train in an Arthur Conan Doyle novel).

That’ll be on Saturday, so I’ve got to see what else I can amuse myself with between now and then. I’m going into town tomorrow to get the last of my Christmas shopping, so we’ll see what I can come up with.

Also, I have an idea for January. No details just yet, need to play this one quite close to my chest for the moment, but it’s something I’ve had a bit of success with before. Stay tuned.