Thursday, February 14, 2008

You Can Never Hold Back Spring

I have dozens of recipe books but rarely actually follow a recipe..........I use them to get ideas or for advice to cook a particular ingredient properly and also for just a bit of light reading. It seems to get on peoples nerves when they ask where the recipe for something I cooked is and I can't tell them or when they ask how much garlic or ginger or somesuch is required and I say, "I don't know, just about enough". This is not because I am a culinary genius, but because I am a lazy bugger and can't be bothered to do things properly, which marks me out from Mark Booth, who has also turned up his nose at recipe books but has learned to do things properly.

He has written a good, lengthy article in the Independent on how he learned to cook after throwing all his recipe books away. There is also the small matter of spending a year at a cookery school in Paris, an option that isn't open to most of us, but, generally, I like the cut of his jib. My advice, which you can have for free, is this: look in the fridge, see what you have and make it nice, with whatever you have to hand. If a recipe calls for a strange ingredient that you don't have, omit it, you probably won't notice the difference. There are a thousand and one things you can do with a potato.

If you read the article, which is good, don't follow the link to his website, which is crap and literally, has nothing on it, other than the opportunity to buy his book. If you buy his book, do it via Amazon and go there via this blog; that will net me about 0.001p towards the camping trip to France fund. There is a link, on the left!

Talking of cutting corners, my eldest likes to cook, a bit, it's not a passion......... but he likes it, so he was looking forward to cooking lessons at his new school. His Pizza consisted of a Pitta Bread, topped with a generic, bought sauce and some grated cheese, which then went under the grill. Several corners cut too far there, I think.

Easy spud recipe of the day
Easy Dauphinoise
Take about 5 biggish spuds. Peel and slice, really thin, stick in a saucepan which contains about a pint and a quarter of a mixture of milk and cream, with a sliced clove of garlic and salt. Cook for ten minutes, chuck it all in an oven proof dish and bake for about 40 minutes at about 180. Voila.

The Blues beloved chairman, David Gold is in the news again, having described Gary Cahill as selfish for joining Bolton, rather than us. Who is Gary Cahill? You might well ask. Apparently we offered him a better deal than Bolton, but he chose to go there, only Chairman Dave can explain how taking less money can be construed as selfish, because it is beyond me. Yes this Dave, is the same Dave who has been all over the media loudly supporting the notion of the 39th game. He supports it for purely selfless, altruistic reasons, obviously, because he is not a selfish man.

The new(ish) Camilleri is brilliant, but is a lot darker in tone than we are used to, concerning as it does illegal immigration and the hardship and cruelty that is endured; he also has some harsh things to say regarding the government of the day. The overall feel though is as you would expect, Caterella, the best literary idiot since Schweik, is prominent and the wit is lacerating.

I am also reading "Out Stealing Horses" by Per Petterson, another book which I can recommend without reservation. Not much happens, but it is one of those books that you sink into, become immersed in. The writing, or the translation, is beautiful and I suppose it is a bit of an existential meditation on life..........who we are, what we are, and how we come to be who we are. It has some fairly profound thoughts on the way in which we see ourselves and the way in which others see us, and how none of it really matters. It won't raise many belly laughs, mind.

Also, I am reading Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey. I picked it up to flick through, get a flavour, and found myself 80 pages in. Carey's 12 year old nipper develops an interest in manga, so th old man takes him off to Japan, (as you do), where he meets several masters of their various crafts (as you do)ponders upon Japanese culture and enjoys a classic, slightly fraught relationship with his son. It rang many bells with me.

Believe it or not, I am also dipping in and out of a big biography of Joe Strummer. The jury is very much out on this.........the author seems a bit too fond of telling us how much Joe loved him, for my liking.
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