Christmas is all about giving and one day I hope I’ll be given a new kitchen for Christmas. I grew up in a kitchen with an Aga, a table where we ate all of our meals and a dresser made by my uncle. Compared to many kitchens today, this was a simple room, but it was the heart of the household. My kitchen is small and narrow with no possibility of a table, aga or companionable space. I get on with it as best I can, but this doesn’t stop me dreaming of a new kitchen.
I was lucky enough to grow up with an Aga in the house. This meant plenty of slow cooked meals. There’s something about slow cooking that really brings out the flavours and melds them into something richer and more flavoursome than the sum of the parts. These days, I only have an ordinary electric cooker, so I don’t tend to do much of that sort of cooking. At least I didn’t until I was sent a Von Shef slow cooker to try out. Those delicious childhood stews called to me and I knew I was very soon going to make a slow cooker vegetable stew.
This is a complete antidote to my last post for overnight oats. I might like to start my day in a healthy way, but as regular readers will know, I have a sweet tooth and like to indulge it from time to time. I’m not sure I can even claim there are any healthy components to these strawberry Marshmallow Fluff cookies, but my goodness they’re delicious.
Porridge was a breakfast mainstay when I was growing up and it’s given me a love of oats that’s never left me. I use them in porridge, in my smoothies and in baking. But I rarely think about soaking them overnight and having a bowl of raw goodness for breakfast. Bircher muesli or overnight oats, call them what you will, is another tasty addition to have in one’s breakfast repertoire.
When I lived in Leamington Spa many years ago, there was a captivating kitchen shop which I liked to wander around and dream of one day being able to buy some of the lovely things it held. Pastry forks and cake servers weren’t even on my radar then, but I did have my eye on some classic Arthur Price cutlery.
Yes I know Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Stir-up-Sunday is fast approaching. It falls on the Sunday before Advent which is the 22nd November this year. It’s traditionally the day when the Christmas puddings and cakes are made and when the family all take a turn at stirring, not forgetting to make that all important wish whilst they’re at it. So to get you in the mood and to offer a little inspiration for your Christmas baking, I made this fig almond cake yesterday with a very cheeky slug or three of whisky – Whisky Galore.
When I set banana as this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa, I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but with the run of wet weather we’ve been experiencing down in Cornwall over the last few days, I needed comfort and cheer. It had to be pancakes. Not just any old pancakes, but something a little luxurious which was also healthy, delicious and above all comforting, Banana pancakes it was then – with added ricotta.
When I was an intrepid eighteen year old, I took off to Switzerland to work, first in an hotel and then as an au pair. I’d never been there before and I didn’t speak the language, but throwing myself into the thick of it was a very effective way to learn French. Of the many culinary experiences I had there, chocolate aside, Bircher muesli was my favourite.