Not Quite Normal

Beer bread November 20

I've been reading an excellent blog about beer and bread which has inspired me to take up proper breadmaking again, rather than using a breadmaker.

My colleague lent me this book and I've since made a sourdough starter, where you make a natural leaven from wild yeast floating about in the air, which gives the bread a sour sort of taste.

I made my first bread using this as well as a bit of dried yeast and some home brew the other day.

Turned out well though I could have let it rise for a little longer - the pizza stone helped it rise I think. When I have more time I'll try a proper sourdough loaf over the course of a whole day.

First things from the vegetable garden July 12

We've recently been harvesting the first vegetables from our vegetable garden. The potatoes have gone a bit mad in the recent mixed sunny and wet weather and are a lot bigger than just a couple of weeks ago.

We dug up one of our second early plants yesterday evening to make a potato gratin and a spanish omelette - here is what we found :)

second early potatoes

These were very tasty and more than enough for what we needed them for.  I've been told to grow Pink Fir Apple next year which are apparently even tastier. 

The beetroot has also started growing well recently so we've pulled a few up already to make pickled beetroot.  Following a simple recipe we boiled the beetroot until soft before skinning them and slicing them, after which we poured over boiling vinegar that had been infused with peppercorns, coriander seed, bay leaf and cloves. 

Here is final result next to another vegetable thats doing well, a big radish from the garden.

Pickled beetroot and a radish

We'll leave it for a few weeks to mature then it's beetroot and cheese sandwiches galore.

Working Lunch June 29

When I first started working for SUSE as a student intern back in 2003, then a 21 year old with a full head of hair, I remember having KFC for lunch 21 (work) days in a row. 

Fast forward to 2006, when I lived with a foodie and started cooking from scratch.  Since then whenever I eat at home I cook from raw ingredients -  no ready meals, no crap but I found my work lunches were still lagging behind my other meals.  Lack of cooking facilities or just the amount of sandwich bars offering adjective laden items for just under a fiver, meant I bought lunch every day - and was usually hungry again come 4pm.

These days, with no trendy sandwich shops near by, I bring leftovers from home.  These started reasonably small - a pot of homemade soup, chilli or Jambalaya - getting gradually larger with the addition of bread or rice, until recently when, with the discovery of the awesome Sainsburys salad bar, they've become something of a feast.

Todays lunch.
Working lunch

Home made chilli, bread, and potato salad using our second early potatoes from our vegetable garden with a small salad from the Sainsburys salad bar.

Total cost - around £2.50 - a lot less than the cost of a KFC, something I wouldn't touch with a barge pole these days, and infinitely tastier.

Vegetable garden June 22

Out first attempt at growing vegetables in our garden is starting to show signs of fruition (vegition?). After starting by digging over a big garden border over in January and planting seedlings as early as February in a heated propagator we've gradually moved things outside and into the ground.

We've planted lots of things, battled slugs, put up two mini greenhouses, and erected structures to support beans.

Here are the best bits of where we are today:




Broad Beans

Runner Beans




We've also got salad onions which are doing well and celery which isn't doing so well, as well as many pots of herbs.

We dug up the first second early potatoes last night - they were tasty. Still to come are courgettes, radishes, chilis and hopefully watermelons. :)

Rafi's Spicebox April 8

My friend discovered this place when he moved to York a couple of years ago.  They make custom curry packs - literally chopping chilis up and mixing spices in front of you - to make an amazing curry by just adding a few extra ingredients.  We ordered a couple from their website a few days ago.


I've tried several - the 'Ma's Paretal' above is amazing and a little bit different from your balti, jalfrezi, etc.  You can choose how hot you want the curry to be and P&P is charged per pack.  For the cost of the spice pack plus other ingredients you can easily feed 4 people for under a tenner. Highly recommended.

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