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A Taste of Home

15 Nov

Disclaimer: If you are vegetarian or into low fat you probably want to skip this post which is essentially an ode to pork fat.  I apologise in advance to anyone who is offended.  I offer you a carrot of peace.


Almost immediately after moving to the US we realised that our diet would not be the same as in England.  Sadly, we took for granted that we could buy free range eggs, meats, and raw milk and organic vegetables down the road.  British food involves a lot of stews, rich, stodgy desserts, and roast meats: autumn food at it’s best.  Whenever it gets cold my craving for animal fats increases and it’s something I’ve been missing in the world where every piece of meat (even organic/pastured) is trimmed of rind and fat.  So imagine my delight when my husband came home with this.

A tub full of high quality, pastured, porky lard.  Lard has such a bad name and I wish I could go on a crusade to bring it back in fashion.  Not only is it delicious (which it is) but it is the perfect frying medium and what people used before the world of trans-fat hydrogenated shortening.  If you subscribe to the “Nourishing Traditions” dietary advice, then good quality lard from free ranging pork is positively good for you.  Your granny would probably agree.

What does a person do with a load of lard?  Make lardy cake of course.

Lardy cake is one of those English delights that you can only find in obscure village bakeries, and is probably only bought by old boys who still say “by jove!”  It is a cross between a bread and a croissant, yeasted dough laminated with lard (no butter allowed), spices and currants.  After baking you turn the cake over so that none of the precious fat escapes.  The result is a crispy crust and flakey, moist insides, rich with sugar, spices and fruit.  It is remarkably similar to a cinnamon bun, but much more filling, with a slight savoury character.  Perfect for food for those long winter walks or a day out in the fields.

For me, this is the taste of the English countryside.  A combination of slightly sweet, fat enriched cake and a strong cup of tea.  The comforting taste of home.

Cold Comfort Soup

27 Oct

Over the last few days a bit of a strange weather event has blown in autumn overnight.  Secretly I love this sort of weather, it’s the kind that takes your breath away when the wind picks up and rain stings your face.  It reminds me of the wild Scottish hills and my fantasies of the crofting life.  The best part is when you come inside after a long walk, cheeks red and windswept, and there’s something bubbling in the pot.

Cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable in my opinion, I always get excited when I start seeing it in autumn.  It isn’t just about its flavour or appearance, but the way that it instantly evokes feelings of comfort.  Roasted cauliflower, cauliflower curries, cauliflower cheese and my absolute favourite: cauliflower soup.

The best cauliflower soup should be velvety and warm, it makes me as happy as snuggling under a duvet.  My version is very simple: Sweated onions and carrots are simmered with cauliflower and a bit of potato in salted water until tender.  Blitz till it’s creamy (though I never mind the occasional nugget of vegetable) and add a cup of cream or milk, good spoonful of grain mustard, and handful of shredded cheddar.  Season well with salt and white pepper.  Delicious with or without a swirl of cream. Cold comfort soup for windy autumn.

Perfect Day for Pie

23 Oct

After nearly a whole month of uninterrupted sunshine we’ve finally had a typically cloudy, chilly, rainy autumn day.  To be honest, I am thrilled.  It is perfect pie weather, and it just has to be pumpkin.

My failed pumpkin pie a while back must have just been a sign that it was too early for autumn baking.  This time everything went without a hitch.  I used the recipe from “The Art of Simple Food”, a really easy and genuinely tasty rendition of the classic.  There aren’t any bells and whistles with this recipe, and it really lets the pumpkin sing.  I’ve been particularly lazy this year and ended up using Trader Joe’s organic canned pumpkin, but it wasn’t any worse for wear.

I also couldn’t resist starting another project.  Something about socks feels more monotonous than even knitting a large sweater.  Maybe it’s the tiny needles, but I had to break my own commandment and start a little something to keep me going.

These are Lovisa armwarmers knit up using some leftover Cascade 220.  I had to modify them slightly due to gauge, but they are a beautiful and satisfying knit.  I finished the first in a matter of a couple of hours while watching a film.  They are a gift for my garden loving sister-in-law.  Something cozy to pull on while feeding chickens or pottering around the shed.  Now, I just need to find the perfect buttons to go with them.