Chicken Tagine

Having an extensive family has it’s advantages. I can’t really think of many right this moment but I know there are some. No, seriously, the best thing about a big family is you know you’re going to get some useful kitchen implements, toys or utensils for Christmas or birthdays.

This Yuletide period I got, amongst many things, a tagine.

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Vegetarian Steamed Buns

I am developing a new list. I call it the ‘Irritating List of Annoyances’, or ILA. The ILA currently comprises:

  1. Our intermittent leaking roof. How can a bloody roof leak intermittently? How does it do that? Why does it not leak when the roof man comes round to investigate? And then start leaking once he’s gone, and it isn’t even raining.
  2. The Highways Agency. They decided that to ease the traffic problem on my way to work they would make the road narrower. Yes narrower. The reason? To make more space for the pedestrians. But there aren’t any bloody pedestrians because the road is a dual carriageway and no one walks.
  3. Squeaky noises from the car. I hear a noise and noises = £££s. But was it a noise from my car or the old banger in front? Has life come to this? Listening out for noises and then cursing other people for having noisy cars?
  4. BBC Weather forecasters. No one has any idea what the weather is going to do. But some people get paid for not knowing.

I will add to my list as time goes by. Then I will publish it and people will buy it and I will be rich and drive my car straight into my roof and that will deal with a lot of the things that annoy me.

Food doesn’t annoy me.

Some time ago I decided to try out Pork Steamed Buns. They were delicious but I had to eat all of them because the wife is vegetarian and the children were indisposed. So I thought I’d try a vegetarian version, with mushrooms replacing the pork. Maybe they’d turn out better, maybe not.

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Shrimp Etouffee

When I started this blog, way back in 1784, I promised myself I would try and never cook the same thing twice (at least not cook the same thing twice and blog it, I mean I’m not going to try and live out a whole lifetime without literally cooking the same thing twice, that would be stupid. Stupid and tedious).

Of course I have failed. I’ve done fish and chips several times. I’ve cooked steak about a million times. I just love photographing bloody steaks. Yumbo. Never really blogged about pasta though. The odd lasagne maybe.

But generally I am on a constant search for inspiration. TV programmes (Watching Saturday Kitchen in bed in the morning is usually a good source of ideas, or anything Gordon Ramsay, like his souffle pancakes). The BBC Good Food Magazine comes up with some gems every now and then (Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake, for example). And films. The Godfather, where they make meatballs, is always a good one.

So I was watching ‘Interview with the Vampire’, with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. They are a pair of vampires sucking the blood out of the locals in 18th century New Orleans. And I got to thinking. What would they eat round there if they didn’t have to drink fresh blood?

So I got busy on Google (All pray to the real God) and found Shrimp Etouffee.

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Venison Steak with Salsa

This is the most virtuous food creation I will blog about this year.

Ironically I made it last year, but thought it most appropriate to write about now, given most of us are weeping quietly into our bowls of whole grain green smoothie granola, wondering why we can’t show a little restraint during the festive period, in order to mitigate the feeling of helplessness that decends when the belt buckle laughs silently, as we try to reach the third hole, when everyone of those holes knows it’s the fourth’s turn (again).

But fear not. As all those cookery books, celebrity chefs and worthy websites constantly reinforce – you can eat low calorie, healthy, balanced meals that are also filling and delicious. There are phrases for those kinds of claims. But I’m not typing them. It’s a New Year’s resolution. No rude words. Trying to clean my act up. That, and whenever I write a rude word I seem to lose 10 Twitter followers. Which makes my overall follower numbers go up and down like a whore’s drawers. Oops, I did it again.

Any-who, you can get lucky. Here’s a recipe that’s so easy and quick I should have had to pay for it. Vension with Salsa. I reckon it’s got about 10 calories. Not even lying.

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Online Shopping and French Onion Soup

This festive season I decided, to minimise the pain associated with christmas shopping, to do it all online. Of course, like a Pavlov dog, I had erased from my mind the reason why online shopping is not all it’s made up to be.

It’s easy to browse for something, to be sure. It’s easy to pay for something, of course. What isn’t quite so easy is obtaining your goods. It’s a hit and miss affair.

Your online shop of choice might state that you will receive your goods in one to two days. Then you get home (having ordered something at work for example) and find a card saying ‘we tried to deliver but you weren’t in so we’ve sent your parcel back to the depot’. But, you think, it’s supposed to come tomorrow!

Or, just as easily, the item that should have been delivered in one to two days turns up three months later, and you can’t even remember why you purchased it, or who it was for.

So there I was, waiting for one of those ‘delivery next day’ parcels. And I was quickly running out of ‘next day’, so to speak. But I had tools. I had a tracking number. With this number I could track my item. I could see, virtually, where it was. At that specific time it was…

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…‘Out for delivery’. I lived in hope. But not expectation.

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