27 June 2013

Forward meal plan and de-brief, Sah! ~salutes~

Photograph c/o the BBC
Aaaaand stand at ease!

I think it was watching the Trooping of the Colour the other week on the t.v.  It's gone to my head.  Anyway - you want to know what's on the meal plan for this week, don't you?  Yes, of course you do.

Well, here it is :

Tues : Macdonalds (the menfolk) Chunky chicken & rice (me)
Wed : Pasta bolognese and garlic bread
Thurs : Emergency freezer rifling
Fri : Turkey & courgette burgers with sumac sauce, sweet potato jackets with lime & chilli cream and salad
Sat : Hoi sin chicken with home made coleslaw, salad and ciabatta rolls
Sun : Stuffed aubergines with basmati rice and beetroot
Mon : Pork steaks in mushroom sauce, carrots, broccoli & Jersey royal new potatoes.

Yes, I do accept there are a couple of entries on this list that could bear explanation.  Just hold your horses (another Trooping the colour reference - geddit?) and we'll get there.

My favourite type!
Tuesday's arrangement was a bit odd upon first inspection, but there was method in our madness, honest.  Son and heir had a singing appointment at school with his choir, but it was just for a half hour - and right over dinner time.  Thus, it made it difficult to shoehorn in dinner beforehand and nigh on impossible to cook something in advance that would be quick enough for when we got home.  So the menfolk went for visiting the local Macdonalds and getting a burger fix and I opted to wait until we got home to open a can of chicken in white sauce (commonly known as "Chunky Chicken") and heat up some Special Fried Rice (from Asda and totally flavourless) in the microwave.  Bit of a blast from the past, that one - but better for me than Macdonalds, any day.

Wednesday's Pasta Bolognese had been carried over from the previous week.  Hubby had made the Bolognese sauce during the day on Tuesday and put it in the fridge to await mealtime on Wednesday.  It worked very well and made Wednesday's evening meal fairly trouble free for him.

Can't argue with a bolognese and garlic bread, now can you?
Thursday - which is today - should have been the turkey & courgette burgers, but thanks to who knows what, my legs decided to disown me and my feet decided to transmogrify into two large sausages during the day.  As a consequence, dinner came down to some creative freezer rifling from hubby, which got us all fed with no extra cost - except to his poor old back.  Poor thing, he's been suffering a bit the last few days and was looking forward to a "no cooking" day, which I quite neatly put paid to.  *sigh*

Now.  Tomorrow I am quite determined I shall make these blooming turkey & courgette burgers (which is an Ottolenghi & Tamimi recipe) because I was really looking forward to them!

Saturday's Hoi Sin chicken should be another goodie.  Simple to do - just marinade the chicken in the Hoi Sin sauce, bake it and pull together some salads with the ciabatta rolls.  Yum.

I'm back paying homage to Yotam Ottolenghi on Sunday, with the stuffed aubergines.  The recipe uses lamb mince and all those lovely warm eastern influence spices such as cumin, coriander and cinnamon.  I've been seeking inspiration from within the pages of "Jerusalem", their latest cook book you see.  Can't wait for this one, either!

I'm quite determined to make the pork steaks in mushroom sauce, too.  They've been appearing on the menu plan for the last few weeks without being made - and not through any fault of their own.  Mind you, there's doubt hanging over their future, as son & heir has a teacher training day that Monday and is threatening to go over to a friend's for a barbecue.  If this comes off, I have grave doubts that the pork steaks will happen - and over to next week they'll go!

So you may be wondering how I got on with last week.  Well, not too badly actually.

The Full English Breakfast was duly made and eaten with much enjoyment by all - most especially from son & heir, who would dearly like to eat that way every day.
 
Well, I have to admit, he's got a point!
I've blogged the recipe for the curry baked chicken with vegetable curry, so you know that one got made!  Mmmmmn, it was a bit special.

Hubby's rigatone con cipolle with the naked burgers was really good.  I coped with it (digestively) with no adverse reaction at all, which was just brilliant.  The sweetness of the onion against the savouriness of the burgers worked very well together.  Hubby wasn't altogether happy with the rigatone dish, he says he can make it a lot nicer than it was - but I though it was perfectly delicious.

I can tell you're eyeing up those burgers - Aberdeen Angus, don'cha know.
My next big blog post should be the recipe for the Lamb flatballs - so I won't steal my own thunder.  Keep your eyes peeled and it should be along next.

Oh my goodness yes, the next one on the list was the family lunch at a pub in the New Forest.  Well, probably least said about that the better - you can read about it on the Rhubarb & Ginger Facebook page, if you are of a curious bent!  I don't like giving bad reviews, so I won't be posting about it here in detail.  'Nuff said.

Lamb Shatkora - presentation requires some work, I think?
Monday's evening meal turned into a takeaway from the local Indian restaurant.  I had a Lamb Shatkora - which is cooked with onion and loads of lemon - along with mushroom rice, sag bhajee (spinach and onion) and a share in a Peshwari naan bread (made with almond paste).  I'd never had a Shatkora before and was very impressed.  I love anything involving lemon and the combination of the curry spices with the lemon was really very good indeed.  I'll definitely do that again!

You'll probably have noticed that this isn't one of those "shorter" posts I was talking about.  Well done.  You spotted that, then.  *wink*

A little light lunchtime five-tier pitta!

So, you all know that I run a Facebook page in conjunction with the blog here, right?  Well, if you hadn't realised, it's here at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenny-Eatwells-Rhubarb-Ginger/161388070631031?sk=wall where I post up all the stuff that doesn't really belong on the blog.

Except, I started to think that perhaps it was a shame not to put some of the Facebook photographs on the blog too.  Like today's lunch.  Oh, it was stellar.  Oh yes indeed.  Why should you guys who don't indulge in Facebook, miss out on what might give you some inspiration to create your own stellar lunch?

You see, this is one of the changes I was talking about earlier.  From now on, you'll find some shorter (stop cheering at the back!) blog posts appearing, dealing with breakfast, lunch or just a fantastic biscuit we've found.  (Have I told you about Asda's Chocolate Melting Moments?  Get some, you have to).

Okay then, so what was so great about today's lunch?

From right to left or left to right, I could.  I really could.  Mmmmn.
Well for starters it was in a pitta bread, so low GI and won't cause bloating in me - which is good to begin with.  I lightly toasted my pitta bread, which left it puffed up and warm.  So what did I put into it?

Firstly, some of my home made hummus.  Aaah, Yotam Ottolenghi how I do love you.

Next, a layer of super finely sliced Milano salami.  Aha!  That's got your interest, I can tell.

Then, a smidgeon - just a smidgeon! - of mayonnaise, to provide something for the rocket (aha, token green stuff) to stick to.

The rocket, in turn, provided a home in which to nestle two halved cherry tomatoes and three halved queen green olives.  Ta daaa!!

That's ... that's just beautiful, that is. 

Oh yes.  Take me home, country roads - it's a taste of summer.  I commend it to you all!


25 June 2013

Curry baked chicken with vegetable curry & green pea rice

Just recently, I've made several chicken & salad meals by coating chicken pieces in some kind of sauce or rub, then baking it in the oven.  I think, so far as I can remember, I've done a BBQ version, a Cajun version, a garlic and herb version - you get the idea.  So when I was considering a curry for one of the week's meals, it occurred to me that I could do the same sort of arrangement - but with a vegetable curry instead of salad.

If I were to marinate the chicken in something, then bake it - and make a vegetable curry earlier on in the day, then that would result in a really quite simple dinner preparation.  All I'd have to do is put the chicken in the oven, warm up the vegetable curry and cook the rice and peas.  Lovely!

Now sometimes, this sort of plan goes awry at the last minute as I haven't anticipated how long it would take me to chop the vegetables, or I'd run out of pans and make horrid amounts of washing up.  This time, however, it all went beautifully according to plan and was indeed the most satisfying dinner not just from an eating perspective, but from the preparation and clearing up perspective too.

I started off the processes by marinating the chicken in a mixture of curry paste, mango chutney and Greek yoghurt (doesn't have to be Greek - it's just that Greek yoghurt is my plain yoghurt of choice) for the day.


Next - and during the morning - I sat down and peeled, cut and chopped all the vegetables for the curry and set about making it.  I do so enjoy cooking without time constraints.  It was lovely to just sail along, cooking without having to keep an eye on the time.  We try to have our meals on the table for 6pm, you see.  Sometimes I have a lot of trouble hitting that 6pm deadline!

As ever, when cooking a curry, I had an end result in mind but no real idea how I was going to get there.  So, I knew I wanted to emulate the British Takeaway vegetable curry flavour and texture of the thing - without over cooking any of the veggies and without it winding up too watery, too stew-like or too greasy.  Shouldn't be a problem!

I went through the fridge and pulled out everything that didn't have a home to go to as well as the few veggies that I'd bought with this particular dish in mind.  So we wound up with onion, garlic, red chilli, carrot, potato, mushroom, baby red peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, fresh quartered tomato, fresh coriander and red lentils.  That should take care of our five a day!

Whenever I do the chopping-and-a-peeling, I always put the cut veggies onto plates or in dishes in the order I'll be needing them.  So the onion, garlic and chilli went onto one plate, the carrots were in a dish on their own.  The potato, mushroom and baby red peppers went into the colander and the tomato, cauliflower and broccoli were on another plate.  That way, I don't have to waste any time separating one from the other - and they're all ready to go when I start cooking.  I can't cook and chop - just doesn't work.

I was tempted to spice the curry myself, but in the end decided to use our pre-prepared Sharwoods Korma curry paste - the same one I'd used on the chicken.  I was going for simplicity and the Sharwoods is a very good middle of the road curry paste that you can pep up with additional chilli if you want.  The ingredients list reads very well, too.  With tomato puree, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, chilli, paprika, cardamom, mustard seeds, fenugreek and fennel and the only additive being acetic acid, it is a very acceptable quick curry fix.

So, it went like this.  First of all I chose my biggest saucepan in which to cook so that I had enough room for everything as I wasn't entirely sure how much it would come to.  I put 2-3 tbsp of sunflower oil in and got that heating, then added the onion - and a small pinch of salt - which cooked until golden brown, but not burned.  The garlic then went in for a minute, before I added the chilli and carrot.  Next in was the curry paste and tomato puree which I cooked until the oil was released - just a few minutes.  The next things into the pot were the potato/mushroom/red pepper combo which got mixed all around and coated in the aromatic loveliness.

I wanted to include some coconut milk at this point, but didn't want to use a whole 400g tin of the stuff.  Amazingly, I found a small carton of Blue Dragon coconut cream which did the job perfectly - and was just about to go out of date - so that went in next.  I added a teaspoonful of Essential Cuisine chicken stock powder and approximately 200-300ml of water and gave everything a good stir.  I was tying my hands behind my back to prevent myself from adding more salt at this stage.  The temptation was enormous, but I resisted - and jolly good job too.  I satisfied the urge by adding some black pepper instead.  *chuckle*  In went the red lentils and I let everything simmer gently together for around 20-30 minutes until almost cooked.  Finally, I added the cauliflower and turned off the heat - leaving it to cool.

When I came back to start the dinner properly, first thing was to put the chicken into the oven, then start the vegetable curry warming up and boil the water for the rice.

Once the curry had heated through enough to start bubbling, I removed the lid and let it reduce slightly - just to thicken the sauce a little.  In went the broccoli and the tomato quarters, plus three quarters of the chopped fresh coriander.  Once the broccoli was cooked and the sauce reduced to my liking, it was done.

The chicken came out of the oven still beautifully coated in the curried yoghurty mix, which had slightly caramelised on top, thanks to the mango chutney - which was exactly what I was hoping for.



The plain basmati rice was brightened up by the addition of a few green peas.  A tip for adding frozen peas to cooking rice is to run the peas under the hot tap to defrost them and warm them up before adding them to the rice with around 2 minutes to go.  That way, you don't stop the cooking process by adding freezing peas and they will stay a vibrant green.

The whole meal was absolutely delicious, comforting, satisfying and got a huge thumbs up from everyone.  So long as you make the veggie curry earlier in the day, it was ultimately all finished in around 30 minutes and was a perfect arrangement for anyone who loves curry but wants healthy along with it - and who can't spend too long in the kitchen making it.

Son and heir was practically begging for this curry to be made again and soon - so I'm sure it won't be long!

CURRY BAKED CHICKEN, VEGETABLE CURRY WITH RICE AND PEAS   (Serves 3 with leftover vegetable curry)

Ingredients :

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp plain (Greek) yoghurt
1 tbsp mango chutney
1.5 tbsp curry paste.

3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 onions, sliced finely
2 fat garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 hot red chilli (seeds are optional)
1 donkey carrot, peeled and diced
3 tbsp curry paste
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
6-10 mushrooms, washed and quartered
6 baby red peppers (or one red pepper, cut into pieces), top & tailed
250ml coconut cream
1 tsp chicken stock powder or a low salt chicken stock cube
enough water to just cover the contents
3 heaped tbsp red lentils
3-4 cauliflower florets, broken into small pieces
3-4 broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 large ripe tomato, quartered (or smaller) into wedges
a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped.

1 cup of uncooked basmati rice
sea salt
half a cup of frozen peas.

Method :

1.  In the morning, mix together the yoghurt, chutney and curry paste in a large bowl.

2.  Trim the chicken breasts of fat and gristle, then score lightly across the top to allow the marinade to more easily penetrate the meat.

3.  Add the chicken to the marinade and mix gently to ensure every little bit of chicken is covered in marinade.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate until 30 minutes prior to cooking.

4.  To make the vegetable curry (which I recommend should also be done in the morning), heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan.  Add the oil.

5.  Add the onion - and a small pinch of salt - and cook for around 10-15 minutes until golden brown, but not burned.  Add the garlic and stir quickly, then add the chilli and stir.

6.  Next, add the carrot pieces, which will help to cool the pan and so avoid burning the garlic.

7.  Next add the curry paste and tomato puree and stir well to combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Cooked until the oil is released - just a few minutes.

8.  Add the potato/mushroom/red peppers and stir well to ensure they are coated with the curry mixture.  

9.  Add the coconut cream, stock powder and water and stir gently to combine.  Do not add any salt at this stage, but if you're yearning to - add a little black pepper instead!

10. Stir in the red lentils and let everything simmer gently together for around 20-30 minutes until almost cooked.

11.  Finally - for this stage - add the cauliflower, turn off the heat, cover and leave to cool.

12.  Several hours later and when you're ready to prepare the dinner proper, begin by turning on the heat under the vegetable curry and pre-heating the oven to 200degC/400degF/Gas 6.  Line a shallow baking tray with silver foil (optional - but it helps with the washing up!) and place the chicken onto the foil.  Spoon any additional marinade over the top of each chicken breast.  Place into the oven for 25-35 minutes or until the juices run clear if pricked with a knife.

13.  Three quarters fill a good sized saucepan with water, add a pinch of sea salt and place it on a high heat, to boil.

14.  Put the dry rice into a seive and run it under a hot tap until the water runs clear.  Once the water in the pan boils, add the rice and cook - simmering - for 7-9 minutes.  2 minutes before the rice is due to be ready, add the defrosted peas.

15.  As the rice is cooking, the vegetable curry should have come up to temperature.  Remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce a little as you add the broccoli, tomato and three quarters of the fresh coriander.  Stir from time to time, to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

16.  Once the rice is ready, drain and return to the warm pan.  You can add a little of the chopped coriander for some extra flavour, if you like.

17.  Once the chicken is done, serve with the vegetable curry and green pea rice - with an added flourish of a sprinkle of chopped coriander for garnish.

Printable version

19 June 2013

It's a good plan ...

.... but the question is, whether we'll manage to stick to it!  As ever, real life often gets in the way of the plans I make for dinner throughout the week.  Some weeks we make it through to the end of the plan with no changes, but most weeks something happens to change at least the order in which the meals appear, if not the meals themselves.

So near - but yet, so far ....
However, I find that making a plan is still the best way to a) afford the ingredients and b) reduce wastage.  As I've said before, it also cuts out that horrible "what shall we have for dinner tonight" question.  All you have to do, is remember to take the meat out of the freezer the night before!

This week's plan has had to be changed right at the start, thanks to my over-twanging the elastic bands in one of my fingers by wrestling with the car's seat belt on Monday afternoon.  Having turned a lovely shade of light mauve and assumed twice its normal girth, we decided that perhaps immobilising the finger might be an idea and broke out the lolly sticks and micropore tape.  Thankfully, even with it in the splint, I discovered I could still type - so here I am.
 
Hand-E-cap!  Neat little splint though, don't you think?

As an emergency measure, the pork steaks in mushroom sauce that were due to be had on Tuesday evening, were changed to pizza.  Bung it in the oven, set the timer, get it back out, eat it.  One trouble free mealtime, done!

It is now Wednesday morning and the offending digit is at least staying the size it should be, even if it is still hurting.  Still, hubby's in the chair for tonight's dinner so it's got a bit longer in which to heal.

So, what's on the list?  Well, here we go :

Tues : Pizza
Weds : Full English Breakfast
Thurs : Baked curry chicken, vegetable curry and rice
Fri : Rigatone con cipolle, with naked burgers
Sat : Lamb flatballs in flatbreads with hummus and salad
Sun : Family lunch out
Mon : Pasta bolognese.

A previous version - with black pudding, this time
Tonight's Full English isn't one of those humungous "eat until you burst" kinds of Full English's, it will consist of bacon, sausage, fried egg, mushrooms, baked beans and hash browns.  No toast, no bubble and squeak (sob - LOVE bubble & squeak), no fried slices, no black pudding - or any of the other many and varied items you could include in one.  Still, it's been a while since our last - and we only fry the sausages and eggs (and then in rapeseed oil) - so it could be worse.

Tomorrow's baked curry chicken is a recipe I've been pondering over for a while.  You see, we have recently had several meals where I've oven baked chicken breasts in either a BBQ glaze or Cajun spices and it occurred to me that I could marinate the chicken in a yoghurt/curry/chutney kind of mixture and do the same thing.  Plus, if I made a standard vegetable curry and put the whole thing with rice, it would be the same as making a curry except with more vegetables and in a different type of presentation.  So that's what I shall do.  Hopefully - finger allowing.

Imagine this as curried chicken, with a vegetable curry and rice ... get the idea?
Now, Friday's Rigatone con cipolle is a recipe that hubby has been making since God was a boy.  It is an incredibly simple recipe of onions sweated down until almost disintegration, with added stock and tomato puree, put over pasta.  When he first introduced me to it, I was unable to eat it because of being horribly allergic to onions.  However, the tiny taster I had tasted pretty darned good.  Pregnancy solved my onion allergy - don't know how, but it did! - and we'd forgotten all about it up until recently, when with the blog having taken a turn for the homely, it suddenly came back to hubby's memory.  So, on the plan it went and he'll be cooking it for us, accompanied by some Aberdeen Angus burgers (without bun, cheese or pickles).  We might be allowed a little bit of mustard, I'll have to see.  LOL

Didn't work all that well with loose meat, either. Tasted good though!
Saturday's lamb flatballs in flatbreads keeps on making me chuckle every time I see the name.  I recently made this dish, except I used lamb meatballs - which kept leaping out of the flatbread in a most unseemly manner.  So, it suddenly dawned on me, why not make them flat?  Now I dislike intensely the word "patty" ~gak~ when used in this context, but that's where I'm headed with the lamb mixture.  Hence, "flatballs".  *grin*  I'll be adding hummus and rocket - you never know, I may even make my own hummus ~sharp intake of breath~, I know!  We'll have a small salad of some denomination and some home made tzatziki too.  Yum!

Sunday is off the menu plan, as we're meeting up with my parents to fulfil a long standing (from January!) lunch date in honour of my Mum's birthday.  We didn't make it when it should have happened, as that was when my poor Dad fell and broke his hip.  Here we are, some five months later, finally being able to have that lunch!  Hooray!

So, after all that excitement, Monday brings us back to normality with a good old pasta bolognese.  In fact, we haven't had a "bolly" for quite some time and it will be nice to re-visit an old friend.  Who knows, we may even push the boat out and have some garlic bread too.  *wink*

Crunchy and toasty and delicious!
I've just been casting my mind back over the last week to find something yummy to tell you about regarding last week's menu plan (yes, I still menu plan even when I'm not writing the blog!) - and I remembered the pork burritos with home made guacamole and salad.  Yum.  I really think that this is my favourite way to deal with a corn wrap.  Fill it full of yummy meat in gorgeous BBQ sauce (as ever, I used Mic's Chilli's El Loco BBQ Sauce - can't get enough of that stuff!), fold, brush with sunflower oil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes.  The crunch from the toasty edges of the wrap is just fabulous - as is the flavour, mixed with the sweet and hot BBQ sauce.  ~happy sigh~

You're salivating aren't you.  I can tell.
Oh and I must tell you about our Father's Day dessert!  The main course was somewhat blown out of the water by visiting Burger King for lunch (we had the chicken casserole the following day) but I managed to rustle up the Tri-berry Eton Mess that was on the menu.  The photograph will give you an indication of the extreme naughtiness involved in this dessert - but then, you don't get low calorie Eton Mess!  Along with the whipped cream and meringue pieces, this one involved halved strawberries, whole raspberries and fresh black cherries.  Oh my word.

Oh!  Which reminds me!  Stoning cherries.  Now if ever there was a culinary task that was guaranteed to create frustration, it is stoning cherries - without a cherry stoner (or pitter).  However, listen up fans!  If you don't have a contraption to help you with this - or you still manage to fire cherry stones across the kitchen - try this.  Get a chopstick - everyone has at least one in their cutlery drawer - and remove the cherry stalk, then insert the chopstick through the stalk end and push the stone out the other side of the cherry.  It truly is as easy as that.  I managed to stone an entire punnet of cherries in less than a quarter of the time it takes to do it with a knife.  Indeed, if your cherries are big enough, sit them on top of a lidless mineral water bottle and push the stones through into the bottle.  Makes clearing up a heck of a lot easier!  Try it, honest injun, it works.  With Picota cherry season literally just around the corner, this could revolutionise your cherry desserts.  Oooh, Picota cherries ... mmmmmmn .....


13 June 2013

A late night leftover dip idea!

So there I was, in the living room, browsing Facebook and swapping yarns with my rowdy mates, when I got peckish.  I'd skipped lunch that day, you see - which I blame entirely upon the lovely goodies we bought home from Patisserie Mark Bennett.  Aaaanyway.

I need dip - make me some diiiip!
It was getting on for nearly - also known as a bit late - so I was looking for a little soupรงon of something, a smackerel of a taster, something to just dampen down the peckishness before bed.

Off I went to investigate supplies.  Thanks to the leftover bits of stuff in the fridge, I came to make what amounts to a delightful discovery.

You take a ramekin and empty out the remains of a pot of sour cream into it.

Add enough Greek yoghurt until it's fairly full.  (A ratio of 2:1, sour cream:Greek yoghurt, I'd say).

Stir in a teaspoon and a half of mint sauce - the vinegary one - then add a teaspoonful of miniature capers. Stir.

Take a pitta bread - or your favourite dipping ammunition - and dip. Eat. Marvel at your own brilliance. LOL

I'm sorry, I don't have a photograph of it - because it really wasn't around long enough to photograph.  Imagine a pot of green flecked yoghurt.  That's about what it looked like! 

 

12 June 2013

Good lord! Activity on Rhubarb & Ginger ....

Yes, folks, its me!  Oh - and dustbin no. 2 (Basil), who just had to photobomb the picture.

First of all, big apologies for disappearing without a word.  The thing is, I'm (as my hubby describes it) a "chucking it all out with the bathwater" kinda girl.  Which means that if something is causing me trouble, I'm very likely to just stop doing it while I think about where to take it next.  Which is exactly what happened with Rhubarb & Ginger.

I've been writing Rhubarb & Ginger for some three years now - and during that time I've changed.  Perhaps not in my character - I'll leave you to decide that one! - but physically.  My ability to spend long periods of time in the kitchen just isn't there any longer.  Now I expect lots of you realise that I'm disabled - I make no secret of the fact - but the truth of the matter is that it is an evolving and albeit slowly, degenerating condition.  However, creating lovely things to put on Rhubarb & Ginger here, was pushing me beyond what I was comfortably able to do.  Now there's an argument which says "push yourself beyond what you're capable of and you'll find out how far you can go" - which is fine, except I'd gone a bit beyond that.

This wasn't the only problem, however.  The photography of the dishes was causing problems too.  You see, I don't create a dish in the afternoon, photograph it and throw it away!  Oh no.  I'm not one of these fancy pants food magazines that can afford to do that.  No, the photographs you see are of what the family here eats.  So, it goes on the plate, everyone who isn't involved in the photography gets theirs, everyone else's goes cold whilst it's being photographed, we get all stressed because the food's going cold and we have to hurry over the photography ... and ultimately, the eating of the meal is not a good experience.

Some examples of how we've still been cooking!  Baked Camembert. :)

Now all that had to change.  Where the photography is concerned and in the meantime while I've not been writing blog posts, I've still been active on Facebook and have been taking a quick "snap" of my meal before getting tucked in.  I've used some - not all, as the above will attest! - of those photographs to decorate this post, just to prove that I've still been cooking!  :)  Sometimes, it has to be said, I've even forgotten about taking a photograph because I've been so keen to eat the food!  I think this is a good thing though, as I was becoming obsessed with taking photographs of every little thing "for the blog" and "just in case".  We've now worked out a system for the photography, which should work.

Maneating chicken - ah strewth, but this one was good!
You see, I can't just slow down.  Oh no.  It has to be a full stop - breathe - think - and start again in a new incarnation.  Changing situations slowly has never been my forte.

The whole "Rhubarb & Ginger" thing had begun to take over my life.  It wasn't just the writing of it, that was the fun bit that took the least time!  Oh no, it was the thinking of something new and attractive, the cooking of said thing, the photography, the publishing once written - which involved so many connections that had to be made for each blog post, the responding to comments on Facebook (which is again a pleasant task, but nonetheless time consuming), talking to PR companies about collaborations on products and on .. and on.

Beef ribeye - need I say more?
To be honest, it was a relief to not have to do any of that for a while.  Yes, you'd be quite right in saying "but you didn't HAVE to do any of it to begin with!".  I know.  You see, it had taken the place of a job in my life.  I worked at Rhubarb & Ginger - and some days, I didn't give myself much time off.

So, hopefully you'll see why I suddenly stopped.

Now, the good news is that I'm starting again.  Yay!  However, this time, I'm going to take the blog in a slightly different direction.  I've had time to think about where the pressures were and how completely absorbed I'd become - and make some changes.

Roast pork Sunday dinner.  Mmmmn.

The blog will still reflect our kitchen - it will still be what we like to eat.  That is, family food.  The changes won't be immense.  There won't be a huge makeover of how the blog looks, we won't suddenly go totally veggie, for instance.  However, the big production numbers won't be here any more.  I won't be cajoled or seduced into using ingredients that are normally outside of our price range - simply because they're on offer from a P.R. company (nice as they have been!).  I'm hoping to take us down a road which makes life easier for me, whilst still keeping the spirit and character of the blog very much alive.  The photography thing, well we've worked out a system for that which will hopefully solve a lot of the stresses involved and make getting to your dinner happen a lot quicker!

Cod, beurre blanc, pea puree .... yum.

Oh and I will still be introducing "The Travelling Hamper", as that is a fun little sideline which has evolved from writing the blog and it just happened at the wrong moment.  First post should be along very soon!

.. and lastly, our BBQ from last weekend.

So thank you for hanging on in there while I had my little crisis.  Hopefully it will be fun, finding out the new direction we're off to, as we go there!

 
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