fruit and veg don't have to look perfect

Hurrah for Waitrose – according to this story from the Independent, they are ” launching a range of “ugly” looking seasonal fruit at discounted prices for use in cooking. The “class two” produce will be either visually flawed or oddly shaped, according to Waitrose, but otherwise perfect for eating.”

Now – if only the great British public can be persuaded to buy them … mind you, I buy my fruit and veg from the greengrocer.

how to soften brown sugar when it goes hard

Saw this in passing, and thought it might be useful.

To soften hard brown sugar, place an open bag of sugar in the microwave with a cup of water next to it. Microwave on high (100%) for 2-3 minutes. If your microwave doesn’t have a carousel, turn the bag after each minute. NOTE: This worked great, but isn’t a permanent fix. Any unused sugar will dry up again. However, the process can be repeated each time you need sugar.

or

Place about 1/2 lb. of hardened brown sugar in microwave safe bowl. Cover sugar with two pieces of wet paper towels. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap. Heat in microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.* Divide sugar with fork (sugar will be hot); stir. Use immediately. *Microwave ovens vary in power; cooking time may need adjustment.

or

Place a piece of foil or plastic wrap directly on the sugar. Set a piece of crumpled, dampened paper towel on the foil. Cover container tightly. The sugar will absorb the moisture from the paper towel and become soft. Remove the paper towel when it has dried out.

or

Place about 1/2 lb. of hardened brown sugar in a bowl. Cover sugar with two pieces of wet paper towels. Cover bowl tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Let stand overnight at room temperature. Divide sugar with fork; stir. Use immediately.

a guilty lunch

I baked a couple of those Sainsburys part-baked baguettes for lunch – they are a godsend when you work at home, and have forgotten to put bread in the machine.

Chopped up a shallot and some Red Leicester to make a cheese and onion-y sandwich, then added some cucumber.

And then, the final flourish – oh the shame – Heinz salad cream.

I know, I know – I shouldn’t do it. But sometimes it’s just … right.

risi e bisi is fab!

just a note to remind myself how gorgeous this was – so gorgeous, in fact, that I have instructed Pete to save all the pea pods from his bag ‘o’ peas, and I will simmer them down with the rest of the chicken stock, and put it in the freezer.

I’m sure frozen would be fine for the peas, but it really wouldn’t be the same without the pea pod stock.

The recipe is here – go cook it *now*, while fresh peas are in the shops!

what's in season?

Roots and sprouts available be
Throughout Jan and February.

Leeks, cauliflower and cabbage, too,
Can be enjoyed ere winter’s through.

Then colours come with March’s thaw:
Rhubarb, carrots (and beets from store).

But April’s menus are a riddle,
As stored crops run out in the middle;

Mere salads must your table dress
With lettuces and watercress.

May can be warm, but it is cruel;
Few things grow this month, as a rule.

But then at last some lunch appears:
New potatoes and asparagus spears!

Rejoice therefore and clap your hands;
Now is the time to slaughter lambs!

In June, the veg are in full swing,
And so are some fruits, including:

Blackcurrants, cherries and tomatoes
(They are a fruit, like avocados).
Berries too are on the loose,
The early ones, both straw and goose.

In summer, veg are hard to miss,
Thanks to photosynthesis:
Fennel, herbs, beans green and broad,
Carrots can again be stored,
Peppers, courgettes nice and chewy,
Time to make some ratatouille!

Then tree fruit with September comes
(That means apples, pears and plums.)
Soon purple things are also seen:
Red cabbage, beets and aubergine.

And now’s the time, in case you wondered,
That onions and spuds are keenly plundered.

The growing season’s nearly over
When marrow’s plucked around October,
Although this month is also big
In apples, pears and fresh-picked fig.

By Guy Fawkes night the frost is freed,
But that won’t stop the hearty swede.
Parsnips, too, the soils expel,
Some cabbages and leeks as well.
They’ll be needed, just remember,
As bugger all grows in December