Friday, 3 December 2010

peeking through snowy windows

Its snowing heavy in the U.K, for those of you in warmer climates follow this link and you will see how snow white Britain is right now. I can hardly call it walking in a winter wonderland. Its dark, its cold, its industrial and its sludgy that is what it looks like around me. Trudging through the snow, bobbing along like a penguin to keep my balance, (so not to slip) and then scuttling as fast as my little feet would go ...
to catch the bus to the train station into the city centre. I wish I was like this bulldog on the skateboard.
After just catching the bus, my next mission is to get the train home on the outskirts of Glasgow (that is if it doesn't get cancelled) - Phew I make it! I am absolutely exhausted both mentally and physically when I get home and just want to crash out.
Getting to and fro work this week has been frustrating. Added to this I am finding work utterly depressing. I am at a hard place right now, but I am trying to put on a brave face. Thank goodness for the weekend ahead. All this is way of saying, that it should not be a surprise to say that I have not cooked a single meal all week. D has taken charge in the kitchen and has done me proud. He created a Mojo Potato and pea dish. Shame he did not take a photograph as it certainly was worth sharing. So I am hoping he will make it again to share with you all. I’ll prod him, I promise.

On a different note, Emma of Sunflower Days kindly requested if I could share seven things about me. To be honest, it was quite hard to come up with things that I thought others would find interesting.

1. I am the first person in my family to attend University.
2. I rebelled against my mothers efforts to transform me into a domestic goddess.
3 In my youth, I used to wear a lot of black (now its purple)
4. I always seem to have cold hands and cold feet
5. I am 5 foot 2 ¾ and wear size 4 shoes
6. I've lost my Welsh accent, but when I am passionate or very angry it comes back with a vengeance.
7. still thinking...

I was also tagged a little while ago by the real sumptuous Sophie of Sophies Foodie files. I don’t often do tags. Not because I am shy or anything. I just try my utmost to keep the focus of this blog on seasonality through what I cook or grow, but I’ve decided to play along this time.

1. What is your most memorable meal that you ate in your life and why?
I love my mothers cooking dearly, but I have to admit that my most memorable meal was that my father made (sorry (m)Ummy). It wasn’t the most delicious meal I’ve ever had, but fabulous as greedy children do we all went up for seconds. It was the fact that my father made a South Asian style roast dinner for us: tandoori roasted tangy chicken served with all the trimming, South Asian style with mango or lime achari roast potatoes, giving my mother the day off from the kitchen. It was very unusual for my father to cook a meal for the whole family and I think this is what made it memorable. It felt like more of an occasion – a treat, not just for my mother, but for her little ones too.

2. Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to start blogging in late 2007, but I wasn’t too sure how to set up a blog so resigned myself to reading other peoples blogs. It was in early 2009, that it dawned on me how easy it was to set up and I immediately leaped into blogger world.

It began really to record my amateur allotment antics and what I cooked with the vegetables I grew there. This was fun as it allowed me to pro-actively cook from the many cookbooks on my burgeoning bookshelf, as well as some recipes of my own. The recipes I feature here are a bit like me, always diverse and sometimes a little bit spicy. I no longer have my allotment plot as I lost it in a fire early this year, but I do still make every effort to eat seasonally and grow what I can in my tiny garden plot and pots. The allotment2kitchen blog has become on on-line journal of recipes: eats and treats. I also find it a great way to switch off from the nonsense, manic and stress of the outside world.

3. What is your favourite restaurant, where and why?
I very rarely eat out and honestly, cannot answer this question. But there are a number of places on my list to eat. To list a few: Denis Cotters Café Paradiso in Cork, Ireland, Terre a Terra in Brighton, England and The Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, USA.

4. Which are your 3 most favourite chefs in the whole world and why?
Nadine Abensur was the first vegetarian chef to open my eyes to the versatility of vegetables and different ways to appreciate eating them. She shared diverse and 'ethnic' vegetable based dishes that were 'new' at the time such as falafels, sweet potato chips and dolmades, as well as ingredients. She introduced me to ingredients such as tamarind, couscous, sumac, zaatar and pomegranate molasses. For me she is what Yotam Ottolenghi is today for the Guardian New Vegetarian column readers. Her cooking style was innovative and showed that vegetable dishes should be seen differently, not just a side serving of vegetables on the plate.
Paul Gayler for catering for vegetarians and vegans and creating inventive and exquisite vegetable based meals, that even appealed to those who liked their meat and two veg. This was long before other chefs starting viewing vegetarians and vegans as clientele (rather than a nuisance). I applaud him, as other up-market restaurants (still continue to) serve mushroom risotto, vegetable lasagne or a boring cheesy pasta dish. I have a number of his cookbooks, one adapted recipe from it is this lemony couscous and chermoula mushrooms.
Finally, Denis Cotter. I completely appreciate his seasonal and creative approach to vegetables. This had undoubtedly been heavily influenced by his time in some New Zealand kitchens, but I say Thank goodness for this, vegetable based cuisine that excites my palate.

5. What is your favourite recipe on your own blog and why?
Oooh that is a tough one. I had to go through my entire blog entries to pick one. I ended up choosing this Coriander, cumin and chilli quiche. This quiche has flavours reminisce of my childhood. It came about from memories of my limited vegetarian school dinner options, which was mashed potatoes with peas, or chips with beans; or chips with cheese quiche; and then when I returned home, it was my mothers cooking which often included these three flavours cumin, coriander and chilli. So I decided to combine the two flavours into one dish and this is what we have. The pastry base reminds me a little of a samosa pastry which sometimes has cumin seeds in it

6. To which music do you listen to when you cook and bake and why?
I don’t often listen to music while I am cooking as I like to be alert of my surroundings. I live in shared building and am always conscious of the noise I make, but also of potential hazards below and above me. I usually have the 24/7 news on in the background. I know that’s quite boring. I don’t want you thinking I don’t listen to music, I certainly do and have quite an eclectic taste in music. I am presently listening to: Santigold, Kings of Leon, Amy McDonald and Stornaway.

7. What is the strangest food that you have ever eaten and did you like it or not?
Falooda or Faluda is a traditional summer drink throughout the Indian Subcontinent. Traditionally it is mad with rose syrup, vermicelli and basil seeds along with milk or water. You can describe it as a cross between a milkshake and a tutti frutti. Its 100% vegetarian, but along with the garish pink colour, the beady balls of basil seeds with tiny black speck appears to my eyes like frog spawn floating in flavoured liquid. I just don’t like the texture and the thought of it used to make me gag. These days in place of the basil seeds you will find tapioca, still giving it that gelatinous texture in the mouth and it comes in many flavours, mango, chocolate and saffron. Please don’t let my experience of it put you off, should you ever come across this option, please do give it try. I am willing to give it another try as my tastes have changed enormously over the past 10 years.

8. What is your most lovely food destination in the world and why?
I have not travelled extensively, but through reading cookbooks and watching travel shows, it would perhaps be Northern Africa simply for flavours and colour.

9. What is your most favourite food shop in the world and why?
Sorry I don’t have one. What I would love though is a good, simple local and seasonal grocer or vegetable markets that is fairly priced. I’d be a happy woman. Every village, town and city should have one.

10. Which kitchen gadget do you love the most and why?
My swivel potato peeler - It is one of my purchases from my University days and its still peeling vegetables. Its much more than a potato peeler, peels apples, parsnip, carrots, even butternut squash...I quite like my garlic press too and wooden potato masher.


  1. Nice to know about you...:) I love to wear black clothes too.........!

  2. I started reading and so far I am with you for 1, 3,4, and 7 :-)

    to read all the rest (best meal and so on) I'll have to come back later because I am running late, but I will definitely come back :-)


  3. Thanks for this :). I had a stay at home mother and hated anything domestic too (still do to be honest, although I do cook sometimes obviously).

    I'm sorry to hear about your problems with work, I used to be like that so can relate only too well, hope things pick up and you have a lovely christmas.

    I also loved your tag questions.

  4. :-( hope next week getting to and from work and being at work is better for you. Loved reading about you, have a fantastic weekend. x oh and I wore a lot of black in my teens too - rather a fun phase :-)

  5. Well that was interesting MangoCheeks. When you follow someone's blog for a while you feel you sort of get to know the blogger, but it's always interesting to find out a bit more. Sorry you're having such a horrid time at work. I can empathise on that one as things not at all good for me in that department either. We've been lucky enough so far not to have any slush or ice on the pavements, so have managed to get to work OK, but it's raining now, so I suspect there will be plenty of black ice tomorrow - woopee!

  6. The snow looks so exciting, but I must admit to being happy to admire it from afar!

  7. I so enjoyed peeled back the layers, like an onion skin and now, we know you even better. That's nice.

  8. I enjoyed learning more about you, yes it's true, I am a big fan of your blog:) I'm happy that you didn't get stuck, frozen, on something while you were walking home. Have a stay warm and cozy weekend.

  9. snow seems very romantic to us in Australia where it doesn't snow much in the cities (we just get a bit in the hills at the outskirts of Melbourne occasionally) but this current snow sounds harsh. Sorry to hear your work isn't great either. Glad you have D to cook for you and cheer you up with some nice food.

    Was nice to read your tags - I always thought you taller - probably because I think most people are taller than me but we are about the same height (I never know my exact height but it is around that)

    I am also a fan of denis potter and would love to visit cafe paradiso

  10. I love having snow when I'm able to stay indoors and keep warm. It's not so nice when you have to fight through it in order to get to and from work. I know what you mean about wanting to keep the blog 'on track' but this meme follows your blogs theme, I enjoyed reading your answers.

  11. Thanks for answering my many questions & I loved your lovely anwers too!

    I love Pauk Gayler's recipes too! In my youth, I also wore a lot of black clothes, now yellow, red & brown!

  12. Hi Mangocheeks
    what a great blog, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the link to Stornaway, they sound just my cup of tea and have given me an idea for my sister's Christmas gift. I can totally empathise about the misery of travelling in this weather, I have been showbound for 2 days as no trains North of Sheffield.Just spent 2 back breaking hours digging mine and a neighbours car out of the snow.

    My sister works with homeless mentally ill folk and she has been busing into work to help keep the shelters running and provide clothing etc. Busy collecting hats, scarves, socks etc...........count your blessings I say :)


  13. ;-) Looks like your experimenting the Québec climate! We are not there yet but it is a matter of days. The good thing about winter is that you spend more time in the kitchen, and this, I appreciate!
    Wish you a lot of "courage" to go through the snow.
    Have a nice week-end.

  14. Thanks Jagruti.

    Thanks Alessandra. :-)

    Your so welcome Emma.
    I enjoy cooking now, but if it begins to feel like a chore, I dislike it.

    Thank you Scented Sweetpeas.
    Sadly weather forecast is that the weather is going to get much worse :-( not just for Scotland, but the whole of the U.K.
    PS Weasring black in my teens was my mysterious and moody stage.

    Thanks Choclette.
    Work is really horrid right now, but I will share more when I am clear headed. I am just angry right now. I am so sorry to read that things are not good for you at work too.
    I only went out into the garden to empty the kitchen fruit and veg scrap bin and even that was dangerously skiddy. I wish I had some ice-skates as it was a very unsteady walk!

    Lucky that you can admire the snow from afar, it was nice on the first day: soft snowflakes, now its black ice! I just want it to melt away now.

    Thand you so much Gardeningbren.
    I am so delighted to read that you enjoyed reading more about me. :D

    Thank you Patty.
    I am so pleased to read your comment and compliment. Thank you :) I certainly am enjoying being indoors today and i enjoyed my long lie in bed too.

  15. Thanks Johanna GGG.
    If I was in your shoes (so to speak) I too would see snow as very romantic. It was lovely on the first day it fell, soft snowflakes falling on you, but now it is not only harsh, but dangerous. The roads and pavements are really skiddy icy. Yes, I was pleased that D decided to cook for me, it really did cheer me up.

    I had an incline you were petite too, from something you wrote in your blog 'dreams of being a giraffe' but i didn't know for sure until now :) I am the smallest in my family too.

    Thank you so much Jo.
    I understand. I appreciate snow more when I'm able to stay indoors and keep warm too.

    Your right to point out the the meme follows my blogs theme, I did not acknowledge that until you said so. Thanks - so does that mean, I may have to anwer more questions :) Take care.

    Thank you Sophie.
    For actually getting me to participate in such a 'meme'.

    So good to read that you like Paul Gayler's recipes too! I am not that brave to wear yellow yet, so admire you!

    Thank you Jane aka Chicken lover.
    I totally recomment that you get Stornaways album not just for your sister, but for yourself too.

    I did read that snow was much worse down your way and now reading this, confirms it so. Sorry that you hare snowbound, but your right there is a lot we have to be grateful for. We are fortunate to have a roof over our heads and a warm(ish) home to come back too. I admire your sisters dedication :)

    Thanks spécialiste de l'éphémère.
    Weather readers say it is Siberian weather that we are experiencing righ now ;-) I think you are lucky not to have it where you are. Kitchen therapy is good and a warm place to be too.
    You Have a nice week-end.

  16. Hi Mangocheeks. I also enjoyed reading this post.
    Will you get your allotment back or a new one? Such a shame to lose it but you are obviously doing very well with your garden!

  17. Thanks Louise.
    No, I gave it up actually. The garden is very samll and i have not been able to grow veg on the same scale as I did on the allotment plot. If you want to learn more about what happened to my allotment plot, follow this link (no obligations).

  18. Size 4 shoes!

    I've also experienced a basil seed-infused drink. It was lavender lemonade with basil seeds that had been soaked overnight in 7-Up to soften and expand. Interesting, but I must agree, I don't care to "chew" my drinks.

    I also love your orange-chocolate brownie hearts - sweet.

  19. Thanks Barbara.
    The choc. brownies are nearly all gone. So light to eat.

    Yes, size 4 shoes :)

    Lavender and basil seeds, now i'd be tempted to try that one een with a bit of chew :D


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