I love French Supermarkets. The French eat a lot more interesting things than we can get back home. I bought some slithery Giant Squid. Normally I would cut it in cubes and do it Italian style Provençal. Anyway, I happened to see a picture of some deep fried squidlings so I thought I would try their big cousin deep fried. Very tasty. I will make some modifications to the dish next time, as this was an experiment. About €5.50 would easily feed four people. Very good and full of minerals.
Braised and pulled Shin of Beef, with Boulangere Potatoes, Confit Shallots, and Winter Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts.
Having had a weekend of intensive cooking with the most delicious smells coming for my efforts, my Husband was after me getting the Brisket of beef on the table as a roast for His Sunday dinner. I explained the Beef needed to rest in the fat for two days. However I could serve the braised shin cooked slowly in jus. Served as the above menu.
I had planned to do this over Christmas, but it's a good try out to see if he likes it. I am cooking a lot of the actual meal on the wood oven. Slight glitch, it's his job to keep it running at 400F for cooking! It nearly went out, so having rescued it, we are going to be a bit late with supper. Hopefully he won't get grumpy for being hungry.
I am just going to serve half an Avocado on toast to make a starter to keep him happy!
I have started to collect earthenware pots to use on my new wood burning stove. It's surprising once you start looking for something, how many gems turn up.
There are various things to do to an Earthenware pot before using it. It nears soaking, and then perhaps some garlic and oil on its base depending on the clay. This is to prevent thermal shock, also to allow the porous clay to keep things moist.
Some types of pot are soaked every time they are used, others just the first time. Some pots are tempered with milk. Others made with local clays may be soaked in rice water for a few days to remove impurities.
The key to this is recognising the clay, or having the sticker on it telling you what to do. It's surprising how many people buy these pots on holiday, then get home and find they never use them so they find their way to the charity shop, where I am more than happy to give something ideal for me a new home.
Here are my recent purchases and some different ways I seasoned them.
I suppose my intensive cooking weekend was prompted by the loss of a freezer full of delicious, lovingly cooked meals. I do cook in bulk, then portion things down carefully to calorific and portion size.
Just one of those things. The freezer tripped while we were away for a holiday recently and we came home to mush. Well not really as most things are vac packed, and then stored in seperate containers so it wasn't a dump the Freezer disaster.
However, this means I do not have a store of ready cooked meals that have a great meat provenience. The litres of carefully prepared chicken, and beef stock and jus I like to have for roasts. Or the famous Bangladeshi Curry. And at this time of year Jersey Bean Crock for those very cold days. I also make a couple of trays of Yorkshire puddings when I have the oven on high, and store those in bags of four. It just makes it a cinch to whip them into the oven 5 minutes at the end of a roast and not have to bother with making a small amount for the two of us.
What I think we lack in our modern diets are these old sinewy, fatty cuts of meat. We have been brainwashed fat is bad for us. However, the way things are cooked slowly renders out much of the fat, and leaves collagen and sinews as a gelatinous protein that is essential for our skin, hair and cartilage.
Neither my husband or I have high cholesterol. My hear function is as good as a fit 16 year old's at 70110 resting. Yes I have a hacking cough at the moment from a chest infection I can't seem to shift, and the 10-15 roll ups a day! We drink a bottle of beer between us most evenings, and a bottle of red wine between us.
I went for for my first visit to the smoking clinic the other day at the behest of my doctor. When my Carbon Monoxide level was checked, it registered 12 parts per million. I had already had 4 fags!
Normal people who don't smoke probably have 6-8 parts per million. If you walk through traffic it would shoot it up higher than 12 parts per million, which incidentally I had to ask my husband to turn off the fan in the car on the way to the clinic as all I could smell and taste was diesel and petrol fumes.
Perhaps I just don't inhale a lot of the smoke from my roll ups. I only smoke outside in the garden. It's my kind of chatting to God moments. Or reflecting and planning what processes I am going to do. I plan everything mindfully first, and then just go and do it.
Anyway, I want to know what is in my food. I want to portion it so we don't overeat. I also like to cost the portions as I just like to know how much I am spending. Most of our meals work out under £2 each. Then we buy a good fishy meal at the Waitrose fish counter on Fridays when they have a 20% discount. I also try to eat an oily tinned fish during the week.
To be honest I am hardly ever hungry. Sometimes I may only eat one meal a day. I think it's because of the type of food we eat. I also find I become full very quickly, so have to make sure I don't put more on my plate. I prefer a bit of decoration than too much food.
My husband would have seconds every time if the meals were not pre portioned. He must watch his weight. I think over the last month I have sneakily slimmed him down by about half a stone! He is a well built man, and foodie. Measuring our wine over the last month has helped too. We buy boxes of wine, so the best thing to do is pour the evenings allotment into a little pitcher each. His usual offer of a cup of tea comes when I have about half a glass left, and he has run out!
Its one of those delightful marital rituals. I know he knows he wants my wine! I am touched he would make me a cup of tea as a swap!
I enjoy bulk cooking. The processes of slow cooked foods, and the preparation and care that I take with our food, and the respect I give to the meat and vegetables we eat. It honours God, and the animals we eat.
I also enjoy getting out a vac packed meal from our Freezer convenience store and having it ready with little bother most evenings. I realise most people would say they work so couldn't do this. I did when I worked. Prep time is minimal, cook time unsupervised, and pack time perhaps 20 minutes of weighing and sealing. Done as a family entertainment rather than watching TV every night of the week also teachers the youngsters their way round the kitchen.
My mother didn't work. She was on local council, and did a few other organisational things. She was very involved with the RAF air show at Shoreham. She also took evening classes, did some painting, loved gardening, and hated cleaning the house!
My my mother was also a very keen home economist who raised and fed five hungry sporty children, and cooked the special Coeliac diet for my Father.
Mostly these are techniques my mother and Grandmothers used. They are the cuts of meat that we ate. Just because they were cheap, and still are compared to the prime cuts, it doesn't mean they are less valuable. They are full of tissues you don't get in the lean meat. This coats our nerves, builds our skin and cartilage and with all the stock, lines our gut and keeps it healthy.
Brawn is also lovely in the summer as a cold potted meat with salad. The French eat a lot of these things. Brawn is called 'Fromage de Tete' in French. Rillette can be made from most fatty meats.
In days gone by, slow cooking the meat in a pot and pouring fat over it to seal it kept meat preserved in a cold pantry for weeks. It also meant the cook of the house always had a menu on hand for unexpected guests, or simply a food store for the house. This used to be considered wealth in most families. It meant you didn't have to worry where your next meal was coming from.
Believe me, nothing was wasted. Every scrap was utilised in some way. Our current lifestyle and recent generations do not remember oranges only arrived just before Christmas, and they were wonderful and exotic. We got one each in our Christmas Stocking! And I am only 60 years old! It was easier to get chocolate.
I find it heartbreaking to see so much wasted food. At least there are now initiatives to redistribute sell by date food, that is still good to eat, and get use by date perishable goods to people who desperately need help from food banks. Here in Jersey there are initiatives to make meals up from this food for families who need cooking for.
With my skills it is something I will look at doing next year. It's a bit like a cross between meals on wheels and a turn up at your house with a dinner for people who may even not have enough money to pay for the electric to cook their food.
I like cooking for people, so I have the time, and the enjoyment of doing it, also knowing that someone will not just sit down to a meal, but a lot of love and care cooked into it.
I hope I might inspire you to try different foods, the not so posh cuts of meat. When we buy and use the whole animal a farmer produces with care, we give the animal a higher value. This can easily translate into the animals wellbeing and conditions of its life. It allows them to be 'slow grown' in fields, eating grass and running and skipping and foraging about. It makes for happy animals, and shall we say meat produce with a good aura!
With good provenence, and slow grown meat very little medication is ever given to our local animals. They are numbered, so the animal has been tracked. My piggy had No 22 tattooed on his hock. I don't think Jon Hackett names his Pigs, but he would have been sad to see no 22 get big enough for the chop. What makes it less sad, is that we have seen no 22 having a great time growing up all summer. Playing with his mates, and being well fed and cared for. He was also a special purchase by me as I asked for his head and trotters.
Like I said, when you give your Pigs head a shave, and his trotters a manicure before you cook him, you can't get more identified with your food than that!
I am still chortling away to myself a day later after having my husband under my feet for my cooking weekend. I was cleaning the Pigs teeth, and getting a bit of straw out that had caused him a slight abscess and created a little pocket between his back molars.
I suddenly said loud enough for him to hear, 'good grief this pig has had a filling done'.
He shot over to have a look, and mistook the darker back molars as filled teeth. Incredulous, shocked and a few moments later he said, 'You are telling porkies'.
As my Mr Pork was no 22... we have a 'Catch 22 ... Pigs might fly'.
I wonder if he gave them a good run to catch him.
As a Bi-Polar person, I am faced with the catch 22 all the time! Self aware enough to know I shouldn't be driving, so technically not mentally unfit. However as I am considered not mentally unfit, my psychiatric services might get the chop! To which I would then get unwell...
I have posted this before, so I will group it under the same heading. A day in the kitchen having a few cups of tea, musing along with ones own thoughts, chopping preparing, planning meals ahead can't be a bad day. I know it's not everyone's idea of recreation!
I also went to the Hospice Care charity shop at St Ouens and spent £25 on cookware, £27 on a fabulous leather back sack, which wasn't a huge bargain but I like it and it's useful and hardly used, and £10 on a posh pre-loved jumper that with some TLC will look as good as new.
I wanted dishes to put the Brawn in, as I have promised some to two friends. I found just what I wanted, and will make a great gift package for my efforts.
This is not difficult. It's just a long process that you do other things while the brining and cooking happens. It helps a lot if you get your Pigs head from Jon Hackett. I have never seen one so clean!
Just going to post this as photos.
This takes a while, however plan to do it when you are using the oven at low temperatures and it can sit in the bottom gently melting away. No special technique.
I started mine It has been on a hot plate on a No 2 setting for a few hours in the pressure cooker as there was so much. Just the lid on without the rubber seal and not clipped in, to stop any splashes.
Yes we finally got the kitchen done, and I now have that self cleaning oven. It's wonderful. I notice the self clean left some black bits round the door seal, but I plan to get them off after this weekend.
I am not a fan of the Neff fold away door. I will show you why when I Cook Yorkshire puddings in the new year!
This is how much the fat has melted so far. It is now in the bottom of the oven while I slow cook the Bangladesh Curry. I suppose those who are Kosher or Halal will cringe that I am cooking this in the same pot as the Pork and beans were cooked in, but I scrub the pot out with bicarbonate of soda and some vinegar and leave it for half an hour before rinsing it and drying it with a clean tea towel It is a glazed pot!
I prefer a slow oven to a slow cooker. I have had things overheat in a slow cooker and burn. The new Neff is very efficient, and well insulated, so I think there isn't much in it. Also I can bulk cook two or three things with the same energy.
TMy husband had planned to go away this weekend, but due to bad weather didn't go, so thinking I would have to amuse myself I ordered some very 'Old Fashioned' cuts of meat from our excellent Butcher. Jon Hackett here in Jersey at Brooklands Farm raises wonderful outdoor roaming well loved spotty pigs.
They have a van at the Farm shop on Friday and Saturday, and take orders for their wonderful pigs.
I think the breeds Jon rears are British Sadleback, Oxford Sandy, Black Rare Breed. Pork has always been a staple meat in Jersey.
The Van Shop also sells Jersey Beef.
The difference with Jersey Beef is the colour of the fat. It is bright yellow because of the high buttermilk in the cow. The grass here is lush. The breed of cow gives a yellow fat. It is a different taste and look to the meat but is delicious.
Jersey cows have a far higher Omega 3 content to their milk and fat due to them being grass fed most of the year, and simply the type of cow. In order to keep the milking cows in milk, they are bred with Aberdeen Angus for meat.
Anyway I decided to do some of Grandma's Christmas treats.
A whole Pigs Head Brawn. A whole confit of Brisket. Some confit of shin. Also to stock up the freezer with Bangladesh curry. If this were a large family, this would cover the entire meat purchase for Christmas. It could all be made beforehand and frozen. It also supports our local farmers, and Island agriculture. Treated with care these parts of the animal are delicious.
I am going to do seperate posts for each dish, and the process for rendering the fat.
Here is the meat I bought this morning for £68. This is all prime, hand reared, and well butchered meat. Even the Pigs ears were clean! I will have to give the Pig a shave before cooking it, but it is sitting in brine right now. I decided to brine it first to firm it up a bit.
I think most cultures have their version of this tasty filling full of fibre and goodness winter dish. This is the original Jersey Bean Crock recipe. Sorry I didn't take photos doing it, this is the finished result and packing it for freezing.
Unctuous. It's still warm so liquid, but when cold turns to thick jelly full of bones and porcine goodness.
Just an ordinary girl who likes cooking traditional food for my Husband and myself and occasionally friends.