I’ve started baking my own bread at the weekend. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but rarely managed, because patience is not one of my virtues. I think I’m getting into it now, though, and find it very satisfying.
My mother used to make a wholemeal loaf so heavy, dense and crusty that my sister and I called it “brick”. This sounds a bit mean, but she thought it was hilarious. I have no idea how she produced the brick bread and have never been able to replicate it. My loaves come out pretty normal.
When I was growing up, my mum would make minestrone on Sunday evenings. At least, she called it “minestrone”. It was composed from a dried packet soup, whatever vegetables she had lying around, and a tin of baked beans. The result was very salty and mainly tasted of baked beans. I loved it though.
I make my version slightly more traditionally, with real stock and no baked beans. It’s still one my comfort foods.
I’ve always quite liked the cheap malt loaf that comes in a packet, even though it sticks to the roof of your mouth when you try to eat it. It never occurred to me to try and make my own until I saw a recipe in The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones.
This is not the simplest recipe. There’s a lot going on and at least 5 pots were used. Barley malt is also a difficult substance to work with. It’s so sticky and it gets everywhere.
The result is well worth it though. This is a dense, moist tea bread that tastes amazing with butter. It’s filling too, one slice kept me going for hours.
An old veggie favourite – ‘Shepherd’s Bean Pie’.
The recipe comes from a rather odd cookbook called ‘Almost Vegetarian’ by the Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s certainly creative.
This pie is delicious – beans in a rich tomato sauce with a cheesy potato topping.
My partner baked carrot and black pepper soda bread. It’s delicious – savoury, moist and dense. The recipe is from Anna Jones’s book, A Modern Way to Eat.
I feel quite well-organised this weekend. I did some batch-cooking, made the chickpea minestrone from Ruby Tandoh’s Flavour and froze it in portions for later in the week.
I made some hummus too and froze half of that. Much cheaper than buying it and no skimping on the tahini.
Steam-roasted salmon & broccoli with lime, ginger, garlic and chilli
Saturday evening is project night when I try something new, or a bit more complicated than usual. Tonight we had this recipe from Rukmini Iyer’s book, The Roasting Tin. Very simple with a delicious dressing.
We celebrated with a spicy chickpea and squash stew by Ruby Tandoh.
I’ve heard that Mabon is basically Pagan Thanksgiving, but I’m not feeling particularly thankful. This year has been very difficult emotionally and that makes me feel angry and resentful – “I’ve finally got some stability in my life and I feel miserable! Not fair!!!”
So, I decided I’m just going to be thankful that the universe didn’t throw anything extra at us over the last twelve months. Nobody got sick or died. Nobody lost their job. We didn’t have to wrangle with a terrifying bureaucracy or move house again.
At least I got to be sad in relative peace.
Happy Autumn Equinox!