Thirty grams down, 15 kg to go …

On taking stock of what two years of Covid restrictions have done in my life, I conclude that I’m one of the lucky ones. Firstly, I haven’t yet had Covid-19 (though I shouldn’t say that too loudly, I don’t want to tempt fate) and secondly I didn’t have to miss going out to work as I’m retired and what work I do, I do from home anyway. On the other hand, there are two consequences that I’m not so happy about: the first is that I’ve become a social recluse, almost a hermit, and the second that I have gained at least 10 kilos. 

I’ve been muttering about my weight for a while, but my attempts to lose any were pretty half-hearted and my addiction to cheese triumphed over my willpower. A week or so ago, I responded to an ad that popped up on Facebook for Noom. Have any of you tried this? 

They have some pretty aggressive marketing which I tried to ignore, but finally I gave in when they offered me six months free on an annual subscription that – they say – can be cancelled any time. Immediately I was inundated with encouraging messages and e-mails, and an app that allows me to log almost every minute of my day one way or another. If Big Brother is interested in my antics, he will have no trouble whatsoever in tracking me down.

I haven’t actually learned anything I didn’t already know about nutrition and exercise, but I must say there’s no lack of positive feedback and encouragement from the second I wake up until the moment I tap “Finish the day”. And some tempting recipes – even though, as they are American, I’m not always sure what this or that ingredient is or how many grams of a certain item make up a cup. For instance, how many cups are two sticks of celery or five leaves of an iceberg lettuce? How heavy is an American slice of bacon? (Ours is cut very thin, 8 slices weigh 100g)

One of the things I signed up for was a “customized workout program” downloaded onto my computer. When I saw the photos, I laughed out loud. I can do all these things in my head, and certainly was physically capable of them 30 or 40 years ago, but can I do a plank, crunch or push-ups now? No way! I can’t jump or jog, let alone do power-walking or running, and as for some of the bending and stretching – let’s just say, my elastic has perished! No use saying “Just try, it will come with practice” – it won’t. If I sit or lie down on the floor, it’s a cardio session just getting up again. I can walk at a leisurely pace and I can swim, and that’s about it. 

However, what did impress me was that as soon as I informed Noom of my incapacity – I am, after all, now 81 years old and pretty well spherical – they instantly refunded the cost of that workout sheet. Somewhere on the Internet I saw some exercises you can do on or with a chair so maybe I’ll give those a try. 

“Stand on one leg while you’re cleaning your teeth,” I’ve been told. 

OK, as long as I can hold onto the washbasin with the other hand, but I’m wobbly even then. 

“Walk up and down stairs without using the handrail,” is another one that isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’ve tripped UP the stairs in my house a couple of times, and am not eager to fall DOWN them, seeing as they are stone.

Well, I can still do most of my housework unaided, including cleaning the windows, emptying the dishwasher and hanging up my washing, so I reckon that will have to count as a workout for me. And walking to the shops with my little trolley gives me a couple of thousand steps, as does going to my local park to watch the squirrels and ducks. I just need to get over that Covid-induced reluctance to step over the threshold into public space … 

What’s for dinner, Mom?

What did you eat as a child that your grandchildren – or, in my case, great-grandchildren – have never experienced?

Well, that shouldn’t be too hard to answer: not only did I grow up in an entirely different age but also in a different country, so not only the historical circumstances but also the cultural context are very different. My eldest granddaughter’s kids are enjoying a healthy lifestyle in rural Switzerland – you can’t get much better foodwise than that! My youngest great-granddaughter is in suburban France but not yet properly weaned, so can’t really be included in this mini-survey. 

I, on the other hand, grew up in an English industrial town during WWII with rationing at its strictest during my earliest years because very little food could be imported and we had to rely on the limited amounts that could be produced domestically. Added to which, I was a fussy eater and didn’t like most of the few things that were to be had, especially meat. However, some of the things I did like would probably make my great-grandchildren shudder. Dried egg, for instance, which I would surreptitiously teaspoon out of its tin behind my mother’s back. My lasting memory isn’t of the taste but of the texture of this strange dry powder that clung to the roof of the mouth. And rationing continued long after WWII ended in 1945: sweets didn’t come “off ration” until 1953 and meat until mid 1954. 

To put you in the picture, this is a typical weekly food ration for an adult in the 1940’s:

  • Bacon & Ham              4 oz (120 g)
  • Other meat                  value of 1 shilling and 2 pence (equivalent to 2 chops)
  • Butter                            2 oz (60 g)
  • Cheese                          2 oz (60 g)
  • Margarine                    4 oz (120 g)
  • Cooking fat                  4 oz (120 g)
  • Milk                               3 pints (1.5 l)
  • Sugar                             8 oz (240 g)
  • Preserves                     1 lb every 2 months (480 g)
  • Tea (loose)                  2 oz (60 g)
  • Eggs                               1 fresh egg (plus 12 portions of dried egg every 2 months)
  • Sweets                          12 oz every 4 weeks (360 g)

Bread, fish and chips weren’t rationed, but of course fish and potatoes were available in limited quantities so portions were small. Fishermen definitely weren’t so keen to go out with German U-boats lurking in their fishing grounds. Bread was not what we think of as such nowadays. People supplemented their rations with what they could grow in their gardens and allotments, but even seeds were limited in variety as well as in availability. 

Children received a few little extras: 3 eggs a week, for example. We were supplied with medicine bottles of “Welfare” concentrated orange juice imported from the USA, and cod-liver oil. A spoonful of a brown sticky stuff called “Vimaltol” “Virol” or “Radio Malt” was also administered daily – this was a vitamin supplement made from malt extract to prevent us getting rickets. Would little kids nowadays enjoy this sickeningly sweet goo?

It all sounds pretty awful, but in fact rationing had a positive effect on both health and longevity among the British public, and obesity was definitely not a problem! 

So what other things did I eat that my great-grandchildren have never heard of?

They may have come across Spam in some form or other, but I doubt if they have tried whale meat, which also came in tins. Another tinned (or canned for my US readers) item was very overcooked spaghetti in tomato sauce, which we ate warmed up on toast. I think this was sometimes included in Sunday breakfast, along with sausages, bacon and egg as an alternative to baked beans. Or perhaps that was just me. The toast was made by holding a slice of bread on a toasting fork over the red-hot embers of a coal fire, which gave it a distinctive taste you just don’t get from an electric toaster. There was a knack in the way you put the bread onto the toasting fork, as if you did it wrong your toast would fall off into the fire. 

A big treat at birthday parties was jelly and blancmange. Although they may be familiar with jelly I don’t think my kids know what blancmange is, and the idea of eating tinned fruit (peaches or apricots in particular) using tinned evaporated milk as a substitute for cream with a slice of bread and butter on the side would seem very weird to them, but real cream was an unknown luxury. 

This has made me reflect deeply about the changes in  my diet over my lifetime: maybe I should go back to some of the principles on which the Ministry of Food based its decisions in that very difficult decade of the 1940’s. Most of all, portion size!

More on this here for those interested and


Domestic Goddess

No-one who knows me would ever accuse me of being a “domestic goddess” – in fact, the mere idea would probably reduce my nearest and dearest to paroxysms of giggles – but I do have “moments” where the spirit of Vesta (Roman goddess of hearth and home) is prominent. I enjoy good food and wine, so I do try to produce edible meals for myself (and others on occasion) but though I can cook if I have to, I regard cooking and baking as a necessity rather than a hobby.

It’s only fair to admit that I also sometimes fail miserably, presumably in those moments when Vesta has wandered off to investigate what’s happening in the kitchen next door. The Vestal Virgins guarded her sacred flame, so I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised at burnt offerings. My granddaughters are convinced that I can only cook fish fingers – a prejudice left over from their childhood. Certainly no hankering for Granny’s cooking and baking there!

Today was one of my good days, and I’m rather sad that I had nobody here to share my delicious meal and allow me to show off my prowess.  Will I be able to reproduce it? Who knows! It was a very simple recipe. I had some fat and juices left over from a roast chicken last Thursday, that had been stuffed with butter, onion and a whole bulb of garlic, so this was already a very tasty base for my gravy. This time, I just had some chicken breasts to cook.

I seasoned them with herbes de Provence, paprika and salt, seared them in the fat, added the juices and some red wine, covered the pan and left it to simmer for half an hour or so – it might have been 40 minutes, since a friend called me in the middle of the cooking. Time isn’t so important with this kind of coq au vin. Then, just before serving I added a good dollop of crème fraiche to the jus. It was accompanied by a mixture of courgette, sweet red pepper and tomato sautéed in olive oil, also seasoned with herbes de Provence, and I had just one glass of the red wine left (a merlot from Ticino) to wash it all down.

I did invite the friend who called to come over and share it with me, as there would have been plenty for two, but she had already had her lunch. I confess not only to licking the spoon, but also the plate in the confines of my kitchen: none of that delicious gravy was going to waste today! The rest is in the freezer.

I’m not quite sure what has happened to me over the last seven or eight days: Vesta must have moved in, I think! I started last Monday by daring to go out shopping for the first time, clad in mask and gloves, and bought groceries to last me for the week. So domesticity was on my mind. Maybe Vesta slipped in then? Or do I have an orderly guardian angel?

On Tuesday, my apartment struck me as being messy so I tidied up and moved a cupboard from my living room into the hall, replacing it with a small round table that had been standing in the corner. That freed up a mirror that had been hidden behind it. It isn’t a large cupboard but the living room suddenly looked quite a lot bigger without it.



Once it was in the hall, however, I needed to change some pictures and ornaments around … and so it went on. The cupboard displaced a set of leather suitcases containing hats, scarves, gloves etc. and these went into my bedroom. Moving furniture disturbed the spiders and revealed dusty cobwebs, so of course that meant vacuuming and dusting, so the whole living room got spring cleaned and I collapsed exhausted.


On Wednesday, I did a thorough job on kitchen and bathroom, did three lots of washing and cleaned all the windows.



Thursday saw me busy with the hall, and thence to the bedroom, with a little more furniture changing places and more cobwebs leaping forth. Two easels and several blank canvases emerged from behind the curtains, so another incentive to get my paints out. The most time-consuming task was really to sort and tidy up all the stuff that just gets put down temporarily and becomes piles.

One wall is bookshelves, which were also crammed with stuff that had no business there, including 5 decades of correspondence and even some exercise books from my schooldays.


These have now been archived in the basement (that’s another story!) but of course I was side tracked into reading some of the old letters and seeing myself as a thirteen-year-old reflected in the school books. Yuck!

This explains why I never really knew much about Magellan’s voyages of discovery …

By Friday, the bedroom was finished and I rewarded myself with a nice salmon steak and spinach for lunch – in spite of another friend informing me that “you’ll never find a good restaurant putting spinach with salmon”. Really? I think they go well together.

On Saturday, I tackled the last chore, which was sorting my jewellery out. I don’t have anything of great value, but it was mostly in little boxes so I just forget what’s where and end up wearing the same all the time. I also need a good place to keep it. Now it’s neatly arranged in “caskets” where I can see everything at a glance and my necklaces are visible, strung up on my bedside lamp. Pieces I’ll never wear again are ready to be handed over to the charity shop or to my great-granddaughters to dress up in.


After my efforts I felt justified in relaxing on Sunday, feeling very happy and comfortable in my neat-as-a-pin home, and grateful to the Lord for motivating me and giving me all the energy I needed. Perhaps I should also add: thank you, Vesta, for helping me become a real Swiss housewife!



Eating English

All home-grown local produce at David Austin Roses, Albrighton nr. Wolverhampton. Wholesome and delicious!

Gault Millau has awarded high scores to a fair number of restaurants within dining distance of my home here in Switzerland (some even within walking distance), and the new edition (2020) of their guide continues to affirm that – apart from finding the cash – there is no reason for me to worry about being disappointed when I’m eating out locally.

It’s a different matter when it comes to eating out in England, which can be very hit-and-miss. My recent trip to old and new haunts involved many meals out, from pubs to country inns and posh restaurants via a catering college, and I surprised my hosts and guests by privileging traditional dishes or those only found in the UK. On the whole, I was impressed by the quality of the food.

I wanted fish and chips, steak and ale pie (with Stilton cheese in it), a cream tea with real clotted cream, sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie. With proper custard, not vanilla sauce. Okay, that’s a lot of calories and more than enough carbs, but with attention to the rest of my diet, I managed to include all of the above plus a very copious mixed grill (including black pudding), roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, and a gorgeous lamb shank in my various outings without actually adding any more pounds to my (admittedly) already overweight frame. A tasty high tea – with pork pie, English cheeses and sausage rolls among other things – provided by a food loving cousin ticked many of my boxes!

I had, in fact, made a list of such delicacies, just for fun – it started with a decent cuppa and a nice G&T, but I had forgotten how trendy gin has become, so was slightly fazed when asked “What kind of gin would you like?” and saw the rainbow assortment on the shelf behind the bar. I’m an old fashioned girl: good old Gordon’s or Beefeater is fine by me – I want my gin to taste of gin and not of rhubarb, lavender or liquorice, no matter how much I enjoy those flavours by themselves.

There were some foods I had completely forgotten about that were an unexpected delight – malt loaf and Coronation chicken with a jacket potato spring to mind – and then I discovered some that were new to me, but which were delicious.

The first of these was the dessert served at the aforesaid catering college in Stafford. It was the first day for the new intake of students, who stood stiffly to attention in a well-scrubbed, shiny-faced line backed up against the counter looking as if they were facing a firing squad. Could they possibly be over 15? Some of them, including the minute maiden who served us, didn’t look more than ten or twelve. We were a party of three, alone in the large dining room, and outnumbered four to one by the potential staff, so we should have been the ones who were intimidated!

The starter and main course were good, but the dessert was delicious: a lemon posset with sugared almond shortbread. None of us knew what a posset was, but were very pleasantly surprised and even happier when the “manageress” gave me the recipe (from BBC Good Food). It’s a very light lemon cream, sweet but tart, and the shortbread was melt-in-the-mouth. Well done, you rookie cooks!

The second was a traditional local speciality from North Staffordshire, and I am totally flummoxed as to why I didn’t know it, and why it hasn’t become more wide-spread. Scottish oatcakes are famous, but Stoke oatcakes are an entirely different entity.

Traditionally made at home and sold from the windows of small terraced houses directly onto the street in the Potteries town of Stoke-on-Trent, they look like a thin pancake or crêpe with a savoury filling – mine had mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and bacon. Nowadays, that tradition has died out (the sad march of progress) but I enjoyed my very first Stoke oatcake at the eatery in Trentham Gardens, so a beautiful setting as well as a very satisfying lunch. The recipe and some of the history can be found here and these definitely deserve to be better known.

And oh yes, just for those who are unfamiliar with the history of sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie, which appear on the dessert menus of virtually every pub in the country (and can vary from divine to nauseating, so be warned!), here is some interesting information. and

If you want to try them yourself, follow one of the good TV cooks’ recipes such as Mary Berry, James Martin or Nigella Lawson – and don’t overdo the sugar!

Ding-Dong Merrily Mince Pie

There’s snow on the ground, and the mountains are dazzling in the bright sunshine, with a deep blue sky behind them. Yesterday was St Nicholas’ day, my little wooden nativity and angels inherited from Mom are up, and the Advent candles are all ready. What’s missing? Seasonal fare.

IMG_1960The supermarkets are full of Germanic Weihnachtsgebäck and Stollen, and my granddaughters are baking their own, but I’m on a high fat/low carb/low sugar diet. Supposed to be. I have resisted making or buying any gingerbread, cakes or biscuits and am feeling fairly virtuous.

However, nostalgia urges me to produce something British for Christmas. I didn’t feel up to making a rich Christmas fruit cake this year, and as I’m the only member of the family who enjoys Christmas pudding there seems little point in running around trying to get suet outside of the UK. The absence of suet here also led me to think that I wouldn’t be getting any mince pies, either, although the family do share my love of those calorie bombs and if I could make some, they would happily eat them. But like suet, ready-made mincemeat is not generally available here.

Then – Mary Berry to the rescue! She has an online recipe for mincemeat made with butter, and indeed, goes so far as to say that she (the queen of baking) actually prefers the taste of butter, and then adds: “I no longer use cellophane tops or wax paper. I simply use clean sterilised screw-top jars saved from bought marmalade or jam.”

For some reason, although we can get dried cranberries and several kinds of raisins and sultanas, here in Switzerland currants are not so current and we have to go to the health food store for those. I couldn’t find muscovado sugar, either – but does it really make such a difference? I spent a small fortune on all the other ingredients, and a very happy half hour mixing it up and making it nice, then pop went the weasel into the jam jars that had fortuitously avoided being recycled.

I’ve made mincemeat before, many years ago, to an old recipe that I believe is at least 100 years old dating from the days when you had to stone the raisins and chop the suet yourself. It also has orange marmalade in it. As I recall, it involved putting the jars of mincemeat in a slow oven to ensure it wouldn’t go mouldy. Mary Berry’s version is made in a large saucepan and simmered for 10 minutes, which she maintains is adequate to prevent any deterioration. I’m not quite sure about that, so mine is being kept in the fridge.

My idea was to make a few mince pies for a potluck Christmas party coming up, and some more for our family Christmas Day, and maybe give a jar or two away as presents. However, the quantities in Mary’s recipe only stretched to three jars, and of course I have to sample my product before thrusting it upon the world at large.

mince pies

NOTE that I deliberately abstained from adding a dusting of castor sugar!

Personally, I prefer shortcrust pastry for my mince pies because puff pastry leaves little room for the filling, as it tends to ooze out as the pastry puffs up: I can squeeze more into a shortcrust pastry case. Unfortunately, while I could always produce melt-in-the-mouth pastry in England, here in Switzerland the flour is less refined (or something) and the pastry turns out heavier. So I cheated and bought some readymade puff pastry from the supermarket, and made a dozen pies. They looked good, but I had to make sure they also tasted right. Yes, though they could have done with a more generous filling. I had to eat nine of them to be sure my mincemeat was OK. So much for my low carb/low sugar diet.

Tomorrow, I’ll make another batch of mincemeat so I can give some away.
Thank you, Mary Berry! (How do you stay so slim?)


A Trip To The Village

Very seldom nowadays do I actually sit down and write a letter or card. Even birthday greetings are despatched digitally in most cases. However, yesterday I wrote to an old friend who disdains e-mails. I addressed the envelope and affixed two stamps, to make sure the postage was sufficient, placed my letter inside the envelope and sealed it. I then placed it on the shoe cupboard by my front door together with my mittens to make sure I wouldn’t forget it.


Today, I put the letter in my coat pocket and set off for the post office. On the way, as I was negotiating some steps, I was hampered by my hair falling in my eyes when I looked down, so I decided to pop into my hairdresser’s and get her to cut me a porthole in my fringe. This “pop” developed into a brief social visit, and as I left her salon and was passing the grocery store next door, it occurred to me that I needed to replace the milk that had turned out to be sour at breakfast this morning.

So into the little supermarket I went, remembering in my tour of the shelves that I also needed butter, eggs, mayonnaise and some fruit. I had to hunt for the mayonnaise, which drove the butter out of my mind, but I did get milk, eggs, mayonnaise, apples and pears so four out of five – that wasn’t too bad.

Next door to the grocer’s is the butcher’s.  Aha, my grandson-in-law is celebrating his birthday next week, and I know he likes this butcher’s homemade smoked venison sausage called Salsa. Salsiz is a kind of Swiss salami-type sausage, a speciality of the region where I live (Graubünden), and is listed in the database Culinary Heritage of Switzerland. 


Photo from Wikipedia

Switzerland may be small, but my grandson-in-law lives in the canton of Thurgau more than 100 km away, separated from me by mountains and lakes, in a canton where they don’t make Salsiz. Six delicious Hirschsalsiz, please – and I can tick his birthday present off my list. A lovely local red wine – maybe a Bündner Herrschaften – will go well with that. Perhaps one of our local mountain cheeses, too? GIL will be very happy, and there should be enough Salsiz to share one with his children.

My little shopping bag is getting heavy, so I decide to leave the wine and cheese till tomorrow since the shop I want to get it from is on the other side of the village. My feet turn towards home, and I am ready for a nice cup of tea when I get in. Shoes off, hang coat up, unpack, kettle on, tea in pot – ah, that’s good. Sit down with my cuppa and – hang on, wasn’t I supposed to be going to the post office? What for? Oh dear. The letter is still in my pocket!

Ad Hoc Lemon Chicken Casserole

IMG_0364Once again, Sunday lunch crept up on me unawares. That is, I had stuff in the deep freeze and fridge but no carefully thought out “this goes with that” according to a planned schedule of recipes as recommended by guides to being a good housewife. So my preparation today was more like speed dating than matchmaking.

Chicken, that good old standby, goes with almost anything and I always have some chicken breasts for the days where I feel uninspired. There were also four mushrooms looking rather pathetic in the middle of the fridge, with beetroot, celery, broccoli, a red pepper, carrots and parsnips lurking in the veggie drawer. Fresh herbs remaining on the shelf are parsley, mint, rosemary and basil.

On the kitchen counter a dish with lemons and tangerines has been providing a decorative splash of colour for a couple of weeks, and I realised that their skins were beginning to harden. Alert: use-by date probably yesterday! There are innumerable appetising recipes for lemon chicken, mostly with chicken thighs, but as usual I ended up combining several to accommodate my ingredients. The mushrooms, beetroot and parsnips are still in the fridge, ready for another day’s dinner.

Someone recently was advertising an app for students wanting simple recipes, where you enter a list of ingredients and up pop delicious dishes. That seems unnecessary to me – Google or Jeeves will do the same and a bit of imagination can make it an individual speciality.

Our Sunday lunch was very tasty, and probably provided us with enough vitamin C to protect us against colds all through the winter. In fact, it was probably also quite low in calories, too, an additional bonus. And finally, like all casseroles and stews, washing up is kept to a minimum.

Lemon Chicken Casserole

  • 2 chicken breasts, split through the middle into butterflies
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 lemons
  • leaves of 2 sticks of rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6. Mix the juice of 2 lemons with the honey, oil, butter, rosemary, crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and heat to a fragrant-smelling sauce – I did this in the microwave, to save washing up a saucepan. You could also use the zest of the lemons and probably add a dollop of mustard and soy sauce. I suppose you could also add a chicken stock cube or thicken the sauce with flour. I didn’t so I don’t know if this would improve it or not.

Place the chicken pieces flat on the bottom of a roasting tin or casserole dish and pour the sauce over. Cut the 3rd lemon into 8 wedges, and place evenly around the chicken. Dice the potatoes and vegetables and add to the chicken.

Cook for at least 50 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. This casserole can actually stay happily in the oven as long as you like: mine was there for almost 2 hours. I added a few broccoli florets at the end (quickly cooked in the microwave) for extra colour, flavour and vitamins.

My only problem with this dish was finding a wine to go with the strong lemon taste. Or rather, no problem: just no wine!

Celtic Cakes

Apple trees have rewarded their owners this year with a very rich crop, so I was pleased when my cousin turned up laden like a packhorse with a heavy bag on either side, full of pickings from her trees. Nobody knows any more what variety these are, but they make very tasty baked apples, apple pies and crumbles. There were also two enormous spherical courgettes, most welcome additions.IMG_0241

I peeled, cored and sliced for a good half hour and produced enough stewed apple to make a pie, a crumble and fill a plastic container for the freezer. Being in a domestic goddess mood, I made extra crumble mixture, intending to store the surplus in a jar in the fridge until it was needed, but my good intentions were thwarted by a post on Facebook from Wales for Welsh cakes.

My crumble mixture included porridge oats and ground almonds, which are not in the original authentic Welsh cakes mix, and my mother suggested adding a drop of rum – I suppose whiskey would be more fitting for the Scottish accent, but rum goes with the dried fruit. Quantities aren’t precise. You can vary the proportion of oats and nuts, as long as you keep approximately double the amount of flour mixture to fat. I also have a heavy hand with the spices, adding extra cinnamon and nutmeg, but that isn’t to everyone’s taste.

These would originally have been made like drop scones on a griddle, and if you have one you can have fun making these. If unexpected guests turn up, especially if they have children to lend a hand, and you have no cake to offer you could whip up a pan full in no time. Keep them small, and they cook very quickly in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, but you do need an eagle eye to ensure they are turned over before they burn. If you are using a non-stick pan, the butter isn’t really necessary but it does enhance the flavour.


When they are ready (crispy on the outside, a bit soft in the middle, but do make sure they are cooked through) let them cool. They should keep for about a week in an airtight tin, but that is only hearsay: ours barely survived cooling, and indeed more than one was eaten still warm.

Welsh cakes with a Scottish accent

4 oz (125 g) margarine or butter
4 (125 g) oz SR flour
2 (60 g) oz porridge oats
2 (60 g)oz ground almonds
3 (100 g) oz sugar
2 (60 g) oz raisins (or any other dried fruit)
tsp mixed spice
1 egg
I tsp rum
pinch salt
little milk to bind if necessary

Mix flour, oats, sugar and nuts and rub fat in to make a crumble mixture,
Mix in currants and add egg and rum. Mix to a soft dough – consistency of short crust pastry – adding a splash of milk if it’s too dry.
Roll out to about ½ “ thick, cut into rounds with a pastry cutter and cook in a heavy-bottomed frying pan with a little butter (not too hot – don’t let them burn!) until golden brown and cooked through. About 3 minutes each side. Allow to cool on a wire grid and store in an airtight container.

Salmon with Blueberry and Ginger Glaze

This was our Sunday lunch, with runner beans and pea beans straight from our neighbor’s allotment, carrots and potatoes. Definitely one that will be repeated, and I love the fact that this recipe doesn’t specify quantities: just a couple of handfuls of blueberries, as much or as little fresh ginger as you like, and a dollop of honey. Taste as you add, and the final article stays true to itself. Easy and delicious, and one to impress guests.

The Truly Educated Never Graduate

I promise, this recipe is not as fancy as it sounds. You may be asking, “What made you pair blueberries with salmon?” Well, like most females, during the summer I start to think, “You know, I should work out more. And I should eat healthy foods too!” If you go online and start skimming the various websites on healthy foods and diets, you almost always see salmon and blueberries on the list of foods you should be eating at all times. I’d used berries in glazes before. I knew salmon paired well with ginger and ginger paired well with blueberries. And while the transitivity property of food does not always apply, I decided to give it a shot. [For those who don’t know what I mean by the transitivity property, it’s basically “if X goes with Y and if Y goes with Z then X goes with Z.” Doesn’t usually…

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