The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.
I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I've returned to Norfolk after eight years away, but little bits of my heart still belong to London, where I lived for almost fives years, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.
I didn’t get nervous about the Swiss meringue until I saw the polyester sleeve of my mother’s dressing gown dangling perilously close to the flame flying out of the blowtorch.
Let me start at the beginning. When we decided to make cakes for my mother’s birthday, I went with my usual method of imagining something and deciding to leap in without being fully sure of my method. It sounds like a reckless process when I write it down like that, but “Eh, I’ll learn by trying” has served me pretty well so far.
What I didn’t realise when I pictured a cake topped with fluffy meringue, piped tips torched golden, is that Swiss meringue is notoriously finicky. Thanks to reactions between proteins that I don’t completely understand and definitely can’t pronounce, Swiss meringue can be both unstable and less fluffy than you’d hope. It can weep. It can collapse. If I’d known this, I might have been nervous earlier than when I had visions of my hand flying off to the left and setting the kitchen on fire.
Thankfully, using this method, the meringue – and I – did not weep or collapse. Instead, it came out glossier than a show horse, and once I’d moved that pesky sleeve out of the way, turned the most glorious golden colour after being kissed by a blowtorch.
It’s a blessing and a curse, being with someone who loves food as much as you do. A curse because of the inevitable weight gain that results from eating a lot of cheese; a blessing…for so many reasons. You know — brie, camembert, weird Wensleydale varieties.
Our story is a long path studded with pubs and restaurants, coffee shops and stores filled with local produce and good beer. It took a while, with months of not talking, then hours-long phonecalls, both of us too idiotic to know the other’s feelings. It featured a lot of chai teas, and these days a lot of scones. We got there in the end.
I’m not sure why I expected making chai scones with our story in mind to be a smoother process.
Two recipes, both alike in dignity, in fine Norwich, where we lay our scene… Read More
Man, I’m late with this one. Hedgerows have been thick with blackberries for weeks, thanks to a meterological anomaly of a year that’s brought a heatwave and with it early sightings of autumnal fruits. Same as every year, I’ve been opening drawers to stare longingly at wooly tights, so this turn of events is all too welcome. In mid-August I rolled up my jeans, went off for a walk in search of these gems – with the Myths & Legends podcast in my ears– and was rewarded with a lot of nettle stings but, more importantly, a big bag of blackberries.
During my outings, I’ve also picked a berry with a fat spider on it and stood on a bird corpse. Swings and roundabouts.
To be pernickety, blackberries aren’t really berries at all – they’re made up of drupelets, the individual bobbles you get on raspberries and blackberries – and have also been known as brambleberries, brumblekites and lawers. No matter what you call them, they’re also great in terms of fibre and vitamin C. For me, blackberries = crumble time, but I guess it’s time to branch out… Read More
Ah the make-ahead lunch, how I love thee. I’ve not stayed in the same place for more than 3 weeks at a time since March, which plays havoc with food shopping, so lunches you can prep in bulk and in advance have been instrumental in keeping me away from bacon and cheese paninis. It’s mostly worked. And when it hasn’t, well, I can comfort myself with the fact I’ve learnt to do pretty decent eyeliner flicks on a moving train and now know platform 4 of Lancaster station like the back of my hand.
The second important thing? Those lunches being made up of things that you can keep in a cupboard until you need them and won’t spoil.
Enter Moroccan-inspired cous cous. I actually tried this for the first time when I spotted a reduced portion in M&S and decided to recreate it at home. Slim risk of the ingredients spoiling, easy to make in bulk, and interesting enough in flavour that you won’t get bored after the first day. Job’s a good’un.
I can map this city in layers. The food eaten; the shops and cafes I’ve loitered in; the people I’ve loved; the otherwise mundane benches and phone boxes that have been the scenes of important conversations and epiphanies. I could tell you about bickering with a now-absent friend over whitebait in a family-run Italian before I even moved here. I could sit you down in the pub where my heart burst with love for my mother. I could give you a run-down of what the bridges have meant to me, and recant tales from the very different new years eves I’ve celebrated. The Soho tattoo parlour where I got books inked into me. The train stations that have led me to new adventures. I could show you the city that shaped my life as I grew from a fresh-out-of-uni innocent moving to the big city to hopefully a more fully-formed woman, with a pair of santoku knives I refer to as “my babies” and more than a handful of stories to tell. Read More