Dancing In The Middle Of The Room

On the Threshold of Eternity

On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brothers (The Black Keys album)

Brothers (The Black Keys album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the past ten years I have been firmly behind the door when it comes to good music.  In the middle of a bad depressive illness anything that provoked an emotional response was definitely most unwelcome and music was a huge factor.

Recently, however, as life has become enjoyable and I have acquired an iphone, I have been attempting to make up for lost time (and spending a fortune in the process).  My latest ‘find’ is The Black Keys, who are just so sublime I can’t begin to tell you.  I have just downloaded ‘Brothers’ which is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.  I was disappointed to find out online that I missed their UK tour dates because I would have lived on bread and butter for three weeks to go and see them.

Another recent discovery is the Alabama Shakes who are equally fantastic – I was dancing in the kitchen the other night, whilst cooking myself a rather nice supper – steak, rocket and watercress salad, wine – and I realised that life is sometimes rather grand and,  in thinking that,  it is now a definite given that I am recovered, if somewhat broke.  Music, as well as steak, is the food of love.



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Lazy Blogger

I’ve been feeling guilty about my lack of application to the blogging process but I haven’t cooked anything inspiring for weeks.
Life goes on as usual though, and I enjoy reading other people’s blogs a lot! They are an inspiration with their beautiful photographs and interesting tales of meals eaten, travels undertaken and books read.
So thanks to all those of you who improve my day and keep me thinking that there is so much to do, see, read and eat – there is a small corner of a foreign field that is forever grateful. (apologies to Rupert Brooke).

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Beautiful Bread

Just had to quickly post this. My friend, Brenda, told me about an amazing bakery that had opened down the road. It’s an artisan bakery and sells the most fantastic bread I’ve ever eaten.
It’s only open between 1p.m and 6p.m because they do all the baking in the morning. Brenda told me to get there in time for the door opening because the bread goes very quickly. Sure enough, when I got there at five to one there was a queue, and people were buying more than one loaf.
I decided on a large sourdough loaf which was still warm, and when I got home I had three slices in quick succession. It was divine.
It’s so fantastic that this bakery is so successful. Apparently they couldn’t get a business loan so the partners scraped the money together themselves. Now they are about to take on their fourth employee and are going from strength to strength.
So, anyone in Sheffield looking for the best bread in existence, get down to Seven Hills Bakery on Sharrow Vale Road, Hunters Bar. You will not regret it.

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Decadence On A Shoestring

Bombay Sapphire

I tried, I really tried, to make this period of fiscal excellence last for a little longer, but for the next two days its back to the chopping board – vegetables and pasta.  I have no specific objection to pasta until I am left with no other choice.  Then I sulk, and dream of strolling around Waitrose without a care in the world like my doctor, who was in front of me in the checkout queue last week, and smiled cheerfully at me as she paid a bill for £177.

How?  Has she got twelve children? One trolley of food costing that much?  At least have some decorum and get some champagne and decent gin in there.  Two bags of Kettle Chips, (sea salt and balsamic vinegar), several bottles of Bombay Sapphire, a six pack of tonic water and three good bottles of Champagne.  Thats how you spend £177.

Anyway, I am currently making a shopping list for Thursday, and I will be back to make Decadence On A Shoestring an actual reality, without going anywhere near Waitrose.  Now I’m off to the doctor’s.  For my tea.

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Another Nigel Slater Success

I just had to share this, even though I only posted yesterday. It’s one of the most fantastic salad dressings I’ve ever had and it’s so simple to make.

With all credit to Nigel Slater, this is it.

Tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar – 1 tbsp
Dijon mustard – 1 tsp
One egg yolk
Olive oil – 100 ml
Grated Parmesan – 3 tbsps
Lemon juice – 2 tsps
Thick slices white bread – 2
Olive oil for frying bread
One medium fennel bulb
4 large handfuls salad leaves – rocket, watercress
Parmesan shavings

For the dressing, whisk vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, olive oil and a grind each of salt and black pepper. Beat in the grated Parmesan, stir in lemon juice and put aside.
Cut the bread into squares and fry until golden. Mix salad leaves together with the fennel, add dressing and croutons and top with parmesan shavings.

I added finely sliced wet garlic and chopped chives to my salad. Also, having just bought some very good bacon, next time, I’m going to smoke a couple of rashers over hickory chips, cut it into cubes and add that as well. Bliss.

  • Toast (lacer.wordpress.com)

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Lovely Lunch – Smoked Mackerel On Toast

Spiced Mackerel

In order to create the lunch that I wrote about in my previous post  I went shopping and spent the best part of an hour trying to find herring fillet.  Eventually, I had to give up and chose mackerel instead, unsmoked, as I was going to do that myself.  When I got home I decided to double check the recipe and discovered that it was mackerel I was supposed to be using anyway.  Considering the grumpy mood I was in it didn’t help – I’ve always prided myself on being able to memorize my shopping lists – is this a sign of deep middle age, that I need to list all the lists that I need to make?  Depressing.

Anyway, I digress.

It’s been ages since I used my smoker, and the mackerel, smoked for half an hour over oak chips, was gorgeous – I could have quite happily just eaten it on it’s own. Anyway, here is the recipe, fully credited to Nigel Slater, and it made a very generous lunch.  I should have been sociable and invited someone over but …

Smoked Mackerel On Toast

200g smoked mackerel

3 tbsps grated Parmesan plus a little extra

3 tbsps double cream plus a little extra

6 chives

black pepper

2 slices decent bread


Put the mackerel in dish and flake with a fork.  Add the Parmesan, double cream, chives and a grind of black pepper and mix.

Lightly toast the bread on both sides.  Pile on the mackerel mix, add a little more Parmesan on top and a little bit more cream.  Put back under the grill for a few minutes until the Parmesan is melted.

Enjoy, with the obligatory glass of white wine!



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Simple Things Are Best

Monkfish Presentation

Monkfish Presentation (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Just a very nice supper this evening – monkfish fillet baked in foil with a tiny piece of fish stock cube sprinkled over the top, plus miniature potatoes and spinach.
Tomorrow is shopping day. My austerity episode is over so it’s all systems go. I’ve found a very nice Nigel Slater recipe for smoked herring, mixed with Parmesan, chives and double cream on sourdough toast so that’s my lunch sorted.  Now I’m just eyeing my recipe books so that I can plan dinner.  I bought a new one today,  just a little one in a bargain bookshop, called ‘Sauces – 100 everyday recipes’.  It has instructions for flavouring oils and vinegars which I know is pretty straightforward really, but it’s good to have a point of reference.  It also gives me a great excuse to buy those really nice glass bottles with stoppers.

English: this is a picture of self made pesto ...

This weekend is definitely going to involve making basil pesto.

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Cheese fest

This was intended as a quick blog about the recent cheese extravaganza I’ve been on. I haven’t blogged for a while because, in a nutshell, I’ve been on an austerity drive and that has meant a lot of pasta and rice dishes which have been blogged half to death by many other people.
However, there are some things I just can’t skimp on and that includes coffee, especially Ethiopian, and good cheese. So, at midnight I’m sitting here eating a very lovely Brie and watching ‘Bride Of Chucky’ which I have to say is hysterically funny. It got me to thinking about all those lectures my mother used to deliver, one of which is that eating cheese late at night gives you nightmares. I don’t think there’s any concern there. You’d have to be either a child or an hyper neurotic adult to allow this film to scare you. But maybe I’ll lock my teddybear in the wardrobe just to make sure…

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I’m Getting Round To Cooking Properly Again…Just Not Today

Oh I know that I’m supposed to be getting back on track, cooking and all. I went away for the weekend and left the flat in what can only be politely described as a tip, forgetting that the window cleaners would be treated to a full on display of my domestic sluttery before I had chance to return and rectify matters.

Anyway, it matters not after a large G&T so I’m not going to stress about it now. I have to go away again tomorrow as I have a meeting in the grand old city of York. I am a trustee and regional committee member of a large mental health charity so occasionally I have to zip off somewhere and represent Sheffield‘s interests. So this has put off my food shopping trip for yet another day.

I don’t wish to offend anyone of a delicate sensibility but I am planning to cook a recipe from a book I got for Christmas, by Antonio Carluccio and the main component of the sauce is rabbit. I know that there are people who could quite happily eat pork or beef but draw the line at certain animals. However this recipe just looks so fantastic that I can’t resist, so it’s off to the market for me and back via Waitrose for a nice bottle of something to go with it.

I will post again, with photos and recipes in the next couple of days – Tagliatelle al Ragù di Coniglio – I can’t wait!

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Thank You Carrie Bradshaw

Sex and the City (film)

I’ve spent the past few post-Christmas weeks feeling a bit blue. Grey skies, no fun, even less money – why do I spend so much at Christmas?  There was no way that I was going to be able to cook all the luxurious meals that I’d planned, or buy the new clothes that I actually need.

However, this week has seen my fiscal situation improve, and thus my mood.  Tonight, I sat down in front of the TV and watched ‘Sex and the City: the Movie‘.  I loved the series and the film is equally as enjoyable – so much so that it’s not even a guilty pleasure, just pleasure pure and simple. I love the clothes, Carrie’s apartment, the cod philosophy, all of it.  It has inspired me to get off my miserable backside and finally make an effort to improve things.

I’ve lived here for two and a half years, I’ve never decorated nor have I bought myself any new furniture.  It has to be said at this point that I was struggling with clinical depression when I moved in but I am so much better now that I actually want to decorate, buy bookshelves, cushions, new bedlinen, etc.  Tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of everything I want to do and buy and I shall tick each item off one by one until it’s done.  I may not have the income of a New York socialite but it can still be done.

If there is anyone who knows some really good websites, blogs etc.,  that are home improvement/ decorating related could you pass them on to me?  I’m going to look too but in case I miss something.  Oh, and watch this (living) space.


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