Tag Archives: Cooking

Craving something sweet for Xmas?

Xmas Cravings

By

Emma Hamilton

A very sweet and quite short story.

If artificial sweeteners were definitely never used by ‘Greedily Yours’, one might even say saccharine sweet.

That said it is full of humour. I read a short piece out to my book group from her ‘blogging’ excerpts and they all giggled and confessed that they could visualise very clearly the happening described. 10 random people, including 2 librarians, a GP and a dental surgeon all liked the excerpt which shows that the author speaks clearly to a woman who has ever tried to bake a special cake and failed. And also, that her style of writing is clear, humorous, and well written that our visual cortices were engaged.

Now whilst I appreciate that Mia, the heroine of this story, likes her running and exercise, I am still very concerned for her cholesterol level and arteries. There really is no need to roast a duck and then baste the potatoes in the fat AND add the fat to the vegetables. Too much similarity of flavour surely and far too much fat… try a little butter and sugar and red wine vinegar in the red cabbage and try roasting potatoes in extra virgin cold pressed organic if possible, rapeseed oil, and taste the difference!

Cold pressed rapeseed oil is a ‘good mood’ food. It contains essential fatty acids and these will boost brain power, stabilise moods, balance hormones and reduce inflammation. So an excellent oil to use and can be cooked at a high heat as well as drizzled over salad etc and has a lovely taste to add to stir fries.

I enjoyed this short read especially the ‘blog’ excerpts and the chatty style of writing.

4 stars.

Cake and Canals: a divine mix

The Cake Shop in the Garden

by Carole Matthews

A  Netgalley Review

A feel-good story here of the spinster looking after her mother – a very demanding and nasty tempered old woman – although it turns out not so old… who took her bed as they used to do in Victorian times when upset. The latest research says that middle age lasts until 74 at least for women – 15 years before you are due to die according to the insurance actuaries.  So at 70 she was still very much in her middle age.

In fact the main character was an enabler here and psychologists would be very unhappy with her behaviour. Whilst it is difficult to change habits as one grows older – don’t I know it – this kind of behaviour needs to be changed. Pandering to her mother enabled her mother to continue to bully her and to continue to undermine her own health.

So the story is set alongside one of our lovely British canals, a cake shop in the garden of a house that backs onto the canal. Tea and cake, as regular readers of my posts will know, is quite a feature of our days out and something we British all look forward to, especially good home-made cake, and thus this cake shop is ideally situated.

Walking the canal-sides is also a regular feature of our time out and most canals have excellent paths alongside them used regularly by both walkers and cyclists.

Also, many have houseboats permanently moored as well as those who wander the canal by-ways. Canals of course were designed for horse drawn boats and often near bridges as the tow-path narrowed horses might slip off into the canal. Thus, if you look carefully, you will find some steps under the water for horses to climb back out. Additionally, you might wonder just how did horses get under some of the very low bridges? The answer is simple, they didn’t. What happened was that were taken off their harnesses and walked around and over the bridge, and the boat was taken under the bridge by men ‘walking’ the surface underneath. An interesting experience no doubt.

And of course there are a number of wildlife that make their living along British canals. Swans and other water birds including herons and cormorants.

Father Thames kindly permits some people to live on boats....

Father Thames kindly permits some people to live on boats….

canal bridgeP1020873 P1020875 P1020876 P1020877

What do words taste of?

Had a stunning lunch out at the Westbourne Grove Food Incubator.

It was part of a series of educational and multi-sensory dining events and was called Synaesthesia and was run by Kitchen Theory.

It was a 3 course lunch with Amuse Bouche although a seven course dinner is also available.

Now Synaesthesia is an interesting trait that some 4% of the human population have. It involves people associating sounds with flavours or colours or…the definition is:

the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.

 Now we all do this to some extent in that we talk of a ‘warm’ colour or a ‘cool’ colour and also we associate certain colours with particular tastes. So a green drink could be expected to be bitter eg a lime flavour (no sugar!) or a red drink could be expected to be sweet. However, for some people it is rather more extreme-for them certain words could be a taste.

James Wannerton, President of the UK Synaesthesia Association, has visited every tube, DLR and Overground stop on the network and described what the station name tastes like to him.

tube map

 

The dining experience we had incorporated sensory audio-visual aids and the collaboration of knowledge from academic experts. We were shown a number of videos explaining what we were doing and what to expect. We were also given a block to play with – each side of the block was a different texture and it seems that touching one side of the block can impact your taste. Personally, I used the block to feel what the food tasted like. For instance the soup course was a velvety felt with several layers of touch available as the tastes were very complex yet soft even though it seems that there was some umami tastes and some chilli oil included too.

Kitchen Theory has worked with Professor Charles Spence and his team at the Cross Modal department of Oxford University, Sean Day, President of American Synesthesia Association, and Richard E. Cytowic, MD MFA, Neurologist and author of ‘Wednesday is Indigo Blue’ to understand this phenomenon and deliver an informative and interactive dining event of sensory discovery.

The founder and Chef Patron, Jozef Youssef, has combined his experience of working at some of London’s top restaurants such as Helene Darroze at the Connaught, The Dorchester Hotel and the Fat Duck together with incorporating modernist cooking methods from his book ‘Molecular Gastronomy at Home.’

So did we enjoy this experience? Answer simply – very much indeed! And would do it again with one of our children – possibly our psychologist daughter who would love the exploration of taste and food and its links to the cognitive senses.