Friday 11 September 2009

Too Many Cooks?

It must be autumn- the TV schedules are full of cookery programmes


Middle-aged, overweight men with GSOH  and  a love of good food, cooking and motorbikes. Sounds like my sort of programme!

I am really enjoying the Hairy Bikers current Tour of Britain series - although 5.15pm is not a good time, so we are recording it each day and catching up when we can.

bikers The latest programme was in North Yorkshire - and I was squealing with excitement, when they began by eating in The Cross View Tea Rooms in Richmond. "We went there, that's where we sat!!!!"


On the other hand, I am also proud of my Essex roots, so I love...

jamieoliver usa

Jamie's American Roadtrip is fun- although I can't see myself doing any of the recipes - hunks of beef, cooked on a pitchfork in a cauldron of boiling oil - I think not. But I love his candour, his admiration for hard work, and the fact that he isn't afraid to show his emotions.

I really enjoy Nigel Slater's writing, it makes my mouth water. But nigel slater we were both a bit disappointed by 'Nigel's Simple Suppers' on Wednesday. I mean, putting sponge cake in a dish, pouring over warmed berries and topping it with custard

and then calling it "Freeform Trifle" as if this is a new recipe. Sorry Nige, that's the sort of creative use of leftovers that penny-pinching Mums have been doing forever! And if we are short of berries, we spoon in the last of the bramble jam, or the dregs of that 'fruits of the forest' ice cream topping which is lurking in the fridge.

And finally there's Economy Gastronomy


I have mixed feelings about this one. I really like Allegra and Paul, they are jolly, and encouraging, and appear to be good teachers. But I am appalled by the amount the families involved are initially spending on their food budget. And they are still spending way more per head than I do even after being trained to budget and plan. I suppose that you need 'extremes' to make for good TV shows. [Similarly, Kim & Aggie would never have succeeded with a housewife whose kitchen was just 'slightly untidy with a grubby sink' - they thrive on germ-laden, clutter-ridden hovels.]

On the first two or three programmes, the families all said "The best thing we learned was to eat together as a family" - "Well, duh!" as the kids say - some of us have always done that "And planning the meals was a good thing too", yes.... I suppose for many families these are new concepts, and if that's helping them, it is a good thing.

A&P have this third principle, "Bedrock recipe and Tumbledown Meals" where you cook something big, and then divide it up and re-present it slightly differently throughout the week. Some viewers  have said they do not like this idea, because they wouldn't want chicken 4 days out of 7. I cannot see why. In many parts of the world, your 7-day menu plan is rice, rice, rice and a few veg, rice, rice, rice with a scrap of meat, and rice. We are so blessed in this country with the variety and availability of food.

Why should we expect something different at every single meal? Back in the 1950s, people had Roast Lamb on Sunday [church] Shepherd's Pie from leftovers on Monday [washday] and Soup from the remaining meat and veg on Tuesday. And nobody thought to complain, they were just grateful for a plate of food after the War Rations.

I made a lovely Beef Casserole in my big orange Le Creuset Pot last weekend. "So what's our Tumbledown Meal tomorrow then?" asked Bob. "The second half of the same Beef Casserole" I replied!

beetroot On the subject of War Rations, my friend Jan gave me some home grown beetroot. I love beetroot. Bob doesn't. So some I cooked just for myself - but then decided to try something different. I had a recipe for 'Beetroot Pudding' in one of my wartime cookbooks.

Now maybe, trying to shorten the procedure by mixing it in the food processor wasn't a good idea. It looked very pretty in the bowl...


...but when cooked, it was virtually inedible. I poured maple syrup over and served natural yogurt on the side. We just ate the yogurt and syrup, and left the solid pink mass on the plate.


I shan't bother to give you the recipe [I have already described how to make a good solid doorstop in another post!]

julie&julia I am hoping to go and see Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia" soon. Liz has been already and enjoyed it - but warns me to take food with me, as all the food in the film makes you feel awfully hungry!!

Watch this space...


  1. I'm loving the Hairy Bikers too. Its the first time I've watched them and I really enjoy the mistakes they make and how the rectify them. Cooking doesn't always go smoothly.

  2. Oh, Angela, the beetroot sounds too awful for words! I remember at school having to eat it warm with a thick white sauce, terrible!
    Agree about Nigel, it was a bit too simplistic. We do trifle like that so often and dont give it a funny name either!

  3. Jon and I went to see Julie and Julia on Sunday - you should definitely go see it! I think you'll like it. Shame about the beetroot pudding - I love the stuff so always looking out for new recipes. Have you tried Nigella's beetroot and ginger chutney?? It's delicious(mental note not to give Bob any for Christmas!) x


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