Taking stock

Dot writes: on Saturday I bought, largely for the title, a book called Hugh Fearlessly Eats it All. It’s by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the title is his nickname, but I liked it because of my own Hugh, whose eating becomes less and less fearful. On Friday he had almost a whole jar of spaghetti bolognese. (I make home-made babyfood for him, but we get a little help from Hipp sometimes.) For the first time, I tried heating it up to a moderately acceptable warmth (i.e. more than just off-cold). At the first spoonful he gave a dramatic shudder and flung out his little hands in surprise. But then he opened his mouth enthusiastically for more. This is a big thing not just because it was warm but because at first Hugh only really liked fruit and refused red meat recipes altogether.

Now Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s nickname refers to his approach to delicacies such as fried calf’s brains, which do not entice me greatly (though I do see the moral argument that if you’re going to eat animals at all you should eat the whole lot). However, I have been feeling quite inspired by what he has to say about eating less but better meat, choosing organic and free-range, and about avoiding the bland imported vegetables sold in supermarkets. It’s not that the message is new, but it coincides with a feeling that it’s time to renovate our approach to shopping and cooking, in order to be healthier, to waste less, and to enjoy our food more. As readers of this blog will know, we’ve been thinking recently about how we can be more environmentally friendly,* plus there was a feature in the dear old Guardian the other day about food planning (domestic economy, indeed) which was full of the sort of sensible advice we ought not to need to be given: plan your meals so you don’t buy things you will throw away; shop for perishables frequently so they don’t go off; make one day’s meal around a core of what’s left over from the ingredients of yesterday’s etc etc.

Ken’s Dad is over at the moment from New Zealand, so I have been showing off the new, domestic goddess Dot. On Friday I bought plaice (fresh, in Bray) and vegetables from a stall and executed a surprisingly successful recreation of the dish of white fish, cream and capers that our friend Chris made for us recently. On Saturday I bought a free-range chicken and served it roast with some more vegetables. On Sunday we had takeaway because we weren’t sure who would be where when. I must say, it was much less nice than the food I had cooked myself on the previous two nights. Today I am making stock with the chicken carcass. Dinner won’t be very exciting because I didn’t shop today (apart from some new swimming trunks for Hugh) but I am very impressed with myself for making stock. Real cooks make stock. Unfortunately I’ve just realised I have no bottles to store it in. But we’ll think of something.

Our childminder is away this week and I seriously owe Ken after spending one week writing my paper and the next at a conference, so all this home-focused stuff is part of a bout of Prawn-minding. This is a vision of the home-maker I could be if only I weren’t pursuing my brilliant career (and could sustain the energy for being so organised and creative beyond the first pleasurable binge…)

* I hate the phrase ‘environmentally friendly’. It makes me think of air freshener. But I couldn’t think of a good alternative.

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4 thoughts on “Taking stock

  1. Have you heard of the Slow Food movement? Definatly worth looking into. (plug ‘slow food’ into your search engine and it should pop right up)
    If there is anything that could convince me to live in the country-it’s the ideas behind Slow Food: having a garden, raising chickens (for eggs), and having beehives. Even though I am a city mouse at heart…

  2. Katimum

    In a fit of enthusiasm, I recently planted some broccoli plants (calabrese). Unfortunately, I didn’t notice how close to being ready to pick they were until very recently when, guess what, they are on the point of going to seed, and all ready at the same time. N is now rather sick of broccoli – where is Ken when you need him????? Hey ho, for the delights of self-sufficiency and country living.

  3. Dot

    I’ve heard of slow food. It does sound lovely apart from the fact I can’t keep a pot-plant alive let alone Swiss chard or asparagus. I write as someone who grew up in the country but has become all too accustomed to never being more than ten minutes from a source of pre-packaged tiramisu.

    Mum, what about soup? You could probably freeze it and feed it to Ken next time we’re over.

  4. I would also advise freezing your stock in ziplock bags or tupperware containers. When you’re ready to use it, defrost it in the microwave or by setting it in a sink of hot water before transferring it to the pan.

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