I’m once again grouping a number of beautiful things into one post, in my haste to share them with whoever wants to be shared with. Well, share pictures of them anyway; actual real life sharing would be a bit more of a wrench. By which I mean that if you try to touch any of them I’ll take a wrench to you, shouting ‘GET BACK!’. OK moving on…
Here is the first of this post’s Things of Beauty – my new strawberry shaped jam pot, complete with its own ceramic spoon. How adorable! I will simply have to start having cream tea of a Sunday so I can put the jam pot out and ladle generous quantities from it onto my freshly baked scones and crumpets and such. Thank you Miss L! Can’t wait to use it, and I’m sure I’ll find many excuses, I mean reasons, to get it onto the dinner table.
On the left, my new heart-shaped Alessi spoons. I have already used them to eat a lovely rhubarb crumble that the G man made for us on Sunday night, and I can report that it almost certainly tasted all the better for being eaten with one of these. On the right, my new mug. If you can’t see it, it says ‘chocolate’ on the front in tiny brown letters. Love it, and will use it for comforting hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, and perhaps for ice cream sundaes, which I will eat with the heart-shaped spoons. An excellent combo, thank you Miss E!
Now to show some of the most recent additions to my pirate treasure chest. This photo doesn’t show everything I’ve been lucky enough to get but it covers the more unusual items. Some are too small to see properly, but never fear, I will now give you a lovely list of all the items:
- Dinosaur sprinkles
- Heart shaped sprinkles
- White decorating pearls
- Mixed sprinkles
- Writing icing tubes
- Chocolate covered, gold coloured coffee beans
- Dinosaur shaped cutter
- Purple icing pen
- ‘Disco White’ hologram glitter dust
- White chocolate chips
- Edible silver stars
- Heart shaped cutter
- Flags that say things like ‘Eat Me’ and ‘Do Try One’
I couldn’t resist a close-up of these ones, they are so rawr-some. I do like a good dinosaur, I’m thinking I can probably combine the cutter and the sprinkles for a double dino hit. Not sure what flavour of cake or biscuit would be dino-appropriate, I’ll have to have a think on it. Anyhow, thanks to Miss J, the G man, my mum, Miss A and Amanda of strawberry cocktail cake fame for all these exciting items. I seriously hate the fact that 1. I have to continue going to work, so I can’t spend all my time making and decorating new cakes and 2. that eating cakes all the time is not a balanced diet, regardless of how many different colours and shapes of sprinkles you put on them. Luckily enough, there is almost always a reason to make cakes, if you look hard enough, or at all. The G man’s birthday’s not too far off, and after that there is my dad’s, then Miss J’s, father’s day is before any of those, I’m going to a hen night… Loads of cake reasons and I didn’t even have to think too hard. It’s amazing really, and a bit worrying, too.
To take my mind off cake, I will now report on tonight’s dinner. I wanted to cook something proper rather than eating any sort of convenience food; I’ve been eating a lot of nonsense food lately, as I do have a taste for things like tinned soup, jarred pasta sauces and even packet macaroni and cheese. They are easy to make and, as such, give me more time to read, sleep and blog. However, I do love to cook as well as bake, and it’s much better to make food from fresh; not only is it more nutritious but I get a feeling of achievement from it, too, and a lot less guilt. Having said all of this, the fridge was pretty bare today and despite it being a beautifully sunny bank holiday Monday, I stayed in aaaaaaaaall day and didn’t go to the shops. Plus, I’ve spent all my money on a shiny new TV so the less I spend for the rest of the month, the better. I had to go on a rummaging mission to see what I could knock up. The first thing to catch my eye on looking in the dried foods cupboard was a pack of soba noodles that I bought on my day of ingredient shopping while I was off work. I really like yaki soba – Japanese fried noodles – so I figured I would try replicating it with the ingredients that I had to hand. Obviously the noodles were there, so that was a start. I also had a thin cut steak in the freezer, so I took that out to defrost, and I keep a little tupperware of frozen, sliced spring onions, too. This was a great idea that one of my fellow LC testers gave me, and is much better than my usual way of buying a bunch of spring onions then wasting about half as they languish in the salad drawer of the fridge, never to be used. Much better to freeze them and use them like frozen peas as and when required. I moved on to the fridge then, which yielded up a red and a green pepper, some pickled ginger and a packet of preserved mustard leaves, which I bought at the Chinese supermarket some time ago and hadn’t yet tried. The tins cupboard offered me some sweetcorn, which isn’t exactly authentic but I took it up on that offer, given that I love sweetcorn and thought it’d be good to get more colour and nutrients into my dinner. Finally, back to the dried goods cupboard for a little seaweed, which I keep sheets of to make sushi. I tore off a strip or two to then tore further into little squares. Here are my assembled ingredients:
The spoon holds wasabi flavoured sesame seeds, for garnish. The middle plate holds the mustard leaves, seaweed and thinly sliced ginger. The ramekin on the bottom right holds the ingredients for the sauce. I had a look at recipes online, and promptly didn’t follow them. I mixed some dark soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, nanami togarashi, chili flakes and ground garlic and coriander. Another time I’d use more chili, or I’d add more to the finished plate. As it was, it had a hint of spice but it wasn’t really as fiery as I’d have liked. I’d also reduce the amount of dark soy as it was difficult to get the full extent of the other flavours through it; they were present, just not balanced. I started out with a small amount of the pickled ginger, but I added more as I was eating because the sharp sweetness of it was such a nice counterpart to the irony seaweed and the salty dark soy flavour. The mustard greens didn’t really get a chance to shine, which was a shame as I liked them, and am looking forward to using them again. I think that in China they are most commonly served on their own as a course in a big meal, ‘to help the rice go down’.
I put the kettle on to boil and, when it was ready, filled a pot and put the noodles in to cook for three minutes – I set the timer to remind me when to take them off the heat as I was going to fry them, and didn’t want them overcooked. Meanwhile, I heated a mix of groundnut oil and spring onion flavoured oil in the wok and added a clove of garlic. I gave this about 30 seconds and then added the beef, which was thinly sliced. I cooked this for two minutes then added the bowl of veg and mixed in. By this time the noodles were ready, and I took them off the heat and drained them. I then added the noodles to the pot with the dish of sauce ingredients, mixed to coat and added the seaweed, mustard leaves and ginger. One final mix round a that was it – I served it up and sprinkled with the sesame seeds and more nanami togarashi.
I have to say, it was pretty good. I’d make the changes mentioned above to give less salt and more heat to the flavour, but the sharpness of the vinegar and the sweetness of the ginger were at good levels. There was enough for two, really, but I ate it all myself… for the purposes of testing it, of course. It was so quick and easy to make, too; this is the benefit of having a ridiculously over-stocked set of cupboards, last minute meals can end up being quite exciting, really.
Tunes: I think this tune encompasses the notion that, while I seem to sleep, breathe, think and write cooking and baking, the fact is that some of the time I still eat pre-packed, full of wrongness foods… Green Day – Walking Contradiction
Movie: It’s still out in the cinema, and you should go and see it, even if all the measures they take to make Robert Downey Jnr look taller make him look like a tiny hobbit man – it’s Iron Man 2. Hell of a soundtrack, wonderfully cliched but still made me want to rock out.