Ingredients for my Christmas Venison Casserole-cum-Pie Filling…

My reasons for writing this recipe in potentia are two-fold – as an aide-memoire, converting it to a finished recipe as I cook it and, also, as an incentive to get out in the kitchen and get on with it – which would be easier if I felt better. I’ve finally got my increased dose of morphine – it’s not enough! If the pain is any indicator, the circulation in my right leg is shutting down – I need to ask the nurses if they can find a way to check that without making matters worse.

Anyway, whenever it happens, this will be frozen in portions so it can be used as either pie filling or casserole, depending on how well I’m feeling on the day.

There will be:-

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Game Pie 2014…

Last year I made a load of game pie filling – it was staggeringly good. I froze it in individual foil dishes, my intention being to top each one, in due course, with a Stilton and suet crust. However, as some of you might recall, I wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders last year, and a lapse of attention caused me to fail to close the freezer properly – with predictable results. I got to eat just one portion (served in a ring of cheesy mash), the rest went in the bin along with everything else that had been thawed and refrozen several times before I realised my error.

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Today, so help me god, there will be soup!

It should have happened yesterday, but I was a basket case (it would happen more often if my GP would stop dicking about!).

I’ve been up since 05.30. Breathing while in bed is, increasingly in the early mornings, a luxury that eludes me. I can’t breathe lying down so have to sleep sitting up. Now that fails me, so I have to get up. To say I’m pissed off is a massive understatement! OK, I can breathe better sitting bolt upright in front of my computer, but I should have been in bloody bed, and with the right drugs I could have been.

So, to while away the time until the Observer put its foodie mag online, I cobbled up the baseline recipe for my soup (details will follow):-

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Miscellany… A mixed bag of random noodlings with no real home.

Hospital Hygiene Problems…

I have a major problem when in hospital – staying clean.

The hospital does not have any wheelie-friendly bathrooms, with low-level suites, for example, leaving me with only the option of being given a bowl of water and a bottle of Hibiscrub at my bedside.

The same problem extends to shaving, and cleaning my dentures, and for the latter I insist on a sink with hot running water, to the annoyance of the staff who prefer to give me a small basin of water or, even, to take them away “for a bit of a scrub”. Er, no. Never gonna happen.

Shaving is way down my list of priorities when I’m ill.

And during my last stay – and this was in a hospital that obsesses about infection control – I watched as it all went belly up.

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Prevent oxidation by storing coffee beans in CO2…

I originally wrote this in June 2010 and, frankly, it was a mess – full of typos and half-developed ideas. How I ever let it slip by me I really have no idea. Was I ill at the time? Did I, as I strongly suspect, already have Addison’s? I don’t know, but I do know it badly needed re-writing, which I’ve done, below, and hidden the original so as not to confuse Google. Changed the title too.


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How to make soya mince edible…

Note: This is based on Beanfeast, Bolognese flavour. I doubt that there is anything can be done to redeem the generic soya mince and chunks available from health food shops. Except maybe a packet of firelighters and a box of matches. Sad smile


First of all, never lose sight of the fact that the first use of textured soya protein was as insulation in the doors and body of very early Ford cars. It was never intended as people-food!

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Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Soup…

This recipe came about after buying an organic Savoy cabbage and two organic caulies from Tesco – which tasted of bugger all. So, left with one caulie, and always loathe to throw out food, last night I decided to break it down into florets, slice up the stalk, douse it in melted clarified butter, and roast it. In my mini oven, to keep the cost down (if you’re on benefits and, like me, have no gas supply, then a mini oven is vastly cheaper to run than the one in an electric cooker; a good one will set you back close to £100, or even more, but a basic one can be had for around £30).

Once roasted, it was left

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My Revised Harissa Blend…

In this post I bemoaned the fact that the Harissa I’d bought was way too hot, and had too much mint, and threatened to blend my own to suit my own palate. So I did – and published it here.

However, it turned out to be far too hot as well (too much Cayenne pepper), and unbalanced in other ways. Aside from the excess heat – you can always add chilli heat, you can’t take it out – it wasn’t actually that bad, but there was room for improvement, and this is it.

As before, it could be argued that it’s not Harissa now, but I don’t buy that as there are wide variations in formulation, and the stuff varies between countries and, I don’t doubt, between villages and towns too, in its native land, so this is…

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Epic failure…

Or why I can’t cook every day…

Tonight I did something I’ve not been able to do for years – I cooked a meal entirely from scratch. Nothing fancy, just bubble and squeak, with added onions softened in butter.

Normally I batch-cook casseroles for the freezer, or make soup and stash a large pot of it in the fridge** – both make much more sensible Continue reading

The Food of Italy and other foodie ramblings…

Claudia Roden has just issued a 25th anniversary edition of The Food of Italy, with previously unpublished recipes (£25 if you’re feeling keen, or £16.99 including p&p, from the Guardian).

Amazon, meanwhile, are peddling the original version, for the Kindle, for a tenner – but look, guys, it’s a book full of colour photos – crap on the monochrome Kindle! Oddly, the Guardian uses the same book cover to illustrate its ad as Amazon does, so I’m not 100% sure who is selling what! And Amazon says Roden’s new book is out next year – go figure.

If you have a decent tablet, though, go for it – the Kindle Fire HD makes a great, if rather heavy, colour ereader, though as a conventional tablet it falls short, let down by Amazon’s sucky apps.

Entirely by coincidence,

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