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Archive for July, 2011

Relocation, Relocation

Life has taken over my blogging of late – if anyone ever suggests starting a new company, moving house and getting married all within the space of a few months and during the throes of a large and hectic project at work, tell them no way! Just one of those at any one time is more than sufficient to keep your stress levels higher than recommended! 

Sadly, things on the house front haven’t gone to plan and after two house purchases falling through we’re now getting ready to move from our lovely two bedroom house to a pokey one bedroom rented flat. 

We’re currently spending most of our waking, non-working hours packing boxes to put our life into storage – being ruthless with our belongings and choosing to take with us only the essentials. Knowing that it’s a temporary move for, with any luck, a maximum of six months isn’t helping however with the traumatic experience of packing up my kitchen and cookery books. 

Two book cases of cookery books have been reduced to this:

 

Two curry cookbooks (Atul Kochhar Simple Indian and Anjum Anand I Love Curry) simply because they are my most used cookery books and if anything can help me through this experience it’s even more curry than usual! Ching’s Chinese Food in Minutes for quick, healthy and super tasty wok meal inspiration, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook to drool over and the Good Housekeeping Cookbook since it’s an excellent source of reference when you can’t remember the quantity of ingredients for scones, Yorkshire puddings and the like. 

And all my cooking equipment restricted to this, just a few pots, pans and bits of crockery:

I think we’ll be getting creative with salad over the summer and then going in for as many one pot meals as I can think of when the colder days start to set in. With no freezer to speak of (there’s a small fridge with an ice box) and no room for one, there’ll be some adjustments to make in shopping, cooking and eating. No more making extra and freezing it for an evening when time is short for me.

The plan for coping with the upheaval? Treat it like one long self-catering holiday, only instead of enjoying walks in the countryside and visiting local attractions during the day, we’ll be heading out to work!

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We had our first foray into the St Anne’s area of Bristol last Saturday evening. It’s on our doorstep but to be honest there’s been no reason to visit until now, and why? Well, quite simply because to date there’s been no supper club!

One of the girls that made it possible!The Egg a Day supper club, run by Genevieve Taylor, food stylist and author of STEW!, and Jo Ingleby, of Demuth’s Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath, has now given us every reason to visit St Anne’s.

So why Egg a Day supper club? Montpelier Basement, Bishopston supper club, Southville supper club (now the Blue Door supper club): there’s a clue in the names as to how they came about but there’s an air of intrigue about the Egg a Day supper club if you haven’t been following Gen’s chronicles of life with chickens.

Desperate for a garden big enough to provide shelter and pecking space for a couple of chickens (and now supremely jealous of Gen’s idyllic and immaculate back garden complete with pond, peach tree bulging with ripe fruit and perfect vegetables), I’ve been following Gen’s blog since she started documenting the trials and tribulations of her girls and the lengths she has gone to incorporate the egg a day laid by each of the four chickens into her family meals.

The supper club was an obvious continuation of this challenge – would it be possible to prepare a menu based almost completely around this free-range, home-produced ingredient for a house full of hungry, food loving guests? After months of deliberation and days of preparation, Gen and Jo settled on a mostly Moorish themed menu, putting eggs to eggstraordinary use in each course.

Reading the menu, I was expecting a mezze style delivery. It’s exactly what we got but on a hugely generous scale. The girls and the garden had truly worked hard to provide for us, and Gen’s poor children neglected of their daily egg for the preceding weeks!

British weather being unpredictable as it is put pay to us eating the full meal al fresco as Gen had envisaged but we were able to enjoy the evening air as we met the other guests and the chickens, explored the garden, quaffed our wine and nibbled on the first course; platters of caraway, nigella and black sesame seed flatbread, mounds of labneh with garlic and sumac, bowls of beetroot and walnut pate with coriander, parsley and mint. Labneh with garlic & sumac

We were seated in the kitchen diner for the remainder of the meal but with the patio doors flung open to let the garden come to us. Gen and Jo bravely completed the food preparation and service under our watchful eyes and the unforgiving lenses of a couple of cameras.

Palestinian couscous with broad beans, peas, mint & lemonWe then received delight after delight; the last of the season’s asparagus with saffron aioli, tortilla with smoked paprika ketchup, tuna and egg empanadillas (Spanish-style pasties), mograbiah (giant couscous) salad with peas, broad beans and mint, warm carrot and courgette salad with cumin and garlic dressing , shakshuka and barbecued merguez and pork skewers.

After that little lot we retreated to the garden to stretch our legs, walk off some of the food and be mesmerised by the fire Gen’s husband had thoughtfully lit whilst Gen and Jo cleared the way for dessert. Dessert was a perfect pistachio meringue (crunchy crust, chewy inside and not too sweet) served with rosewater syrup strawberries and a sublime vanilla ice cream (simple really is best!).

Just when we thought we could eat no more and headed back out into the garden, we discovered pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) and fresh mint tea awaiting us for the finale of what had been a speggtacular evening.

Pasteis de nata

Plans are afoot to raid the chicken coop for another Egg a Day supper club in September. Keep an eye out on the Egg a Day blog and book yourself in for a warm welcome and incredibly generous helping of delicious food. Save a space for us though!

More photos of the Egg a Day supper club from througheye can be found here.

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