October 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:25 pm

…to those of you who have tried to contact me via e-mail. I still have no home internet and our school server appears to not like my web based mail page. I can read your messages as they come into my Blackberry but I have no easy way of retaining or replying to the messages. Blame BT.Apparently I have missed some good blogger meet ups. Boo!

Filed under: Uncategorized, Cuisine, Far East, Vietnamese/Cambodian — ros @ 5:22 pm

(otherwise known as squid in a tomato and clove sauce, Indonesian style.)

West London really is the place to be at the moment. This morning I discovered that what appears to be the world’s biggest Waitrose has opened by Shepherd’s Bush Green along with 40 or so restaurants as part of the Westfield development.

This shopping centre is ludicrously large. I intended to ‘pop in’ today on my way into school to see what the fuss was about. Not only do you need a map for the development itself, individual shops are big enough to merit having their own complex floorplans. At one point I found myself looking diagonally across the centre so most of it was in my sight. It was so enormous, I had a slight attack of vertigo, felt a bit sick and had to leave. Then it took me 15 minutes to get to the exit.

Yes it is THAT big. So big that, if it wasn’t for Wholefoods, it would render Kensington High Street totally redundant. So here I am, nestled in between cheap restaurants, the best butcher in London and a gargantuan shopping centre. This is my smug face. :)

Goon has become a bit disconcerted at my sudden good mood. I suppose that from his point of view, his girlfriend has undergone a complete personality transformation, from grumbling and snarling to generally quite happy. If it wasn’t for BT, I would only have one other complaint: the seemingly endless stream of colds.

Colds are an occupational hazard for teachers, particularly when they’re new to a school. I can’t remember a day this term when we (the maths department, that is) were all sniffle free. Germs like children and children like giving their germs to teachers. Fortunately I know the best thing to treat a cold: a big bowl of curry.

I have more than made up for last year’s lack of curry making and have been trying to expand my repetoire. The dish below originates in Indonesia and is lightly spiced and not at all hot. It’s perfect if you want something pleasantly invigorating but aren’t in the mood for a chilli based assault on the senses. It’s so mild that you might not class it as a curry, but it hit the spot for me, especially after the burningly hot Thai curry I made the previous night. It’s quick to make too, so a perfect schoolnight dinner.

Cumi Cumi Smoor (for 2 big portions)

indonesian squid

  • 400g of squid, cleaned, hoods cut into strips, 
  • the juice of a lime 
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped  
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 150ml unherbed fish or vegetable stock or water
  • plain boiled rice or saffron rice to serve
  • chopped coriander/ sliced spring onion to garmish
  1. Get a large frying pan hot and stir fry the squid until it just curls up. Remove it from the pan, place it in a bowl, toss in the lime juice, cover and keep warm.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, add a little more oil, then add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook gently until soft.
  3. Add the tomato, stock, cloves and nutmeg. Stir well, ten allow to bubble gently until almost dry. Taste and season.
  4. Stir in the squid and warm through.
  5. Serve with saffron rice or plain boiled rice, garnished with chopped coriander and/or spring onion.

******

 

October 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 2:20 pm

That has got to be the understatement of the year and, to be honest, it is not so much technical problems but extreme technical incompetence. Apparantly it takes over two months for BT to set up Option 1 broadband. This morning, after spending two hours on the phone to their technical support ‘gurus’, I was told that actually no one had a clue what was going on with my internet and I would be offline until at least November the 4th.

Somewhere in India, there are two helpdesk people, sitting, shaking, and possibly crying underneath their desks. I have given up my policy of not blogging from my workplace and have come into school to write a post even though it is half term.

Other than lack of technology and blogging equipment (I also had no desktop, no photo software and my camera card reader got lost somewhere in my move) things are pretty sweet in West London. I found a flat which is essentially a large kitchen with attached sleeping area. It has an ancient rickety gas cooker, which has already caused me several burns, but, hey, at least it’s gas! The freezer is on the barely existing side, but to make up for it I have a big pink sofa. Yay! 

Now that I’m back, I’m quite convinced that my irritation at living on the Islington-Hackney border was not just a case of the grass being greener. I am so happy to be back in Hammersmith. My flat is within 10 minutes walk of at least eight nice but affordable restaurants and at least two nice but more expensive restaurants. Roll on payday! A five minute detour on my way home from work takes me to what must be the best butcher in London. The supermarkets are decent. True, a floor assistant responded to my request for black pudding by taking me to the chilled dessert section,  but I found brawn in the bargain bin! ! Woohoo! I also have a supply of interesting ingredients from Shepherds Bush market and a load of expensive but bizarre things to gawp at in Wholefoods.

The new job seems very promising too….. but more on that later.

I’ve been spoiling myself this month, eating and drinking far too much. This has had the effect that I am skint, yet again, until I get paid on Friday. To avoid this happening next month, I am using the fact I can’t visit my butcher on Sundays to force myself to eat more vegetarian food. Last Sunday I didn’t need much convincing. After a heavy weekend I go off the idea of meat and start craving grains and other healthy foods. I used the opportunity to make myself a few portions of a nourishing meal that would freeze well, just in case work gets more demanding as we head towards mid winter.

4 Bean Chilli

four bean chilli

  • 1 can each ready to use kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes (or 800g fresh, peeled and chopped)
  • 2 medium/small onions onions, minced
  • 6 small cloves garlic, minced
  • vegetable oil to fry 
  • cayenne peper- 2-3 teaspoons
  • paprika- 2-3 teaspoons
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • frehly ground cumin- about a teaspoon
  • freshly ground coriander seed- a teaspoon
  • a small bunch of coriander 
  • 3 red peppers, cored, deseeded, chopped into small pieces
  • beef stock- around 500ml
  • a good shake of tabasco (optional)
  • Tortillas to serve with soured cream and grated manchego (or mild cheddar) cheese and possibly a nice green salad.
  1. Put the onion and garlic in a large saucepan and fry gently in the olive oil.
  2. Chop the coriander stem finely- about a handful would be good- throw this into the pan with the spices.
  3. When the onion is soft, add the red pepper and allow to sweat, pan covered, for a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the beans and tomatoes. Add the tomato puree and stock and stir well
  5. Let the mixture simmer, covered, for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Uncover, take off the lid and allow to bubble down to a thick sauce consistency..
  7. Taste, adjust spicing if you like and if you’re that way inclined, add a shake of tabasco.
  8. Just before serving, stir in a couple of handfuls of chopped coriander leaf.
  9. Serve on flour tortillas with a big dollop of sour cream, grated machego cheese, some more chopped coriander to garnish and a simply dressed green salad.

*****************

I have missed blogging a lot. Now I’ve started my new job, I should have time to write a couple of times a week so hopefully, as soon as I have a net connection I’ll be back for good and I may even be able to let you see what the kids here have been cooking in our after school club. Wish me luck!