Weekly rumblings – 10

First off, my apologies for the lack of an email link last week. I posted the final blog without my able assistant (brat no. 2), which meant that I skipped one important step. For those who still want to read it, the link is on the right hand side of this page.

Last week,  I  shared my views on pros and cons of various cooking oils as that was one of the burning questions. Connected to that, I recently came across an interesting article on the BBC, regarding the soaring levels of peanut allergy in children http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38518185. The article suggests that peanuts be introduced to a child’s diet much earlier than has traditionally been recommended. Growing up, I don’t recall seeing anyone with peanut allergy at school or anywhere for that matter. I wonder if that’s because peanut oil was and is still commonly used in cooking in India and children would have been exposed to it very early. I still think it’s the best oil for any sort of frying.

That takes me neatly on to something else that I’ve been asked a few times. Simply put, how on earth do I get my boys to eat all the greens that I purportedly put in front of them? Eating greens and vegetables can be an acquired taste, and unfortunately children don’t acquire this automatically. The reality is that I have made my kids eat a huge variety of vegetables and greens from day one, by hook or crook.

“Hook or crook” being the operative word – so no treats until they finished their greens, or if they were too full they were allowed to leave everything except the veggies.  Turns out that’s what the experts recommend. “The more times you taste the food, the more you tend to like it.” as this interesting article explains. I have been accused of being the food Nazi as I made the boys eat everything  including rocket leaves and bitter greens like watercress.

Needless to say, both boys were so different. Our older son complained less and ate most things happily, but our younger one resisted and fussed. Fast-forward a few years and although I can’t honestly say that brat no. 2 “enjoys” his greens, he will eat them uncomplainingly.  At the risk of sermonising, vegetables and greens in particular, give us so many wonderful health benefits, I think being able to enjoy them is a life skill worth teaching our children.

Recipes this week:

Responding to a request I received for a Granola bar recipe. Unlike granola, which should be free-flowing,  granola bars need to hold together so although the ingredients are similar, the proportions are different. I made them this week, so that I have photos to share and could post the recipe. So here’s my version of crunchy granola bars, made with maple syrup and coconut sugar. These bars are a hit with the family, so make a batch and let me know what you think.

My apologies to my Mexican friends (one of whom is visiting this week!) in advance for a recipe that is unapologetically unauthentic. It’s probably more Tex-Mex than anything else but is absolutely delicious, and makes one of the nicest brunch dishes I know. My very first time eating Huevos Rancheros was at a little known (then) restaurant called Giraffe, that had just opened in Hampstead, London many moons ago. I loved the dish with its combination of beans, fried egg, tomatoes and the smoky chorizo. The recipe this week is my version, inspired by that experience about 20 years ago.

A week rarely goes by without an Oriental dish on the menu, so this week’s Rick Stein inspired, slow cooked pork with ginger and sweet soy is a nice change to the usual stir-fries. It’s a delicious combination of flavours, and I dare you to find someone who doesn’t enjoy it.

Finally, I was reminded that I hadn’t made crème caramel for a while.  It’s comfort food at it’s best, and after much trial and error, I like this version which makes for a perfect weekday dessert, should you be in the mood for making one.

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Shipton Mills flour

A highlight of this week was the delivery of Shipton Mills flour. When baking bread, especially sourdough, which relies on the freshness of flour for good results, buying freshly ground flour can make a significant difference to the end result. For any keen bakers reading this, try and find a local flour mill if you can.

So folks it’s never too late….if you love bread and like to cook, it’s time to bake your own!