A blog dedicated to food and how we can eat it in a way that is not only tasty to eat, ethically sourced, locally produced, healthy for our body…but more to the point…quick to make but totally slow…
Thursday, 18 June 2009
ROOFTOP GARDENS AND GOURMET EAST LONDON RATS
ROOFTOP GARDENS AND GOURMET EAST LONDON RATS
Okay, first of all, none of us want to see the word rats in the title of a food blog.But the truth is, these creatures exist, and I am now witnessing that some are very picky eaters.This past Sunday we planted our nice little patio with flower baskets, some palm like trees, and of course lots of herbs (coriander/cilantro, basil, lavender, chive, and mint) and salad green seeds (rocket/arrugula, spinach, and red leaf).Seemed like a great idea.
Living in East London is wonderful, we are near canals, parks, organic markets, Brick Lane, all that we desired for cultural enjoyment and of course we are in the heart of the area of study for my partner’s medical anthropology PhD fieldwork project titled ABBY (Adolescence among Bangladeshi and British Youth).I wake up each morning, and look out over our street and shockingly; the sun has been shining down upon us each and every day.But back to the garden.
We planted the garden on Sunday and when I woke up to head to west London to teach one of the community food courses that I am a instructor for, I found quite a shock.I was drinking my tea on the terrace amidst our new garden...and the flowers were beautiful, the plants were shady, the basil, lavender, mint and chives were looking great...but my coriander...my coriander...where had it gone.
All that was left of our coriander was a few unnibbled stalks...every leaf and green shoot had vanished!!!I was absolutely shocked...was it mice, moles, ants, slugs, or rats..???I was not sure...but I knew that something had to be done...we love our coriander...mixed into our cucumber yogurt raita( 1 cup yogurt, ¼ cucumber, chopped coriander, lime zest, ½ lime juice, cumin, grind of pepper, pinch salt...all mixed together and let to set in refrigerator...and the perfect foil for spicy curries!!!), tossed in our Bangladeshi dahl ( Check this weekends blog, I promise!!!) just before serving, in our salsa ( 2 tomato, 1 garlic clove, ½ red onion, ½ jalapeno, lime juice, chopped coriander, salt, peppe...all chopped and a quick stir), truly a staple for us.
I also noted that during the hard rain of the night all our row of seedling pots ofsalad greens had fallen over...wow, what a rain.I decided I needed to head to work, I got on the tube, then to the train, and waited for my ride.Outside the station at a garden centre I spoke with an attendant who assured me it was most likely ants that ate the herbs.
At work, I spoke with my co workers who listened to my coriander story and relayed similar issues in their gardens and how they had combated slugs,with a variety of remedies ( salt, Vaseline, natural pellets, etc.)I thought about all these things as I returned from work andas my partner was making rice, dahl (lentils), and cabbagefor our dinner. When she asked me to run to the store for coriander, I decided, then and there...I would solve the coriander quandry.
After a wonderful meal of rice, dahl,cabbage andcoriander-cucumber raitawerelaxed and eventually went to sleep.We spoke of waking up in the middle of the night to see the ants or slugs in action and I had the evil though of using more than my individual nutritional portion of salt upon them!!!
At midnight, I crept out of bed, walked over to the window where the herbs were visible, and waited...and what did I see., not a slug or an army of ants but a gigantic east London rat, staring at my/his coriander stems!!!He was as shocked as I, and scurried away, once again knocking over salad green seed holders, and I guess he, like I was a bit upset to be forced to go elsewhere for his coriander!!!
So sorry for the delay, I hope you enjoyed yesterdays quick pickle bit, and the present ramble. I will give you Laurens amazing Bangladeshi Dhal recipe for your weekend enjoyment (serve with a nice spicy quick pickle that you can find in the previous days blog, basmati rice, and the simple raita we described above.)
i cook every day totally from scratch…i scrub the dirt crusted potatoes, make yogurt from thick and rich whole local milk, stop by my fish monger each and every time i want a piece of truly fresh fish…do you get the point??? The idea for this blog: beyond my endless desire to cook for friends and family now that I left my restaurants ( Stella’s and Olivia) and hectic chef life in upstate New York to start life anew in the UK, beyond wanting to bring a bit of the simplicity of ingredients but banquet of camaraderie that i enjoyed each and every day when I was living in Mali working for the Peace Corps, beyond simply conveying some of the amazing food i know I can help anyone cook, beyond simply helping people cook more food from scratch for less time and less money…truth be told I simply want to talk about food with people…not to people, with people…yes…take the recipes i give, learn new techniques, impress some friends, think of food in a different way, eat with gusto and vigor…but most importantly…just share food with people.
1. These recipes are guides, there are no hard and fast rules, except ones meant to be broken. Please use the items you have lying around the house...dont order take out because you cant find limes, and only have lemons...please simply do three things ... COOK ...ENJOY...DONT WORRY!!!
2. SOME ABBREVIATIONS/AND MATH TO START WITH
#= pound c=cup
EVOO= extra virgin olive oil
3. BOLD versus unbold
I will be bolding the essentials, but these recipes are not simply a list to follow, but a guide with many hints, tips, techniques to make your cooking life more fun and easy. So yes, at first the recipes might seem very long...but think of them as a short article to read and the bold is just the summary, but hopefully you find interesting tidbits in my ever present ramblings!!!
4. FORMAT OF RECIPE
Each recipe will be divided into firstly, an INTRODUCTION, then a section of what is needed( PREP), next the steps to perform (WHAT TO DO), and sometimes some added items that could be done while you are cooking to be more efficient and save you some time later on in the week (MORE DISHES TO WASH)!!!