savoury snark

a little bit culinary curmudgeon and a whole lot of love.

24 October 2006

shifting uncomfortably.

So last night Stephen got home from work a bit late and I had already dined. More precisely I had fish sticks (fish fingers for the Brits) n' tater-tots. (Ok, not really. Especially since they don't have tater-tots in the UK.) I actually had homemade haddock, horseradish and cheddar fishcakes we picked up at Middle Farm this weekend with potato latkes and spinach. I kept the oven on for the hub-bub so he could just swish his in when he got home. He took one look at his latkes and said, "I really fancy some beans." Beans? Sure, no problem, I know I keep a tin or two of them in the back of the cupboard somewhere. Lo and behold he found his beans. Then he went to heat them up. With my Le Creuset.

Insert dead silence with chirping crickets.

I'm all, " want to use my most expensive heat up..baked beans..?" I gritted my teeth, made sure he knew NOT to use a metal utensil for stirring and let him do his thing. In my Le Creuset. With Baked Beans.

To re-cap, this:

+ this:

=bewilderment and a sense of sacrilege for Amanda. It's kind of like using a styrofoam cup to drink Cristal or using Wonder bread to make a sandwich with the finest Jamon Iberico.

in praise of piccalilli.

It takes me a while to warm up to certain foods over on this side of the pond. Some I find myself falling in love with immediately and thus overindulging to the point of not wanting to eat it for another year, as is the case with chicken tikka sandwiches from O'Briens sandwich shop, pickled onion crisps and anything tasting of blackcurrant. Other times I look at items in the grocery store and think to myself that I don't really need to try them, that my life is not in any way, shape or form lacking because I have never sampled pork pies, sausage rolls or in this case, piccalilli. I could take or leave porkie pies and sausage rolls but piccalilli is now finding its way into a permanent nook on my refrigerator door.

In short piccalilli is basically mustard with diced cauliflower, gherkins and sometimes green beans, mixed with turmeric (for the bright yellow goodness) and ginger. My first sampling of piccalilli was last month, at our local food festival. Stephen and I were happily sampling our wee hearts out with the likes of all the local wines, ciders, cheeses and chutneys when I stumbled across a chilli-enhanced piccalilli from the Chili Jam Company, Picca-chilli-lilli.

It was absolutely wonderful, just the right blend of tangy and spicy with a bit of sweet as well. I slathered it on baguettes with nothing else but some german salami and mature cheddar. I'm wondering if Stephen even saw any of that jar. I somehow doubt it.

My local Sainsbury's had very few piccalillis to choose from and they all seemed rather average. I bought some of their own and found it to be completely satisfactory for my everyday needs, ie as a substitute for mere mustard on sandwiches or on a nice slice of ham with a Ploughman's lunch. I think we all know that it's not going to end here. No, it won't end until I find my ultimate everyday piccalilli, one that costs more than 41p per jar. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

16 October 2006

what have i done?

While trying to fall asleep last night at Stephen's parents' house in Kent, I slowly came to the realization that, after inviting his brother and his sister and their partners to Thanksgiving next month, I will be cooking for about 19 people.

I may need to invest in a few more casserole dishes.

05 October 2006


I made good use today of my overpriced saver ticket and took the bus up to visit my beloved Waitrose. I had a list of some things that I needed, things I knew that I could only get there (like Bloomy's kosher semi-sweet chocolate chips that are currently making a good substitute for Nestle Tollhouse) and Libby's tinned pumpkin. Even though Thanksgiving isn't being celebrated in the Reid household til 18 November, I thought I would buy a tin and perhaps make some pumpkin bread or lovely pumpkin chocolate-chip squares for the boys (and girls) in Stephen's office.

You can imagine the look of sheer horror and bewilderment on my face as I turned down the baking aisle, scan the shelves and realize that they no longer stock Libby's tinned pumpkin. I felt so let down. Betrayed. How could my Waitrose do this to me? How can they force me to buy it off of some overpriced online import shop?? I felt personally slighted. I know that the Brits have not caught on to the luscious autumnal goodness that IS pumpkin pie because I have to make new converts every year at Thanksgiving. I was hoping though that like Philadelphia cream cheese, nachos and pancakes with maple syrup it would indeed start to make a small dent into the collective British culinary subsonscious.

Sigh. If anyone knows where I can get this in Brighton, please please please let me know. They charge like £4 a tin online.

02 October 2006

i hate everyone.

In the space of only a week I have managed to see two films; one that made me want to throw in the towel and go live in a Mongolian yurt and the other open up a wide tree-hugging style embrace and resign to accepting humanity with all of its flaws. After only just seeing An Inconvenient Truth and having the bejeezus scared out of me I decided to catch another oil-centric documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?

It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert?

Why indeed. Never mind that it has zero emissions and are cheaper to run than gasoline cars because the Bush Administration is working hard to bring you hydrogen-fueled cars. That won't be ready for 20 years. And cost a $1 million EACH to create. And are 7 times more expensive to run than a gasoline-fuelled car. GO HYDROGEN. Sometimes people are so stupid it makes my head hurt. I won't rant too much here but I firmly recommend going to see this documentary and then seriously considering swapping in your vehicle for a hybrid if you can.

After you've seen it, go back to the counter at your cinema and purchase a ticket to see this movie. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you wonder why there isn't any legislation on the table to outlaw the perversity of child beauty pageants.

I give you the Hoover family. The father is a victim of his own self-help regime, the mother is just trying to keep everyone afloat, the grandfather has decided to really live up his golden years by snorting heroin and subsequently being booted out of his retirement home, the teenage son has taken a vow of silence and only communicates via notepad in order to more actively disengage with said family and the daughter, well, she wants to enter into the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Cue the family road movie.

I've heard so much hype about this film that I didn't want to get myself worked into a frenzy over it. I made that mistake with Lost in Translation and it didn't live up to my expectations whatsoever. I ended up loving it so much that two days later I told Stephen to go by himself to see it because I knew that I would just be annoyed if he ended up not liking it. I know it's ridiculous but it's just who I am, take me or leave me.

The basic synopsis is that everyone is flawed, some more than others but you have to love people through their flaws and stand by them when they need you, no matter what anyone else might think. Also, life is full of disappointments, some more avoidable than others. There's also a yellow VW bus, gay porn, Proust and a spectacular finale. Olive Hoover may be the most likeable child character onscreen since Finding Neverland.