Every now and then someone calls me a foodie and I go all giggly and ‘who me? no, not really! oh, do you think so…?’ I’m genuinely not , my cooking is not even remotely adventurous and I don’t get much time for it, but there is a glamour about them foodies – a kind of luxurious dedication to the good things in life – and I am delighted by the association. Anyway, based on the fact that I occasionally have a bit of a food-based rant, Silvana de Soissons, editor of the beautiful website The Foodie Bugle has interviewed me about how I grow, eat and cook, so I thought I really ought to write something food-related on here, in case any of them foodies rock up here as a result.
Being interviewed made me realise that I have a standard set of dishes – not especially exciting ones – that I re-hash again and again but with slightly different ingredients. At first I felt a bit embarrassed about this, but thinking further it’s not a bad way to cook, if you are trying to use seasonal veg-box or allotment produce, and also if you are trying to get kids to eat. So here are my bog standards for veg: roast veg (maybe topped with feta cheese, served with rice), veg in a cheese sauce (sometimes with macaroni), pasta sauce, stir fry and quiche. With fruit I make crumbles, eve’s pudding, fruity sponges and I sometimes mix it into flapjacks. There must be more but I am racking my brain and I really can’t think of any. That makes mealtimes sound very dull round mine, but actually, if you’ve got different ingredients to add to the basics each time, it’s not a bad approach, and it means I can cook without too much thought, and occasionally coax the kids into eating vegetables…. Tell me your own bog standards and I will probably nick them for my next book.
Yesterday I made one of those fruity sponges. This is something I did a lot of last year. We have a lot of soft fruit at the allotment, but above all we have gooseberries, in vast quantities. So we start picking early and go on and on, and I picked the first handful yesterday morning. You can get sick of them but last year I chanced onto chucking them into a sponge cake (I use a Delia version that I do for every single birthday). Yesterday was a friend’s birthday so I made her the cake you see above: bog standard Delia, plus gooseberries and lemon zest, plus I sprinkled some elderflower flowers in, which may not be the right way. Do tell me if you have a better elderflower-flavour-infusion method. The result (eaten in the pub last night) was early summer made cake: fragrant and light but with those juicy sour notes when you stumbled across a whole gooseberry. But it will be just as good with strawberries and vanilla at high summer, or with apple and blackberries in early autumn, or with apples and cinnamon in late autumn.