Friday, 31 January 2014

Picture test

Some pictures, apropos of nothing, just to test the layout functions.  Which means I need a sight more text than this.  What can I treat you to...
"In his best-known work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams explained the supreme utility of the towel in intergalactic travel:
“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head 
to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

Adams’ artistic sensibility is both specific and elusive. He can go from distraught to delighted in the space of a modifier. He combines Gary Larson’s irony, Bill Watterson’s wistful idealism, Oscar Wilde’s keen social observation, and Dorothy Parker’s mischievousness. But set in space. In short, he is a genre all to himself."
Excerpt from

Frankly you can never fault a bit of Hitchhikers to keep you amused and educate.  :-)  Ok - I'm just a tad of a geek about Douglas Adams...  :-)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Random Recipe - New Year, New Book - 'Spring' pasta without Wild Garlic

January’s  Random Recipe challenge set by the lovely Dom over at Belleau Kitchen tasked us with picking a recipe from a book we’d received for christmas.  I got a fair selection as you can see.  It included the rather wonderful ‘A Curious Cookbook’  - a look at historical recipes from some of the earliest cookery books on record (14th C) right up to wartime (sparrows on toast anyone?) 
Given my record in past Random Recipe challenges (rabbit leg, stuffed carrots &c) I thought I was sure to get that book but my random number generator (the Chap) thankfully picked one of the other books he got me – the Herbs installment of the River Cottage handbook series.  These books always have the recipe section at the back so I flipped it open at that end and got… Spring Pasta with Wild Garlic and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.
Now, although we managed to get some ramsons (wild garlic) on Jan 27th last year I thought that one week into 2014 would be pushing my luck rather.  That's not spring in the UK by any stretch of the imagination.  However, I duly went for a riverside potter on one of the few non-rainy days we had around the middle of the month and found....shoots.  Teeny tiny shoots, that was all so far.  Not a massive surprise.  I gathered the tiniest ‘handful’ (midget hands you understand) of the shoots to give an edge of the garlicky flavour and resigned myself to using the suggested chives that the book mentions can be substituted if you have no wild garlic.
The recipe also uses purple sprouting broccoli.  I’m afraid I have to admit to completely forgetting about that detail so this got made with regular calabrese, a substitution that is also mentioned in the book itself.
Overall I found this a bit too rich with creamy goats cheese smothering everything and an additional grating of parmesan on top.  I find it hard to believe that I’m actually going to type this but, I think it was a little too cheesy.  [Too cheesy!  I know what you’re thinking – how can something ever be too cheesy huh?]  It was too rich from all the cheese, rather than the flavour, is what I think I’m trying to say.  It certainly needed a good squeeze of lemon juice or something to cut through it and lift the flavour a bit; it was all rather samey.  That said I imagine this would be a very different beast with actual wild garlic in it.
It was a nice quick dinner to knock up though and one that's pretty frugal if you make it with regular calabrese and Aldi's goat cheese. :-)
It warrants remembering for when the ramsons finally do unfurl their leaves out of the overflowing river Exe.
The clever ones amongst you will have noticed that I mention the middle of the month earlier in the post yet the date of writing is the somewhat later 30th.  Yep - I actually made my random recipe in good time this month but still didn't get it up before the cut off.  Please let me join in Dom, please...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Not foraging season, yet.

I went for a somewhat optimistic little bimble to an area on campus that I know grows wild garlic in abundance during my lunch break today.
Despite myself, the Chap and his brother managing to find some Navelwort to nibble last weekend, and spying these fungi on a tree, there was no sign as yet of the Ramsons.
I didn't really expect there to be, but as it's the first sunny day for a while after all these storms, I fancied a breath of fresh air and a little vitamin D.
Sometimes I forget just how lovely the Campus is here; I really should make more of an effort to have a ramble around in my lunchtimes.
 I did come across this fungus; given it's somewhat forbidding purple hue I left it where it was though!
  Anyone know what it is?