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November 14, 2012

Duck Soup

We fancied a ready meal and Sainsbury's offered us a whole crispy aromatic duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce for £9, which is only slightly more than they sell a duck for. It proved to be a bit of a bargain; as well as feeding us that night, I scraped enough duck off the carcass to make my son a duck wrap (using the last solitary sad tortilla) for a packed lunch, and the very last scrapings of duck and the end of the hoisin will go into special fried rice. The duck was provided in a really sturdy foil tray, ideally suited to packing up a pasta bake for the freezer. And that left the carcass, which got boiled up for stock.

I often plan my runs so that they end up in the market. This time I was looking for cavolo nero but ended up with some very lovely spring greens. I have a deep-seated conviction that winter soups are improved by greens, the darker the better. I googled 'kale soup' and turned up many recipes for caldo verde; a happy chance as I also had a big sack of potatoes and some leftover chorizo. I was much taken by the Hairy Bikers' recipe, which starts you off by drinking a small glass of port, but in fact I think Nigel Slater is more on the mark, with his suggestion that this is food for when there is precious little in the store cupboard.

This Portuguese website says helpfully 'it's not kale. The green cabbage you want is the one known as 'spring greens' in England. Splendid, because that's what I've got; I can see that it would be hard to cut kale as finely as is recommended for caldo verde. Even more reading persuaded me that it's not even spring greens, it's collard greens or walking stick cabbage. But spring greens are fine; I used the outside leaves of two big heads, keeping the sweet insides for another day. And I cut them very fine.

Slater warns against over-fussing with this soup, which slightly worrys me because my normal way with soup is to sling in everything in the fridge. But I stole one of his suggestions; as this was a main course soup, I added tiny pasta (adorable concligliette) like I do with minestrone. I doubled the quantities other than the chorizo, and I fried up the chorizo separately (and first, so that I could use the bucket of fat it released to cook the onions and garlic in). The duck stock was thick and rich and this soup was delicious. It generated five main course portions, but only because I made everyone stop eating so that we could have rhubarb crumble for pudding. So. Serves four.

Oh, and have some Groucho:


Posted by Alison Scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2012

The Automatic Journaller

Day One App icon For some time now I've wanted an automatic journaller. Not to write blog posts particularly, but because I write stuff, all over t'internet, every day, and have done since about 1993. And if you mashed it all together it would be a journal. Like Pepys except with a lot less nookie. There was an iPhone app, Momento, which did some of this, but for some reason it only grabbed summaries of much of the data, and hasn't been updated for a while. Also, I don't primarily want to store this material on a phone; I want it on my desktop and properly backed up. Day One Journal is a really lovely journalling app, with all the stuff you want for your day to day journalling, invisible iCloud syncing between Mac, iPhone, iPad, and an elegant, intuitive interface. It also makes it really easy to create backdated entries. It doesn't yet have automatic journalling, but they have promised it for early next year. In the meantime there are scripts available, but the developers have said 'our solution will be awesome'. And everything else about the app is awesome, so I believe them. In the meantime, I've been sucking some of my old writing in manually -- watch out for features like '20 years ago today' coming shortly on Macadamia. How much stuff is there? I have over a thousand entries and I feel like I'm just scraping the surface.

Hello to Charlie, who said 'I like what you're doing with recipes on your blog'. So I'll try to do a bit more of that too. This week's food was bought without doing any meal planning first, which is normally a bit of a mistake but seems to be working out ok this time. Today we will be having a broccoli and pasta bake, probably augmented by bacon and with rosemary breadcrumbs on top. The recipe should make double so that I have one for the freezer. And tomorrow I plan to roast a shoulder of lamb using a recipe for anchovy lamb from Kitchen Revolution. This recipe is particularly notable because last time we had it (using a leg rather than a shoulder), it fed four of us six times: the three dishes described by Kitchen Revolution, and then the last of the lamb went into moussaka, the leftover gravy flavoured a bacon and mushroom pasta sauce, and I boiled up the lamb bone for soup.

Studying: I scraped through the first half of the SaaS course and have, perhaps incautiously, signed up for the second half. MIT 6.00x is going well (and so it should as it's an introductory course), but Harvard's CS50 'do it when you like' approach is having its usual effect and I'm behind.

Exercise: I've sort of finished C25K now; finished in the sense that I can run continuously for half an hour, and finished in the sense that I can run/walk a 5k without feeling exhausted, but not finished in the sense that I can run 5k continuously. So the next step is working progressively on improving my speed and endurance. We will probably do a Park Run in a few weeks; we've been slightly stymied by being busy every single Saturday morning.

Christmas: approaches like an oncoming steam train.

Posted by Alison Scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)