iamafeeder.net



On Being A Writer: Nasu Dengaku


Oct
06

A little while ago I was asked, “do you have any writing advice or tips for what makes a good writer?” Wow. What a question. Honestly, it’s a mammoth one and I’m not entirely sure that I’m qualified to answer it. I am, after all, just a girl who likes to tell stories. I find it hard to embrace the title and tell people that, yes, I am a writer and I write about food; I always find myself blushing a little as I do.

There’s an idea of glamour that goes along with the term ‘writer’. The thought is that other people value your words, that you have the power to influence, that the pen is mightier than the sword… but I’ve never really seen it that way and so small successes are always a surprise.

For me writing has always been somewhat cathartic. I find that my brain moves so fast sometimes that I can’t always vocalise what I’m thinking – with writing it’s my only way to silence the voices or the nagging questions, to slow down and normalise. It’s word vomit (if you’ll excuse the phrase on a food blog) and in the past I’ve been known to actually burn or tear up a piece of paper full of my words, jotted down out of necessity – an unloading of ideas, frustrations and cerebral noise.

So I don’t know if I can give you any ‘tips’ or ‘advice’ that’ll be helpful to you, all I can do is tell you what I’ve discovered and the ideas and principles that I stick to, because at the end of the day writing and especially good writing is all about your personal experiences.

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There Will Be Stock (Part IV): Yet Another Polenta Recipe


Oct
04

I know what you’re thinking. You’re reading the title of this post and thinking to yourself, “another polenta recipe?! Jeez Jackie, we get it, you’re obsessed with polenta, move on with your life already,” and you’re not wrong, yes, I am obsessed with it but I’ve got a new obsession: drowning cooked polenta in layers of tomato sauce, smothering it with cheese and baking it in the oven. This, I’ve recently learned, is known as pasticciata and is a kind of lasagne with polenta instead of pasta. Oh yeah. This stuff is good.

Even better this is the last post in my series on homemade stock (which you’re probably sick of too, by now)! Polenta and homemade stock? That’s what I call perfection.

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There Will Be Stock (Part III): Chicken Soup for the Belly


Sep
24

The other week I had a slight health scare. Y’see, the medication I’m on has the potential to shut down your immune system (scary stuff, I know) so if you start feeling unwell or have a raging sore throat, you’re advised to go and see your doctor immediately or you could be dead within a week. After a wonderful weekend in Brighton celebrating a birthday, I woke up with a horribly sore throat and a slight fever. As I’m sure you can imagine, I panicked.

Waiting to see whether or not you need to go to hospital urgently is not the best way to start a Monday. I was supposed to be working in the city right at that moment and instead I was at home, waiting for the email. It finally came, “go to the hospital” and I was off, fighting through the mid-morning crowds at Waterloo. The first nurse couldn’t find a vein. “Do you have problems giving blood?” He asked, my answer a curt shake of the head and a tense, “no. Not ever.” The second nurse had a quick look at me and plunged the needle into my right arm, drawing blood immediately. They sent me home where I waited for the results whilst trying to work. A few hours later they came back: I wasn’t dying.

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There Will Be Stock (Part II): Cheat’s Chicken Enchiladas Poblanas


Sep
19

Finding good Mexican food in the UK is a feat that will give you both a headache and a belly ache. There are now a handful of good, cheap places around, such as Tortilla and Poncho No. 8 (or so I hear, I haven’t yet been able to take a trip to one of their stores, but they sell barbacoa! Win), but finding authentic Mexican grub? Not bloody likely.

What other choice do we have, then, but to make it ourselves? Exactly. Not only is this recipe easy and tasty, it uses up all of that lovely chicken you saved from your stock (if you used fresh chicken pieces) – double win.

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There Will Be Stock (Part I): Ham Hock & Pea Risotto


Sep
09

Food has always been incredibly central for my family. Every major event has been told over a dinner or a lunch, every holiday celebrated with a spread that was enough to feed a small army, though there were usually only four of us at the dinner table.

Life for my mother consisted of an early start to feed my father, my brother & I, a mad dash into school where we’d be dropped off and collected by car every day, a small snack to help us through homework, a martini or other cocktail for my father when he returned home, and dinner on the table every evening by 7pm (sometimes on little tables in the TV room, if we were lucky). Every single day growing up, this was the way we operated. It was routine; it was synonymous with family.

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Fuggehd Abahd Id: Slow Cooker Chicken Stock


Sep
05

I was running through the forest so fast I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, pounding so hard it almost flew straight out. The wind was at my heels and I could hear them coming – they were after me. I wasn’t sure if I could run any faster, the ground was falling away from me and the man at the house had told me that I had to get to the kitchen in the forest before they caught me. They wanted my gold. But it was mine! I had cultivated it! No, they couldn’t have it. I refused. I tripped on a tree branch and flew through the air – dammit! They were almost upon me and now would catch me for sure. I hit the ground.

I opened my eyes in semi-darkness. I was in my bed, a little chilly and I was awake. My clock told me that it was a little past 7am. It wasn’t the sun that had woken me up – that was all blocked out and the little that came streaming in through the chinks in the curtain was hitting the opposite wall. No, it was something else. I sniffed the air once, twice and suddenly it hit me: my chicken stock was ready.

I’m certain that there is nothing better in this world than waking up to the smell of chicken stock that has been bubbling away quietly whilst you slumbered, but the effort this involves normally… well. When I was living at Momma Lee’s I once spent an entire night sleeping in the kitchen so that I could keep checking my chicken stock, making sure it hadn’t bubbled over. It was good but the fact that I woke up every hour to make sure that nothing was going to burn down imminently ruined it somewhat for me, plus the fact that I had to keep topping it up with water was irritating. A good night’s sleep I did not have and the stock was so much trouble I didn’t make it again whilst I was living there. Enter the slow cooker.

Guys, if you have to invest in one gadget, invest in this one. A slow freaking cooker. It doesn’t have to be fancy – mine has three functions: off, low & high, that’s it – it doesn’t have to be expensive (I think mine cost me around £25?) and it doesn’t need to be dealt with, you just turn it on and let it go. Honestly, my slow cooker rarely comes out because before this point I didn’t realise how bloomin’ easy it would be to make something as every day as stock in it; I know, I am slow to the slow cooker revolution, but it is simple! So simple I almost want to cry with joy and when we’re done taking this journey together, you will too. So let’s begin.

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Say Cheese: The Grilled Cheese Martini


Aug
26

It started as a joke, a link sent to me by a cheese-loving friend along with the word, ‘drool’. I clicked the link and read the headline, ‘Making of a Signature Drink: Beecher’s Grilled Cheese Martini’… wait, what? I read it again. Was this for real? I read through the article, my face contorting into an expression of great confusion. This was apparently a not-so-secret-anymore off-menu drink to be found at Beecher’s Cheese Kitchen in New York. It was… bizarre, to say the least. I wasn’t sure if I was turned on or disgusted but I knew one thing: I was going to have to make it.

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On Being Thrifty: Fried Polenta Triangles


Aug
22

I will be the first to admit that though following your dreams is an amazing thing to do, dreams don’t necessarily pay bills. Being freelance is hard but this is the life I chose (much to the despair of my parents) and with the good you take the bad. The exhilaration of writing up a review about a meal greatly enjoyed, say about Noma, is often counteracted with being faced with the harsh reality of some frozen peas and a stock cube for dinner.

Okay, maybe this is an exaggeration, this is me we’re talking about, after all – I always have some meat in the freezer and some arborio rice or some form of starch in the pantry; but the fact is that when you live in the city and your money comes in dribs and drabs, it can be incredibly demoralising. There have been days when I’ve opened the fridge to see only a tiny knob of butter and some old eggs, deciding that maybe that evening I’d rather just not eat.

The term ‘thrifty’ had a bit of a negative connotation attached to it when I was a child. It was grouped along with ‘stingy’ or ‘miserly’, conjuring up images of Ebeneezer-Scrooge-like characters; but these days I’ve learnt the value of thrift, particularly when it comes to store cupboard favourites being spread across many meals. So let’s talk about money, saving and let’s talk about these fried polenta triangles.

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I Heart My Friends: Chicken, Goat Cheese, Tomato & Arugula Galette by Eat.Live.Travel.Write.


Jul
29

The world of Twitter has brought me into contact with many wonderful people. It has also brought me into contact with many porn bots, but thankfully Mardi from Eat.Live.Travel.Write falls into the former category and not the latter.

Friends for just under a year now, Mardi has become a great friend. She is well travelled and loves to eat and write, just as her blog would suggest, and I was lucky enough to share a meal (and a few drinks – or perhaps a few too many in my case) with her very recently when she was in London. This kind, talented and wonderful lady has pulled out yet another superb looking dish for her guest post, a fabulous chicken, goat’s cheese, tomato and rocket galette; my mouth’s watering again and I only just ate my dinner! Thank you lovely Mardi – so happy and honoured to host you here at my little blog and with such a wonderful recipe! Give her some love and hey, if you get to see Mardi more than I do, give her a huge hug from me, eh?


I am thrilled to be visiting my dear friend Jackie over here at I Am A Feeder. Not only have we been friends online for many months now, but I had the pleasure of meeting her in real life at the beginning of the month when I was in London for a conference and we went out to dinner with the lovely Sarah and Helen. A good time was had by all and you can read about some of it here!

When Jackie asked if I would like to write a guest post, I was stumped at first. After her two recent guest posters – Russell and Brian, I felt like I had big shoes to fill! Jackie told me to be inspired by what was around me – Paris right now (I’m on a bit of a work and vacation trip in Europe) – and so I present a dish that was born of late night blog reading (hello jet lag!) and what struck my fancy along the rue Montorgueil where I am staying right now.

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Parlez-Vous Tasty?


May
29

We always assumed I was going to be taller. After all, you don’t see many ten-year-olds with size six feet roaming around the joint, and my grandmother on my father’s side was tall herself. She used to inspect me and say with a knowing nod, “yes. You are just like Mah-Mah. You will be tall”. When I entered secondary school I was one of the tallest in my class, lined up towards the back of the group during fire drills feeling proud, holding my head high and my spine straight.

The following summer I came back to school and suddenly the rest of the girls had grown a foot whilst I had stayed, disappointingly, at a mere five foot two. One school mate came running up to me to tell me her summer news, only to stop short, giving me a quizzical look as she found herself looking down at the top of my head. “Oh,” she mused, raising an eyebrow, “I thought you were taller” – I never grew again.

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