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When Life Gives You Bananas: Banana Bread


Nov
28

Though I am, on the whole, a fairly easy-going person, on occasion an event will occur that leaves my blood boiling. For about an hour I will fume quietly, my insides churning, head throbbing and stomach twisting into knots that’d baffle even the best boy scout and I’ll assume the expression of a “black cloud,” as my mother always used to say. All I can think about when these events occur is just how angry and upset I feel, and how, no matter how hard I try, I simply can’t shake it. I know it’s ridiculous, completely melodramatic and, well, childish, but dammit, that’s the way I feel and I’m entitled to it.

What can one do in such situations? Very little, usually, as when I’m in such a state I don’t want a hug, I don’t want to see or talk to anybody, all I want is to be left alone and to bake the stress away. The methodical measuring of ingredients, of following a recipe to the ‘T’ and (more importantly) the time spent away from the thing that has angered me, helps me to ease it all away. Baking is my meditation.

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Oh Paula, You Crazy Beeatch: Savannah High Apple Pie


Nov
24

It started, as many good things do, with a Tweet.

“SERIOUSLY PAULA?! Are you kidding me?! http://bit.ly/QZY7N

Whilst recipe editing I had come across this gem, courtesy of Paula Deen: a monstrosity of a pie she was calling the Savannah High Apple Pie.

My first reaction was one of absolute disgust – a pie a foot high and looking like it could’ve been expelled from either end of your body?! No thanks. But then disgust gave way to fascination (as it’s so wont to do with me) and I knew that I simply had to make this beast. Throw in another Jackie, all the way in Seattle who, too, felt the urge to birth this creation and Thanksgiving Paula Deen style was on, because Paula? She’s one crazy beeatch.

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An Early Christmas Treat: Let’s Make Christmas at Fortnum and Mason


Nov
21

The culture of the food blogger is an unusual one – most of the time we sit behind illuminated screens, tapping furiously at keys, we converse via. Twitter, email and blog comments, we claim that some of our “best friends” not only live in another part of the world but that we haven’t even met some of them in person, we hide behind camera lenses, snapping everything we possibly can, or shoot video segments in the most awkward places. By all intents and purposes, we should be strange antisocial creatures, unable to hold normal conversations, insular and shy. We should be very odd.

But we’re not. Well, some of us may be a little odd but – to take the words of Lady Gaga (oh dear) – baby, we were born this way.

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Autumnal Flavours: Pumpkin & Shrimp Bisque


Nov
08


Gizmo dares you to try this soup.

I’ve always preferred the word ‘autumn’ to ‘fall’. It’s such a beautifully romantic word and rolls off the tongue with a sense of majesty which, for me, is exactly what the changing season deserves. ‘Fall,’ whilst apt (what do the leaves do? Duh) is just a little too short-syllabled, a little too basic for my tastes. No matter what you want to call it, with summer long gone and the cold months setting in (especially in London which had an unseasonably late summer and has now snapped to frosty attention), this season calls for root vegetables, warmth and comfort. And so to the humble pumpkin and this soup – warmth, comfort and deliciousness, all in one bowl. Perfection.

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This Is Halloween


Oct
26


I’ve always been a bit of a devil.

When I was a child I loved to pretend. Maybe it was because of my overactive imagination or maybe it was because the thought of being somebody else was so much more appealing than the awkward (and yet precocious) child, teenager and adult I’d become. Dressing up was a game I forced everyone around me – even my older brother – to play and my dressing up box was filled with flouncy party dresses and ribbons, an old lace wedding dress my mother had given me (whom it belonged to I had no idea), and various toys and accessories, including a Chanel handbag which, had I kept it, would be worth a lot of money now, I’m sure.

Of course, dressing up wasn’t just for fun, it was also about competition: you had to be the best looking child with the best costume. The time of year that this was most obvious? Halloween of course.

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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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