Tag Archives: Fruit and vegetables


Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.


Waitrose at Nine Elms, Battersea

Fresh Meat and Fish counter

I find the Little Waitrose shops unsatisfactory as they seem to specialise in sandwiches and ready meals – none of which I ever buy. And they always seem to be out of stock of the specialities I’m after.

Fruit and vegetables singly and in packets

The nearest big Waitrose for us is at Brunswick Square but it’s often difficult to find a parking space and the underground car park is cold and miserable. Traffic is often very difficult driving to the Kings Cross store.

Delicious-looking sushi

We were therefore delighted to find the new 18,000 sq ft Waitrose at Nine Elms which opened last November. It has a large easily accessible car park, a coffee bar – as well as free drinks if you have a My Waitrose card.

Situated in the rapidly developing new embassy district to which the US and Netherlands Embassies will be moving, once the rumoured 2000 homes are completed the store will no doubt be a mecca for foodies.

Hairy Bikers’ Pea, Lettuce and Asparagus Soup

Fast Food Recipes

With the help of the Hairy Bikers’ series on dieting I lost several kilos so I now record their TV programs and I picked up this copy of their quick to make food.

We now have a family tradition of having soup on Tuesday evenings followed by a cheese plate and fresh fruit.


Pea, lettuce and asparagus soup

I’d begun to find ordinary pea soup a bit boring so I was pleased to find this more intriguing soup – pea, lettuce and asparagus.

I reduced the amount of peas in their recipe, used olive oil instead of butter and a swirl of plain yogurt rather than cream with chopped basil or mint.


Continue reading Hairy Bikers’ Pea, Lettuce and Asparagus Soup

Beyond Caravaggio – National Gallery, London

Beyond Caravaggio exhibition

I have been feeling guilty that after my heart attack I haven’t felt motivated or well enough to visit some of the great exhibitions presently on in London but I’m slowly catching up.

Last Sunday we went to see Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London – an exhibition showing his far reaching influence on artists of his time. It’s interesting that without having his own school, Caravaggio’s style was taken up by so many painters, though he hated being copied and would threaten to beat up anyone who did so.

Boy with basket of Fruit

After 20 or so years his combination of live models, dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro) and storytelling fell out of favour until the 20th century, since when he has been increasingly popular.

Caravaggio  (1571-1610) said that painting still life requires as much artistry as painting figure and his still lifes were certainly beautiful. The boy with fruit and flowers in the exhibition was his rather naughty Boy bitten by a lizard 1594-5 which shows a lizard biting the boy’s middle finger with beautifully painted fruit and white roses in a glass vase and behind the boy’s ear.

Who’s for a curry?

Salad selection
Salad selection

Everyone seemed to have run out of my favourite mango pickle, so last Sunday we went to the wonderful Indian emporium in Drummond Street to get some. Didn’t have exactly the make I wanted but bought some Patak’s Hot Mango Pickle. I’ve tasted it and it seems fine,  but I haven’t yet  tried it with my own curry.

Hot food
Hot food

We don’t usually have a cooked lunch, preferring to have our main meal at night, but, since we would be in a street packed with Indian restaurants,  we decided to have a curry lunch.

Unfortunately none of our favourite curry houses had any clients – always a bad sign – so we went for a buffet lunch instead.

Scrumptious-looking fruit plate
Scrumptious-looking fruit plate

The salads were good, the hot food so-so but the fresh fruit not only looked great but each variety was special.

Now that so many street markets which had stalls which sold only  produce bought that day have gone, we’re reduced to buying fruit from supermarkets and it’s just not the same.

An enjoyable meal, and very reasonably priced, but I would have liked a hot curry! Time to make my own curry and try the Hot Mango Pickle with it!!


Yet another cookbook
Yet another cookbook

Yes, yes – it’s another cookbook. I saw it on our last visit to the Lakeland store and found it irresistible.

I bought a spiralizer a while ago when my vegetarian grand-daughter said it was all the rage, but other than spiralizing s courgette to add to a green salad and a carrot to add to my chicken soup, my spiralizer had languished in the cupboard.

My Lurch spiralizer
My Lurch spiralizer

However, looking through the Spiralizer Cookbook on display in Lakeland, there were so many appetising-looking recipes. Lots of them are low calorie and will help in my fight against putting on weight. It’s hard if you enjoy cooking.

So far I’ve only made the Celeriac Remoulade but I must try Catherine Atkinson’s spiralized potato cake and potato latkes. I shall certainly be looking at some of her other cookbooks.

Memoir extract from Woman in a White Coat
I learned to cook after I finished my second house job as a new qualified doctor. I had qualified as a dental surgeon five years earlier.

When I finished my second house job I was five months pregnant. I was unlikely to find a part-time temporary job in medicine and I couldn’t face the thought of standing all day in a dental practice, though it would have been much easier to find a locum dental appointment. I decided to take a cookery course instead. At that time, I could cook omelettes and minestrone, but not much else. Only the girls in the lower streams at school did cookery and my mother had always shooed me away.

‘Food is rationed,’ she’d say. ‘Don’t want you wasting good food. Time enough to learn to cook when you get married.’



Fresh from San Sebastian
Fresh from San Sebastian


Louise and her family come over from San Sebastian Easter, August and Christmas – during the school and college holidays. They always come bearing goodies – this time they brought this delicious box of strawberries and jars of my favourite pickled peppers.

Basque Pickled Peppers
Pickled Peppers from the Basque country

We’ve tried buying picked peppers in London but have only been able to find the fatter tough peppers that are best used for cooking. I like to have a pickled pepper in my home-made cream cheese sandwiches.


I might try  this tongue twister on my Basque grandchildren.

‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter picked?’

I wonder who remembers how much a ‘peck’ is – 9.0923 litres or ¼ bushel. A bushel is a measure of volume (1.2445 cubic feet or 8 gallons) used originally for quantities of grain, fruit or other produce, so the actual weight would vary depending on the contents.
As a children in pre-WW2 London we had to learn all these old measures like rods,  poles, perches and  chains as measurements of length.  Acres (4840 square yards) are still used as measures of area, particularly in farmland.


My local Boots
My local Boots


All kinds of tights
All kinds of tights

These days Boots the chemists widen their range all the time. You can understand makeup and electrical products related to teeth or hair but one wonders what next?

Well – tights. I suppose it started with support tights and compression stockings and went on from there. In the winter I wear the heavier 40 denier tights – they don’t ladder like the sheer ones I wear with a skirt. At £6 for three pairs they’re great.

Chocolates and sweets ??
Chocolates and sweets ??

We’re used to seeing sandwiches and drinks and even some packed lunches but sweets and chocolates only a few yards from the dispensing of drugs to deal with diabetes and caries preventing toothpaste?? Time to rethink how to stop the scourges of life-threatening obesity and the ever increasing tooth decay in children.

Supermarkets to make your mouth water

Vegetables in our local Tesco
Vegetables in our local Tesco

There’s no doubt that our local Tesco is going upmarket. Its produce is better and I have now started to buy meat there but unlike the big Spanish supermarkets I need a shopping list, rather wandering around and getting inspired

Pick your own
Pick your own

I think the big difference, for example in this Basque supermarket Eroski,  is that except for potatoes and oranges all the produce is laid out for you to choose.  Doesn’t matter if it’s been handled by someone else – you’re going to wash it anyhow. Everything is so much more tempting. When we go to visit Louise I often wish I was the cook – but I don’t cook in her flat and she doesn’t cook when she comes to us.

Best of all are the big covered markets like the one in Valencia, where we had a long weekend with our daughter Jane and stayed in a hotel. There was every kind of delicious looking food on sale  and I regretted that we hadn’t taken an apartment instead where I could cook our dinner.  You wouldn’t have to plan the next meal and take a shopping list – just wander around and be tempted.

The New Spitalfields Market

Only this sculpture of a pear. All the fresh fruit and vegetables have gone
Only this sculpture of a pear and a fig remind us that Spitalfields was once a thriving fruit and vegetable market.

My grammar school, Central Foundation School for Girls, was in Spital Square on the edge of Spitalfields Market. On my way to school from our tenement in Petticoat Lane I walked through the market, skirting the squashed produce and horse droppings. While most farmers brought in their fruit and vegetables by lorry, some still used a horse and cart.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat

I didn’t practise enough to play the cello well, but I enjoyed playing in a quartet. We played with great enthusiasm though not much musicianship. We were rarely quite in tune. Our practice room was next to the sixth form common room. The seniors would come out with their hands over their ears complaining about the noise.

Sarah had a little pitch pipe to give us an A but Jo, the viola player, seemed to have no sense of pitch. Sometimes even we couldn’t stand the sound she made and had to tell her to shut up. When we practised, either we weren’t quite in tune or one or other of us would come in a couple of beats late and we’d all start giggling. Once we started, anything would set us off laughing again.