Tag Archives: Fruit and vegetables

TOURS IN THE TIME OF COVID (With a nod to Gabriel García Márquez)

The cut-out policeman looks so real I nearly wished it Good Morning!!

Before Covid, we’d been on bus tours in Spain and to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, and on River Tours on the Rhine and the Danube, but now our tours seem to be confined to Tours of London Supermarkets.

I was born and brought up in the East End of London, then a poor, mainly Jewish district. We lived in a cold-water tenement on the third floor of Wentworth Dwellings in what was known as Petticoat Lane, though Petticoat Lane hasn’t existed as such for nearly 300 years. After a boundary rearrangement it was renamed Middlesex Street. We first lived in a third floor flat opening onto Goulston Street and then in one overlooking Wentworth Street, both streets crowded with food stalls on weekdays.

My mother went shopping every day – there were no fridges in the 1930s. We tried to stop milk going sour, and butter melting, by storing them in a mesh-fronted cupboard on our tiny balcony. We were rarely successful. There always seemed to be a cheesecloth bag hanging from the kitchen tap with soured milk turning into cream cheese.

One of my chores was to buy our bread, usually from Kossoff’s bakery opposite. If the total added up to a few pennies and one farthing (¼ penny), the assistants would tell me to forget the odd farthing, rather than bother to give me three farthings in change. My mother wouldn’t accept charity from anyone, so, having climbed the six sets of steep stone stairs to our flat on the third floor, I would have to go down again and take the farthing to the shop.

Now, of course, we have fridges and freezers and in a district like ours, where individual food shops have virtually disappeared, we shop once a week in supermarkets, not daily – usually Tesco or Sainsburys and occasionally Waitrose.

My favourite white bread flour is Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour. I first found it in Tesco but the last time I was about to run out they no longer had any in stock. I ordered some online from Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) but the road works in Victoria blocked the lorry entrance to our flats. To my chagrin, the delivery driver gave up and took my shopping back to the warehouse.

I saw online that both ASDA and Morrisons stock that flour and decided to visit each of them for the first time. Both are designed to make everything look as if it is at a cheaper price – some definitely cheaper than in our usual supermarkets but sometimes just less in the packet, so not really any cheaper.

After our Tour in the Time of Covid, we’ll stick to Tesco and Sainsburys alternately – we like some versions of our favourite products in one and some in the other. We’ll make an occasional trip to Waitrose – the most spacious feeling of them, for things not available at our usual stores.

However, when I next run out, if Tesco and Sainsburys don’t have my favourite flour in stock, I’ll make up a delivery order from ASDA or Morrisons, rather negotiating the nightmare junction that is at Elephant and Castle, and traipsing up the Old Kent Road or Walworth Road.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘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.
Woman in a White Coat

 

 

AIN’T IT GREAT??


Edmonton IKEA in the Sunshine

So good to have even this still limited amount of freedom! Being able to go shopping and finally visit IKEA again.

IKEA was fairly orderly, though very busy. Having been married now for 65 years, we never need any more furniture or linen, so we skip the first floor and concentrate on the marketplace on the ground floor. You used to be able to walk through from the entrance, but now you have to take the lift upstairs and another one down again.

With my breathlessness on exertion, I found the long walk around the ground floor a bit much, but I had one of their metal trolleys to lean on and managed to stagger through to the end. We always find some odds and ends we don’t really need but must have!!

My angiogram a fortnight ago wasn’t the nightmare I was expecting. In fact, I found it fascinating. The sedation I was given probably calmed me, but I was wide awake and lay there watching the dye spurting through my coronary vessels on a ginormous screen to my left. The worst thing was having to self-isolate for two weeks beforehand, when lockdown had already started to be reduced. It meant having food delivered again instead of going in person to the supermarket. It’s not just being able to choose just the size and type of fruit and vegetables you like, but the display in a well-stocked supermarket gives me ideas. Not having eaten out for a year, I can do with some inspiration.

My day in hospital wasn’t all good, as there appears to be a problem with one of the arteries supplying blood to my heart. A toss-up what you can do for a little old lady who will be 90 in October (PG).

It would have been a long walk to the end of the entry queue but, without my asking, the IKEA attendant opened the barrier for us. So kind!!

Thanks to all the lovely people who have been reading and writing to me about my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’.

Woman in a White Coat

BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

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.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

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.

Recipe

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!!

SPIRALIZER COOKING

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.’

Continue reading SPIRALIZER COOKING

STRAWBERRIES FOR TEA ANYONE?

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.

I BUY MY TIGHTS IN BOOTS THE CHEMISTS

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.