Dexterously combining two themes in one post here: (a) a further attempt at cooking in the oven, and (b) a Scrap Happy project for Kate’s collection.
Last year, staying with Sean and Melinda in Grahamstown, Sean made this fabulous spinach and feta pie for our supper one evening. It’s not vegan because the recipe calls for eggs, ricotta and feta – which means Melinda couldn’t have any – but I guess she was used to that, Sean usually going big on the carnivore side of things! Anyway, he sent me the link and it’s been lurking on my bookmarks bar ever since. Last night = girls’ night at my house = chance to make pie and graciously accept amazed compliments on having made something both edible and attractive.
Theme #2: Karen mentioned that she could use another pinny for her work at the Service Dining Rooms. I made this for her last week, from leftovers of fabric from cushions and bedspreads, and a bit of lace and some orange bobbles at the bottom left over from who the hell knows what. Here she is, trying to give a realistic impression of a happily domesticated woman about to dish up the pie, but looking more like someone who’s watched The Shining too many times. Perhaps she would have been happier with an axe.
A lovely friend is in Cape Town for six months on contract so I invited her to be my first real guinea pig – as in, to have dinner with me at my own house. Rob was also invited, but obviously has eaten here many times – the difference is, he was always the one doing the cooking!
So, as I chatted to Melinda during the week about how to find my house and the best route, etc, I remembered to ask if there was anything she didn’t eat. She reminded me that she is a vegan. Oh sweet cheeses – I’d forgotten that! What she didn’t realise is that it was brave enough of me to have offered to cook for her in the first place, let alone having to cater for someone who doesn’t even eat eggs. She also doesn’t eat mushrooms or tomatoes (whole) but that’s not the vegan side of her, those are just her personal dislikes.
I was desperate. I turned to the interwebs and googled my fingers sore, until – ta da – Jamie bloody Oliver! What a genius he is. With a few minor alterations, I served lentil tabbouleh and stuffed butternut, with french bread on the side. I couldn’t find puy lentils so used black ones (they were perfect) and substituted finely chopped spinach leaves from my own garden for the tomatoes. I also couldn’t find chestnuts for the butternut stuffing (chestnuts, seriously, wtf?) so used slivered almonds instead. A couple of bottles of Nederburg Baronne and, really, it was a lovely meal and a lovely evening.
I think I’m almost ready for a full table of people now (i.e. six) so I’ll be giving some thought to that this week….heaven knows there are enough friends I owe a return invitation to, in all my years of non-cooking :)
*Only South African readers will get this reference, sorry.
Someone gave Karen a crock pot back in the 70s and she’s just passed it on to me. So retro, with its funky font and distinctive orange! She raves about how wonderful crock pot cooking is so I’m not clear why she’s lost interest. Maybe if I start using it with great success and happiness, she’ll rethink her kind gesture and ask for it back.
My first attempt was beef mince with tomatoes, onions, chillies and sweetcorn, which my recipe book calls Mexican Mince. It doesn’t seem particularly Mexican to me, or at least no more than anything else that is spicy, so it was probably the alliteration that appealed to the editor. If I was Mexican and people kept doing that with the names of dishes, I’d get really annoyed.
Six and half hours later, the grub has turned out very well – tasty with a slight kick, crispily hugging the sides of the pot round the top edge but nice and moist in the middle, and the sweetcorn gives it a nice boost. In the disappointing way that afflicts all amateur food pics, however, it looks absolutely disgusting in my photo.
If I make this one again, I’d add pinto beans and a bit more chilli, but I’m pretty satisfied that my first CP try was a good one. And I guess now I’ll find out whether Karen really does read all my posts like she says….