Andrea Leadsom: “farming is a bedrock of the environment”. Err…

What the every day person has always thought, the crazy regulations, milk quotas ect will be gone soon!

a new nature blog


New Defra Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom has sent a statement to Farmers Weekly, the farming newspaper. Although the paper has not published the full statement, here are the quotes it uses:

“Nothing is more important than the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink”.

“On 23 June, the people of this country voted to leave the European Union and we must now carry out their instruction,” she said.

“I believe this give us an unparalleled chance to design a set of policies that are tailored to the needs of the UK, rather than 28 different member states. We must seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Secretary of State said the UK should work with our European neighbours “so that we get the best terms for the industry”.

“My ministers and I will lead from the front in these negotiations, championing the industry and all…

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The Ultimate Prawn Sandwich

I first tasted this in  California at a friends BBQ, and was blown away by the experience. I say experience as its not just the flavour, texture or the aroma that blew me away but  watching the prawns being cooked on the BBQ (with ice cold beer in hand). The avocado mayonnaise, if there is any left, can be used for other salads.

Now time to get busy! Light the BBQ, chill some beer and wine and invite your friends over. Lets marinade the prawns !  Gather the following ingredients together….This is for two people

  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 large clove of garlic ,mashed
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • About 20 peeled and deveined prawns

Combine the ingredients above and throw the prawns in and stir to combine the flauours and set aside in the fridge till your guests arrive. Next the mayonnaise! Again get all these ingredients to hand

  • 250g of mayonnaise (homemade is best)
  • Large ripe avocado flesh chopped
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 chipotle pepper (if you cant get hold of a chipotle pepper I found a serrano chile and a good pinch of smoked paprika is good)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • twist of black pepper

Put all these ingredients in a food processor a blend until combined.prawns

When ready to serve toast some large bread rolls, add a few crisp lettuce leaves and set aside. Put the prawns on the BBQ and cook until pink and firm to the touch. Place about half the prawns on top of the lettuce and add a good dollop of the mayonnaise mix. Top with the other half of the roll. Pass this to your first guest if you cant resist grabbing this for you self

! thBLOR048T

If you are not going to have a BBQ (this is England after all!) just pop those prawns onto a dry pan or griddle plate, the charring on them adds so much flavour.

Now its question time!!

When is a prawn a prawn or is it a shrimp???

  1. Because its from Australia
  2. Its easier to spell
  3. Shrimp and bananas go together!!
  4. shrimps are those little curled up on pizza’s
  5. This is the answer


Why traditional foods are so important

They taste better for starters (or main courses) , they look better and are generally better for you! That’s the selfish reasons which, for many of us, is enough. For my mind there are many more benefits the component parts (ingredients)  come from trusted suppliers and from trusted stock, be it cattle, fish or even grain!  By using these trusted suppliers it also supports the local economies and keeps those pesky food miles to an acceptable low level.

There is one important criteria and that is one that is so important to me and that is the future health of our young.

We have recently seen, here in the UK,  the government announce that they are to impose restrictions and additional labeling about the amount of sugar in soft drinks. We are also aware that labeling can mean nothing if an unscrupulous manufacture of processed foods wants to bulk out a product with a foreign ingredient. Can anyone look at a pack of processed food and say for certain that those E numbers or that Disodium 5′-ribonucleotides are good for you! Studies have shown that certain processed foods can contribute or even cause ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are it has to be said many other considered causes of ADHD. Food allergies are on the increase. Food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Researchers are trying to discover why food allergies are on the rise in developed countries worldwide. The key word being, for me, is the word developed.

Developed countries are those with processed food !! Coincidence ??

Addiction Number 2

Smoking, good and bad!!

Us humans have been smoking since the stone age but I am not talking about nipping out for 20 Lambert and Butler !! Smoked food is the rather unsurprising subject of this article.

Nearly all of us has sampled some smoked food in our time here on this planet. Meat, fish and cheese are the well known groups of food that we all are aware of. Meats such as pork has offered up a wonderful range of smokey happiness. What can surpass the wonderful aroma of a full English breakfast with some wonderful,dry cured, smoked bacon (the same bacon in a fresh bread roll with lashings of ketchup also gets the mouth all a watering!)

Beef gives us the infamous pastrami (beef marinated with spices, put into brine then smoked), all it needs is some rye bread and go heavy on the mustard.

Fish is  the playground of food smokers.Kippers (made from herring) , Arbroath smokies, and Finnan haddie ( about which a fierce argument  is ongoing,but who cares when it tastes so wonderful) both from haddock . Other seafood that is smoked includes cod roe, oysters, mussels, eels and definitely top of the famous list is the mighty salmon”

So why do we smoke food?

Nowadays its because it tastes so incredible !! The accentuated flavour of smoked fish has similarities with cures (salted) and air dried (dehydration). this is due to the removal of the moisture that can cause the growth of bacteria .

The real reason is to preserve the meat or fish through the winter months. I read that smoked meats possibly fish too originated from the cavemen. The cavemen used to air dry their fish an/or meats inside their cave. The cavemen that kept their fires burning longer produced better preserved and with wonderful flavour.caveman-reaching-for-fire

So therefore I am thankful that we did not have refrigeration and somehow we figured out what micro-biology is all about..


Cullen Skink

This is the most luxurious, creamy flavoursome soup.


  • 500g of smoked haddock fillet, undyed
  • 1l whole milk
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 Leek sliced into rounds
  • 25g of butter
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper


In a shallow pan, poach the haddock in the milk for 6¬–8 minutes. When cooked, remove the fish from the milk and set aside. Reserve the milk.
Sweat the onion and leek in the butter until soft but not coloured. Add the diced potato and cook for a further 5 minutes
Add the reserved milk to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through
Roughly mash the potatoes with a potato masher
Flake the haddock and return to the pan
Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving and finish with a little parsley

A delicious way to serve is with a poached duck egg on top

Fish’n’chips could be left floundering !

According to Reuters New Agency the British Pound has fallen to a  31-year low on fears about the effect of the June 23 vote to leave the European Union. This will have a knock on effect on price for fish .

That may make imports pricier, including the cod and haddock used by roughly 10,500 fish and chip shops in the 380 million meals they serve up each year.

However, with the UK fishing industry being free of the crazy restrictions, such as the ‘catch and dump’ policy. Also, hopefully, we will have more control over our waters.fishnchips

The only recourse to this problem is to support your local Fish and Chip Shop as much as you can. When it comes to buying fish for home consumption is to buy, if you are lucky enough to have one, from a local fishmonger .

The large supermarkets have said their prices wont be gong up for quite a while as they have committed to purchase quantities on a negotiated price. So if the purse strings are tight (aren’t everyone’s?!) Then get your fish from them. I would check on where it was caught as food-miles should be taken account of!!


An Ingredient Addiction

La Chinata, Smoked Paprika


This is at present my favourite ingredient, and has been for many years. I first came across it when I purchased the cook book from The Sugar Club by Peter Gordon (Get a copy) . This was at the beginning of the Pacific Rim cooking phase (craze). In the recipes smoked paprika was called for and in one of the photos within the book a small red tin was on the shelf. At this time (1997) it was nowhere to be seen on the shelves of your local store. It was a year or so later when one of my suppliers dropped a tin off as a sample.

To have one format of the pepper is great but to have THREE is incredible!! The range has consists of sweet “Dulce”, Bitter Sweet “Agridulce” (used by Spanish master butchers to make chorizo) and finally hot “Picante”

When you open the distinctive tin a wonderful aroma is met. When I hear that people say the first time they tried crack cocaine they became addicted, this is what happened to me when I savoured the incredible aroma.

A wonderful full bodied smokey scent fills the kitchen when using it in stews, fajitas and my favourite is in chorizo (more about sausage making later!) . Not only does it gives your food an amazing flavour it also has an intense colour which is very dominant in the dish (try not to get it on your new white top!)

Smoked Paprika powder is the product resulting from the milling of ripe red peppers, dried in a traditional process with either oak wood or holm oak wood. It is cultivated and produced in the region of La Vera, located north of the province of Cáceres1, Spain. This paprika powder is protected by the Guarantee of Origin “Pimentón de la Vera” certifying its lineage and quality. (taken from the La Chinata web site)

Other Brands (or attempts!)

It is so sad that there are suppliers who put “Smoked Paprika” on the front of their jars/tins.

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All three of these jars were a complete disappointment. The aroma on opening the jars was pleasant enough but did not have that wow hit that took you to your local Tapas bar. In fact after a week or so the aroma was barely present. As for colour, well if you are lucky, it may be fresh to the stores shelves and has a reddish tinge to it. The jar I purchased from ASDA had an insipid orange hue. (The flavour reflected the colour!). How daft are these suppliers by putting a spice that has a vibrant colour in a GLASS JAR…DUH!!! Now to price

  • La Chinata £2.00 for 70g (you can get this at Sainsburys’)
  • Sainsburys’ own 50g £1.00
  • ASDA 40g  70p
  • Schwartz 40g  £1.50
  • There are others available but am yet to test. Waitrose looks good at £2.00 for 55g


Welcome, hello and hows you?

Welcome to my blog, I hope to bring you thoughts, beliefs and hopes in the wonderful world of food and drink. I will be bringing you reviews on products I come across (or have already come across). Equipment for the kitchen is my favourite thing to look at and evaluate as I am a gadget junkie! (Lookout for my first review which will be of a vacuum sealer for under £30!!! )

Ingredients will also be under the spotlight. I will look at new to the market ingredients. Quality, methods of use and value for money will be some of the criteria that will come under my magnifying glass. Existing and well known ingredients will be compared to alternatives, stores own brand for instance.


Food politics (I hate the word politics) is a big thing right now. Government legislature, food campaigns (slow food campaign is one of my favourites) will feature every so often but not so much as to become overwhelming.

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