"No love sincerer than the love of food"


Confessions of a Sugar Junkie

It is mid January and I am still on my Low GI diet.  My main struggle has been that it cuts out a major food group – cakes! I am ashamed to say that in the last 3 or 4 months my sugar addiction had spiralled out of control and action had to be taken.

cakes colourSaying I have a little bit of a sweet tooth is like declaring the Pope a little bit Catholic, therefore giving up my beloved cakes, biscuits and puddings has proved to be particularly challenging.

It wasn’t always this way.  Up until about ten years ago I could take or leave your chocolate fudge cake and would happily choose a starter over a dessert (I was also a lot slimmer). What changed?  I tell you what changed, I met the love of my life, who does have an incredibly sweet tooth.  All of a sudden a whole range of chocolates, cakes, muffins, jelly babies and all sweet treats in between came into my house,  and so I started to eat them …… and eat them ….. and eat them.  I honestly believe from the bottom of my  ever-increasing bottom that sugar is addictive and I became a hopeless sugar junkie.

jelliesAt first I could handle it,  but in recent years the situation has escalated and brought me to where I am today – cold turkey. You probably don’t believe that I have a problem but here are some lovely examples which illustrate my point perfectly:


Not long after having my little girl I invited two shiny new friends round for coffee.  In a bid to impress I made a whole batch of Nigella Lawson’s Rocky Road.  Over coffee we enjoyed one slice of the tray bake each  ( I didn’t know them well enough at that point to reveal my true colours).  Now a whole batch of this gorgeous Nigella creation probably equates to 15 pieces of  Rocky Road.  How much do you think was left by the end of the day?  Well let me tell you NONE.  I sat all day and just ate and ate and ate, It was so darned good I just couldn’t help myself.


To cheer up my somewhat grumbly husband one evening I picked up a family size bag of Jelly Babies as a present, before getting a train home. Ten minutes into the journey the box was open the cellophane compromised and jelly infanticide had begun.  The commute was only half an hour so at least I can say it was not a long drawn out demise.  I alighted the train and presented BC with a packet of two jelly babies, shame faced and feeling very sick.

TRUFFLE GATEcake eating

I can’t make truffles every again.  Same story as above really.  BC desperately wanted me to get his mum’s truffle recipe from his sister.  I obliged and set about making a huge batch of truffles – half rolled in vermicelli and half rolled in desiccated coconut.  Oh my god, the very thought of them …….. anyway,   I wolfed down around 20 truffles in one day, was consumed by guilt, destroyed the recipe and ruined BC’s chance of rekindling fond cakey memories.

It’s not just what I eat but the way in which I sometimes approach cakes and other treats.  I will hide them from myself around the house and when I outfox myself and find them I eat them like bulimia without the vomiting.  It is not a pretty sight.

So my completely dysfunctional relationship to all things sugary is out in the open and though like an alcoholic I can never be fully cured, I feel I am on the road to a recovery of sorts.  You might have noticed that there is a whole page on this site dedicated to a cake of the month and to achieve this I do actually have to eat cake.  So it is with a heavy heart , for the service of this blog,  that I pledge to begin the reintroduction of cake sometime in February.

Onwards and upwards to another cakeless day for the Grumbling Tummy.


Loaves and Fishes

baked AlaskaThere have been 5 main loves in my dad’s life to date –  his family, his “wee dug”,  the North Sea, Michael Schumacher and food.

You could say that food was in his blood.  His Father Jimmy was a baker with his own shop in the fishing village of Pittenweem, both sons were trained  in the family business. Dad didn’t follow the floury career path in the end but the skills he learned stayed with him and fuelled his life-long passion for food.

Instead of loaves Dad concentrated on fishes,  trawling the North Sea every week for most of his working life.  Although  no gourmet he was a naturally good cook and was in charge of  keeping the hungry crews he sailed with over the years happy with wholesome and simple dishes such as mince and tatties, cullen skink and skirlie.

skirlieRecipe for Skirlie (great with a chicken dinner or with mince and tatties).  Melt 50g of butter and add a finely chopped up onion.  Cook till the onion is soft.  Add in 175g of oatmeal and season well.  Cook on the hob for about 15 minutes and away ye’ go.

Mum and I did not eat fish! I  didn’t like fish simply because my mum didn’t like fish (makes sense when you are 6).  A  fisherman’s family who won’t eat fish –  it really was ludicrous. I did like fish fingers but they didn’t count.  They were a banned substance in the Taylor household amid many tales of fish eyes and guts. Dad did finally get me on board so to speak with a simple version of Cullen Skink.

Dad’s easy Smoked Fish in Milk – Pop a piece of smoked fish  in a dish, cover with milk, add some onion slices, a knob of butter and a wee bit of tomato. Cook in the microwave  and serve up with lots of fluffy white bread to soak up the juices.  Simple and satisfying. Sometimes we added a potato or some grated cheese!  It was a flexible affair.

Like most homes in the 70’s and 80’s tastes were pretty simple – roast beef and yorkshire puddings, mince and tatties, steak, chips and onion rings, stews (I am sure it was the same in your house).  Sole Veronique was not a family staple,  but it was what mum and I decided to  prepare in a bid to impress Dad one Saturday evening.  His reaction was a bit like Peter Kay’s Garlic Bread sketch.  You know the one,  Garlic ……….. and Bread!!!  Same scene Fish… and Grapes… and Wine!!!   Not a raging success but as cooking entered celebrityville, Dad did embrace the new and it became our new shared interest.

Baking was where he really excelled.  He was and is an avid fan of all things sweet as it rather evident from his substantial girth.  You don’t get to be on first name terms with the staff of Fisher & Donaldsons for no reason!

He is most well-known for his shortbread, little round beauties dusted in sugar. Hard to stick to one or two and brilliant dunked in your tea.  He has always been a bit Machiavellian with his baking in my opinion.  Is taking shortbread to the reception staff in the Doctor’s surgery, the traffic wardens who walk the streets of St Andrews and the ladies who work in the bank a form of bribery? You decide!

shortbreadDads Shortbread Recipe.  4 0z butter, 2 0z sugar, 5oz flour, 1 oz semolina.  Cream butter and sugar together until light, fork through the flour and semolina.  Draw the mixture together with your fingers to make a dough. Roll out and cut into rounds.  Prick all over with a fork and put in an oven at 170 for 40 minutes or until the colour of pale straw.

He is the only person I personally know who has successfully made Baked Alaska.  Cue another Peter Kay moment  –  Ice Cream …. in the oven.  What’s that all about?  It was as I remember gorgeous but not something I would be brave enough to contemplate making even now.  Hats off to Mr Taylor for impressing us with this remarkable feat.

Even when things did go wrong on the baking front it was often so very right.  My love of toffee stems from his attempt to make tablet.  We never did get tablet but we did get a tray of amazingly gooey toffee.  Much better than tablet in my opinion and probably why I can’t pass a packet of Thornton’s special toffee to this day.

On most weekends we  trooped off to either St Andrews or Kirkcaldy  when I was a kid. Both of which were home to The Pancake Place..  The Pancake Place was a sweet tooth haven.  I believe there were savoury options available but my family swiftly bypassed them, tucking into sizeable american style pancakes with our favourite teeth rotting toppings.  Lemon and sugar for mum, maple syrup and cream for dad and chocolate sauce with nuts and cream for me. We loved these pancakes so much that Dad mastered making even bigger versions at home.  We would have them on a Saturday night with lashings of maple syrup and too much cream whilst watching Dusty Bin (3-2-1).  The pancakes became legendary!

I could write a book of memories of my Dads cooking and baking and probably a sequel on my Granny who was a demon baker.  But I will stop here …. for now!

Unfortunately Dad can no longer bake which is sad (though my hips give a sigh of relief) so it is nice to remember all the fabulous “tasty bites” he is famous for.

I am not a baker, principally because I am also a sugar addict and I eat EVERYTHING that I bake.  But perhaps I ought to at least try to keep the family skill alive and haul out the Kenwood Chef he gave me recently to give it a go.  Wish me luck!

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2013 Recipe Challenge – Courgette and Feta Pie

innerdsI thought as it was the fist week of my challenge it was worthy of a blog.  Most weeks however I will just pop my progress onto the Challenge Page of the site.

This first week’s recipe was taken from a book called “The Best Traditional Recipes of Greek Cooking”. This particular book has been chilling out on the book shelf for no  less than ten years.  It was actually bought by BC when he visited Santorini with my predecessor (pulls childish petulant face).  I do love Greek food but flicking through this book has been the furthest I have got …  until now.

My original intention was to cook a lamb mince-pie but the method was a bit vague and to be honest I couldn’t work out what the hell to do with the semolina!  So decided instead to embark on a simple Courgette and Feta pie, made even more simple by the fact that it is not really a pie – no pastry involved.  This would be more accurately be described as a baked  fritatta. It was very simple – easy as pie you might say.

This is how simple it was:  saute  a few sliced courgettes and a few chopped up spring onions in a ludicrous amount of olive oil ( I know olive oil is healthy … but that much of any oil is questionable! ). Beat up three eggs and mix in a pack of feta (crumbled) and a whole bunch of chopped parsley.  Mix in the courgettes and onions, pour into a non stick tin and pop in a medium oven for about an hour.finished pie

I was nervous and there was a nice pizza lined up on the subs bench, but thankfully that was not necessary as the ‘non’ pie was delicious. As I mentioned, it is similar to a fritatta,  however baking really intensifies the flavours and the feta oozes beautifully through the egg.  I served it with olives, rocket, Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall’s Roast Honey Tomatoes and some simple roasted peppers. It was a resounding success and is now on the rota of  “cheap n’ simple meals” that make it into my weekly meal plans.

The last slice was popped into  a Tupperware tub with some salad and taken with me to work for lunch the following day. Served cold this pie was even better, making it a brilliant option for lunch boxes and picnics.

I know that on week one Nicola from cooked up Pheasant, what did you do?  It’s not to late to join in.

In week 2 BC chooses the dish from Jamie’s American book.  More on that next week but I am praying to God it is not the Beer Butt Chicken!!