Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prunes: Not just for Grannies

Look. I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking "ewwwww, PRUNES? Who's she trying to kid? I mean seriously. She likes ketchup chips! Where do dried bits which look like poo and make you do the same thing even fit into it?"

But yes. Prunes.

Ok, so I never was a big fan of them. In fact, when a friend's boyfriend offered his personal bag of them on the table we were assembling for a snack-y finger food and drink night, I immediately made fun of, belittled and laughed at him. It was deserved. Who the hell offers up prunes on a table of cheese, wine, charcuterie, olives and French bread? Sadly when he offered them to the guests, they each took one. He took it as a triumph on his part, I took it as politeness on their part.

In any case, this dried black thing may be a best friend of the colon but it sure isn't my best friend. Until this recipe that is.

I first read about Frankie's Spuntino's Wine-Stewed Prunes on The Wednesday's Chef and as it happened that I had a bag of prunes left over from my grandmother's visit (yes, she actually eats them) and about a glass of wine leftover, I thought I'd give it a go. I mean, after all, her description sounded good, no?

Well, besides making the flat smell like a delicious version of Christmas, I had it over thick Greek yogurt and I can formally announce that I'm a convert.

Deep, dark, rich, sweet, slightly spicy and oh so moreish, it is fabulous.

And with the prunes d'Agen that I bought last week at the market, it makes a wonderfully indulgent snack spooned over some yogurt.

Only 4 ingredients, how can you NOT try it? Go, try and report back... in the meantime, I think I'll have another one thank you very much! I've made some modifications to the recipe to suit myself.

Wine Spiced Prunes

20 prunes
3/4 cups sugar
1 cinnamon sticks
1 cup red wine (give or take a tablespoon... basically whatever you have left over, assuming that its approx. 1 cup!)

1. Dump all into a pot, heat and simmer until the liquid is syrupy

2. Remove from heat, and rest ... basically so you don't scald your mouth!

I think 3 prunes per single serving container of yogurt is perfect but you can go with the traditional recipe on The Wednesday Chef's blog entry here.

I put what I don't eat that evening in the fridge. It lasts a while... although not in my fridge it doesn't. Mmmmmnn...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Excuses, excuses

It would be remiss of me not to mention my absence. But this time, I have a rather good excuse, which, you'll be happy to hear, can only be used once.

I went and got married! Yup, the boy and I are officially hitched!

It came from 6 months of frantic planning, countless trips to the North East of England, coordination between people in 4 countries, kind, patient parents and a hefty chunk of change.

But was it worth it?


Highlights included:

The absolutely incredibly gorgeous, 14 degrees weather. Yep. You heard right, 14 degrees in the North East in FEBRUARY, ladies and gentlemen. Which means yes, God was on our side!

Our wonderful family and friends who helped us pull it all off and the incredible amount of air miles our friends put in to join us. We were truly honored.

The old London double decker we rented, complete with uniformed conductor, to drive guests to and from the church.

The response of the boy when the Vicar asked him when he knew why brides wore white.... I'll never live that one down.

The Northumbrian piper when we walked in and the Ceiligh band which kicked off the evening.

The candy buffet which featured candy and treats from Hong Kong, Canada and the United Kingdom (my personal favorites were the Coffee Crisps, Black Jacks and of course dark sugar embedded sour plums!).

The dance coordinated by my fantabulous sister-in-law... a shock to many, including the boy, when the bridesmaids and I sauntered to the dance floor in a "choreographed" cheesy dance to... wait for it.... "Play that Funky Music White Boy".

My four dresses... and of course my snow cape! Hey, it went from 9am to 2am, a girl's got to have some fun!

Now, for those of you who are here for the food!! I'm sad to report it wasn't all that...

Dinner homemade tomato soup served with warm rolls (which were so good my Uncle had 4!!), Oven baked Loin of Cheviot Lam flavoured with Rosemary and served with a Redcurrant Jus and finished with Pear flavoured Bavarois topped with Glazed Pears and edged with Raspberry Coulis. I didn't get a chance to take any photos but Aaron, my Matron of Honour's husband, who was a STAR the whole day, thought of Sui Mai and snapped this one. Thank you!

Although I didn't get near it, I was told that the evening buffet of roast beef and pork with all the accompaniments (gravy, applesauce, mustard, etc.) was outstanding. And for those who worried about my veg head friends, they were catered for with veggie burgers. Prompting of course my father to ask what that "weird burger" was after the wedding.

There is so much more to say and people to thank but I will do that on another medium. However, I did want to publicly thank everyone who was there, people who sent their well wishes and those of you who were there with me in spirit.

Thank you for the cards, the gifts and your support. It is more than I could ever have hoped for.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ol' Skool

Someone asked me the other day why I didn't update my blog.

I was quite surprised, truth be told because I thought I did quite a good job of updating the blog at least once a week (I try for twice but often we eat at home and my cooking just isn't blog - worthy... I promise. I wouldn't hold out on something good, would I?). And I said as much:

"I'm quite surprised."

At which they said, no, no... they meant the look of my blog. I apparently still have an "old school" style blog. In that I use the blogger picture tool to put pics right and left all along my posts and don't use Pictobrowser or other things.

Hmmm.... I thought about it for a bit. And while I have to admit that one of the reasons is that I'm technically a bit behind the crowd (I was always the chubby girl struggling to keep up with the rest of my running group in PE), but also I found that my favorite blogs to read are those that have the pictures IN MY FACE!

I love that Robyn posts pictures throughout her blog so that I can read and see what she's talking about at the same time and I find that often I don't .... scroll through the PictoBrowser (sorry!). Maybe its laziness or maybe I just like instant gratification (chocolate, NOW!).

Perhaps I will change when I get my new logo from Spicy Icecream.... but likely not really.

So to all my readers (all 5 of you), sorry but I think I will remain "Ol' Skool" and maybe even become retro one day. One can only hope.

(picture included is a T-shirt I got for Christmas from my favorite veg heads... I am using it as a cheap ploy to hold your attention. At least I didn't use SEX... oops, I guess I did now.... darn.)