Day 19 – Ode to a vegetable

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Oh carrot when raw you’re a tasty treat

In the form of a cake you’re hard to beat

At the end of a stick you’re such a tease

Grated in salad you’re so quick to please

And as a juice you’re pretty drink-able

Smothered in butter you’re equally sink-able

But as a hair colour you’re pretty unthinkable

Because no-one wants to be ginger.

Day 18 – I need your brain

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My imagination has run dry. I need your suggestions for recipes using only ingredients from the pound shop (list below).

You suggest it. I’ll create it. Maybe. And if you’re really unlucky I’ll make you taste it.

  • honey
  • tinned tomatoes
  • rice
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • chocolate of every variety you can imagine
  • muffin mix
  • lemon juice
  • tinned tuna
  • tinned crab
  • tinned ‘meat’
  • tinned sardines
  • tinned pink salmon
  • corned beef
  • white bread
  • olives
  • olive oil
  • dried chilli
  • garlic cloves in oil
  • tracker bars
  • breakfast cereal
  • flour
  • sugar
  • tea
  • coffee
  • nuts – cashew, peanuts
  • crisps
  • croutons
  • chicken soup
  • baked beans
  • liquorice
  • candy floss
  • peanut butter
  • ready made pasta salad
  • mustard
  • dates
  • dried apricots
  • raisins
  • sweet and sour sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • Curry sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • cranberry sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • peppers under oil
  • tinned white beans
  • tinned macaroni
  • chicken stock
  • beef stock
  • fray bentos pies
  • paella in a box
  • beef risotto in a box
  • beef curry in a box
  • jarred red cabbage
  • jarred white asparagus
  • gherkins
  • chicken cup-a-soup
  • tomato cup-a-soup

Day 17 – Waiter, there’s some dry shrimp in my paella

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And now all the way from sunny Spain, via King’s Lynn, comes paella in a box! That’s right folks everything for that authentic Spanish flavour in one handy box: dehydrated vegetables, dried shrimp and everyones favourite Monosodium Glutamate. Hear the castanets, watch the swirling skirts of the flamenco dancers as you lift a forkful of that tasty rice to your mouth. Oh can it get any better than this? No, no it can’t, for you dear friends are eating a Vesta paella meal for one. 

Day 16 – Corned Beef Hash

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People who are scared of flying go on specially organised flights to help cure their fear. Those scared of spiders go to the zoo to meet tarantulas. I decided to make a dish out of corned beef to get over my tinned meat phobia.

The dish I made is Corned Beef Hash, the kinda thing people used to eat on camping trips huddled under tents in the rain. It is not the most elegant looking dish but is great comfort food…

  • 1 tin of 340g corned beef
  • About 700g of potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

How to cook:

Preheat oven to 200° C

Boil the potatoes and mash

Chop the onions and saute in a little oil till soft.  Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer till reduced – about 20 or 30 minutes

Break the corned beef into small pieces and add to mashed potato. Then add the tomato mixture to the potatoes.

Transfer the potatoey-beefy mix to a small baking dish then serve.

You could grate some chedder cheese on top and put in the oven till it creates a tasty crust.

Day 15 – Don’t drink the neon fluid

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When I think about about my top ten of places around the world I’d like to visit, most are cities famous for their neon lights from Tokyo to Las Vegas. Maybe its the city girl in me but there’s something irresistible about bright colourful lights. So when the opportunity came up to have my own little light show on my wrist I grabbed it. The pound shop had special offers on glow stick bracelets left over from Halloween. I was going to see Arcade Fire in concert that weekend so thought it was the perfect opportunity to wear them.

To activate the glow stick you have to snap it. On the bus to the gig I tried to snap my sticks but it didn’t seem to work so I decided to bite it. Ewurggheewwwwwwwww. In my excited haste I managed to bite through the plastic and my mouth was filled with vile neon fluid. My friend asked me if something was wrong since I was chocking and making gurgling noises. I tried to spit but nothing happened. It was as if some small gremlin had crawled into my mouth and sucked out all the saliva and then sprayed his acid-like pee around my mouth. It stung and I thought maybe the pound shop had killed me after all. It even tasted worse than the other supposed food product I had bought from the pound shop: Fray Bentos pies. Then my body’s defences kicked in and before I knew it I had thrown up by the side of my seat.

Isn’t it great how your body knows its in trouble and does its best to save you even though its owner is stupid enough to bite into a glow stick?

Day 14 – Tinned Fish

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My recipe for Salmon Fishcakes. It goes without saying that I used tinned salmon but rather than this being a disadvantage, most recipes for fishcakes actually specify to used tinned fish. In fact the master of tasty and unpretentious dishes Mr. Nigel Slater has this to say:

Tinned-fish fishcakes
Lovely. Canned salmon and sardines make deeply flavoured fishcakes. You will need the same quantity as fresh fish, and you will have to drain them of their oil or water. Squeeze wedges of lemon over.

Appetite by Nigel Slater (2000)

The recipe:

  • Half a tin of pink salmon (about 200g)
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • some olive oil
  • one medium onion chopped finely

How to cook:

Mix the salmon, potato, flour, onion and a little salt and pepper together in a bowl.

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan.

Take a palm sized amount of the mixture and shape into a ball and then flatten.

Pat fishcake with some flour to coat lightly.

Fry for 4-5 minutes on each side under golden.

Serve with my sweet chilli dressing – recipe to follow shortly…

Day 13 – Baked Bean Soup

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Just don’t eat this before a date or there could be some embarrassing Blazing Saddles moments (video below).

  • 2 cans of 400g baked beans
  • 900ml chicken stock
  • 2 medium onions
  • a little olive oil
  • some Worcestershire sauce

How to cook:

Cook the onions in a little oil till soft but not brown. Add the stock and baked beans. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes or so. Its really tasty and would be especially nice with chopped up sausages or chorizo.

Adapted from a recipe in A Celebration of Soup by Lindsey Bareham.