You are what you eat

You are what you eat.

When I was little, I liked things to be white. “I ont oodles” was the catch cry at the table. “Ont oodles”- in soup, in butter , in yogurt- in anything white ish. So long as it was plain, slippery and predominately carbohydrates it was ok. Taking me to restaurants was a nightmare. Not many places will serve straight noodles. Though I see McDonalds now will- in animal shapes to boot. 

” No red sauce? No cheese? Nothing on the pasta?” Italian Maitre Ds would bleat on rare occasions when we ventured out while pouring lambrusco for the parents. “No. She really just likes it to be plain”. My mother got very good at shooing decorative parsley and oregano off ravioli and appealing to me not to make another scene.

My mother never liked to cook. She still swears that is someone could create a tablet that you could take that would contain all of your daily nutrients she’d be first in line at the chemists. My father never liked to cook, but enjoyed carbo loading. He was often seen on his bicycle clutching handlebars with one hand and a banana in the other. Breakfast was frequently a large bowl of rolled oats and milk. Not porridge, cold oats and milk. Carbo loading is about maximum of fuel in the shortest time possible. Flavour doesn’t have a home in that equation.

But there was never a shortage of food. The pot belly in most of the fading photographs is a testament to that.

The parentheses around my childhood were twilight meals, long summer nights, grilled chicken and the differing appetites of two giggling girls.

My summer days were spent in a the salt water pool then towelled off and rounded up with sausages and Country Blest white bread ( sliced thicker than tip top, with a mock rustic curve in the crust and embellished by sesame seeds).

We Milners didn’t believe in fried food. We didn’t believe in fizzy drinks. We didn’t believe in packets of chips in lunch boxes. But we did believe in dessert.

Dad’s mother and father were English. He grew up with recipes for depression cake scratched out in wrinkly pages in recipe books, and in times of plenty there were bowls of sodden trifle.

These things are hereditary. To a true Milner a meal is never a meal unless it includes dessert. At breakfast that’s toast and jam. At lunch it’s a ginger nut and a cup of tea, or a rock cake studded with sultanas. After dinner it was sometimes frozen waffles with ice cream. Or a banana sliced with pouring cream. Occasionally there was Peters vanilla ice cream puddling around in Cottees Maple Flavoured Syrup.
My favourite beginnings:

Baked morrocan eggs-
Take a ramekin. Fill the bottom 2/3 of the way up with eggplant salsa- eggplant sauteed with passata, red onion, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and bacon until it’s soft. Crack an egg over the top. Put a dollop of greek yogurt, some minced garlic and some pepitas over the top of the egg. Try not to break the yolk.
Bake in an 180 degree oven for 8-9 minutes until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve with toast and cup of peppermint tea.

Banana, raspberry and white chocolate bread.
Find any good recipe for banana bread. Add white chocolate broken up and a cup of frozen raspberries. Improves it no end.

Pancakes with apricot, rhubarb and blueberry compote and spiced marscapone.
Make pancake mixture. I like to use a simple ratio of 1:1:1:2.
1 cup plain flour ( I use wholemeal, but that’s just healthy ish me). 1 cup milk ( I use Lite White, but then, that’s me again), 1 egg and one extra egg white.

Mix the yolk, milk and flour together. Beat the whites til they’re fluffy. Slowly fold in the whites trying not to knock too much air out of them.

While the mixture rests cut up some fresh apricots, rhubarb, add some blueberries, a whack of unsalted butter and a good shake of brown sugar and some vanilla essence to a saucepan. Slowly simmer until the rhubarb softens, the blueberries burst and the apricots ooze. Add some more blueberries.

Make pancakes, top with compote and put a dollop of marscapone with cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger on top.

Mushroom, thyme and goats cheese omelet.
Put more butter than you should in a non stick fry pan. Turn on the kettle. Take all the mushrooms you have at the bottom of the fridge. Slice thinly and sautee with salt, butter and some thyme from the wilting herb garden.

Take out of fry pan, whisk 3 eggs.

Add more butter than you should again to the fry pan, turn heat down super low and pour in eggs. Allow to set around the edge. Put the toast in the toaster. Make a cup of tea. Put mushrooms, some crumbled goats cheese, some thyme ( or sage if you don’t have thyme, or basil if you don’t have either) in the centre and gently lift up the two sides of the omelet and fold them over the mushrooms etc like a pashmina over a cleavage.

Let set further over a really low heat. Take out toast and slide omlette onto plate.

Chunky Monkey Smoothie.
Turn coffee machine on.
Make a long black. Peel 2 bananas. Add coffee, 2 bananas, about 250 ml of skim milk, 1/4 of a cup of chocolate flavoured protein powder ( can skip if fiance isn’t big enough to bicep curl you and has more protein powder in the house than you know what to do with) and 4 cubes of ice in a blender. Whizz. Drink.

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