Posts Tagged ‘recipe


Slow cooked beef with pearl barley, leeks and a jus of bitter tears

This recipe comes to you straight from the mad scientist’s laboratory and has been tentatively tested on human subjects. As I write, they’re all still alive, at least I think they are, I’m the first one up.

Slow cooked beef


Some beef from Aldi – cut off the really gristly bits and feed to cat
Some pearl barley – pre-cooked for ten minutes to avoid costly dental bills
Various unidentified green things from the bottom of the fridge – I used leeks, peppers, mushrooms, mini sweetcorn and some ancient garlic
A stock cube
A tin of minestrone soup
Bitter tears (optional)

1)    Wake up extra early so that you can prepare the ingredients for the slow-cooked meal you plan to serve tonight.
2)    Marvel at the fact that a ‘time-saving’ dish can take so bloody long to prepare.
3)    Take beef out of fridge and cut into bite-size chunks. Freak out when blood from beef packet leaks over pyjamas, squeal like schoolgirl, sponge most of blood off chest and carry on.
4)    Chop up vegetables and fry until al dente.
5)    Become increasingly resentful that you are slaving over a hob full of bubbling saucepans when you could be drinking tea and watching breakfast television.
6)    Fend off complaints from family that house smells like soup kitchen. Reassure them that tonight, it will all be worth it. Attempt to inject at least 10 times more feeling into this assurance than you would normally.
7)    Throw all ingredients into slow cooker.
8)    Realise you have lost the instructions for the cooker and decide to guess (a) what temperature to set the cooker to (b) how long to cook the meal for.
9)    Repeat the phrase: ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE SLOW COOKER, IT IS HOT’ at least 93 times during the day.
10)    Forget slow cooker is hot, burn self while trying to lever the last few slices of bread out of the bread bin. Dress wound.
11)    Eight hours after stove-slaving, serve up what could euphemistically be described as ‘peasant fayre’. Partner says: ‘this is new territory. You can’t blame me if I hate it and don’t eat it’.
12)    Before anyone gets the chance to sneer, package leftovers into tub and put in freezer to serve to family on a day when they have pissed you off more than normal.
13)    Quickly leave house on ‘errand’ to avoid post-meal analysis.

While everyone else ate pastoral mulch, I made myself a vegetarian sausage casserole which was delicious and took around seven hours and 15 minutes less time to make than the above.


How to scare the family shitless by getting out the Crock Pot or The Day I Started Actually Cooking

I was an annoying child, an over-achiever and all-round teacher’s pet who spent all my high school lunchtimes doing extra-curricular activities and begging staff to let me take my O levels early. That I had any friends whatsoever was a miracle, and that I am earning such a pittance in my 30s considering the vast stash of qualifications I amassed in a few short years of being a total lick-arse is a continuing tragedy.

Although I was very academic, some would say pathologically academic, my Achille’s heel was mathematics. Numbers are, and have always been, a foreign concept to me. I understand that people are able to solve quadratic equations, my problem is coming to terms with why they might want to. Being single-minded and desperate to go and greet the golden intelligentsia I assumed would be waiting for me at university (a misconception which was swept away during fresher’s week), I persevered until I finally passed the GCSE maths qualification I needed to do my degree. I was lucky – the year I re-sat my maths exam was the advent of GCSEs and I swear they lowered the bar to massage pass rate statistics for the Government. I say this without political agenda – it’s just that I was really, really shit at maths.

A lasting legacy of my number blindness is that figures bore me so much that I have never really paid any attention to my pay packet. As long as I’ve got enough to make it through a month (a theory I test by going to the cash machine until it won’t give me any more money) it doesn’t bother me how much I earn or how it leaks from my account.

All that has to change. As my company prepares to shed staff to become even more productive (no comment), I need to start thinking more about what I earn, what I spend and how I spend it. Goodbye daily Innocent smoothie. Goodbye sandwich bar. Goodbye lunchtime trips to H&M. Goodbye ready meals.

At least I’ve got the last category licked – I’ve got a new slow cooker.

One of my friends, who generally buys me something decadent and useless for Christmas (which is what I genuinely want, rather than something bloody dull and USEFUL), asked if there was anything I’d like and, knowing that financial destitution could be round the corner, I asked for a slow cooker. After fending off several incredulous text messages along the ‘are you joking?’ lines, she finally accepted that I really did want a slow cooker and went off to buy one.

It now sits in my front room, oppressively reminding me of a future of stews, casseroles and, er, slow cooked things which my family will undoubtedly learn to dread the second they arrive home at night to see the red ‘on’ button glowing on the crock pot.

To this end, today I bought lots of cheap vegetables and meat cuts, some pearl barley and some stock. The experimentation starts tomorrow, the pleas for decent, recognisable food to be put back on the agenda probably starts tomorrow night.

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