Looking forward to a Passion Fruit



So I have been doing this now for more than six months having started in early June. There have been about 125 posts and if we count the visits to the Blogpost site there have been a total of about 3,200 views to Sheep’s Head Food Company.

So let me know what you think. There is a comment section at the bottom of the page and if you like what I say or think I am talking rubbish let me know. I might even respond. Those who receive the posts by Facebook or Twitter can always retweet or share if if think a post is worthwhile.

Last night talking to Roger he suggested I should do this for another ten years, we could then print it out and the best bits could be made into a book that would form my retirement plan. I think that there are elements of that plan that are perhaps over optimistic but it is something to think about.

Then the evening before Dad asked if there was any long term plan associated with Sheep’s Head Food Company. I wasn’t able to give a straight (or probably coherent) answer at the time but I suppose there are a few reasons for doing it. The first being the enjoyment to be had in stealing away for twenty minutes or half an hour to plod out across the key board of my laptop a few thoughts about what I have been cooking and listening to. It also works as bit of an aide memoire, a chance to make sure I don’t forget those occasions when I find myself talking beer with the man behind the counter in the Co-op or being asked to share some lunch in the grocers.

I have also enjoyed the writing. One day last week I spent some time making a start on clearing the attic. In a pile of papers I found a ream of typewritten sheets most of which are probably 25 years or so old. I had forgotten I wrote most of it. I suspect as we carry on the clearing more type written sheets will be found. It has been good to get back to the writing, doing it on a semi-regular basis, and it is probably safer than buying a moter-bike.

So what have I been doing today. There was a trip to Wards in the morning. Unfortunately the Christmas break is not good for fresh fish but they had put some good stuff in to freeze before Christmas and I came away with a fillet of haddock which has been finely chopped down and mixed with breadcrumbs, eggs, onions, garlic and herbs. The mixture was very briefly pulsed in the Magimix and has now been formed into small cakes that are settling in the fridge. I will fry them off in a few minutes and cook a pungent tomato sauce to go with them.

The recipe comes from the new Ottolenghi book Jerusalem and I have been looking forward to cooking and eating it since I was given the book for Christmas.


I also went to the butchers at the back of The International Store and bought a large bag of chicken legs and wings. They have been cooked in the oven in a sticky, tart sauce I made by blitzing the pulp from four tangerines in the Magimix with some stoned dates, honey, chilli sauce, cumin powder, soy sauce and some of the tomato sauce left over from last night. They have come out of the oven a sticky, finger licking mess and should hopefully keep some kids satisfied tonight.


Finally it was up to the grocers for aubergines and peppers. They had on the counter a box of Passion Fruit and Kazim encouraged me to buy some “Their shins are like eggshell,”he said, “And you can chew the pips”. I will have them tonight.



Talking beer in the Co-op


Going out to the Co-op on a cold, wet Sunday evening to buy some spaghetti for the tomato sauce which was the only thing we felt up to eating I added a couple of bottles of Spitfire to the basket as they were on offer (having said that Spitfire always seems to be on offer whatever supermarket I happen to be in).

“Its been going well the Spitfire,”said the behind the till.

I was tempted to point out that it was going cheap but instead I said, “Well its good stuff.”

“The other one I like is Bishop’s Finger,” he said,  “Brewed by the same people, Shepherd & Neame in Kent.”

I remembered drinking it almost three years ago to the day, eating fish’n’chips in The  Pilot Inn on the shingle banks of Dungeness under the shadow of the power station. The weather and sky was clear blue as we walked past the fishing boats pulled up from the sea by a rusty, collapsing group of tractors.


“Another one I like is Marston’s Double Drop. Some of the others are too heavy and the Badger beers are too fruity,” he said.

“What I like about the Spitfire is that it is light and the nutty taste,” I said as I passed over my money and we wished other goodnight.

Outside the rain was coming down hard as I hurried back to the car to go home and finish the cooking of  supper.

Hacks of mackerel

My sister Bridget gave me a second hand cookery book for Christmas, Seven Hundred Years of English Cooking by Maxime McKendry and edited by Arabella Boxer. There is a recipe in it from 1730 for Mackerel with Fennel and Mint which is worth repeating.

The common Way for Mackerel, is after boil’d to make a Sauce with thick Butter, Mint, Fennel and Parsley boil’d and minc’d, and drawn up with the Butter; If you broil them whole, hack them, and season them with Pepper, Salt and Nutmeg, some Mint and Fennel minc’d, and grated Bread, and wash them over with Butter, and dredge them over, and fill the Hacks full of that Seasoning, and broil them over a gentle Fire, and sauce them with thick Butter drawn up with an Anchovy, and garnish with Lemon.

The recipe is attributed to a Charles Carter and begs the question as to what exactly a Hack is.

There is another recipe for mackerel with mint in the book going back to the thirteenth century. There is some mint in the garden round the back of the Cottage so it will be something to try next summer.

Kate Bush gets the CBE

So I wrote last night that I was gearing up for some Kate Bush and a reappraisal of Snow and I wake up this morning to find she has been awarded the CBE. An achievement I think that should be higher up on the news pile than Bradley Wiggins getting knighted but then my biking abilities are limited to a once a year getting the bike out of the shed and putting it back again as I am reminded the back tyre has a puncture.

As for Kate Bush I must have been listening to her since I was thirteen. Somewhere in the attic I still have the tape cassettes of her first two albums. She was the first proper singer I got into having got over my Wombles phase and it started from the off with Wuthering Heights. She is be the only person who I have listened to for so long and I will still go out to buy her new album the day it comes out. I can remember at school spending days sat by the radio waiting for them to play the first single from Never Forever Breathing.

The attic may also hold the giant poster I had of her that followed around the wall above my bed be it at home, school and university. At university I tried, and failed, to write a review of The Sensual World for the college newspaper.

There was the excitement of Ariel coming out after so many years of no music from her. People were surprised that I was so eager to have it. It would be good to spend the day now listening to her all over again.

Unfortunately I can only listen to one thing at a time so on the moment i am listening to Snow. It is grey and wet outside with ore rain to come. The music slips up on you slowly, working almost as a pulse in the background with her voice hovering over the piano. Time to light the fire and wrap in a warm blanket.

One of my favourite of her old songs is Oh England, My Lionheart.