Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Asparagus Salad (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

What aspect of the lesson plan led the Nun to tell the class of Primary School children that male urine is more odorous than female urine? Especially in the morning apparently. It begs the question, how on earth did she know? Perhaps this Bride of Christ was not all she seemed. I have wracked my brain to try and remember why she told us, but I can’t. Yet I have retained this fact from my strange years at the convent.

In their polyester habits, the Nuns rustled as they walked. Some had large motherly breasts, others were dwarfed by their navy blue tent. Interspersed with the Nuns were the ‘secular’ teachers, I often wondered how the banter went in the staff room.

I don’t think the education would stand up to the rigours of an OFSTED inspection. I remember Sister Humphrey telling us in very racist terms about a tribe they had been ‘helping’ in Africa. The air that pervaded the school was that the main business was God’s business and the education was an exasperating afterthought.

We were once allowed to visit the Nuns' quarters. It was a very quiet place, I remember feeling very reverent. I think we were allowed to see one bedroom, and there was a carpeted chapel with a prominent statue of the Virgin Mary. I found the idea of the Nuns living here fascinating, it seemed a quieter, more holy version of Malory Towers.

I was not a good student. With a troubled home life, I was the child that was too loud, attention-seeking and disruptive. I would hate to have me in my class. I think lots of the nuns hated to have me in their class.

Sister Pauline was no exception. A stern-faced brunette with pointy features, she would take no messing. She was such a challenge to me. She had a slightly arty streak, more Jackson Pollock than Monet.

She once commissioned a large, religious-themed painting for the wall. I was in charge of doing the sky. I knew Sister Pauline would have some strange colour ideas, so asked her advice. She got quite animated, her creative smile broke through, ‘use lots of different colours!’ she exhorted me. With a giggling friend, I set to work. Dark purple, orange, lime green, they all had their place on our canvas. She was not impressed. What should have been a pretty sky, looked a bit like a bad car crash.

It was the only time I managed to break her. She completely lost control, shrieking and quivering, her pointy nose drained of all colour. As I took my place outside the Head Nun’s office, I smiled quietly to myself. What a horrible child I was.

I hope Sister Pauline would enjoy this salad. Alas, be you male or female, if you eat it, your wee is going to smell bad.
(Names have been changed to ensure I can never be sued)

Sister Pauline's Asparagus Salad (serves 2 adults)

8 small new potatoes
12 asparagus stalks
6 cherry tomatoes
3 tbsps dairy-free spread
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
about 8 sprigs of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1-2 tbsps lemon juice (I used the cheating stuff from a bottle)
1-2 tsps Gluten-free Dijon Mustard (here's one)
Salt and Black Pepper

  • Melt the dairy-free spread in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and finely chopped coriander. Let it all heat gently until it is sizzling, but not brown
  • Add the mustard and stir through. It may be helpful to use a mini-whisk
  • Add a tbsp of lemon juice, whisk and taste. You might find it tastes fine, you might want a bit more lemon juice or mustard. Adjust as you see fit
  • Add salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside
  • Wash the new potatoes and chop them into small cubes
  • Put a large pan of water to boil. When it is boiling, add some salt and put the potatoes in. They should cook for about 12-15 mins depending on the size of your cubes
  • Trim the ends of the asparagus and steam (or boil) for about 10 minutes. This will leave them quite crunchy, you may prefer them softer, if so,leave them for a bit longer
  • Whilst everything is steaming and bubbling, halve the cherry tomatoes and put to one side
  • When the potatoes are done, drain them and allow them to steam for a minute or two
  • Put a little of the dressing into a large bowl and put the potatoes on top. Mix it gently round to lightly coat the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes in the centre of your plate
  • Take the asparagus off the heat and arrange them in a star pattern around the plate (see picture)
  • Arrange the cherry tomatoes in between the asparagus stalks (see picture)
  • Using the remaining dressing, drizzle around the plate and on top of the potatoes
  • Enjoy!
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007
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rilly super said...

crikey PITK, I shiver to think of your educational experiences and of the nuns all shaking their heads and asking each other 'what do you do with a problem like piginthekitchen?'

you must not blame yourself for being a poor pupil however. As Mr Myagi says in 'The Karate Kid', 'no such thing as bad student, only bad teacher'

lady macleod said...

I am smiling. What a great story! I rather think you were the "creative student" as that sky sounds impressive. It is the drones that later in life go bonko berserk.

Paula said...

glad you liked the photos - i tend to vary the amount of cornflour in my creme patissiere based on how runny or thick I need the mixture to be. Also if you like you can substitute flour for the cornflour, this also makes it a little less thick.

your blog is lovely - I hadn't come across it before

mutterings and meanderings said...

That made me giggle, as tales of PITK often do.

There was a convent in the same town where I went to school. The convent girls were not allowed to speak to boys on the street.

More of convent girls became pregnant while still at school than did at our comp.

Drunk Mummy said...

Convent schools - they have got a lot to answer for. I attended one and am convinced that it was being denied a sip of altar wine which has led to my current obsessions. We were given that bizarre bit of rice paper 'host' instead. I'm sorry, but that is not exactly bread is it? Glad to hear of you kicking against the system Pig!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

rilly, alas, there was not much joyful singing at the convent. But the day I threw chewing gum over the balcony during a theatre trip and it covered the back of a boy's velour jumper...well there was much shaking of wimpoles and Sister Humphrey said I might be on the holy train outta there...
And i think My Myagi is right.

Lady Macleod, I was very creative in my ways to annoy the nuns! So why do I feel like I'm going beserk some days?

Paula, thanks for top creme patissiere tips... but once i've finished bastardising creme patissiere so that it is suitable for my family's allergies, it will probably bear no resemblance to your delicious-looking creations!

M&M, convent girls were wild! I left before the critical age, but i remember the hushed talk of abortions...

Drunk Mummy, welcome to a fellow conventee(made up word) and we both apparently drink a lot. I was a little perturbed by you waiting for the kids to be in bed before you drink. That suggests to me that our addictions are perhaps not so similar, you sound grown-up, poised and in control (albeit with fake tanned legs)...I am quite the opposite. Cheers!

beta mum said...

One of my best friends went to a convent school.
I found the nuns floating about like daleks a bit spooky, but I was jealous of all the days off they had for mysterious things called "retreats".

dulwichmum said...

Dear PITK,

Oh, how you have taken me back! We had a nun called "Sr Kevin" who had long whiskers on her chin and spoke like a man. Now what was all that about?


Stay at home dad said...

Pig and Drunk Mummy, I have grown up with convent school stories as both my mother and mother in law attended them. It seems to give rise to a pleasing rebelliousness which is something I readily relate to.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Beta Mum, I didn't ever go on a retreat, that does sound scary...

Dulwich Mum, Sister Kevin? Deep voice? Perhaps that habit was hiding more than a devotion to God? It would be a good pre-op hiding place don't you think?

SAHD, I am amazed at how many people went to convents! I hope your respective mothers' tales are good ones?!

dulwichmum said...

It really all seems terribly obvious now, doesn't it!

Drunk Mummy said...

Was the toilet seat still up after Sister Kevin had been to the loo?

Pig - I don't always wait until the kids are in bed - I frequently crack earlier than that. And I have been known to put them to bed at 4 in the afternoon.

Lisa said...

I just did a search for quinoa soup and came across your blog. I've added your site to my sidebar over at Lisa's Kitchen. I'm looking forward to your upcoming creations.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Lisa, how exciting that you found your way her via a search! I've added you to my blogroll, do drop by again. Your mushroom pizza looks yummy!

Lisa said...

I'll be sure to drop by frequently. Gotta love google!