Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Au Revoir...

All photos copyright Mel, leave 'em alone

You know it's just so easy to blame the French for...well, everything, isn't it?

The strikes, messing up the IMF (oh Dominique I hope you're going down) and probably the ash cloud as well.

But I'm being flippant because actually, I love the French.  Hold on, I'll qualify that, I love some dear lovely French friends and I love, LOVE the language.

Aged 8 I asked the teacher to set me French homework because I was desperate to learn.  I have fond memories of the simple book she gave me to work from, with pictures of a chat sur la table.  I love how the language works, how they use ridiculously flowery phrases and how I'm always enchanted when I learn something new; who knew that 'un souffre-douleur' meant a whipping boy? (learnt that one last week).

I love that I can communicate in French and that my accent sounds Swedish.  Who wouldn't want to be asked 'Where is your accent from, are you Swedish?'  I instantly grow about 12 inches, my hair looks blonder and I strike a pose that suggests 'yes I go topless on the beach because I have fabulously pert tits.' (btw, I would love to be Swedish, but that's a whole other story).

no more strolling on the Champs Elysees...

So, getting to the point...I'm leaving. 

Whoosh!  See how that French carpet was pulled from under our feet!  Bang! Crash!  See how our Parisian life is falling down around our ears as we prepare to move back to the UK in a hurry!

Am I crying?  At least twice a day.  Am I waking up in the night thinking 'fuckity fuck who is going to organise this move back to England'?  Yes I am.  (And I think it's me that's supposed to organise that move, hmmm.)

Am I hoping against hope they said the wrong country and REALLY they meant Singapore?  Oh so much.

Mais non.

So in a matter of weeks (shit! in WEEKS!) I'll be doing the school run in England, wearing shades to hide my tears and doing that 'Oh hello, yes, we are new!' thing with a bright, plastic smile.  And then I will crawl home - wherever home may be, because having a house would be good, wouldn't it? - and I think I will probably eat biscuits and cry some more.

And swear.  Swearing is helping at the moment.

So, business suspended here at Pig in the Kitchen, but who knows when I'll think SOD IT! and bake you a gluten free tea bread instead.

A bientot mes amis.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sugar-free Beetroot Loaf

There are good bits and bad bits to being the CEO of a small, unruly company.  

Good bits: things involving small people get done on my terms and my terms only.  
Bad bits: things involving small people get done on my terms and my terms only.

Sure it's great to wield all the power (see 'Good bits' above), but when the judgement of the CEO is wide of the mark and the consequences are dire, well it's the CEO who must carry the can (see 'Bad bits' above.)

I'll give you an example.  I limped through the door after the  4pm school run last week and realised that no-one had planned dinner.  No-one had even THOUGHT of what could be for dinner.  A CEO should always pick up the slack, so I quickly ran through the list of possible options.

The list either included ingredients I didn't have, or required lots of time (ditto).  But I did have a pack of pre-cooked beetroot at my disposal.

You know how some CEOs can be a bit off the wall?  Well this CEO decided that dinner would involve polenta and - wait for it - beetroot.

If I had staff, at this point someone would have cleared their throat and said (deferentially) 'Umm Pig, beetroot and polenta, really?  That sounds like a pretty ghastly combination.'  Then I would have had him (yes, it was a him) escorted from the building.

True, my children did more or less mention the polenta and beetroot thing to me, but they are subordinates so I didn't listen.

There was no enthusiasm at the dinner table for the pink mush (with puy lentils thrown in for good measure.)  I had thought that my home made tomato and basil sauce might distract from the pink-ness, but the addition of the sauce made for an eye-hurting combination of colours.  Even my eyes were hurting.

The children picked silently at the meal for a second before the bargaining started. 

'Could I just have the sauce and some baguette instead?'  
'Is it ok if I eat it all except the beetroot?'  
'I'm not really hungry, it is ok if I don't eat any but will-there-be-pudding?'

And then the retch-fest began.  One after the other they began gagging which made them laugh hysterically.  Gag - gale of laughter - gag - gale of laughter - gag - repeat to fade.

After my son picked up a slab of polenta on his fork and squealed 'Look! It's like tinned dog food!' (gale of laughter) I left them to it and ate mine in the kitchen.

A good CEO is humble when it goes tits up.  She will raise her hand to accept responsibility.

Can you see my hand? 

Despite the emergency board meeting called by the kids, I have not been sacked because I thought fast and used the remaining beetroot to make this loaf.  

But it was a close call and I'm keeping my CV up to date.

Beetroot Loaf
You will need a LARGE loaf tin for this recipe.  Maybe even two small ones.  One lovely reader found that the damned loaf would not cook...we think it was because her loaf tin was too small and I should have been clearer in my recipe.  This is me being clear ;-)

This is based on my beetroot cup cakes with just a few tweaks (the rice bran is new.)  It's good sliced and spread with margarine (or butter) and jam.  In my family at least, this loaf doesn't cause retching.

It's an eggless recipe, although you could throw in an egg for good measure and reduce the rice milk to about 100ml.  If you want to use wheat flour, use 230g self-raising flour instead of the Doves Farm gluten free flour.

275g cooked beetroot, finely grated
3 tbsps ground linseeds
10-12 tbsps agave nectar
110ml oil (mild olive might be best)
100g dried cranberries
3 tbsps apple sauce (baby apple puree)
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml rice milk (other milk)
  • Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a large loaf tin with baking parchment
  • Into a large bowl put the grated beetroot, ground linseeds, agave nectar and dried cranberries.  Add the oil and apple sauce and stir.  Add the egg (beaten) if you want to use one.
  • Add the flour, rice bran, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda, half the rice milk and stir.  Add the remaining rice milk gradually until you have a loose mixture.  Add extra rice milk if it seems too thick/dry
  • Scrape into the loaf tin and bake for 20 minutes.  After this time the loaf should have risen but will be uncooked in the centre.  Cover the tin with tin foil and bake for a further 15-25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Cooking times may differ according to different ovens
  • Leave to cool, slice and serve
  • Perhaps consider going on a CEO training course?

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