this being a tale of a quest for lemon perfection

I freely admit that I am not, and never have been, a baker. I've never really tried; something to do with being a little underwhelmed by anything sweet. This you may feel is something of a hindrance in the cake department, which, on balance, tends to be full of sweet things.
But I'm British for god's sake. Our cuisine may have been notorious around the world, our cooking ridiculed, but our cakes and pudding are renowned, and in a good way. So I decided that I needed to stand up and be counted; I hadn’t baked a cake since the dreaded Home Ec classes of my early teenage years (which put me off cooking until I was in my 20s) but I thought this might be a good challenge to take on. Besides, I had 22 lemons kicking around the kitchen after my Pancake Day party and I needed some satisfying ideas for a cold, damp day in March.

garlicky mussels with guinness . . . my goodness!

garlic and guinness mussels
I am going to nail my colours to the mast . . . I like green, I really do. It is one of my favourite colours. I’m a girl with green eyes; I love the ethos of “green” and I particularly like all things green in their natural habitat – such as plants and leaves and, in particular, vegetables; they are really ratherwonderful. What I don’t like is green in my drinks or in my cakes. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m feeling a bit bah-humbug about tomorrow’s Saint Patrick’s Day.

a tale in which I conquer a fear of pancakes!

I don't have a pancake phobia, but for some reason, illogical though you might think it, I had thought pancakes were difficult to make. They rather worried me. They involve batter and while I can usually make Yorkshire Puds, my Toad-in-the-Holes have been a bit dismal. But an article in a newspaper announced that 90% of Brits couldn't cook a pancake if their lives depended on it and laid down the gauntlet, challenging me to face my batter fears.

a favourite sandwich: hot-smoked salmon and goat's cheese

hot-smoked salmon and goat's cheese sandwich
My favourite sandwich is a pure serendipity; the happy accident of what I like and what is usually in my fridge. It is merely the assembly of slices of fresh sourdough bread (homemade, she says smugly), a smear of goats cheese (I include the rind as I like its tangy flavour and velvety texture), layer with a few slices of baby plum tomatoes and sprinkle with flakes of hot-smoked salmon.

what's in season: march

My garden leeks - M.P.Bruin
Nigel Slater says that March is a terrible month for cooks, for the greedy and for those who take good care of their tummies; it is not often that I am forced to disagree with the Sainted Nigel, but it’s really not all dire, although perhaps a bit monotonous. I am beginning to hate the sight of rhubarb!
Spring has sprung and winter is running out of steam, but in food (and gardening terms) this is very much the “hungry gap”. Between last year’s store crops and the advent of early vegetables (grown in poly tunnels. It is still a bit early for spring vegetables, although there should be purple sprouting broccoli to hand, so not all bad).

glamorgan sausages

Glamorgan sausages
From Medieval times in Britain, most towns, cities and counties had a sausage of their own. These usually reflected the foods and herbs grown locally and the popularly used spices of the region. Think peppery Cumberland or zesty Oxford sausages.

Glamorgan sausages are first recorded in the 19th century, although I suspect that like many recipes had been around for much longer. Glamorgan sausages are skinless and don’t actually contain any meat, being a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheese.I am sure that any thrifty cook would have found these meatless sausages a bit of a frugal godsend, as well as being delicious.