a zesty plum and allspice crumble (puts a spring in my step!)

zesty plum and allspice nut crumble
So I am bouncing energetically around the kitchen singing "There is nothing like a plum" to the tune of South Pacific's "There is nothing like a dame" while my plum compote is simmering away on the stove. This is my version of multi-tasking and is guaranteed to raise my spirits, even if my adopted cat tries to put her paws over her ears, before stalking off disgruntled to find quieter shores.

But if life can be improved for a few lovelorn, jolly jack tars by day-dreaming of gorgeous girls, I am pretty sure that curvaceous juicy purple plums cooked down with aromatic allspice can do an awful lot for my beating heart too. 

There is simply nothing like a plum.

roasted butternut squash salad with spiced plums, hazelnuts and blue cheese

roasted butternut squash salad
A few years ago I bought a rather trashy but adorable pink leather slouch bag. What I loved most about it was that the bag was covered with enormous pink fish scale sequins that dangled, clattered and caught the light in a rather flashy way. (I have never made any claims to taste except in things concerning food . . . )

pumpkin and parmesan soup revisited

pumpkin and parmesan soup
When I don't post a recipe on this blog, it is highly unlikely that it is ever because I am not eating. Heaven forbid! It is simply because much of the time I fall back on recipes that I have blogged about before. OK, sometimes it is because I actually forget to photograph things in the feeding frenzy. On other occasions I have cooked, but the photograph I have taken looks so unappealing that even our voracious and undiscerning young foxes would turn up their noses.

and now for something completely different: Malaysian steamed layer cake - kuih lapis

kuih lapis (Malaysian layer cake)
Malaysian cakes and desserts are often tooth-achingly sweet, but this one is so pretty that it is hard to resist. But this cake comes with a warning. Not only is it a right old faff to make, although I regard it as an afternoon of time well-spent, just so that I can tick it off my list of things I must learn to bake. (I bet they'd never have this on Great British Bake Off!).

Red lentil and chard falafel

red lentil and chard falafel
In times of austerity . . . oh god, I sound like a Billy Bragg lyric . . .  While my love for the Balladeer of Barking may be pure, in these hard times it is sometimes really difficult to stay cheerful when you have no choice but to be constantly frugal and thrifty. Frankly it is all a bit of a grind (she says gloomily).

claudia roden's red lentil purée

In my quest to find both interesting ways to use lentils and pulses as well as alternatives to the usual accompaniments to roast meat, I found this Claudia Roden recipe for an Egyptian-inspired purée recipe in her New Book of Middle Eastern food. It was perfect with slow roasted lamb shoulder with middle eastern spices.

It may seem like a lot of purée to make and it was. But I had a cunning plan . . . the leftovers were made into falafels, a recipe for which will follow shortly!

what's in season: october

Michaelmas Daisies - October 2013
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare - Sonnet 73 (1609)