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Carbo Crusaders vs the Great Noakes Oke

Our would-be conquerors follow their loincloth-clad leader like a Scottish brave following their William Wallace, or an impi falling into formation behind King Shaka, willing to die for the terrible cause. “Banting! Banting! Banting!” they cry as they surge forward en masse, devouring all in their path and spitting out the entrails. Or eating them.

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Butternut lasagne on the cheap

In towns throughout England there are markets once a week where you can buy anything from fresh vegetables to electrical goods or dubiously cheap shirts and jerseys, or jumpers as they’re called there. I say dubious because the bloke who sold them at our weekly market in Chichester was a decidedly dodgy looking fellow. He […]

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Vegetables have to sing for your supper

THERE are always too many, always more than you need or the recipe calls for. A cucumber is always too long for the salad you’re making, and the leftover half more often than not will be left in the crisper just long enough to turn it to jelly. There will always be a few baby roma tomatoes left in the punnet, of which three, when you retrieve them a few days later to fling them in a stew, will have turned furry, so that you fling them out instead of in the pot.

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Keith Richards and other mashed-up bangers

A banger is a clapped-out, stutter-start old car that knows the next stop is the breakers. A banger is an old rocker, a wizened Keith Richards who can’t see his fans any more but can still find his guitar chords. A banger is a heady cocktail of vodka, Galliano and orange juice, with a maraschino garnish to fool you into believing that a Harvey Wallbanger doesn’t pack a kick.

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Alarm bells and watermelon

When my Karoo friend Elaine Hurford posted a Facebook status about how watermelon pips were the Next Big Thing in food, darlings, alarm bells went off everywhere, in my head, in the lounge, in the washing machine (actually, that might have been the end of the cycle), in the garden, in the street outside.

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Pasta pesto, pronto

St Joseph’s Wort. I mean, really, St Joseph’s Wort. Who names plants? Who decides what herbs should be called? Fortunately, the name didn’t really catch on, evoking as it does a carbuncle on a monk’s hand, foot or worse.

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Christmas dinner à la Scrooge

This is a Christmas dinner party menu for that’s quick and affordable. I made the starter, a paté, in 25 minutes. The main course is a simple roast that’s been tarted up a little with a shiny coat. And the dessert is a cheat, plain and simple: store-bought vanilla ice-cream that’s been given a cheeky Christmassy lift – and it really does taste like a traditional mince pie. That took five minutes, not including the shopping.

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Steak your claim to a mushroom

I wouldn’t steak my career on this, but a steak is a slab of beef, nothing more, nothing less. But suddenly you can have steak almost anything. Big slab of lamb? Lamb steak. Great hunk of mushroom? It’s a steak.

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Gingerly with pork and cabbage

Cabbage is the spotty kid who sits in the corner at the back of the class and waits for the bell to ring, then dawdles out of class slinking into the shadows in the hope that the bullies-in-chief won’t shove his head in the sandpit again.

Cabbage is the quietly talented kid who composes songs in his head but never sings them, knowing – or scared – that if he does, all the other kids will laugh and teacher will frown the frown that says, “That kid write songs? Never.”

Cabbage is the kid who dreads the day in school when you all have to stand up, one by one, and walk to the front of the class to give an oral. Facing the class is the worst thing for Cabbage Kid. They stare at you willing you to mess up, so you do. You compose a clever speech in your head but the brain doesn’t send the right speech to your vocal chords and the one that comes out is some jumbled nonsense verse that you don’t even recognise yourself.

If cabbage were an athlete, it would be the one trailing at the back while the leeks, the broccoli, the organic mangetout and especially the carrots – always, always the carrots – streak ahead and across the finishing line. Cabbage just doesn’t believe in itself. And when you don’t have self-belief, you founder. The rocks call you like wreckers on the Cornish coast flashing their evil lights at night to lure you to the shore. It’s pretty dire to be a cabbage.

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Meal in a hurry, not to worry

This is not the side of food column writing that you normally get to see. You probably imagine it to be all fine dinner parties and genteel patter while cool music wafts in the air and things gently simmer and bubble in gorgeous little pots and the expectant hordes drool imperceptibly into their bibs at the sheer wonder of the impeccable repast shortly to be set before them.

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