Fish and Chips – luxury!

Can I say that the Great North Road Chippy is probably my favourite place to eat out on the planet.

When we were in Manchester we talked a lot about food, and Kristen took me to a Persian place that was quite amazing, interesting, and even felt healthy. But all the time I’m eating out some where I’m thinking about a fish supper at the Great North Road.

My order is usually fish, chips and mushy peas. The batter will always be crispy, the chips will have just the righ amount of crunch, and the peas – they’ll be an almost obscene bright green colour, and sweet. They’d scare some people, but I love them.

What’s most important once great flavour has been taken into account, is the value. I am not a dude of means, and eating out is usually a treat that happens on someone else’s budget. But even the Dude can afford to head up here now and again. It’s a fiver.

Throw in two cans of special brew and a dry evening sat on the bench down the road and you have a great night out for Sean and me.

A bit of a weaving ride home.

Maybe a nip of Sean’s whiskey, a few rounds of cards, and two happy lads fall asleep on the floor of his flat.


Shepherd’s Pie

Shaun and I ate a lot of lamb.

And drank a lot of John Smith’s cheap beer.

So much lamb and beer that the only thing we could do afterwards was to go to sleep from about six o’clock until nine, when he headed off for home and I had my first shower of the weekend then went to bed too.

Tonight though I will engage in the second part of my culinary journey and combine the left over lamb with the vast amount of left over mash in an attempt to make shepherd’s pie.

I reckon that if I make a gravy with a lamb stock cube then I just need to pop that on the meat, and then liven up the mash with some milk and spread that over the top and pop it in the oven until it starts to burn a bit on top.

It might not work – but I don’t see what could go wrong with something so simple. And anyway by the time it’s ready I’ll be so hungry I’ll eat anything anyway – I did try nibbling on the cold meat but that was disgusting. You don’t realise how fatty it is when you eat it hot.

Anyhow, if this is the last even post, you’ll know the Dude went down on a bit of lamb and didn’t survive. However I suspect this will be a Monday night to remember when my repertoire expands from just a great curry, to including roast lamb and shepherd’s pie making me an instant hit with any girl lucky enough to cross my path.

Bring it on!

Roast lamb – thanks Jamie O!The Dude doesn’t cook very often.

The Dude doesn’t cook very often.

In fact The Dude would be hard pressed to tell you anything he had eaten other that when mum does a roast or something like that.

There are kebabs. I’ve had a few.

There are curries. I love curry, whether from down the road at Khan’s, or Vujon’s in town. I even cook curry.

There are fish and chips, yes, lots of fish and chips.

But never has there been a dinner prepared from scratch by the Dude that has been the measure of this lunchtime’s extravaganza.

Shaun and I decided to buy a leg of lamb. Why? well I don’t quite know what got into us, but it seemed like a good idea yesterday when we were both a bit tiddled, and do you know what? It turned out to be just that – a brilliant plan.

I didn’t want to call mum and ask her what to do with it, I wanted to do it myself. So the internet, and more specifically Jamie Oliver, came to my aid, and I can’t believe how easy, or how fantastic it could be.

All I did was to make a load of cuts into the meat and I stuffed them with garlic. I threw some carrots and onions into a pan, popped the lamb on top, and then even more garlic on top of that and a whole load of rosemary (thanks to whoever’s garden we borrowed that from).

I then wrapped it in tin foil to seal everything in and popped it in the oven at full whack, but immediately turned it down to 170 degrees then promptly forgot it for four hours. Yes, really, four hours.

fab Jamie O lamb!

and although this photo is from Jamie Oliver’s recipe site it really did look a lot like this.

We didn’t have any greens, just mash with cheese grated into it.

Absolutely bonzer!

Can bacon save the world?

Look at this.

Look salvation in the eye, or in the egg.

The Dude was being swallowed up by a huge. ominous black cloud, so hungry was the cloud for human spirit that the Dude daren’t venture out this morning to meet his friends for breakfast for fear that he might infect them with his dreads. But then a search through the shelves of the local co-operative revealed just the ideal ingredients with which to concoct the perfect cure.


And eggs.

I even put care and attention into the cooking and serving up of this meal. The concentration helped the dreads lift a little. But the salvation came in the tastes, the delicious perfect scrambled egg, the bacon, over cooked for some but perfect for me. A great cup of tea.

I could only have made int better with baked beans.

Next time.

I’m now feeling, if not great, then at least fit for human consumption.

I won’t be drinking tonight!


Cooking for students

Pizza in panRegular readers of my blog will know of my fondness for eating out, but, as a student, I am well aware of the financial limitations faced by university and college goers.  I have faced them myself; those nights when the only option seems to be beans on toast.  So, with the new academic year on top of us, I think a discussion about student cooking is very timely.

The beans-on-toast option gets trotted out a lot in discussions about budget eating, but it doesn’t have to be like that.  Students can cook up more substantial meals on a budget, and the good news is that you don’t have to be some kind of culinary genius to eat well.

The first piece of advice I would give to first-time university goers is to invest in cooking utensils.  A good frying pan is a must, with the non-stick pan being the better option because they tend to last for longer.  A number of good-sized stainless steel pots and a knife set are other essentials.  It is worth spending a bit of money on these items because quality lasts.  The things that are not worth spending loads of cash on are those items that will break easily or disappear – the joys of living with flatmates!  Tin openers, vegetable peelers, mashers, bottle openers, glasses, mugs, plates and similar items can all be bought relatively cheaply.  Let’s be honest, your evening meal is going to taste just as good (or bad) on a plate bought in a discount store than it will on mum and dad’s finest china.  It might be worth holding off on buying some items and seeing if you can club together with flatmates to buy kitchen utensils that everyone will use.

I’m not going to get into any great detail about particular recipes.  There is more than enough information available on and offline about budget recipes.  All I would say is that planning is critical.  Poor planning results in a lot of wasted food, so be sure to check sell-by dates on food and do not buy more than necessary in terms of those foods that have a limited shelf life.  I’m really talking about fresh fruit and vegetables here, as well as meat and dairy products.

It is also a good idea to shop in the evenings before the shops close, because that is when a lot of perishables are discounted for quick sale, and it is possible to pick up some real, and healthy, bargains for that evening’s meal.

A meal tip I can recommend is to cook up a large amount of something such as curry and freeze the leftovers for those days when you either don’t have the time to prepare a meal from scratch or you’re not inclined to.  Believe me, those days will be more common than even the most enthusiastic of amateur chefs are willing to admit.

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