I haven't been lazy I promise. With gentle prompting from friends, relatives and other bloggers, I have constantly been reminded that I have recently posted about as regularly as Port Vale have won games. It isn't as if I haven't had anything to blog about either. Many an hour has been spent in the kitchen making new dishes and some particular favourites. More about the usual foodie things shortly, in the meantime please forgive my indulgence in a little non-culinary chat.
Time just seems to have run away from me and the mortgage paying bit of my life has become all encompassing. The opening of a new Community Health Centre in Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent has been all consuming in my attention. This £14m NHS development is a real boost for the locality, not just the health of the local population. It also represents an example of how Stoke-on-Trent can be innovators as the new Sexual Health Centre on the site will house the first fully integrated sexual health service in the country. May not seem like much but for service users and the NHS it represents a major improvement in the delivery of treatment and will see preventative and health promotion activity advance dramatically. Great news for the area.
Anyway - back to the food. Following a visit to Stone food and Drink Festival, amongst many of the delights purchased was haggis. Having no real idea what to do with it and following a few suggestions from the twitter community I made a lasagne. Delicious is an understatement and I will definitely be making it again. Other attempted dishes (some with dire consequences - I'm still learning) have included mint marinated lamb with a blueberry gravy - a succulent and different take on a traditional dish, oriental swordfish steaks - a tangy, meaty and new dish to me, lobby (of course - tis the season!) and a White Chocolate and Espresso Cheesecake. I'd love to be able to tell you how this hugely anticipated dessert tasted, however...
On completion of said cheesecake, a quick dash to the local shop was required (for what I have no recollection - probably a Merlot emergency!). Upon my return, my creation was nowhere to be seen - just a very clean dish. Basford is not renowned for dessert thieves and my kitchen cupboards never normally get hungry. Had I dreamt the couple of hours of kitchen endeavour? Also nowhere to be seen was my canine friend also known as Mia. Upon summoning, she slinked her way down the stairs and into my cheesecakeless kitchen. First fears that she may have rabies soon diminished when I put two and two together and of course made a disheartened four. She was saved a vocal berating firstly by the highly satisfied but guilty look on her face but also due to the fact I had only 'found her' a couple of days before - after she had 'disappeared'.
For those of you that follow me on Twitter you will be aware of the saga over a three day period. Several years ago when I didn't own any form of pet I would have had no understanding of the upset of losing a dog. I certainly do now. Thank you so much to everyone that helped search for her and sent messages on Facebook and so on. It was all a very strange sequence of events accentuated by the fact that apparently over that same weekend two other cross bred huskies 'disappeared' in the area. The conclusion of the Littlest Hobo scenario was a man calling me from a phone box (who uses a phone box these days?) saying he had found her TWO DAYS prior but only noticed her tag that day. The Hercule Poirot in me reckons she may have been taken, the phone box fiend was looking to sell her but then she scoffed his cheesecake - or in his case probably an Arctic roll - and he wanted rid quickly...
On the food and drink related front the blog will return to normality in future, featuring a visit to St Stefanus brewery in Belgium and numerous exciting projects with top journalist and food blogger Neil Davey including a day in a proper commercial kitchen.
And finally...a plea. If you haven't tried Titanic's Plum Porter...why!? I implore you to try this bold, rich beer. The plum is evident but not too overpowering as can sometimes be the case in other ales.