FOR THE FOOD LOVERS LIKE MYSELF. MY LOVE OF FOOD CAME FROM A LONG HISTORY OF UPS AND DOWNS AND THE NEED TO BE ABLE TO TASTE SOME REAL INGREDIENTS. THIS IS THE MY FIRST ENTRY TO THE LOVE OF FOOD WHERE ILL BE SHARING MY BEST AND MY WORST INTRODUCTIONS TO MEAL TIMES.
I’d like to share my age but for obvious reasons that secret is best kept – as the saying goes, it’s rude to ask lady her age. For you true detectives, you may be able to hazard a guess from the timeline, but let’s just keep it to ourselves. I can disclose that I am the mother of ‘a blog by Sammy’ – who has encouraged me to share my love of food with others because that’s what I live for. For me cooking has given me a sense of comfort during lockdown, so here it goes my good and bad memories. My lifelong association with food.
Where do I begin?
So, this feels quite strange for me as my memory about food from about the age of 4 was not very good. To say I was a fussy eater would be an underestimation. Mainly I would survive on bread with blue band margarine – I would not eat butter (will explain later on). Crisps, cucumber, pickled onions, baked beans, tinned salmon, cheese, potatoes, peas, carrots, steak and fruit. Yes, you guessed it this was my complete diet!
Apparently it did not start like that as my Fathers mother would feed me lots of seafood my favourite being cockles and oysters?? Emma (my nan) would also cook me tripe and chitlin – WOW. Basically, anything she cooked. So, what went wrong? From recollection I think one of my relatives cooked a piece of pork for Sunday lunch and it had gone off and I was ill and that was it. I associated food with feeling unwell and I remember that I would always smell food before I ate it. So, I developed a really good sense of smell and could probably give a blood hound a good run for their money.
People used to laugh at me – not in a nasty way because I would sit down with a jar of pickle onions and a whole cucumber and eat the lot! At the time we lived in a local pub / Hotel and my mum who worries for a living was besides herself and took me to the GP who said as I appeared to be quite
healthy and I was eating something and to just let me eat what I wanted to. It did not stop her trying to tempt me with other food much to my dismay which probably made me more stubborn – not probably definitely – it is a child thing especially when it was accompanied by you are not leaving the table until you have cleared your plate. As a consequence, teatime could be a very long-drawn-out affair – based on who would give in first ( it was not usually me as I said I was very stubborn).
Recipe for my home-made pickle onions. ( This is how I like them and it’s not to everyone’s taste!)
1 bag of pickling onions these are usually about 500grams.
1 bottle of brown pickling vinegar
Table salt – a couple of handfuls
1 teaspoon of ginger spice (optional or you can use slices of fresh ginger leave skin on but wash).
Honey to taste. I usually add about 1 tablespoon per jar.
This is how I made them with my gran but we made them on an industrial scale… as it was then about 26lbs of pickles! (These were a traditional Christmas present for family members from my gran and loved by everyone!). I used gloves in the peeling process. I learnt to do this, otherwise I ended up with brown staining on my fingers and looked as if I smoked 20 woodbine a day. So, marigolds it was – other gloves are now available!
To make life easier and to stop your eyes from watering it is better to put the onions into a bowl of warm water when peeling them. Or a modern alternative is swimming googles, as preferred by Sammy – not me because I need my bloody glasses.
Once peeled put them in a glass/ceramic bowl or any bowl that will not take on the smell of the onions. I now cover them in salt and leave them over night. I also cover the bowl with a tea towel rather than clingfilm. Just tradition – no clingfilm around in those days. Hint, hint. This makes them crunchier.
While the onions are soaking in salt prepare the jars. I tend to use old jam/sauce jars. I either scald them with boiling water or if clean put them in the oven on a low heat, placing them on a baking tray and letting them cool.
When ready rinse the salt off the onions and pack them tightly into the jar(s). I then tend to heat a small amount of the vinegar in a saucepan and add the ginger and honey and heat until it is melted. At this stage you could use thin slices of fresh ginger instead and just add it into the jars. I then add this mix to the rest of the vinegar and stir. This is then poured over the pickles and the jars are sealed and labelled ready to enjoy.
Wait a few weeks for the vinegar to do it’s pickling magic, grab your cucumber and a fork for the now pickled onions, find yourself a comfy seat and enjoy!