Tag Archives: olive oil


The bane of my life!
While shopping in Tescos a few days ago, my girlfriend suggested she might cook me something. I can’t remember what it was going to be now, but I asked “do you mind if I get some actual meat to go with it?”

For anyone not up to speed on my current relationship, I’m currently dating a vegetarian, and what with my hatred of most vegetables and her not eating meat, eating together is somewhat complicated.

Luckily, as she’s got a busy life with friends and hobbies, and I’m a miserable old git who is currently unemployed, I get up at noon and go to bed at 2am, and we don’t often end up eating together.

Back to my story, and I picked up some sausages. I’ve never been any good at sausages. They seem to go black and don’t cook properly in the middle.
However, my girlfriend is a pretty good cook, so I figured she could show me how to cook them.

I bought them and got home, mentioned this to her, and she told me that not only does she not eat meat, she doesn’t know how to cook it either!

Not to let this get me down, I decided I’d have a go anyway.
So I put some of the sausages on a baking tray and put them under the grill. In a little under 5minutes, my kitchen was completely full of smoke. I removed the sausages to discover there’s either a fault with my oven/grill, or some food stuck in there that’s burning when it gets hot.

Frustrated at the apparent lack of cooking equipment in my kitchen, I switched the grill off and found a frying pan to cook my sausages.
High heat? Low heat?
I’ve no idea so I put some olive oil into a frying pan (I guess I would have used vegetable oil in a frying pan ordinarily, but I couldn’t find any) and put it on a low heat.

Someone in my house has got one of those Tefal pans with the red spot thing in the middle. Its red with detail on it to start with, so I think that means I heat it til the detail disappears. I got bored of heating it on a low setting, so switched my gas hob to the highest setting, but still the detail didn’t disappear. Maybe it’s broken?
Bored of waiting, I chucked in the sausages which immediately started to go brown very quickly on the outside.

This is the bit that confuses me. I’ve attempted sausages before and they’ve been cooked externally, but with a chilly food-poisoning-inducing centre. Last time I mentioned this to someone, they told me I was cooking them too fast, and I should try a low heat setting for much longer. I turned them down, and to be honest the outside still seems to be browning very quickly.

As the brown outside started to go black on one, I grabbed a sharp knife and cut it open to find it not cooked inside.
I moved them around a bit, then cut them all into tiny chunks. It seems easier to cook smaller chunks of meat than big bits, from my little prior knowledge.

I asked my girlfriend to let me know if there was any smoke, and went off to find my ‘Delia’s Complete Cookery Course’ book I bought ages ago.
Under sausages it has various complicated meals, and the simplest one just tells you to ‘brown the sausages’ before adding them to the recipe.
I looked under the beginning of the meat section but am still slightly confused as to exactly what ‘browning’ them entails, and indeed whether that results in them cooked, or just makes them brown ready for the next process in preparing them for eating.

None the wiser, I returned to the kitchen. As I’d spent a long time screwing around with my sausages and smoking out the kitchen, my girlfriend had actually finished cooking hers some time ago and mostly eaten her dinner without me. I did some baked beans to go with my now-blackening sausages and put some toast on to go with them.

As a final thought I borrowed (I haven’t repayed her yet) two pieces of fresh bread from my girlfriend and thought I’d fry it in the leftover oil. This may be something that doesn’t work so well with olive oil, because it came out black. It was edible, kinda.

non-oriental chicken stir fry + couscous

This week, I really did start with the best intentions. I went shopping Monday, looking for new things to try.
I picked up an alternative to the fajitas I had success with before – which uses soy sauce and attempts to be more of an oriental-style affair. However, that particular “kit” called for spring onions, and after trawling Tescos up and down, and I had called my sister and asked her what spring onions looked like (I didn’t really know), and then asked a member of Tescos staff, I was informed they didn’t have any.
So I thought I’d keep with the oriental theme, and try and create something involving duck. Tescos didn’t have any of that either.

I bought the soy sauce, and some chicken breasts anyway – and assumed I’d put more effort in later in the week.

But then Tuesday my new computer arrived. It’s an iMac, and I’ve not really got a clue how to use a Mac. I work in IT support on exclusively Windows machines, fancied an upgrade to my computer at home, and I think Vista is a pile of bloated marketing BS that is harder/slower to use for no good reason. So I thought I’d see how the other side live and try a Mac instead. iThink it’s alright, but iDon’t really have a clue how to do what iWould consider basic things on a Windows machine. iGuess I’ll pick it up.

So yes – tonight iWas playing with my iMac til gone 9pm, and thought iHad better cook something for dinner. At that sort of time, the options if you want to be eating sooner rather than later are pretty slim.

I opted for a stir fry, as it would give me a chance to try a different sauce I bought in a jar the other day. And after my sister heard about me being indifferent towards rice, she had suggested I try couscous instead. So it’d give me a chance to have this.

So used tonight for this:
1. Knorr Chicken Tonight sauce – Spanish Chicken variety, with tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and thyme
2. about 250g of skinless chicken breast
3. Crazy Jack’s organic wholegrain couscous

I’m fine with heating oil then adding strips of chicken now. However, given the late night, I couldn’t really be arsed to wait for the oil to heat up, nor cook it properly. It was probably a bit badly cooked tonight.

The sauce is unusual in that it says to “stir in the sauce, cover and simmer for 20 minutes”. This seems an extremely long time considering the oriental version of the same sauce (with half the same ingredients), cooks in 10 minutes.
I gave it 3-4 mins and started on the couscous.

Now couscous seems unusual.
The instructions say “boil water in a wide bottomed pan. Remove from heat and add couscous. Cover and leave for 5 to 7 minutes. Add a knob of buter and fluff up with a fork”.
I boiled the water in the kettle cause its quicker, added it to the pan, then attempted to add couscous, which all stuck to the inside of the cup I was using for measuring, as I’d just had hot water in it. It would work better the other way around if I do it again.
A bit of rinsing the cup with boiling water to remove it from the cup, I put it all in the saucepan and put it back on the hob.
I re-read the instructions and realised this is apparently a mistake on my part.
Is that right? Boil water, add couscous and leave for 5-7minutes? It was closer 5 than 7 it has to be said. I don’t really see its doing anything apart from getting wet.

Anyway I gave the sauce about 10-12mins tops, and plated the lot.
Couscous is a different taste, but I’m not rating it so far. I could/would eat it if someone cooked it for me, but just like the rice – why I would bother on my own is beyond me.

Another point my sister had used while selling the benefits of couscous to me was that it didn’t need to get a sieve dirty, like you do with rice. While this is true, it still needs a saucepan, apparently with lid, plus a fork to “fluff” the couscous, and something to remove it from the pan. There seemed to be some water left in the bottom of the pan (probably due to me not leaving it long enough), so something with holes in it would probably have helped to remove it – maybe.. a sieve.

Overall I’m not impressed. I ate the chicken, some of the sauce, a bit of couscous and left the rest. However, I think this post shouldn’t be considered too accurate given I didn’t cook most of it properly, and I was cooking while already tired, fed up, etc, plus disappointed with myself for not eating properly this week. This evening I’m also fed up of people banging on my door or ringing my doorbell every 30 f*kin seconds trick-or-treating.
I may try this again another night with a slightly more positive pre-cooking outlook.