Tag Archives: potatoes

Gardening Update

My girlfriend grew these lupins.

Ok – so this isn’t the most interesting thing I’ve ever posted, but if anyone wants to know how my garden is progressing, here’s some pictures.

I meant to do this last year and forgot, really.

This year, am trying to do things a bit more professionally. I’m following the RHS’ iPhone app as close as possible about when to plant indoors or out, when to transplant from one pot to another, etc. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough, as it gives me regular reminders to do something (I tend to forget otherwise, and things can be a bit hit and miss as a result). Continue reading Gardening Update

Swedish meatballs, new potatoes, gravy

…and I even threw some green beans in for some ‘vegetable’ aspect.

Tonight I was struggling to decide what to cook. I finally settled on Swedish-style meatballs, purchased yesterday in Tesco.
Despite Swedish meatballs looking very interesting in an episode of Eurotrash I saw years ago, being made by a half-naked Victoria Silvstedt, I had only first tried Swedish meatballs a few months back in the restaurant section of my local Ikea.
They came with something brown I assumed was gravy, and I was offered cranberry sauce which I foolishly took and wished I hadn’t.

Recreating this at home seemed like it might not be too difficult, I thought optimistically.
However while shopping in Tesco yesterday afternoon I realised I didn’t actually know what went into Swedish meatballs, except for meat of some kind. While browsing the fresh meat aisle, I spotted some Swedish-style meatballs already prepared. Convenient or what?

So tonight – meatballs!
What do you have with meatballs? The ones in Ikea had come with potatoes, cranberry sauce and…some sort of Swedish form of gravy?
A quick look on Ikea’s website tells me it wasn’t gravy at all. Apparently what is sold in the restaurant is “traditional Swedish meatballs with cream sauce and lingonberry sauce”.
What the hell is a lingonberry?

Well, lingonberry jam, according to wikipedia:
“is served both as jam, with cereal or pancakes, and as a relish with meat courses such as Swedish meatballs, beef stew, liver dishes, and regionally even fried herring. It has also been used to sweeten the traditional oatmeal porridge. It is less commonly used as marmalade on toast and as a topping on vanilla ice cream”.
Talk about versatile! I can’t think of too many things you could have with sausages, fish, on toast, and with ice cream – and have them all still be edible.

Well that was out anyway.
I’ve got a friend coming round in an hour, and I’d quite like to finish eating before they get here, so I don’t really have time to go to Tescos and get lingonberry jam/sauce/juice/relish to go with them, so I decided that ordinary chicken Bisto would have to do.

New potatoes on, and the oven too. The oven took a surprisingly long time to heat up, but I’m not too fussed because new potatoes always seem to take longer than the 20mins I think they will, even if I start them off with boiling water instead of cold.

The meatballs don’t smell particularly appealing cold from the fridge, it has to be said.
15-20mins in the oven is apparently enough for these. Even starting them probably 10mins after, and putting them in for a full 20mins – the potatoes still didn’t seem quite done by the time the meatballs were.
I killed the oven and left my balls to keep warm (ok – I had to have one – I lasted this long), while I did the green beans.

Eventually, all done..
I removed my balls from the oven (that’s the last one, I promise). The tray is a bit greasy and they’re not really smelling much nicer cooked – they don’t really smell much like I remember the ones in Ikea being like. More like ‘value’ sausages.
Still, as I’ve decided I’m not judging food entirely by smell anymore, I plated the meatballs, potatoes, and green beans, and added gravy.

From the first one, I can tell you Tescos pre-prepared meatballs taste absolutely nothing like what I ate in Ikea.
I don’t know if I left them in a bit long, but they looked a bit overcooked for one thing. Even allowing for that, the blackened outer coating wasn’t hiding much inner goodness either. They were a bit rubbish really. I’m not sure what the official definition of “Swedish-style” is, but clearly English supermarkets and Swedish furniture stores have different guidelines.
I only ate roughly half the packet, so I may attempt a second cooking of the rest, later in the week.

I guess as the Scandinavian flat-pack-masters sell them in their food section, I could buy some next time I’m looking for a stool the size of a bedside table and some unusual pot-plants. Definitely worth considering.

Tea-Roulette and Jacket Potatoes pt2

In my day-job in IT, I had a scheduled call-out this morning in an unusual place. It’s a company staffed almost exclusively by Chinese girls.
When I arrived, I was asked to wait for a moment or so as the person I had come to see (a man), was not available yet. I was given a seat in reception and offered a drink of tea or coffee. I accepted the tea politely, and the receptionist disappeared off to get it for me.

Only after I asked, and she had disappeared (although she was still visible through a doorway, from my chair), I realised I hadn’t told her if I wanted milk or sugar or what. I don’t know why, but I decided not to mention it at this point. I would just wait and see what she brought me.
This could have been risky. It could have been earl grey, green tea, apple tea, or any number of strange other variants.

After a few mins waiting, and me watching her cross the doorway back and forth as if she were looking for something, she arrived back with my tea and a smile. She presented the tea to me in a strange round glass with no handles – much like the empty Nutella jar you can wash out and use again. It was passed to me in a very oriental way as well – much like you might pass someone a bowl of soup – held at the sides with both hands, and slight bowing of the head.

I took it from her in the same way, then relaxed into more of an English way of drinking from it – one handed, occasional slurping noises, etc.
Anyway it wasn’t bad. A bit too much milk perhaps but it was definitely tea, drinkable, and may have had a sugar added perhaps. While I don’t have sugar at home, I often prefer it at work as a lot of people are so bad at making tea it wouldn’t be drinkable without it.

Dinner tonight was jacket potatoes. I thought I’d have another go after the other night.
The remaining pre-packed potatoes are 3 days past their date, but I don’t see what can go off that quick as they’re only potatoes, so decided to take my chances.
I realised I wasn’t onto a great start after I put them in the oven and stood chatting to some of my housemates for a while, only to suddenly remember I hadn’t made the holes in them like you’re meant to.

I removed the potatoes from the oven one at a time with oven gloves on, and prodded holes in them, then went and sat at my computer. Another mistake ahoy. I’d been sat there a while when I wondered how much longer my dinner was going to take. It’s at that point I realised I wasn’t really sure when I put them in the oven.
Through a series of guesstimates, questioning how long one of my housemates had been sat in a particular chair, and trying to work out what time a tv show I didn’t know the name of, that I hadn’t really been watching, finished, and how that related to when I saw it, and when I went back to the kitchen to put the oven on – I removed them after what may have been anything from 1.25 to 2 hours.
Beans and cheese added again.

They are a lot better than a few days back when I first tried them. Cooked entirely inside, and I ate some of the skin as it was so superbly cooked.
That’s quite annoying, as now I don’t know what I did differently, and I can’t really work out an optimum time based on tonight’s, given that I’ve no idea how long they were in there.

It has proved I can cook them to a good standard though – even if I’m not sure how I did it.