Japanese-style Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos + Highlights from FBC2012

japanese butternut squash tacos
“Food: the unifying language of the world”

quote from Sumayya Jamil, speaking at Food Blogger Connect, London 2012

Last Friday saw me quite literally stumbling onto the 7.15 Edinburgh-London train. I am not the most co-ordinated of people (I can fall off a pair of flipflops), but my flawed proprioception couldn’t be blamed on this occasion. As I attempted to board the train a sudden shift in the ever-present wind blew hair into my eyes, and I had a heart-pounding, and nearly electrifying, experience as my foot slipped between the step up and the clearly marked walkway. Still clutching my bags and cup of tea I just managed to lurch forward into the carriage, my body tingling with adrenalin that you get from a proper near-miss. Yowz.

The reason I mention this seemingly random incident is that I also experienced the same all-body tingle later that day. But not due to clumsiness or wind-whipped hair. When I pushed through the imposing blue doors  into a sea of people at Food Blogger Connect I had that overwhelming ‘new girl’ feeling. You know,  the heart-pumping  anxiety you get when you walk into a room where everyone seems to know each other and you only have one shot at making a decent impression? I was that girl, but with fictional spots, greasy hair and a selection of slide rules and leaky pens poking out of my pocket. Yup, that nervous. Continue reading

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Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix and Kids’ Vanilla Cocoa Mix

I am a seasonally surprised person. Bright chartreuse buds in March – imagine; light levels lowering in autumn – what a shock; snow appearing in December – who’d a thought. Christmas is no different. Despite the tantalising window displays, bell-ringing pavement orchestras, and stressed-out shoppers laden with so many bags that I’m surprised ‘health and safety’ haven’t intervened, I still hadn’t twigged until yesterday that CHRISTMAS IS THIS SUNDAY. Yep, I have been writing about gifts to make but hadn’t quite realised how slender is the time between now and the Big Day. Even though a treacherously unstable pile of to-be-sent Christmas cards sits mocking me. Aargh! Usually by this time the freezer is fortified enough to suffice in a siege, but this year I have been all mouth and no mixing. And this is despite me making ‘interesting’ meals from oddball freezer bits and bobs in a bid to make space for festive goodies. There is still plenty of time (!!) but in order not to give myself a self-imposed panic attack I really should pull my finger out and get cooking. But first, just one more cup of cocoa…

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Baked Veracruz Fish with a Twist

Fish. Love or hate kind of food. Like mushrooms or liver, fish will either elicit an “ooh, love fish,” or an “Ugh, smelly, horrible. Can’t stand the stuff”. Well, maybe not that black and white, but nearly.

Despite growing up in Florida I didn’t eat that much fish, unless it came with a side of coleslaw and hush puppies (the cornmeal-based fritter, not the soft shoe beloved of jazz musicians and math teachers). It’s not that I didn’t like it, rather that I wasn’t exposed to good fish dishes.

By the time I started cooking properly for myself I was married and living in the UK. Shortly after moving to the UK I found that eating meat didn’t agree with me at all. At home in Florida I could polish off White Castle burgers and steak tacos with the best of them, but post-move even the plainest of meats made me feel quite unwell. The only thing I could put it down to was the fact that the beef cattle in the UK were at the time raised on a different diet to their US brethern, especially in the winter when they would get a lot of root crops (another thing I couldn’t digest well, not having eaten many before. Florida doesn’t have the weather for many root veg). It got me thinking about the fact that we eat what the animals we eat, eats. Does that make sense?
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