This week’s blog comes to you with somewhat of a large health warning: if you are not a fan of pork or pig-based products (that excludes most of my Jewish friends then - you know who you are…) please look away now. In the aftermath of dear Peppa’s demise our house has been swept away on a tsumani of sausages and hams and salamis. Every available hook and freezer drawer has been filled to bursting with one body part or another and all of the kitchen shelves and table are strewn with dog-eared (or should that be pig-eared, fnar fnar) books of porcine wisdom, invariably hamming the process up (gerrit?) to be some bucolic, mother-earth experience where dismembered pig is somehow magically transformed into perfect-looking meals with not a jot of mess in sight.
|Mind yer head!|
Let me tell you that the scene in our kitchen these past couple of weeks would very much not have made it onto the pages of said tomes. Storyboard for ‘Psycho 6: The Return’ or ‘The North Wales Chainsaw Massacre’ maybe. Hugh Fearnley-Wassisface’s whimsical recipe books, not so much. But then I suppose it would be a bit tricky to make black pudding without the main ingredient: lashings and lashings of good, old-fashioned blood. That said, we could have given some of your hippy, self-sufficiency gurus a run for their money with our gluten and dairy free version. It just so happened that one of our dearest friends from Scotland was visiting during Peak Pig and as he hasn’t been able to eat shop-bought black pudding for years because of his dietary constraints we thought we would give him a little treat. He seemed chuffed to bits but not sure whether he was fully aware that he was actually signing up to eat black pudding in every single meal for the whole weekend (no kidding). Just as well that, being a nutritionist by trade, he assured us that it has now been classed as a ‘superfood’. Get in! As if my husband needed any more encouragement to eat as much of the stuff as possible.
I’m not sure whether the superfood classification extends to the sausages that we’ve made. All 96 of them. But they do taste super fine. Plus the kids thought it was a fabulous game trying to leap up and grab the strings of bangers that were hanging, somewhat precariously, from meat hooks on the curtain rail in their playroom (social services please note: this was only for one afternoon as the sausages were drying out and the children were fully supervised at all times. Ish). We’ve also seen in the Chinese year of the monkey with some amazing sticky pork ribs, slathered in maple syrup and ginger and spices and slow cooked until the bones simply fell away from the meat. Baby wipes all round after that one, hands off kids. And who needs to wait for Christmas for a roast ham, studded with cloves and dripping in honey? Not us. It was supposed to be for slicing and packaging to last us all year so we don’t have to buy the salty, nitrate and water filled crap from the supermarket. Except we can’t seem to control ourselves and ended up eating the whole lot in one sitting. Oh dear. At least we have five more where that came from. As for the bacon, that seems to be disappearing offy quick too, as they say in Scotland. A sneaky rasher here, the odd bacon butty there. There seems to be a permanent smell of fried breakfast lingering enticingly about the place. Ah Peppa, our first little black pig. You are gone but not forgotten!
|Bacon butty anyone?|
|A ham is not just for Christmas...|
As a sign of respect we did endeavour to use every last bit of her, from snout to tail as they say in those trendy restaurants down Shoreditch way. We were doing offally well (groan, sorry) in making industrial size quantities of liver and heart paté which tastes as good as anything I’ve tasted from a shop. We’ve also been experimenting with pork scratchings by puffing up the skin in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper and pig fat. Surprisingly tasty and crispy but without the fear that you get with the ones you buy behind the bars of old men’s pubs that you are going to break a tooth and spend an expensive and painful few weeks getting things fixed again. I’d love to tell you that we heroically made brawn from the head but I have a phobia of the smell after some drunken antics after the hog roast at our wedding so drew the line there. And as for the trotters, it turns out we didn’t quite get all of the hair off so did contemplate nipping down the chemist for a tube of Immac but decided that might taste a bit funky so chucked them out. However my husband assures me that next time around absolutely nothing will go to waste. Chitterlings (whatever they are) for sausages, crispy pigs ears and jellied trotters. Mmm. Might become a vegetarian for that particular week…
|Mr Porky eat your heart out...|
On that note and before I sign off, a quick and very promising update from the vegetable growing department. Our first tomato seed has germinated! Hurrah! It never fails to amaze me how placing a seemingly inanimate seed less than a millimetre long into compost, then keeping it moist and warm can miraculously create new life. What magic lies within that black soil I ask you?! Fingers crossed that this will be the first of many and that we’ll have be eating our very own BLTs in a couple of months. If there is any bacon left that is…