Behold! Behold my tangy crumb! Click to enlarge! BEHOLD THE CRUMB! DO IT!
I'm sorry, but really - crush my huckleberries in a vise and call me Abelard if that isn't just about there crumb-wise. Slightly sticky texture? Check. A sour tang? Check. I think this is probably the one, the recipe I'm going to stay with. I'm not sure I could do any better with the basic domestic oven I've got.
So what's different? Well, the weather, for one thing; and rather than the 60p a kilo supermarket flour of my last few attempts I went for a more expensive flour from Bambuni (Shipton Mill, I think), which I'm sure Huey will consider the absolutely crucial determinant; I'm now using a starter that I, erm, started from scratch; I'm also now using a proving basket and a peel (to transfer the dough onto the heated stone in the oven lickety-spit); but, really, I reckon it's mainly down to three factors:
It's been quite a while since I've done this - made a detailed record of every single thing I ate and drank during a week that is. For one thing, I know roughly how much I spend each week anyway, because it has to come out of a fixed weekly amount and, after several years of this malarkey, it seems I can now instinctively plan to buy, cook and eat at around the £40 mark. Also it is a fucking boring thing to do. But I thought it might be useful to blog about a whole week's worth of cooking and eating the 'skint foodie way'.
I planned the week's meals in advance (as I always do) then went out and bought the food (as I always do) and, yes indeedy, it came to just a few quid over the £40 target figure. But there are weeks when I spend under that, and weeks when I push the boat out a bit more. Only a few years ago my shopping list was a lot simpler to compile. It looked something like this:
Day 1: 4 x cans of Tennent's Extra, 1 x 1 litre bottle of Glen's Vodka,
1 x steak pasty, 1 x bag of Quavers.
Days 2-7: As Day 1.
Believe me, the present regimen is a significant improvement.
Before we go any further I'd like to emphasise something that should be obvious from the figure mentioned above of £40-ish a week: that this is not a blog about how to survive on the very lowest budget possible. It's more about eating good food, simply prepared, on a budget. There's a difference.
The difference can be seen, partly, by the presence here of things like scallops, smoked salmon, pancetta, steak and blueberries. But, while the cost of the scallops and pancetta (used in two dishes) came to £4.60, the smoked salmon was from a 90p/120g pack of trimmings from Asda, the blueberries were half price at the local Tesco Express and the 250g butler's steak (from the wonderful East London Steak Co.) cost £2.50.
Plus which, these few 'luxuries' were counterbalanced elsewhere by meals using split peas, rice, eggs and cheaper cuts of meat.
And, of course, everything I ate (with the exception of a handful of almond thins) was home-made - including breakfast cereal, bread, stock, desserts and cakes.
For the cost of each individual dish I have counted every ingredient, save for seasoning, herbs and spices (and I've made an overall allowance for these at the end). Anyway, here's the menu:
L: Cashel Blue (£1.70/100g); C: Kirkham's Lancashire (£1.76/100g);
R: Ardrahan (£2.20/100g)
And so time for another trip on the no. 177 to The Cheeseboard and the lactic delights contained therein. Pride of place on today's plate goes to a cheese from the fabled, mist-laden land of my ancestors - Mrs. Kirkham's Lancashire - flanked (above) by two beauties from Ireland. These three wedges cost £5.86.
I'm loving doing this little series of posts. It's not simply that I've been encouraged to try new cheeses (about a third of those presented thus far); it's more that sampling them with, and talking about them to, Robbyn has made me appreciate all the more the individual cheesemakers and their craft.
I like it that knowing about the clubbish exclusivity of the Grubb's herd of cows, or the particularities of traditional Lancashire production, or how the climate of Cork imparts its own unique quality to the taste of the Ardrahan adds immensely to our enjoyment of these cheeses.
Blessed be the cheesemakers.
SHORTLISTED FOR FOOD BLOG OF THE YEAR 2014