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march foodie profile: neil armstrong


as you’ll know, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

this month we’re hearing from neil armstrong who lives and works in london. he also publishes a fabulous variety of  food-related podcasts, recipes and photos at gastronautics.  

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leek and bacon black eyed bean bake


one dish dinners, what a joy! a single pot or pan to wash up and a mountain of delicious tasty food to tuck into. risotto is often my first choice when i want something simple, not least as i find it very soothing to make – it must be all that stirring!

however, dishes which can be assembled and then put in the oven and forgotten about are also a great option, and this creamy beany, bacon and leek bake is a particularly good example. based on a recipe i saw over at a forkful of spaghetti, this dish is full of flavour and the balance of creamy, cheesy richness with the healthiness of beans and green freshness of the leek is just perfect.

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daring bakers: french bread


another month, another daring bakers’ challenge. and what a challenge it was – julia child’s french bread!

julia child is a name that i have become familiar with since i started reading blogs from around the world. she was america ’s first celebrity chef who was at the height of her fame in the 1960s after she published mastering the art of french cooking, a summary of what she and two fellow graduates learnt at the cordon bleu cookery school in paris . she has been credited with inspiring a boom of french restaurants and fresh food markets across america . sadly she died in 2004.

so, julia child’s french bread, how did i get on?

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a weekend spent being a daring baker has had two results.

one is not so good - my poor pizza stone is no more. the other result will be revealed tomorrow…

see you then!


supermarkets have made our lives better?

Last weekend I read an interesting article by Jay Rayner, a food critic and commentator, about how, in his opinion, “supermarkets have made our lives better.”

This is an unfashionable viewpoint with many people who consider themselves committed foodies - they will refuse to step into a supermarket and if they do it’s always with a hint of shame and despair at having been caught out by the system.

However, for many people supermarkets are the best (and occasionally only) option. The range of products is broad and tailored to the local community, prices are affordable and the time that needs to be spent on shopping can be managed better with a single location/online ordering.

Having said that, there are many concerns about the power that supermarkets wield. As Jay says, “We know that massive supermarkets have been squeezing producers for years, slicing margins which, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on the quality of produce. The excesses of industrial food production in the country are a direct result of the buying policies of the supermarkets.”

These are important issues which need addressing. Here in the UK there was some hope that the Competition Commission which has just reported after a two-year investigation into whether supermarkets abuse their market position, drive small rivals out of business or abuse their suppliers. The recommendations seem to lack teeth and significant change is unlikely.

This means, as ever, it’s important that we all take the time to think about the issues associated with the industry which puts food in front of us. We need to make informed choices and take responsibility for the system, whether it’s small-scale and homespun or national and industrial, that we support.

What are the key issues for you and what choices do you make? join the debate at the daily tiffin, a blog that helps people have a healthy family lifestyle, and which to which i am a regular contributor.