Some might wonder what goes on behind the scenes when there are no supper clubs lined up. Do we live on spaghetti and pizza or does the culinary feast continue?
Well, it’s often difficult with kids as they don’t always appreciate your attempts to produce earth shatteringly inspired cooking, or even vague attempts at experimentation. I have a vegetarian teen who doesn’t eat vegetables and a seven-year old who is strictly a meat and two veg man (with pizza and spaghetti to fall back on)…never easy to please both at once, so I often don’t try. I don’t believe in pandering to their whims and I’m certainly not prepared to cook several meals for each individual. I cook one meal for all and we all sit down to eat together, if they don’t like it they go hungry. I have learnt over time that my children will not die from starvation, that when they are hungry they will eat and what they claimed to like or dislike yesterday may not get a second comment today.
So, in answer to my own question, yes, sometimes we do live on pizza and spaghetti (albeit home-made pizza and home-made pasta sauces) and sometimes we all experiment, with varying degrees of success.
In between supper clubs over the summer we have experimented, we have held parties for friends, made food for festivals and preserved enough to keep us going over the winter, in true hunter-gatherer style!
My first festival job back in June was to make cupcakes for a vintage tea party being held by a group of festival workers at Glastonbury. It was Katy of Elfen celf gallery and shop in Llanberis that requested them and very pleased she was to…I wasn’t convinced they would actually last until the party which was scheduled for 3 days time…but evidently all but one did.
Following this was the arrival of my sister from Australia. Her requests were simple; curry and roast dinner. No matter that we were in the middle of a hot summer, whilst she had just left the Aussie winter. She was adamant, they don’t do curries and roasts like they do here…so her first night saw a particularly lovely chicken and spinach curry, potato and bindi bhaji, salad and flat breads. Can’t remember what I put in the curry, it was one of those stick in whatever you have and it was a while ago, but i have to leave you with the flat bread recipe (it’s a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe) and they are so simple and quick to make. You will need
250g plain flour, a teaspoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of rapeseed or olive oil.
Sift flour into a bowl and add salt. Mix oil with 150ml warm water. Pour into the flour in an even stream and mix to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead for about 5 mins til smooth then leave to rest under the bowl for about 15mins. Put a heavy based pan or skillet on to heat. When its good and hot and you are ready to cook divide dough into 8 even pieces. Roll them out thinly (about 2 to 3 mm) and lay bread in the hot pan. When you see dark brown patches appearing and it looks ‘set’ flip over. Cook each side for about 30 to 40 seconds, but if they look like they are turning brown too quickly lower the heat a bit. Warp in a clean tea towel to keep warm and soft and serve. These are great because you can serve them with curries, dips or any kind of stew to mop up the juice.
The family then decamped to London for 10 days for a host of family trips, festivals, nights out and topped off with our little brothers wedding. Aussie sis was still calling for curry and roast as we arrived….so on our fourth day, with my poor mother looking frazzled in the 80 degree heat, and as we nursed our post Guilfest hangovers, I was to be found preparing and shoving a huge joint of pork into the oven whilst negotiating feeding twelve in the tiny space of my mum’s galley kitchen….it was just like holding a supper club, but in more challenging surroundings. We churned out dish after dish, courgette fritters with parmesan, broad beans with olives, oak smoked tomatoes, fresh tomatoes basil and garlic, new potatoes, stir fried pak choi and a hearty green salad. The pork was perfect (although I did stick a bit of the crackling to the top of the oven…ooops), the veg had all been brought down from Wales with me (from my garden and veg box which arrived the morning we left) and it was just about enough to appease my sister.
Back to the festival catering, my most recent little extra was providing food for the Late Lammas Green fair at Glynllifon park. Asked at short notice, I agreed to provide a soup and cake stall. Have to admit I was a bit daunted when Nichola from syrcas circus said we could have up to 400 people pass through…OK not that many in festival terms, but when you are doing it single-handed, bit scary. I have to thank everyone that helped out, that includes Coryn and Paul from Moelyci who did a grand job veg chopping, Rich from the syrcas circus crew who lent me his industrial sized cooking rings and provided his gas too and Geraint from Environment Wales who came along to say hello and ended up pot washing!!
Must admit I rather liked the festival cooking…must do it again some time!