Adventure & Zen

This week’s menu:

  • Roasted Squash with Taleggio, Walnuts & Honey
  • Thai Pork Patties
  • Pot Roast Chicken
  • Cullen Skink
  • Persian Aubergine Stew with Jewelled Rice
  • Chocolate, Chilli & Cardamom Tart


So I am popping up. That gave me the inspiration to pick James Ramsden’s ‘Small Adventures in Cooking’ from the bookcase. James is an influential food blogger and pop up supper club host. According to the cover of this very usable cookbook he believes ‘that cooking is most enjoyable when imbued with a sense of adventure and exploration’. Reading that is like meeting a kindred spirit.

It is funny how sometimes things seem to work together. Before picking up James’ book I just read our most recent review, which speaks of Oren as a place that ‘evokes a sense of adventure and autenticity’, the same as when you are ‘in a new country and being lucky enough to find this little fantastic place to eat’. The new pop up version of Oren ‘simply adds to the sense of surprise and discovery’.

Maybe its the Gemini in me that always will look out of the window and wonder what is there. Or maybe I have inherited the pioneering spirit of my dad that looks for something to build in barren land. But when the fire destroyed Oren’s kitchen I immediately felt it was a new adventure and started exploring opportunities where to cook now.

An adventure in cooking doesnt have to start with a new kitchen though. It can begin in your kitchen cupboard. The chapter ‘Corner Shop Capers’ in Ramsden’s book contains recipes as Spinach & Chickpea Curry, Smoked Sausage with Apple & Cream and Soviet Salmon Soup. If you are adventurous enough to cook this last dish, you can discover how a simple tin of salmon is transformed into something delicious.

In the same chapter a recipe for Persian stew with tinned aubergine, which is on our menu this week:

Throughout the book James Ramsden shares his ‘Kitchen Zen’. Cooking at Abel’s House last weekend I realised how valuable his tips are. I’ll repeat some of them:

– Keep it tidy. Wash up in beween – otherwise you end up with an unworkable workspace the size of your chopping board.

– Keep a bowl for waste. Ah, the bliss of a bucket in the corner. ‘Trying to chop an onion on a board covered with potato peelings and onion skin is a quick way to loose a finger’.

– Put some music on.

– I would add ‘Finish one job and then go on to another’. First peel, scrape, and clean all your vegetables, and then start chopping them.

I know this all sounds ‘very common sense’. But sometimes it helps when somebody says this common sense out loud.


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