Apparently, taking sage can boost your memory. Does it count if you have it in sage and onion stuffing?

It's 8.20am, and I've been up for over 3 hours. There's definitately a downside to this job! No wonder I'm desperately in need of a chocolate danish...but there's been none in the canteen all week, just those with raisins in. Piffle - just not good enough.

In return for doing so much for us while we were away in Sardinia, we're taking Rob's mum and dad out for dinner tonight at Barn@the Biscuit. In a state of high excitement over the possibilities of cheesecake!


A new study shows dark chocolate may be better for you than the milk variety. And it tastes so much better too! At last, I can now make my chocolate fixation a health choice...

Ok, now I know the difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie. Shepherd's pie is made with lamb, cottage pie with beef. (Thank you Nigella Lawson's How to Eat.

The e-cloth is fantastic. You just wet the cloth and wipe away. No smears. Whatsoever. I'm a complete convert. So I'm going ahead with the stainless steel splashback in the kitchen...


It just won't be the same, popping out for a pint of milk late at night....corner shops are being replaced by vending machines in Darlington... Maybe the Japanese influence will take over, and the town will become a hotbed for sushi, sashimi and noodles. Faint hope, I suspect.

We like....Chalet Slaves, on UK Food, mainly for its unpretentious, unpatronising presenter. Who cooks some really nice stuff, in simple, easy-to- follow fashion, with some nice mountain scenery as well. Top stuff.


Oh, I hate getting up at 5am. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is the chocolate danish pastries in the canteen at work. Sad eh?

You may remember me wittering excitedly about pies at the Big Chill. Well, the folks who had Rob raving about their pastry are www.wearepie.co.uk. Their menu sounds excellent...not sure I can eat 10 pies as their minimum mail order though!


Falafel for tea, while at my desk. Which suddenly put me in mind of the fantastic falafel shop we went to in Paris last summer, endorsed by Lenny Kravitz, no less (they were very proud of that). The "L'As du Falafel" in the Marais quarter was heaving with folk, but we managed to squeeze around a tiny table, and tackle huge platefuls of falafel, pitta bread and salad. It was ridiculously cheap, and we left ridiculously full.

It set me thinking - although you can buy the t-shirt, and other souvenirs, they don't seem to have a website. There's definitely a niche market there - how about mail order falafel? There don't seem to be any sites in the UK, but if you're in the States, there's a firm in Chicago that can supply your every need.


I've gone internet ordering crazy. Well, to the total of about £20. Not content with ordering the amazing e cloth (see yesterday), I've gone and pre-ordered the new Nigel Slater book, Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, from Amazon. Don't think it will concentrate on toast itself (my favourite subject) but can't wait all the same...

Not content with making East Anglian ratatouille last week, I concocted the Newcastle version today, but with harissa instead of tomato puree, and chunks of marrow instead of courgette. Much better. I was feeling deprived of spice.

Another fantastic food blog...Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen


For the environmentally-friendly amongst you, a great new cleaning product. A cloth. That you use with water. That's how high-tech this is...and I'm reliably informed by Pippa that it makes cleaning stainless steel (which I now have in abundance in my new kitchen) an absolute doddle. I've ordered one by express post today. Test report sometime soon...

www.eatpizzaloseweight.com Can anyone explain to me how this works???


Feeling slightly ill after an overly-limey prawn and salmon stir fry. I like lime, really I do, but it can be a bit overpowering.

Ratatouille tomorrow, with home-grown courgettes, aubergines, and tomatoes. The greenhouse at my folks' place smells amazing...and you can almost see the tomatoes growing fatter by the hour.


What's the difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie? (apart from the fact that one's got a shepherd in?). It's probably something to do with carrots, but I really can't remember. Not that it's desperately urgent, it's just a topic of conversation that came up on the way back from visiting Dad in the hospital. Why, I have no idea.

Made pissaladiere today...a bit like a cross between a pizza and a tart. I sauteed 4 onions in olive oil for an hour with some rosemary and thyme, till they were really gloopy and translucent. Made shortcrust pastry, lined a tin, and then spread the onions on top. Crisscrossed the onions with anchovies, laid in a diamond pattern, added some olives in the gaps, and then baked for half an hour. Marvellous. If you were doing it in France, you'd probably swap shortcrust pastry for a bready dough (like a pizza base, made with yeast). I didn't have time for the rising, however...


Made a fantastic apple cake today, with windfalls from Mum's garden. It was spongy, but not too sweet - just how I like it. And much improved by using nutmeg and cinnamon with a best before Oct 94 date, honest....

Read, chew and discuss, with egullet.com


For once, it's gorgeously hot in Newcastle, so we've been sat on the roof terrace at work, drinking tea in our break. You'll have guessed from that that there's nothing happening in the world of news again...

It did make me wonder though, what the cafe at work should really sell, to make Friday afternoons more bearable in the sunshine. Frozen yoghurt? Innocent smoothies? I guess if it was the States there'd be iced tea, but that's something that I just can't get my head around. There's messing with tea, and there's messing with tea. It's just beyond the pale.

If you're at all a lover of Julia Child, then this is a must-read. The Julie/Julia Project is fab - Julie's goal is/was to cook every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" within a year...she started on 25 August 2002, so by my reckoning it must be nearly time to see if she's measured up...


Have discovered some rather amazing yoghurts from Yeo Valley. Ok, I know it's taken me ages to graduate from Tesco/Morrisons/Safeway basic plain yoghurt, but I've finally done it, and these organic fruit ones are certainly very special - huge pieces of fruit, and a really creamy taste. Can't wait to try out the frozen yoghurt these guys do.


It's Wednesday night, and there's not much of any excitement happening in the world of news. I'm sat here craving a chocolate hit (I could really murder a pot of chocolate mousse). In reality, I'll probably go home for a yoghurt and a cup of tea. Ooh, the exciting life I lead...

Discovered a fab site for expat food, which if I ever move abroad will certainly be used to deliver marmite straight to my door. When I've worked abroad before, it was that and cheese on toast with worcester sauce that I missed. Oh, and English chocolate. Sometimes only a slab of Fruit and Nut will do.


Mmm. I'm sat here at my desk at work, eating peas from the pod. Sadly not freshly picked from my garden (although my runner beans have some fabulous flowers on them, and should be producing some good beans shortly), but all the same, the ones I found are tasting pretty marvellous raw. I just adore pasta with peas and feta cheese...

We're allegedly having a heatwave at the moment over here, and ice cream sales are soaring. I say allegedly, because here in the North East it's drizzling slightly. A couple of months ago Newcastle Brown Ale ice cream was launched, and I'm just wondering how sales are going... I have to say that my favourite flavour of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, rather than anything alcoholic. I absolutely despise vanilla (but bizarrely have a soft spot for the traditional Mr Whippy).


A glut of good food this weekend...including something that I'm not normally keen on - roast beef. Eldred roasted his according to the gospel of Delia. And it was very good - pink and melting in the middle, rather than all brown, scrawny and tough. Mmmm.

Rob came back from the Big Chill festival at Eastnor raving about the food, including the rather wonderful pie stall. I was rather jealous. They have an internet site where you can buy pies mail order...when I find it, I'll post it here. I may even order some stuff, and test it out. It's all in the name of public duty, honest...