Family Values

15 Jul

It is a truism (made up entirely by myself) that your food values are rooted in your family. As already hinted, my childhood was fuelled by the standard nineties tea time fare that was crispy pancakes, waffles and spaghetti hoops, and fond memories of washing down the Coulman signature dish with a glass of cherryade aside, it will be a relief to you all that making orange tea is a tradition I have long since abandoned. 

My lovely Mum can take or leave food, believing a piece of cheese on toast to be a nutritionally balanced meal that requires far too much effort to make. My Dad on the other hand loves his grub, and despite the ability to make a mean roast dinner when the mood so takes him, has sadly struck up a solid relationship with the local takeaway rather than his sizeable and incredibly well kitted out kitchen. (Jealous, moi?)

So, naturally, I rebelled. Being a long time goody two shoes and perpetual late adopter, it unfortunately took me until my early twenties to see the light, but eventually, can’t cook and won’t cook galvanised me to look beyond the microwave and awoke in me a desire for fresh ingredients and scratch cooking.

My enlightening, however, revealed something wholly unexpected. I wasn’t alone. Beyond my immediate family, there were cooks. Foodies even, and as I boldly stepped into a world where seasonal ingredients and sautéing existed, I found solace and encouragement from my relatives who revered their recipe books as much as I did mine.

My Grandma, I realised, for years had been supplying us with an apple pie that would put America to shame. Its fudgy pastry and sweet apple filling can cause monumental scraps in our family over who has the last piece. My Nana, on the other hand, is a cook and baker of first class proficiency, with her pasties and scones (a personal favourite) being worthy of klaxons sounding every time they’re served.*

Moving down the generations, my Auntie Deb, who has a weakness for champagne and darling little tea shops, throws a mean dinner party alongside her partner Andrew, which have set a benchmark for all my dinner parties to come. It was here that I first tried venison and began my love affair with this rich and flavoursome meat.

Auntie Emma, truly my Nana’s daughter, is a jack of all trades, and to my eternal delight, a master of them too. Baking, cake decorating, buffet catering and masterly cook of many a world cuisine, it is my Auntie Em where I look to for inspiration, recommendations and food advice. However, like most families, we don’t get together often enough, so like any greedy niece worth her salt would, I invited myself along for tea.

Boy, was I glad I did. Taking her lead from the recently aired Gok Cooks Chinese and accompanying cook book, we had one hell of a Chinese feast, cooked from scratch and without even a whiff of MSG. Me, Emma, my Uncle Mike and cousins Kate and Alfie gorged on some inspired umami salads, moreish pot stickers and the most unctuous slow cooked pulled pork you could ever wish for.

All this was accompanied by a soft, smooth and fruity red from Puglia. Mike, drinks man and master cocktail maker, also made me an incredible espresso martini, which kept us up happily chatting well into the early hours, and the recipe for which I’ll share soon. In the meantime, feast on this food fans…

Carrot and Sesame Salad

Cucumber and Beansprout Salad

Pork and Leek Pot Stickers

Prawn, Chilli and Ginger Pot Stickers

Garlic and Chilli Octopus

Slow Cooked Pulled Chinese Pork

* If you’re very well behaved and keep on reading my blog, my lovely Grandma and Nana may agree to guest blog and share their recipes with you. So think on.


4 Responses to “Family Values”

  1. laurencoulman July 15, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Bless you Naomi! You got the artistic gene which completely bypassed me, and Aunty Emma, anytime. I come complete with a side shortbread at all times.

    Thanks Grandma!


  2. Aunty Em July 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Yes, I am in a blog!!! This is amazing. This is one of the coolest things to ever happen to me. I will now of course invite you to our next dinner party. Just on the off chance I get another mention. Amazing xxx

  3. maureenblair July 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    what a very clever Granddaughter ive got ,enjoyed reading your blog darling keep up the good work, LOVE YOU TOO BITS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Naomi Salt July 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    I could sit as read your blog all day Lauren,you are so very talented,and as my big cousin I am so very proud.
    I wish I shared your passion for food,however I certainly didn’t take that Coulman trait.
    I can just about pulll together burnt toast and spaghetti hoops ha!
    Loved seeing you yesterday how amazing we’re nanas scones mmmmmmmmmm
    Love you lots

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