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"flake - a small, very thin layer or piece of something, especially one that has broken off from something" Oxford Learners' Dictionaries

"Broken off from something" - well that could describe almost everything in a way. One can certainly say more about anything than one does. "a small, very thin layer or piece" And that is certainly relevant. I confess I am running out of new synonyms for my bits and pieces posts. But flakes it is - for today. Flaky, in a derogative sense when describing a person is an associated descriptor of course, so I hope these little bits and pieces won't be flaky as well. Just small.

It's worth considering, however, how trendy flaky is these days when it comes to food. The only flakes I remember from my childhood were cornflakes. Off the top of my head today I can think of Chilli flakes, salt flakes, coconut flakes ... Dry things, flake them and scatter them over something and you have something which is at least pretty, and very possibly the finishing tasty touch to something which might otherwise be bland.

La morte sua - Let's begin with something very small. An Italian expression which literally means 'its death' and which, in terms of food, means something that is almost completely opposite to death: "two things so perfectly matched that they are the death of each other." says Rachel Roddy in her book An A-Z of Pasta, referring to Tagliatelle with ragù in her case, but it could apply to any dish in which the elements have blended so completely with each other, that you are left with a new taste which is a combination of everything that has gone into it, and in which no one taste dominates. Maybe even my chicken and leek pies - a taste that you can't put a finger on, but which is perfect in its way. The chicken and the leek have individually died and combined to leave you with heaven. Perhaps I overstate my case on the pies, but probably not on Guy Grossi's Tagliatelle with ragù.

An Aldi gadget (or two)

I just had to take a photograph of the little gadget below when I was in Aldi the other day. I could not believe my eyes. And no I didn't buy one. Well I've never wanted to make a stuffed meatball. So I went online to see how it worked, and found the accompanying diagram. It sort of took me back to the times when you would see people demonstrating such things in supermarkets and shopping malls. They don't seem to do that any more. The sorts of things that look so easy and wonderful, at the time, but which when you take them home you just cannot get to work, or which break at a touch. I confess this one does look sort of easy, although just as finicky as making them by hand I think. So sort of 50s somehow - or no maybe 80s. I do confess I bought a very cheap spiralizer however. I thought I would give it a go having seen a gorgeous pasta recipe somewhere recently that involved spiralised zucchini. I thought - well if it breaks or is useless, who cares? It was so cheap. Which I now realise is an absolutely dreadful attitude. Plastic, built in obsolescence. I guess it's recyclable but still. Guilty.

A barbecue tip from Coles

And here it is - as you can see. Stick two skewers through things that might flop around and they won't flop on the barbecue. You're probably going to use a lot of skewers like this, and you are also not likely to skewer sausages together, but nevertheless if you have got something floppy it would be a good idea. I actually did this with a Jamie recipe which I may have featured recently. He called them simply Chicken skewers - but they were stuffed, rolled and wrapped around with pancetta, so they were very likely to flop around. The two skewers trick was great.

I found this item in the latest Coles Magazine because it's one of their 'do good' sponsorships. The idea is to organise a picnic using no plastic of course, but using all those healthy, organic probably, fresh .... things. The emphasis is on the no plastic however. The current campaign runs until 30 November - the campaign being to raise funds for Plastic Oceans for whom this is one of their major fundraising efforts. Plastic Oceans as the name suggests is trying to keep plastic out of the oceans. I suppose it's a bit like a fun run in terms of the fundraising, and there are prizes to be won in four different categories. So yes indeed - take part - but you could just make sure that all of your picnics and barbecues to come are plastic free. Well wouldn't it be nice if we could cut out plastic altogether. Not possible yet I fear.

Jelly made from spent corn cobs that is. Yes jelly, well apparently some make it not quite jelly like and use it like honey. Or corn syrup, which taste it apparently resembles. It's an old American colonial thing when those frugal pioneers pickled and preserved just about everything they could. It was featured in a Guardian article by Tom Hunt, who described it as:

"a wildly delicious sweet jelly that is gorgeous spread on toast, pancakes or waffles. I particularly like it with cheese, especially when the jelly’s spiked with jalapeño.

A curiosity. I think those spent cobs are better used thrown into soups and stews - like Parmesan rinds to add a richness of flavour to the mix. Definitely use them, however, before throwing them away.

The Guardian had a recent article about desserts that could be made in summer without any cooking. There were lots of very quick and simple suggestions like the one shown here - bought ice-cream sandwiched between classy bought cookies. Or home-made if you can be bothered. And summer approaches as the bushfires attest.

I also rather liked the idea of scattering ice cream with things like croissant crumbs (stale croissants blitzed with melted butter, sugar and salt and then fried to golden, cool to crisp) and macerated fruit.

Then there's granita, which is really simple:

“[for] crystal-clear, thinner granita use strained juice (think watermelon), while a pulpier granita with more body is achieved with a thicker purée of stone fruit or berries. Whisk in a bit of simple syrup [even better if it’s infused with a fresh, summery soft herb such as basil or mint] and lemon juice, then freeze in a shallow tray and fluff up the ice with the back of a fork after it sets." Natasha Pickowicz

Or just get a pretty glass bowl of ice - crushed or blocks - and top with fruit - cherries, sliced apricots, watermelon, mango - whatever. Looks great and tastes wonderful.

Which brings me to a closing quote - a Syrian saying I believe:

"The eye eats before the mouth"

A few words which could probably be turned into an entire post. But not today.

Time to make a leftover soup - it's not summer yet!

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