The Mortal Bath was invited round to the Rantings of an Amateur Chef blog to do some guest post cookery.

Exciting! Next to words, food is one of the most significant items on my list of Favourite Things. I don’t tend to post recipes here so much, but I do love a feed, and always like to share ideas for tasty goodness.

Read all about this delicious recipe for Lentil Bolognese (Len Spag Bol, if you will) at the Ranting Chef’s blog. You can also pick up a bunch of other interesting ideas for foods, meals, kitchen tools and the like.

If you’ve come to The Mortal Bath via the Ranting Chef, welcome! Hope you find something tasty here too.

I thought I’d better justify both aspects of my profile description on Twitter (my new Owen Pauline favourite waste of time) by a) doing some writing and b) doing some evangelising about quinoa.

Quinoa! The correct pronunciation is ‘keen-wa’, or ‘kee-no-uh’ but I quite like saying it as ‘kwin-ower’ as well, for giggles… it’s a bit of a running gag at work, with various different people correcting whoever is struggling to pronounce it, should it happen to be mentioned. Up to three people saying ‘KEEN-wa’ simultaneously and a startled colleague going ‘Alright..!’ [The spelling and pronunciation of lots of words in English, given their derivation from other languages and subsequent mangling, is hilarious, frankly – little comedy timebombs waiting to go ough – but that’s a whole nother post.]

So, quinoa! Quinoa! Quinoa. Quiiiiinoa. [Stephen Fry voice] Chenopodium quinoa… As well as sounding plausibly like the first name of a member of a Hollywood acting dynasty, Quinoa ‘s a not-technically-a-grain grain-like ‘pseudocereal’ superfood – oh yes! – and a super food.

It is all fibrous goodness – carbohydrate AND protein (12-18%, it says here,) and contains the eight ‘essential amino acids’ which is very handy if you’re vegetarian or just looking for alternative strong protein sources.

Sidebar: it is related to Pitseed Goosefoot and Fat Hen, both of which are superb names heavily redolent of dub reggae titles such as Bushweed Corntrash… so while writing I have been humming ‘Pitseed Goosefoot’ to the Upsetters tune Bushweed Corntrash, a search for which got me here:
… hands up who loves the interweb? Thanks.)

QUINOA, QUINOA, QUINOA! How do I love thee? It’s cooked like buckwheat, pasta or rice, about 12 minutes of simmering, and can be eaten in all the same ways: as a side, or in stuffing, veggie burgers etc… I tend to use it in salads, mainly as an alternative to couscous or bulgur wheat in tabbouleh, so cooked up, rinsed and then caressed with the addition of finely chopped red onion/spring onions, parsley, mint, lime/lemon juice, tomato, celery, cucumber… whatever you like, really.

It’s also very tasty on its own, lightly seasoned, or with one thing through it – so for example, if it’s going in a box for work, a handful of frozen peas mixed thru with a dash of oil will do nicely by lunchtime.

QuinoaQuinoaQuinoa is available in supermarkets as well as health food boutiques, etc, and hopefully will start to come in bigger bags than the pitifully small ones currently on general offer if the UK agriculturalists fiddling with it continue in the vein described on the Veggie Soc site linked to earlier. Meanwhile, you can buy in bulk from the (maybe a bit oxymoronic) Ethical Superstore, who have bigger bags as well. Sorry, postie.

There, I’m hungry just writing about it.
ALL PRAISE the miracle seed QUINOA.

So let it be written! So let it be done.

As noted in an earlier post ‘Fat Duck and Little Chef’, gastroboffin (and direct descendant of Dr Bunsen Honeydew) Heston Blumenthal was roped in to boost the ailing fortunes of the Little Chef chain of eateries. Now The Good Food Guide has acknowledged his effort by including the Popham branch in the 2010 edition.

Awarded a magnificent two out of 10 (for Good Food, which is a relief given the context), the apparently popular Popham site gained plaudits from punters according to this BBC article.

Having just returned from a smashing holiday weekend on the Kent coast, and having broken our fast at one of the 180 Little Chef emporia spotted about the UK on the way back, I am pleased to relate that, as in my previous report, most of the rest of the UK can still enjoy white bread toast and fried produce prepared au plaque en fonte, and precious little else for your free lolly.

We also had the novelty of the chef (approximately 15 years old) bring the food which the waitress/manageress (maybe thrice her lackey’s age) had had to go and help to prepare… The lady in charge was actually really sweet and funny, muttering something (half to herself) after I had paid and collected the three free lollies, about ‘going to see what the kids were doing’ as she stalked off towards the kitchen.

Meanwhile, ‘The Sound of the Lay-by’ drifts inexorably towards York and Kettering West, where it is noted that a minimum of 35 local jobs may be created. Imagine that as a business plan, employing people in your restaurants so there was more than one person to do everything. Astounding.

If Little Chef keep this dizzying recruitment process up, we may just be able to do something about this dangfarn unemployment rise after all!

(That link is a pdf, btw… go here if you want it explained in Grauniad speak why we’ll all be marathon dancing by Christmas).