Saturday 12 May 2012

Herman…from Boy to Man

Today was the day…Herman grew from a boy to a man!

After 10 days of talking to, nurturing, feeding and stirring Herman, today he was, apparently, really hungry. So I fed him with…


2 cooking apples, chopped; tsp vanilla essence; tsp cinnamon, tsp baking powder; more flour; more sugar; 2 eggs; raisins (meant to be sultanas); cooking oil

After all that, I gave him a final stir, poured him into a greased tin and baked for 45 mins.


I’ll admit it…I wasn’t sure I could get along with this cake, let alone one whose milky ‘starter’ had possibly been around for years and years. However, as I spent the week caring for Herman, I grew to like him, maybe even love him. And come today, I wanted to do the best I could so he could really flourish.


I also drove to friends’ houses to leave them a little part of Herman to make their own cake. Strangely, leaving these bubbling pots of froth was the most fun part. I felt happy. Not ‘proud’ happy, or ‘it’s finished’ happy, but ‘sunny day’ happy…like I knew that in ten days, they’d feel like I did today!


Friday 11 May 2012

The Adventures of Herman

Herman, my new best friend, is now ready for his adventures. His bag is packed with extra flour, sugar and milk, he's split himself into four and I'm happy to report, has decided to leave a small part of himself with me to be made into a delicious cake tomorrow!


So, Stacy, Kate and'd better expect a new friend to turn up on your doorstop today or tomorrow! I hope you enjoy him as much as I have.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Seafood Linguine



I’ve been wanting to make this ever since some friends of ours insisted on coming over after we’d  had Frankie to cook us dinner: This is what they made and it was absolutely delicious. They’ve just had their second baby and we really must return the favour soon. It was such a kind gesture.

Since then, I’ve searched recipes and ideas and settled on a cross between Gennaro Contaldo’s version, as mentioned in Jamie’s book, ‘Jamie’s Italy’, and Antonio Carluccio’s version from ‘Two Greedy Italians’. I don’t really think the seafood you choose matters, it’s the flavours that count here. I would always use shellfish and include prawns of some sort though. I’ve cooked the dish using tail on king prawns with either scallops or mussels, depending on what Steve the fish man at Lathcoat’s farm had on offer that day.



olive oil

anchovy fillet


cherry tomatoes, halved

red chilli – dried flakes or finely chopped fresh (seeds removed, you don’t want to overpower the delicate fish!)

white wine

king prawns, tail on


mussels, in their shells (de-beard, wash thoroughly and discard any that don’t close when you tap them)

lemon juice

chopped parsley



Put the pasta on to boil.

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan that has a lid.

Add the anchovy fillet and melt down. Throw in the crushed garlic and red chilli and fry off a little to soften.

Once the garlic is soft but not brown, add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook. Add pepper and a little salt if needed.


Once the tomatoes are beginning to soften, add the seafood. If using scallops, fry off gently first  to brown until nearly cooked, then add. Turn the heat up and pour in a good splash of wine. Put the lid on, shake, and leave to steam for a few minutes until the prawns are pink and cooked through and the mussels are open. Discard any that don’t open before serving.

Take off the heat. Stir some lemon juice and chopped parsley through.

Drain the pasta, retaining a little of the water and stir both into the seafood mixture.

Serve with another sprinkling of fresh parsley and fresh black pepper. And a chilled glass of white wine!

Still Alive!

After first feeding Herman…


Two days after feeding…


Tuesday 8 May 2012

I Have a Herman

And what, exactly, is a Herman? Well, I hadn't heard of him either until a couple of weeks ago and when my friend told me about him, I had a feeling I'd be receiving a little pot of Herman soon, and so I did!

Herman is a German Friendship Cake based on a sourdough starter which you have to love for ten days before turning into a cake. So, on the first day, you transfer your little pot of starter (sugar, flour and milk...and presumably the first person added yeast too) to a large bowl and leave on the kitchen surface. You are reminded that if you put him in the fridge he'll die. You'll know this if he stops bubbling. Now, I have a knack of killing most indoor house plants, so was a little worried he might not last very long. However, I've successfully got to day 5, fed him with more flour, sugar and milk, and he's still bubbling away so I know he's breathing. Thank goodness for that.

The idea is that when I next feed him, I split the mixture into four, keep one and pass the other three to friends (who I'm sure will be over the moon to have a Herman to look after for ten days.) I then add the rest of the cake ingredients, including apple and cinnamon, and they begin the tending process until their little monster also grows into a cake!

To find out more about Hermans, look here.
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