Food Bloggers Unplugged

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

I'm very pleased to have been tagged by Jenny at Rhubarb and Ginger (Thank you, Jenny) and invited to take part in the Food Bloggers Unplugged posts that are circulating at the moment.

I like the idea - started by A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate, and it should help you get to know me a little bit better. So here goes...

What, or who, inspired you to start a blog?
I was walking through Reading town centre one very busy lunchtime, when I saw a woman rushing through the crowds, eating a pre-packed salad with a plastic fork. She was nearly bumping into everyone as she ate and gulping down every mouthful in a rush. I wondered if more people were eating like this, and thought that she could surely have sat down on a bench for literally five minutes while she ate her lunch. So I started Comfort Bites as a call for us all to slow down and enjoy our food. Since then, I've also become really interested in how food and the emotions are linked. All fascinating stuff!

Who is your foodie inspiration?

While my sister and I were growing up, my Mum cooked some of the most amazing, comforting food. They weren't fussy, complicated dishes but I remember them being so comforting and we loved them. Little shepherd's pies made with corned beef, onion and potato and tomato soup with white bread slathered with butter. I remember we ate quite a lot of pheasant, and also rabbit - in stews. I also used to stand up on a chair when I was really young and fill little pastry tarts with jam with her, at the kitchen worktop. And so my love for comforting, good food started then, I think.

Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is? 

There are a few books that I rely on for everyday meal ideas, including Anjum Anand's I Love Curry, Nigella's Kitchen and Gary Rhodes New British Classics. But my most splattered and well-used cookbook is my own note book, where I write down new recipe ideas that I get. In here, are all the tweaked and altered recipes that we like to eat as a family.

Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it? 

About 10 years ago, I went to visit friends in France, just outside Dijon, and they held a huge barbecue at a deserted farmhouse (one of their friends was rennovating it). They cooked a hog roast, which fed all of us and we lit a fire to keep warm. The pork was so succulent, tender and sweet - the most amazing thing, just plonked simply between two halves of a bread roll. Playing the happy role of tourists, we also went to visit the underground wine cellars underneath one of the beautiful cobble-stoned villages nearby - aherm - testing the wines as we went round. An absolutely lovely weekend.

Another food blogger's table you'd like to eat at is?

I wouldn't pass up the chance to eat at any of their tables to be honest, their food looks so good. But if I really had to pick one, it would be Dom at Belleau Kitchen, because I have seen that he makes a mean bangers and vegetable mash!

What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?

I know that Jenny said this too, but I would definitely choose a dishwasher. I cringe when I think of all the hours (days, even) that I must while away each year scrubbing pots and pans, plates and dishes.

Who taught you how to cook?

The TV!! I remember, when I first wanted to start cooking for myself I started watching every television programme I could find, making mental notes of dishes, ingredients and techniques that would work. Then I started to buy and raid the library for cookbooks and then of course started checking out the internet. And gradually I learned how to cook and developed little techniques that helped me along the way.

I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
Well. I would probably cook you a chicken pie, with puff pastry and creamy filling alongside buttered new potatoes and greens. And then for pudding something really naughty like trifle, mousse or a gooey chocolate cake. You might fall asleep on the sofa after all that, but I will wake you up with some strong coffee. Or more cake.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Only one? I am a sucker for fried gnocchi, greedily wolfed down with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes and HP brown sauce (I'm a classy bird), or some gooey, warm Tunworth cheese drizzled with honey and smeared onto crusty bread. But the most amazing (and unfortunately very naughty) thing I've eaten is, without a doubt, bacon jam. (More on that later....)

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
This is actually quite tricky because I'm sure I've mentioned most things in the course of this blog but I'll give you a couple, so as not to disappoint. I have a degree in History, which I gained at the University of Hull so I annoy people who come to museums with me when I turn into a bit of an enthusiastic amateur tour guide. I also used to be engaged to a bloke who was Jamie Oliver's best friend at school. I remember him saying to me, in about 1999: "my mate's doing a show for Channel 4. I don't know if it will be any good..."

So now I have to tag 5 bloggers to join in with the shenanigans... if you have a spare minute from peeling your veg or wrapping up presents over the next few days, I'd love to see what you write!

Marie at The English Kitchen
Dom at Belleau Kitchen
Lyndsey at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops
Kavey at Kavey Eats
Monica at Lick the Bowl Good