Hi there and Welcome to our food blog – we thought it would help if we gave you some information About Us.
Just a quick update: We moved to Hornsea, East Yorkshire, recently, and have the whole of our 1920s house and garden to renovate. To add to the information below, we are going to be blogging about creating our new kitchen from scratch (Astrid can’t wait for that one!), decorating and furnishing all rooms including a new bathroom and shower room, building a Garden Room extension and all that involves in Spring 2014 with a stylish patio area, joined on to an Outdoor Kitchen. Energy permitting we hope to create a new Kitchen Garden, plus a very pretty flower and shrub garden. This could take a year or two – let’s face it, we are not ‘spring chickens!’ But during all that ‘creating’ we will still need to eat, and enjoy anything and everything to do with Food. Now, back to About Us ……
If you are interested in anything to do with food – eating, cooking, growing it, reading about it, food photography, kitchens, restaurants, wine, cookware, chef’s knives, cookbook reviews, cooking outdoors (yes, even in England), helping kids to enjoy great food and much more, we hope you will enjoy visiting us.
We are Astrid and Erik, a couple who love living in the County of East Yorkshire, in Northern England. In the years we have been together we have shared a passion for food adventures. From simple home-spun recipes and the street food of obscure destinations to the haute cuisine of Michelin-starred dining. Our food quests have taken us as far afield as South America, the Caribbean, North America, Africa, the Eastern Block countries and throughout the European Union – and not forgetting hundreds of forays into the delightful and diverse cuisine of our beloved United Kingdom. From Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant in Chelsea to the quayside at Whitby for fish and chips at the Magpie – it’s all been a great adventure and it still goes on.
In this blog we want to share those adventures – past present and planned for the future. We hope you will join us (as well as some of our fellow travelling friends) and share our enjoyment.
About Erik: I was born in America and was cared for primarily by my Swedish immigrant grandparents in my early years. Grandma Ragnhilde could barely speak English, but she could cook in any language and she let me help. Picture the Swedish chef in the Muppets stirring his pot. Me at age 3.
My dad had been an American airman, B-17s, during the war, based in England. He started with a love of my English mother and then embraced the whole country. Inevitably we moved to the UK when I was about 12 and I soon found out why Dad loved the place (except the transition from Florida weather to the coast of the Irish Sea).
After graduating I drifted into regional journalism, on to public relations and the world of advertising. I was not happy there. With the support (and divine patience of my wife) I broke away and formed a balance of work as a playwright, which won me national awards and little money to begin with, and commercial journalism which did put a loaf on the table.
All along the while Astrid and I shared our passion for food. This was reflected in our travels and food experiences, in our love of learning new dishes and techniques and our dedication to bringing friends and family together around the table as often as we could. Nowadays our foodie forays ever continue so we thought we would like to create a blog which we hope you will find entertaining and informative, but most of all we hope you will enjoy sharing in the adventures.
And now I would like you to meet my wife.
About Astrid: It was only when I sat down at my desk to begin writing our blog that it struck me – food has played a surprisingly large part in my life. Food loves, food hates, food memories of good times and sad times, memorable meals with beloved family and friends. But as I am actually writing this, I find I am smiling – Food has been such a good force in my life – I’m so lucky.
I was born in East Yorkshire, and I was a faddy child when it came to food. At 4 years old, ballet, ponies, animals and books were the most important elements in my life – natural instinct must have told me that food was just the fuel to give me energy. My mum, Joan, must have been so frustrated that I was so ‘piccy’ – but she was to change all that. The aroma of her crisp buttery shortbread, slightly overdone around the edges (I loved it a bit burnt), and the rich custardy smoothness of her homemade ice-cream wakened up my tastebuds.
After moving into a huge, giant of a house with a marbled-shelved dairy and an enormous walk-in pantry, my mum then had to learn the rudiments of cooking all over again on an old cream, solid-fuel AGA cooker. Mum and Dad’s circle of friends grew rapidly, so with the help of a very basic electric oven to work alongside the AGA, Mum branched out into more exotic food, and from then on had brilliant parties, and her skill at catering for a crowd became legendary.
In between ponies, ballet and books, I grew to love helping with the food. Simple tasks such as rolling marzipan into mouth-sized balls, smothering them in dark cocoa then sticking a plump almond in for a finishing touch used to engross me. These always went into a lovely antique silver bowl, lined with a paper doily, after which I had to wash my cocoa-stained hands underneath the tap in the tinny utility sink unit. To this day I can still smell this almondy aroma, and I am the proud owner of the silver bowl, which is now filled with sweets and home-made tit-bits at Christmas.
Ballet and myself parted at about 14, because ponies, and as I grew taller, horses filled my life. Show jumping became a passion – competing was so challenging and I loved my horses. I made such great friends in the horsy social scene, (girls, and the odd ‘lad’ or two) touring the country and going to such as the Horse of the Year Show, or especially Southport Show.
Mum would prepare a milk churn of peeled potatoes in water so that I could live on chips and beans for the week. All our caravans were within a stone’s throw of Southport beach, and everyone in the show jumping world classed that last week of August as a holiday so many a fabulous barbecue party was held within the sand dunes. Hence, I often returned home to Yorkshire with soggy, spongy potatoes still in the milk churn, much to Mum’s wrath. “Don’t know why I bother,” she’d say, but she did.
My fascination with cookware was fostered by an incredible local shop called “The Balloon Stores”. Everything and anything to do with cooking was in this store. Large, medium, small and miniature – it was an Aladdin’s cave of cookware. I bought implements that I had no idea what to do with, but I looked in books and learnt.
I married, and gradually my friends made fun of me (nicely) because of my accumulation of all things culinary, cookbooks included. I cooked for my husband, my children, my parents and my friends. We moved to the countryside, into a lovely old extended farm-cottage with an orchard and wonderful old garden. Many an impromptu party was put together for friends and all their children. And I realised how I loved to be able to provide this enjoyment for friends, and used to sit back quietly and just watch them having a great time.
Time passed, as did my marriage sadly; people moved on and I moved to the ancient minster town of Beverley with my boys. They were growing up, but I was lucky to be at home for their early years. Then I met my future husband Erik, and we both had a wide circle of friends, lots of them theatrical. Our house and garden was ripe for entertaining, so we had many a barbecue, and branched out into some ‘fine dining’ and fun casual meals. An open house Sunday roast became a regular feature for family, friends and friends of friends around our old pine table. Good food, great conversations still remembered. But after a while I decided it was time for me to do something beyond the front door. Erik suggested that because I was a cookbook addict and I loved cookware so much, I should make if my focus. So from then on all things culinary have taken me on a journey to where I now find myself.
I had my own cookshop, Kitchen Emporium, for 5 years in Beverley, helped set up and managed The Dining Warehouse (the modern part of Mulberry Hall in York) for almost 2 years, worked for AGA, carried out research for my son’s design and cookbook publishing business, Face Publications, created a kitchen garden at our old Victorian house and fed lots of friends and family along the way.
So starting a food blog? What else could I do?