Back in Manchester and the land where internet moves quicker than a glacier. I had a wonderful time at home but being cut off from the world of high-speed broadband did make me feel a little like a quarantined mouse (I am a student after all- I don't know how to function without it), and it also meant I haven't posted on here as much as I wanted to, so I'll have to do a bit of catch up over the next few days.
I think one thing that everybody loves about visiting home is the familiarity- it's comforting when things aren't too different. However, one thing that I arrived home to find different this week was the appearance of a brand new purple tagine in the kitchen. I know I'm a loser to be excited by this but it was beautiful. And as I realised that smuggling it in my suitcase back to Manchester (like I do with a large quantity of the cupboard contents) would be rather difficult, I decided that the next best thing would be to use it whilst I was home. Some scouring through cookbooks in WHSmith later (yes I'm too broke to actually be buying new cookbooks, no matter how pretty they are and how much I want to), I found a recipe in Jamie Oliver's Jamie Does... (which I've just realised is only a fiver with free delivery on Amazon... hmmmm...). The original, which is online here, is for a beef and prune tagine, but I swapped in lamb and apricots (purely for personal preference) and it worked really well. The recipe in general worked really well. All the ingredients were easy to get hold of, although the lamb neck was labled shoulder (to quote my mum- it had never been shoulder in it's life), and there was an almost unsuccessful search for ras el hanout in the wonderful supermarkets of Whitehaven. I really didn't want to have to make my own- the last time I attempted it it just ended up tasting of cloves, which wasn''t really the vibe I was going for- but lucky for my parent's tastebuds I was saved by Morrisons (boo to you Tesco).
The recipe was also really easy to follow, and it turned out really well. I don't mean to sound suprised, I have every faith in Jamie's recipes, it's just that slow-cook dishes aren't usually a strength of mine (mainly because I am far too impatient with anything that requires me to leave it alone for any amount of time), but with a combitation of Sky TV to distract me away from the kitchen and a mother to shout at me anytime I tried to go back in, my tagine was a delicious success. Served with some simple cous cous dressed with lemon and coriander, it was the perfect combination of spice, perfume, succulent meat and juicy fruit and vegetables- and for a dish that was supposed to serve 4-6 people, there wasn't an awful lot left after the 3 of us got stuck in, which is always a good sign.