“The Most Serious and Unaddressed Worldwide Challenge is the Deprivation and Abuse of Women and Girls” – Jimmy Carter

We review ‘A Call to Action – Women, religion, Violence and Power’ by Jimmy Carter


President Carter marches to the beat of third wave feminism and  intersectionality in this call to action. He believes that prostitution, the disparity in pay between the sexes, international human (and female) trafficking, oppression in the name of faith and female genital mutilation (FGM) are problems which affect us all, not just women and he does not differentiate between western, first world issues and those of the developing world either. All this, from what appears on paper to be the unlikeliest of sources- a peanut farming, Southern Baptist Nonegarian white man; a man of ninety who has visited over 145 countries as both politician and co- founder of the Carter Centre, set up with his wife Rosalyn to highlight and combat global poverty, inequality and ill-health.

In 2002, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” These travels inform his world view that when educational, political, social, economic and cultural structures are owned by men, then women can become trapped, along with their children, in cycles of poverty, war and violence. “There is a pretty good correlation between the overall economic well being of a country and how they treat their women with the right to education, for instance, or the right to jobs,” he stated.

In a A Call to Action, President Carter sets out 23 recommendations “that can help blaze the road to progress” and encourages people to visit The Carter Center web site and work alongside him and his wife to this end.

Yet Carter does not fall into the trap of defining Africa solely by images of disease, corruption and poverty, nor does he hold up the west (and the USA in particular) as shining beacons of How To Do Things. Rwanda has a parliament composed of nearly 2/3 women but in the West, the average is about 23%. We will let that comparison stand without further comment. The USA comes under severe criticism for the way in which the seriousness of rape and sexual assault are diminished by its military and educational establishments who are deemed to be lackadaisical in their efforts to tackle the rising tide of aggressive and overt misogyny that feeds and ‘permits’ such behaviours. The economic motives behind this, of not wanting to damage the reputation of their institutions in these times of aggressive educational marketing, are castigated and in his action plan Carter goes on to state that any right to obstruct the prosecution of an alleged rapist should be removed from commanding officers. Further highlighted is the US commitment to capital punishment and the Hawk like foreign policy which in his eyes, sets a moral example to everybody in the West. The example? That violence is the way to resolve problems.

Those of us who saw the way that AIDS rampaged through continents will also remember the inhumane way in which the christian right influenced foreign and domestic policy: they damaged initiatives aimed at tackling the HIV and AIDS crisis, hindering attempts to promote barrier contraception as a preventative measure and using a warped misinterpretation of the teachings of God to justify this. Countries such as Uganda were starting to make progress in reducing the rate of new infections until far-right American leaders influenced Nancy and Ronald Reagan to take a stand against condoms. These influential ‘Men of God’ (for they were usually men) obstructed further attempts to fund research- research that could have benefited people worldwide. These men who proselytised the love of God, bear direct responsibility for the deaths of many innocents, including children.

Carter is true to his strong faith but he is able to discriminate between it and a church that promulgates a hard-to-span gulf between the teachings of Christ and the interpretation thereof. His own resignation from the Southern Baptist Church as a result of its stricter reinterpretation of scripture which resulted in an edict that ‘wives should always be submissive and subjugated to their husbands’, denying them the right to seek out a chaplaincy, was the act of a courageous and unhypocritical man. Seen in the light of a childhood in the Bible Belt where life was permanently interpreted through that filter of faith, his decision is all the more admirable. He connects the rise in global violence and wilful, self-serving misinterpretation of religious scripture to justify the subjugation of women, to deeper issues of poverty and economic disparity. Where women serve and work at the highest levels, we see a corresponding rise in economic prosperity and social harmony.

It is not surprising that Carter has been seen by some of his countrymen and women as sanctimonious and reflective of the small town Southern Sunday School teacher and Pastor he was for many years. But there is nothing small town about President Jimmy Carter. His influence, thankfully, is global and his vision ahead of its time.

St Edmund- One cool dude.


Our current patron saint of England, St George, is a Roman soldier who slew a fierce dragon. Our former patron saint, St Edmund was a former East Anglian King (crowned aged just fifteen) whose decapitated head was reunited with its body with the help of a talking wolf. The wolf is now commemorated on Southgate Roundabout in Bury St Edmunds, complete with Bury Town Rugby Club scarf proudly tied around its furry (wooden) neck as it guards the crown of St Edmund. The wolf is the work of Halesworth-based wood sculptor Ben Loughrill.

Photo by Bury Free Press

Both have been patron saints, and both have supporters who passionately promote their chosen one to be awarded the title of patron saint of England. However the admirers of St Edmund have embarked upon a reinvigorated campaign to have him reclaim the title from good old St George. A previous attempt in 2006 was rejected by the then Labour government after a petition was raised in Parliament.

One of the prime reasons for the reinstatement of St Edmund is that for many, St George has been spreading himself a little too thinly being the patron saint of seventeen other countries. Whilst St George is not subject to the vagaries of a manager and agent having been dead for quite some time now and therefore not having to juggle a packed diary of public events and appearances, there does exist a feeling that we would like our saint to be a little more exclusive. On a more serious note, in these multicultural times, our celebrating a man who will be forever associated with Richard the Lionhearts successful and murderous campaign against Muslims during the Crusades could be seen as hostile to other faiths and especially the Muslim faith. Indeed Richard The Lionheart credited his battle success to his prayers to St George- not quite the peaceful and tolerant image of Christianity as espoused by Christ and one we need more than ever in these turbulent times.

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In the meantime, the good town of Bury St Edmunds is a living testimony to St Edmund  with the Abbey, which dates back to 633, renamed in his honour and a recently commissioned contemporary artwork designed by Emmanuel O’Brien and constructed by Nigel Kaines of Designs on Metal in 2011. This can be seen on the parkway Roundabout

Bury St Edmunds is also famous for being the site where In 1214 Cardinal Langton and 25 Barons swore an oath which changed the history of England. Seven months later, they compelled King John to sign the Magna Carta. Not a bad legacy for such a small market town!

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Browns Cafe – Restaurant in Mundford- Review


An absolutely fabulous cafe-restaurant discovered quite by chance en route to North Norfolk and completely family friendly.

The proprietor has made the decision to maintain an airy, spacious interior with plenty of space to move around in and decent sized family tables placed in a sunny room. There are squishy leather Chesterfield sofas underneath the front windows with well stocked bookshelves nearby and free Wifi. Conveniently, the WiFi code has been displayed on a chalkboard saving customers the bother of having to ask for it. 

We sat outside on wooden benches it being a sunny warm day but there is also a large covered outside area too. The parking area surrounds the restaurant but is sufficiently separate so children (under supervision of course) will not be near reversing vehicles. 


The test of a home cooked menu is its length- the longer the menu, the less likely it is to be freshly prepared. Browns clearly home cooks fresh food to order with its well chosen A4 side of options. Breakfast includes a full English with eggs from local producers John Allen (two days old!) and bacon and sausage from Scotts Field rare breed large black pigs. We ordered scrambled eggs on toast(photographed below) and a bacon roll with the aforementioned bacon (which was eaten too fast to be photographed!). 

They were superb- bacon that actually tasted of pig, with perfectly rendered crispy fat in a fresh and home baked bread roll- three large rashers too. The eggs were creamy, just set on excellent quality hand sliced bread. Prices are very good for such high quality food – just £3-95 for the roll. 


Service was swift, friendly and discreet. Bathrooms are very clean, spacious and there are baby changing and disabled facilities easily found too. 

We will be back to try out the Mature Norfolk cheddar, broccoli and red onion tart with caramelized onion chutney and beetroot salad and the glazed Norfolk blueberry and almond tart with homemade (HOMEMADE!) vanilla ice cream. Or the fresh whitebait from Kings Lynn spiced Spanish style with home made bread and the Fresh fish cooked in Peroni beer batter and thrice cooked chips from Adrian Garrett potatoes.

The proprietor Mark Clayton deserves thunderous praise for his lovely restaurant and amazing food. Check out their coming website- browns-kitchen.com and follow them on twitter @brownskitchen.

Browns restaurant did not solicit this review and we paid for our own food.

More unctuousness from Browns

Using Wild Garlic in a simple pasta dish


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Wild Garlic growing at Arger Fen

Out walking at Arger Fen, the early May air was filled with the glorious scent of bluebells mingling with the more gastronomically interesting wild garlic. Properly named allium   ursinum and known as ramson in the UK and ramps in the USA, the upright leaves of these alliums can be eaten cooked and uncooked, having a gentler, more mellifluous flavour. I grow both kinds: the American allium tricoccum  lives on my allotment in a sheltered, frost-free spot and ursinum is happy unsheltered in the garden, where it constantly threatens to take over the entire space.

Lately wild garlic has benefited from a culinary renaissance of sorts, being much heralded by urbanite food-lovers, the kind of folks who will happily pay £5 for a bare handful in complete ignorance of its undemanding growth and easy availability. Wild picking is allowed but I am wary of encouraging foraging because there is always going to be one fool who razes supplies to the ground, ripping up whole roots instead of taking a few leaves from each plant. However if you know where to look and don’t get greedy, avoiding protected areas such as Arger Fen (which is a Special Site of Scientific Interest), a few stems can perfume your cooking with that familiar alliaceous tang. 

I like to serve this herald of spring with a simple but unctuous pasta made from egg yolks rather than the whole egg. Known as Tajarin by the Piedmontese who make tagliarini pasta noodles in this manner, my favourite recipe for egg-yolk pasta is inspired by the pasta served at Dei Cacciatori near Alba. A tiny little restaurant, it is owned by chef patron Cesare who has become known as a master of the Langhe cooking style. These tagliarini are usually made with unbleached white 00 flour instead of semolina because the latter has a higher gluten content which can make hand-rolling rather an arduous process. Using 00 flour to make this sunny yellow pasta is far easier on the forearms. The recipe presumes the ownership of a pasta machine to thin the dough which is then hand-cut by knife. Don’t worry if you don’t have a machine; a rolling pin will produce good results and if you prefer to buy ready made pasta, the dish will still taste great although it will lack some of the unctuousness that hand made pasta brings to the palate. I don’t know of a shop-bought source of egg-yolk pasta but you will need to buy the highest-quality pasta you can find.

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Like all simple recipes, this depends on the very best of everything: Italian unsalted butter, fresh farm eggs with deep-golden yolks and a well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano  with a good tyrosine-rich crunch. The sauce is a simple brown butter which coats the ramps without rendering them unassertive and  limp. It will taste as luxurious as the butter you choose and its nature will change accordingly because, as you know, good butter is the result of the cow’s seasonal diet. I was lucky enough to be given some Delitia Prmiagiano Reggiano Il Burro last year which is made with the same cows milk that Parmesan cheese is made from. Being a cultured butter, the Delitia infused the pasta with a pronounced nutty flavour, balancing the wild garlic beautifully. Lescure Beurre des Charentes from France would be a suitable choice too, because it browns well in the pan, giving a subtle caramelised flavour. It is more easily available in the UK, from specialist food suppliers.

Don’t waste the wild garlic flowers either. Keep a few stems in a vase on the kitchen shelf and snip the pretty white star-shaped blooms off to scatter over dishes. The flowers are especially handy if you don’t like stronger garlic flavours because they are milder, with a lovely crunch at the base of each blossom. Strew them over salads, especially those of the Caesar type or mix into salads made heartier with quinoa, couscous, ebly or bulgur. Scatter them over pasta, roast chicken and lamb (in fact any meat will benefit) or dry the flowers in a warm, humid-free place, then add to jars of rice, pulses or your favourite olive oil so as to infuse them all with a gentle garlicky taste and aroma. So versatile.


Recipe for 3-4 people.

1/2 Lb unbleached white flour / salt and fresh ground black pepper / 10 yolks from extra large eggs / 1/2 tbsp grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese/ 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened at room temperature / a handful of wild garlic, at least two stems per person / unsalted good quality butter for the sauce

Put all but 1/2 cup of the flour on the counter, sprinkle with 1/4 tbsp salt, make a depression in the centre and pour in the egg yolks. Stir the yolks with a fork, gradually incorporating all the flour until you have a sticky mass of dough. Using the reserved 1/2 cup of flour, powder your hands and the work surface liberally and knead the dough, adding more flour as needed until you have a smooth soft ball that no longer sticks to your fingers. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes. You can also use a food processor to mix the dough and then knead by hand.

Divide the dough into roughly 6 pieces and roll each one 8/9 times through pasta machine set at the widest setting, folding the dough and turning it after each pass. Thin each piece of dough at increasingly narrow settings until you have sheets a tad thicker than ordinary pasta sheets (about setting 5) and approx 20 inches long. Place sheets flat on floured table top, dust with more flour (lightly) and let them dry out until their surface starts to look like leather but don’t let them get brittle. Turn them over to dry the other side then, total drying time will be between 15-30 minutes.

Working with one dough sheet at a time, fold from one short end to another several times into a compact shape 3 inches in length; trim any ragged edges then cut into 1/8 inch strips. Unfold the pasta noodles and let them dry further for about half a day.

To cook-

Put a full pan of salted water on to boil. Wash and dry a handful of the wild garlic (two stems per person) and slice into thin strips, slicing the bulbs too. When the water comes to a boil, add all the pasta at once, stirring until the water comes back up to boil. Cook the pasta at full boil until they lose their ‘rubbery’ texture but retain resistance to the bite -‘al dente’.  This may take 5 minutes but after 2 minutes start testing them every 30 seconds or so. When they are ready, drain them in a colander.

Whilst the pasta cooks, cook the wild garlic.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small fry pan of skillet over medium heat and when it stops sizzling, turn the flame to low and add the wild garlic. Stir fry gently, keeping it moving and coated in the butter. You may need to add a little more butter to the pan but don’t let it burn. When the garlic strips wilt, becoming knife-tip softened; they are ready. Cover and keep warm while you prep the pasta.

Place the pasta in a large bowl. Pour the garlicky buttery cooking juices over the pasta and strew the garlic strips over the top. Thin slice the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and dot over. Grate parmigiano-reggiano cheese over the garlic strips and butter, add a good grind of black pepper and serve.





Castle Torrejano in Bury St Edmunds – Reviewed


We are very lucky to have this Portugese owned cafe and market in our town which serves fresh food, pastries and snacks for the local expat community and those lucky enough to have discovered it. A bit of a hidden gem, not helped by its position around the side of Angel Hill out of the sight line of people coming down Abbeygate St towards the Abbey Gardens, Torrejano is incredibly welcoming. It was busy with families eating together when we arrived (3pm) with a chiller cabinet packed with unusual and fresh baked deli items, cakes and pastries. The deservedly famous Pasteis De Nata (Portugese Custard Tarts) were piled onto stands with a choice of cinnamon topping or not- this was initially what lured us here. 

As per usual ended up ordering far more than we could eat for take out- the custard tarts and a slice of Torta De Naranja; eggy and heady with an orange syrup soaked semolina filling, resembling an exotic Swiss Roll. Also for sale were coconut stuffed and topped pillowy yeast raised buns, empanadas filled with meats and salt cod (bacalao) and more syrup and sugar drenched pastries that resembled baklava, being layered, pleated and folded like edible origami. They do tend to sell out pretty fast and the only reason we got them was because they had just completed a second baking session as it was the weekend.


Go downstairs to find a mini market of Portugese products including white port at £17 a bottle and tawny port around £12 stored next to great metal vats of olive oil  floridly patterned in reds and oranges. There are boxes of farina flavoured with Banana for babies and other Portugese cereals and jars of pimenton dulce and other local spices and herbs that would make great gifts for food loving friends. Most interesting were the freezers packed with whole sides of bacalao and packs of freshly made salt cod Fritters (we bought these), boxes of sardines, fresh scallops, clams and prawns plus all manner of prepared caldo’s and other stews. The counter assistant gave us plenty of ideas and advice about frying the fritters- much appreciated. 

We hope the residents of Bury St Edmunds make the most of CastleTorrejano. It is refreshing to find something a little different so instead of buying your Pasteis De Nata from the chain bakery up the road (Patisserie Valerie) why not buy the real thing made by those who have grown up making (and eating) them?

24 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1UZ

The store did not solicit this review and we paid for our purchases.

The East Coast Diner in Woodbridge – Reviewed

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We visited just after Christmas on a frigidly cold afternoon and walked in to a decidedly un-frigid welcome- friendly and enthusiastic. The vibe is NYC diner in an old building minus the trad Brooklyn pressed tin roof yet there is nothing staged about this place. 

The choice offered on the menu is not overwhelming, seemingly predicated upon the catering principle of offering less and doing it better. (The best indication of freshly cooked food being a small menu anyway.)

The hotdogs and burger meat come from highly regarded local sources, the chile relish is from the local Black Dog Deli and all food appears to be freshly prepped and cooked to order. 


We chose some pretty authentic sounding pure beef hot dogs (The Pimp Steak) w/ sauerkraut, onions, chile relish, mustard and skinny fries. There are optional extra toppings and few limits on customisation other than the size of your mouth when trying to fit the hot dog into it. The burgers come with the best type of bun- a Brioche, lightly grilled with salad, pickles and cheese spilling out from underneath. The fries are the crunchy skinny type (in size only) and can be ordered with blue cheese, Cajun spices or Howlin’ Hot chile. We wimped out and had them straight up. 


Sadly having to drive home meant we had to bypass the decadent sounding ‘Hard Shake’, a malted milkshake with shots of Kahlua, coconut rum and golden rum. We also had to bypass the seductive cocktail menu full of variations on a Mojito, Margarita and Martini theme. A range of craft beers are sold too including ‘Thunderstruck’ from local brewery Hellhound in Hadleigh, Suffolk and the incredibly popular Brooklyn Beer. There are juices, sodas and some voluptuous sounding malted shakes- millionaires shortbread and the more usual vanilla, chocolate and strawberry made with malted milk and dairy ice cream. You can go left field with these with an added shot of Nutella or Banana.

East Coast Diner also has a fine range of pizzas with toppings both usual and less so.  We have never had a Pizza with walnut, beetroot and Binham Blue cheese but are going back to have one washed down with a Bumbleberry Slushie style Froz-Z-zen. We haven’t seen the Bumbleberry mentioned outside the West coast of the USA before and only heard about it because Pascale Le Draoulec mentioned it in her road food book ‘American Pie.’


Little Oliver, our local cook book writer!

Oliver’s Kitchen’ and ‘Oliver’s Kitchen -Seconds’


Both of these lovely books feature the cooking adventures of Oliver and his sister Mia and in doing so, raise vital funds for the Neonatal Unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and the Stroke Association.

Oliver experienced a neonatal stroke and the first book tells the story of his progress alongside recipes and photographs. Oliver’s Kitchen-Seconds is 150 pages of recipes and cooking fun. Simple, child and family friendly meals that you will all enjoy. 

There is also a website packed with more features. 




Cook Books- World Cuisines


‘Essential Cuisines of Mexico’ by Diana Kennedy


Three classic books about Mexican cooking in one volume, you will find the purest distillation of regional and national cuisine in here with an updated ingredient, technique and terminology glossary. Diana Kennedy is an American who went to live in Mexico and like Julia Childs, sought to understand her adopted country through its food. Don’t expect Tex-Mex (as delicious as this is) but instead, an authentic journey through the complex regional specialities to be found in this much misunderstood land. 

There is a glorious Pico De Gallo made with peaches that justifies the purchase price alone and by home cooking, you can eliminate the more fattening oils that characterise some of the dishes. Drinks are covered too but there are no glossy food porn photos- this is a cooks book.

‘The Little Paris Kitchen’ by Rachel Khoo


Written by a ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ trained chef (with all the guarantees this offers regarding recipe construction and accuracy), this is a beautifully designed book backed up by a TV show. It was one recipe from this show – Croque Madam Muffins- that sent us out to buy this. Money well spent. Giving lie to the idea that you need a dramatically large kitchen and John Lewis stock levels of equipment, Khoo cooks up a storm in a kitchen the size of an under stair cupboard and her recipes reflect this economy of space in their simplicity married with classical French underpinnings. 

Fig & chicken liver salad uses an inexpensive meat with fruit that isn’t expensive when in season. The sweet tart of figs cuts the soft fattiness of the liver. Balanced and elegant. Warm potato and apple salad with black pudding crumbs is similarly rustic, inexpensive (Black Puddings are 99p each our my local butchers) and has that same sweet/salty motif. 

We have made the Shepherd Pie with three colour mash countless times. The pumpkin, parsley and potato topping is an excellent method of getting vegetables into yourself (and kids) and it is fun too. Recipes such as this help less confident cooks to experiment too with different toppings and Khoo doesn’t leave you stranded should you not have access to every ingredient. 

We’d definitely buy this for beginners. And for those Croque Madam Muffins which are the bomb.

‘Curry Easy’ by Madhur Jaffrey


Everything that some cooks find intimidating about Indian cookery- long lists of ingredients, unfamiliar ingredients- is ironed out in this easy to follow and accessible book by an undeniably great cook and food writer. Over 175 recipes, regional specialities both lesser and well known make this THE book to buy as an introduction and fundamental guide to this eclectic cuisine. 

How can anybody resist the romance of a recipe called Perfumed Almonds? Just three ingredients- Cardomom, Sugar and Almonds. Love it.

‘Creole’ by Babette De Rozieres (Translated by Nicola Young)


Creole is a lively cookbook featuring food from the Caribbean, where influences from Asia, Africa, India, France and Spain blend in a refined and colourful cuisine. It includes 163 recipes by Babette De Rozieres who learned the complexities of Creole cooking from her Grandmother and from there began her love affair with West Indian cuisine. Now a celebrity TV chef in France, she is the owner of the famous restaurant Le Table de Babette in Paris, where she offers her customers the delights of Creole cooking.

The recipes look complicated but they are not and are characterised by the big flavours, bright colours and seasonality of Caribbean food. However many of the ingredients are not easily found outside of large towns and cities with groceries that cater to Caribbean cooks. So it might require a cook with some understanding s to how best to substitute the more obscure ingredients.