Archive | October 2011

MONDAY THINGS

I watch a fair whack of food programmes on TV and – instead of keeping a notebook handy to jot things down – I rely on my memory to come through when I eventually decide to cook the dish. Not a good idea.
I saw someone (most likely Ina Garten) make a warm pasta salad with smoked bacon and I had a beautiful package of Wiltshire back bacon, so – when Tandy issued rocket as her latest seasonal ingredient challenge – I knew exactly what I wanted to make.


I made the salad as a side dish for our steaks, but it would me perfect on its own as a Meatless Monday Meal.

2 cups cooked fusilli
6 rashers smoked bacon crisply fried and diced
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 handful of mixed Tuscan herbs (I used Watercress, mizuna, rocket and red spinach)
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon and a drizzle of olive oil

As is always the case, the simplest dishes always come out tops. We loved this salad, the bite of the rocket was a perfect playmate for the other ingredients.

From Wikipedia:

Eruca sativa (syn. E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.), is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket, roquette, rucola or arugula, not to be confused with Wild rocket. It is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal east to Lebanon and Turkey.

And here are my answers to Mandy ‘s latest ‘Getting To Know You Challenge’:
1. Who would you be honoured to have cook in your kitchen?
Anthony Bourdain … naked.
2. What have you always wanted to cook or eat but never have?
Tripe
3. What is your favourite part of a chicken?
That little fillet of soft meat in the back.
4. Do you use a knife or a vegetable peeler to peel potatoes?
Most of a potato’s fibre is in the skin, peeling it is just silly.
5. What one item do you keep in the kitchen you know you shouldn’t use but do?
Ready-rolled frozen puff pastry. So sue me!
6. Do you like using the new culinary foam with your meals?
I don’t know anything about the product.
7. What 3 meals would you take to a friend who is sick in bed?
And catch their germs, are you crazy???

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CHOCOLATE CAKE AND KISSING DOGS

Once upon a time……….
…………they all lived happily ever after.
That’s Sidey’s challenge this week. Unfortunately, tales of happy ever after are far and far between. Instead, we stumble over minutiae; electrical appliances die, as do loved ones. Bills arrive at inopportune moments and the car needs a service, but only after the cat has been neutered …
Life happens and that’s when chocolate cake helps …


Read these two chocolate-related posts:
http://johnell74.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/change/
http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/fridays-fabulous-facts/
I’m off to my kitchen to cook lunch for my MIL’s birthday, I leave you with this piece of trivia, bet you didn’t know:
At least 63% of dog owners admitted to kissing their dogs. Of these, some 45% kissed them on the nose, 19% on the neck, 7% on the back, 5% on the stomach and 2% on the legs. An additional 29% listed the place they kiss their dog as other! (freakyanimals.com)

PLAYING HIDE-AND-SEEK WITH ELUSIVE PURPOSE

WARNING/DISCLAIMER: VERY DEEP POST, NOT ABOUT FOOD.

I had a deeply intense conversation with a new friend yesterday. We sat in the shade in my garden and she related her story of a particularly wretched time in her life and her recovery through taking a course of a-three-weekend programme, at the end of which she was able to understand that we are all put on earth to fulfil a very specific function and that she finally understood her own purpose in life.
With my 48th birthday looming, I find myself very introspective and my friend’s story has made me wonder about my ‘very specific function’ in my world. Have I, perhaps, already fulfilled it without knowing? Does it lie ahead, to become clear in my dotage?
My immediate thought was that I was born to be a wife and mother, but my friend said ‘No, it is something much bigger than that …’
Surfing the internet, I came across this exercise and thought that some of my friends here may find it worthwhile too.
I’m going to do it, just as soon as I’ve got dinner going …


15 Questions to Discover Your Life Purpose
The following are a list of questions that can assist you in discovering your purpose. They are meant as a guide to help you get into a frame of mind that will be conducive to defining your personal mission.
Simple Instructions:
Take out a few sheets of loose paper and a pen.
Find a place where you will not be interrupted. Turn off your cell phone.
Write the answers to each question down. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Write without editing. Use point form. It’s important to write out your answers rather than just thinking about them.
Write quickly. Give yourself less than 60 seconds a question. Preferably less than 30 seconds.
Be honest. Nobody will read it. It’s important to write without editing.
Enjoy the moment and smile as you write.
15 Questions:
1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
3. What activities make you lose track of time?
4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
6. What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
7. What do people typically ask you for help in?
8. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
9. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
10. You are now 90 years old, sitting on a rocking chair outside your porch; you can feel the spring breeze gently brushing against your face. You are blissful and happy, and are pleased with the wonderful life you’ve been blessed with. Looking back at your life and all that you’ve achieved and acquired, all the relationships you’ve developed; what matters to you most? List them out.
11. What are your deepest values?
Select 3 to 6 (See list of words to help you | list in pdf) and prioritize the words in order of importance to you.
12. What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
13. What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
14. If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
15. Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? ( to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)

PUMPKIN GRINCH

A Google search for ‘pumpkin quotes’ yields “About 3,660,000 results (0.14 seconds).”
Yes, more than three-and-a-half million results. The world has gone bananas with Halloween fever, and that includes South Africa. Pumpkins are selling for between R70 and R100. I’ve no idea what today’s exchange rate to the US$ us, but – as a Facebook friend rightly commented – “…bloody hell…does it come with white horses and a coachman…?”


The pumpkins are selling out like nobody’s business and the toys shops are doing a roaring trade in expensive costumes; gone are the days of ‘make your own’. On Monday we’ll have brats-with-buckets begging for treats, I am thinking of tricking them with the water-hose instead.
Yes, if there was a Grinch-equivalent for Halloween, I am it and I don’t care who knows it. I’m giving my daughter a butternut I paid 50 cents for, she can have a gemsquash too, they’re only R10 a bag. And as for the begging-brigade, they can have slices of my butternut bread; I dare them to refuse …


I adapted a recipe I found here and omitted the nuts as O Bunn is not a fan of them, I also substituted butternut for the pumpkin:

VERY SHARP

Now we have heard how Mrs. Sedley had prepared a fine curry for her son, just as he liked it, and in the course of dinner a portion of this dish was offered to Rebecca. “What is it?” said she, turning an appealing look to Mr. Joseph.
“Capital,” said he. His mouth was full of it; his face quite red with the delightful exercise of gobbling. “Mother, it’s as good as my own curries in India.”
“Oh, I must try some, if it is an Indian dish,” said Miss Rebecca. “I am sure everything must be good that comes from there.”
“Give Miss Sharp some curry, my dear,” said Mr. Sedley, laughing.
Rebecca had never tasted the dish before.
“Do you find it as good as everything else from India?” said Mr. Sedley.
“Oh, excellent!” said Rebecca, who was suffering tortures with the cayenne pepper.
“Try a chili with it, Miss Sharp,” said Joseph, really interested.
“A chili,” said Rebecca, gasping. “Oh, yes!” She thought a chili was something cool, as its name imported, and was served with some. “How fresh and green they look,” she said, and put one into her mouth. It was hotter than the curry; flesh and blood could bear it no longer. She laid down her fork. “Water, for Heaven’s sake, water!” she cried. Mr. Sedley burst out laughing (he was a coarse man, from the Stock Exchange, where they love all sorts of practical jokes). “They are real Indian, I assure you,” said he. “Sambo, give Miss Sharp some water.”
The paternal laugh was echoed by Joseph, who thought the joke capital. The ladies only smiled a little. They thought poor Rebecca suffered too much. She would have liked to choke old Sedley, but she swallowed her mortification as well as she had the abominable curry before it, and as soon as she could speak, said, with a comical, good-humoured air—
“I ought to have remembered the pepper which the Princess of Persia puts in the cream-tarts in the Arabian Nights. Do you put cayenne into your cream-tarts in India, sir?”
” Vanity Fair – William Makepiece Thackeray

We’re having a heat-wave in South Africa and the weather forecasters are madly issuing warnings for people to stay adequately hydrated and stay out of the sun. ‘There’s a saying that ‘when even salamanders are fainting from the heat, there’s nothing like a good, hot Madras curry’, (sourced from BBC.co.uk) and that is just what I did yesterday as the temperatures reached over thirty degrees in Johannesburg.

chicken madras

Much hotter than Ms Sharp could ever have handled, it made for surprising relief from the heat.
I used Gordon Ramsay’s recipe. (But added mushrooms, peas and potatoes.)

DRIPS, DRAINS AND CANNELLONI TUBES

With the exception that it is full of ill people wearing drips, drains and dressings, the hospital I was at is much like a hotel. In the mornings, one is presented with the day’s menus from which to select the three meals of the day. For the first six days of my stay, I ate eggs for breakfast, being unaccustomed to being so spoiled for choice; poached, scrambled, boiled, fried … As I reached my final three days there, I felt my arteries clogging up and elected to go with the stewed fruit and yoghurt. My lunch choice was generally a chicken salad, although I did enjoy a beef curry one day. By far the best meal I had there was a lentil and butternut babotie; which I will recreate in the near future.
My ward was peopled with a riotous bunch and we laughed far too much; all things considered. The reality of coming home to Marmite toast was an anti-climax to say the least and – by Friday – I was champing at the bit to get back into my kitchen. First up I hauled a smoked chicken and some gypsy ham from my freezer, still feasting on the contents of my hamper from The Feinschmecker, chopped and mixed with a bit of sweetcorn and crumbled feta cheese and stuffed into cannelloni tubes,

before baking under a sauce of roasted tomatoes. I deliberately didn’t add any herbs because I wanted the smokiness of the meats to rule the dish.
Not a patch in comparison to being served in bed, but perfectly OK as first-meals-back-home go …


And on today’s foodreference.com calendar we find rather bleak offerings:
1817 Hippolyte Mege Mouries was born. A French scientist, he invented margarine and patented canned meat.

1836 Alonzo Dwight Philips patented the phosphorous friction safety match in the U.S.

1861 The first transcontinental telegraph was completed and went into operation. Within days the Pony Express ceased operations.

1911 Nathaniel Wyeth was born. A chemist and inventor, he patented the PET (polyethylene terephthalate). It was the first plastic strong enough to use to bottle carbonated beverages.

1929 ‘Black Thursday’ – the first day of the panic driven stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression.

1939 Employees at DuPont’s factory in Wilmington, Delaware purchased the first nylon stockings for sale in the U.S. They were available nationally in May, 1940.

Have a good week, friends, it’s great to be back.

TRIUMPH IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

Please accept my apologies for my prolonged absence. I was called away on a top-secret assignment: under-cover I had to go and test the food at a local hospital. My commentary about the food will follow in due course, but first I want to tell you about a woman in my ward, her name is Zaskia and she was paralysed when I met her.

Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) (French pronunciation: [ɡiˈlɛ̃ baˈʁe], English pronunciation: /ˈɡlænˈbɑr/), sometimes called Landry’s paralysis, is an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. Ascending paralysis, weakness beginning in the feet and hands and migrating towards the trunk, is the most typical symptom. It can cause life-threatening complications, particularly if the breathing muscles are affected or if there is dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The disease is usually triggered by an acute infection. Guillain–Barré syndrome is a form of peripheral neuropathy.

The diagnosis is usually made by nerve conduction studies. With prompt treatment by intravenous immunoglobulins or plasmapheresis, together with supportive care, the majority will recover completely. Guillain–Barré syndrome is rare, at 1–2 cases per 100,000 people annually, but is one of the leading causes of acute non-trauma-related paralysis in the world. The syndrome is named after the French physicians Georges Guillain and Jean Alexandre Barré, who described it in 1916.

Pretty glum, wouldn’t you say? However, in the face of my shame at my self-pity at being hospitalized for what I consider a trivial and self-indulgent malady, Zaskia strove to lift the spirits of all the patients in the ward while she waited patiently for the arrival of the intravenous plasma that would – hopefully – cure her.

Said medication duly arrived and watching Zaskia’s miraculous recovery was a lesson in the triumph of faith in the face of great adversity.

I left the hospital after sitting in the sunshine in a courtyard with Zaskia; she had walked from her bed unaided.

She says she craves avocado; please excuse me for a while; I have a salad to deliver …