Category Archives: Food

Luddites and Banking

Do you ever think about how long you have known some of your friends? Whizz and I have been married for 19 years, and my friendship with the couple we visited  the weekend before last, Cop and Tax, predates this by about 20 years.  In other words I have known them twice as long as I have known Whizz. Whizz recently referred to them as old friends of Lil’s, before realising that now, they are old friends of his as well. We are a couple of old gits… It happens.

The weekend with Cop and Tax , was as fabulous as ever. The couple, who many years ago, relinquished their unpopular careers in favour of self-sufficiency,  always provide a stonking dinner and a healthy country pastime. On this occasion the activity was a point to point.

Two Friends, Oil on canvas by Arthur Kurtz ‎

I will digress here to relate a tale about the last point-to-point I attended. It was with friends of Cop – some of the Hooray-Henries mentioned in this: past post. On that occasion, a rider in one of the races was known to my companions.

‘Never bet on him,’ they advised, ‘He always falls off his horse.’ (When I say bet, I’m only talking a couple of quid, probably less in those days). Needless to say, this ‘chap’ didn’t fall off, he stormed home in first place.

File:Cross country with horse and hound (1902) (14596537038).jpg

Cross Country with Horse and Hound, Peer, Frank Sherman, Published in Horse and Hound 1902

It was the memory of that first point-to-point that prompted me to attend an event of which, in truth, I disapprove in terms of its exploitation of animals. I don’t plan to do anything like that again. The occasion offered a viewing of the Grand National later on, but I’m afraid I refused at that jump. To me, the Grand National epitomises the ugly imposition of man(kind?) over its fellow sentient beings. Sorry race goers it is only my opinion and I don’t plan to throw red paint over you.

During my gambling life I have won nothing, hence, I hardly do it. If there’s a sweepstake at work or maybe a raffle, I invariably pick the option that arrives or occurs  last, or doesn’t arrive at all. The best thing I ever won was in a raffle, a bent, patent-plastic  belt. That is, until this point-to-point. For once I backed horses, to win, in three separate races, and two of them, ones with reasonable odds, passed the finish line in first place. Whoop Whoop, £7.50 profit. It may not seem  exciting to you, but it made my day.

Before we left for the races, Cop and Tax provided their usual, delicious, home-produced grub. Over lunch, Tax, at the grinning behest of Cop,  related her recent experience of banking technology.

Someone, I don’t remember whom, had given her a cheque. I imagine most readers will know that outside the Metropolis, banks are a rarity, and should you happen upon one, human cashiers are as common as elephants’ ballet shoes. Tax found herself at the mercy of a machine. She must insert her debit card and enter the amount, sort-code and account-number. This she did, and with a sense of triumph went home, confident that the total would somehow fetch up in her current account.

Days passed and the money did not appear, so she got in touch with a call centre – more buttons to press but at least she could talk to a human. The sum had not arrived, it must be assumed that it was one of those that had disappeared into the ether. Feeling justified in her mistrust of technology, Tax contacted the donor of the cheque, who checked their account to see whether it had been debited and reported back that it had definitely been through the account – in fact it had been through twice, once as a debit and again as a credit.

Poor Tax will never live down having carefully keyed into the bank machine, the account number and sort code on the cheque.

Someone else who will feel a bit silly, is the person who enabled this sign to appear across the country in a well known supermarket.

Stationary stationery!

Mum’s Chilli Con Carne

This is my recipe, for my girls. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Serves 4 – 6 people – I think. I never worry about left overs, so I’m not good at portion control – and there are only 3 of us left at home.

Ingredients

  • Spray oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • Fresh chillies to your  taste – I use 2 – 3 of those little, hot ones but I like a bit of punch (put the ones you don’t use in the freezer and remove individually as needed. You can slice from frozen if you warm them a bit in the palm of your hand. Don’t rub your eyes afterwards!)
  • 500g 5% fat minced beef
  • 2 tins kidney beans
  • 2 large tins tomatoes
  • Half tsp Cumin seeds
  • Quarter tsp ground coriander
  • Quarter tsp ground turmeric
  • Scant quarter tsp ground cinnamon
  • Quarter tsp sugar or sweetener
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Fry the diced onion and pepper gently  in the oil with the cumin seeds until the onions are soft (squirt on more oil if they stick).

Add the finely diced chilli and stir for a minute.

Turn up the heat and add the mince and the other spices and stir until the mince is browned.

Pour over the tomatoes, and the kidney beans – no need to drain them.

Simmer until the sauce is reduced to a thick consistency.

Add sugar, salt and pepper and stir

Taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s not hot enough add a bit of chilli powder. I can’t help you with quantities but start with a tiny bit, stir well and taste. If you do need to do this you will need to simmer your chilli for 10 more minutes to reduce the ‘roughness’ of the chilli flavour.

If you haven’t added chilli powder then simmer to let the flavours meld – say 5 minutes – add a splash of water to keep the consistency right if necessary.

Serve with Basmati rice or yellow Basmati Rice

Tripping (not the kind that takes you up, but the one that plummets you down)

I found this post in my drafts. I’d written it a couple of months ago. I am no longer taking Warfarin, but a new drug. I am still going to the gym though and have lost 1st 3.5 lbs in weight.

Recently, through chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I determined to change my eating karma and lose weight. This declaration of intent was partly because of a second pulmonary embolism and the subsequent need to take anti-coagulants for the rest of my life – I am now on Warfarin.

For the uninitiated, Warfarin, as well as being rat poison, makes you bleed more easily. Ridiculously, since I have been on the medication, I have tripped and fallen three times (I can’t remember anything about the first fall now). It might be true to say that the Mystic Law intervened to protect me when I had the second two falls.

Fall number 2:

Because of my tablets, and because it makes me fat, I am told to drink only in moderation – well that should apply to us all but I’ve never been a great one for listening to advice on what is best for me. To paraphrase the doctor or at least to translate to something more acceptable to me: Ideally don’t drink, but if you must drink then don’t fall over.

The occasion was a funeral wake. The deceased was a lady of nearly 101 years, and her demise was not a shock so there wasn’t an enormous amount of sadness. We all sat in the garden, and the sun shone. Children played, wine flowed and I, who was ‘trying not to drink too much’, accepted a large glass of wine. Later I agreed to a top-up, and when a second top up was not forthcoming and the alcohol had its grip on me, I decided to help myself to a third glassful from the fridge in the kitchen (hangs head in shame).

I jumped from my garden chair and hastened to the doorway, whereupon I tripped on the threshold and pitched head first onto the kitchen floor. My glass shattered and everyone rushed to my assistance as I lay, winded and prone (prone to accidents, ha ha).

Be Careful What you Wish For
What else would I use as an image for spilt wine than my book cover? Click on it to buy it

 

This fall  was clearly intended by the Universe, to help in my quest to cut down on my drink. It did. I had the only big glass in the  house so I had to move on to a smaller one (boom, boom).  Also, I had forgotten to take my Warfarin the evening before so bleeding was not such a danger.

Fall number 3:

Since that fall and not because of it, I have joined Mince Monde. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have run the gauntlet of diet writers and organisations since I was about 16, so I’m not going to reiterate my much repeated determination that this time it is for life. Anyway, my membership of the slimming organisation is free, thanks to my local NHS authority, who want to help the overweight for, I assume, preventative reasons. Not only have I received 12 weeks free at Mince Monde but am entitled to 3 free sessions with a personal trainer and reduced rates, at a local gym – also for 12 weeks.

determination.jpg
Tried to find the source of this image. Thanks to this website https://www.nationoflights.com/the-shift-blog-2017/2017/11/20/ohhh-the-rat-race-i-am-in-and-the-greater-understandings-thru-it and also this video maker https://veblr.com/watch/361d909a7938/rat-gym-workout-most-funny-video?lang=mr. Many thanks to its creator.

The gym was the scene of my next tumble. I started my exercise session on the cross trainer. After the recommended 5 minutes, and breathing a little more heavily,  I dismounted and headed for the weights. Sadly, I failed to notice a small step down from the area where the cross trainers and treadmills sat, and crashed to the floor. There was more concerned rushing to help, with suggestions that I sit for a while and drink water. ‘I’m absolutely fine,’ I insisted, oh my ego, and scuttled off towards the location of my next activity, round the corner, to examine the damage.

I had bashed my knee, and my shin had landed painfully on the edge of the step, but I was still standing. I did worry a bit about the potential size of the bruise, and the impact on my already over-worked knee. Amazingly, when tested the following day, my INR (clotting rate) had dropped to 1.8, too low. I had been protected again.

The most ignominious part of the above tale is that the following day, when my knee felt as though I should be a bit careful, I went to the pharmacy to buy a tubular support bandage. They had many sizes, the largest of which, was XL. I rolled it over the damaged joint and pulled down my trouser leg to cover it. Through the fabric could be seen the deep channel encircling my lower thigh, where the top of the bandage dug into the fat and, it has to be said, it was bl**dy uncomfortable. Many thanks to the staff at Windmill Pharmacy for letting me try it on then refunding my money. Oh well, this time next year Rodney…

I hadn’t made the connection before but I started falling over in November 2015, see this post. I think this was about the time when I had my varifocals upgraded because my eyesight had become significantly worse (sigh).

I insist that alcohol and age were not factors.

What I’d like to know is…


If I’m honest I’m looking for an excuse to be fat.

My issue is that there is so much information in the media about what is and is not good for us, but there are many exceptions to the rules. My grandfather for example, ate all the wrong things, took no exercise, was almost spherical and lived to a very ripe old age. Was he lucky or was there something that saved him that has never been noticed before?sue drunk small

I come from a long living family. All my grandparents drank with enthusiasm, sprinkled salt liberally onto their food, ate puddings, real butter and red meat, and still lived into their eighties and nineties and my parents are in their mid-eighties with an even greater enjoyment of all the above, especially the demon drink, and going strong. I however do not show signs of following the longevity trend. I have had asthma, a pulmonary embolism and suffer aches and pains in my back and hips that my mother assures me she never felt at my age.

This is what I want to know:

How do we quantify life expectancy? We know that smoking is a killer, we are also told that consuming alcohol, sugar, salt and fat, and being overweight contribute to risk, but I did the Atkins diet, very high in fat and I lost about four stone in weight. I was not overweight but I ate a lot of fat and no sugar. Was I still at risk?

If I gained weight on sugar, would it be worse than getting fat on butter and cream?

Butterdose
By Kosmos1985 at the German language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

If I am overweight but incredibly fit in the physical sense i.e. I can run a marathon and touch my toes, am I still at risk?

Acherontia_atropos_larva_1
I searched for a fat runner but all I found was a fat caterpillar on a runner bean!

If I am skinny but live on biscuits and wine, how much more or less danger am I in than if I am overweight because I eat too much of a so called balanced diet?

All this is very hard to identify. The difficulty is that there are so many other influences on our lives such as stress, pollution, food intolerance and genes, that I suppose one could never find definitive answers, but I would love to see some decent statistics to support the information we are – if you’ll excuse the pun – fed.

Lemon Flan

This must be one of the easiest and most enjoyable puds in the world.

lemon-flan-recipe
Thanks to Cookbook.co.za for this picture of lemon flan.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 packet of digestive biscuits (dark chocolate ones are also good)
  • Third of a block of butter
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • Equal quantity of double cream. Use the tin to measure it out.
  • 2 lemons

 

Directions

  1. Put the biscuits into the food processor and blitz into crumbs, or put them in a sturdy plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan or a frying pan, then add the crumbs and turn and stir until the crumbs are coated with the butter.
  3. Press the crumb mix into a flan case about 8″ in diameter – or anything deepish and widish. Set aside to cool.
  4. Pour the condensed milk into a mixing bowl  then use the can to measure the cream and tip that on top of the ‘connie onnie’.
  5. Add the zest and juice of the lemons and stir everything tgether. The lemon juice will make the mixture thicken.
  6. When the base it cool, tip on the lemon mixture, smoothing the top, then cover and chill for a few hours in the fridge.
  7. Decorate with a swirl of cream, and poke in something pretty like chocolate curls, crystallized lemon or a sprig of mint.

Bish bash bosh.