Category Archives: Food

The featured image is a picture of my lunch – quinoa, chia, pumpkin seeds, beans, chickpeas, sweetcorn, dill and spring onions, plus a mango and chilli dressing. Since I actually read the instructions on the quinoa and found out that you can use it straight from the packet lunches have become very simple – tear open a few packets, open a few cans, chop a smidgen of veg, mix. It’s very easy.

Lunch left me full and feeling virtuous. What it didn’t do was leave me feeling like I’d had a good meal.

I suppose that persistence will eventually pay off.

Before that I’d been to hospital for the regular blood-letting. It had been a bit thick last week and they decided another test was needed. If they had to rush about before work, deal with car parking then queue for a slot before being stabbed in the arm multiple times they might not be so keen on all these tests. As the needle slid in through the bruise left by last week’s test, all these things come to mind.

Then, to add insult to injury, the bleeding wouldn’t stop.

They put the signs up on the new shop today – my first day of proper work in the new shop. It’s looking good, though if you look hard enough you can see that fat bloke with the camera who gets in so many of my shots.

Collectors World, Wollaton Road, Nottingham

Collectors World, Wollaton Road, Nottingham

The final highlight of the day was sorting a thousand crowns for an export order, including brandishing an eraser in the vicinity of a few of them to make minor improvements. It’s a funny old world…

Charles and Diana Crowns – a marital mistake enshrined in numismatic form. It’s like me having a coin struck to commemorate my diet.

In Defence of British Food, and a Discussion of Netiquette

I’ve just been reading an exchange between two bloggers who have different views on British food. They were very polite to each other, though there was definite disagreement, and raised the question about how to handle such a situation.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid disagreements by ignoring them. Does my opinion really matter that much if it’s going to upset someone? Much better to stay positive and friendly.

When I was a salesman the all purpose remark for those times. “Yes,” we would say to the customer,”there’s a lot in what you say.”

All you had to remember was not to tell them what there was a lot of. Sorry about the grammar, but I think it conveys the general idea.

My first experience of on-line disagreement was with sports forums, where the most argumentative people in the world seem to congregate. If there was a word to be misinterpreted, a nuance to be missed or an erroneous opinion to be expressed, they are the ones to do it. I soon learned that it was easy to upset people, difficult to explain why you were being misinterpreted and impossible to change anyone’s mind.

In the case of the food debate Ellen Hawley, who writes Notes from the UK, wrote a post called Is British Food Dull? She lists a number of things which show some dull food, praises some American food, discusses the idiocy of modern British chefs and doesn’t use the letter “u” enough.

I think the poor woman is American, so I’ll forgive her the spelling. I’ll also forgive her comments on British lasagne, because most of it does taste as she correctly says, like glue. Mine doesn’t, because (a) my mother taught me to make it with a cheese sauce and (b) I can’t be bothered to make it these days.

When you have such British staples as Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie and Savoury Mince (a school dinners favourite) why bother with sheets of pasta? All that excitement from just one portion of ground up meat.

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Cottage Pie (with Sweet Potato topping) served with carrots and samphire

She’s not wrong about modern chefs either.

However, I can see that having our national cuisine run down by a woman from a country that brought us biscuits and gravy, American cheese and pumpkin pie, could be a little irritating. (Not that you can really hold one blogger responsible for the gastronomic iniquity of a Nation).

This brings us on to Emma at EMMA_FOODS, who stood up to defend our national cuisine. It didn’t go too badly to start, but then she admitted she was from London. Well, London isn’t Britain, despite Londoners thinking it is. (Personally I find it just as irritating to be lectured on food by a Londoner as by an American – they eat jellied eels and pies and liquor).

She then goes on to say “I don’t think we are just the stereotypical bland, dull, stodgy cuisine we once were”. Hang on, I thought she was refuting the idea that our food was bland, dull and stodgy…

Then she goes on the praise the current crop of British chefs. I’m not going to say anything – partly because it’s not polite to criticise and partly because I can’t spell gimmicky.

It’s also partly because I don’t see much wrong with traditional food. There’s a reason we eat what we do – mainly it’s because we can grow it, which used to be important. I like kale and carrots and Brussels – they go well with pies and roast meats. I also like mushy peas, black pudding and Yorkshire pudding (either with gravy or with jam and white sauce). Porridge, in particular, is stodgy, dull, boring and very good for you according to modern thinking.

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Chicken Pie with Brussels and red cabbage.

It’s nice, as Emma points out, that we have access to so much other food from other places, but that doesn’t apply all over the country. It’s not bad here in Nottingham,but if you live in Lincolnshire or Cornwall (as Ellen does) the picture is very different.

We are also experiencing a growth in distilleries in the country as a whole, particularly with gin, for people who like drinking scent, and a rise in Farmers’ Markets and Farm Shops, so quality local food is more readily available. This is despite the fact, as I have said before, that they re becoming more like supermarkets. I bought samphire from several farm shops last year, and it all came from Israel.

As for popular modern food – pan-fried sea bass and lamb shanks are only fried fish and stew so what’s all the fuss about?

Strangely, I seem to find myself unable to see much difference between the two positions of Ellen and Emma, and I’ve now stepped in to disagree with both of them. Traditional food, done well, is pretty good. Things like curry and Chinese are pretty mainstream, and in big cities there’s plenty of other food about if you want it.

I didn’t even set out to discuss food, I was meaning to talk about the etiquette of avoiding arguments. I’m not sure I’ve managed that…

I am, however, interested in your views, so what do you think. What’s the best way of avoiding arguments on the web?

Breakfast Review – Sainsbury’s

This review relates to breakfast at Sainsbury’s Arnold store, just outside Nottingham. As luck would have it, they also had a decent cook on today and we had a good, enjoyable meal. If a proper reviewer had been on the job, you would probably have had a photograph too. But I didn’t take my camera and I left my phone in the car.

I’m not really a fan of the current Sainsbury’s set up as the coffee set-up slows things down and, as a tea drinker, I don’t see why I should stand in a queue for 10 or 15 minutes as people are served, at great length, with coffee. In the good old days, when British establishments served a choice of tea or instant coffee I didn’t mind coffee drinker,s but now I have to stand round while they decide on which of the eight coffees to have I find them quite irritating.

However, today there was no queue, and we soon ordered (two Big Breakfasts and two teas) and sat down at one of the few remaining tables. It was filthy – covered in rings from cups, with a selection of crumbs and some horrible sticky patches with fluff in them.

Breakfast arrived swiftly and was excellently cooked and presented. This is not always the case.

The fried egg looked good, the sausages and bacon were both excellent (for taste and presentation). The hash brown was particularly good today, the toast was also good and so were the beans. Even the half tomato was reasonable, though a half tomato always looks a bit miserly to me.

So, that’s it. When the system is working well it is capable of producing an excellent breakfast. To be fair, it isn’t always as quick, well cooked and nicely presented as this – the last few visits here have included crusty beans and congealed eggs that seem to have been flung randomly at the plate.

In terms of a star rating – if the tables had been clean today’s breakfast would have been 5 stars. On an average day, with a queue and a breakfast that’s been flung at the plate it’s probably a 4 – good but could be better.

At £11.40 it’s not as good as the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast, but it’s almost half the price.

I’m going to try to persuade Julia to make breakfast reviews a regular feature of the blog. Wish me luck!

 

 

Tired of Life

I’ve been browsing WordPress today, when I haven’t been shopping (twice) or visiting or engaging in discussions about my shortcomings as an organiser of Christmas Cheer. We are having two turkey crowns, one for Christmas Dinner and one for sandwiches when we have visitors on Boxing Day. This is not a sign that I like turkey, more an example of being beaten down by tradition and losing interest.

Talking of which, here are the remains of a very early Christmas dinner.

We used to plan Christmas seriously, and over the years we had all sorts of meat, but as the kids got older they wanted turkey. I think that’s when my interest in Christmas Dinner died. For a few years I did the sprouts with chestnuts or almonds or bacon, or combinations thereof, but even that died away.

We are having Bronze turkey as a nod to quality (having decided against Narragansett turkey). The latter is more expensive, less well known and, above all, harder to spell. In fact I’d never heard of it before last night.

Turkey, plain boiled sprouts and gravy made with gravy granules. Then I can get on with the rest of my life.

Next year I may try alpaca. There are places that supply exotic meat. It’s something I’m going to look at next year, as I’ve rather taken my eye off the ball this year.

Blood and Weight Loss

It was blood testing again today. They are bleeding me weekly as my results are failing to impress. There’s probably a pun or two in there somewhere, bearing in mind that I’m not much good at bleeding and am therefore bleeding weakly. I’m also getting bleeding irritated at having to go in every week.

This week I managed to provide a sample after being stabbed in the arm just the twice. This is better than recent results and I’m glad to report I hardly felt a thing.

I thought I’d get weighed while I was there, as I wanted to check if I was actually losing weight or whether the slack trousers were merely an illusion.

It turns out that I have actually lost nine pounds in the last four weeks.

I’ve not used any fancy diets, and done very little exercise, just cut out bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. And cut back severely on chocolate and cakes. I’ve also started cutting down on portion sizes. Simple things, small steps, and so far it’s producing reasonable results.

 

 

 

Eggs California, well bless my soul!

The title is a rough paraphrase of what I felt on reading the breakfast menu on Harvester this morning.

Eggs California are “Smashed avocado and tomato salsa topped with two poached free-range eggs on a toasted breakfast muffin.”

They cost £6.29, compared with the “Unlimited Cooked” which also costs £6.29.

I’m not sure whether the concept or the price leaves me more speechless. (The “Unlimited Cooked” breakfast is, in theory at least, unlimited continental and unlimited cooked breakfast. And unlimited toast. It seems better value.)

I didn’t have time for the Continental as they were so quick with the service, not that I’m big on fruit, yogurt and cereal anyway. I’m still off bread and potatoes, so I didn’t order the hash browns or chips, and passed on the toast.

That left me with unlimited sausages, bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and eggs.

I managed to choke a few morsels down, then sneaked in a couple of crumpets with honey. Honey is good for you so it seemed foolhardy to pass it up.

As I sit here in the evening I am just starting to feel peckish again. Time for some soup and salad, I feel.

Before that I’ll merely draw your attention to the social and environmental costs of avocado. I started eating them regularly last year because they are good for me (particularly Hass avocados) and I’m now seriously thinking of stopping eating them.

Talking of eating…

Raindrops on Red Plants…

My Cooking from A to Zzzz project came off the rails tonight. I set the chicken casserole going and stuck a gammon joint in to cook. I didn’t fall asleep tonight but I did immerse myself in writing and forgot about things.

The chicken was OK and I thought the gammon needed a bit more time. The “bit” was slightly wooly as I’d forgotten what time I put it in. As you have probably guessed, I forgot about it until Julia sniffed the air and said: “Is the cooker still on?”

“Ooops!” I said. Or something approximately similar.

There is good news and bad news.

The plastic-wrapped Danish gammons you buy cheaply from supermarkets don’t spoil if you cook them for an hour and a half longer than you should do.

That is the good news.

If you are fussy about what you eat this is also bad news as no quality meat would put up with that sort of treatment.

This morning, little realising what was in store for me, I treated Julia to breakfast at Harvester.

Yesterday I emptied a tin money box yesterday in my search for old-style £1 coins. They are going out of circulation in a few weeks and I would like to get them used before then. After cutting off the bottom with a can opener I was surprised to find only two £1 coins. Fortunately there were fifty £2 coins.  It’s a reminder of better days, when I used to be able to save £2 coins and not notice the difference.

It seemed only fair to treat Julia with my newly-discovered wealth, and after a leisurely late breakfast we had no need of lunch, so it turned out to be quite economical. Iturned down the offer of hash browns as I’m cutting down on carbs so they offered me chips instead. I turned them down too. I’d never thought I’d refuse chips…

I took pictures of some interesting red plants in the pub garden (tentatively identified as Heavenly Bamboo – Nandina domestica ‘Blush Pink’ after looking on the Thompson and Morgan website) and then snapped a picture of a Magpie when we got home. There were a couple of them playing the street like kids.

 

 

After breakfast and before overcooking the gammon we photographed the grey pub. Mentioning this allows me to set it in the timeline and link to it in a cynical attempt to generate more traffic.