Tag Archives: cheese

Answering an Important Question

The beginning of my day has been chronicled, now for the middle bit.

I have done more work today with my new computer set up than I got through in the last three weeks and might actually have some work to submit before the end of the month. I have also done some washing up and made lunch (cheese on toast with baked beans – a well balanced snack, I like to feel). I have also done my bit for the planet by eating the blue cheese. It didn’t start off that way, it was just grated cheddar when I last used it. Julia would have thrown it out, but I am made of sterner stuff. If Stilton is OK to eat, blue cheddar must be OK, according to my logic. That was two hours ago, Julia is home and she has just read me the riot act about it.

So I went to Google. There are many web pages to read, though you may want to avoid those that spell mould as mold. They are American and American medial advice is notoriously over-protective and worried about being sued. I find this strange, coming from a country where they eat squirrels. Try this one.  It’s slightly equivocal, but it seems to me you can eat the mould on cheese and your body can cope with it. Think of it this way – if your body couldn’t cope with a bit of mould you wouldn’t be here.

The main problem isn’t the mould, it’s that I’m lazy and buy my cheese ready grated. And having done this, I use 2/3 of the packet and leave the rest at the back of the fridge for a week.

1820 Crown with some damage. A striking, though not very artistic, rendering.

Julia had an adventurous morning as a race marshal with minimal equipment, unexpected responsibility and no thanks. She did say hello to Richard Whitehead and he said hello back, so at least she had a brush with fame.  Did I ever mention that I was Midland’s Rugby League Volunteer Coordinator of the Year a few years ago. That’s not, despite the grammatical ambiguity, a coordinator who is a volunteer, but someone who coordinates volunteers.  I would just like to put it on record that if I had  treated my volunteers like the Robin Hood Marathon treats theirs, I wouldn’t have won the award, or had any volunteers in my second season.

The photographs are three different ways in which the reverse of a Victorian Crown can be enamelled. I was short on ideas and I like enamelled coins. This is how I make many of my decisions in life. The two undated ones are George IV coins from 1820. I may write a post about enamelled coins at some point in the future.

Enamelled Crown (1887) – good quality enamel work.

Day 207

An unusual day for a number of reasons. I was working on Wednesday, for one thing, and we had a group of medals brought in requiring re-ribboning (not the ones in the picture). The ribbons on a group of medals should be 31.75mm (1.25″) for the Army and slightly longer for the Navy.

In the case of the medals we have in hand, the person who mounted them obviously didn’t have the ribbon for the new Platinum Jubilee Medal so used the piece provided with the medal. This involves cutting the pin brooch that comes attached to the medal and ends up with a shorter length of ribbon than necessary. However, rather than buy a new ribbon, whoever mounted the medals used the short length and then shortened the rest of them to match.

I’m not going to judge – whoever did them might have been doing them as a favour rather than a commercial undertaking. We charge £10 a medal, including cleaning and new ribbons, so we can afford £3 for a new ribbon. If it’s a favour, or you are doing them on the cheap (because, let’s face it, £10 sounds a lot of money to mount a medal, and £30 for a group of three is a considerable outlay), it’s not so easy.

However, you get what you pay for and it goes back to the old Ruskin quote:

“It’s unwise to pay too much…but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Before batching – Date and Stilton Scones (from a previous recipe post)

It works when buying medal mounting services, running the NHS and buying cheese. Julia bought Dolcelatte today because it was cheaper than Stilton (it’s that cost of living crisis, you know). Dolcelatte has it’s place in the world if you want a tangy blue cheese, but it’s no Stilton.

Day 16

Got up after a lie in and had to unfold my back. The two are linked, but I don’t want to buy a new mattress until the end of the year, as we have to do some building and other dusty stuff. I have a couple of weeks of sleep troubled only by an ancient bladder and dreams of old age and poverty, Then I have a week of being troubled by the inability to straighten up when I( wake. It isn’t too bad, just takes ten minutes longer to get up.  After that it seems to pass off again.

Julia has been ill since Friday, but it seems to be passing today. We think it might be diet related and a few days of light diet and no cheese seem to have done the trick. She was particularly subdued yesterday when I got home from work, which is not like her. “No cheese” is my general treatment for all abdominal pain, and often seems to work. I had trouble with IBS about thirty years ago. The doctor told me that he would tell me to give up smoking but the resulting stress would probably be just as bad for me. That was in the days when doctors gave realistic and practical advice. He also told me that a cup of tea and two cigarettes was not a nutritionally sound way to start the day.

I started eating proper breakfasts, gave up smoking and put on weight. However, with that and a certain amount of caution regarding cheese. This gives me the moral high ground when it comes to lecturing Julia about her health. I fully intend to take advantage of this.

The photo is from January 2017. She was, as I recall, making some cutting remark about the statue being similar in build to me. Ah, good times!

21-21-21-21 and Bacon and Potato Hotpot

Nine o’clock last night was, Julia tells me, the 21st hour of the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st Century.  Unfortunately she didn’t tell me until later so I was unable to savour the moment. I will have to wait until 10pm on 22nd January 2122 for the next similar event. I suspect that despite advances in medical science I’m not going to be around for that.

I had another go at bacon casserole this week. The last attempt, the Panhaggerty, wasn’t quite right so I looked for a new recipe and gave it a try. I didn’t make a note of the recipe and can’t find it again. However, don’t despair – there are hundreds of them if you want one, or try this.

Cut potatoes into slices, I used about five potatoes of about medium size. Par boil. I did them for five minutes, I may give them 7 next time, though five worked.

You probably should cut onions into rings as it will look better. I had some ready chopped onion and three small leeks so I used them.

Bacon bits.

Black pepper, stock cube, grated cheese.

Fry the bacon  and then soften the onions/leeks.

Put in a layer of potato, the onions/leeks and another layer of potato, then bacon, then potato. I used freshly ground black pepper on each layer of potato (it’s easier to see how much you put on if you add it that way. The dishes I used are about an inch and  a half deep so that’s enough layers.

Make the stock and pour it in until it nearly covers the potatoes. Cover with foil, cook for an hour at 200 C/400 F for an hour. When I prodded the potato at the hour mark it was still a bit hard, so I may give it an extra couple of minutes boiling next time.

Uncover, put the cheese on top and put it in the oven. I gave it thirty minutes and turned the oven up. The recipe suggested 15 minutes for browning but I was watching a half hour programme on TV. At least it cooked the potato properly. It also formed a nice golden crust and reduced the gravy nicely.

It was a bit salty for our low salt tastes, probably due to the bacon.

Next time I’m going to make a vegetarian version with carrots and parsnips, and possibly without cheese.

I haven’t made hotpot for twenty years, and am not sure why. Looks like we will be having more of it from now on.

Potato and Bacon Casserole

 

 

Pepys, Posterity and Parmesan

Here’s another of those posts I sometimes write so that history will be able to compare my blog with the Diary of Samuel Pepys. It would probably help if I was a senior civil servant but at least I have now lived through some interesting times. He had the Great Fire of London, where he distinguished himself with the efforts he made on behalf of his Parmesan. I have lived through lockdown and I ordered processed cheese slices by accident when shopping online. The horror of processed cheese slices will stay with me for years to come. Whenever I think of the global pandemic I will think of rubbery orange cheese.

In years to come, I wonder if scholars will discuss me alongside Pepys when talk turns to amusing cheese anecdotes in times of National Emergency.

This is assuming that blog posts will still be available in a hundred years from now. The survival of a paper diary for several hundred years is remarkable, but will a random series of pixels, or whatever they are, survive any better? It all seems so fragile when you stop and think about it. While I dream of immortality for my anecdotes of 21st century life, should I actually be printing my blog posts for preservation. Probably, bearing in mind the poor quality of paper, I should be sharpening a quill and writing the whole thing on vellum.

If I did write it on vellum will vegan academics of the 22nd century refuse to acknowledge me, and pull down any statues of me that may have been erected in the meantime? Aiming for posthumous fame has many pitfalls and although you can try to imagine the future, who can really tell.

open pages on brown wooden table

Photo by Roman Koval on Pexels.com

I really don’t know whether the UK of 2120 will even have vegans. As we move the limits of our diet, will we all have become vegans by default? Or even, as we live on a diet of bugs and Soylent Green will vegans have become irrelevant and be in the waste bin of history alongside farm animals.

Another parallel between our stories is our bladders. Pepys, at the age of 25 had a bladder stone the size of a tennis ball removed without the aid of anaesthetic or antiseptic (which is the reason that if I ever do perfect my Time Machine, I won’t be travelling further back than the late 19th Century. I’d rather not travel back to a time before antibiotics, but that’s within living memory and seems a bit unambitious as time travel goes.

My own bladder stones were discovered during one of the several camera insertions performed a few years ago. As a twentieth century man I actually had anaesthetic just for that, without any cutting. They were going to remove the bladder stones as part of the second part of the procedure but in the months between the two procedures (supposedly seven weeks but after two cancellations it took eleven weeks) I self-medicated with lots of drinking and a large amount of lemon juice. There were no stones by the time they went back to look for them.

My current challenge is pollen. Levels are high and my eyes have been watery and itching for two weeks now, accompanied by random attacks of runny nose. Fortunately I haven’t been sneezing much as this is currently frowned on, being a well-publicised way of spreading disease. It does mean that I am rubbing my eyes more than I should be, as that is also a way of spreading the virus. However, it’s only  away of spreading it to me, rather than other people so that isn’t so bad.

We went for a drive in the country yesterday as our personal way of marking the start of a less rigorous phase of lockdown. It looks like everyone else had decided the same thing as it seemed to be as busy as it was before lockdown. How soon we forget…

That will be the subject of the next post.

close up of open book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Look What Julia Brought Home

Just a short post to show you what Julia bought on her way back from work. Isn’t it great? It’s heart-shaped and full of cheese which, I think, makes it the world’s greatest Valentine’s Day present.

She also brought back some organic stoneground spelt flour from her trip to Green’s Mill. I’m not so keen on that. Spelt has a tendency to be disappointing, as it is not as easy to work with as wheat, and because I’m quite heavy-handed. That, of course, is another problem. I’ve given up baking because the kneading causes painful hands so I’m going to have to dig the breadmaker out from under a pile of kitchen junk.

I was actually looking at bread-making mixes in the supermarket last night as I’m feeling the urge to bake. Last night I managed to resist the feeling, but now I’m cornered.

It seems strange that only a couple of years ago we were baking twice a week or more on the farm. We also made nettle soup in the spring, which I haven’t done for the last couple of years. I’m thinking I may have a go at nettle soup again, and plant more herbs at home. Our rosemary grows well, but we could do with a bit of variety.

I’ll leave you with another picture of the cheese – taken with a flash this time. It doesn’t really make it look any better, but it allows me to use two virtually identical pictures. I am very lazy, and it’s hard to make a bag of flour look interesting.

The best ever Valentine Present again

The best ever Valentine Present again.

Considerably Bigger Buns

After a holiday season of dreadful  TV I’m happy to report that last night’s viewing was Calendar Girls. It was the second time I’ve seen it and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a fantastic cast, great script and heart-warming story.

That set me up for a leisurely day.

I won four games of dominoes in the afternoon. The opposition was mainly provided by a ninety-year-old man who has trouble remembering that I’m his son, but you can only play what’s in front of you. My wife and sister both play to let him win but I think that’s discourteous, Anyway, when we played last week he wiped the floor with me despite my best efforts. He may be gradually forgetting everything he knows, but he’s successfully clinging to his domino skills.

This is the only thing of note that happened today, unless you count getting stuck in a chair.

We had a cup of tea in the newly refurbished reception area of the care home, which was very pleasant. When it was time to leave I found that the chair was clinging on, like an inappropriately affectionate koala. I really must lose weight.

We had salad and gala pie for tea on our return. Julia has just gone to the kitchen for cheese.

All in all, this has been a satisfactory sort of day.

The header picture is self-explanatory if you’ve seen the film, or mystifying if you haven’t. Same goes for the title.

 

 

Boxing Day

Number One Son cooked sausages for brunch and Julia cooked in the evening – gammon, bread sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, brocolli and stir-fried red cabbage with apple, for those of you who like to know these things (and future researchers looking into the diet of 21st century Britain). We snacked on a few nuts, ate some Turkish Delight and I’m thinking of serving coffee and cake when I finish this post.

This evening I’ve written part of the post I keep promising about the Gibraltar £20 coin, but kept getting diverted by other things. I’m good at finding diversions.

That, apart from reading, playing Candy Crush, watching TV and pondering eternal questions like “Why am I so lazy?” has been my day.

In keeping with my theme of laziness I am now going to make the coffee, eat the cake and watch TV. Tomorrow I may well be a bit more active and open the cheese I bought for Christmas. So far, as we try to limit our over-eating, we haven’t actually had any cheese.

On Saturday I will return to work. I’m hoping that many regular customers will come to see us clutching money they have been given for Christmas.

A Slightly Unsatisfactory Day

I started the day at Cropwell Bishop, home of one of the six licensed Blue Stilton manufacturers in the UK.

We now have a large piece of organic Stilton lurking in the kitchen. I thought I’d go organic because it’s supposed to be better for us, and if you are going to the dairy for a quality product you might as well go organic.

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Stilton – possibly the world’s most perfect cheese

I tested the Beauvale and the Shropshire Blue but didn’t buy any. I will probably have to test it again a few times. You have to love a place that gives you free cheese!

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Just to give an idea of scale

It’s strange that the producers of Shropshire Blue don’t in the main, come from Shropshire, particularly when they are so keen to protect the Stilton brand.

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One of the advantages of EU Membership

Second call of the day was Lidl for a few odds and ends, though there were a lot of empty shelves where there was a change of stock going on. They have small shopping trolleys for children to use, which seems like a nice touch for families. By the time you’ve tripped over the third trolley pushing child it seems to be less of a nice touch.

I took a list with me but couldn’t get everything, which is a bit annoying. I’ve always found shopping at Lidl and Aldi to be more of a lucky dip than a weekly shop. However, I’m only one shop away from being 100% Christmas ready.

Famous last words.

The ill-fated list - note the dental appointment was 10 minutes too soon for humour

The ill-fated list – note the dental appointment was 10 minutes too soon for humour

Finally, it was time for the dentist. I’m not keen on a mouthful of sharp tools but apart from that it was OK. They even gave me a tube of toothpaste as a Christmas gift.

Time for a poem – licorice is food so this should do it, and preserve the link to food. For blue cheese and licorice ice cream look here.

I will add photos tomorrow. (A day later – I just added photos).

Mission Accomplished

I went shopping this afternoon, with the outline of a plan in mind.

We now have a turkey crown in the freezer which claims to serve 6-8. It should do for three plus sandwiches. The pigs in blankets are next to it.

The gammon and smoked salmon are in the fridge with sufficient shelf life to last until Christmas.

We have stollen, we have nuts and we have seaweed crackers.

I already, as reported, have the cheese footballs.

That is it.

Christmas is in the bag. There are a few things left, but the essentials are in place and we are ready to go. I’m beyond worrying about the quality of the turkey – all I want is a stress-free Christmas and now we have the essentials there is no stress. It won’t be the best turkey we’ve ever had, but it’s in the freezer and Christmas dinner is guaranteed. It might be badly cooked, or burned, but it will be a traditional turkey disaster, and I will have done my job.

At one time I used to shop for a siege, but the shops will be open on Boxing Day so there really is no need to stock up. I may put some bread in the freezer, but that’s the limit of my extra buying.

Cards are delivered or in the post and a few small gifts for my co-workers are in place.

It is now 9.00 and Julia has just come back from seeing a neighbour. I am going to serve the evening meal now and bask in the smug satisfaction of knowing that if Christmas were to be moved forward, I am ready.

And as I write that I realise I haven’t bought the cheese…

The pictures are minisheets of stamps – an extra way of making collectors buy more. They are buses, the Royal Family, Industrial Archaeology and Edward Lear. If we have room we just stick them on envelopes complete. Yesterdays’s collection is today’s postage, just as yesterday’s news is today’s chip wrapper.

Today’s poem is a cheery number that repeats that thought, though more elegantly, and with much more Latin than is usual in one of my posts.

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam

Ernest Dowson

 

The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long. –Horace

 

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.