Tag Archives: curry

Butterflies, Curries and Clerihews

We went to Derbyshire today. Despite  being a Bank Holiday it wasn’t crowded and we managed to buy Julia the shoes she needed for the Maltese trip. We also bought some books and ice-cream.

We saw half a dozen Orange Tips and a pair of Brimstones. It really is looking like a good year for both species – I don’t remember seeing as many as this before.

On our return home we scurried round, changed and went for a birthday curry with my fellow shop workers and a few customers. It was a good night, and unlike last time, I was on time (just!), parked across the road and didn’t get rained on.

Yes, for those of you who may be wondering, I am now 60. That’s the “three score years” done with – just the next ten to worry about now.

I’m now going to write some poetry as part of my 200 poems in a fortnight challenge. Don’t worry, I won’t be subjecting you to my efforts, unless I write more limericks or clerihews. I seem to remember I was supposed to be writing more clerihews.

Out for a Curry

We went for a curry tonight – three shop staff and five customers celebrating a birthday. For reasons of internet security I won’t tell you who was having a birthday, which birthday it was or what the exact date is. I can, however, tell you that it wasn’t mine.

I had a nice mild curry, drank tonic water and only spilt down my shirt once. My days of raucous behaviour and painfully hot curries are over. As my 60th birthday chugs over the horizon I have finally discovered the benefits of middle age.

Life is good/

The only fly in the ointment was that I was late due to a heavily congested ring road, but as the people in the crash were clearly having a worse day than me I listened to the radio and tried patience.

I’m not sure I like patience so I may revert to shouting next time it happens.

That’s all for now.

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?

Progress of Sorts…

Make chicken stew. It’s in the oven. Several hours late.

Soup? Er…just about to do it. Veg are ready but I need to wash a pan as I’ve been storing compost scraps in it for the last few days. Yes, I need to empty a bokashi bucket.

Curry. It won’t take long.

Living room – I’ve moved stuff round, which is related to tidying, though not closely related. More a cousin than a sibling.

Hoover. Perhaps tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have washed up and done the recycling, which I’d forgotten about. I often forget the washing up, though not as much as Number Two son, who is a world class amnesiac. Also watched darts and discussed the finer parts of sports marketing and sponsorship with Number Two son. Had bacon cobs with mushrooms for lunch.

Cut up plastic bottles to make poppies. (and give me an excuse to re-use old photos of poppies).

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Poppies made from plastic bottles

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Poppies and corn wreath

 

 

 

Another Day, Another Plan.

It’s about seven hours since the last post, but I’ve managed to sleep and get Julia to work in that time.

I’m hoping that today will be better in terms of productivity, decluttering and writing.

I’ve just about shaken off the bad cold I had last week and there has been no repeat of the nose bleed. I have a weak nostril that often bleeds when I have colds (maybe two or three times a year – but I consider that “often” for an adult).  It was a notable nosebleed, and though I don’t have a proper marking scale I’d rate it as high volume, short duration. My normal nosebleed is low volume but longer duration. Maybe the anti-coagulants are altering the way my nose bleeds.

Practical advice. Forget pinching the top of the nose or putting your head back or all that stuff. Roll yourself a decent cylinder from tissue and shove that up. You can leave gaps, and you don’t need to ram it home, as it’s a nostril, not a cannon. Just make it big enough to stay in without help. I find it usually stops the bleeding quite quickly.

When I finish this post I’m going to sit and write my plan for today. Top of the list will be “make chicken stew” and second will be “make soup”.  Actually, it may be the other way round, as I need the soup for lunch. Butternut squash and roasted Winter Vegetable Soup is the plan. Ready cut butternut squash was on offer yesterday and the veg are left over from yesterday’s tea.

After that I will “make sweet potato, lentil and chickpea curry” and put it in the fridge for tomorrow, “tidy living room” and “hoover”.

There will be other things too, but I’m just trying to convey an impression of the day, and I don’t want anyone asking me if I’ve done it all. Short lists are better for that sort of thing.

Plans, like blogging, are a good way of delaying work, but they have their uses too. They are a bit like meetings -everyone does them but only some of them are useful. About half of all lists and ninety percent of meetings would have been better if they had never existed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to start that stew.

A Tale of Two Soups

I tried Mushroom and Tarragon soup last week. I really wanted to do Mushroom and Thyme because we’d enjoyed it while we were out a few months ago. However, our thyme has given up the ghost and the supermarket had none. It did, however, have tarragon, As I’d seen a recipe fot Mushroom and Tarragon Soup recently I thought I’d have a crack at that. The rest of the tarragon was earmaked for a chicken casserole next day.

Now, that was good as far as it went. There was a lack of ingredients when I got back to the house butit’s not the first time that ingenuity has had to replace missing ingrdients. Next time I try it I’m going to use this recipe, give or take a few bits. It looks quite simple. It’ll be onions rather than banana shallots and, unless I win the lottery, there won’t be any porcini powder or pink Himalayan salt.

The first attempt did not go well. Apart from the fact that ingenuity doesn’t taste as good as cream, there was the water problem. I usually fill the pan up with veg then pour in a kettle of water. I did this and then stopped to think. With hindsight, it might have been better to think first. It was a bit watery but not entirely bad. Nobody asked for a second helping.

I like to think I retrieved the situation with today’s soup. It’s the old stand-by – packets of ready-chopped squash and sweet potato, garlic, onion, chilli, stock cubes and water. This time I added curry powder for a more spicy flavour. It’s less orange than previous versions due to the curry powder. It’s a sort of khaki, but still reasonably attractive.

My mother, when she first bought a liquidiser, used to produce a greenish soup that always looked like it had been festering since the days of the dinosaurs. Once she moved on to root vegetables the soup seemed so much better.

The first bite, as they say, is taken with the eyes.

 

Time to Sit

I’m having a rest now and feeling virtuous. This really should be the action of a man who has filled his day with industry and is now taking a well-earned rest after a hectic day of cooking, shopping, polishing, dusting, hoovering, gardening…

I’ll stop there. Just thinking about it makes me feel tired.

In reality I dropped Julia off at work, came home, went back to bed, read more of The Most Perfect Thing, wondered why the author decided to have a quick pop at battery cages (as so many people do), then cooked three fish pies, two vegetable curries and Sheep’s Hearts with Plums.

I’m just starting to get my head round tonight’s tea – carrot, cabbage, broccoli, sweet potato (for the topping)- that should about do. I already have onions, peas, sweetcorn and mushrooms in the pie. It’s not easy, this ten a day.

Just about to start reading  A Corner of a Foreign Field. Guess what it’s about? Yes, war poetry, how original. It looks quite good, with some poems I’ve not seen before, so I’m looking forward to it. It cost £2.50 from a charity shop in Whitby on Friday. I’m telling Julia it’s part of an economy book project I’m doing for the blog.

She may believe me…