Tag Archives: Amusement

On the nature of custard

Some like it cold,
Some like it hot,
Some dab while others smother,
And with a simple, yellow blot,
Robert’s one’s father’s brother.

Excuse me rewriting Nancy Tyler’s old saw, but I often remind myself how much I like custard. Not the thin runny nightmare of School dinners long years past, but of a thick yellow comfort food which lubricates any pie, cobbler, crumble or steamed pudding down into the digestive tract like a greased pig off Teflon. There are many versions, from the almost white sauces with a huge hit of Vanilla to the golden lusciousness of which I write, made with Mr Birds famous custard powder. Which is a strange substance, given to exploding and people have even been known to walk on it. At General Foods in Banbury 1981, some actually detonated, the explosion being strong enough to blow the factory wall out and injure 8 people. So, handle with respect. This is not a safe cooking space.

I belong to the thick custard end of the spectrum, because thin custard, as anyone who has partaken of a pre 1980’s UK school dinner will know, runny custard is an abomination and not fit for polite society. Thick custard is far more versatile and as well as generally being more tasty, can be moulded and even sliced by those inculcated into the culinary mysteries that even the Freemasons and other so-called ‘secret’ societies never tell you about. I’ve even heard it whispered that some chefs crust it over like Crème Brûlée, which is basically a fancy custard tart without pastry, and consume it in guilty secrecy so that the waiting staff will not look down their noses at them. Because custard is, well, too English, and English cookery is très inférieur, non?

Which is a nonsense. French cooking is good, but when it comes to stews and roasts English cuisine matches the English climate, in that it is bucolic, robust and hearty. Both the French and English traditions have their specific strengths, but neither reigns supreme. Each has a place. Just like sometimes you want the brash horseradish heat of Colemans English Mustard with roast beef where the spicier Dijon or German mustards just won’t do. Or a decent crumbly Blue Stilton where Roquefort is too pungent and Danish Blue too greasy.

This is where English style custard raises a triumphant two primitive fingers against all the food critics. It has no pretensions, no finesse, it just is. The trick is not too much custard powder and just enough sugar. I find a 50/50 mix does the trick, adding just enough whole milk, not skimmed, 1% or 2% but full cream, to give your custard the rich creaminess that is the hallmark of this viscous gold.

To make really thick custard for slicing when cold:

Ingredients:
One heaped teaspoon of Birds Custard powder
The same amount of white granulated sugar
One drop of Vanilla extract
One and a half cups whole cream milk

Method:  
Mix custard powder and sugar together, add a little of the milk to make a smooth yellow paste. Heat the rest of the milk on a small one pint pan over a medium heat until it begins to bubble at the edges.
Now add the custard and sugar paste in the pan, stirring gently.
Or
Decant hot milk into bowl with custard and sugar paste. Mix. Now return to the saucepan and put back on heat.
Now add one drop of vanilla extract, no more.

Keep stirring gently, or your custard will become full of lumps as the cornstarch in the mix binds too quickly and no one will love you ever again because it has been scientifically proven that those who make lumpy custard are no good in bed. I use a whisk for the best results. Wearing Leather bondage gear is optional. Not PVC or leather substitute. Like with your custard, only the real thing will do.

When the mix is thick enough that a slow stirring motion briefly exposes the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and decant custard into a dish. At this point you can eat the custard hot with the pie or pudding of your choice, but I’ve another suggestion.

Leave the custard to cool for an hour until it has the consistency of jelly. remove from dish using a knife so it forms a dome. Now you have the choice of making a kind of fruit compote and pouring it over the solidified golden dome, or stewing some apple, leaving that to cool and, having sliced your solidified custard into quarter inch slices, put a layer of stewed apple between each slice. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar, ground cinnamon and perhaps even nutmeg if you’re feeling posh. Bung in the fridge for half an hour. Serve. Or keep it for yourself. You’re worth it. I give you permission to caramelise with one of those rinky dinky little blowtorches. Tell me how you got on because I haven’t bought one yet.

Yes, Jordan Peterson says you must embrace your inner monster so you never have to use it, but I say, don’t just give your inner monster a kiss and a big hug, take it by the hand and drag it into the bedroom. Well made custard will enable you to do this. Honestly.

Told you so… again

Well, the writing on the wall is now appearing for the latest ‘Gluten free’ fad diet in a recent study of 30 years data. Well, colour me surprised. Not. Another fad diet bites the Broccoli.

That’s the thing with fad diets, they take little or no notice of actual facts. Now if you have the flattening of villi in the small intestine that indicates Coeliac disease, a lot of Gluten is not fun. Lots of abdominal issues including distension, dire rear, discomfort and a tendency to huge flabby woof-woofs await (As well as upping your ‘Carbon Footprint’). Besides, that’s only a problem for the one percent of the population with a genetic predisposition to the disease who have to lay off the sarnies. The rest of us are quite safe. Although too high a proportion of grain based food in the diet isn’t the best thing for you, so maybe cutting back on the breads and pastries isn’t that bad an idea. As for too much Gluten causing Coeliac disease, well, doubt has been cast upon that assertion.

According to the head of the study behind this news item, Dr Geng Zong, a ‎Research Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston:

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrient [such as vitamins and minerals], making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more,”

Which is what we see in the supermarkets, like with the fad over ‘Superfoods’ and the otherwise inedible Kale, which some people rave about. ‘Rave’ being the operative word here, or maybe ‘unhinged’ would be better. Fixating on one’s diet to the exclusion of all else isn’t good for you, physically or mentally. That way lies OCD.

As for Kale, it’s one of those things I was once persuaded, much against my good judgement, to eat. But honestly after one prickly mouthful found wasn’t worth the effort. I’d class it as one of those foods you only need to eat if there’s nothing else in the larder and every shop within a fifty mile radius has sold out and shut down for the next forty eight hours. Yes, it’s got minerals and vitamins, but so has a brick. Oh yes, and depending upon where it’s grown, can contain significant levels of the toxic metal Thallium. I’m told that it used to be popular in Scotland. Which would explain much about the Scots.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a nice brace of steaks ageing in the fridge calling my taste buds. That’s a low gluten diet fixation with flavour.

Can’t give it away

In the past three days I’ve had two sales calls from my local Internet Service Provider offering me Cable TV. Both times I have declined, and asked them, quite pointedly not to ask me the question again. Which my last remaining reader might think odd, because in their desperation to increase their CableTV subscriptions the Cable company were offering quite a financially attractive package. No contract. Ten bucks a month off my Internet and phone bill. Pretty please with sugar on it. Pur-lease buy.

On the second call, when asked why I didn’t want to effectively be paid to have the service, I essayed a chuckle and opined that CableTV was “Crap that you couldn’t pay me to watch.”

I don’t need Cable TV anyway, because all the news I need is out there on the jolly old Interweb, and I’m quite capable of reading and listening for myself without having overpaid people telling me how to think and feel about a given situation. The Weather news I get direct from Service Canada. The Financial news direct from the markets themselves. There are some other excellent reasons for not bothering with Cable TV like;

  • I don’t watch sports
  • I don’t watch Fox, CNN, or MSNBC
  • I don’t watch anything on our TV until at least 7:30PM, and then I only have a series or a movie on as background while I read a book
  • Most of Cable TV is dire and chock full of adverts for stuff I’ll never want or need
  • The ‘News’ is all third hand Op-eds and therefore useless

Seriously, if I want the financial news there are far better real time sources online to base my decisions upon. If I want real news there are far better sources than Cable. Honestly. It all depends what I’m looking for. As for analysis, don’t make me laugh. These services are little better than paid mouthpieces for the guy with the deepest wallet or the most useful idiots.

So it doesn’t matter how much they discount the price, I will not be taking a Cable TV subscription. Because it’s so bad and obviously slanted now that the service providers can’t even give it away. Well, at least not to an old cynic like me.

Snow more no

Well, that was quick. The snow and ice outside has gone, washed into the gutters by a more seasonal rain. Last night was a bit wild and woolly, with wind and rain rattling the gutters and whistling around the eaves, but nothing we haven’t had before.

Various sagas trickle on in the background. Nothing all good, but nothing all bad either. I’m planning fallback measures for as many eventualities as I can against the constant background motion of moving goalposts trying to open a Sterling bank account from Canada. Oh what a complete mess of spaghetti it all is. As soon as one form is correctly filled in, some functionary comes back with “Errr, this wasn’t on the form, but…” Which leaves me hurriedly scrambling around, begging obscure answers off people who send me up a blind alley of ‘confidentiality’. It almost seems like some factions are trying to turn the administrative clock back to the early 1950’s when nationalisation was all the rage. Like they want to outlaw the individual choice that drives successful economies back into the financial dark ages. No matter. Nothing is impossible and I console myself thus; if it were that straightforward, everyone would be doing it.

Down in the Juan De Fuca I’ve noticed a lot of Canadian Naval activity of late. Today was a Frigate, some kind of Corvette / Minesweeper and a diesel powered Submarine with a smoking exhaust. They’re either on exercise or trying to stop all the anti-Trumpettes attempting a very chilly 18 kilometre swim to Canada. Not that Bryan Cranston, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Barbara Streisand, Miley Cyrus, Raven-Symone, Neve Campbell and Chloe Sevigny have actually done so. Whether the aforementioned are part of the 28 (!) people from the US who have filed for refugee status with Canadian immigration I am unable to say. Although perhaps the hypocrisy is strong with them. anti-trump-refugees-fleeing-to-canadaSo maybe the patrols are working as a deterrent or the colder Winter weather here on the Canadian Riviera has something to do with it. Perhaps trying the old Jedi mind trick at the 49th parallel wasn’t such a super wheeze?

Who knew, eh?

Just received

An email just dropped into my inbox containing the following:

HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit. We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.

HM Government supports this petition.

During her visit to the United States on 27 January 2017, the Prime Minister, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, invited President Trump for a State Visit to the UK later this year. The invitation was accepted. This invitation reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At this stage, final dates have not yet been agreed for the State Visit.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Well, now watch the thwarted toddlers of the fascist left permanent student class and their fellow travellers burst a blood vessel over this petition to allow Donald Trump a state visit to the UK.

In other words the decision is already made. Not that I’m going to watch, but rather enjoy the schadenfreude of watching all those out-takes of fuming rioters have a collective public stroke over the visit of a friendly head of state to the UK. Couldn’t happen to a bunch of nicer (?!?) people. Except they’re not nice at all. Not by any measure of the word. Neither pleasant nor scrupulous. Rather the opposite. That much is obvious.

What I would like to do is address the following remarks to those who think it’s okay to smash places up because they can’t have their way and never voted anyway. Please, please do go off and scream kiddiewinks. That nasty old Trumpy man is coming to the UK whether you like it or not. Go throw Teddy out of the pram. Go have your childish self indulgent petulant fit. Wet yourselves in public. Wail, scream, cry. No one really cares. Your side lost the vote, now build a bridge and get over it. Besides, nobody really likes you. Not even you. And that is your own self-perpetuating tragedy.

To everyone else; Happy Valentines day.

Oh dear

The latest border creep of what constitutes ‘racism’ has just crossed the boundary into the kitchen. Specifically the rather strange claim that drinking milk is now ‘Racist’. Which greatly upsets me. Especially as the white stuff figures largely in so many of my favourite savoury or dessert recipes. Will a new crime of ‘Hate Cooking’ be created making it illegal to prepare things that are deemed ‘Too white’? What of whipping cream? Will that have to be withdrawn from sale because the act of flagellating milk derivative into lovely stiff, creamy peaks becomes the equivalent of statuesque blondes strutting around in swastika encrusted basques and black stockings thwacking people with riding crops? God yes, Helga, take me home I’m ready. Gosh. What an interesting thought.

milk-is-only-for-racist-nazisWhich raises a question. Is milk now so racist even Nazi’s hate it? Fortunately I can answer this question with a definitive “Yes” and have been able to obtain historical photographic proof. My God, this is political dynamite!

Also in the event Marine Le Pen wins the French Presidential election does that mean I will no longer be able to source the delights of Roquefort, Brie or Camembert? Friends, (I know I used to have some) possibly, well, maybe not so many; this is terrible. That nice Mr Trudeau will have to outlaw ‘hate’ dairy products that are deemed too ‘white’. Oh, hold on a minute, I’ve just read the year dates on some of the cited articles. 1997, 2004, 2016, and now 2017. Good gravy! Is there no end to this awful prejudice? When will this madness end! What will happen to the economy of Wisconsin? Is no-one safe?

the-french-resistanceFortunately my fiends, (either of you) there is hope. From Europe comes a brave group of heroic figures, skilled in the art of converting racist milk and cream into lovely, non racist blue cheeses. Meet Michelle, Rene and Yvette, specialist resistance cheese makers who can rid us all of the terrible racist curse of milk drinking.

Oh shit. That’s another of the sacred ‘ists’ isn’t it? The really naughty one prefixed with S-E-X. Oh dear. I’m in real trouble now.

White Supremacy

I have a few pertinent questions to ask about this business of ‘white supremacy’ that some parties are always shrieking about.

Can a Snowman on top of a hill (Or woman, let’s not be sexist here) be called a ‘White Supremacist’?

Or is ‘White supremacy’ managing to clear the front drive before the next six inches covers it once more?

What do we do to ‘end’ white supremacy? Do we take up snow shovels and dig our way out, or do we simply hunker down in front of a blazing log fire with a nice hot cup of tea and wait for the thaw?

I ask simply because I’ve just spent an hour clearing snow and you can’t tell where I started shovelling. And the sky is still full with another day of the white stuff forecast. Bloody hell. Time to put the kettle on.

Oh yes, and where are all these ‘anti-racists’ when you need a helping hand with a shovel? Oh sorry, I forgot, protestalots don’t do manual work.

Update: One our neighbours is definitely determined to prove his supremacy over the white stuff. He’s got a mini snowplough on the front of his All Terrain Vehicle and has been trolling up and down the street below for the last two hours since 5am. Thanks for feeding my insomnia, neighbour. The irony is that at 8:30am there is already a covering of snow over his handiwork.

When daylight hits I’ll be getting out the snow shovel, but won’t be keeping anyone awake but myself.

Yeah, right…

Remember that “We have only a hundred months to save the Earth” campaign from the UK Guardian which was taken as gospel by a lot of idiot politicians? The 100 month deadline that just whooshed on by on October 31st 2016?

Well things are so gosh darned hot in Spain don’cha know, that the agriculturally astute Spanish are having trouble supplying the rest of Europe with lettuce, broccoli, spinach, courgettes (zucchinis over here), and aubergines (a.k.a. eggplant) because, guess what? It’s too bloody cold and wet. Which might lead the suspicious to ask; “Whatever happened to the ‘Hottest year evah’?

Okay, it’s just weather. No biggie, the heat of a man made climate disaster will be coming back right soon, say those whose livelihoods depend on impending climate doom. Right about, wait for it, honestly it should have been here by now. Really. No, no, no, please, please don’t cut off my funding.

For those of us who haven’t been swallowing the climate heat doom propaganda and actually observing, this is no real surprise. Severe cold weather events have been on the uptick for a few years now. Snow has been popping up in a lot of places it’s not normally expected in and over here in the not so frozen Pacific Northwest it’s parkier than usual. Only the other week we had frozen waterfalls on every rock face between our new home and the mid island. Now we have snow. Yes, I know I live in Canada, the great frozen north, but here’s a little secret; on the Western Pacific side we don’t normally get ice and snow. Even the 2010 Winter Olympics had to generate artificial snow at Grouse Mountain near Vancouver.

I’ll say this, it must be a bugger for vegetarians and vegans, having to pay way more for their vegetables. But seeing as many of them have been in the front line of the shrieking climate harpies, calling those of us not convinced of their carbon dioxide driven heat doom mongering ‘Deniers’ and all sorts of other unpleasant names, my sympathy is somewhat muted.

Beaches

We’re enjoying our new home. Not only is it only ten minutes from the stores, it’s less than ten minutes from the closest half way decent beach, there’s a small but perfectly formed fishing lake less than three hundred metres walk away, and I have my own full size office. It’s not beach weather, but it will be in a few months. And although the sand is a few shades darker than I’m used to, it’s still the same texture.

Mrs S is still hors de combat and will be until mid February / early March, so I’m having to ferry her around and perform various personal functions she has trouble with, like the simple action of pulling on a sock or lacing up her shoes. I don’t mind.

Our new place has a lot more space than our old apartment, and needs a few more sticks of furniture. Selection of which is a work in progress. New desk for her. New bookcases (Yes, more bookcases) for me. A new Ottoman for the front room. Small stuff. All of which I’m okay with. Pictures need to be hung. Two large mirrors need locating. All thieves of time, but hey, she is injured and needs time to heal properly, so I’m happy to go along. It’s just part of the whole “In sickness and in health” thing I signed up to. No biggie.

What I am getting annoyed with is the hatchet op-eds she keeps on insisting reading aloud about Trump and what a naughty man he is for doing exactly what he said he would do on the campaign trail. Why she and the various pundits are so surprised I have no idea, but if the FT doesn’t get back to reporting some proper financial news soonish, our subscriptions will be shut down. I pay for proper financial news, what’s really happening, not some Journo’s half-arsed emotion-ridden ‘opinion’.

If I wanted to read trashy personal attacks on Trump I’d go to CBC, CNN, the Huffington Post or similar. Although it’s such fun to read various Grauniad columnists getting their panties in a bunch over stuff Trump is doing which they gave Obama a total pass on. But I do so love the smell of burning hypocrisy in the morning.

Well it amuses me. But as I’m real bastard son of a bitch it would, wouldn’t it?

Well, there’s always the Winter beach and sea. There’s also a friendly Bernese Mountain dog who patrols one particular isolated little place and ‘adopts’ any moderately sensible human. The first time we met I half expected him to try and jump in the back of my car, just like my old mutt used to. But no, he just ambled on his way home to get fed, fussed and the sand brushed out of his coat by his real boss.

Told you so

Back last year, when the Brexit vote was first mooted all the prophets of doom were running around screaming about the economic damage leaving the EU would do the dear old UK, I cautiously espoused an opposing view here and here and here.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeNow Mark Carney, Chairman of the Bank of England has seen the light. Seven months late, but that’s why I put not my trust in Princes and watch the truth of real numbers. The City of London, like any other financial market, floats on a sea rich and royally reeking of bullshit, but, and it’s a massive curvaceous booty to boot, the numbers say that the EU is overstretched financially, and with the exit of the UK beginning in March 2017 will likely lurch into a deeper crisis than the one it is in already.

In the UK however, all the future indicators are positive. Countries are queuing up to do deals with one of the major trading hubs of the western world. For too long the UK was trapped as a satellite, bound into a fairly restrictive single market without all the global links it needed to really catch fire, financially speaking. Now those markets look set to burst wide open, and for a few years there should be an expansion as old and new relationships are exploited. More jobs, an expanding economy, and maybe even a loosening of the bondage ties of EU mandated directives. Of course there will be winners and losers, but for the guy who is quick off the mark, the rewards will be out there.

These are exciting times. At least for an investor with their eyes wide open. With a pro-UK man in the White House for a change, a deal maker at that, and with a possible new and more positive relationship with Russia in the offing I’m feeling quite sanguine. For too long the world has been fighting itself like a dog in a sack, now the sack can be opened, and the dog can go chase all the juicy bones out there. Sure, it won’t be all plain sailing, but this is the beginning of a new era, and with luck the morbidly obese bureaucracy of the EU will be a distant fading memory in a couple of decades time.

Wonder what they’ll do with all those grandiose insults to architecture the Eurocrats were so fond of?