Tag Archives: Food

North America is more civilised than you think

Made the mistake of reading a clickbait article in the Barclay Brothers Beano this afternoon where an unrepresentative sample of New Yorkers were asked about that particularly English delicacy, Sausage rolls. Astonishment, surprise and dare we even say it, dicombobulation were expressed by those who were told that you cannot purchase Sausage rolls in New York, and thus by imputation, the whole of the USA. Just so some ignorant English people (Who are so stupid they believe everything printed in English newspapers) can giggle at the Yanks’ lack of knowledge of that quintessential savoury, the humble Sausage roll.

The article is, as must be expected from such airheaded space filler, complete balderdash. I have been to New York and seen a wide range of foodstuffs produced for consumption, including, yes, you guessed it, Sausage rolls. Just because Starbucks don’t have them in stock, or the New York Times ‘introduces’ them to the North American diet does not mean they haven’t been available for yonks. For example; Myers of Keswick on Hudson Street, has been making said delicacy in New York for nearly thirty years. Then there’s ‘The Tuck Shop‘ and ‘Parkers‘ in Buffalo, New York. Unlike the much lamented Pie Face eatery that once graced Broadway until 2014, these are still going concerns.

You could recycle said article and say the Belgians are astonished by the mention of English savoury pastries. Or the Germans, Swiss, Italians, French or Danes. But I know quite a few places in Paris and Frankfurt where you can get a form of Bacon sandwich or sausage roll even if it goes under another name, but this does not mean the French or Germans are culinarily ignorant or deprived, merely disdainful about the lower meat content of English sausage.

To conclude; just because there isn’t a Greggs on every bloody corner doesn’t mean the Yanks have never heard of the British taste in Savoury pastries. Here in BC, Thrifty’s and several other grocery store chains do a very nice example, although getting decent flaky pastry over this side of the great divide is a bit hit and miss and they do tend to put more sausage meat in the pastry than the classic English version, but that is no bad thing. On my travels south of the 49th parallel I’ve seen such sundries as Scotch Eggs and Pork Pies on delicatessen displays in Eugene, Oregon and elsewhere. True, Sausage rolls etcetera, are not as widespread in the USA and Canada as the UK, but then we’re not in Clapham any more, Dorothy.

The Daily Grind

Feeling a little better now my system has adapted to my medication and the source of my ill-health is slowly but surely responding to treatment. So yesterday I went out and bought a little conical burr coffee grinder. Just to cheer myself up. Said item now resides next to my filter coffee machine, helping finesse my caffeine quality control. Which is a very pleasant duty after the unpleasantness of the last three weeks.

A nice cup of coffeeI’ve always been a fan of fresh ground coffee. One of my happiest childhood memories was simply sitting in the kitchen watching our (at the time) new fangled electric percolator burbling and burping away. My Dad taught me how to open it up, clean out the basket, add just the right amount of water and ground coffee before closing up properly and hitting the switch. Which I suppose was the beginning of my occasionally distant love affair with real coffee. All my friends’ families of the time always drank instant, and even at the age of eight I found myself preferring even badly stewed tea because instant coffee was, and is, so unremittingly appalling. As well as containing the suspected carcinogen, Acrylamide. Frankly dahleengs, I wouldn’t use instant to clean our drains with. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that even bad percolated or filter coffee is far superior to Instant, no matter the brand.

Good coffee is, I feel, rather like wine. It has nose, bouquet, body and flavour with the added benefit that it sharpens, not clouds the senses. I’m only vaguely surprised that the better class of coffee bean doesn’t have a vintage (“I’ll have a cup of the 1989 Brazilian Couer De Rio please, waiter.”). Same for tea. I buy loose leaf teas because with a little practice and care, even a fresh cup of PG tips can provide a greater lift than the best tea bagged product, and I do have some very nice herbal (not that kind of herbal) tea bags for when bog standard orange pekoe just can’t deliver.

Now I have a half way decent grinder I think I’ll put together a few small airtight canisters of beans; Columbian, Honduran, Kenyan and various other varieties. I may even cast around for an Italian coffee roast variety, as when it comes to Espresso the Italians produce far and away the best roasts. Despite being on our figurative doorstep, Starbucks and all the coffee houses in Seattle don’t seem to be able to produce the depth and richness of Espresso that the Italians can. Ah yes, a small Espresso machine might be in order.

As for tea; down here in Victoria we have the Empress tea rooms, where we go for a civilised treat every time we’re flush with funds. They do an extremely nice and refreshing Kenya and Indian blend to which Mrs S and I are very partial, even if it is brewed from tea bags. I keep a couple of boxes in stock for those occasions when caffeine is preferred to alcohol. Mrs S is even badgering me to start making tiny lemon cakes and similar for afternoon Tiffin. Although this might entail the purchase of a small Toaster oven for small batch baking. It’s not really worth firing up the big stove for five or six mini-cupcakes.

Working from home as we both do, we’re relearning the art of being gentle with ourselves, instead of simply sticking our noses to the grindstone without remittance from dawn to dark. Good tea, Lemon cakes and small bite size delicacies can make for a pleasant afternoon interlude when we can sit down to discuss work issues and bounce ideas off each other rather than just grab a snack and run back to our respective keyboards. By way of an aside; it’s surprising how much more productive you can be if you take your time and step back from it all. If only to get a fresh perspective.

Oh well, back to the grind….er.

The meat of the matter

Not a well catNot posting much because I’m a bit crook at the moment, having contracted an infection in a difficult to medicate part of the anatomy. Ergo I am suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous side effects like nausea, vomiting, flatulence and sleeplessness to mention but four. As well as having to take pills that would choke the proverbial Equus ferus caballus every morning.

The problem with being unwell is the ‘diet experts’ who pop out of the woodwork telling you a bacterial infection is all the fault of your food intake (WTF?). These being the self same ‘experts’ who seem to suffer more from ‘allergies’ and ‘food intolerances’ than anyone else on Earth, from ‘genetically modified’ or GMO to bananas and peanut butter. They’re brimming over with ‘good’ dietary advice despite having all these allergies and intolerances. Which for me is a good indicator that they are full of shit. If their chosen regime were that healthy, how come all these foods make them sick, huh?

For the record, I do not suffer from any food intolerances, apart from a deeply held prejudice against badly prepared food. Whether ‘organic’ or whatever.

There is no subject more chock full of complete bollocks than the politics of food. Politics of food, Bill? Bloody hell, isn’t that a bit of a reach? Not so gentle reader (Either of you). We are constantly told by our ‘betters’ (Hah!) that this or that is bad for you. Eat more vegetables because they are ‘nutrient dense’ go the hectoring voices. Dietary fat is bad for you. Despite so much of what we are told by the lamestream has been proven to be flat out wrong. So it is with the latest foray into nannying by the World Health Organisation that eating red meat is bad for you and may give you cancer (Probably due to lobbying by from ‘food’ and supplement manufacturers) when it is more likely that processed food like ready meals etcetera are more harmful. Even when it has been established that two thirds of cancers are down to genetics and pure bad luck. Face it chums, we all die. All of us, without exception. Life’s a bitch, but like all bitches has a fun side, so enjoy what you got while you got it.

Red meat only gets a bad rap because it’s not politically correct. Vegetarians don’t like it, which is fair comment, as they don’t eat red meat for whatever reason, but that should be no reason I have to give it up. I’ve tried a vegetarian diet and after a month it gave me gastric cramps so intense I needed IV painkillers. My digestion is adapted for a high protein diet, light on the grains and carbohydrates. I can subsist on other stuff, but it’s no fun. However, a good steak once a fortnight puts a spring in my step and a song on my lips. A mixed grill (6oz steak, lamb or pork chop, liver and kidney set off with Mr Heinz best baked beans – no fries) is gastronomic heaven.

As for vegetables being ‘nutrient dense’, well, yes and no. Grass and silage for example, is only really ‘nutrient dense’ if you have the required four stomachs (Rumen, omasum, reticulum and abomasum) to digest it properly. Which is why vegetarians so often resemble rakes, and those that don’t have found other sources of protein, normally some form of whey (A cheese byproduct) or Tofu (Like whey, only made from soy milk). I’ve been told one extreme vegan regime even needs a specific form of clay as a supplement. Pardonnez moi, but I think I’ll pass.

Our digestion is capable of stripping the nutrients from a wide variety of substances (Including grains). We are omnivores. Opportunist feeders. There is, and this is where the dietary proselytisers are dead wrong, no single, top down one-size-fits-all solution. Not vegetarian, vegan, carnivore or otherwise. We are all different.

None of which helps me at the moment. Although my present condition is not that debilitating, it’s certainly put a crimp in my week. Although I will be trying to look on the bright side. I’m allowed beer, and apart from these ‘experts’ (May they boil in Olive oil spiced with a dab of Rosemary, Chili flakes and a clove of garlic) coming at me from all angles I’m mostly fine.

Hi-ho, only forty more days of this and hopefully I’ll be back to my usual self.

A predilection for Ginger Beer

I like Ginger Beer, specifically the non-alcoholic kind, which is proving a little difficult to source here on Vancouver Island. Now let me explain that I’m not talking about Ginger Ale, which is a completely different beverage altogether, but real, firebomb your gullet Ginger Beer. This Summer, our local supermarkets bought in a job lot of a very fine example of non-alcoholic Ginger Beer called Old Tyme Jamaica Ginger Beer which I must confess I got quite partial to. Hint for the web site guys; list your stockists. Although at ten bucks for a six pack, I think it’s a bit on the pricey side. Nice though. I’ve tried Phillips and Crabbies, which are freely available, but they aren’t quite as gingery as I’d like. Which is a shame. That Old Tyme is non-alcoholic and has a better bite than a hungry Grizzly.

Now that it’s disappeared off the shelves, I decided to have a go at brewing my own since Ginger was under three bucks a pound a few days ago. I already had some yeast and sugar, so why not? Grate the Ginger, add the sugar, boil up a gallon, add the yeast and sugar mix and stick it in a big container. Dead simple. That was three days ago, and I’ve decanted the sieved mix into a four litre plastic milk carton three parts full of the sieved mixture. This mornings taste test of my murky brew told me I’m on the right track. Not too fizzy with only natural carbonation and a nice gingery bite, quite dry on the palate, but I do have to keep depressurising the fermenting mix at least three times a day to stop the container exploding.

Easing off the pressure can be a delicate job, as if I undo the cap too fast, pow! The cap shoots out from between my fingers and bounces around the laundry room. However, the milk carton was a good choice of container as there’s a fair bit of give in the plastic. Now I could of course spend a small fortune on brewing kit, but as this is by way of one of my culinary experiments, I don’t see the point.

Anyway, have picked up Youngest from airport, and she is visiting with the aunts and uncle up island for a few days until she’s down in the fleshpots of the provincial capital in our little domicile. I have to keep her entertained while Mrs S is in Seattle with sisters, so I’ll be setting up currys and cocktails so she doesn’t get homesick. Not that she ever does.

Update: I’ve just discovered that Wal-mart do something called ‘Grace Island Ginger Beer‘. Investigations have concluded that it has precisely the right heat in the back of the mouth, and it’s half the price of the alternatives. Our crew of Igors have given it three big thumbs up. Each. Heavy sigh. Looks like I’m going to have to buy a few caseloads then. Of such little things are the equations of happiness formed.

Water and associated topics

Following a spirited discussion with Furor Teutonicus in the comments, while this week looks quiet workwise I thought I’d do some following up on said discussion regarding Fluoride and other environmental factors.

There’s also a meme out in the wilds of medialand, unsubstantiated by actual medical evidence, that in order to ‘stay healthy’ people should drink ‘eight glasses of water’ per day. Eight fluid ounces in each. Sixty four fluid ounces. Three and a bit pints. Influenced by this garbage, everywhere you go there are people in shops, offices, on the streets with their dinky little bottles of Peckham Spring which may well be sourced from the Public Water Supply.

As for what’s in that water, watch the video of what Dr David Kennedy has to say about Fluoride in the public water supply. Especially about not being able to get rid of fluoride salts with boiling, activated carbon filtration, ‘cold filtering’ or even ‘reverse osmosis’ (Unless it’s the high pressure variety, which is expensive). ‘Pure’? I should cocoa (Derisive snort).

As for my little ‘Peckham Spring’ jibe, well me darlings, you’d be amazed at how many companies source their supposedly ‘pure’ water straight from the same sources as the public supply. Not all of them, but not a tenth, or an eighth, but over a quarter of all that bottled water on the grocery and supermarket shelves, possibly more, is likely exactly the same as what comes out of your tap. And that’s even before doing the individual testing and number crunching on how much and what contains fluoride salts. There’s just no readily collectable evidence. But you can bet your boots that the companies making a fat buck off it aren’t telling. Never mind the allegations of how much bacterial contamination there is in the supposedly ‘pure’ bottled stuff. Even if your bottled water has ‘0% fat’ on the label. I mean, ‘low fat’ water? Who knew?

Now to the meat of the topic, which is what is actually in your water supply, and what, if any deleterious effects it might have. Or even the long term effects of sub-toxic dosage and the risks of removing those dosages.

According to this animal based study, there is no detectable cancer risk associated with prolonged low level exposure to fluoride salts, although some osteosclerosis was observed. Well, you might ask, what about the documented neurological effects? It’s true that in acute cases of fluoride poisoning, headache, tremors, muscle spasm, tetanic contractions, hyperactive reflexes, seizures, and muscle weakness can result. Acute toxicity levels are 5mg per kg of body weight, so for a seventy five kilo human you’d have to swallow over 375mg in one sitting to get very sick indeed, very quickly. There’s also a high probability that kind of dose would be fatal. Women, because the average UK female bodyweight is a tad over 70kg, would be most susceptible. For those under 60kg, the acute toxicity level kicks in much earlier. Especially if the immune system is depressed or simply busy with other matters.

Now if you’re one of these people sipping two litres of water a day under the delusion that this is ‘healthy’, up until May 2015 in fluoride using areas of the USA, you might be ingesting as much as 5mg of fluoride salts a day from water alone, or in the case of a 60kg woman, a sixtieth of an acute dosage. That’s without the fluoride salts in toothpaste and bathing water. More if dietary supplements like multivitamins are being regularly taken. For the sake of a hypothetical argument, let’s round up that daily dosage (with dietary supplements) to 8mg, which is only 2mg below the maximum permissible 10mg per day overall dose. So, not quite enough to bring on acute symptoms, but as any fule kno, small doses over long periods of time can result in significant ill effects. Mostly they fly below the radar, not flagging up any immediate concerns, but can exhibit long term consequences.

For most of us this isn’t a problem; we don’t chug anything like eight glasses a day. Nor should we. Too much flushing of the system raises another Cerberus head. Constantly flushing the salt out of ones body can lead to things like mild hyponatraemia (Low blood salt). Which carries yet another set of health risks. We need sodium. If our bodies didn’t need a specific amount of salt, we wouldn’t have developed kidneys. No matter that some people want to eliminate dietary salt altogether, which is not only stupid, it’s secure ward barking.

What has been suggested is, rather like repeatedly getting shitfaced while pregnant leads to foetal alcohol syndrome, excess ingestion of fluoridated water while pregnant may be associated with the uptick in cases of Autism and Attention Deficit Disorders in children. As yet, there are few reputable studies to indicate whether this is true or not. Other suggested causes of Autism have indicted certain household cleaning agents or low level infections during pregnancy and a whole heap of other potential agents.

What is proven is that low level doses of fluoride in the water supply are beneficial as far as teeth are concerned and getting rid of fluoridated water altogether is like refusing vaccination, cutting off your nose to spite your face. However, in light of emerging evidence, reducing the fluoride dosage from 1.5mg / litre to 0.7mg, (15 down to 7 parts per million) because of the toxic nature of fluoride salts, can be seen as a good move. Although your dentist might not be convinced. But then, it took a while to find out that your shiny silver looking mercury amalgam fillings could be poisonous.

Information Sources (amongst others).
U.S. Lowers Recommended Fluoride Levels in Drinking Water from 1.5mg / litre to 0.7 mg / litre. Web MD Monday, April 27, 2015.
UK fluoride levels remain at 1.5mg per litre. NHS web site.


Over at Longriders, I picked up the story of UK Government ‘health’ advice for people between 40 and 60 to get more sleep so as not to burden the ‘wonderful’ (Snarky guffaw) NHS with more of our unwelcome ickiness than necessary. What is it with these people? Don’t they know there’s a pensions crisis? Too many people (Including my good self) who are hurtling towards old age and presumed infirmity for the nations finances to afford. Not that I intend to use or expect much from the system. I have my own resources, and intend to keep them well out of the reach of HMRC through every legal avenue available. Yet I’m left with the thought, if ‘unhealthy’ living causes people to pop their clogs in an untimely manner, isn’t that a good thing, economically speaking? Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye certainly die, yes? Fewer ‘seniors’ pottering around with their walkers, using ‘precious’ health resources, nonchalantly trying to avoid the questing gaze of the old grim reaper. Good, not so good? You tell me. If the options are between dying of a massive coronary at age 79, or facing the mercy of the Liverpool care pathway at age 81, it’s not much of a choice, is it?

There’s a lot of contradictory ‘advice’ that squitters out of the anus of Government propaganda via the lamestream media. Save, don’t save, spend, don’t spend. This is bad for you, oops, no it’s not but this is, oh sorry, wrong again. The Earth is warming out of control and it’s all your fault but if we tax you more it’ll be fine don’t you worry, but we’ll spend the tax on things like ‘outreach’ groups and other pork barrel promises to buy minority votes. To which my response is always WTF? Even if the lamestream told me the Earth was about to be hit by a ten mile wide asteroid I wouldn’t believe them. I’d be out in the back yard at night trying to spot it with my 20×50’s and a nice big mug of hot chocolate. The only people I’d actually believe would be the first hand sources like the less hysterical astrophysicists and Astronomers who can prove they know their stuff about orbital mechanics.

As for my Canadian GP, he’s a bit old school which I’m quite happy with. He doesn’t lecture or fuss over the latest directive, just deals with whatever problem we come in with. Which is quite refreshing. “Yeah, that’s healing nicely.” He said, checking over Mrs S’s busted wing having read the Orthopedic surgeons report from the rehab clinic. No other questions like “How much do you eat, drink, sleep, smoke and shit?” Our health is our concern. His job is to fix it when it’s broke. Which is as it should be.

For our part, we emulate the Squirrel. Building up resources against the Winter of infirmity and old age so the state doesn’t have to.

And we have a lively local population of tree rats. Mostly Greys, but there is a tribe of Blacks across and down the street. One of the Greys regularly makes a racket using our front guttering as a rodents rat run from one side of the property to the next, then three others which have been busily raiding next doors Walnut tree up to three nuts at a time each. Don’t believe me? Here’s three shots I took late yesterday afternoon.Squirrel raider 0 Here’s one, on his first Walnut raid of the day, legging it across the carport roof outside my office window as though all the voraciousness of the world were on his heels. Which for a squirrel is quite possible. They’re a prey species for just about everything short of Mule Deer.
Squirrel raider 1 Now see the little tinker, taking three(!) nuts at a time off to some store for what may be a harsh Winter. It might be a rerun of 2013/4 where we saw icicles as big as Elephant tusks as far south as Langford and Esquimalt. So, these squirrels are obviously ‘prepping’. Which is a sensible precaution, and probably why there are so many healthy looking squirrels in the neighbourhood.
Squirrel raider 2In this shot, here is our little interloper, selecting the biggest nut he can find (I think it’s a he, but with squirrels it’s hard to tell). For my part I am emulating the Squirrels provision gathering. Nothing fancy, just basics. Rendering Landladies abundance of tomatoes into litres of a very nice pasta sauce which reside in the freezer with the curry and soups. Picking up flour and yeast when it’s on a deal to bake my own artisan breads when necessity dictates. Squirreling comestibles into storage so that when relatives descend upon us from across the globe this September and December, they will leave for warmer climes (Australia, Tanzania and elsewhere) with full stomachs and happy memories while we will have spare in the larder for the cold months from January to March. All you have to do is keep your stocks rotated, and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

Not that I believe there’s going to be any worldwide disaster, just that things will carry on being a bit tighter than they should be, and the wise man will always emulate the Squirrel, putting a little by in the Summer for when the hard times inevitably come.

Fifty shades of…. bacon

Meandering idly through the comment streams of various articles in the dear old Barclay Brothers Beano (I was bored and in need of a laugh), I came upon an article about how children see online porn. From the perspective of an upper middle class columnist, who discusses all manner of things with her children. Which didn’t shock me. Nor did the fact that 13 year olds had viewed online hardcore porn or gone “Euuww!” at some of it’s contorted gruntulations. The online stuff is no worse than what we read in the cloakrooms at school at that age, and kids are setting out on that particular voyage of discovery around then anyway, so no biggie.

What tweaked a nerve, the real perversion of the article struck in the opening paragraphs, where the author confessed to having put salad cream on their bacon sandwiches, which I thought sounded a little degenerate. In ‘big floury baps’ no less, which is in itself rather suggestive. Being a dull old traditionalist I use HP Sauce myself on flax bread with my morning bacon, but am quite tolerant of those who will add tomato ketchup, or even Tabasco to their morning pick me up protein blast. Even on their morning bacon and egg ‘banjo’ or in a burrito. But Salad Cream? Well, that’s definitely a new one on me, and I thought I was pretty damn sophisticated and unshockable.

Oh what a curdled mess we cast when first we practice breaking fast. I’m told that perverted sexual practices, like incest, run in families, so I’m not utterly stunned by these revelations of food porn by a journalistic cove. They will have picked up this preference at an early age. Possibly from a progressive parent, or not-so-distant-as-they-should-be Uncle or Aunt. Perhaps even at boarding school. Which is where a lot of upper middle class minds are first warped into thinking they know what’s best for the rest of us.

Deviant baconSo this leads us to the really big questions. Back or streaky? Smoked or not? Dry cure or not? Greasy or ‘murdered’? Fried or grilled (oh all right, ‘broiled’ then). Each have their own advantages and pleasures. What type of bacon works best with this depraved concoction? Are you a plain white person as far as bread goes, or gluten free, wholegrain, wholewheat, bun, bap, hoagie, tortilla, rye or even croissant? What does this say about you as a person? Bluff traditionalist with a side smorgasbord of sophistication, or an anything goes tie me down to the kitchen table for a good spanking matron pervert who has coleslaw in their bacon butty? Horrified shudder. Enquiring minds would like to know. Especially as we all like a good chuckle.

As for the Bacon Lettuce and Tomato deviancy, sorry, but that’s beyond the pale. BLT’s are a mere marketing ploy to give customers the minimum of bacon for the maximum price. The lettuce and tomato have no real nutritive value, belonging to the fictional ‘five a day’ fascism and can therefore be considered no more than inert filler. My take is this; if Inuit can go for months and years without lettuce or tomato, then so can I.

Update: I have sourced (or should that be ‘sauced’) the necessary ingredients. The great experiment happens tomorrow (Monday) around 8am PST (Noonish UK time)

Update on the Update: Overall, I think I’ll stick to HP sauce on my morning bacon sandwich, because while I found the Bacon with salad cream butty okay, in that I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, I prefer the ‘traditional’ condiment. Bit of an anticlimax. Sorry pals, but there you go.

Succulents, Sunshine, Sangria and Sushi

Hangover cat Have been having a jolly nice time away from the keyboard, only visiting the Interwebs twice yesterday. Have been introducing Mrs S to the delights of Sangria after a day and a half (Seriously, it was worse than shoe shopping) looking for and poking around garden centres for the ‘right’ pots and compost for our increasing family of Succulent plants, specifically Jade plants, and more generally three other species. Our Jade plant was looking a little bit sad, having out-grown the pot it inhabited. Sangria is quite nice, and does tend to slip down the old throat without much of a moral struggle. The cat in the picture can be considered a clue to my current physical state.

Notwithstanding, I really am developing a serious taste for Sushi. Out here on the Pacific rim we get the some really top notch stuff. Yet if anyone asked me as recently as ten years ago, if I would eat raw fish, I would have laughed in their face. Now I respond with enthusiasm. Sushi, sure. Great stuff. Pass the Soy sauce.

Am further amusing myself watching the local squirrels raiding the last of the figs off the tree outside my window. Our local Raven population are now so officially full of the crop that they can no longer fly. Or is that the sunshine? Because it’s on days like these that you could almost believe in man made global warming. Gorgeous weather. Although I hear it’s not so hot in the UK, where the traditional British Summer (1 day of sunshine, six rain and gloom) is in full swing. Do I sound smug? Well, just a bit. Over here in BC the weather is the exact opposite. Ten days of sun, a day and a half of rain. Rinse, repeat until October.

While I’ve been away I see a lot of otherwise sensible people have been getting highly excised about the death of a wild predator at the hands of an otherwise inoffensive Dentist (All North American dentists are fundamentally inoffensive, it’s a prerequisite of their profession) from Minnesota. All I have to say is; what are you people on? It’s not okay to make death threats against people you disagree with. You don’t like hunting that helps pay for game conservation? Tough. Now build a fkucing bridge and get over it FFS! As for some of the sad stereotypes that were being bandied around by people who should really know better; call yourselves freedom loving seekers of truth? Really? As for the anthropomorphism, giving an animal a human name does not change its nature. As anyone who has invaded the zoo enclosure of a predator species will understand. Once their wounds have healed, if, of course they are lucky enough to survive the experience. Even the brightest domestic pet is not human, it does not think like a human, it’s needs and priorities are not human. Anyone thinking that non humans are simply fur covered people is more barking than the Yorkshire Terrier our landlady periodically plays host to. Yappy bloody thing.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to get a new 64Gb MicroSD card for my Samsung plus a few other office bits and pieces we’ve identified a need for. So TTFN. Have a truly great day. Possibly.

Still here then?

Well, we’re back. Enjoying a nice cool breezy day or three after the all-encompassing heat of the last seven. Mrs S and I are indulging our new found tastes for things like ‘Moscow Mule‘ cocktails. The ingredients for which are Vodka, lime juice and Ginger beer (Not ale, not enough Ginger). Very quaffable. Mrs S does like Cosmopolitans, but we didn’t have any of the right liqueur (Cointreau) in house, so I had to adapt and improvise with Stolichnaya. On its own, Ginger beer with a shot of Roses lime cordial over ice is very nice, but add Vodka and a generous squeeze of real lime and well, you’ll have to try it for yourself.

The various global crises keep grumbling on. The Greeks constantly wanting more money to pay their old age pensions, then shifting the bills onto someone else continues. The Chinese economic woes. Iran getting nuclear technology so they can build atomic bombs (That’s not going to end well). A surprise medical bill for four thousand Euro’s that should have been paid by our insurance company which has led to several frantic phone calls. Pension paperwork coming at us from all directions. Oh what jolly bloody fun. I’m not even of pensionable age yet, and they’re going to change the rules yet again. Good job I won’t be relying on a pension then. Hey ho. We’re taking it all in our stride.

Well, we’ve had a thoroughly nice time in the USA, apart from a few navigation hiccups on Saturday because our SatNav had a minor nervous breakdown caused by all the roadworks off the I-5 into south Tacoma. We had a wander around the American Car Museum and saw these. American 1930s classics Which cost the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of modern dollars in their day, such were the costs of hand coach building, even during the height of the American depression of the 1920’s and 30’s. Oh yes, and from the triumph of hope over experience department, these examples of Electric vehicles; Electric cars from the 20th century Their modern descendants only possible because of massive subsidies. While electric cars are superficially economical, they will always remain a fringe technology until the fuel / refuel issues can be fully addressed, or failing that, a small molten salt nuclear reactor, hydrogen or other non battery technology becomes practical for personal transport. You can probably hear the sound of my breath not being held from half a world away. Until a long time hence we’re probably stuck with the reliable(ish) Internal Combustion Engine. Seven litre Chevvy CamaroWhich on the plus side, has given us beauties like this Seven litre Chevrolet Camaro. It couldn’t match something like a Porsche on European roads of course, but on North American highways, it has the legs and legroom to just eat up those endless miles.

For those who protest about how much energy those naughty Gringos use, they forget the large distances between towns. You can walk down to the store to get the groceries, but that walk will take a long, long time. They also forget that continental North America is a bloody big place, and therefore tends to suffer from more extremes. Everything is bigger over here. Weather, distances, trees, and also the average fast food restaurant customer. We are talking three hundred pounds and upwards.

Anyway, back home in the more environmentally friendly land of British Columbia, I’ve just been given about twenty pounds of fresh figs which I have to find a use for. Do I make some preserve? Chop a few then soak in Vodka? Make Fig rolls (yum). Put a few out to ripen in my office? Apparently there’s a trick with a dab of Extra Virgin Olive Oil which hastens ripening. See these posts on a gardening forum. Treating figs with motor oil, we have been assured, does not work. At least if you want something vaguely edible afterwards. I may do all these things. There may be a progress report.

Bye for now.

Road trip, day five

On our way again, this time on the northbound leg of our little roadtrip around the northwastern US of A. Highway 101 all the way up to the fleshpots north of Astoria for a meal out and overnight stay before moving on to Tacoma for a couple of evenings, thence back to BC via the Coho ferry.

Restricted viewingIn the previous post, I made mention that the coastline of Southern Oregon is ‘pay-per-view’. As far as accessing most of the beaches is concerned, this is true, as in order to stop, no matter how briefly, in one of the National Parks that line this side of the USA, you need to have purchased a pass. We hadn’t, and seeing as there was no ticket booth at the places we entered, we simply did a 180 and went off in search of ‘beach access’, which we eventually found. Unfortunately the north wind was blowing, whipping the dry sand up into miniature sandscapes up and down the kilometres of beach. This particular stretch of beach looked to be suffering the curse of septic tank runoff from a nearby resort and a sizeable stretch of holiday homes. Which rather took the shine off things. It was either that or hire a dune buggy or ATV, which Mrs S would not be allowed to ride because of her recent injury. So we moved on.

Further north on the 101, there are more places to park to enjoy the huge expanses of yellow sand, the coastal highway squiggling more closely to the shoreline along mile after mile of almost deserted beach. Being a European trained driver, I was happily throwing our little SUV through tight corners which would not disgrace an English country A-road and wondering why there was no-one in my rear view mirror, even though I hadn’t been speeding (Honestly officer – I was being ever so good). Between Florence and Cannon Beach, Oregon (Well worth a stopover. Incredible beach. Try the Warren Inn for lunch) it’s a joy. Especially on such a sunny day as today. Great driving, good food, and the Universe totally failing to go ‘Foom’. The more northerly beaches are also great for kite flying, sunbathing or surfing. Although the wind needs to shift into the West to produce the best Pacific Breakers.

One of the things I’ve also noticed in passing have been visiting political campaigners. No doubt organising support for next years Presidential Elections. No Republicans as yet, but the the ‘Obama Mama’s’ (I think that’s who they are) whose vehicles are graced with a metallic ‘O’ inside the rear window, and a ‘Clintonite’ sporting a Hilary Clinton bumper sticker have been in evidence. No doubt infiltrating local meetings with their forced letterbox smiles and promises. (Never trust someone who smiles ingratiatingly all the time – they’re up to something.) Their vehicles all being late model and fairly new looking. They’re also mostly black, the vehicles that is. Something I found a trifle sinister. Considering the mess the golf pro currently ensconced in the White House has made of things, the thought of another Democrat in the form of a Clinton in the hot seat must make the blood of many Americans (and anyone else on the planet – apart from the more rabid mullahs) run icy cold. I mean, come on; even Sarah Palin would be a better choice for the first woman president of the USA. That’s not an edifying prospect either.

Never mind; as regards meals out, Mrs S and I had a minor culinary epiphany last night. We dined at a very nice seafood place where the fish was not encased in batter or smothered in cheese sauce. Instead of dessert, I voiced the desire for a Martini to round off what was a very pleasant repast. Mrs S concurred and we ordered two fairly dry fancy Martinis off the menu instead of the usual ‘death by chocolate’ so full of caloric energy it could power a Saturn 5 booster into orbit. Which turned out to be a good move. We walked back to our hotel with a lightness of step and sense of mild euphoria, rather than simply feeling weighed down and a little over indulged. Thus we have decided, in future, instead of dessert we’ll have Martinis instead. We’ll also forget wine with out meal, as that would rather be gilding the lily. Which has the dual effect of lowering the bill whilst at the same time making us look like a pair of visiting sophisticates (Snarf). Who knows? Perhaps we’ll start a trend.

On the topic of what to eat here in the Northwestern USA. Coastal eateries do what they call ‘Steamer Clams’ which I think are nicer than Moules Mariniere, which I’m also quite partial to. Try them. If you’re not professionally allergic to seafood, they are a treat. The best places manage to clean these delicacies so thoroughly that there is no detectable sand in them, which can put a crimp in your seafood dining experience.

Last item today; if you do one thing in your life. If you cannot gallop horses through the surf on a deserted Irish beach or run naked along a seemingly endless West Highland strand, screaming your ecstasy for the sheer exhilaration of being alive, hire an SUV and take a drive up and down Long Beach, Washington, USA. As Mrs S and I did this evening before sundown. Just look up how long it is. Go on. Do not under any circumstances take my word or anyone else’s for this. Twenty eight smegging miles. Okay, the beach speed limit is twenty five miles per hour (A beach with a speed limit, my life already), and bits of it are off limits during the Summer months but frankly I don’t care. You can drive further along Padre Island, Texas (One hundred and thirty miles) but it’s going to take a full construction crew with earth movers to eradicate the grin currently planted upon my face.

What can I say, I’m easily pleased.