Tag Archives: Food

And now for something..

…completely mundane. We’ve been nursing our Deer Decimated pot plants back to health, and I am happy to report that our Geraniums and Fuchsias are well on their way to a full recovery. Indeed, here they are. Along with the small herb garden I started a few days ago. Nothing exotic, just some culinary basics and perennials that will survive BC conditions the year round. Sage, Dill, Rosemary, Lavender and a variegated leaf thing that Mrs S liked. You might notice a little white bag at the far right of the picture which is currently sprouting a number of tiny tomato plants. There’s a Basil pot in the kitchen, so during the Winter months I will be potting the resulting tomatoes out so we can enjoy my home made Tomato and Basil soup recipe (To go on the sidebar when I can be bothered to write it up) made from the fruit. No idea where I’ll leave the plants out. Maybe in our West facing kitchen window.

Yes I know tomatoes are from the poisonous Nightshade family of plants, but seeing as you’d have to subsist off the damn things to see any long-term ill-effects, it won’t stop me cropping and cooking them. Just hope I’ve got enough space in the freezer for all the Pasta Sauce I’ll be making.

So, what’s the news from chez Sticker? Well not that much actually. Saw Wind River on Friday. A thought provoking drama which touches on the sensitivities of First Nations North Americans and the scandal of missing young women. Jeremy Renner puts in a workmanlike performance as the Cowboy hunter and Fish & Game officer and there’s just enough detail to give an insight into how the reservation system both protects and harms the indigenous tribal peoples of North America. Worth a view.

Well, travel news. We’re off to see the Ozzard, the wonderful Ozzard of Whiz. Australia is the next venue for the grand touring ambitions of the Sticker family. Sydney and the Blue Mountains first while we get over the jet lag. Then up to Queensland to visit family for Crimbo, thence off to Melbourne for New Year before a small road trip back to Sydney to be packed onto the flight by Eldest in January. Flights are booked and paid for. Which is why I had to walk away from the motorcycle thing. It boiled down to an either / or. Couldn’t afford both. Family takes precedence.

Sorry to hear about the bit of inclement weather the Texans are suffering with. There are the usual voices trying to make political capital out of it, but by contrast there’s the heroism of the ‘Cajun Navy’ turning out to help the afflicted. However, I’ve seen how quickly Houston’s streets drain, so knowing the Texans it’ll be business as usual ten minutes after the Hurricane has gone. One can only wish them well.

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Anyone for Venison?

I’m beginning to hate the deer that frequent our neighbourhood. Am currently scouring various sources for flowers they will not devastate. We’ve tried Geraniums, Fuschias and Asters and the little shits have munched merrily on each one. Even our landlords coneflowers, advertised as a bloom that deer will not eat, have been eradicated. Nothing seems to keep the bloody things away.

Yes I know the little fuckers ‘were here first’ (Forty years ago), but like all things, they’ve become a pest species, an anachronism. Rather like the people who encourage the wretched creatures and put up “Watch out for Deer” signs while their neighbours see their carefully tended yards decimated.

What the pro deer faction do not appreciate is that they are encouraging a reservoir of infection for things like Lyme Disease, a nasty condition with a wide range of debilitating symptoms, including meningitis. Put bluntly, Deer are a walking plague pit best killed and cooked properly to dispose of their many pathogens, including Plague, before eating. Having glanced down the list of ickiness these creatures are heir to, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go anywhere near them without a wearing full biohazard suit.

Frankly, I’m inclined to look upon Deer as a cash crop, a walking larder. It’s worth noting that if the deer are fat, that will need stripping off the meat before cooking because it has an unpleasant taste.

On the upside, here’s one of my culinary heroes on the topic of how to dispose of the carcase with style.

Check out his Youtube archive for lots of tasty Venison recipes.

I love food scares

All this fuss over ‘Chlorinated Chicken’. Actually chicken that has effectively been washed in water with around the same percentage of Chlorine as a swimming pool to get rid of some of the harmful bacteria which fowl is heir to. Hands up who has inadvertently swallowed a mouthful from the local municipal baths? What, never? So you’re a non-swimmer then.

It’s yet another storm in a teacup brought to us by people who whore themselves out, writing nonsense to earn a crust, then for a bunch of room temperature IQ’s to get all incensed about it. Honestly. No, if you eat cooked chicken that has previously been washed in a mild solution of Chlorine pre-preparation you’re probably a whole lot safer than with Chicken ‘au naturel‘ and all the nasty stuff that fowl is heir to. Salmonella, Camphylobacter, E.coli to name but three. Seriously, put a raw, unwashed chicken on your kitchen counter and you might as well have taken a shit on it. It’s why you should always wash your hands properly when preparing fowl. Never mind that accepting US food standards may be part of a putative UK-US trade deal post BREXIT. Seen in this light, the originating articles are all poorly veiled anti-Trump, anti-BREXIT scaremongering. The ‘Chlorinated Chicken gives people cancer’ implication is no better than lefty doublespeak. It’s such arrant nonsense I’m not even going to link to it.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I absolutely love these silly food scares because most of them are complete bollocks. Especially when some politician gets in on the act and intones that ‘something must be done’. Oh dear, if only they knew how dumb they look.

You see when these scares hit the boob tube (Major TV networks), the first effect is that the gullible stop buying a previously popular product, so the Supermarkets have to get rid of a lot of less salable stock in a hurry before it goes off. Which is my cue to head down to the relevant supermarket aisle and raid the product in question. Result; I save quite a few dollars and my freezer gets a top up. There’s two salmon and six chickens in there at the moment awaiting my culinary mercies. The Salmon are Pinks, which are currently in season, so the price has dropped like a jumbo sized lead sinker, and the chickens? Well, thank the propagandists for that. Cheers, lads. I would buy you a pint, but you aren’t men enough to drink them, so it would be a waste of time and effort.

I’m just waiting for something horrible to be announced about pork ribs. Because I’m rather partial to my own ribs recipe and am looking for an opportunity to stock up cheaply. It’s not that I can’t afford it, it’s just that I’m cheap.

Back in BC

Bloody hell, are we back in Pacific Time? I do believe we are. “Holy crap!” said the Joker as he force fed the Pope Castor oil. Drinking half way decent wine, trying not to watch the news because it’s all drama for the masses anyway.

Although there’s no such thing as ‘the masses’. Just individuals who move, for a while, in the same (Or approximately the same) direction. And despite what some political scientists will aver, many people, including myself, have changed their views over the course of their lives. Some don’t, and never will. This is human nature. We are all individuals. Even if some of you aren’t.

Any old road up, we’re only a day away from Vancouver. The car needs repacking before we head out on another wine tasting day. The wines around the northern end of Lake Okanagan tend towards the dryer, even astringent end of the spectrum because of the climate. However, we’ve identified a number of what we think are good dinner wines. More on those particular VQA’s later.

We’ve also raided a place called ‘the Jammery‘ which does exceedingly good chutneys and jams, which will be consumed over the Summer with various cheese and charcuterie platters. Which will make a light and pleasant change from the often rather stodgy staples of more traditional Canadian cuisine. Honestly, most Canadian ‘restaurant’ food is either fried or smothered in some sugar loaded sauce with far too many competing flavours. Subtlety is not a characteristic of mainstream commercial Canadian cooking. To them, ‘gourmet’ often means with extra cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I like Canadian cheeses. They make some very good ones (Some quite exceptional). Just not over everything I eat, that’s all. Less is more guys, Capisce?

There’s also the issue with being interrogated by the waiting staff mid mouthful. Which to me is the mark of a third rate (or worse) restaurant. The waiting person can see I’ve got my mouth full, so why do they feel the need to ask diners “How is everything?” When we’re in mid conversation or mouthful? I was always taught that butting in to another’s conversation or forcing them to speak with their mouth full is plain bad manners, and when I’m feeling particularly evil, will pause with a pained expression and launch into a long and detailed description of what isn’t quite right with the food. See example below:

Waiter (Enthusiastically, interrupting diner who is in the process of speaking to his fellows): “Hi guys! How is everything?”
Diner (Pauses, puts down fork, glances sidelong and takes a deep breath before delivering this kind of critique in a thoughtful but polite tone): “Mmm. The steak is a little rubbery for my liking. A little over done. I did specify medium, not medium rare or well done. Whilst I’m thinking about it the salad dressing tastes a little past its sell by date. There’s something not quite right, an additional acidity on the back of the palate. Tell me, do you use one of these low-fat or low-salt dressings? That might account for the strange aftertaste. The lettuce is also a little limp at the edges for my liking. Look here, are these the tracks of the Common Cabbage White caterpillar or some other species? Also the fries are a little overdone and floury. They taste like they’re out of a packet.”
Waiter: (Panicking) “Errr! I’m sorry it’s not to your liking. I’ll get you another one.”
Diner: (In the same thoughtful manner) “Very well. But you did ask.”

Expect a visit from the manager or owner shortly afterwards. Don’t take any bullshit, just stand your ground and don’t blink, metaphorically speaking. Make him earn his money.

Especially if the restaurant you’re in is charging top notch prices for poorly prepared food. I can get a half way decent steak at a Denny’s truck stop restaurant for 14 dollars (about 9 quid) and a cheap but tasty burger from McDonalds, A & W, Wendy’s or DQ for around five bucks. But if I’m paying between 25 and 30 bucks per course (15-18 quid) I want a proper steak or piece of chicken, not something that’s been warmed over for two hours and in the process has turned into one of Mr Goodyears or Mr Bridgestones road safety products. I also pay not to be bugged by the staff and having my train of thought sent chugging off into the sidings when dining. I may be talking business or of philosophical matters and don’t want to be interrupted by some room temperature IQ before I’ve even taken a forkful. If there’s something wrong with the food I will quietly bring it to their attention. If all is well I pay to be left alone.

If the waiting staff who butt into my conversations knew how much their interruptions have cost them in tips over the years they would have a collective fit. I’m a generous man and reward good service, but not if someone gets pushy or serves me overpriced crap. I can also pour my own wine, I’m not bloody disabled. And don’t hover. Only drones hover.

I will not go as far as one guy from my student days who notoriously pulled out a starting pistol in the college canteen and fired it at one of their barely edible burgers, shouting “It’s still moving!” Needless to say, he was suspended for this behaviour. Still a good laugh though. Oddly enough the quality of the food did improve after that.

Yes, I’m a revolting diner, but in response to that calumnious slur I have this to say: I’m the customer. The person who pays restaurant staff wages with my custom. Don’t take the piss or I’ll dine elsewhere and tell my friends to do likewise.

Diners of the world rise up! You have nothing to lose but your plague of third rate restaurants serving little better than deep fried leftovers. Canada has far too many of these establishments and a cull is long overdue.

Arrgh!

Woken at ugodly hour by the hotels fire alarm making an ear piercing, screeching noise that propelled me out of bed down to reception. Then there was the additional sound of running water inside the wall between our room and the bathroom. Jesus H Christ on a Speed Twin! I thought the damn wall was going to come in. This morning I felt like I had a serious hangover. Tired, woolly headed and seriously out of sorts. Checked out of the hotel with only an insincere apology from the staff and got the hell out of Dodge. However, an hour, two coffee’s and one Red Bull later I began to return to my usual irascible self.

Eventually we found that the cause of the issue, and thus my lack of blessed repose, was down to a compressor failure on the sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike on a remote power line. The surge had caused the sprinkler system compressor to fail and the failure had set off the shrieking alarm. We were lucky it hadn’t triggered the bloody sprinkler system. Heavens to Murgatroyd! This was a newly built hotel. Had the hotel builders never heard of surge protection? Especially when their electrickery comes from the storm-prone Rockies. Argh!

As an aside, I’m beginning to take a distinct dislike to most hotel ‘breakfasts’. Rubbery scrambled eggs devoid of any real taste and something supposed to be cooked ham, but might as well be salty tofu. In establishments that advertise themselves as having three stars no less. It’s like this particular standard of hostelry are trying to shave more and more off the bottom line and are trying to tempt people in with the promise of a free meal. Better that they didn’t provide anything at all. Tim Hortons or McDonalds provide much better fare. Anyway, we’re moving on, and leaving such unpleasantries firmly in the rear view mirror.

On the plus side, on our way to our next port of call we discovered one of Alberta’s hidden secrets; lake resorts. Small communities off the beaten tracks where there are beaches and water sports facilities hundreds of miles from any coast. Quite smart little places with everything from grocery, drug and liquor stores to their own Police Station. Restaurants, bars, all that is necessary to refresh the hungover traveler. We sat and enjoyed the view at one such, just sitting and reading in the shade. Me ploughing through Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and Mrs S enjoying what she calls ‘a right bodice ripper’. I think it’s called ‘Outlander’ or some such. It makes her laugh anyway.

Also on the positive side there is news of a successful temporary treatment for Autism from a group of researchers in San Diego. It’s not a cure, but the old treatment for Sleeping Sickness, Suramin, has proven to bring positive effects for all of those given the treatment in a double blind trial. While it’s not a real cure, what these human trials have achieved that there is hope for the 1 in 68 afflicted, and once they’ve identified exactly which brain chemistry triggers are responsible for ASD, a better and more permanent treatment can be developed.

Despite a rough start, not a bad day, all things considered. And the sun is shining. Yeah.

Science, settling

Gritting my teeth today over a large car service bill. However, it’s money well spent as it keeps our little SUV chugging along and less likely to end up letting us down at some critical juncture. It was a large chunk of change, but we only get this kind of expense once a year. Well thrice if you count what’s coming next.

Mrs S and I are about to undertake another epic road trip, this time to Newfoundland and back. Unlike ten years ago we don’t have the complication of the dog, which meant we spent a lot of time looking for ‘pet friendly’ motels who would charge thirty bucks extra a night for the privilege of having our dog with us. We’re also taking the road less travelled along the northern route where cell phone coverage is spotty at best. However, so long as the motels we book have decent wi-fi, we’re all good. We’ve also bought a nice big cool box for picnics en route.

Talking of comestibles and the politics of food, sometimes you just have to give a grim faced nod of ‘told you so’ and shake your head at the sheer capriciousness of the diet industry and the quasi-political organisations that keep on handing down doctrinaire dictations about what we should and should not be eating, having first lobbied the WHO into backing their unhinged assertions.

Over the past few years there have been a number of food scares. All of which seem to be falling by the wayside. Recently the Framington Study, an analysis of dietary salt intake, came up with the long suspected result that a salt intake greater than 2300mg per day is not as dangerous as some would have us believe. The results indicate that good old sodium chloride is not the death dealing masked super villain the hand waving anti-salt lobby would have us all believe. See this article for the alternative guidelines and follow links back to the study.

Of course the anti-salt lobby have pointed out the weaknesses in the study, but the evidence indicates that so long as your kidneys are functioning normally, any excess salt gets flushed out of your system anyway. So why all the fuss? Indeed, more rational voices have argued that a daily intake of 4-6000mg per day is essential for a healthy heart and that the 2,300 FDA guidelines are far too low and may even be damaging.

As always, it seems that moderation is key and maybe the health problems the ‘experts’ claim, along with their total low-taste lifestyle recommendations are just wild guesses. Like the scares over dietary fat, the alcohol intake guidelines and just about every other claimed killer, all the figures behind these claims seem to be plucked out of thin air. It could be argued that by setting the limits way too low they are actually devaluing the case against excessive dietary intake which may well prove harmful at 10,000mg / day. Or are the panicmongers doing what I used to do with Eldest when we were going out, telling her that we were going half an hour earlier than we actually were and to get her buns into gear? Pitching the upper limit way too low because they know no-one’s going to do what they’re told anyway. Well I’m certainly not.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that these Government Health guidelines too often have their genesis in advocacy organisations and commercial lobbyists (Sometimes working for the same people) who want to have their preferred product given more favourable market conditions. Like margarine was once promoted as ‘more healthy’ than butter (Hint; it isn’t). Or Gluten free diets for people without Coeliac Disease leading to an increased risk of heart disease. As with fanatic teetotallers pushing for yet another ban on booze, we’re still living with the consequences of that complete cock-up.

What the failure of all these guidelines should tell us is; a little bit of what you fancy is probably far better for you than stressing over Government guidelines that are based on 1) Wild guesses or 2) Advocacy directed ‘research’. Maybe Governments should stop giving out diet related advice as all they seem to do is get it wrong.

Singing my own praises

Why sing my own praises? Because I’m the only one that will… hold up a moment, did Sister in law just give me a compliment? Can I cook for them again? Hells bells, I think I’m going to faint!

Well not to my face, but the Sticker household has developed a reputation for being pretty damn sharp when it comes to comestibles. Take for example Easter weekend, our dinner guests got treated to my roast pork with crackling recipe. Which for some reason didn’t seem to be on my ‘Cooking for Conspiracy theorists’ list. Even though I’d already posted it elsewhere. Have now remedied this omission. In-laws even asked for my assistance with getting a proper Lamb joint. I said that I would search around and try to source some proper Lamb, not the Mutton which too often gets passed off as Lamb in Canada. Fortunately we’ve found a good local butcher who should be able to help. I’ll get the Mint sauce out for a 2lb shoulder of Lamb this weekend and see what happens.

I know one thing, too few places over here know how to cook Lamb properly. For example, a Lamb Rogan Josh at one of the local curry houses was effectively chunks of lamb cut way too big and not cooked long and slow enough. The meat hadn’t had enough marinading either, which made what should be a very spicy dish that melts in the mouth into something akin to chewing recycled car tyres dipped in curry sauce. Seriously, that was one serious sheep. I bet it had been beating up bears and cougars before dying of old age it was so tough. Guess where I won’t be going again.

A word to the wise; Lamb, beef or chicken for curry should be roughly cut into half inch cubes before marinating at for least two hours. Then given ten minutes in a pressure cooker to tenderise it before adding sauce ingredients. That way the meat cooks properly and the sauce flavours penetrate the meat. As a proof I’ll post my method (Including quick cheat) on the sidebar at a later date. A clue, my good friends Messrs Patak and Sharwoods are often a great help. Providing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency lawyers don’t get involved and screw around with what ingredients my culinary friends are allowed to use. In which case, pass the salt cellar.

A change for the worse

No, nothing personal, just an unsettling experience in one of my favourite downtown eateries. One of the better Italian places to have lunch. Lavazza coffee, a nice snacky lunch special. Just right for when you’re not up to a full on feed. Well that’s what I thought.

We haven’t been going downtown so much recently, but the other day the opportunity presented itself so we pounced on it. I immediately went for the fresh made tomato bisque and a sandwich. Oh. The sandwich was fine, but the soup was disappointingly vapid, nothing like the superb little number we’d dined on before. So when the waiter came round with their customary “How are the first few bites” routine, instead of my usual thumbs up, I was moved to look up at him and say; “The sandwich is great, but the soup’s a bit disappointing.” And it was. What had on previous occasions been a warming, rich and mildly spicy dish had been turned into a distinctly underwhelming offering. A woefully damp wodge of Parmesan standing duty for the wonderful hit of well seasoned fresh Basil we’d previously come to know and love. I mentioned this salient omission and the waiter told me that ‘Head office’ had dictated the removal of half the salt and most of the Basil.

This baffled me somewhat. The Tomato Bisques previous incarnation had been superb, now it had become simply ‘Meh’, even for my jaded palate. A requested pinch of salt helped, but somehow it just wasn’t the same. What did ‘Head office’ think they were playing at? They’d converted the almost sublime into, well, not quite dross, but certainly a pale shadow of its former glory. A Manager type person approached and apologised for the condition of the soup. I politely told him how I perceived the change, and how I felt the recipe had been diminished. He suggested that I request extra fresh Basil and extra salt as a ‘side’ in future. “Hmm.” I found myself thinking. “If your standards are falling maybe there won’t be another time.”

Which is a shame because this little place had previously been one of my favourite downtown lunch spots. Now an infection by the doctrinaire had diminished what I had long considered their signature dish. Perhaps some dozy item at ‘Head office’ had decided that we schlubs, mere customers, needed our diet regulated by their diktat. Or some city bureaucrat who can’t cook to save their lives had demanded that all the downtown restaurants cut the salt content of their culinary offerings. I don’t know. All I do know is that it’s made me feel less than enthusiastic about returning. Other diners who share my like of the previous recipe may well feel the same. All I know is that eventually yet another downtown eatery will end up closed as diners follow their palates.

Which is a crying shame. There are already far too many empty storefronts in downtown Victoria.

But what about the Jedi’s?

Just had a very pleasant weekend in Vancouver sampling two types of Chinese cuisine we’d previously not made time for. Firstly Dim Sum. Which is good. Although I found Chinese Toon buns a little bland. Secondly Chongqing hot pot, also known in Japan as Sabu-Sabu. Approach with caution. This stuff will blow your mind and taste buds into the stratosphere. If you think a full strength Vindaloo is hot, you will find out why the Chinese do not really need a nuclear deterrent after sampling this style of cuisine. Put simply, this chilli laden content detonates in the mouth and scorches its way into the stomach for an explosion of warmth which is welcome on a chilly wet Vancouver Winter evening. Upon ordering a ‘medium’ strength meal, we were entreated not to go for the spicy option by the head waiter, and found even the ‘mild’ version a tingling mouth-fest of gustatory amusement. If you like spicy food, you will absolutely love Chongqing hot pot. Recommendation; JDB (Wong Lo Kat) herbal tea reduces mouth burn.

Meanwhile, back on the topic; the M-103 motion. Sargon of Akkad puts his thoughts on this matter forward in the video below.

With the passing of M-103, I’d like to clear something up. Firstly M-103 is not law, nor does it form the basis of law, yet. However, in the meantime it may well be implemented as policy by the ironically titled Canadian Human Rights Commission. Who are known to prosecute those whose voiced opinion does not fit an assumed ideal, regardless of supporting legislation. Their motto appears to be “If you’re Jewish or ‘white’ and Anglo-Saxon – you’re guilty.” Which I find more than a little prejudiced. Racist, even. As one who is happy to break bread with any skin colour, I must say I actually feel threatened and made uncomfortable by this bias against people of my dermal colouration.

Notwithstanding, if this motion does go on to form the basis of a more generalised blasphemy law, every single minority in Canada, especially the First Nations, will be threatened. Why should Islam be singled out for preferential treatment? Why should the more pantheistic beliefs of the North American natives (First Nations) be excluded? Or Daoists, Taoists, Shintoists, Buddhists and followers of Confucius? Never mind all the forms of Christianity and Paganism. And what about the Jedi? Will they have to give up wearing hoods and openly carrying their lightsabres? Or the Sikhs be forced to give up their turbans because Islam becomes the preferred religion of the corporate state?

Islam by contrast seems to be a religion of dislikes, which is defined by the things it considers Haram or ‘unclean’. Indeed, its proscriptions against Alcohol, Dogs, and Women are well known. Alcohol being forbidden, dogs considered dirty (Well they are, but dogs are also fun, loyal and trustworthy) and women reduced to becoming second class citizens, being forbidden to drive, go out on their own without a male escort and exhorted to cover their head and faces.

Islam also makes provision for treating the women of other cultures as inferior, considering gang rape and sexual molestation legitimate tools for subduing non-Islamic females. This of course includes ‘feminists’. Even the radicals who feel that by appeasing Islam they will be ‘safe’. Yes. This is not going to end well for you guys. Bend over buttercup. This is, whether you like it or not, the will of Allah.

I’d also like to make the point that if Islam gets a free pass, there will be no ‘safe spaces’ left for anyone. Indeed, radical (and not so radical) Islamists think violence against ‘unbelievers’ not only necessary but a religious duty. Well what about gays? Islamic Sharia law encourages throwing homosexuals and similar off tall buildings, hanging them slowly in public using cranes, cutting off their heads, stoning and burning to death.

My point here is that no religion, especially one with so many prescriptions of violence against non-believers and ‘alternative’ lifestyles, should be handed such a tempting platter as a blasphemy law. As has been demonstrated worldwide, they’d only abuse the privilege. Along with the human rights of everyone else. Even the Jedi.

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.