Tag Archives: Food

Science doubleplusungood

Grain of salt not guilty verdictIn between donating stuff to the Salvation Army Thrift store today I was amiably sifting through the news and found cause for hope in this world. As an aside; it always gives me a smile when activist propagandised ‘health’ advice gets a well deserved kick up the arse.

Today a study has surfaced about that big bad bugaboo of the illness establishment, salt. Good old Sodium Chloride, that essential nutrient which now seems to be rather good for you as part of a balanced diet. A study some establishment voices are decrying loudly with “Foul! Ref!”.

Which those of us with a slightly better than average working knowledge of the human frame have been saying all along. While the illness establishment and its well funded activists have been saying; “No, no, salt is bad, really bad. Don’t use it! You’ll die horribly, your legs will drop off, erm, er, next Tuesday week unless you cut back to under five grammes a day!” All the time ignoring the harmful effects of too little salt in the diet (Hyponatremia).

For the final time; over five grammes of good old NaCl a day is only bad for you, as the hand waving activists maintain, if you already have a dodgy heart, liver or kidneys and high blood pressure. The healthy human body can easily cope with more and is surprisingly resilient, as well as coming in a wide range of shapes and sizes with differing dietary tolerances. What the hand wavers and professional political advocates cannot understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to anything. If there were, then we wouldn’t need all these clothing and shoe stores for one. Which would give lots of non-males out there nothing to do at the weekend (Dis-aster dwarlings). The retail and distribution sectors would collapse, resulting in massive unemployment and penury, and there would be a lot of shopaholics in dire need of psychological therapy. Yes, and poor Sophie Kinsella wouldn’t have a career, you uncaring bastards.

Me, I tend to treat these media ‘science’ alarums and diversions with the contempt they so richly deserve. For example; if people knew that potatoes belonged to the Deadly Nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with Eggplant and Tomatoes, would they be so keen on tucking into an extra portion of fries with tomato on the side? Or what about Broccoli and all those other ‘healthy’ vegetables? Mm-mm, taste that gorgeous Sulforaphane. Which is one of Broccoli’s defence mechanisms. Even if in the right doses it (As part of a prescribed course of therapy) can be used to treat cancer. Those doses must be relatively small. Concentrated, this chemical is very nasty indeed. So maybe it’s not a good idea to have that daily broccoli smoothie. To quote Paracelsus “The poison is in the dose.” A little is fine, a lot, not so much.

As regards vegetables, I would like to remind my last remaining reader that they are plants. One thing you should know about plants. All plants have some sort of defence mechanism against predators (Grazing animals with specialised digestive systems), either mechanical (Thorns) or chemical (Toxins). Which is why a vegan diet will not protect anyone from cancer or heart disease. There is even a distinct possibility that exclusively eating vegetable matter may in fact have deleterious long term effects on the human anatomy and contribute to an increased cancer and heart disease risk. Anecdotally speaking I’ve come across a few real life vegans, and frankly they never inspired confidence in their way of life. One insipid little guy had the temerity to stand over me while I was eating a well earned home made beef stew, calling my meal ‘dog meat’. I’m told he died over fifteen years ago. I reiterate. The human frame thrives best on a mixed diet. Proteins, animal fats, vitamins and minerals (and we don’t digest chlorophyll very well). Something, in their naive quest for a single solution to the world’s ills, the hand wavers conveniently ignore. What is good for a rural Inuit (Adapted over generations to a high protein, high fat diet) will not be good for an Urban Southern European, and so forth.

Which leads me to think that if the hand wavers had their way, we’d all live in identical houses on identical streets wearing identical robe type clothes and eating nothing but low salt, low fat gruel and dying when we’re jolly well told to before our pensions kick in. Apart from them, because they’re so superior and well, better from the rest of us aren’t they? Apart from being consistently wrong. About everything. All the time.

What the hand wavers also don’t seem to get is that most of us are grown ups quite able to make our own choices. Given accurate and timely information. Which their fad-driven factoids so often aren’t. Which so many ‘journalists’ nowadays seem not to fact check out of all the activists’ doom laden press releases. Well, most mainstream ‘news’ outlets sell drama more than real news.

The actual problem I feel, has deep roots in Academia, where in order to get a grant for research, a given academic must please the bureaucracy who hold the research fund purse strings. The bureaucrats in turn must please their political masters, who dole out the bigger funds according to their own (often ossified and underdeveloped) belief system. With the effect that everyone has to do what they’re told or the grant money dries up like rain on hot rock. The word is; toe the party line or starve.

Not unsurprisingly, many academics choose the easy option, just so that they can focus on their proper research while nobody’s looking. This isn’t always the case, but at present there’s far too much “Find the results we want” ‘science’ like with climate modelling. Models have their place, like providing a basis for prototyping, but they do need to mirror reality to be truly useful. Which climate models so far have not. Same with diet, there are way too many stray dogmas which need euthanising. Veganism for one.

Unfortunately, the politics surrounding certain areas of research is stunting real scientific investigation. At least within the University system. Politicians and their globalist mentors want to extend their power so they fund activist groups to lobby themselves and spread their version of what is ‘right’. Which is a bit of a con-job and no mistake. Then under ‘advice’ from said activist groups advice, they (directly and indirectly) influence bureaucrats and researchers looking for a meal ticket, funding by giving both activist and bureaucrats cushy little sinecures on policy influencing Non-Governmental Organisations from which dissenting views are often excluded. Maybe that’s a model that needs changing.

Half a bottle of wine later…

…my equanimity is on it’s way to being restored… and we’re in Tallahassee after yet another satnag failure at a critical juncture. For four hundred miles the bloody thing behaves itself impeccably, but ten important minutes from our destination our route gets erased. Wiped. Eradicated. AWOL. Now I was driving and I’m naming no names, but there’s only two of us in the car, and one was supposed to be reading instructions off the screen to the driver. Now I wonder who that could be? Cough, “User error” cough. Bloody thing.

Anyway, I’ve decided to save our destinations as offline bookmarks in future, so a certain person, yes dear, can’t lose our directions because there won’t be any. Directions that is. Just a general set of instructions because whenever there’s a set of road works appear blocking off our plotted route so does a certain persons navigational flexibility and it’s all tears before bedtime.

Fortunately I took the precaution of memorising the directions to our hotel for tonight, and apart from some arse parking a bloody big red bus blocking our turn, I followed the Sticker family motto that I learned from my late mother which goes; “If at first you don’t succeed – cheat.” Well, it works for me. You have to know what the rules are to understand when they can be considered mere guidelines and broken on the rack of experience. Adapt and improvise, that sort of thing. Vocibus nihil mali est? (No harm, no foul, right?) Whatever.

We are here ready for the next hop to Jacksonville, but the launch I wanted to catch has been rescheduled for June, so we’ll be going to Daytona Beach instead. Rule two: always have a fallback option. Anyway, I’ve had the lions share of a bottle of wine so I’m not really bothered. Well, you can’t win ’em all. Time for bed, said Zebedee. It’s been a long day on the road and I’m ready to crash.

Oh yes, if you’re in the USA and need a good low carbohydrate feed, the carnivores among you could do a whole lot worse than visit Dickey’s barbecue pit. They might not have Wi-Fi, but they sure as hell do cook great barbecue meat meals. Tell them Bill sent you, and just watch their faces go blank.

Nighty night.

Portion sizes and associated matters

Shortish run out of Sacramento this morning so we doglegged out from Fresno up into the mountains. And doglegged. Then switchbacked and hairpinned up to the Grand Sequoia National Park and all the way back on a road that swerved and curved like a rattlesnake with a migraine all the way back down again.Five thousand feet and climbing

Mrs S, in the passenger seat for this leg of the trip, kept telling me to slow down because all the sidewards motion was inducing travel sickness. So for the sake of a quiet life I lifted my foot off the gas, keeping it hovering over the brake pedal instead, returning us safe and sound to the broad sandy valleys of Southern California.

I will say this, the mountain routes are a stunning drive in good weather, not so much when the clouds close in, and no fun at all when the snows hit. Fortunately we didn’t have to cope with any traffic, and all threat of projectile dashboard decoration was avoided.

We were rewarded by a drive down long roads lined with tens of miles of Orange and Olive groves. Yes, tens of miles, not kilometres or yards. Mile after mile of trees laden with oranges, dozens of windfalls dotting the sandy soil around each trunk. Incredible. Our route also took us through a working oilfield. Hundreds of nodding donkey oil pumps pulling black gold out of the ground and into pipelines and storage tanks, which my copilot totally failed to photograph. Sorry.

After booking in at our hotel, we stopped for a takeaway chicken and salad supper, forgetting the American generosity with foodstuffs. Two of us couldn’t even eat half of what we were served with, so now the leftovers, enough to make a substantial lunch tomorrow while we pootle through Death Valley into Lost Wages, have taken pride of place in our hotel room fridge. “Do you want Dessert?” Asked our baseball capped server before we’d seen the amount of chicken we were served with. Just as well we declined. There is no way we’d have even nibbled at the edges. Seriously, either our appetites are shrinking or the portion sizes are growing. There’s simply too much to eat. So we put it aside for an alfresco luncheon tomorrow.

Note to self; lesson learned. One US portion equals two Canadian. Do not forget.

A musical interlude

Yay! Have updated my music collection with some oldies but goodies for our impending sashay over the border. However, this is not without it’s downside. Mrs S voiced concern that our little SUV’s CD player would not play my purchases. I said “What? They’re CD’s, not DVD’s, of course it’ll play them.” But nothing I could say would placate her and I ended up sitting in the car for an hour and a half last night test playing the opening bars of every song. In the case of David Bowie, Steely Dan and one specific Queen track, I played whole songs, twice. Loud enough to make the car doors vibrate and all fourteen new CD’s worked perfectly. Including the track below, which was on one of the CD’s that got sacrificed when we sold up and made our leap of faith across the Atlantic in ’07.

All in all, quite a nice trip down memory lane. Yes, yes, I know I could have downloaded them as MP3’s, but having the CD after I’ve ripped the songs to my hard drive means we can play them in the car using either a USB drive on shuffle, or the cars CD player if we’re in the mood for back to back Bowie or suchlike. So this morning I busied myself organising my collection into one of those little fifty CD carrying cases so while on the road so the non-driver can pick and choose an epic soundtrack for whatever scenery we happen to be passing through.

While I was performing this mundane task prior to preparing Mrs S’s breakfast, I let my mind drift onto the subject of breakfast cereals. Now I’m not a fan, far too much wheat and corn for my liking. Not my thing because I’m still a bacon and eggs kind of chap. For me, most breakfast cereals are not only boring, but there’s far too much carbohydrate and processed sugar in them for my liking. Now for breakfast I generally get Mrs S a variant on a Parfait every morning, which is served in a largish sundae glass. Dead easy to make; Two generously heaped teaspoons of Balkan Yoghurt, a serving spoon full of Granola on top, two more heaped teaspoons of the same yoghurt covered with a sprinkling of bran flakes, walnuts and dried cranberries, sometimes capped with a little chopped apple or strawberries in season, serve and smile. I’m not keen, but she who cannot be ignored has declared it ‘healthy’. So there. But herein lies the rub; the commercial version of Granola tends to be polluted with wheat, wheatgerm and similar packing material, which Mrs S says does not agree with her. Now normally I purchase a Spelt, Flax, and Dried Cranberries variant, but of late this has been withdrawn from sale locally. Soo, being the inventive type I am, I spent five minutes looking up Granola recipes online and adapted one for my purposes.

A quick raid of the kitchen cabinets found all the necessary ingredients; rolled oats, demarara sugar, honey, vanilla essence, whole plain almonds, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.

My home made granola was produced thusly; put three heaped cupfuls of rolled oats into a big mixing bowl, add half a cup of chopped walnuts, half a cup of chopped almonds, just over half a cup of dried cranberries and half a cup of demerara sugar, then mix until evenly distributed. Following that mix in a tablespoon of honey and a few spots of vanilla essence. To cook; lay out a large foil pizza tray and preheat the oven to 120 Celsius (about 250 Farenheit), spread the mix out on the tray and shove it into preheated oven for fifty minutes. Pull out and leave to cool before decanting into an airtight container ready for use.

Mrs S declared upon taste testing the result “This is good Bill. Bet you can’t do it again.”

Oh yes I can. ‘Cos I wrote it down. Nyer, ner, ne nyer-ner.

Update:  Mrs S has just announced she can’t use my home made granola because I made it with brown sugar and honey, and she’s not having any sugar any more (Yeah, right).  So I’m making a sugar free batch without honey.  Oven roasted like before, but you know what?  I wish she’d let me know before making these arbitrary decisions.  Heavy sigh.

 

On the plus side I’ve plugged a couple more holes in my music collection with Blackfoot Sue’s classic ‘Standing in the road‘, and R Dean Taylor’s ‘Ghost in my house‘, ‘Indiana wants me‘ and ‘Gotta see Jane‘.

Chowderhead

I confess. I’m becoming a full blown chowderhead, but not in the classical definition. No. Today I shout my new found affiliation from the rooftops. I love chowder! I’m getting quite good at it too, developing my own recipes from the many variants out there on the jolly old Interweb.

Over these comparatively mild Winter months, Mrs S and I have elected to eat a little more frugally, as our mainly sedentary jobs don’t involve burning up a whole lot of calories to keep warm. So I’ve been batch cooking in the kitchen and storing my output in the freezer, ready to be taken out and defrosted for a hearty late lunch. My current chief favourites are; Tiger shrimp and Basa fish with mixed veg; Chicken, bacon and sweetcorn and variants thereof, and they’re pretty easy to make. Guaranteed brownie points and a Nobel Peace prize.

All you need for this particular gastronomic delight are the basics; onion, potato, celery, sweet corn niblets (canned or frozen) chicken, bacon, flour, salt, black pepper and garlic or garlic powder, oh yes, and water. For seafood variant, simply replace the chicken and bacon with your preferred frozen or fresh (but never canned) seafood. There are ugly rumours that you can make a totally vegan chowder by substituting bean curd or Quorn, but as I’m not a fully paid up follower of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch I won’t be turning my culinary eyes to that corner of the kitchen, ta very muchly.

Now chowders are meant to be thicker than a Vice President of the United States, but far more tasty. That is, almost dense enough to stand a spoon up in. Gloriously glutinous, cheerfully chunky, and stick to yer ribs slick. Anything else is just soup.

To achieve such a state of nutritional nirvana, simply follow this basic recipe and you can happily disappear, leaving only a simple message reading; “Missing, presumed fed.” while your stomach hugs your spine to say thank you. Oh yes. It’s that good. Well, I think so, anyway. My blog, my opinion, so there.

Right. Here we go. Chop up one very large onion fairly finely. Likewise one stick of celery. Put the celery and onion in a very large saucepan over a low heat with about a tablespoon of cooking oil, canola is okay, as is vegetable oil. For that little extra edge, a dollop (tablespoon) of peanut or olive oil can be substituted. Leave to sweat down and soften thoroughly. Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or two crushed and finely chopped cloves of garlic may be added after it’s all gone slick and semi-translucent. Some authorities advocate a large pinch of allspice, others chilli. But as seasoning is such a personal thing, I’ll leave that to you.

While the onion and celery is on the go, take one cardboard (skinless and boneless) chicken breast, or three boneless chicken thighs. Chop into small chunks. Do likewise with two rashers of bacon. Put on one side. Mix a tablespoon of flour with salt and black pepper, roll the chicken and bacon chunks in the flour. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil (Canola, Olive, Peanut, Vegetable, whatever) in a frying pan and throw in the floured chunks, turning and stirring almost constantly until light gold. Keep the remaining flour mix. You’ll need it.

Take a baking potato and partially (over 50%) cook it in your microwave (If no microwave, peel and dice spud, the only difference will be to extend the cooking time by half an hour). Remove potato skin and cut into thumbnail size chunks. Add chunks to the frying chicken and bacon and keep stirring. As the chicken is turning light gold, add a cupful of sweetcorn niblets and fry gently with the potatoes, chicken and bacon. When chicken is cooked through and can be easily cut with a wooden spoon, add frying mix to the pan of softened onion and celery. Stir. Add enough water to the same level as the mix in the pan. Do not cover with water. Bring to a slow simmer and stir every five minutes or so. Do this for half an hour.

If you have a liquidiser or blender, ladle in two or three medium ladlefuls (about half a cup size) of the chicken, bacon, potato onion and celery mix. Blitz. Put liquidised mix back into the main cooking pan. At this point take the remaining seasoned flour mix and add water until it’s the consistency of thin mud. Add flour and water mixture to slowly seething mass of chowder in the large saucepan. Stir every five minutes or so.  Keep on heat until reduced to a thick, glutinous and chunky consistency, tasting the mix periodically to ensure it is neither too watery and bland, or too salty. Add salt and black pepper to taste. A little extra garlic or garlic powder can be added at this late stage, just to get the desired flavour.

When you’re happy with the taste, take chowder off the heat and decant a couple of ladlefuls into a bowl. Cut some fresh bread or get some crackers. If you’re feeling really posh you can sprinkle a pinch of fresh parsley to give a little visual appeal. Eat. Enjoy. Relax. Let your taste buds do the talking. Think deep thoughts. Solve the worlds multiple crises. Chowder is so good it can help you do this. Although it is recommended that you do not try to leap tall buildings in a single bound afterwards, no matter how good you feel, as that kind of behaviour always ends in tears, charges of criminal damage and multi million dollar civil lawsuits.

When the rest of the chowder left in the pan has cooled, decant into some one or two serving freezer containers, and when cooled completely, seal these and put in the freezer for future consumption. You know it makes sense.

TTFN

Doomsday

Tonight I’m ferrying Mrs S to a work related potluck ‘Do’ downtown, and have promised to ride to the rescue with the promise of red wine and chocolate when she’s finally lost patience with the mandatory Vegetarian and teetotal catering these events seem to attract. Why vegetarian? I have no idea. Unless of course this is an experiment in social exclusion. Personally I’d give it a miss, or deliberately take sausage rolls, claiming they’re flavoured Tofu.  However, as these people are key to her job, Mrs S feels obligated to go.  So we’ll be raiding the Deli counter at our local Thrifty’s this afternoon.

For those of you not familiar with North American custom, or not residing in the not so frozen North, see the definition of ‘potluck’ below.

pot·luck
ˌpätˈlək/
noun
used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable.
“he could take potluck in a town not noted for its hotels”
NORTH AMERICAN
a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish.
“a potluck supper”

To my mind there is nothing remotely lucky about vegetarianism.  From a dietary standpoint it’s more like a form of masochism with no real health benefits.  However, some people are into BDSM and that sort of thing, but like veganism etc, I’d prefer if they kept it amongst themselves.

Danger warning robotNotwithstanding….. Danger!  Warning, warning Will Robinson!  Incoming Asteroid Alert!  Well kind of.  Possibly.  Maybe.  Not really.  Which might come as a reason to forgo the dubious delight of an evening of enforced vegetarianism.  If only said astronomical event was happening this evening.

What’s actually true is asteroid 2013 TX68, a hundred foot wide (All right, 30 metre) piece of space rock is due to pass, at closest approach, 0.044 Lunar Distances or 0.00015 Astronomical Units and change from Earth, which works out around about 14673.322 Miles between March 5th and 8th 2016.  At around 14.5 metres per second.  At least according to the NASA small body database.  Wikipedia quotes 0.06 Lunar Distances (12,000 km; 7,400 mi). Which is quite close.  Very close by astronomical measurements.  An impact remains a distinct possibility.

Now the orbital data is well known, but what we don’t know is the density if 2013 TX68 does take a last second detour into, rather than past dear old planet Earth.  Which can be the difference between the firework display of a bolide type detonation in the atmosphere like the Chelyabinsk Meteor (Of which 2013 TX68 is twice the size) in the case of porous or even dense rock, or an unsightly crater in someone’s back yard around eight hundred and fifty metres across if it’s a nickel iron body.  Which can play havoc with the Crocuses and ruin that nice rockery you’ve just put together.  However, if you’ve always wanted an ornamental lake or waterfront property opportunities in your neighbourhood, then this is the asteroid impact for you.  Although local real estate prices might take a bit of a dive in the immediate aftermath.  I try to retain a positive outlook, and am inclined to think that with the right financial planning, doomsday can be converted into financial boomsday.

For those so inclined, you can have endless fun scaring yourself silly with Purdue University’s asteroid impact calculator here.

If you are planning to miss this specific apocalypse not by pulling a sickie, please be aware that 5th March 2016 is a Saturday.  The good news, for a given value of ‘good’, specifically for those at the point of impact, is that you won’t have to worry about Monday mornings any more.

Planning on having a lazy day to myself.

Squirrel!

squirrel-up-dog-gifFrom a recent news item comes information vital to our civilisations survival.  Via the Igors at the Bill Sticker Institute for Assorted Trivia I bring dire news of a global conspiracy.  A real one.  Not local like most terror threats but one whose breadth truly does affect all humanity.  Friends, we are under assault from the most effective cyber attacks ever imagined by a delusional paranoid schizophrenic completely off their meds, with or without added LSD. Oh yes, it’s that bad.

We’re not talking about Cyber attacks by Anonymous, or China, Daesh, threats to civil liberties by the very people sworn to protect us or even zombie armies looking to snack on what little brains we have left after watching daytime TV.  We’re talking about a real threat, responsible for genuine power outages and all manner of suicide attack as well as nut theft on an industrial scale.  The real enemy is….. Squirrels.

Cybersquirrel with bluetoothInformation is emerging of the sheer magnitude of these assaults on our civilisation. A map of power outages caused by these Decepticon borg-like creatures can be viewed here.  The heinous acts by these creatures include causing multi-vehicle pile ups, single squirrel kamikaze attacks on drivers in open topped vehicles, with invasions of licensed premises and failure to pay for their own drinks tab.  Not to mention the recent California terror rampage and reports of Vampire squirrels targeting deer. Even major sporting events are not immune. The list goes on.

So what can we do, how can we protect ourselves from these random terror attacks? What is the actual depth and scope of the threat we face? Most of the attacks appear to be a ‘suicide’ variant; Squirrels throwing themselves under the wheels of traffic or into sensitive infrastructure thus terrorising entire communities. How do we identify the threat?

CybersquirrelThe problem with threat identification is as demonstrated in this rare picture of a cybersquirrel caught off guard by a courageous camera person, who, although they took this picture using an extremely long lens, was shortly thereafter ambushed and hospitalised by several lightsabre wielding assailants later pictured fighting amongst themselves over credit for the ‘kill’ (See below).

Lightsabre squirrels So what are we to do in the face of a threat more real than global warming, mad bankers, room temperature IQ politicians, rogue asteroids, alien invasions and people who forget to carve new calendars? Fear not. I have a solution, but I would caution my last remaining reader to sit down with a stiff drink before proceeding further because what I am about to propose may seem unpleasant and may even make you nauseous. Are you sitting comfortably? Okay, brace yourself. My proposal is that we have to eat them. All of them. Every last single tree rat has to go. Before these cybersquirrels bring our brave 21st century civilisation and all the comforts we have come to rely on crashing to it’s knees. Because it really is them or us.

It may be the only chance we humans have left……..

No snow

Well, not in our part of Victoria.  From our back window I can see some on the hills a few miles north, but seeing we’re at the approximately same latitude as Chartres, France,  Vienna in Austria and Sakhalin, north of Japan, we aren’t expecting any until late January.   Although ‘wet flurries’ have been forecast for the first week in January 2016.

At the moment we’re having a run of quite deep frosts (For Victoria). About -6 or thereabouts. Nothing to write home about, but it can make walking in leather soled shoes a little challenging.

One thing that can thaw a frosty heart is the promise of a good Sunday roast, which in our case is Pork, something which the Canadians do frightfully well.  I cook it rind on, with plenty of crackling. How? Oh how remiss of me, I’ve not posted the recipe, I abase myself for such uncharacteristic thoughtlessness.  For my rite of absolution, keep reading.

Roast pork and cracklingNow I base my own recipe on this article, but it’s the method that counts.

To get first class crackling; Buy a rind (skin) on Pork shoulder. 2lbs (A kilo) is fine for a modest joint that will provide a meal and sandwiches for the rest of the week for one or two people if sliced thinly. Do not buy if the rind and fat have been removed. Fat is key to the flavour and despite what the ignorant will tell you, is not harmful because ‘dietary’ fat is not that digestible and does not directly convert to body fat or cholesterol. Have the skin scored (cut into quarter inch or 6mm strips) just so the skin itself is cut through, or cut it yourself. Do not cut through the underlying fat to the meat. A Stanley or craft knife, the sharper the better, is ideal for this purpose. Now rub with cooking oil and salt.

If your joint has been frozen, leave out for at least 24 hours in a fridge to defrost prior to cooking, and make sure the scored skin is completely dry before rubbing with oil and salt. As for the rub, be generous, say a large pinch (A half teaspoon) of salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. If you want to try olive oil, be my guest, but my recipe works and uses bog standard cooking oil. Put a smear of apple sauce on the underside of the joint, or cook with a large Bramley cooking apple in the roasting pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 230 Celsius (450F) and put prepared joint in a roasting dish, rind upward. Place in oven for ten minutes when the oven gets to temperature. This will ‘set’ the salt in the rind. After ten minutes, turn oven down to 180 Celsius (350F) at 22-5 minutes a pound or half kilo. Anything more will dry out the joint and leave you with pork of a flavour and texture resembling cardboard. Use the approximate cooking times below and it should turn out reet champion.

Cooking times and temperatures*
2lb (0.9kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @45 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
3lb (1.36kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @65 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
4lb (1.81kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @90 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
5lb (2.26kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @115 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)

When the ‘cooking time’ has come to an end, stick a skewer into the joint. If the resulting juice runs clear it’s done, and the rind just needs a quick blitz for fifteen to twenty minutes under your ovens ‘grill’ setting to get it to ‘crackle’.   If the juice runs pink, depending upon how big your joint is, give it another thirty minutes,  if still too red, you forgot to switch the oven on, dimwit.

Keep an eye on the joint in the final stage to get the crackling to your taste. This blog cannot be held responsible for results if you aimlessly meander off to do something else while you should have had your mind on the job of cooking. Let the phone and the doorbell ring. They’re probably not anyone important.

Cooking can be held as a metaphor for life in general; pay attention and do things properly and you will be rewarded time out of measure. Be forgetful or unfocussed, and your desired outcome will not happen. Thus you will die a withered husk, embittered and resentful and devoid of the sense of species fellowship good cooking makes of all humanity.

For the ideal accompaniment, roast potatoes (roasties) can be produced simply by heating a dish with a little oil in, throw in uncooked potatoes cut into chunks into the heated dish. flip the potatoes to coat with oil, sprinkle with a little dried Rosemary or Thyme and black pepper. Perchance a mere strinkling of salt. Leave in same oven as joint of pork for an hour and a half or until golden and crispy. Roast parsnips can be prepared in much the same fashion and add a sweet counterpoint to the roasties. Please note; cooking roast potatoes in the same roasting tray as the joint may leave you with soggy roasties, which in my view is not a desirable outcome. Prepare green vegetables of choice. Make gravy in the traditional English manner as outlined here and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

When the pork is cooked to perfection, lift off crackling, leave meat to ‘rest’ for ten minutes while finishing off veg and gravy. Lay table, slice joint, humbly accept much deserved praise. Be prepared to fight for a portion of crackling.

Have a nice day.

*I have an older model oven for which these cooking times are valid. These timings should not be considered definitive and should only be used as rough guidelines.  There is no substitute for simply paying attention. 

New year resolutions

Well, they certainly don’t include giving up drinking because I have two decent single malts and a bottle of Famous Grouse gracing my drinks cabinet.  Nor eating meat, which I won’t be giving up because there are no measurable health benefits to doing so.  And I won’t be giving up  smoking.  Talking of which;

I will be restricting myself to taking a little more moderate exercise (Brisk daily walks), completing my college courses and working a little smarter.

A very Happy New Hangover to everyone……

P.S. I haven’t smoked for over a quarter of a century….. I’ve been restricting myself to giving smouldering looks…… (Evil snigger)

And finally….

This is a timed post, as I’m probably busy cooking and eating (Although not simultaneously) a seasonal repast. I will also have consumed far more alcohol than others might deem advisory, but then I rarely take the advice of advisories, unless of course……….

But if you’re into over indulgence in a big way……

TTFN

Bill