Tag Archives: Food

Still moving in

Well, the painters are almost all finished. Hopefully they’ll have done by the end of tomorrow. I won’t be sorry, even if they’re as nice a bunch of lads as you could come across, but mainly because the paint fumes will begin to subside and my cough will have an excuse to go away.

Of course this means Mrs S will still be fussing over what goes on what wall when and finessing the rug positioning, but that will go on well past our next state visit when ‘North’ comes over for Christmas.

The big news here at Chez Maison Sticker is that I have cracked meringue. After years of ending up with awful soggy slop on top of my apple and lemon tarts, I have finally found how to create the crunchy crusty pavlova type sweetness from thoroughly whipped (Ooh Matron!) egg whites, lemon juice and caster sugar.

For each egg white you will require a half teaspoon of lemon juice and 50g (A shade under 2 ounces). And an electric hand whisk, or this will be very hard work, or a good excuse to work up bit of body heat during one of the threatened power brownouts soon to be coming our way.

Very simple; whip the whites and add the sugar and lemon juice until you have a creamy froth that stands up on its own. Bung onto greaseproof paper in an oven preheated to gas mark 2 / 150 Celsius / 302 Fahrenheit. Turn oven down to gas mark 1 / 140 Celsius / 280 Fahrenheit immediately after closing the door. Now go away for an hour and a quarter. Upon your return, switch off the oven and let it cool for a couple of hours until your oven is cold. Then, and only then, remove the whisked whites. Do not open the oven before then.

Upon retrieval, there should be a residual gooiness in the centre, but the rest should be crisp, sweet and crunchy as sin. They’re that good that Mrs S has forbidden me to do meringues more than once a month.

What else? The Pfizer mRNA debacle continues. See below. We’ve been, as I have so often said, misinformed, our simple liberties trashed because vested interests had a product to sell. Now people are asking questions, more importantly EU politicians are asking questions.

Now all we need are some truthful answers, which I suspect we already know the answers to. By the way, here’s a word we should all get used to using more when referring to the hand wavers and misinformers.

betray

 verb (bi/trey)

Examples

  1.  to give information about somebody/something to an enemy
    •  betray somebody/something He was offered money to betray his colleagues.
    •  the politician betrayed his voters by denying their freedom

Noun: Betrayal

Past tense: Betrayed

The Germans have a wonderfully Teutonic word; Verraten.

Oh well, the fallout begins. Now you can’t say you don’t live in interesting times, can you?

Making meadows

At present our two meadows are cluttered with newly shorn rushes and grasses. I’ve got a little more seeding later next week when the rain lets up and there’s a few other jobs like assembling my honey harvesting gear and prepping a few jars for filling.

Now some of you might have picked up on me planting a native flower called Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Here’s a brief video explanation of what it does and what we’re hoping to achieve;

Mrs S has been off to physio, so I’m off the leash from hanging curtains and shifting furniture to get on with what I consider the important tasks of harvesting and development of our greater property. Before we bought it, our little acreage was neglected for several years, so it’s going to be a bit of a long drawn out process to bring it up to a natural hay meadow standard and to clear most of the Dock and Rush, as organic hay will be fetching a premium price over the next two years, as politicians who do not understand agriculture pile yet more rules and dangle subsidies on the most productive sector of the economy.

As previously stated, we do not intend to get involved with these new rules, as they only apply to properties that take subsidies. Refuse to play the game and what can they do? Stop the payments you don’t take? Forcibly take your property unless you get with the programme? No Ministry would survive the adverse publicity.

When it comes to subsidies, I always apply Heinlein’s T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) rule. Specifically that all ‘free gifts’ offered by the political class have toxic strings attached. Because someone, somewhere has to pick up the tab, and if you take the poisoned chalice, as so many have found to their cost when trying to pay off their ‘Education loans’ or any other kind of government promoted loan. That will be you-hoo. Sorry. Bit of an eighties flashback there.

So no subsidies, just my own pocket. At least I can benefit from all of the payback. Same for the house. If we don’t have the ready money, well then it doesn’t get done if cashflow won’t allow, and even then I’ve learned to be a financial pessimist.

Besides, ‘Government money’ should be more correctly referred to as ‘taxpayer dollar’. Whenever an administration offers other people money, they will have to take it off the taxpayer first. Then there is the cost of collection, which means that people will need to be employed to collect the money to pay out to other people, which is a cost. Which means the money collected shrinks as more staff and infrastructure are required to take the tax and process the payments. Then there’s the risk of later, more venal politicians plundering the increased tax revenues or purposes it wasn’t originally intended for, then adding to the amount taken. So. The more ‘redistribution’, using empty buzzwords like ‘fairness’ and ‘equity’ the bigger the tax take, the emptier our pockets, and the richer the politicians get. Simple logic. The money has to come from and go somewhere, and the problems the increased tax take was meant to solve too often remain.

I’m also seeing a lot of “Pensioners thrown under the bus” rhetoric out there, and as I’ve stated before, I have no intention of being held hostage by a state pension alone. Mrs S is getting geared up for her projects, as I have been. Her workshop is coming together slowly, as is mine, although mine has the most holes in it, and will require the most investment. However, we have our first crop in and money to pay our taxes, so it’s not all doom and gloom. We will not be customers of any food bank.

On the topic of food I’m experimenting with soup recipes at the moment and our old fridge freezer is doing sterling work as storage. Current recipes being trialled are: Russian vegetable, Steak and vegetable, Fish stew, Celery and blue cheese. There is a modest crop of tomatoes still ripening in our garden which I hope to transform into a couple of litres of Passata. All of the aforementioned to become nourishing weapons in our battle against declining incomes as we head into official ‘retirement’.

Speaking of declining incomes, I’ve been doing an off the cuff price check with goods at the local Supermarket, and have come up with a rough local inflation rate of 25%. Bread is almost up a Euro per loaf. Cake similarly. Pre-packaged bacon up fifty cents, and this holds true across the board. At a rough back of a fag packet calculation, prices on staple items have risen more than a quarter over what they were last year. That’s a lot. This seems to hold true no matter where you shop.

And you can’t blame the Russians because these price rises began long before the Ukraine business, or the Yanks bombing the Nordstream pipelines. Think that wasn’t the Americans or one of their proxies? The long arm of coincidence would like to give you a good hard prod in the ribs. The Germans certainly seem to think it was the Yanks.

As for four blasts, one explosion might be down to poor maintenance or carelessness in one pipe, but four simultaneously? On both? Following NATO exercise BALTOPS22 and recent statements from both Biden and the CIA that they were going to shut down Nordstream? Then there’s the recently opened Baltic Pipe, from Norway to Poland. Can I sell you this bridge son? Great skyline, Only a billion careful users. The current US administration is no-one’s friend.

It’s almost like someone wants a world wide depression. With the manipulation of energy markets the lights may well be going out all over the world, and if we’re lucky we might not see all of them go out. For my own part I’ll be busy trying to make my meadows bloom. We do what we can do.

Irish Stew

It’s like an old joke. What does the Gardai say when he gets his supper “Irish stew – in the name of the law” This is one of my recipe posts, so if you’re not a cook, or interested in cheap food, pass on by.

“Irish stew? That’s a Lamb recipe Bill. Lamb ain’t cheap.” You might say, and you would be right, for a given value of right. Loin chops and crown of Lamb are not cheap. You do not use those cuts. You buy those cheap bags of frozen lamb bits or ask your butcher for ‘Scrag’ or neck end of lamb. Yes they’re full of bone, but this adds to the flavour.

This recipe is a make in bulk all in one meal, either for a family or to be frozen for later consumption. Can be made with frozen ingredients or fresh, doesn’t seem to affect the end result.

So, here we go. Make in a slow cooker if you want to save on leccy. This being a classic casserole dish Irish stew is best cooked long and slow. If you’re lucky enough to have a solid fuel stove, that is ideal because as they have to be kept warm, they’re great for slow cooking.

You will need: A four litre casserole. Cast iron or pottery, Doesn’t matter. A means of cooking long and slow. The longer the better.

The what:

  • Lamb, a kilo or two pounds is good.
  • Two or three medium onions, sliced or chopped
  • Two carrots sliced or chopped
  • Potatoes (Two pounds is fine) sliced about 6mm thick
  • Half a teaspoon of Salt
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper
  • A sprig of Rosemary (Or a pinch of dried will do)
  • Three quarters of a pint of water
  • Optional extra, one parsnip

The how:

Get your butcher to chop the neck end into chunks, or buy a bag of cheap frozen lamb with lots of bone in. Slice potatoes, onions and carrots. put a layer of same on bottom of pot. Put in lamb, salt, pepper and water. Sprinkle rosemary over Lamb. Cover with more layers of potatoes carrot and onions. Put in your heating device of choice. Leave to stew on a low heat (150C) for a few hours. The longer the better. This is not a dish for being fussed over and watched. This is a dish for putting in the oven three or four hours before going out, working up a sweat and coming back with an appetite worth having. Note: leaving the bone in imparts a richer, deeper flavour because of the marrow.

Serve with crusty bread of your choosing. you will need a soup spoon for the liquor, it really is that good. Discard the bones because the meat should fall off them. Enjoy the succulence. On an Autumn evening this really does cut the mustard at the end of a long hard day. Serve with sliced stir fried cabbage (White or savoy) if you like. Contains all the food groups except chocolate and alcohol.

Alternatively, allow to cool and decant into freezer containers for later re-heating and consumption. Do both.

In these times of soaring energy bills and a cold weather, we need all the solid grub we can get. And Irish stew is good old stick-to-yer-ribs solid grub.

Happy eating.

N.B. “Serve with stir fried cabbage. Cabbage! Yuk! I remember school dinners!” I hear people cry. Here’s a little bonus recipe. You will need a wok, a quarter cabbage, a tablespoon of olive oil, one clove crushed and chopped garlic (Garlic granules are fine, a modest pinch will do) with black pepper to taste.

Slice cabbage thinly (4-6mm, under a quarter inch, is fine). Put wok on a medium heat, put in spoonful of olive oil, add cabbage, garlic and black pepper. Stir fry with a wooden spoon until lightly browned at the edges. Serve. It’s a lot more palatable than the boiled to death crap they used to serve us back in my schooldays. Very tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. Win-win.

Here we go

The honey is almost ready to be harvested and I will be getting ready to start brewing in three weeks time. There will be spare honey, but half of that will be going as gifts and for personal use rather than for retail. My crop won’t be big enough for much more.

I’ve ordered my brewing gear and lined up the water, yeast and other materials for the mash. A still is in the mix and I’ve lined up some small barrels for ageing. So we’re almost all good to go.

Money is a bit tight, as we’ve run slightly over budget on the house alterations. Which is easily done on a major refurbishment like ours and we’ve had to keep a careful eye on what the trades are doing. However we’re on top of it and having heaved a shuddering sigh knowing that costs are still on the rise (Especially labour costs) and we got most work done before the worst occurred. Even so we’re having to take a small divot out of our reserves. No matter, we have enough. Better to spend some now before inflation annihilates it’s value.

I’m still watching world events with a wary eye, knowing the financial fallout from the COVID debacle will be with us for some time. However, we’ve done our worst case scenario calculations and heads will be kept above financial water. Unfortunately this is an outcome that many will not share, and Western politicians will be looking to rob Peter to pay Paul as they usually do, because they’re small minded vote-grubbers with no real courage or vision.

As for penalising Nitrogen. 71% of an inert gas? Who gave these people science lessons? Nitrogen Dioxide is no fun but Nitrogen Oxide (Laughing Gas ) can be. The politicians making these rules are a bunch of scientific illiterate morons, as are the people advising them.

Besides, adding Nitrogen compounds to the soil can be done with a Clover crop. It used to be part of the old Norfolk four course rotation system before chemical fertilisers were introduced in what was called the ‘Green revolution’ of the late 60’s and early 70’s. One of my Aunts participated in a few of the early Market Gardening trials during the 50’s and 60’s which she said increased her yields several times over.

The problem is that the politicians and others behind this assault on agriculture see nothing but the money to be made pricing farmers off their land and monopolising food production. Modern agricultural chemicals can feed several times more people than the old farming practices and despite all the unscientific brouhaha of ‘only 70 more crops’ before the soil is reduced to little better than sand, can, with small alterations to soil management, keep feeding people until the cows come home. If the politicians and activists don’t have them all slaughtered and replaced with massive insect farms first.

Fun fact: maggot farms are big business, or used to be, the output of which is mainly used mostly for feeding chickens. KFC anyone?

Personally, I’d rather have my protein from chicken than the insects.

Beer and pizza

To celebrate the removal of a large tree in the yard and successful demolition of a problematic wall ready for the builders next week, I took a short trip out to get some beer and pizza.

The place was full of high school kids and families coming for a Friday night treat. I just kicked back and waited for my order to be processed. To be in this mini-flood of humanity after all the artificial isolation of the last two years was a curiously pleasant experience. Everyone was polite and there was no drama.

Normally I’m not someone who likes crowds all that much. I get defensive and grouchy really quickly if I’m bumping elbows for two long, but after two long years of pointless and damaging lockdowns and mandates, for some reason I just felt really comfortable.

It helps of course that I now have my own house and land to sit out on a sunny evening, glass of beer in hand after a feed of double pepperoni. Enjoying the smell of freshly turned Earth and evening birdsong.

Being in a crowd is fine, but it is also oh so nice just to sit out and watch the bees and birds forage.

An alternative Christmas dinner

Is there more to Christmas dinner than just Turkey or a roast joint? Well, if one of your much loved close family is vegetarian, and your spouse is on a strict keto diet, you have to get a bit thoughtful in order to accommodate everyone. Compromise is the keynote here.

One of the great things about this festival, although fowl is often the menu of choice, this year I have deviated, they can’t touch you for it, and gone down the piscine path, purchasing a bargain priced side of Salmon and doing the rest of the veg with my own carefully considered choices. Going for a mix of traditional and acceptable alternatives.

You don’t have to have turkey for Christmas dinner. It is not written on any graven monuments saying “Thou shalt only partake of roast fowl this holy day”. Even though that is the tradition. Jesus did not say “Hey, let’s kill a tree and eat only turkey” So while we like tradition in our household, sometimes it’s fun to try something different.

So here it is, the menu for today’s Christmas lunch.

  • Baked salmon with a Honey and Whiskey glaze
  • Sautéed buffalo spiced cabbage
  • Roast garlic butter sprouts
  • English style sprouts (For traditions sake)
  • Roast potatoes with rosemary (Roasties)
  • Riced buttered potato (Mashed spud)
  • A white parsley, dill and lemon sauce

Followed by:

  • Profiteroles (Plain and chocolate)
  • Chocolate and Jameson’s Custard

The above menu has been approved by both Mrs S and ‘North’ in advance. They have wisely left the cook to do his thing while playing with their pressies and videoconferencing in the front room. Cook (Me) is wandering around with a sly smile on his face, headphones in ears, quietly grooving away to some music and watching lovingly prepared foodstuffs bubble and brown their way to perfection.

For those of you gloomily staring at the parsons nose of yet another roast bird while thinking of having a pint in the pub, fear not, while Sunday roast style cooking is fine in moderation, every so often it’s nice to go the extra mile and do something very different. All it takes is a recipe book and a little creative thought.

Merry Christmas to you all…..

Update; A hit, a palpable hit, at least according to my diners. Have been asked to do one of my Bramley apple crumbles (Real Bramley apples, not much sugar, with a breath of cloves) later this week. Perhaps a no-bake lemon and ginger cheesecake as well. What can I say, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Yum.

Small joys

“North’ is with us. Safe and sound. If the threatened lockdowns are applied in the New Year, she may not be able to go home to jolly old Londinium. We shall see. ‘South’, still in the fabled prison camp of Oz continues to improve although she’s still a bit snotty, but we keep up with daily contact and tell her lots of bad jokes.

Right. In keeping with the spirit of the season, a recipe. A vegetarian, nay vegan recipe. Which is a bit of a divergence for this blog as I am a committed omnivore, but as I am wont to say, chacun a son gout.

Today’s offering is:

Italianate salad dressing. For those times when too much turkey / whatever is enough. If you like a change from Caesar or Blue Cheese, this will get the taste buds talking to you again.

Now I have done this one in a previous post, but these are the detailed instructions, not the precis posted earlier. Again, the focus is on simplicity and taste. Just the thing for when you’ve had a complete day and need something tasty to give an edge to your guilt driven salad.

All salads are driven by guilt. it is in their very nature. We are told they are ‘healthy’ and ‘good for us’, but why, he asked pointedly, do so many salads have to be bland and tasteless or smothered in sugary dressings? Is all that lettuce and stuff food or punishment?

Right, there is a balance to be addressed so here goes. You will need;

  • Half a cup Olive oil. Extra virgin if you can get it. Do not substitute anything else. Other cooking oils are no good.
  • A quarter cup of of Artisan balsamic vinegar. This is the thick and gloopy sweet stuff with a high price tag, but very, very nice. I buy it in 500ml bottles from specialist stores. Each bottle lasts me about two years.
  • A quarter cup of the more commonplace Industriale Balsamic. This is the thin, runny stuff more typically found in your local supermarket. Fine for general use, but none of the complexities and nuances of the Artisan.
  • A splash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (For our transatlantic cousins this is properly pronounced Wooster-sheer, not War sester shyer. Be told.)
  • One clove of crushed and minced Garlic
  • A pinch (Oh all right, a quarter teaspoon) of dried Basil

It is worth noting that these are not so much amounts as proportions. This is a totally scalable recipe, so you can think of it in terms of 50% Olive oil, 25% Expensive balsamic, 25% cheap balsamic with elements of basil, garlic and Worcester sauce. Find a small clean glass bottle or jar large enough to take all ingredients with a little airspace and put all the ingredients in.

Put top on bottle very firmly. And keep your thumb on top for the next step.

Now shake very vigorously until all ingredients are mixed. Should take five to ten seconds. Leave to stand for an hour or two while the flavours suffuse.

Shake again before use.

Now drizzle (Not pour! Less is more here) a tiny trickle across your guilt trip salad. Taste. Enjoy. Somehow your day will seem a little brighter. And there’s no added sugar so you can use this to enlighten even the dullest Keto salad dish with a completely clear conscience.

In these control freak times, when our lives are subject to the oppressive diktats of panicking politicians, their ‘advisors’ and the perennially petrified, these small gustatory and family joys are a way of quietly fighting back against the bullshit.

Happy solstice.

For thy palate

Over the Yuletide period, which officially starts at solstice (tomorrow), I shall be posting a few basic recipes that have over the years, found great favour Chez Maison Sticker.

They are not fancy. They’re easy to make, but oh my goodness, do they add to a dish. Let’s start with the recipe I refined from the New York Times cookbook, that transatlantic bible of culinary excellence, for Tartare sauce, which is a wonderful complement to fish. If you’re feeling posh it makes a nice change from the heavily sugared alternative of tomato ketchup or brown sauce. And it’s so freakin’ easy. And great for diabetics because there’s no sugar.

Tartare sauce recipe: To make a batch which will last a week (About 250g / 1/2lb) or so in the fridge, you will need:

  • Shallots (Those funny little onion things)
  • A small jar of Capers
  • One clove crushed and chopped garlic
  • A teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Half a teaspoon of dried Dill
  • Mayonnaise (If you’re diabetic, check it’s a full fat, sugar free or low sugar type, or better still learn to make your own without.)

Chop your shallots very finely, down to about 1-2mm (1/16th inch) at biggest. Add an equal amount of capers. Chop equally finely to about the same size. Mix. Add garlic, dill and lemon juice. Stir. Add an equal amount of mayonnaise and stir in thoroughly. That’s it.

You could of course do the chopping by food processor, but I like to do it with a knife and cutting board, old fashioned fool that I am.

Now decant mix into a cleaned out jam jar. Stick it in the fridge and use as needed. Now with the average family, this size of batch should last about a week, but don’t bet on it. This stuff vanishes. And it’s better than store bought by a country mile.

Just desserts

Today I’m going to share something culinary. Simple, delicious and cheap. It’s a little bit involved, but it does fit in with the general ethos of ‘cooking for conspiracy theorists’. However, the results are very comestible. I would have taken some pictures but the produced desserts disappeared before I got round to picking up my camera.

Notwithstanding; here are a couple of sweet recipes which will grace the taste buds with a caress as soft as a lovers sigh, melting like snow in a rainstorm upon the palate. In short, they’re just too yummy.

Now these two dishes share a cheesecake style filling, so you can make up a batch and lob it in the fridge while you decide on how to put it all together.

Sweet chocolate roulade and Ginger chocolate cheesecake.

You will need the following for both recipes; 8oz of Mascarpone cheese. A small pot of whipping cream. The juice of a lemon. Two dessert spoons of granulated sugar. Two dessert spoons of drinking chocolate. Some form of whisk and two mixing bowls. 1 Cup plain flour. 1 medium egg and 1 cup whole milk. Also about 1 cup of crushed ginger biscuits. 3oz of butter. 1 full size frying pan.

Step one; The pancake. This is easy, throw plain flour into a mixing bowl, whisk in egg and add milk. Whisk until smooth. Put pan on med to high heat. Give a swift wipe with a small knob of butter. When pan is hot, add about half the mix and let it solidify. When it starts to brown on the underside, flip it and let that brown a bit. When cooked through, remove pan from heat, or make another pancake. Whatever you choose to do, put them aside to cool.

Step two; the filling. Also easy. Put whipping cream in bowl, whip until stiff (Peaks stay where you put them sort of thing.) Add mascarpone and mix together. Add lemon juice and sugar. Mix. Add drinking chocolate. Mix. You can either choose to stir into a uniform creamy brown, or a white streaked solid (ish) mix. Whatever floats your boat.

Put mix in fridge for half an hour of so. Go play a video game, watch a couple of funny YouTube videos. Do not listen to the news, it’s all drama anyway and is designed to interfere with your karmic self.

Step three; upon your return, crush about half a pack of ginger biscuits (Ginger nuts – English style. Anything else won’t work.) Melt the remaining butter, using some to paint your cooling pancakes. This is to make them supple and prevent them drying out.

Step four; mix the rest of the butter into the crushed ginger nuts and put into a suitable container. I use one of those plastic things the takeaways put your curry in. Washed properly they make very good fridge containers for leftovers. Line container with baking parchment or foil. Press butter and ginger nut mix into a flat even layer on the bottom of whatever container you choose. Put in fridge to cool while you do the next step.

Step five; using a small spatula / spreader / knife spread the mascarpone / whipped cream chocolate mix about a quarter of an inch thick onto the pancakes. Roll tightly (But not too tightly!) so they form a roulade and none of the mix oozes out. If it does, your mix was too runny – too much cream or not whisked enough. Put in fridge to cool.

Step six; get hold of container with layer of crushed ginger nuts and butter in the bottom. Fill with remaining mix. Smooth off top. Put back in fridge.

Wait for it…. About an hour will do. Cut pancake roulades into inch thick slices and serve chilled. These will not last long.

You can keep the Ginger chocolate cheesecake for forty eight hours in the fridge if you cover it with foil. If it lasts that long. This recipe has a habit of suspiciously vanishing very rapidly. Maybe it evaporates. But I’ve never seen anything evaporate in slices before. Or leave crumbs. Should I be worried?

Any old road up. Eat drink and be merry. For tomorrow we may have to diet.

No means No

Rough night last night due to some well past sell be date cheese that was undercooked. My bad. As the cook of the household I will not be repeating that error again. Then again I was the only one who suffered, so, non fit, non injuria, eh?

Regarding our new place, the lawyers plod on with their searches and sundry details, so nothing to report there. I’m forced to sit on my hands and trudge through research topics, most of which are like revision, going over the same old ground in the same old way. There will be no house move until the new year.

As for trudging along the same old path, that is rather how I feel about all the politicians pushing the ‘no jab no job’ button. To which so many workers in the ‘health’ sector (and others) are saying “F**k your lousy job. Now where’s my redundancy money?” Because you can’t fire someone without recompense because you’ve arbitrarily changed their contract of employment. Frankly I’ve lost count of the times I’ve simply dumped a demand to ‘sign here’ in the waste bin and ignored the follow up emails. Retrospectively altering terms and conditions without overt consent of both parties beforehand isn’t exactly safe ground, contractually speaking. They can’t really force you to sign to something you don’t agree with. They can put pressure on you, but that skirts perilously close to ‘constructive dismissal’ territory.

As for a mandated third jab. Look, if the first two didn’t work very well, then what’s the point of a third? It’s just doing the same old thing over and over again in hope of a differing result.

I’ve said my piece on the dreaded lurgi and cross-immunity twice before. SARS/COV-2 is a coronavirus. As are a few variants of the common cold and influenza. Your immune system, if you keep it in good nick with a good mixed diet and moderate exercise in the fresh air, without wearing one of those ridiculous surgical or cloth masks, will, if you’ve already had a coronavirus infection, be ready to pounce on any future interlopers.

I see from my Spectator feed that scientists are suddenly ‘discovering’ cross immunity (Again) and going “Sounds good.” Now forgive me from my simple minded layman’s perspective, but I got taught this basic principle when I was an NHS employee and student over thirty freaking years ago. It’s epidemiology 101 as our transatlantic cousins say. If you get an infection from a specific disease vector, your immune system will be primed to cope with something from the same camp. It will be educated by a previous infection and ready to deal with another, similar infection from the same family of vectors.

So no, I’ve had two jabs, and if they didn’t work then I’m not bothering with a third no matter the sanction. I’ve had my dose of the dreaded lurgi prior to my vaccinations, so I’m immune. A PCR test might find viral fragments in my snotty sinuses, but as for illness, no. Mild food poisoning notwithstanding.

The good news is that ‘North’ is spending the entire festering season with us. We’ll be putting the rest of our disparate clan on our big screen in the front room using screen mirroring via our AppleTV box and Mrs S’s iPad at Solstice, Christmas and New Year. I’ll rig up a stand so her iPad camera is facing in the right direction, and Robert is one’s Father’s sibling. Easy peasy.

The downside is that because ‘North’ is a vegetarian I’m going to have to cook two Christmas dinners simultaneously. However this is not insuperable and is merely, like all cooking conundrums, simple logistics.

Citrus

Those of you who bother to read my febrile ravings might have noticed a little mischievousness on my part. It’s sort of an existential protest at WordPress for changing their editor without a bye, leave or thank you. So if you read rude words spelled out down the index, please don’t take it personally. it is not meant for you.

Obviously I direct my rancorous bile toward those who screw around with the lives of others without a thought as to the consequences of their policies. Those who take bad advice and inflict it on others for example. The average modern career politician being a case in point, and aren’t they all just that? Average. Decidedly so and only good at sound bites and getting elected. Some would say by fair means or foul.

So, to the title of this post, Citrus. Well chums, I’m at it again, growing citrus plants from seed. Hopefully this time my little jungle will not be dumped because we’re moving continents yet again. The current count is 100% germination, with two lemon and one grapefruit plant germinated and developing root systems.

Simplicity appears to be the key for germination. My germinator, is a transparent plastic pot which once contained coleslaw, wadded at the bottom with a couple of damp (but not wet) squares of kitchen towel. Yes I know I could just slip out and buy a Citrus plant from a garden centre, but that’s not the point. The idea is to do it from scratch. Like I have just started doing with five navel orange seeds, and will do with limes, when of course I find some grocery store limes with seeds in them.

Essentially, my mindset is one of experimentation. Does it work or doesn’t it? If it does, wonderful, great. If not, back to the drawing board. So it has been with my experiments in growing citrus fruit plants in temperate climes.

Right, so what else? So I cultivate citrus plants, big deal. Well there is a therapeutic motivation. Firstly, growing things, like jigsaws, is good for the soul and keeps the blood pressure in check. Secondly, various fruits have real health benefits. A couple of Pineapple chunks a day, no more, I have found, keep the floaters in my eyes at bay. Something to do with an enzyme called Bromelain, or so I am informed.

Similarly Grapefruit, which is supposedly good for the old ticker, but not if you’re on heavy medications like statins, and can increase the effect of those little rhomboid shaped blue tablets we men occasionally defer to when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But here’s a thing; I find that regular consumption of grapefruit helps clear the relevant blood vessels and saves having to take those little blue diamonds in the first place, which is nice, as those pills are expensive, and I’ve already sold my shares in Pfizer.

Downtime

I’m used to living and working online. It is, in some respects, something I’m fairly good at. For other things there is a phone, and as a trained communicator (Two ears, two eyes, two nostrils and one mouth, use in proportion). Unfortunately, when I need to talk to an overseas contact, our landline is down. Like today. So no business gets transacted. People don’t get paid on time and this reduces the sum of human happiness. Not something I like being even partially responsible for.

I could of course, if I had money to burn or an international data package, use my cell phone. But I’d rather put my funds to better use than paying cell phone companies for millivolts and sitting in a call centre queue for an hour or more while my remaining brains trickle out of my ears in tune with the bland awfulness of wait queue Muzak and their interminable adverts.

So what to do? Let my blood pressure be pushed beyond safe limits because the vagaries of fate preclude action? Or do I bugger off and do something slightly more interesting and successful while the phone company fix the lines? Dear reader, I chose the latter. Life, especially under the current pointless restrictions, demands little victories, those micro successes that bolter the shreds your self-esteem can be reduced to when utilities fail, and despite it not being your fault, guess who is first in line to get it in the neck when things aren’t done? Got it in one. Guess whose turn it is to be the office cat? Yours. Enjoy.

Here’s an interesting little life hack; did you know that an air fryer can make toast and fried bread? Well this one can. Saves putting the oven grill on. Don’t have a toaster, and didn’t fancy doing the old skillet toast trick. So my air fryer was put into service. 6 minutes at 200 Celsius lightly browns the bread and makes a nice hot slice to receive marmalade or whatever topping you fancy.

As an FYI; cast iron skillets can make seriously good toast and fried bread, which is where they score over the average toaster. Get the pan good and hot, stick in the bread and frying medium of choice (Olive oil, butter or nothing at all), flip when ready. There are more ways to make top notch toast than are thought of in anyone’s philosophy. All that is needed is a little outside the box culinary thinking and Robert is one’s father’s brother.

You can’t do fried bread in a toaster either. They’re a bit one dimensional as far as kitchen appliances go. Try putting anything but dried bread in them and the next thing you know it’s sparks and flames all round like a fork in a microwave. So I have the more versatile air fryer instead.

Another little culinary parlour trick I have to pass on is to stop your garlic going off. If, like me you don’t use more than a clove every other day, the trick is to peel the individual cloves and drop them into a jar of Olive oil. Result; garlic that doesn’t go off in a week and which keeps fairly well for a month. This also gives you a ready supply of Garlic Olive Oil, which commands a far higher price in the shops than the usual. So it’s a money saver too.

Anyway, supper beckons. Just soup and a small charcuterie and cheese board. There’s probably another glass of Pinot Noir downstairs too. And here’s me with this terrible thirst.

TTFN

So here we go

Here we go for WTO BREXIT. Amazon sent me an email the other day saying that anything ordered from their UK site (There isn’t an Amazon.ie) may be subject to extra duties, so they’re ready. The main UK ports have been ready for several years, with ‘pop-up’ customs posts ready to clear lorry loads of merchandise as they come in and go out of the UK. A good thing (for me) is the pound losing five points almost overnight against the Canadian Dollar a couple of nights ago, which made it a good idea to buy sterling. No idea why the markets react in this way. The UK is ready, customs posts set up, exporters informed and the RN getting set to arrest and detain fishing boats without proper licenses in UK waters. The only people who seem ill-prepared, bent over a chair with their trousers around their knees are the EU states.

Out here in the wilder west of Ireland, all these COVID restrictions are starting to be ignored. Dropped by my local butchers to make my Christmas order today. No masks, seasons greetings, all very civilised. The local supermarket still enforces the anti-social distancing and masks bullshit, but other people are starting to not bother.

No idea what’s going on in the US. Obvious vote rigging and dismissal of legal challenges, probably dismissed on technicalities, evidence of, but not court admissible proof. As for Biden, it’s well known he’s pro-EU, anti-BREXIT, but that’s okay because with congress and the senate on the flip side of the coin, he’s going to be in a lame duck administration. One hopes.

There’s a reported problem with the voting machines ‘flipping’ votes and all sorts of other dodgy things going on. Nothing that constitutes definitive proof, but man, I would be asking for a thorough review and re-run of the elections right now, without the voting machines, with proper oversight, with voter ID and the absolute minimum of postal voting. But that’s just me. At least an obviously fair vote would shut up all the dissenting parties and give them less to kick off about.

Up in the not so great not so white as you think it is North, there’s Trudeau allowing Chinese troops to ‘train’ on Canadian soil. Does that corrupt little toe-rag not trust his own military? How long before those exercises allow Chinese troops to ‘assist’ the Canadian armed forces against their own people? Say those uppity Midwesterners in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan? No idea. We’re out of there and our investment money is following us.

For us the aforementioned is now rather academic. We’re hunkered down in the wilder west of Ireland. All our Christmas shopping is done. We have found out where to get some superb mini-rhubarb tarts and some of the finest Mince Pies known to man fresh on most weekdays. Right on our doorstep. Our accounts are well in the black and all credit cards fully paid off. The halls are decked etc and there’s food in the larder to see us clear through to February, and a suitably fiendish 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table to stretch our pattern recognition software. I might get another, just in case we get a bit too clever and finish it before Christmas. There’s Oak logs drying ready for the stoves. The kids may be with us some time in January. Fingers crossed. We’re going to be okay. Hope you will be too.

Like a lot of people I won’t be staying up for the latest end of the world show on the 21st December when an optical illusion makes it look like Saturn and Jupiter are going to collide. I’ll be hitting the ‘snooze’ button for that one. If these people are that keen to see the end of the world, I’m sure there’s a high cliff they can jump off and stop mithering the rest of us with their ridiculous utterances. All the hand-waving man made climate change panic mongers can follow them for all I care. They’re all busy telling the rest of us how to live while ignoring their own rules, buying waterfront property and jetting off to conferences all over the planet. If they didn’t clock in tomorrow on account of being too dead to work, would anybody really care?

Hope my last reader can stand the suspense.

Merry Christmas, Yuletide Greetings and all that Jazz.

Warmest regards

Bill

Lemon and Lime Mousse

Food post. As if you didn’t know from the title, but literacy is so neglected in these times that sometimes one is forced to reiterate. Right, this mousse comes with a mental health warning. If it were human it would be a bullwhip-toting dominatrix clad in white stockings, leather basque and no knickers. And heading your way with a knowing smile. Seriously. This little dish is salacious.

There are some times you luck on to something which teases some taste buds, putting the rest in chains then bending them over a chair. Similarly, this is a recipe for the BDSM crowd that punches back through your salivary glands and leaves you with a sensation of pressure at the back of your shoulders. Well it did for me. Mrs S is reporting similar sensations. Caveat; this is very, very grown up. Children will not like it because it is not very sweet. Grown ups will because it isn’t.

Mousse is normally a fairly mundane dish. Soft and billowy in the mouth, tasty and refreshing, but fairly unmemorable. Mousse can be the base of a pleasant savoury starter or a lightweight dessert but this one is neither. The texture is light and billowy like a ballerina’s tutu, but with the bite of a lime flavoured mongoose on methamphetamine.

To experience this sensation you will need;
1 lemon
1 lime
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, no more
Half a pint of whipping cream
1 dessert spoon of full fat Greek Yoghurt
A large bowl and a whisk
3-4 raspberries for garnish per serving

The above recipe will make enough for three people. You may also need a bucket of water with five pounds of ice in it. Or not, depending upon your personal predilections. The great thing is that it’s very unfussy. No eggs, no gelatin, no unpleasant bending, just simple ingredients in proportion.

Squeeze the juice of both the lemon and the lime into a small glass. Remove pips but not the pulp.
Put the cream in the mixing bowl and whisk until it begins to thicken.
Add sugar and continue whipping until the cream stiffens.
When mix is stiff enough that most of it forms a soft lump inside your whisk, fold in the Yoghurt.
Mix in the lemon and lime juice.
Decant into serving bowls. I use small Ramekins.
Put in fridge for half an hour to finish setting.
Garnish with raspberries.
You may also garnish with a little lemon and lime zest. If you dare.

Eat and enjoy the savage tartness. At this point you may need to use the bucket of iced water. As for the rest, well disclaimer alert; this blog takes no responsibility for your actions during or after consumption. Do not eat in public. We will not pay your bail money.

Now I must go and polish my mistresses high leather boots.

Save the world!

Went out today. Snuck up to Galway, to see if we could get out of the rain, which has been quite persistent. Bought a Tea Brack, which is a tea cake type of halfway house between fruit cake and bread. Very nice too. But oh, the calories, the calories. This is one of those treats that has to be rationed carefully.

Ireland, we are finding, as we sneak around the tiers and lockdowns, is full of tiny places to grab some of the tastiest baked goods it’s ever been my pleasure to get teeth into. Today we stopped at a tiny filling station on the road between Tulla and Ennis. Not much of a shop to look at, but stocking exquisite individual rhubarb crumbles and mince pies, all home baked. Their flaky pastries being crunchy all the way through and cooked perfectly. I’ve had far worse at the much smarter run of cafe.

Unfortunately, according to some people our little pleasurable perambulation contributed to destroying the planet. Supposedly because of that deadly killer carbon dioxide stuff pouring out of our exhaust. We are continually told we must “Save the world” by cutting back on everything we do. No more air travel, nice meals or personal transport, and turn down that thermostat you heretic! Then when the greater number of humanity have died through cold and famine brought on by so-called anti-global warming policies the world will be ‘saved’. Or will it?

Can I ask a few pertinent questions? First; how will anyone know when the world is truly saved? Second; if most of people are dead, who is the world being ‘saved’ for? Furthermore, who gets to decide if the world is ‘saved’ or not if a bloody great asteroid (That might have been averted if there were enough people to fund an asteroid aversion programme) slams into the Earth? These things do happen from Epoch to Eon, and might it be a better idea instead of messing around with atmospheric trace gas levels, if human activity has any effect upon those at all, to ensure the Earth doesn’t get wasted by a rogue chunk of rock from outer space?

Just my ten cents worth of course, but every time you ask these serious questions, all the fanatics can do is splutter and do an impersonation of Donald Sutherland at the end of “Invasion of the body snatchers.”

Which begs the question; does the world need saving from humanity in general, or just saving from the global warming fanatics? I have formed my own opinion, what say the rest of you?

Update: or should we be more worried about the latest asteroid to explode over New York state last Wednesday? It was part of a larger debris field. So don’t say you weren’t told.