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Archive for June, 2011

The news bulletin depressed me tonight.

Having said that, the News often depresses me; it’s hard to feel cheerful when you are constantly bombarded with media-rich, alarmist, sensational ‘news’. I stopped watching regularly a long time ago, when I realised that it was always biased towards ‘popular’ opinion, often unbalanced and confrontational.

But tonight, I was in a hotel room changing to go out for dinner and the chambermaid had left the tele on (he/she was obviously watching/listening to Wimbledon whilst busily cleaning my room). The big news was this week’s national(ish) strike by public sector workers. The ‘balanced’ opinion was asking people what they thought of the strike and showing one ‘for’ and one ‘against’ – so much for popularist reporting! The alarmist side of the report was provided by a variety of politicians, including Wilfred Pickles, Toff Cameron and diddy Milliband. What saddened me was that their verbal garbage was exactly the same stuff turned out by Thatcher’s henchmen way back when. It made me shiver – they do say that what goes around, comes around.

I was further depressed by those members of the public employed by ‘The Private Sector’ implying that the public sector have it easy and that ‘they’ (the Private Sector) have to suck it up and get on with it. Yet others, said ‘but teachers have such long holidays’! What person EACH interviewee misses – is the point! This is a protest (no doubt forlorn but a protest nevertheless) over pensions and the theft and misappropriation of million’s of workers pension funds: public AND private. Perhaps I go too far there, perhaps it’s not exactly (or not just) pension funds that have been stolen and misappropriated, but for goodness sake, all governments have known since the baby boom days, that we would have and ageing population in the 2000’s.

Or, didn’t they? I did – I was told in college in 1967.

B.t.w. I was also told about global warming!

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Coffee Beans

As I’ve said before, many times – I like coffee. Really I’m a tea drinker, but coffee, when made properly from a good brand – is a delightful drink.

I’ve previously identified Vienna as my coffee homeland and just recently had my best ever coffee in France (the best French coffee that I’ve actually drunk in France) but neither venue is conveniently placed for my daily cup.

Gail, my sister in law in Tulsa, makes a good brew too – but she too is too far away to call on.

Given the generally dire taste of coffee to be found in much of the UK, I have to rely on my own resources.

I’ve tried many coffee brands over the years (each time my American, Austrian and French grounds are finished) and I finally settled on the Co-op’s Italian and After Dinner blends. Both featured a fearsome number 5 on the Co-op’s strength rating until recently, when the Italian blend was relegated to 4! I’m not sure what happened there, but both are worth drinking.

I’ve also recently tried the Co-op’s new (is it new?) Italian Blend Beans because there is a certain satisfaction to grinding your own coffee:

It’s almost being like a hunter-gatherer.

I take two heaped dessert spoons of the freshly ground coffee (I keep any that is left over in an airtight bag, in the fridge) and place it into a size 4 filter, over a medium sized mug.

  1. I grind the coffee
  2. I warm the mug with freshly boiled water and set it aside
  3. I prepare the filter and add the coffee (see above)
  4. I empty the mug and set the filter on top
  5. I pour a little of the (now not freshly boiled) water onto the ground – just to dampen them
  6. I get about an egg-cup full of milk ready in a small plastic bowl and set it in the microwave for 50 seconds on full power (warms without boiling)
  7. I pour a little more hot water on the coffee – slightly more this time – and continue to add until I know that there’s enough to ‘fill’ my mug. This is the tricky bit – get it wrong and it’s messy! (and too weak)
  8. I then set everything aside, add my warm milk to the fresh coffee and begin to enjoy the flavour.

My grinder leaves a slightly coarser ‘ground’ than the ready-ground version, so the hot water has to be added slightly slower, but it is still good practice to wet your grounds first, before adding the bulk of the water.

Enjoy.

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Tapas

picture of tapasTonight I made Tapas.  Not necessarily anything a Spaniard would recognise, but tapas nevertheless.

I’d been out walking this morning with John, and for the second week running, with Jim. Jim’s news this week was much better – he’d feared the melanoma found on his now non-existent thumb tip would have spread far and wide, but after checking four lymph nodes – he’s been given a cautious all clear.

We took my bike to Mirfield for a service/repair, and then walked on sundry routes back to Huddersfield, taking in all of the canal from Battyeford through to the University’s Aspley Goit! Then a train back to Mirfield to pick up the car and job done.

I’d planned the tapas around three dishes; Patatas Bravas, Italian Meatballs, and Feta and Bacon Salad (with cucumber and cherry tomatoes, lightly minted), but in the end we also had beef tomato bruchetta and the last piece of last night’s pizza (which Sharon made with fresh dough and home made sauce). I cheated with the patatas bravas and used some sauce from a jar; the meatballs I made earlier in the week. It was a delightful meal.

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Cheap food

I have just boned out a ham shank and small piece of belly pork to make some Italian meatballs.

OK, I accept that it’s not everyone who can do this but, as we’re constantly reminded on T.V. – food isn’t cheap any more.  Well, it’s not cheap compared to what it’s been for the last ten or so years.

In fact, we’re very lucky here in the UK to have food that compares quite favourably to what we paid twenty to thirty years ago. Whereas other goods have risen X% over those years, food has steadily bucked the trend. All food prices in the UK are doing now, is catching up.

Nevertheless, I hate wasting food (I used to be a chef and food is one of my main interests), and I always try to create economical but nutritious, tasty food.  Anyone who knows me, will know that I hate those places that purport to sell quality food whilst turning out pre-frozen, microwaved slop. Not that there’s anything wrong with frozen foods, just who freezes it and who de-frosts it. Without skill it’s just so much slop. I’m much happier if someone has made an effort to use real food, with real ingredients.

Anyway, I decided to buy the ham shank (£1.99) and the piece of belly pork (£3.20) because I’d thought the butcher’s price for ‘trimmed bacon dice’ and ‘diced pork shoulder’ or ‘minced pork’ was a bit more then I wanted to pay. I got almost 750g of ham from the shank (and froze the bone for soup stock) and just over half that from the belly pork. The belly pork was disappointing as it still had rib-bone through it (and those gristley bits you see in cheap bacon).

I then minced them both together with a good handful of home grown sage and marjoram, some garlic and pepper (it didn’t need much salt) and that was pretty much all it needed. From that mix I got thirty meatballs and two pork burgers. We usually have pasta and a vegetable laden sauce with ours – so we only have three balls each per meal. That’s eleven portions of meat @ 47.5p per portion! Even if you had five balls each (that’s a lot!) the price is still less than 75p.

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Comedy

Why, in these ‘interesting times’ are there not any good satirical comedy script writers?

In days gone by Thatcher was lampooned and lambasted by the likes of Fluck and Law in Spitting Image; Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran wrote some good stuff for Rik Mayall in The New Statesman and the superb Yes Minister was penned by Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Jay before and during those awful Thatcher years.

But where are today’s programmes to similarly point out the excesses and stupidity of modern rule by the Toffs and Turncoats? Who will point out to all that the bankers have stuffed us and our grandchildren for years to come?

Where is all the good satirical comedy?

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