“Permission for top lip to quiver Sir!”

At ‘daft-0-clock’ I made my Saturday morning pilgrimage towards the bakers to pick up a couple of warm fresh uncut bread loaves. Walking into the baker’s shop across the worn yorkshire stone step you leave the cool morning air outside, as the warm glorious aromatic air within punches you senseless. Sadly, this morning resulted in the aromatic blitz, but no bread!  The shelves were almost bare, even the sweet delicate savoury pastries were gone (top lip quivering.) I checked my watch, just as the village clock chimed 07:00hrs, this was an unusual occurrence, as was the heavier traffic en-route along the country lanes. (Below; Whitby harbour, and Whitby Abbey top right of pic.)article-2726539-209093C400000578-679_970x524 Normally the only traffic encountered at 06:00 hrs would be the occasional tractor, or a milk float making door to door deliveries. I spoke with the baker’s wife and pitifully asked “Where is everything thing, the bread, and the savouries?” She looked at the shelves forlornly “Sorry, we’ve been wiped out by the Yorkshire Moors Railway enthusiasts travelling to Pickering and Whitby for the new steam train service, but another batch will be ready within the hour!” My top lip steadied itself until she said “But no savouries for a couple of hours.” My sigh was audible, and unintended, as I had to get back and walk the canines within the hour. Bidding her a hearty good-bye I departed empty-handed – no bread loaves or pecan latticed pastries, a disastrous start to the day.article-2726539-208C829300000578-608_968x630  

For the first time in fifty years two magnificent steam locomotives travel side-by-side to the seaside town of Whitby to celebrate the opening of a new passenger platform:

The baker walked out behind me and called me back, he mentioned a delicatessen that also baked on the premises, which was in Malton, a small Market town close-by (yet far enough away from the route of the selfish, greedy, picnic-happy, train enthusiast ‘barstewards!’)Pecan lattice sweet savoury  

I found the delicatessen with ease, and received a secondary aromatic assault on my senses. The morning went well there after, and has continued so right up until now, as I have just remembered the large pecan lattice savoury pastry with my name on it, just waiting to be devoured. With a pot of tea of course!     Yours Aye.

Whats in your Ration Pack-MRE?

Just a few meal selections taken from military ration packs – meals ready to eat, from various countries around the world.     The best has been saved for last…1-620xSpain. The Spanish lunch pack has cans of green beans with ham, squid in vegetable oil, and pate. There is also a sachet of powdered vegetable soup, peach in syrup for dessert and crackers handed out to go with the meal in place of bread (not shown). There is a disposable heater with matches and fuel tabs, as well as lots of tablets: Vitamin C, glucose, water purification, and rehydration.2-620xU.S. Almond poppy-seed pound cake, cranberries, spiced apple cider (the hot US non-alcoholic drink) and peanut butter and crackers make up this very American meal package. The main – pasta with vegetable “crumbles” in spicy tomato sauce – is less traditional, but the “flameless heater” shows off American tech skills – just add water to the powder in a plastic bag and it heats up enough to warm the plastic meal pouch.3-620xNorway. The Norwegian pack has American technology (the flameless heater) but British tastes. There is Earl Grey tea, beans and bacon in tomato sauce, a golden oatie biscuit and Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties.4-620xItaly. The Italian ration pack contains a breakfast shot of 40% alcohol cordial, a powdered cappuccino, lots of biscotti, and a disposable camping stove for heating parts of the meal, including a pasta and bean soup, canned turkey and a rice salad. Dessert is a power sport bar, canned fruit salad or a muesli chocolate bar.5-620xAustralia. The Australian ration pack has more small treats than any of the others. Most of it is packaged by the military, from a serving of love-it-or-hate-it Vegemite to jam sandwich biscuits and a tube of sweetened condensed milk. The bag includes a can-opener-cum-spoon for getting at the Fonterra processed cheddar cheese, and main meals of meatballs and chilli tuna pasta. There are lots of sweets and soft drinks, and two unappetising-looking bars labelled “chocolate ration”.6-620xGreat Britain. The British pack is dotted with familiar brands from Kenco coffee and Typhoo tea to a mini bottle of Tabasco. The main courses include the British favourite, chicken tikka masala, and a vegetarian pasta. There’s also pork and beans for breakfast, and lots of sweets and snacks from trail mix to an apple “fruit pocket” that looks like it might not be out-of-place in a school lunchbox. Plus packets of Polos and, of course, plenty of teabags.7-620xEstonia. Stuffed peppers, chicken-meat pâté, smoked sprats, and liver sausage with potatoes make an eclectic menu here. Plus, crispbreads on the side, and halva with vanilla for dessert. Breakfast is muesli, a fruit pocket and honey.8-620xCanada. While there are Bear Paws snacks in the Canadian ration pack, there’s the shocking omission of maple syrup. You have the choice of salmon fillet with Tuscan sauce or vegetarian couscous for the main meal. There is also the makings of a peanut butter and jelly (raspberry jam) sandwich for breakfast.9-620xGermany. The German ration pack contains several sachet’s of grapefruit and exotic juice powder to add to water, and Italian biscotti, but also more familiar treats such as liver-sausage spread and rye bread, goulash with potatoes, and for breakfast sour cherry and apricot jams.10-620xFrance. A streamlined but sophisticated French ration pack offers soldiers deer pâté, cassoulet with duck confit, creole-style pork and a crème chocolate pudding. There is also a disposable heater, some coffee and flavoured drink powder, muesli for breakfast and a little Dupont d’Isigny caramel.11-620xSingapore. The offerings in the Singapore pack were sparse despite its reputation for high-quality cuisine. There were a paltry three dishes, of Szechuan chicken noodles; a mushroom, basil, rice and chicken dish; and soya milk with red-bean dessert.Russki ration packimagesRussia. Things have improved drastically since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Each ration box now comes with 6 litres of Vodka, as opposed to just 2 litres of siphoned jet fuel soaked in black bread.              OK so I made this one up ;-)

And there we have it. No doubt a little bit of ‘this and that’ selected from each countries ration-pack would actually form some thing acceptable, and possibly palatable for a while. Though you would have a fight on your hands trying to take the Russkies vodka. “Nazdaróvye!”      Yours Aye.

Sarah Lee and David Levene theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 February 2014 18.26 GMT

“Pass the Mustard, please.”

Colman’s Mustard celebrates 200 years on Britain’s tables with fascinating archive of photos and adverts showing how it went from strength to strength.article-2717690-204CA2AA00000578-547_964x427An 1884 Victorian label: A staple of the British kitchen is celebrating its anniversary this year. Archivist’s research reveals the 200 year history of Colman’s Mustard. A fascinating archive documenting how Colman’s Mustard impacted on the people living and working in Norwich has been uncovered to mark the 200th anniversary of the product. The gallery of vintage pictures which shows the rise of the condiment to a favourite kitchen staple includes photographs, posters, leaflets and articles dating back to 1814. The popular product was founded by former flour miller Jeremiah Colman and sold as a powder for people to mix into a paste.      Colman’s recipes…article-2717690-204C9DD300000578-580_964x805Hand tinted glass plate showing thousands of workers leaving Norfolk’s Carrow works in 1900: The gallery of vintage pictures dates back to 1814.  The first newspaper advert for the family firm from the time makes up part of the archive. It reads: ‘Jeremiah Colman, having taken the Stock and Trade lately carried on by Mr Edward James, respectfully informs his customers and the public in general that he will continue the manufacturing of mustard.’ His nephew, James, joined the company in 1823, and the firm was rebranded as J. and J. Colman. Employees worked long hours but had access to a clothing club, school and an abundance of leisure activities. Colman’s Mustard celebrates 200 yearsarticle-2717690-204CC43800000578-777_964x1647I remember my Dad letting me taste a bit off the tip of his finger when I was around 5-years-old; I approved wholeheartedly, and from that day forth any meat placed before me has a dollop upon it. It travelled with me throughout my service life to enhance 24 hour ration packs, as well as provide back up in various dining halls. In 20 minutes time it will be spread across my Aberdeen Angus beef and herb sausages. Française namby-pamby moutarde is banned from my humble abode.             “Pass the Mustard, please.” Yours Aye.

Gordon flipping Ramsey!

article-2685921-1F81AA9500000578-597_306x423Cooking with gas! New designed pan heats food 40% faster thanks to its ‘fins’ – and it’s designed by a rocket expert! 

The energy-efficient finned design was designed by a professor of engineering at Oxford University and is set to go on sale next month. The shape of the pan channels heat from a gas flame across the bottom and up both sides, to capture energy that would otherwise be wasted. 

This means it can heat food faster using 40 per cent less energy. The pans, which are made from cast aluminium, will go on sale at Lakeland next month, with prices starting at £49.99 or $86.00. New design ‘fin pan’ heats food 40%-fasterarticle-2685921-1F8277E900000578-829_634x381Pans-26-06-14-6696_2969214bIt’s taken me years to get my evening shave and shower over cooking time perfected, and now some bloody rocket scientist has gone and buggered it all up. Technology, it either works for ~ or against you…      Yours Aye.

M ‘Im not lovin’ it’

Chicken and stuff“Why don’t you guys just make it out of chicken?” RT America’s Redacted Tonight presents a commercial jingle for McDonald’s that lists the ingredients for Chicken McNuggets, as stated by… McDonald’s     Mmmm ‘enjoy!’ 

Call me old fashioned if you will, but I much prefer chicken bought from my local farm shop, which is field to plate bred, and not bloat injected with water or soaked in additives or preservatives.                                                  Yours Aye.

My mate Marmite!

Love it or hate it…the MARMITE cupcake is here: Baked treat mixes salty yeast spread with caramel and chocolate. You are either going to love it or hate it. A new Marmite cupcake has been developed which marries the extreme saltiness of the sticky, dark brown paste with the sweetness of caramel and chocolate. The luxury treat, which costs £2.75, has been created by bakers at the London company ‘Lola’s Cupcakes’ and is designed to appeal particularly to fathers.  Love it or hate it; MARMITE cupcakesarticle-2652886-1E9AD46900000578-508_638x431Put me down as a lover of MARMITE, but strike my name from the cupcake list! There are some twisted bakers around London that need a damn good talking too… ;-)    Yours Aye.

Clarissa Dickson Wright. Obituary.

Clarissa Dickson Wright. Obituary. Clarissa Dickson Wright was a bombastic, outspoken lawyer brought to her knees by riches and alcoholism, who rose again on the TV series ‘Two Fat Ladies.’    Barrister and Pheasant Plucker…

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Clarissa Dickson Wright, who has died aged 66, sprang to celebrity as the larger of the Two Fat Ladies in the astonishingly popular television series. Clarissa Dickson Wright was a recovering alcoholic, running a bookshop for cooks in Edinburgh when the producer Patricia Llewellyn was inspired to pair her with the equally eccentric Jennifer Paterson, then a cook and columnist at The Spectator. The emphasis of the programme was to be on “suets and tipsy cake rather than rocket salad and sun-dried tomatoes”, the producer declared. Hence bombastic tributes to such delights as cream cakes and animal fats were mingled with contemptuous references to “manky little vegetarians”Not all the reviews were kind. Victor Lewis Smith in the London Evening Standard referred to the ladies’ “uncompromising physical ugliness” and “thoroughly ugly personalities”. Another critic quipped: “Perhaps handguns shouldn’t be banned after all.” Most, though, became instant addicts and predicted future cult status. By 1996 the programme was attracting 3.5 million viewers.      ‘Two Fat Ladies’ Jennifer Paterson (L). Clarissa Dickson Wright (R).two-fat-ladies_2854074bThe Triumph motorbike and sidecar which sped the two fat ladies around the countryside might have appeared contrived (although Paterson was a keen biker), but their kitchen-sink comedy could never have been scripted. Clarissa Dickson Wright would come up with such lines as “look at those charming looking fellows” when describing scallops, and advise businessmen to come home and cook “to relax after the ghastly things they do in the City”. Not content to confine themselves to the kitchen, the indomitable pair ventured out into the field, gathering mussels in Cornish drizzle ~ using their motorcycle helmets as pails ~ and perilously putting out to sea in a sliver of a boat to catch crabs.

‘Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmeralda Dickson Wright’ was born on June 24 1947, the youngest of four children. “My parents had great trouble deciding what to call me in the first place,” she explained about her abundant christening, “but then they were so delighted they had finally found a name, they got pissed on the way to the church.” To decide which name should come first, “they blindfolded my mother and turned her loose in the library, where she pulled out a copy of Richardson’s Clarissa”. Her father, Arthur Dickson Wright, was a brilliant surgeon who was the first to extract a bullet from the spine without leaving the patient paralysed; he also pioneered the operation for stripping varicose veins and his patients included the Queen Mother, Vivien Leigh and the Sultana of Jahore. He had met Clarissa’s mother, Molly, an Australian heiress, while working in Singapore.images-1

Growing up in Little Venice, Clarissa’s first memory was of eating a hard-boiled egg and a cold sausage on a picnic at Wisley at the age of three. Her father, though basically miserly, did not stint on household bills. He had pigeons flown in from Cairo and a fridge permanently full of caviar. From infant trips back to Singapore remembered consuming “deeply unhygienic but delicious” things wrapped in banana leaves.

When her parents entertained, Clarissa read recipes to the illiterate cook, Louise, who in turn would squabble with Clarissa’s mother about what they were going to serve. One day, Louise stood at the top of the stairs: “Madam,” she said, “if you make me cook that I’ll jump.” “If you don’t Louise,” Mrs Dickson Wright retorted, “you might as well.” (Clarissa also had memories from around this time of Cherie Booth “always doing her homework in school uniform in the middle of louche Hampstead parties — she was a swot”. Later she observed the budding union between Booth (“desperately needy”) and Tony Blair (“a poor sad thing with his guitar”). Later still she observed that the “wet, long-haired student” that she had known had been replaced by a man with “psychopath eyes. You know those dead eyes that look at you and try to work out what you want to hear?”)

Clarissa’s father became a progressively violent alcoholic, so that when he came home “one would take cover”. He broke three of her ribs with an umbrella and on another occasion hit her with a red-hot poker. She later confessed to poring over botanical volumes in search of suitable poisons and scouring the woods for lethal mushrooms.Boarding school proved a wonderful refuge. She then did a Law degree externally at London (her father refused to pay for her to go to Oxford unless she read Medicine) and was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1970. It was while she was at home studying for her Bar final that a letter arrived for her mother while the family was at breakfast. It turned out to be from her father, announcing divorce proceedings. After her father left the house Clarissa Dickson Wright never saw him again.

138300She was by then a regular pipe smoker, consuming two ounces of Gold Block a week. The first woman to practise at the Admiralty Bar, she received excellent notices from, among others, Lord Denning, and was elected to the Bar Council as a representative of young barristers.

Things started to go awry, though, when her parents died in quick succession in the mid-1970′s – her mother in 1975, her father several months later. Her father left his entire £2 million fortune to his brother, explaining his decision in a caustic rider to his will. Clarissa’s mother, he wrote “never helped me and sought to alienate my children”. Clarissa’s sisters had married men either too old or too young, and her brother’s fault was to be “seeing Heather (one of Clarissa’s sisters) again”. As to his youngest daughter: “I leave no money to Clarissa, who was an afterthought and has twice caused me grievous bodily harm, and of whom I go in fear of my life.” The family contested the will to no avail.

It was Derby Day when Clarissa came home to find her mother dead. “It was a shock I quite simply couldn’t handle,” she recalled. She went to her boyfriend’s house and surprised everybody by pouring herself a large whisky: “I remember thinking ‘Why have I waited so long? I’ve come home.’ I felt this enormous sense of relief.” Her “habit” soon consisted of two bottles of gin a day, and a bottle of vodka before she got out of bed. “Suddenly it was as if I’d done it,” she remembered of her consequent loss of ambition. “I could hear the eulogies at my memorial service in my head, so what was the point of actually going through the mechanics of doing it.” In 1980 she was charged with professional incompetence and practising without chambers; she was disbarred three years later.

Financially this presented no immediate hardship since her mother had left her a fortune. Yet by the age of 40, Clarissa Dickson Wright had blown it all on “yachts in the Caribbean, yachts in the Aegean, aeroplanes to the races – and drink”. “If I’d had another £100,000,” she conceded, “I’d have been dead.” At rock bottom she went to the Department of Social Security to ask for somewhere to live, only to be told: “We’re not here for the likes of you, you know. You’re upper class, you’ve got a Law degree.” She began to cook in other people’s houses. “Of course it’s only the upper classes who will become domestic servants now,” she reflected. “Other people feel it demeans them.” One day, when preparing to cook for a house party, she was on her knees, cleaning the floor. “I looked up,” she remembered, “and said ‘Dear God, if you are up there, please do something.’” The next day she was arrested for refusing a breathalyser. “I was carted down the long drive just as the house party was coming up it. From then on, I was inexorably swept into recovery.” It took place at Robert Lefever’s Promis Recovery Centre at Nonington, not far from Canterbury. She retained an affection for Kent ever after.article_imgClarissa Dickson Wright owed her proportions to drinking six pints of tonic a day over 12 years, leading to “sticky blood” (a condition normally associated with people taking quinine tablets over a long period) and a very slow metabolism. Of the ungallant nature of the Two Fat Ladies title, she said: “Well there are two of us. I have a problem with ‘Ladies’ as it sounds like a public convenience. But which bit do you object to? Are you saying I’m thin?” Her size did not deter suitors. “I get more offers now than when I was slender,” she said. “Especially from Australians. They’re crazy about me.” It could also be a formidable weapon. On Two Fat Ladies she was known as “Krakatoa” for her temper, and once put two would-be mugger’s in intensive care. “I didn’t go around beating people up,” she said, “but if people were aggressive to me, then I hit them.”

A knowledgeable food historian, she argued that the “use of anti-depressant’s is directly relatable to the decrease in use of animal fat (a stimulant of serotonin).” She did not own a television, but went across the road to watch the rugby. Her choice for Desert Island Discs ranged from The Drinking Song by Verdi to Ra Ra Rasputin by Boney M. The desert island of her imagination was “a Caribbean island during the cool season with lots of shellfish… and perhaps the odd hunky native that one could lure to the sound of music.”images

Following the success of Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright was elected a rector of Aberdeen University and opened a restaurant in the grounds of the Duke of Hamilton’s 16th-Century Lennoxlove House. Then, after Jennifer Paterson died in 1999, Clarissa Dickson Wright presented the One Man And His Dog Christmas Special. She later went on to appear (from 2000 to 2003) in the series Clarissa and the Countryman, with Johnny Scott (above left.) It was remarkably un-PC, but the real reason for the fact that the BBC dropped her, she claimed, was that she was too pro-hunting.

Her support for the Countryside Alliance did see her plead guilty to attending a hare coursing event in 2007. She had thought it legal as the greyhounds were muzzled and the magistrate gave her an absolute discharge. “I did not get a criminal record for that,” she said. “I was quite looking forward to going to jail in Yorkshire and writing the prison cookbook. It would have been a rest.” In 2012 she again raised eyebrows when she suggested that badgers shot in any cull should be eaten. Badgers, she noted, were once a popular bar snack: “I would have no objection to eating badgers. I have no objection to eating anything very much, really.”{4BF2037A-679C-4952-932F-38ED011C943C}Img100

Her autobiography, Spilling the Beans (in which she claimed, among other things, that she once had sex behind the Speaker’s chair in Parliament) was published in 2007. That and other ventures such as the “engaging county-by-county ramble” Clarissa’s England (2012), and a return to the small screen (filming a three-part series for BBC Four on breakfast, lunch and dinner) saw her finances steadily improve. One supermarket chain offered her an “awful lot of money” to promote it, but she could afford to turn it down. “I don’t regret it. I used to say that all I had left in life was my integrity and my cleavage. Now it’s just my integrity.” Her faith was less well-defined than her views on field sports. “I’m not a very good or compliant Catholic. I reserve my right to disagree. My ancestors fought with Cromwell. Other ancestors went with Guy Fawkes. So we’re bolshie on both sides.” She admitted attending Mass to “give thanks” and enjoyed AA meetings, describing them as “better than television”.9780857830944

The love of her life was a Lloyd’s underwriter named Clive who died from a virus caught in Madeira. Latterly she said that she had a long-time admirer. “We are very companionable,” she noted. But they did not live together. “Heaven forfend! I don’t mind cooking his meals, but wash his socks? No.”

Clarissa Dickson Wright, born June 24 1947, died March 15 2014

An English eccentric with not one drop of ‘politically correct’ blood running through her body. Her Biography is a damn good read, as are her recipe and cookery books. There will be an almighty raucous party due on the other side of the sand bar…Two Fat Ladies talk about Vegetarians   ;-)   Yours Aye.

Todays special is…

wide-chengdu3The man was carrying a backpack full of brown rice when he entered the tigers’ pen… Chinese man survives mauling from Bengal tigers after jumping in their cage to ‘feed the animals’  A man has survived being mauled by a pair of white Bengal tigers in a Chinese zoo after he jumped into their enclosure with a bag of rice because he “wanted to feed the animals”. Shocked visitors watched on as the man, identified in local media reports as 27-year-old Yang Jinhai, was scratched, bitten and dragged around the tigers’ enclosure before keepers could intervene. ‘Looks like chinese for lunch’White_Bengal_TigersWitnesses said they initially thought Mr Yang must have been a member of staff at the zoo himself after he was spotted carrying a backpack in the branches of a tree overlooking the tiger pen. But after a number of fellow tourists started shouted at him to come back down, Mr Yang jumped from the branch into the enclosure. Eyewitness Feng Lin told local media: “He climbed up the outside of the cage and jumped inside expecting, I assume, that the tigers would pounce on him. Instead the two tigers, a male and a female, seemed more nervous than anything else and the female actually ran off. Man survives mauling from Bengal tigers after jumping into zoo pen to ‘feed the animals’ 

Mr Yang was treated at the 416 Hospital in Chengdu for around a dozen light puncture wounds, and upon his release told reporters he had “wanted to feed the tigers”. His backpack was found to be filled with brown rice, but local media agencies quoted family members saying he had been suffering mental health problems recently and would now be taken for counselling.eggfriedrice_67782_16x9

When eating chinese I much prefer egg fried rice with spring onions and bean sprouts, as opposed to plain brown rice  ;-)                  Yours Aye.

Zea mays everta (popcorn)…

PopcornKernelHaving missed mentioning the USA’s National Popcorn Day (Sunday 19th January). Which should never be confused with National Popcorn Month (October). Or Caramel Popcorn Day (Monday 7th April). I thought I should jolly well make amends and do so now, if for no other reason than in honour of its connection to the Super Bowl, of which across the US hundreds of thousands of gallons will be munched through today. The following quick heads up over a few, from many, little-known facts about the sports, home/movie theatre staple food.

1. Each kernel contains a tiny drop of water. Which is why, when heated, the water expands causing the kernel to explode and turn itself inside out. 

2. In the US, popcorn consumption declined significantly during the 1950s with the invention of the television. People stopped going to the ‘movies’, resulting in poor sales of popcorn. The humble microwave restored the snack’s popularity, as did the ‘movie’ theatre industry when it reinvented itself to appeal to the masses.

3. The world’s known oldest piece of popcorn is around 5,600 year old, which was found in a bat cave in New Mexico in 1948. 

4. The average American eats 17 gallons of popcorn a year! As a whole, America eats 4.3 billion gallons of popcorn a year!!! 

5. Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup. Lets not mention caramelised, or toffee covered while we are ahead!

6. Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.

7. Of the 6 types of maize/corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn—only popcorn pops.

8. Popcorn is a whole grain. It is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (also know as the hull).

9. Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop.

10. Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from a heated source to build and eventually burst open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.

11. Most U.S. popcorn is grown in the Midwest, primarily in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.

12. Many people believe the acres of corn they see in the Midwest during growing season could be picked and eaten for dinner, or dried and popped. In fact, those acres are typically field corn, which is used largely for livestock feed, and differs from both sweet corn and popcorn.

13. The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.

14. Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it’s popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn’t crumble.

15. Popping popcorn is one of the number one uses for microwave ovens. Most microwave ovens have a “popcorn” control button. (Definitely not the case in the UK).

16. “Popability” is popcorn lingo that refers to the percentage of kernels that pop.

17. There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. Some varieties of popcorn have been bred so the hull shatters upon popping, making it appear to be hull-less.

18. Popcorn kernels can pop up to 3 feet in the air.

19. The world’s largest popcorn ball was created by volunteers in Sac City, Iowa in February, 2009. It weighed 5,000 lbs., stood over 8 ft. tall, and measured 28.8 ft. in circumference.

20. If you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels! (No idea how this is known, so questions should be directed at a rocket scientist or an Arch bishop).

21. American vendors began selling popcorn at carnivals in the late 19th century. When they began to sell outside movie theaters, theater owners were initially annoyed, fearing that popcorn would distract their patrons from the movies. It took a few years for them to realize that popcorn could be a way to increase revenues, and popcorn has been served in movie theaters since 1912.

There are hundreds more popcorn facts, but I need to shower and chill out… 

 And finally, an admission of my own, I really dislike the stuff, to the point where I would prefer to eat a piece of heavy-duty Axminster Carpet from the floor of my living room… But hey, 319,510,848, americans can’t be wrong. ;-)   (Est for 2014). Perhaps it’s just me… Yours Aye.

Margarine is toast…

Is margarine ‘brown bread’ (cockney rhyming slang for ‘dead’)? Butter is back, with sales soaring as healthy alternatives melt away…article-2546295-1867F8DD00000578-569_634x574

Spread the word: butter is back. Appetite for butter gradually melted over the past few decades, as it became associated with heart disease, high cholesterol and making people fat. Instead, families were encouraged to put ‘healthier’ spreads such as margarine on the nation’s breakfast tables. But now the trend is in reverse, according to new figures from manufacturers and market researchers. They show that, in the past five years, butter sales have risen by seven per cent while margarine sales have fallen by six per cent, the research company Kantar Worldpanel said.article-2546295-04014D8C000005DC-4_634x305

However despite the resurgence, margarine is still the most popular with shoppers – approximately twice as much is bought than butter. But the rising popularity of butter has not been lost on manufacturers, with consumer goods giant Unilever – which makes Flora margarine – admitting defeat in its ‘war on butter’. Unilever used to promote the slogan ‘bread and margarine’, rather than bread and butter, but now consumer demand has forced into a rethink.
Multigrain-granary loaf
For the first time, Unilever has added butter to one of its products, a ‘butter-based’ spread called Rama, which is being sold in Germany. MORE HERE:
 Butter is back with sales soaring as ‘healthy’ alternatives melt away

Personally I never touch white bread in any way shape or form, I buy fresh granary-multi grain loaves, and use a very low fat-salt butter (my inner body is a temple, though slightly weather worn on the outside) ;-) And I certainly would not pay $7- for a slice of toast with honey as they do in Los Angeles?

Especially when I can buy three fresh loaves, and a jar of honey for the comparable  price of £7- from my favourite bakery.

Yours Aye. Whose taste buds have now been tempted, and won over. Toast anyone…

Gran’s irish stew recipe…

imagesHaving held a séance to seek permission from my Gran ‘on the other side’, I am now able to release her irish stew recipe… (yep; I made that bit up) The following for your perusal and use, as you see fit.  Yours Aye. With profuse apologies to Kristen for the delay…

Ingredients

3 lb stewing beef, cut into cubes OR 3 Ib quality minced beef

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 large leeks, diced (or onions if preferred)

Frozen petite pois (2 small portions)

6 large sprouts (quarter cut)

6 carrots cut into large portions, or 12 baby carrots scrubbed and left whole

2 carrots (grated)

Sea salt & Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Cloves of garlic, crushed and grated (or equivalent in dried garlic pieces) to taste

18 button mushrooms (cut in half)

1 table-spoon chopped thyme

2 table-spoon chopped parsley

Beef stock OR chicken stock (Knorr stock cubes)

15 fl oz of red wine (optional)

Preparation method

Brown the beef in the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, remove and place in a casserole dish

Remove the beef and toss in the leeks/onions, mushrooms and carrots, one ingredient at a time, seasoning each time to taste.

Place these back in the casserole dish, along with the herbs and garlic.

Cover with red wine (optional) and stock, and simmer for one hour or until the meat and vegetables are cooked.

To make the roux; in a separate pan melt the butter, add the flour and cook for two minutes.

When the stew is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables.

Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and add one tbsp of roux.

Whisk the mixture until the roux is broken up and the juices have thickened, allowing it to simmer, not boil.

Replace the meat and vegetables, and taste for seasoning.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve…

Nigella Lawson, recipe for a disaster

article-2513829-153C9247000005DC-186_634x423The public and private face of a celebrity cook, whose self destruct button was well and truly pushed. Will claims about Nigella’s ‘decade of daily cocaine use’ dent her TV career? US network airs promo for her new series… but says her future is now in doubt  article-2513829-1A660727000005DC-412_634x491Nigella’s Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake recipe dusted with coke icing sugar.

You do not require a set of kitchen scales to measure the amount of sympathy I feel for this woman celebrity, who made her fortune through cooking and the promotion of her self as well as her recipes. A person who behaves in a morally commendable way in public. Yet in private? She has ruined the lives of her own family and brought great shame to her siblings and parents, her father being Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby who served this country honourably in government as well as a politician in the House of Lords.images-3

‘Hi-gella! She was off her head on drugs, poisoned her daughter and trashed her life’: Saatchi claims ex-wife’s ‘drug habit meant she let assistants blow £300,000 on taxis and clothes’ so they’d keep quiet  Yours Aye.

Waaahhhhooooooooooo!!!

article-2507979-196F55C500000578-234_634x421Eating a full English breakfast can help you lose weight, a new study suggests. Research shows that a meal high in protein instead of carbohydrate or fibre for breakfast can fight off hunger and avoid the urge to over-eat later in the day. A hearty sitting of foods like sausage, egg or bacon instead of low-fat cereals or fruit for the first meal of the day helps to curb hunger throughout the morning and cut the number of calories eaten at lunch time, experts claim. An experiment at the University of Missouri on a group of 18 to 55-year-old women showed that a high-protein breakfast kept them fuller longer than a meal with less protein but the same amount of fat and fibre. The team, led by research scientist Dr Kevin Maki, found eating between around 35 grams of protein for breakfast – the equivalent to a four-egg omelette or two sausages and a rasher of bacon – helped regulate appetite.  Egg x 1, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomato x 1, grilled back bacon x 3, grilled beef sausage x 1, toasted brown granary bread x 2. And a huge pot of tea.

Research scientist Dr Kevin Maki of the University of Missouri! Tomorrow morning I will raise a cup of tea as a ‘toast’ towards you and your team, before I heartily launch myself at my full english breakfast.                     Yours Aye.

Jamie Oliver’s Beef-Guinness Pie

2461_1693_generalAt 13:00-hrs on Sunday 3rd November 2013; my stomach growled, reminding me that it was time to rustle up some lunch. An early morning breakfast at ’0-daft-o-clock’ that morning prior to walking the canines, had all but been worked off! Just as I opened the fridge door, the phone rang; it was my mate “Have you eaten yet”?“Not yet, I’m just looking into it now” came my reply. “Then don’t, cos me and the Missus will be around in 30 minutes to buy you a pub lunch” This, from the same bloke who I assisted in moving a piano two weeks hence.

Thirty minutes later I was sat waiting in my top hat and tails, and best bib & tucker; having short-walked the dogs who were now snoozing on their beds by the warm radiators. 

At 14:00-hrs we three were sat in the pub having ordered our lunch as well as a round of drinks. Lunch being today’s menu special ‘Guinness pie’ using Jamie Oliver’s recipe, with the drinks being the liquid black stuff  (except his ‘Missus’ the designated driver).pictbEYyQ         Ingredients: 1 & 1/2 lbs stewing beef, diced sea salt, to taste fresh ground black pepper, to taste:  2 tablespoons flour (heaping):  2 -3 tablespoons olive oil:  1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped:  2 -3 carrots, peeled and chopped (depending on size):  2 -3 potatoes, peeled and chopped (depending on size):  Fresh rosemary (fresh herbs, pick leaves and add about a handful) or fresh thyme (fresh herbs, pick leaves and add about a handful) or bay leaf (fresh herbs, pick leaves and add about a handful):  2 cups of Guinness stout (Can substitute the Guinness for beef stock) or 2 cups other dark stout beer (Can substitute the Guinness for beef stock):  28 ounces diced tomatoes:  1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted (1 sheet from a 1 lb. 2 oz. package):  1 egg, beaten:

Directions: (Turn left at the gate-post, and drive along un-named road for five miles)!

1  Season your beef generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the flour and toss around until all pieces are well coated.

2  Heat olive oil, over med.-high heat, in a large casserole type pan and brown the meat. Make sure to not crowd your meat. You may do this in two batches, if necessary.

3  Add the onion and cook for 1 more minute. Then add the carrot, celery, parsnips and fresh herbs. Cook for another 4 minutes. Add the Guinness and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir and turn down the heat to simmer. Simmer this mixture for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. The sauce should be thick and intensely flavored. Season if needed.

4  To make pies:

5  Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

6  Put your meat filling into a large, round baking dish. You could also make individual pies. Any high-sided round oven-proof bowl is fine.

Roll out the pastry, dusting with flour as you go, until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out a large circle (or individual circles for smaller servings) – about 1/2 inch bigger than the top of your bowl. Brush the rim(s) of the bowl with the beaten egg, then place the pastry circle(s) on top, pushing the excess pastry down the outside of the bowl to secure. Lightly score the top of the pastry in a criss-cross manner and brush with more of the beaten egg.

8  Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Then place it on the table in front of Ex Bootneck, accompanied by a host of vegetables, roast potatoes, and lashings of thick gravy. Add another pint of the liquid black stuff, and let loose the dogs of war. There was sufficient room left for a dessert (foolish not too, as I wasn’t picking up the bill). A large portion of sticky toffee pudding with rich vanilla ice cream…images Followed by cheese, crackers and coffee. On the drive back I could hear my leather belt creaking, which was not a good sign as I had already let it out one notch. As we arrived at my home I was unceremoniously dumped at the entrance to my drive, as my mate was in a rush to get back to watch the highlights of the England (20) Australia (13) rugby game, which suited me as I needed to tarry a while after such a feast.

Having ‘watered’ the dogs I made the fatal mistake of sitting in the recliner in the conservatory that was warmed through from the heat of the bright Autumn sun. Three hours later I woke up in total darkness with Hannah & Nipper for company on the recliner; Joss the sensible remained curled up on his bed under the radiator. It took a gargantuan effort to step up and boil the kettle for a-cuppa-char. Even now, almost 24 hours later I’m still as full as a gun, and feeling lethargic.      Yours Aye.

Almonds are forever…

article-2476628-18FA71A500000578-131_306x423The savvy snacker’s secret? Eating 30 almonds a day reduces hunger pangs and doesn’t cause weight gain People who ate 1.5oz of almonds – equivalent to around 250 calories – didn’t end up gaining weight or eating any more throughout the day. Eating almonds also improves Vitamin E, and ‘good’ fat intake. Almonds keep hunger at bay because of their monounsaturated fat, protein, and fibre content.

Researchers at Purdue University, in Indiana, found that eating 1.5oz of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day reduced volunteers’ hunger, improved their Vitamin E levels and ‘good’ fat intake, and did not cause them to pile on the pounds. The study included 137 adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Previous research has shown that eating almonds can cut a person’s risk of liver cancer because of the nuts’ Vitamin E content. Vitamin E found in almonds is also thought to protect against heart disease and eye damage in old age. Another study suggested that eating almonds can help prevent diabetes because it can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce cholesterol levels. Ma’am! Please step away from the doughnut…article-2476628-18FA786A00000578-86_634x410

On my desk is a glass jar filled with almonds, which is some thing I tend to snack on through out the day, I also carry a bag around with me when I go for a long walk as they are a great energy level booster. Purdue University only had to pick the phone up and call me, I could have saved them a fortune in research. Yours Aye.

The British invented doughnuts!

It’s almost 02:00 hrs and more importantly it’s Friday morning here in the UK. So before I let the dogs out for their leg stretch, I will simply light the blue touch paper with this post, and retire to a safe distance… Doughnuts are a British invention according to historians who have unearthed they were invented by the English upper classes     Yours Ayearticle-2475513-18F65D2900000578-874_636x382