Going Greek

Yesterday we went Greek curtesy of Rick Stein with his Soutzoukakia. (Meatballs in tomato sauce with cinnamon and cumin)

I’m scoring this one 10/10 as the boss, noted for her lack of enthusiasm for meat, cleared the plate.

I only changed two things:

  • The tomato sauce called for a cinnamon stick – didn’t have any so I just added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon;
  • We didn’t fancy rice so we had it with tagliatelle.

Stay safe folks

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Asian Food – Nice

I may have said this before but we are very partial to Asian food.

One of our favourites is Peking (or crispy) Duck. Now it is very easy to send out for a takeaway or buy the heat and eat versions from supermarkets, but it is much more satisfying to make it yourself; apart from the rice paper rolls which we brought from the local Chinese supermarket.

This is a mixture of a couple of different recipes putting together, in my view, the best way to make the duck and sauce. Serves two just nicely.

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • Spring onions – shredded
  • Cucumber – Use a potato peeler then cut into matchsticks
  • The Source
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) or sunflower oil
    • 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
    • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce – preferably dark
    • 1 tablespoon cornflower

Method

  1. Place the duck, skin side up, on a rack over the sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin – pat dry
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4
  3. Mix the honey and five spice and brush it all over the duck – let it dry for a bit then, if you have any left, brush over the rest of the glaze.
  4. Place duck in to a roasting tin and roast for 25-35 minutes – you don’t need any oil as the duck fat will provide that for you
  5. Whilst waiting for the duck add all of the sauce ingredients, except the cornflower, in to a pan over a medium heat, and stir together with 100ml water. Heat until it starts to boil. Mix the cornflower in a tablespoon of water then remove the pan from the heat and stir it in to the sauce mix. Back on the heat and stir until the sauce thickens to your taste. Allow to cool.
    1. Note: these ingredients will give you enough for a couple of uses. I bottled half of it in the empty hoisin sauce bottle.
  6. Once the duck is done to your liking put it on a board to rest for a while then slice or shred it.
  7. Enjoy it

Take care out there folks

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Lateral Flow Tests

We took our first Lateral Flow test this week which resulted in a little amusement.

The first smile happened when I opened the package and saw the little slip of paper announcing that they were made in China.  Open-mouthed smile If this were a Tom Clancy book there would be a paragraph laying out a part of the conspiracy using the thoughts of  Zhang Han San after having a conversation with one of his subordinates – Read Executive Orders followed by Rainbow Six to see the plot.

The second was not amusing when it happened, but bloody funny afterwards. For those who haven’t used the test you have to take a swab and twist it around against each tonsil four times, then push it up one of your nostrils and twist it around ten times. There is an instruction to blow your nose before doing this. I managed to do the tonsil part without gagging; the trick here is to make sure not to touch the dangly thing in the middle. Winking smile   I then did the nostril part and I could feel it coming on; that tingly sensation that tells you that you are going to sneeze. I just managed to get the ten turns done and pull the swab out in time and then gave the biggest and loudest sneeze going, followed by several more; I think the people a couple of doors down heard it Sick smile It didn’t help that the boss was laughing her head off. Rolling on the floor laughing

Thirty minutes later the results showed negative. It is not a guarantee but a high likelihood of  not having the virus; in my book that is better than nothing and it gives you a sense of satisfaction if nothing else.

Stay safe folks

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Vaccination Complete

I had my second jab of the AstraZeneca CORVID-19 vaccine yesterday – no side effects with either. The Boss had her second jab two weeks ago with only minor side effects of a bit of an ache at the insertion site and a bit of nausea the morning after, although that could have been my cooking. Winking smile

The government has decided that we no longer need to follow the Shielding rules from 1st May but we will continue to follow that guidance for the next few weeks, to give my jab time to take full affect before we venture out to the shops.

Just a short one this time – strangely enough I’ve been a bit busy with one thing or another.

Just to say – please remember that vaccinations do not stop you from getting the virus or passing it on; it just makes it, in most cases, less of a drama for you.

Stay safe out there folks

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On Holiday in the Back Garden

21c and Sunny so time to mimic the lunch we like when in Mallorca. The only difference is that we would normally have it in a café in Alcúdia, whilst today, we sat at our decking table and I was cooking a beautiful Tortia de Quesso with fries and salad, accompanied by a glass of wine.

A couple of things I’ve learnt about cooking an omelette:

  • Throw a large pinch of ground pepper in with the (in our case 3) eggs and whisk well with a fork – a whisk tends to make a mess in my hands.
  • Cook on a medium heat and resist the temptation to turn it up when it seems that it isn’t cooking fast enough.
  • Don’t flip the omelette – you’ll end up with it overcooked and dry.
  • When the top is still slightly runny, add the cheese, and any thing else you want, to one half, then fold the other half over the filling.
  • Leave it long enough to melt the cheese – you can flip the whole over at this point if you want.
  • Enjoy the magic

The weather report says tomorrow should be warm and sunny and then it’s back to the normal British weather for the Easter weekend Winking smile

Stay safe out there folks

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One Year On

It has been one year since the first lockdown, and during that time there have been 4,301,925 confirmed cases of CORVID-19 and, sadly, 126,172 deaths attributed to the virus in the UK. In the last few months we have seen a massive effort to vaccinate the adult population with the current published figure (as at 21/03/2021) at 27,997,976 which is 44.9% of the population and over 50% of the adult population. On top of that, 2,281,384 people have had their second jab.

It is unlikely that they read this blog but I add my sincere condolences to the families of those lost, and my heart felt thanks to those who have worked throughout to keep those inflicted as comfortable as possible. All of the nurses, doctors, ambulance and paramedic crews, cleaners and volunteers; all the other front line workers such as care workers, police, fire and rescue; and all the others, such as garbage collection crews and shop workers who have kept us going.

I don’t often get involved in politics, but I will express my disgust at the level of the nurses 1% pay rise, given what they have done for us this last year. MP’s were going to get 3-4% increase this year. Although that was frozen after a public outcry, it seems a completely unfair gap considering the stress nurses have been put through.

On a slightly lighter note, our woes started a year ago last Friday with the cancelation of our flight to the USA. In a sense we were the lucky ones, as we got all our costs refunded and have come out the far side with a smile still on our faces.

Take care out there folks

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A Tale of 9 Eggs

As a general rule we have a cooked breakfast or brunch on either Saturday or Sunday; lately that has been poached eggs on toast.

Last Sunday, at about 10:30, I boiled up the water in my trusty wok (it’s better than a pan) and cracked open the four eggs in to two bowls, as I find it easier to slide them in to the water two at a time. Unfortunately one broke and, as you know running egg yoke does not lend itself to poaching.

Having replace the broken egg and made the toast I slid the eggs in to the boiling water.

I had just gotten to the stage where I needed to plate up when the doorbell rang, which Mary answered to find our oldest daughter delivering a bunch of flowers for Mothers day. The only thing to do was to turn off the hob leaving the eggs to go hard – apparently you really cannot just put them on the plate and start eating whilst talking to your children at the front door according to the Boss (My eldest isn’t part of our bubble so hasn’t been in the house for the last year)

Anyway 20 minutes later I was back at the hob with the water just getting to the boiling point, when our second daughter rang to wish mum a happy mothers day. After 30 minutes or so she asked her mom if I had cooked breakfast for her; needless to say I couldn’t resist calling out that I had been trying to for the last hour.

Anyway, after another half hour or so I started the water boiling again. Once again I was just about to slide the eggs in when our Son turned up with another bunch of flowers, and breakfast become a late lunch.

Just an aside did you know that Fathers Day is nine months before Mothers Day – I always find that amusing Winking smile

Stay Safe folks

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Cooking is Very Therapeutic

I’ve enjoyed my foray in to cooking over the last few months. I have found it to be a nice change from my day job of software development; very relaxing, except for that hectic part at the end when you are trying to get a number of dishes, all with different cooking times, on to the plate at the same time.

To encourage me in my endeavour the Boss brought me a number of cooking books, mostly Asian/Chinese due to my liking of the wok and our liking of that cuisine. I returned the gesture by buying her an electric wok and a new set of cooking utensils. Winking smile The idea was that using two woks would make it easier to get different dishes on the table at the same time.

image     image

Now the purists out there will probably tell you that woks should be used on a gas ring but we don’t have one of them. I can tell you that they work pretty well on our induction hob and the electric one is really good too for a £33 bit of kit – the heat control is very good.

It happens that one of the cookbooks Mary gave me contains a recipe for Nasi Goreng. This is an Indonesian style fried rice dish that I first tasted when I was out in the far east back in the 1960’s and really liked, so I christened the electric wok with it. Nasi Goreng can be a little pale on the eye in it’s basic form and I like a little colour on the plate, so I threw some peas and diced carrot in with the rice and chicken recipe to brighten it up. Boy did that bring back some memories – and it tasted good enough for Mary to clear her plate.

Needless to say this week has been an Asian cuisine experience.

Next week it will be back to a varied diet starting with a couple of Italian style dishes on Saturday.

Stay Safe folks

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We Went To Mars With Perseverance

Or at least our names did.

Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – NASA Mars

Perseverance's Sky Crane ManeuverA couple of years back Mary and I signed up to the NASA project to send our names to Mars with the Perseverance Rover. These are the Boarding Passes:BoardingPass_MyNameOnMars2020BoardingPass_MyNameOnMars2020_Mary

We watched the landing broadcast on Thursday 18th February and cheered with the NASA team when we heard the announcement that the landing was a success.

Our names are now in one of three chips located in Perseverance’s cross bar shown in this 3D model. You can find at the link to the NASA site above.

image

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COVID–19 Vaccination

To all of those anti vaccination and conspiracy people out there:

You have the right, in all countries that believe in free speech, to believe in anything you want no matter how stupid you look to the rest of us. (Yes, under those same rules of free speech I have the right to call you stupid)

I’ve had my first jab and the only side effect was a slight tenderness in my arm for a few hours. Yes, some people, including my wife, get other side effects, but nowhere near the severity as those (2,409,381 as of today) that have been infected with the virus and died.

The difference between my belief that you are stupid, and your belief that the vaccine is harmful, is that my belief can only hurts your feelings; your belief is downright dangerous to those you persuade not to have the vaccine should they become infected, and to all those who they go on to infect.

So by all means believe what you like – just stop trying to prevent the rest of us from being sensible.

Stay safe folks – get the jab when it is offered to you so we can get on with life.

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