Going Mediterranean–Unfortunately Without the Sun

As I said in my last post, this weeks Saturday dinner will be cod with Mediterranean roast vegetables and a tomato relish. This one is, pretty much, going to be my own concoction, with a few sneak peeks at recipes so, hopefully, it won’t go too far wrong. I made a batch of the relish yesterday and it tasted pretty good even if I do say so myself.

While I was browsing for other ideas I came across a recipe for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara by Gino D’Acampo; so I decided to start the weekend with that for Friday’s dinner. I followed his recipe; just changing the amounts to suit just the two of us and, being British, changing the Pancetta for unsmoked streaky bacon. Gino that was very easy to follow and, despite the ingredient change, it has to be the best carbonara we have ever eaten. Thank You.

On Sunday we are switching over to Hawaii for a slow cooked Hawaiian pork loin in pineapple source on a bed of basmati rice. This will be the first time using a slow cooker for me but it looks too good to not try it.

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How to Blow Your Taste Buds

In my last Cooking post I mentioned that I would be going Indian and attempting Salmon with Saag Aloo. I have to report that the salmon, glazed with tikka masala paste went down a treat. Not so much with the saag aloo.

The recipe called for a teaspoon of chilli flakes in the aloo spicing – guess who didn’t read the label properly and missed the big red ‘HOTConfused smileSteaming madSteaming mad on the bottle. I did taste during cooking, but must not have picked up any chilli because my first mouthful nearly blew the roof of my mouth off. Fortunately I had made some mint raita which, along with a bit of mango chutney, managed to cool it down to an edible level for me.

After that the Boss decided I would be cooking again on Sunday to make up for it; this time it was Salmon in a Breadcrumb crust with Dauphinoise potatoes, one of Mary’s favourites. Now I have never liked dauphinoise; not because I don’t like the taste, but because the look of them always put me off, so I had never tried them. Well I’ve changed my mind – they were very tasty, and that’s not just me saying that; Mary had a second helping.

Trouble is I’m getting carried away with this; I did a breadcrumb encrusted turkey stake with deep fried new potatoes and a creamy mushroom source last night; and this Saturday’s dinner is going Mediterranean with cod fillet, Mediterranean roast vegetables and a tomato relish. Time to get the sun lamp out. Now what was my Amazon account Open-mouthed smile

Stay safe out there folks – better still stay at home and do some cooking

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Captain Sir Tom Moore


You gave us cause to smile in difficult times.

Thank you

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Success and Failure

Continuing my culinary experiment, I decided to have a go at baking with an attempt at French Bread and Cinnamon Rolls.

The French Bread was a bit of a failure, because I didn’t have the patience to wait for the dough to rise properly; I used the time specified by the recipe but, in hindsight, it hadn’t doubled in size. It looked nice and, for the most part, tasted good, but the centre was a bit heavy and damp. Still, it went well with the mushroom soup I made for lunch.

The boss started the Cinnamon Roll dough but got side-tracked and asked me to finish it. This time I made sure I left the dough long enough, in fact left it overnight as it was getting late. The following morning I took great pleasure in thumping it down and kneading it before rolling it out. I’ve always liked the smell of cinnamon; it kind of reminds me of Christmas; and the kitchen really did have that atmosphere as I spread the mixture over the rolled out dough. I’ll call this one a success as they all disappeared rather rapidly when they came out of the oven. Even my Son, who isn’t too keen on sweet food, loved them.

This Saturday’s dinner is going Indian; I’m going to try my hand at Salmon on Saag Aloo. (Saag: Leafy green vegetables found in the Indian subcontinent or, in the UK, Spinach; Aloo: Bombay Potato) The salmon will be glazed with tikka masala paste. 

Stay safe folks.

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A Look at the Numbers

For some morbid reason I have looked at the Corvid-19 numbers every day since the Pandemic was declared and they started showing them for all countries.

I watched as China, then Italy, Spain and the United States took their turn, at the unenviable position, on top of the leader board. Obviously I also kept my eye at the UK’s position, at first going ahead of Spain and Italy, then those two and France going ahead of us and now back to us being ahead of them.

I’ve just created this little chart plotting the numbers of those countries with above two million reported cases (as of today (22/01/2021). I was curious to see how the numbers held out when you compare cases per head of population and reported deaths to number of cases.

Corvid Stats

It is plain to see that the USA is at the top and there the UK is in 5th place in terms of cases. Until you look at it from a different perspective:

Yes the USA is still up there leading the world (sorry) when we look at the numbers as a percentage of the population, but the UK goes in to 3rd place just behind France and India drops all the way down to last in this table.

I think the worst figures are the percentage of deaths. Here Italy is in 1st place with the UK in 2nd and the USA down the bottom only just ahead of Turkey. Remember we are not talking about countries with poor heath care facilities; these are countries, in the most part, with arguably some of the best heath care provision in the world.

The last week has seen the UK Corvid-19 attributed deaths per day higher (Above 1,000, and on 2 days above 1,800) than during the worst days of the initial breakout. If this does not go down over the next week, we will see the UK deaths over 100,000 by next Wednesday.

One other thing to remember is that these are ‘soft’ numbers. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people, tested positive for the virus, do not display any symptoms; which means they don’t know they have it until tested. How many people are out there who have had the virus and didn’t get tested because they didn’t know they had it (or were scared of loosing their job).
There is a formula around the number of days between hospitalisation and death that dictates whether the virus is put down as a cause which may also make the number of deaths low.

I’m also going to add my thoughts on the Vaccination. Anyone, who knows what they are talking about, will tell you that a vaccine does not give you immunity from the virus or disease. It helps your body fight it when you are infected which should, hopefully,  reduce the likelihood of any or severe illness. It also doesn’t stop you from infecting other people while your immune system is doing its job.

I don’t have many readers but if these numbers tell you anything it’s that we ain’t finished yet folks.

I promise I’ll get back to a bit of humour in my next post. 

Stay safe and keep everyone else safe by following the lockdown rules.

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Wishing You All a Happy and Prosperous New Year

Well 2020 has ended with a bang, or rather a damp squib; Brexit is done, bar the details, and the pandemic is galloping away after a slight hiatus towards the end of Novembers lockdown.

The highlight of our year was on 12th September when Mary and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary. It wasn’t the big get together and holiday we had planned but we both quietly renewed our vows to each other in the privacy of our own home.

With the potential saving light of the Corvid vaccines being administered, I am optimistic that 2021 will see us, once again, getting out and around.

I know it is hard for some but keep making each other laugh – it doesn’t matter how you do it but you’d be surprised how much good a big belly laugh does for you and those around you.

Take care out there folks – and have a great 2021

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Merry Christmas Everyone

My better half has cooked me Christmas Dinner for the past 50 years; less a few in the early years where we had Christmas day down my parents house. This year it was decided that I would do the job.

The menu was to be a starter of prawn and fruit cocktail, followed by a marmalade glazed roast pork, cooked along side apple, carrots and onions; roast potato’s, peas and fried brussels sprouts and bacon.

The first problem was that we couldn’t find the prawns; then we realised we had already used them – fortunately there was a packet of (small) scallops in the freezer so the starter became scallops cooked in butter sitting on a bed of wilted spinach.

So my day went like this:

  • Up with the sun (which, given it was cloudy and dark, was around 09:30);
  • After a leisurely cup of tea (Gunfire*); cook eggs benedict for brunch;
  • Clean up;
  • Set up and attend the family Teams get together;
  • Sherry;
  • Prep the dinner;
  • Red Wine;
  • A wee (three fingers) dram;
  • Listen to The Queens Speech;
  • Start cooking;
  • Eat starter –  Red Wine;
  • Clean up starter and finish cooking;
  • Eat dinner – more Red Wine;
  • Clean up;
  • Collapse in chair with a glass of Port – nothing to do with the alcohol mind; just the bloody hard work.

Lessons learnt: How on earth do the ladies do this year after year, and not just on Christmas day. Ladies (and any Gents out there who do this regularly) I salute you.

Mind you, I’ve always said that, although I pride myself on having worked hard all my life, women work twice as hard; often holding down a full time job and at the same time doing the umpteen jobs involved in keeping a house running and making it a home.

Anyway I trust you all had the best Christmas possible in the circumstances – We did.

*This is a British Army tradition where the officers and sergeants wake the lower ranks with tea containing, for those that want it (and I’ve never known anyone refusing) a dram of whisky. (Note: this is Whisky not the other stuff, which has too many E’s, whiskey)

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Another Lockdown Survived

Having gone through the big one earlier in the year, the 4 weeks of this one seemed to fly by; but has it done any good? Other than to slow the pace for a couple of weeks. We went in to the lockdown in tier 1 and came out of it in Tier 2. London went in in tier 3 and came out in tier 2; 2 weeks later they are going back to tier 3.

When the idea of a Christmas ‘break’ came up we were delighted – it meant that we could have our kids around us for a couple of days – then the reality swept back in with the announcement of a viable vaccine and the increase, once again, of the infection rate. The arrival of the vaccine means that we are close to the end (at least figuratively) so, having discussed it over a few tears, we all decided to move the festive season for a few months (which will probably turn out to be more like 6 to 12 months) rather this than having one of the kids devastated because they infected us or their siblings. We will see them all on Christmas day when we get together through the magic of technology.

On to a brighter note I have started to learn to cook. This is something I have always been able to do, but in a survival kind of way; i.e. beans on toast or corn beef hash. Over the last few weeks, apart from knocking up a stir-fry a few times, I have made Saturday night my chef night. On the menu we have had Duck breast with a cherry and orange source,  herb crusted salmon and this lovely filet of venison with fondant potatoes and a reuse of the cherry source.

20201129_183123 20201129_192232 20201129_192323

The boss told me I was cooking Christmas dinner, so on Sunday (13th) I cooked a turkey crown covered with a parsley and garlic butter, roasted new potato’s and beetroot and a cranberry source.

Take care out there folks 

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The Way Forward is to go Backwards

It was predictable; there we were nicely pushing down the R rate but still looking at between 500 – 600 new virus cases a day – the government decides to loosen up on the rains and let us mere mortals loose – it wasn’t too long before the parties were in full swing and Corvid infections were on the rise again – clearly illustrated in this chart for the UK.

Copied from the Bing Coronavirus trend in United kingdom page today (08/10/2020)

Cases have doubled (roughly) each week for the last three – That big spike on the right is were they found a bunch of tests that hadn’t been moved to the correct place so that they showed up in these statistics.

It looks to me that the politicians are scared stiff about the effect on the economy (i.e. business leaders have loud voices and it was hitting them hard) and they’re scared stiff about the outcome from the virus when it really gets out of control – you can almost see them freezing in the headlights.

I think history will tell the survivors that lifting the lookdown too early cost industry and the country more than it would had the government held it’s nerve a bit longer.

Stay Safe Folks

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50 Years and Still Going Strong

Or at least she hasn’t killed me yet Winking smile

At 12:30 on Saturday the 12th September 1970, I married Mary, the love of my life; although at the time we had only known each other for 6 months.

A couple of weeks before, I told my mum that we were going to find a flat to live in. I was told in no uncertain terms that there was no way that was going to happen unless Mary had a ring on her finger – note that this is my Mum Smile – at 22 years of age I was a little miffed so, trying to call her bluff, I turned round and said ‘OK make the arrangements then’. I should have known better – that wedding was arranged so fast it was like a fairy godmother had come to visit.

When I think back I realise that I never actually asked Mary to marry me – must have been meant for each other though as we made it to here.

I don’t give advice but I think the ‘secrets’ of a successful marriage are:

  1. Make sure you never go to sleep on an argument;
      1. if you do, beware the frying pan whilst you are asleep;
  2. Always say ‘I love you’ at least first and last thing each day – and mean it;
  3. Always remember who the boss is; – and believe me, any bloke who thinks it’s him is either an idiot or not likely to last 50 years Smile. (refer to 1i above Smile)

Be Safe All

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