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boiled_egg
The work of months is coming to a head this week. As much as I thrive on a certain amount of pressure, this project has got me biting my nails, nawing my lip and starting awake at ungodly hours in a sweat, brain cranking into overtime about all the things that could possibly go wrong. 

In the meantime, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so there isn’t much that’s new and interesting for the purposes of food blogging 🙂 Hence the boiled eggs for breakfast today. Although you can’t beat a good, soft-boiled egg with piles of hot buttery toast. Mmmmmm. Toast. [Stops typing and wanders off to make more.]

So, in substitute of a recipe, here are my answers to the Six Random Things meme that Rachel of Fairy Cake Heaven recently tagged me with. I’ve done something similar in the past but thought it would be fun to write up some food-related facts, what with this being a food blog and all:

1. One of the first things I made in Home Economics class at the age of eleven was macaroni cheese without the cheese as I’d forgotten to bring any with me. So macaroni with white sauce then. I received a mark of 6/10 for it.

2. I hate coffee. Bleurgh. But I have a drawer full of tea and hot chocolate:

tea_drawer

3. My grandad was a baker by trade. You couldn’t tell him you were going round to visit, otherwise you’d come away with more bread than you could possibly eat before it went stale. And it was great bread, so it was a shame to see it go to waste.

4. My favourite meal as a student: crappy white bread, Philidephia cheese and Frazzle crisps. I haven’t had one of those in years… I wonder if I tried one again whether it would be absolutely revolting. Perhaps it’s best left in the drawer marked ‘fondly remembered’.

5. My favourite food-related word of the moment is ‘spudnut’. Go on, try saying it without a smile cracking across your face. Spudnut. See?

It’s a type of doughnut with mashed potato in it and I’m itching to try out the recipe I’ve found to see if the taste is as good as the name.

6. The two books that really got me cooking as an adult were the MooseWood Cookbook and its follow-up The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, both by Molly Katzen. Somewhere in my early twenties, I realised that I couldn’t exist on a diet of Frazzle and Philidephia sandwiches alone (dammit) and a veggie friend recommended Molly’s books. It also helped that, at the time, I lived in a flat with an enormous kitchen and people willing to eat my experimental offerings of Green, Green Noodle Soup, Spinach-Ricotta Pie and many, many others. I still stand by her challah recipe as being the best I’ve ever tasted next to my grandad’s.

OK – would you like to do this meme? I’m throwing it open to anyone who wants a go – but particularly if you read this blog and have never commented before. Why not stop by in the comments section, say hello and tell me a little bit about yourself? 🙂

eggshell_empty

Now, what with this being a food blog, I don’t tend to break out of the mould too often and rant about anything other than edibles. But Darragh has handed me the perfect excuse by tagging me with the ‘Getting Your Goat’ meme  – a kind of ‘Room 101’ that’s pinged around the blogosphere and given people the chance for some cheap therapy.

The rules, thankfully, are straightforward. This can only be a good thing if you’ve been working up a head of steam about life’s little annoyances and are starting to become incoherent with rage:

  1. List two things that irritate you for a reason, and list the reason, and two things that irritate you for no apparent reason whatsoever.
  2. Give credit to the person who tagged you (*tips hat to Darragh again and apologises for leaving it so late*).
  3. Link your answers to the original blog – Keiron over on http://www.skillett.com
  4. Tag four new people to participate.

Two things that annoy me and I know precisely why

Number 1 – corporate speak

Dear lord, if I hear one more person utter the phrase, ‘I think we’re engaging in some healthy dialogue here’, I will staple their tongue to the desk while uttering the words, ‘Dialogue THIS, my fine friend!’.

Are we in a pychiatrist’s office? Methinks not. Although stapling someone’s tongue to their desk may certainly qualify me for a visit or two, along with a swift exit from the workplace.

Every company has its examples, its business language, phrases and abbreviations that are meaningless in the real world. It’s incomprehensible at first but after a few weeks it’s like you’ve never known anything else, you are part of the problem and die a little inside each time you find yourself uttering the latest company buzz phrase.

It’s insidious. It’s a suffocating layer of bullshit around what people really mean. You want to ‘granularise’ something? Why not just break it down or look at in in detail? Wanna cascade? Only, perhaps, if you’re a waterfall. How about just telling everyone what they need to know instead?

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  

Number 2 – Talking of bullshit… Gillian McKeith

I don’t normally go in for slagging folks – I really, really don’t. But this woman annoys the hell out of me and most of it is down to, you guessed it, the poo examination on that dammed show she does. I understand that this theatre of shame is supposed to help ‘shock’ an individual into changing their nutritionally-deviant ways… But we all know that’s just an cheap excuse for the nation to have a gander at some pathetic sod’s dribbly bottom offerings as ‘Dr’ McKeith gives them a sharp telling off. 

And that’s just bullying, which is unacceptable in my book. 

Plus, her science is well off the mark.

Like a lot of diets out there, McKeith is advocating that we  cut out the bad stuff and eat more healthily – no problems there, m’lud. But the rest of the ‘doctor’s’ advice is woo of the highest order. (Or should that be ‘poo-woo’?)

The only thing that show makes me want to do is go out and stuff my face with chocolate. 

Two things that annoy me for seemingly no reason at all

Number 1 – The way there never seems to be enough curtain in any changing room in the land.

You know how it goes: you’ve found something to try on in the shop, you wander in to the changing room all excited and try to close the curtain behind you in the booth, but… there’s a good two- or three-inch gap between that last wisp of the curtain and the cubicle wall, leaving your wobbly bottom on view to anyone unfortunate enough to be passing by.

Now, I have no particular issue with my wobbly bum, but I don’t think anyone needs to see it unless I sign up for one of those Spencer Tunnick photos. And I would like to prance around and strike a series of rock star poses (vital to, er, test the clothing, you see) in relative privacy. What would it actually cost retailers to add that little bit of extra cloth? Why is it always the way? Why, I ask? It’s a mystery.

(By the way, if anyone out there can tell me if it’s the same in the men’s changing rooms, I’d be grateful.)

Number 2 – That bit at the end of the banana, is it the seed or just something designed to make you gack?

I hated bananas as a small child, loathed the very sight of them. I’ve gotten over it – but that little pointy seed-thing lodged in one end still evokes my gag reflex. Bleurgh. Completely irrational and I’ve no idea why. Is it just me? 

I’m setting this meme free in the blogosphere if there’s anyone left who hasn’t done it yet. So if you feel like a good rant is in order, by all means pick it up and run with it 🙂

Aaaaaaaaah… deep breath – that’s better.

cherry blossom in the garden

The highly-talented Yvonne of It Had Better Be Good has tagged the entire blogosphere with this book meme and it looked like fun, so I thought I’d take up the offer.

The rules are simple:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and acknowledge who tagged you.

Well, I’m currently noodling through The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke – a collection of short stories set in the same universe as her epic doorstop of a novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (which I enjoyed greatly, if for no other reason than it starts in York Minster – somewhere I spent a lot of time when I was at school).

And the above instructions led to this passage:

‘Mr Baillie told me that newborn children are generally the colour of claret; sometimes, he said, they may be dark as port-wine but this child was, to all intents and purposes, black. He was, however, remarkably strong. He gave me a great kick as I passed him to the old woman.’

Does that make you want to keep reading? Who is Mr Baillie? Do you want to know what happens to the baby? The mother? How did the narrator come to the point where he/she was delivering a child?

I haven’t even got to that story yet!

Like Yvonne, I’m not going to tag anyone – but pick it up if you want to have a go. It’s an interesting way to find new books 🙂

The pictures have nothing to do with anything really – just something I snapped at the weekend. The flowers are from the cherry blossom tree in our garden – it finally decided that it might just possibly be springtime around here. I guess I just wanted to record that there has been at least some progress towards better weather – even if we had thunder and rain the next day.

cherry blossom close up

The always lovely and talented English Mum has tagged me with following meme:

‘Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given here (family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like). Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances (if not, your current blog buddies will do) so that you get to know them each a little bit better.’

Here it goes…

Family… Tricky this – I don’t tend to talk about my family much because, hey, they didn’t ask to be related to me, so why should their lives be splashed all over the blogosphere? Although this lions v bears debate is kind of fun. And it would be only going slightly off-meme to point you towards Andrew. I’d like to recommend a visit to his excellent blog and not just because he’s my cousin. That guy can write.

Friend… Well, it’s got to be VeggieKateLove her and miss her loads.

Yourself… Easy peasy – it’s got to be something about cookbooks hasn’t it?

Your love… Ah, now technically Mr B. did ask to be related to me, albeit through matrimony, so he doesn’t get off lightly.

Anything you likeA random conversation overheard in Dingle

Right, I’ll pick (on) the following folks to have a go at this meme (if they have time):

 Good luck everyone!

I was tagged a while ago by the highly-talented Laura of Eat, Drink, Live with the ‘four things’ meme that’s going around. So, here are my highly scintillating answers…

4 jobs that I’ve had…

Chambermaid: my first proper paid job when I was a teenager. They tried to promote me to breakfast waitress with disastrous results, so back to the cleaning I went. (That was in York, hence a slightly tenuous link to the pic of York Minster and St Michael Le Belfrey above.)

Sandwich maker: oh wow, the perfect job, especially for a cash-strapped student. I got to make sandwiches all day, eat as much as I wanted and take leftovers home. If they’d paid the equivalent of say, the CEO of British Telecom, I’d still be there, no question.

Door-to-door sales person: I lasted precisely one day at this – and only because I was being dragged around in a car with a training group and couldn’t get away more quickly. It made me sick to the stomach to watch the oily team leader go to work on persuading vulnerable grannies that they really wanted restaurant vouchers that they couldn’t afford. Yuk.

Shopgirl on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh: I worked for a couple of student summers in a shop selling vastly overpriced (but suprisingly nice) knitwear to tourists. Because this put us in the heart of Festival territory, we spent a bit of time gawping at any famous people walking by, who were trying to be ‘normal’. Like Christopher Lloyd – looking very grumpy and lost – or Terry Gilliam, who came into the shop and bought a jumper for his wife. We were all very unreasonably overexcited and star-struck. But no one did a silly walk or quoted Python at him, so I think we carried ourselves through the occasion with some measure of dignity.

4 places that I’ve been on holiday…

Scotland: it’s where we used to go on holidays when I was a kid and I loved it to pieces. May explain why I ended up going to uni there too.

Paris: went with an ex-boyfriend. Should have gone on my own.

Australia: I travelled for a month around Oz when I was 25 and just wish that I’d stayed for longer. Have grand plans to go back one day…

Dingle: this one’s special as it was during my first trip to Dingle with Mr B that we decided to get married. No big sweeping proposal (sorry to any romance fans out there), just a mutual decision and then celebration with a couple of pints of Guinness and some Murphy’s icecream. But not at the same time (although nearly).

4 favourite foods… (this one is subject to change on a whim at any given moment)

Mikado biscuits: this is a recent discovery, since moving to Ireland, and one that can do no favours for the waistline. If you’ve never encountered a Mikado before, it’s a biscuit composed of marshmallow, jam and coconut. So the nutritional value is absolute zero. Complete crud. And, in the run-up to Christmas, I’ve discovered that you can buy big variety boxes of them and that they have a close cousin in chocolate form. The outlook for my figure isn’t good.

Pickled cucumber: it’s a family thing. My maternal grandad used to make jars of the stuff, which we’d greedily consume every time we went round to visit. Better than anything you can buy in the shops. Unfortunately, Grandad was never the type to write down recipes and, now that he’s passed on, no one knows how to replicate the master formula. I’ve tried and failed miserably.

Bread: I went on one of those detox diets once – you know the kind I’m talking about: you give up everything that offers any kind of pleasure in the hope of losing a couple of grams. This particular version (lets call it the Varol Corderman diet) included sacrificing bread. I lasted for two exceedingly grumpy days before I cracked and stuffed my face after passing a bakery.

Apples: or, more precisely, apples with cinnamon. What a perfect combination. Apple pie, apple cake, apple pancakes, apple muffins… Oh the possibilities.

4 places I’d rather be…

In a second-hand bookshop – nothing like a good rummage through the stacks looking for hidden gems. And the smell of books gently mouldering has a magical appeal that makes me all giddy and child-like.

In The Manna House Bakery in Edinburgh – rosemary and rocksalt-spiked fougasse that will make your jaw ache with its chewyness (in a good way, of course), apple brioche with a suprise custardy centre and many other wonderful bakery gems to boot. Why did I ever think I could do a detox that involved giving up bread? Madness.

Back in Italy with Mr B – we went there for our honeymoon last year. I managed to badly hurt my leg by falling down some stairs during the first few days, which put a serious limit on our sight-seeing etc (especially in Florence, where there was a beautifully-timed taxi strike). It didn’t ruin our holiday, just constrained it a bit. So it would be wonderful to go back and explore everywhere properly. And next time I’ll look where I’m going before wandering down some slippery stairs.

Sitting on the Dingle Peninsula, eating sandwiches on a sunny day, admiring the nearby Blasket Islands before heading back to town for some more Murphy’s icecream.

Now… who to tag next? I nominate Holler, Winedeb, Lynn and Carrie. But only if they have time! That’s something in short supply around this time of year!

Hello

I'm short of stature (a family trait) but big of appetite (also a family trait). If you're reading this then you're probably big of appetite too. Or a member of my family (hello Mum).
June 2017
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