Tag Archives: food

The universal rules for guaranteed good cooking

guaranteed_stampBreath in, breathe out and relax. It’s all going to be fine. You’ve found the Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking.

Your culinary troubles are over. All you need for gustatory nirvana is to follow these few simple steps exactly.

No need to sweat through Jamie, cower before Delia or moan over Nigella. Cookbooks begone! All you need is here.

Padmini this is for you. Men wave goodbye to kitchen anxiety. Women flex your spatulas. And let’s go…

The 20 Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking

1. Choose a bottle of red wine.. Not a carton. Not a box. Not a plastic bottle from a plane. A proper long-necked bottle.

2. Open it. Sniff it. Pause in anticipation.

3. Slowly pour it – savouring that obble-gobble obble-gobble sound. That sound is the spiritual fanfare of the kitchen.

jaqee4. Choose your music and press play. [Inappropriate music: The Pogues*, anything about prisons*, anything rubbish.] [Appropriate music: When the night feels my song – Bedouin Soundclash, Moonshine – Jaqee (looking cool and sultry on the left there), Desaparacido – Manu Chao, upbeat reggae or ska.]

5. Adjust the setting on your music player to a higher temperature. That’s better. By now you should have tasted your wine. (NB: Be sure to pour the wine before turning on the music, otherwise you may miss the soul-lifting obble-gobble obble-gobble.)

6. Stir yourself and dance (or at least sashay) round the kitchen. This is to be repeated frequently during the cooking process.

7. Take your measuring jug, scales and specially designed half teaspoon/teaspoon/half table spoon/table spoon device. Carefully hide these and any other oppressively exact tools in a cupboard out of sight. (NB: A glass doored cupboard will NOT do – unless the glass is opaque.)

8. Prepare your mushrooms. Rinse them. Peel them if it makes you feel good. Peel them slowly. Drink some wine. Then chop them and gently fry in three sauces – dark soy, teryaki and mirin. And the greatest of these is mirin Continue reading

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The awesome power of nine-year-olds

Got a nine-year-old? Know any? Then watch out. They’re not to be messed with.

They have reach, power and influence beyond what you’d ever imagine.

Check these two out.

1. Nine-year-old Martha Payne from Argyll in western Scotland. Her school dinners aren’t great. Not very tasty, not very healthy, not very much. So she started taking photos like this…

Appetising? No?

and posting them on her blog www.NeverSeconds.blogspot.com .  Just one totey wee little blog that no one will ever notice.

Oh really? After almost no time at all, the local council (which runs the school catering) and the Scottish government are having to defend themselves to every media organisation. And defend themselves with a rictus grin. Because it doesn’t do to be cross or dismissive with a nine-year-old girl who just wanted to do an interesting writing project. (At least, not in public.)

Somewhere in Argyll there’s a teacher who gave permission for Martha to bring her camera into Lochgilphead primary school who’s either hugging him/herself with glee, or else worried about future employment prospects Continue reading

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Irish mysteries

Actor Brian Kennedy who plays The Lover, Bassanio in the Fringe Benefits Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice. That'sBelfast City Hall he's posing in. This version of the play is set in 1912

I’m just back from an intriguing week in Ireland. (Where I met some people you may know – more on that below – with a pic.) But the whole place was unexpectedly mysterious.

I’m not talking about leprechauns or the absence of snakes. These are modern mysteries.

1. Fat people. Where are they all hiding? Continue reading

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Zero waste shopping – saving the planet or wasting your time?

Our shopping habits are changing. Or changing back.

In the past you could put in an order and a butcher’s boy would turn up with sausages in the basket of his delivery bike. Then that died out and we all had to go to the shop. Now we can order online and get it delivered once again. Full circle.

Not all the “progress” has been for the better. Just ask Grandad in the picture. (Click on the photo to make the text bigger.)

Packaging is another one. It galls me to see bananas wrapped in plastic – or any fruit which already comes in its own natural wrapper.

But we’re lazy and squeamish and alienated from the reality of food. The very thought of having to wash mud off a potato… or the idea that a pig had to die to make that sausage… puh-lease! Let’s not dwell on the seamy side of life.

Some places – like Ireland – have made significant progress in reducing pointless packaging – plastic bags in particular. Environmental legislation and charges made the difference there. But it’s more fashionable these days to nudge people towards different behaviour, rather than compel them… to provide attractive alternatives.

So what about a shop encourages you to bring your own reusable packaging/containers/boxes/bags/jars? Could it catch on?

And guess what? It’s not launching in Vermont or California – but Continue reading

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Why Lady Di is worse than Stalin…

It’s true. Lady Di is significantly worse than Stalin.

This may seem perverse – especially after what I said about Uncle Joe last time around. But last night was a revelation.

He may be a contender for the title of world’s worst butcher, but just to be clear – when it comes to a choice between Stalin, Lady Di and something like a peasant – Stalin is by far the preferred option, with Lady Di in second place.

As for third place – that’s just unthinkable undrinkable Continue reading

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Worst drink in the world?

Ever tried this? Grass jelly drink.

As you see, it comes in cans. I tried it for the first time in a Malaysian basement canteen. Maybe I should have heeded the handwritten sign on the door which said Only Malaysians Admitted. Once inside though, they were a friendly bunch and the food was good.

But the grass jelly drink… Ugh. Unpleasant slightly disturbing liquid – little taste, just mild anxiety. The diced green  jelly lurks at the bottom of the can like freshwater crocs in a flooded Queensland town. The sensation as they slip down your throat, or more likely get stuck in your teeth, is not nauseating. No, it’s not as bad as that. It couldn’t be a bush tucker challenge on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. But you do wonder as you screw up your face and carry on determinedly, whether it’s worth it?

The answer by the way is – No.

Still, at least it’s not Continue reading

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