Monday, November 05, 2012

Mars v Venus

With the recent comments, it's now very apparent that men think quite differently from women.  'Men from Mars, Women from Venus" as the saying goes (or in my way of thinking, same thing really,  'Men make wars, women make peace').   Maybe today many women are now the 'bread-winners' while some men-folk prefer to stay at home being 'house-husbands, and nothing wrong with that, but our genetic 'programming' has always seemed to be that the women take care of the domestic duties whilst their menfolk earn the money to keep a roof over their heads.  So we are genetically 'programmed' to be more concerned with the smaller details that are - after all - the most important for survival.

Domestic duties are vast.  Far too many and too complex for a mere male to even think about without the use of modern technology. Being - in the main - not able to multi-task at the same speed as women (who can do seven things at once), they spend much of their free time 'inventing'.  It is true that men ARE more technologically minded than women, and probaly right that they should be, after all they have more time to spare than many women. 
Men enjoy possessing 'gadgets', their attitude seems to be "why buy one appliance (that does the job perfectly) when having two or more will be a lot more fun to play with"?  'Boy's toys' comes to mind?
Men will splash their cash on larger cars than they really need, larger anythings really, never mind the expense, it is part of their mindset.  The bigger the car etc....!!!

Thank to Eileen for her comment, and I feel the same, for Les cannot seem to get away from the bigger picture.  No mention of domestic problems, and he is talking kilometres instead of miles (something I prefer not to have to bother to work out as we don't yet use k's in this country) which places him in the modern mindset (or does he just rely on the Internet for all his facts?).  The size of the storm, the area it covers, the hours it takes for people to normally go to work. To me these sound more like excuses. None of these facts would be of much interest to a women (to check out) as we ladies prefers to think closer to home, for what we like to know are the precautions taken to be taken to protect families, what food has been bought to be stored, and what food will keep when the electrics go off (as they were expected to do).  Many women did this, we saw one on TV prior to the storm explaining how she was storing her food upstairs to protect it from the possible flooding of her property.  Perhaps men leave it to women to sort out these problems, as they believe theyhave bigger things to worry about.  But what is more important than the immediate protection of the family?

There was something on TV news yesterday how some families are still in their homes (think apartments)  in New York, but in great distress because there was no heat in the property.   Sorry about that, but we older folk would just shrug our shoulders and put on layers of clothing until the heating was back on again.  Anyone of us who has lived through the last war remembers that we coped then in far worse conditions.  Just gritted our teeth and got on with it.

It is not as though I speak without some knowledge of 'hardship' although on a smaller scale I suppose (although during the Coventry blitz it was as bad as it could get, even though I was a child can still remember what my adults had to do to 'keep going'). 
Smaller problems hit me during the 70's when we had power cuts (was this to do with strikes?). These happened over several days/weeks, where we were without power for four hours at a time but only in certain areas of a town, each having a different 'cut-off' time.

My B - being a man - was very annoyed when the power cut in our area of Leeds happened just as he arrived home and there was no hot meal on the table.  It was winter, and of course the central heating had shut down (although run by gas, the electrics worked the clocks/switches).   He humphed and grumphed and said he was going to drive over to the other side of Leeds (where there was no power cut) and he'd buy himself a meal in a cafe there.  He was not prepared to 'suffer' even for a few hours although I said I could cope.  So off he went leaving me to get on with it.

First - using a torch to see where I was going - I lit a fire in our living room grate (laid ready to be lit), then lit a couple of oil lamps (also prepared ready just in case needed), went into the kitchen and lit another oil lamp then  heated a small pan of soup over 6 tea-lights (I'd previously tried this out again 'just in case', these giving enough heat to boil liquids - and therefore pasta/rice could be cooked, eggs could be fried etc over said candles....).  Then went and pulled the sofa up closer to the fire, toasted some bread in front of the now red-hot coals using our toasting fork (and toast made in front of a fire tastes a million times better than anything from a mechanical toaster) and drank a mug of soup, toasting my toes at the same time, thoroughly enjoying the light given off by the oil-lamps, and how comfortable and cosy it all felt.  I was even listening to light classical music from a battery-run radio. Yet - B, being a man - would find all this unacceptable. I can never understand why.  Possibly too much work entailed (if he had to do it).  And no TV!

Have to say that after those days of power cuts, decided to change our electric hob to gas powered - we still kept the electric oven so if the gas went off I could use the oven for cooking.  I was fed up of being almost held to ransom by those who felt going on strike would be good (for them but not everyone else?), so wantedl to make sure I had umpteen alternative sources of cooking. Even now we've plenty of choice.  I can cook over candles again, or use our barbecue (in the garage if wet), cook a saucepan over a meths burner (fondue set), and of course have the electric oven, and gas hob. If the electrics are off and the ignition doesn't work, have matches to light the gas (and barbie/candles etc).  Just wish we had an open grate where we could have a 'real' coal or log fire again so I could cook over that if necessary (as my mum had to do during the war when we had no gas, electricity or even water for days and days and days - and she cooked for not only our family, but also two other families we had taken in, refugees who had lost their homes in the Coventry blitz).

Maybe it is just a few people today that find enjoyment from 'surviving', believe I am one of them. Others prefer not to even bother to have to think about it.  They can always find excuses why not.   

The fact remains that there really is no excuse for many of the difficulties that occured recently during THAT storm.  Of course the storm was bad, we know many folk have been caught up in the worst, but not everyone bothered to take necessary precautions.  We saw on TV news, as mentioned above, after the warnings given to the folk of New York, how a woman had bought in food, and food that would store for days without the need of a fridge, putting it upstairs so that it would be away from any flooding that might happen.  Others that could do the same, just didn't bother and now they are complaining there is no food to eat as the supermarket shelves are fast becoming empty.

A man was interviewed (it had to be a man!) as the storm hit NY, standing close to the sea wall (the sea crashing over at that time) who said he had driven there especially so he could watch the disaster happening as "it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing". He was just loving it.  Can you see a woman doing that?
There was also a 'voice-off' of a man shrieking "Oh my Gawd, a tree has fallen on my CAR" - as it it was the end of his world. Never mind that there was a strong possibility that his roof would blow off his house at any minute.
Mind you, think B would be sounding off if one of the trees in our road fell on our car.  Our roof wouldn't matter, that is covered by 'upstairs' insurance.  All we need to worry about is our ground floor flooding.

The woman storing food was doing what should come naturally to most women (sensibly protecting the family), the men far more interested in the disaster than maybe their own safety.  This just seems to be how it is.  A man's approach to life being quite different to a woman's. 

Margie's comment just shows how today people do seem to have lost the ability to cope.  Maybe they could cope, but it is far easier to find someone else to do it for you.  Someone who has the sense to prepare, and this usually a woman.  This is what I mean about today's world.  People just can't be bothered to think for themselves any more, even women.  Men still plod on in their own sweet way planning more important things like wars.. 

Regarding technology.  Of course most of it is great and what would I do without my washing machine, the best thing sinces sliced bread (and considering the quality of sliced bread today doubt that expression applies any more).
B and I saw an ad on TV yesterday where we saw two piano keyboards being played, duet fashion.  Turned out the ad was for iPods (or was it iPads?) anyway, we both said we'd rather fancy being able to have one each and 'play' music on them.  One each you understand, not to share (B doesn't do sharing, unless of course he 'shares' my things).  Not that of course we will buy one, but others will be tempted and no doubt the ad will lead to many sales. 
Myself believe that although the newest mobile phones can do amazing things, it is not absolutely necessary to have one.  But nice is we are lucky enough I suppose.  Ideally a mobile was to enable people to communicate with each other when a distance away from a land-line.  Very useful for parents who needed to keep in touch with their offspring when away from home (or who needed collecting from somewhere).

Am sure mobiles were never meant to be used constantly, texting, tweeting, always clamped to an ear, phone bleeping every few minutes throughout the day (and meal time).  The cost of such use can be excessive, especially to students who could use more money to eat more sensibly, but the mobile rules OK.  Let's live on shared pizzas and cans of beer (I remember working as a bar-maid and the students would come into the bar, buy a pint of beer - 11p in those days!! - and ask for three straws so they could share the drink).

The Internet is extremely useful, as are mobiles (and similar) yet it was the use of these that was said to have helped beyond measure to cause the recent national 'uprisings' that began in Tunisia, and the instant 'tweeting' and 'virtual' communications between other 'like-minded' youngters caused all the 'mass hysteria' than was like a Mexican Wave over most of the Arab countries.  In fact some countries banned the use of such communcations purely because this can happen.

My beef is not about the 'useful' technology we have, but that which has caused many people to stop thinking for themselves and avoiding the need for any self-sufficiency or sensible thought.  By all means we can take advantage of any technology that we can afford and that will lighten our load, but we should still have the knowledge of how to cope if all this is removed for a short (or longer) time, and the only way to deal with a situation like this is learn how to, and/or pass on any knowledge that we have to the younger generations.  I'm not overly concerned about the size of disasters, the problems that today's society find themselves in, it is the family unit - together with close neighbours, especially the elderly - who need to be protected as best they can be and where my thoughts lie.  The best way to do this is always be prepared.  One of the reasons why I like to believe that Nature has provided us with the seasonal instincts to stock our larders at the right times.  Nature can be very powerful, but also generous as she has given us ways and means for survival.  We just have to become more aware of her movements, and learn from our mistakes.
Anyone who is religious enough to read the Bible, will - believe it or not - find mentions of past and recent disasters in Revelations.  So maybe someone 'up there' is trying to tell us something.

As I've said before, we should always try to pull together when times are hard, either as a community, or - even better - as a nation.  Yet I remember once talking to a dear friend who belonged to one of the 'calling door-to-door' Christian religions.  It was after the Mount St. Helen's disaster in America, and she was saying how members of their congregation in that area would cross miles across town to make sure that their 'brothers and sisters' were safe.  I asked "what about their nearest neighbours, did they check first to see if they were alright?" At this question she looked quite shocked.  She said the members of the congregation came first as they were considered "all of one family".  To me this isn't being very Christian.  We are all brothers under the skin, whatever race, religion, or whatever.  We should give help to those that need it, not 'because'....

I do go on don't I?  Forgive me for sharing my thoughts, and realise they are not what many people (esp men) wish to hear.   Just feel that certain things need to be said even though they are 'out of date' and don't fit into today's 'mindset'.  Technology can advance, life can become much easier for most of us, but sooner or later the crunch will come and then it is up to the individual to make sure they - and those they care for - can survive in some sort of comfort.  We must stop relying on others to do our own 'dirty work', and start growing up.

Enough of that.  Have just time to give a few more 'oaty' recipes.  All these are healthy 'treats' rather than savoury dishes.  But when life if bleak there is nothing like a treat to help cheer ourselves up.

First recipe is a different sort of flapjack. It has both walnuts and plums as added ingredients, both being good for us (as are oats). We could use damsons, or prunes, or dates or canned peaches instead of plums.  Experienced cooks will probably think of other fruits they could use (or a different type of sugar....).
Sticky Plum and Walnut Flapjacks:  makes 18
1 lb (450g) plums, stoned and the flesh sliced or chopped
good pinch mixed spice
good pinch of salt
10 oz (300g) light muscovado sugar
12 oz (350g) butter, melted
10 oz (300g) porridge oats
5 oz (150g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) walnut pieces, chopped
3 tblsp golden syrup
Put the plums into a bowl with the spice, salt, and 2 oz (50g) of the sugar and toss together, then set aside to macerate (soak up the flavours).
In another bowl mix together the oats, flour, remaining sugar, and the walnuts, then stir in the melted butter and golden syrup to make a loose 'flapjack' mixture.  Spread half this over the base of a greased 8" (20cm) square baking tin, then spread the plum mixture evenly on top.  Cover with remaining oat mix, making sure the plums are completely covered and the oats come right to the sides of the tin, then bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 45 - 50 minutes or until the flapjack is dark golden and beginning to crisp a bit. 
Leave flapjack in the tin to get completely cold, then cut into 18 (or fewer if you wish) little bars. These will keep in an airtight tin for a few days, and can be frozen for up to a month.

Next recipe is for a type of American 'granola bar'.  We see these sold today in supermarkets as a speedy way to eat breakfast on the way to work.  Ideally they are best eaten as a 'healthy' snack or as part of a packed lunch for school children.
With this recipe there are plenty of alternative dried fruits we could use (chop the larger ones), and we could include desiccated coconut.  As long as the total weight of these alternatives comes to the weight of those given below, then feel free to experiment with different (but similar) ingredients.
Oaty Bars: makes 9
6 oz (175g) butter
5 oz (150g) clear honey
9 oz (250g) demerara sugar
12 oz (350g) porridge oats
1 - 2 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)
3 oz (75g) walnuts
3 oz (75g) raisins or sultanas
3 oz (75g) dried apricots, chopped
3 oz (75g) dried dates, prunes, mango or other, chopped
3 oz (75g) pumpkin seeds,
2 oz (50g) ground almonds
2 oz (50g) sesame seeds
Melt the butter and honey together in a pan, then add the sugar.  Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil.  Simmer for 12 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to a smooth caramel sauce.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a bowl then pour over the caramel sauce, mixing everything together until well combined.  Spoon into a greased and lined 9" (23cm) square tin, pressing the mixture down well with the back of a wet spoon (I often spread a bit of cling-film over the top and smooth this flat wth my fingers, then remove the clingfilm before continutng).
Place tin in the oven set at 190C, 375F, gas 5 and bake for 15 minutes or until just beginning to brown at the edges.  Leave in the tin to cool before running a sharp knife round the edges of the tin, turn out then peel off the paper.  Cool completely before cutting into nine squares.

Final recipe today is for oaty biscuits.  A good one to use as the uncooked mixture can be frozen for up to three months,  slicing the 'sausage' into as few or many biscuits as you wish at any one time. Useful way to cook biscuits when we have the oven on to cook something else.
Oaty (freezer) Cookies: makes about 30 in total
9 oz (250g) butter, softened
8 oz (225g) soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
5 oz (150g) porridge oats
2 oz (50g) mixed nuts, chopped
2 oz (50g) desiccated coconut
2 oz (50g) mixed dried fruit
Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until creamy.  Beat in the vanilla and the eggs (one at a time). Stir in the salt, flour and oats to make dough, then stir in the nuts, coconut and dried fruit.  The mixture should be quite stiff.   Gather together with the fingers, then drop half of this onto a sheet of baking parchment (A 4 size) and roll the mixture into a sausage shape.  Fold the long side of the parchment over, rolling up the 'sausage' to form a tight cylinder, then twist the ends.  Repeat with remaining mix.  These can be frozen for up to 3 months.
When wishing to cook, unwrap a roll of the above mix and, using a sharp knife, cut off rounds approx half cm thick (it makes it easier to cut if you first dip the knife into hot water). Place these rounds onto a baking sheet, leaving plenty of room to spread, then bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before tranferring to a cake airer to get completely cold.

Apologies for errors, spell check not working again, but I'm well past my time of normal publication so must take my leave of you.  Hope to meet up with you again tomorrow.  TTFN.