Saturday, September 20, 2014

Never Believe What We Read?

This morning am almost crippled with back pain. Used to get this many years ago, and fairly regularly, but now not had it for several years.  In those days was told to lie flat (preferably on the floor), sometimes for days, until the pain went away.  Now they say we should move around as much as possible and not rest.   So as I've now managed to get up from my chair into another one, hope to be able to spend a little time chatting before the pain hits me again.

Referring to the Anonymous comment about my mention of all the 'social' technology being used on one causing computers to lose their broadband connections,  this is the reason given in the newspaper the following day.  Readers will remember me saying that my computer didn't work either, and not for many hours (or was it more than a day?) before it started again (without any intervention of mine).  Can understand why some computers might have local problems with interference, but for computers over all regions and I believe not just in this country, having 'crashed', the reason given by the press makes sense.  Don't blame me for any misinformation, I'm just the messenger.

As to 'Fifty Shades of Grey'....  it didn't take more than the first page for me to realise it wouldn't make good reading. Not the content, the way it was written - like a bad Mills and Boon. With any other book I would not have bothered to read more, but knowing there was 'more', then flicked over the pages to discover any hot spots' (and there were quite a few). Apart from the first, didn't really each through as I found them becoming more and more disgusting, verging on the pornographic (not that I'd know much about that).  All I can say is that it would appeal to some, and mainly men I suspect. 
Am not a prude, and have enjoyed reading 'Fanny Hill' (think that was once banned), but that was well written, and certainly not with the extremes as in the above book.  Maybe today girls/women enjoy reading books such as 'Fifty....', but cannot for a moment understand why they feel the need. Something wrong with society if this is the case.  Does that make me a hypocrite because I felt I should find out what all the fuss is about? With me I put it down to research. 

Certainly would not suggest anyone should read Fifty Shades... and sad that it made such an impact (due to the content) that it led to so many people WANTING to read it that it was a best seller, leading to more books in that series.  Cannot believe that it would possible for a film to be made of the book.  Similar films am sure can be found in sex-shops (and maybe where the author found the inspiration?).

Having only had the book a couple of days, it has left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I asked B to return it to the library a.s.a.p. Didn't even want it lying around for the two weeks until he takes the library books back and gets more.  I feel the same about the book as though it was a rotting, maggot-ridden dead rat lying on the table.

A welcome to Kitty, who - along with several readers - has requested my opinion of 'Fifty Shades...' (given above).

Apologies to Jane (and everyone) as I gave the wrong amount re the beef.  It was 50 slices I got not 70 (plus two bags of 'matchsticks' of beef (for stir-fries) plus a bag of tiny slices (good for sarnies), and a further bag of scraps for making meat paste.  The smaller amounts, fitted together would probably have formed a further 20 slices anyway.  Not that far out. 
As the silverside was rolled, and a good weight, it formed quite a long joint, so the width/depth was  slightly smaller than a usual beef roasting joint, but of course longer, so the reason why it gave more slices.  Depending on thickness of carving, I would serve either three, four or five slices per portion.  Five of the very thin ones was about right for B.   

Thanks to all readers who sent comments.  Have to say Margie, we in the UK (other than Scotland) are very relieved that the Scottish vote was 'No' to separation.  But it was very close.  It is said that the main 'No' vote came from mainly women who (naturally) were more concerned with the financial effect the separation could have on Scotland.  When the supermarkets said that food prices would rise in Scotland if the vote was 'Yes' might well have been the tipping point.  

Scots who live outside Scotland (even if still in the UK) were not eligible to vote, so as there are quite a number of other nationalities living in Scotland (English, Asian....), presumably these would have been eligible, and one would assume they would vote 'No', diluting the 'true Scottish' majority vote that I am sure would have been 'Yes'.  But who I am to make assumptions? It seems (from comments) I do get my facts wrong.  Passing on what I read, and what I hear on the news, adding a little of my own thoughts occasionally, if just how things seem to me, but isn't it good that we can share what we think/believe to be right/wrong? Life would be boring if we didn't have differences.  Just as long as we beg to differ, and not cause offence.

Myself believe that in many instances we should take a pinch of salt with what we read. Certainly when it comes to celebrities, the press seem to make up a great deal of what they write. I've given interviews in the past and even at my level, what was written was not always what I said.  The press are extremely clever at putting two and two together to make five, and when taken out of context can almost prove that the opposite happened to what really did.

Enough about media manipulation.  Back to a safer subject such as food.  Even then there is always the danger of the 'U' turn, and we hear that butter is now better for us than (some) margarine.  Sugar we know is bad for us (not denying that), and there could be a tax on sugar (and its products) so as sugar has an almost indefinite shelf-life (when properly stored), will buy some 5kg bags (works out a bit cheaper than the smaller bags) to store for preserve making and baking, for the next few years at least.  So maybe the press does give some useful news.  On the other hand there may be no tax on sugar, another food may be found to be more 'dangerous' so we have to avoid that - having read the other day that artificial sweeteners could do us more harm than sugar - where do we go from there?

First recipe today has an unusual combination of ingredients that give a really delicious result.  Seasonal too (although we could use frozen fruit/veg). Intended as a side dish, after making it can be frozen to enjoy later.
Remove the peel from the lemon, avoiding the pith.  Using the peel in strips/pieces is to add flavour, using zest would do the same but not then able to be removed. 
Wrap the peeled lemon tightly in cling-film and place in the fridge, then it should keep without going mouldy for at least a week.  Or freeze the lemon, or just its juice).

Pears and Beans in a piquant glaze: serves 6
3 cooking pears, peeled, cored, sliced
half pint (300ml) hot chicken stock
1 small lemon, peel only used *see above)
12 oz (350g) string beans, cut into chunks
4 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, diced
2 tblsp soft light brown sugar
1 tblsp tarragon vinegar
Put the pears in the hot chicken stock and lemon rind, bring to the simmer and poach for 5 minutes.  Add the beans, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain, reserving 3 tblsp of the stock.
Dry-fry the bacon until crispy and the fat flows, then remove bacon and drain on kitchen paper.  To the  fat remaining in the pan, add the sugar and the vinegar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, add reserved stock, then bring to a fast boil and cook until reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Reduce heat to low, then gently stir in the pears and beans, until coated with the glaze.   Sprinkle the bacon on top.  Then ready to serve.
To freeze: cool and freeze in foil containers, seal/label. Use within 3 months.  Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours, then bake at 180C, gas 4 for 15 - 20 minutes.

Final recipe today is a harvest loaf - not the more normal wheat-sheaf shaped bread, but this time a sweet version, not a million miles away from carrot cake.
Due to the moist ingredients, when well wrapped, this 'tea-bread' will keep well for several days. Serve sliced and buttered.

Sweet Harvest Loaf: serves 6 - 8
3 eggs
6 fl oz (175ml) sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz (175g) carrots, coarsely grated
5 oz (150g) desiccated coconut
6 oz (175g) cooking apples, peeled/cored/grated
4 oz (100g) walnuts, chopped
4 fl oz (100ml) runny honey
6 oz (175g) raisins or sultanas
7 oz (200g) self-raising brown flour, sifter
3 oz (75g) porridge oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
little grated nutmeg (to taste)
Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, then fold in the carrots, coconut, apples, walnuts, honey and dried fruit.
Gently stir in the remaining ingredients.  Spoon into a greased 2lb/900g loaf tin and bake at 180C, gas 4 for one hour - one and a quarter hours, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake airer to cool completely.   Serve sliced and buttered.
If intending to keep for a few days, wrap in foil.  To freeze: when cold, closely wrap in foil, seal and label.  Use within 6 months.  Thaw at room temperature for 4 - 5 hours.

Now need to try and hobble into the kitchen where I need to bake bread, write a short list of things needed that B can take to M'sons when he goes for his Health Lottery ticket, then hopefully will find that moving around a bit will help to ease my back. 
Almost certainly will be taking tomorrow off from blogging (instead of today), so expect me back Monday.  If my back has recovered in time, it could be a busy week ahead for me.  Sunday/Monday baking for the church coffee morning, marmalade for MacMillan Nurses Charity day, out on Tuesday to the church 'circle', out on Wednesday to 'ghost hunt',  Friday coffee morning and also hair appt., Saturday flu jab, and in between fitting in the usual household chores, cooking, blogging....  Almost hoping the comp will crash just to give me breathing space.

Until Sunday, hope you all have a pleasant weekend. Weather uncertain, some of us may have rain (we need it), but said to improve again later next week although tending to be cooler, esp. at night.
We've had a good run of perfect weather (at least Morecambe has), so can't complain when the weather returns to 'normal'.  Should be back Monday. TTFN