Category Archives: Food

Travelling light

Three things.

The spell checker in the editor insists that travelling should be spelt traveling.   I disagree.  Wholeheartedly.

Counting from 1st January 2015, can you guess what the most popular search term used to find The Verbal Hedge was?  It was not “Verbal Hedge”, it was not (rather disappointingly) “Slasher Rhino Porn” although that did feature a couple of times.   It was “Demis Roussos height”.   How can that be?   I have just tried a Google search and of the three pages returned, I didn’t get a mention.   Almost 50% of the recognised search terms this year leading to my little blog have related to the height of the much missed kaftan clad crooner.   Please if you are the searcher, tell me how you found me.

The compere in a club last night introduced the session with a speech that was almost word for word the fourth paragraph of my last post.   I’ll have a credit and a pint on the house next time please.

One thing.

The daily post asks who you would chose to write the story of your life.    I am going to cheat a little and just have the story of the first week in June 2015 and I pick Ted Simon (I hope you don’t mind me linking to your site Mr Simon) because since reading Jupiters Travels I’ve longed to go on such an adventure.  Sadly I am far too wimpy to set off on such a trip but I am going to take my own Triumph Tiger on a much smaller scale adventure and tour around the wild and dangerous land of Scotland.  Ted’s Tiger was a 1973 model I think.   Mine is a 2014 one and should have no problems with the 2000 miles or so I will be travelling (with two l’s) but the question is, what to take?

I have my tent and a sleeping bag.   That should be all I need for accommodation.   I reckon I can put the tent up in three minutes and it is a sturdy thing so even the most voracious storm will not threaten me.   I have a cooker the size of a deck of cards and a collapsible kettle.   The cooker, for all that it is tiny, sounds akin to a hot air balloon taking off.  I shall probably end up making tea for everyone within a 5 mile vicinity.   Mother always told me to make sure that I had dry socks, clean pants and a handkerchief.   I reckon two out of three aren’t bad and one of the two can cover for the third in a real crisis.   I have been collecting those little coffee and sugar sachets from hotels all year and hiding them in various pockets of my motorcycle coat, so making a brew won’t be a problem (providing I remember a cup).

Guide book?  Map?    I know roughly where I am going, north for a couple of days and then follow the coast after that.   There can’t be that many roads to get lost on and I’m told that I can’t take the bike off-road beyond the border.

Clothing is a challenge.  The weather may be glorious or it may be snowing.   I shall layer about four deep and that should cover every eventuality.   My running tights can double as long johns in a push.  The last pair of proper long johns I owned were dyed orange as part of a fancy dress costume.  I used to dread coming to grief and having a paramedic cut open my leathers to find me festooned with dayglo orange bloomers.

I’ve earmarked some small tools and a puncture repair kit but my most useful tool is made of plastic and called visa.   I’m hoping that I don’t need any of them but better safe than sorry.

A torch.  I’ve camped in the dark before and remember thinking “A torch, a torch, my kingdom for a torch”.  I don’t have much of a kingdom to give away so I better remember a torch.  I shall christen it Lucifer (now there’s a curious juxtaposition).

I remember the boy coming home from school one day, must have been in the early ’90’s and he would have been in one of the early years classes.  He had something important to tell me.  “Matches matches do not touch, they will hurt you very much”.   I’ll need something to light the cooker (henceforward known as Montgolfiere) and they will also double as handy toothpicks after I have cooked my freshly caught haggis.  In one of the comics of my youth, either The Dandy or the Beano, the haggis had long legs on one side and short legs on the other side to help them get around the mountain.   The simple way to capture them was to get them to run in the opposite direction so they became unbalanced and fell over.

Can you tickle Salmon?   Not Alex Salmond, I wouldn’t want to tickle him.  Do you have to be named after a fish to be leader of the SNP?   Was it founded by John Stickleback?   I digress.  I shall stand in a stream like a bear and toss me a salmon onto the riverbank for dinner.   I bet it is not illegal to go salmon tossing without a license.

If you can think of anything else I need then let me know.   Four weeks today and I’m off.





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If I knew you were coming…

I love cakes.   I think cakes are the best.   The things I would do for a fresh cream horn don’t bear mentioning.  If there was a danish pastry 100 metres away and I was standing next to Usain Bolt then I’d get there before him (and probably be licking the crumbs from my fingers before he arrived).  Did I say that I like cakes?

I was having a discussion about cakes recently, one of those abstract conversations that tend to happen when you’ve been driving too long without human contact and so you pounce on the first caller.   After meandering through the jam donuts and the gaily coloured Battenburg we finally alighted on the ultimate piece of food, the fruit cake.

Not any fruit cake but the booze riddled, iced, marzipanned behemoth that masquerades as a wedding/Christmas cake.

There is a tradition in the UK (this may be true everywhere) that the top layer of the wedding cake is kept back and not cut until the christening of the firstborn child.    I thought here that I would provide a handy little statistic saying that the average time a cake lays waiting is x years, but the internet has failed me.   In fact, the average age for a woman to give birth to her first child is 29 and the average age of a woman getting married is 32.5, so the cake would be -2.5 years old.   I think it might have to be called an uncake.

Never mind.  It is still tradition and we can pretend that the top layer of cake is going to be in a tin under the bed for at least 12 months (even if you are the most rapid christener in christendom).     This got us thinking.   Whilst your cake is waiting to be consumed could there be other uses for it?

My first thought was that the cake could be used to fashion an emergency exit in case of fire.   My type of  fruit cake has a density similar to that of a small sun.    Kept on a window ledge it would be a simple thing to cast the cake through the window (or wall for that matter) and hey presto you have a cake shaped hole ready for egress.

If you were thinking that you may be having twins as your first born then you may well plan ahead and have two top layers of the cake.   With a bit of lateral thinking, these would make fantastic book ends that are also a lasting memento of your big day.  You could have the little plastic bride at one end and the little plastic groom at the other.   Once the twins are born your married life will have gone to pot anyway so you will be glad to get rid of the bloody things at the christening.

Bits of fruit cake could easily be fashioned into brake blocks for a bicycle.    This would actually have two benefits.  Aside from the undoubted additional stopping power achieved, every time you slowed down there would be a lovely smell of re-cooking cake to assuage your hunger.   Carrying spare cakebrake blocks (as I think they should be called) would mean you also had an emergency supply of high energy food should you get stuck up a mountain with no patisserie nearby.

My recipe for Christmas cake involves starting cooking just after we come back from the summer holidays.   The recipe seems to have been written on parchment with a quill by what I fondly imagine to be an old and slightly befuddled cook from around the time of Robin Hood.     The best part of it is that I have to feed the cake with Brandy every week.   We all know that drinking alone leads to all sorts of problems so it is essential for the health of the cake that I join it with a glass.

Just as an aside.  The only English monarch ever to be given the epithet of “The Great” is also the only English monarch who is associated with cakes.   That can’t be coincidence (although there is an argument that after burning the cakes he should have been Alfred The Grate).

There are some good superstitions that go with cake.   My personal favourite is that of the burial cake.   Again this should be a mighty monster of a cake and it is kept near to the head of the dearly departed.  Those who come to pay their last respects should keep a piece of cake in their mouth whilst viewing the deceased.   I would like to state now that any cake found near my body is mine and should be buried with me.

The daily prompt today asks what is our guilty pleasure.   Need I say more?




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Faddy foodies

I have mentioned the younger generation of my extended family previously.   Youngest (who doesn’t actually contain any of my genes although he’s picked up far to many of my mannerisms) likes junk food. As explained here.  Oldest (that’s this one) doesn’t like food.  That’s not quite true. I shall try to explain…

Kurt Cobain, (famously of popular music group Nirvana, less famously one of the many rock stars who have died aged 27, even less famously one of the characters sketched on my wall of dead stars who died aged 27 ) said “I won’t eat anything green”.

Oldest has taken this to heart.   He has embraced the concept wholeheartedly and I think that the only green thing he has eaten in the last 18 or so years was a special edition Heinz tomato sauce that was green coloured.    He didn’t like that very much either.

He is (and I’m not bragging in any way) a very talented musician.    He can pretty much make a guitar do anything that he wants it to do and has an uncanny knack of picking up an instrument and playing it.   I tried to fool him once by giving him a wide and varied selection of lesser used musical instruments for Christmas.   He’d mastered the Ocarina (it looks like a potato with holes in it) in about 15 minutes.   The Jews Harp quickly followed and he only gave up on the kazoo because he said it tickled his mouth too much.

Regardless, being overly influenced by deceased grunge rock stars can be taken too far.     Oldest only eats food that starts with “Ch”.

It can prove to be entertaining.   Chicken is an obvious winner.    Chicken and chips doubly so.   Chocolate comes in many forms, there is chocolate, chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate (technically this doesn’t start with “ch” but it is close enough) and of course, chocolate chip cookies.   We can also include chow mein and (rather curiously allowing for the bland taste of everything else), chorizo.

Youngest had a desire for Mexican junk food.    “Do you like Mexican food?” I said to the eldest.  “Chilli is okay” he said, “as long as it doesn’t have any of those purple beans in it.  Or tomatoes.  Or rice”.

This is where Google and a little bit of imagination comes in.    “Boys” said I.  We are having a Mexican feast and it will please you both because it could conceivably be purchased at a roadside cafe and full of MSG and it will also contain more “ch” foods than you can possibly imagine.

We had chicken, cheese and chilli chimichangas.

I am so pleased with myself that I must be hell to live with.

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Cheese and garlic in windmills

You can always rely on Shakespeare for a good quote, especially when taken totally out of context.   The title of the post is Harry Hotspur in Henry IV (part 1) railing against Glendower and more complete (and accurate) would be “Worse than a smoky house: I had rather live with cheese and garlic in a windmill, far, Than feed on cates and have him talk to me In any summer-house in Christendom”.

However, The Daily Prompt suggests that the world is ending tomorrow and would like to know what my last dinner will be.   I think that cheese and garlic in a windmill would be a great way to bow out providing there’s a decent bottle or two of port to help it go down.

I asked the youngest resident of the house what would be his preference.  I promised that whatever he chose would be served as Sunday dinner.   He chose a pot noodle.    Those of you from other

Pitstone Windmill, a 17th Century post mill

Pitstone Windmill, a 17th Century post mill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

parts may not be familiar with pot noodles.  All I can say is that they are the staple diet of male students and (allegedly) have the nutritional content of an ant.

Youngest resident (I’m not counting the cat, she is the youngest in human years but the oldest if we allow for “cat years”) is a bit of a character.   He requires daily medication for an ongoing condition and a side effect of the medication is that he is awake way into the night and has absolutely no appetite until around midnight.   Getting food into him in daylight hours is always a challenge so any positive request for food is to be encouraged.    We occasionally have “Robby Fried Chicken” which, unlike Colonel Sanders recipe goes nowhere near a deep fat frier and (though I say so myself) is rather delicious.   If I had a recipe blog I would give you the means to make it yourself (but I don’t, so you’ll just have to wonder).

Back to pot noodles – Chicken and mushroom pot noodles to be precise.  It can’t be that difficult to fool him into thinking he’s eating something rubbish when it is really a healthy dish.   I reckon I can rattle off something in a wok and serve it in a plastic bowl and he will never know the difference.   It does come to something though when you’re having to make good food seem like bad food in order to get it consumed.

We also had a chat about who should come to dinner (I didn’t promise that they would actually attend), he wants Louis Suarez, Jennifer Lawrence and Adolf Hitler.   I quite approve of Jennifer (now that I’ve found out who she is) but I’m not convinced about the others.    Suarez (a footballer playing for Liverpool for those that don’t know) is famous for biting somebody during a match so if he’s not fond of pot noodles he may start tucking into the other guests.   Hitler?   He’s (the youngest, not the former Chancellor of Germany) just come back from a visit to Berlin so it may be that he (the youngest) wants to question him (the fuhrer)  about some matters that he (youngest) felt could have been handled differently.

The final question (the aforementioned condition means that questions to the youngest need to be limited and sprung on him when he is in a relaxed mood) was to select a venue.   Where shall we go for our pot noodle bonanza with the Uruguayan (you have no idea how many goes I had at spelling that) foootballer, the man who kick started the most devastating war in history and the girl who is very handy with a bow and arrow?

On a trampoline, on a boat, when it is foggy.

I have no idea.   He has previously shown no inclination to naval bouncing in a mist, in fact he’s never shown any interest in any one of these before.   Sadly he had run out of patience and refused to elaborate on why we have such an obscure place to eat.   It does sound like fun though so the next time it is foggy and you are by the coast, keep your eye open for a ship with a trampoline on it.  There’s going to be a very interesting meal taking place.


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