Archive for July 2009


Barbecue Summer Hoax

What a bunch of mierda del toro! We’ve been fooled. Again. The forecast for the mega-summer-super-scorcher, linen inclusive, had to be revised! Niente BBQ, mucho propaganda del B&Q!
It’s official. The Met office made it up. A guy called Dave looked up at the sky and said “This is going to be a barbecue summer!’  He even made the phrase up: Barbecue Summer! And how we  believed him. It was back in May during a reasonable sunny week in the midst of swine flu panic and recession angst.  We just bought into it. It lifted our spirits and sales of garden-everything. 5 million staycations promptly booked, charcoal schlepped… only to freeze around the kitchen table having cups of tea.

But summer is only a state of mind.

Paella con rain, mucho

  • olive oil
  • large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • red and yellow peppers
  • sweet paprika
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • vegetable stock
  • a pinch of saffron ~ 40 threads
  • 250g bomba paella rice
  • Your favourite summer CD

Heat the oil in a frying pan, and soften the onions and peppers. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic.  Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and add the saffron to infuse. Add the rice and paprika to the vegetables in the pan. Stir the rice well for 2 minutes so it gets a proper coating with oil. Put the CD on, turn up the heating up, pour in the stock and some sherry if you like. Cook until the stock has been absorbed into the rice.
Serve with chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon cut into wedges, and a huge glass of Rioja. Wear flip flops and sunglasses. Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in….


Swine flu – the antidote

Let’s freak out and panic. We all are going to get swine flu. So should I just get it now or be brave and fight it off ’til the bitter end?

Not usually prone to panic, I holed myself up and avoided everyone who as much as sneezed. It might be a secret symptom. You never now what these governments are keeping from us. Apparently it’s as mild as a normal flu. But what’s all the fuss about then?

The name already suggests something sneaky. Swine has German origins. (The name not the species, although judging by the amount of pork eaten, the species might have German origin too.)                            

In Germany Schwein is the harshest insult one can bestow on someone. Even worse: Du Schweinehund! The expression to fight off your inner swinehound is used in German to wrestle your inner enemy – the one that makes you passive. (Your inner lazy bastard)

Maybe that’s what this flu is trying to teach us. This is not about being calm and passive. It’s time to bring out the survival fighter in us. Let’s be proactive. CUT OFF ALL CONTACT TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD. Break into the tamiflu  distribution centre and get your ration now or order it online

Is this payback time for all the bacon and pork crackling we’ve eaten? Bloody swine! Remember Animal Farm and Napoleon? Pigs are prone for revenge. But their butchery skills are inferior.

Lets exorcise our inner swine hound and roast it. For 6 hours. The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked.

Roast pork knuckle with fennel and anchovies

(This recipe feeds only 2. These are not times for socializing.)

  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 1 pork knuckle
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 tins of anchovies
  • 200 ml vegetable stock

Season the pork knuckle with salt and pepper and place in a roasting tin. Arrange the fennel and potato around the pork. Add 200 ml of vegetable stock. Fry the anchovies in a pan until they form a paste and pour over the pork. Roast for 5 hours at 120 and turn up to full blast for the last hour.

And this little piggy cried “Wee! Wee! Wee!” all the way home.

beforre pig
after pig

‘I just want to go home for a hamburger’

You are my hero of the week. (The British backpacker who defied the harsh Aussi eucalyptus jungle with the rough kangaroos and thirsty Koalas.) Strong enough to survive 12 days without a mobile phone at the tender age of 19. The whole world talks about you. They searched the entire country for you. For 12 days. But all Jamie Neale wants to do is go home to London and eat a hamburger.

The whole world is listening. This is your moment and all you want is beef? You shall get it.

In an amazing example of survival against the odds, Jamie has managed to fend off starvation and hypothermia by living off berries, seeds and “a weed that looked like rocket”.

 That boy got a fine palate. And I can only imagine how good a big juicy burger must taste.

 This is to you, Jamie!

Homemade burger with Stilton and rocket

I went to Borough market to forage for the best ingredients.

The key to a good burger are good buns. Best if you make them yourself.

  • 235 ml milk
  • 120 ml water
  • 50 g butter
  • 500 g  flour
  • 7 g yeast
  • 25 g sugar
  • 10g salt
  •  1 egg
  • Heat the milk, water and butter until very warm. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk mixture and the egg. Knead until smooth and springy. Let the dough rise for at least an hour. Bake at 200c for 20 min. Sear the inside of the bun on a hot griddle pan. 


    Bone idle

    People of Britain, throw out your breadmakers and mircowaves! It’s official. People in this country have nothing to do. 2.38m are economically inactive. The number of people claiming benefits is 1.56 m. We will have to get used to having more time. Lashings of it. Until now it was all about time saving devices and outsourcing.

    Why use a breadmaker when making a loaf by hand can keep you busy for up to 24 h! So goodbye dishwasher, hello super slowcooking and the dummy guide to idleness. We had the credit crunch lifestyle and the recessionista but what about  the sparetimeboom?

    Hang on, that means 820.000 people are not working and not registered as unemployed. What are they up to? They must be secretly working on something. A cult? Training for Britain’s got Talent? Too lazy to sign on? How do they survive? Foraging for nuts and berries and Vogue for thinspiration?

    Not only did the government employ interior designers to give jobcentres a shabby chic makeover so less people like to hang out there. It held an online competition. The winning entry, by  68 old Betty S. from Maidenhead was swine flu and has proven to be a big hit. Flu pandemics keep people away from public places (jobcentres) and blurr the line between redundancy and sickleave.

    The economy is stale. The only thing rising is the amount of time.

    Best time killers (The hardest work is to go idle.  -Yiddish Proverb)

    • Public transport 
    • Trying to get hold of customer services. Any.
    • Making bread
    • IKEA ( time flies with self assembly)
    • Baby 

    Rich Bread and butter pudding

    These are great times for cheap comfort eating and what is there better and more time consuming than Bread and butter pudding. Let the dough rise, bake the bread, wait a couple of days for it to go stale, make the pudding and e voilà: You spend a week in the kitchen not doing much and have a yummy dish. Both crispy and creamy, sweet and salty, with just the right amount of butter, enough cream to soak through the layers of bread and a toasty golden brown top. This recipe came to me through my mother in law via her good friend Delia.

    • 8 slices of  stale bread
    • butter
    • orange peel
    • sultanas
    • 250ml milk
    • 50ml double cream
    • 50g caster sugar
    • grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
    • 3 eggs
    • freshly grated nutmeg

    Arrange one layer of buttered bread in a baking dish, sprinkle the peel and half the sultanas over, then repeat. In a jug, mix the milk and the double cream. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest, whisk in the eggs. Pour over the bread and sprinkle with some freshly grated nutmeg. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Cost: 2.89/ Time: 5 days.


    The Great British Loser

    Why does it feels so natural for the Brits to lose? It’s like an inbred character trait: No tantrum, no questioning the fairness of the game. Only a polite stiff upper lip declaring: Oh well! He is only young – he has another chance. As if Tennis is only a game! As a German I know it is more than that: it is a chance to show that your country is cleverer, stronger and schneller. The reason you train and waste years of your youth on a court so that you win tournaments not just have a bit of a play-around.

    Shame on you Murray! You single handedly destroyed the hope of the entire nation. Apparently you cost the British economy 150m in post winning Feel Good Factor. And all this Victorian kafuffle about treating triumph and disaster just the same. I used to chuck the Monopoly board in the air when I landed on a Mayfair hotel. Murray starts his Autobiography with the worlds:” Triumph is clearly better.” Hereby he lays the groundwork to be a plucky British loser: Triumph is the only thing that matters in the world of Sport. This is nae Ping Pong in yer granny’s yard.

    “I’ll move on very quickly and go and work on my game and improve and come back stronger. (…)I’ve had a very good year so far. I’m very close to the top of the game.”

    You had the biggest chance in your life yet and you screwed it up! You lost. Go home and sulk. Throw your racket in the air and swear! Blame the trainer manufacturer; blame it on the strawberries!

    His easy defeat doesn’t make him a role model, it makes him the figurehead for a generation of submissive losers. It’s not that he is not good enough: He’s simply not hungry enough to win.

    Best of British Losing:

    • Wimbledon, every single year since 1936
    • Losing 3 Stones in 2 weeks (According to the dodgy ads in colour supplements)
    • Losing Billions of Pounds
    • Losing your virginity at the age of 12
    • Prince Charles
    • Cod

    Due to unsustainable fishing the once winning fish of choice Cod has become the loser species. Britain’s traditional dish of fish and chips is to disappear alongside “the Winner”. According to the WWF Times the British Wimbledon Gentleman’s Singles Champion will be added to the list of endangered species.

    Poached Cod on Beluga lentils with Salsa Verde

    • Filet of Cod from an unsustainable source
    • Beluga lentils ( they are firmer and glossier than the common puy)

    for the salsa:

    • Basil
    • Flat Leaf Parsley
    • Mint
    • Anchovies

    Poach the cod. Boil the lentils in stock. Blend the herbs with anchovies and olive oil in a food processor and serve.


    Back Passage to India

    Now you can be really gay in the campest country on earth! India has finally overthrown the colonial-era ban on homosexuality. I mean Namasté! How long did that take? Surely a country that drowns in sparkles and sequins should be a bit more open? India is every gays favourite destination. Male Indians finding it totally normal running around holding hands. Let alone the amount of manscaping* going on: eyeliner, jumpsuits and jewels for boys. And surely one has to be a bit in touch with ones inner queen in order to appreciate Bollywood movies?

    *The act of grooming the male body. 

    Even the Indian version of “Strictly Come Dancing” is called “Dancing Queen”. Homosexuality had been illegal in India since 1860 under a statute introduced by British colonial rulers that banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”  Not that colonialism wasn’t an early form of sex tourism.      

    India is one of the last democracies to have such a law. Before the Brits came and frolicked the behaviour against homosexuality was a bit more blasé: “man who commits an unnatural offence with a male…shall bathe, dressed in his clothes”.(SOOOOOOOOO harsh!)

    Now they can get on with putting their full attention to issues like child prostitution, child labour, sweat shops, starvation, poverty and the caste system. Well at least these issues are on everyone’s gaydar.

    Homophobia, it seems, is the only prejudice that remains respectable.

    India is more open then we think. 

    Mild coconut curry with ginger and yoghurt

    • Butternut squash
    • Cauliflower
    • Green beans
    • Butter or ghee
    • Ginger
    • Coconut milk
    • Curry leaves if possible fresh
    • Turmeric
    • Cumin
    • Mild curry powder
    • 4 cardamon pods
    • Yoghurt or if you’re into naughty stuff double cream
    • Fresh coriander

    Steam the butternut squash. Add the spices and coconut milk. Cook. Add the cauliflower florettes. Carefully pour in the yoghurt, watch out for curdeling.  Serve with basmati rice. Sprinkle with fresh coriander. Add fresh chilli according to personal inclination. Just stay away from your Untouchables.