"Never eat more than you can lift." Miss Piggy.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

No Competition For Paul Hollywood

Can't understand why his bread looks better than mine.

PEOPLE look at me and assume I'm a good cook. I suppose they equate my air of well-fed contentment with time spent in the kitchen rustling up a boeuf bourguignon with rustic bread followed by apple charlotte and clotted cream.

They'd be wrong. I usually rush home in the evening, flinging open cupboards to see what I can throw together to make something vaguely edible, wondering if I can defrost a lamb chop or two before the starving better half gets home for his tea.

I try not to get all my food in supermarkets and manage to visit a proper market now and again. I'm always drawn to those specialist stalls piled high with wonderful things like olives stuffed with garlic.
Then there are those that advertise "artisan" products. To me, artisan means it's not mass produced and therefore costs an arm and a leg.

Which is why, after spotting a delicious looking artisan walnut loaf that cost £3 – yes THREE WHOLE POUNDS – I thought I might buy a breadmaker.

I had visions of waking in the morning to the smell of freshly baked bread, just begging to be smothered in butter and jam. I could make my own walnut bread – or a nice sourdough or a focaccia loaf – for a fraction of the price. Bread so delicious that Paul Hollywood would ask me to be a guest on his show.

As with so many of my plans to turn myself into a domestic goddess, this idea was destined to go awry.

I blame my mother.

I mentioned the word breadmaker to her and she said she'd got one she never used any more.

She scrabbled around in the back of her cupboard before emerging with a scruffy looking machine that looked like a huge white concrete block. "Does it work?" I asked dubiously.

"It did the last time I used it," she replied, wiping it down with a damp cloth.

She neglected to tell me that this machine had been made at the dawn of bread-making technology. I half expected to have to light a small fire in its base by rubbing two sticks together. And it had no instructions or recipes.

I should have stopped right there but I thought I'd give it a go and went on the internet to try to find the necessary information.

I thought I'd sussed it out and as soon as I'd got all the ingredients together I started to make a basic white loaf.

I switched on and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. It kneaded and rested; kneaded and rested. I peeked through the little window at the top and everything looked very… well, very doughy. So I left it to work its magic. Then as it switched to bake mode – click – all the electricity went in the house. I reset the trip, hoping it was a coincidence, and switched the breadmaker back on. The electricity fused again.

Not wanting to tempt providence any further, I removed the dough from the breadmaker. It looked a bit "bready" so I thought I'd cook it in the oven. Not a great success. I left it cooling on the side and went out.

When I got home the better half was smiling brightly – an unusual and slightly worrying occurrence. I glanced down to find he was using my beautifully crafted loaf as a doorstop. Oh very funny. Very blooming funny.

I've given up breadmaking for now.

I might start making it myself, especially after hearing Paul Hollywood say that kneading dough gets rid of bingo wings.

If that doesn't work, then £3 a loaf for an artisan loaf is beginning to sound quite cheap.

(This is from my column in the North Devon Journal .) 

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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Chipotle In Adobo

Just getting round to reading the Sunday supplements.

Lots of recipes from the  lovely vegan Gwyneth Paltrow. There's one for chipotle in adobo. They didn't have chipotle or adobo in the Spar shop at the garage. I think I might use fatty bacon instead. I'm sure she'd approve.

By the way, for anyone as ignorant as I am, chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeno pepper and adobo is a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices. I found these definitions in Wikipedia so they are probably wildly wrong. It's probably whalemeat in yak's butter.

Here's one I made earlier:

One magazine suggests I could decant my washing-up liquid into a "cute" bottle. I think I might decant magazine into rubbish bin.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Sheep and rottweilers

Two of the things that have made me laugh out loud in the last couple of days:

I was talking to a friend - a real Devonshire farmer - whose husband suffers from diabetes. She had got home to find him slumped on the floor (so far, not funny, I know). She knew she had to get some medication into him as soon as possible. She wanted to sit him up so that he wouldn't choke but found it difficult because he was so heavy. I'll call them Bill and Bertha to preserve their anonymity.

In a broad Devonshire accent she told me: "I said to meself, now Bertha, if you can lift a bleddy yaw you can lift Bill, so I 'eaved 'n up and managed to pour some stuff down 'is thrawt."

Translation:  "I said to myself, now Bertha, if you can lift a bloody ewe you can lift Bill, so I heaved him up and managed to pour some stuff down his throat."

Bill is now fine.


The other thing came in a court story at work (I work for a newspaper):

Things You Know Are Going To End Badly

"...the solicitor for the defence said his client had taken too much anti-psychotic medication earlier that day. He felt unwell while walking to Lidl to buy dog food for his rottweiler."

Oh dear, no happy ending to that story....

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Don't Scratch Your Crotch In Public

Simon Cowell: Doesn't live in the real world.

FOR goodness sake has no one ever taught you to eat with your mouth closed, I wanted to say to the child on the next table.

But of course I was eating so I kept my mouth firmly shut.

Only the previous morning I had been reading a list of life lessons children should learn before they leave school.

Very worthy it was too – they should know that time heals wounds, that failures are only lessons, that all big journeys begin with just one step. That kind of thing.

Strangely, eating with your mouth closed was not on the list. Neither was don't scratch your crotch or pick your nose in public
Here are a few more lessons I wish all young people would learn:

Your mother, your father, the country are not made of money. If you want the good things of life you have to earn them. That means getting out of bed before midday, passing a few exams along the way and not being afraid of hard work.

There is no shame in any honest work. Cleaning lavatories and performing brain surgery are both worthy occupations.

Be prepared to start at the bottom. You are not going to leave school with five GCSEs and get a job as managing director straight away. Someone is sweeping the floors and it may as well be you as you learn the job from the inside out.

Being in a band that plays in local pubs is not a job. Neither is helping your friend's mum on her market stall on Saturday.

Don't begrudge people who have worked all their life and paid into the system a free TV licence when they get to 75 or a pension that's hardly enough to feed their dog. And old people deserve good service from the NHS as much as anyone else. They've paid their dues. Until you get to 50 you've probably not paid in enough for a wet wipe, an aspirin or for the insertion of a rectal thermometer.

Reality TV is about as far from "real" as you can ever get.

Teenage boys, deodorant is no substitute for a good wash.

Before you get that elaborate tattoo think about how much it's going to cost to remove it – which you will inevitably want to do at some point in your life.

Don't dress as if you have been dipped in glue and dragged through a flea market. (I wish this was my quote but I heard it the other night on Modern Family).

Don't be gullible. Question everything and make up your own mind. Don't forget the principle of Occam's Razor i.e. the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. In other words, most conspiracy theories are total garbage.

Life isn't fair. I wish I'd been the daughter of billionaires, had a body like Kelly Brook and the brains of Stephen Hawking. But, do you know what, I have a good life despite not having any of those things. Aspire, don't envy.

If you're in a relationship that you have to keep secret, you shouldn't be in it.

When someone dumps you, it's their loss, not yours, and no matter how upset you are, I promise you someone better will be along soon. Never sell yourself cheap. You're worth more than some boyfriend or girlfriend who makes you feel inadequate. If they don't respect you, there are plenty of people who do.

Don't let anyone else tell you how to think. Justin Bieber knows nothing. Simon Cowell does not live in the real world. Your head teacher is sometimes wrong. Your friends make bad decisions. Make up your own mind. and don't let your happiness depend on other people.

Never keep anything for "best". Today is a special day so wear that lovely dress, put on that watch your uncle gave you and burn the fancy candles. That way, every day will be a special day. I've lost count of things I've kept for "best" and eventually thrown away because they've broken or tarnished or gone out of style. Not any more.

Never take anything seriously that you don't have to, especially not yourself. Laugh whenever you can. Surround yourself with people who can not only tell a joke but can take one too.

Never be afraid to be the odd one out. Be a bit eccentric if you want to. If you have a nice red beret that you love but makes you look like Swan Vesta match, wear it anyway. Smile and say, "I know," when boring people point it out.

Finally, a few bad days do not mean a bad life. You have to experience the bad to appreciate the good. Roll with the punches and when they stop you'll be a wiser, stronger person.

Read original at the North Devon Journal here .
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/patkeenor
Follow the North Devon Journal: @ThisisNDevon on Twitter | thisisnorthdevon on Facebook

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Monday, 11 March 2013

Not Funny.......

THIS isn't really funny but I couldn't help laughing.

Someone we know has died and my mother (aged 92) said: "I'm not surprised, there was nothing left of him."

We naturally assumed she meant he'd wasted away because he had aggressive cancer.

But then she said: "Yes, he lost his foot and then his leg. Then he lost his other foot and leg...."

I know, not funny. But still........................!

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Holy Handcuffs!

HOLY handcuffs! There you are going about your unlawful business of handling stolen goods and committing a bit of fraud, the last thing you expect is for Batman to come steaming out of the mist to take you into custody.

But a man dressed as the caped crusader marched into a police station in Bradford last week with an alleged villain in tow and disappeared into the night.

According to police, he went up to the helpdesk and told staff: "I've caught this one for you," and then promptly vanished.

Great Caeser's ghost, what a superhero. Perhaps he and Robin or another of their superhero friends could be persuaded to race to North Devon to fight crime and the fear of crime.

Oh my stars and garters, wouldn't it be great to be able to walk the streets without fear; to leave your front door wide open while you popped to the shops or to drive the streets knowing there was no little toe-rag without a licence or insurance waiting to drive into you around the corner?

Shazam, he'd be in the police station quicker than you could say "by the hoary hosts of Hoggoth".

It makes me furious that while the vast majority of us manage to get by without shoving tins of spaghetti hoops down our knickers in the supermarket, can walk past a monument without feeling the need to scrawl all over it and can have a good night out without screaming and weeing in the streets and without getting into a fight, there are others in our midst for whom this seems an impossibility.
Come on, caped crusader, come and sort them out.


THERE'S not much that happens in the news that shocks me. I've worked in newspapers for more years than I care to remember so I've seen it all – been there, done that, got the t-shirt, as they say.

But last week I listened open-mouthed as I heard that one Cornwall councillor had complained disabled children were costing too much money and should be put down.

Any decent person will be shocked at that statement. How appalling for disabled parents and their families to have to hear it.

Does he seriously believe that disabled children have no potential, that they are all a drain on society with nothing to contribute?

If the world adopted this councillor's beliefs, here are a few people who would have been "put down".
  • Brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking who is severely disabled with motor neurone disease. 
  • Artist Frida Kahlo who suffered from polio AND spina bifida.
  • Then there was Christy Brown, author painter and poet who had severe cerebral palsy and was incapable for years of deliberate movement or speech. He was considered to be intellectually disabled too until one day he famously snatched a piece of chalk from his sister with his left foot to make a mark on a slate, all detailed in his autobiography My Left Foot, which was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.
  • Let's not forget American Helen Keller, author, lecturer and political activist for the disabled and the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
  • There are actors like dwarf Warwick Davies, deaf woman Marlee Matlin and Chris Burke and Elliot Rosen who both have Down's Syndrome.
  • Evelyn Glennie is a brilliant deaf percussionist.
  • And there are a host of athletes who were disabled as children, including the indomitable Tanni Grey-Thompson. She has won 14 paralympic medals including nine golds, and has broken over 20 world records. As a wheelchair athlete she was also the winner of five London marathons.
What a poorer place the world would be if they had all been put down at birth. And isn't this the kind of argument Hitler was using? Some 70,000 people were killed off under the Nazi eugenics programme.
When I think of all the things that my taxes go to – wars I don't agree with, benefits for people whose idleness is a life choice, quangos that do nothing but eat up money and so on and so on – the last thing I'm going to complain about is my cash helping to make life easier for a disabled child. It's money well spent and shouldn't even be questioned in a civilised society.

Now, you see what has happened? I'm angry. Don't make me angry, Mr Councillor, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Read original at the North Devon Journal.
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/patkeenor
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Friday, 1 March 2013

Tesco Home Delivery

I shall never get the hang of this Tesco home delivery business. I thought I'd ordered three tomatoes. Soup anyone?

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