Saturday, 6 October 2012

wish craft



"when you wish upon a star
makes no difference who you are
anything your heart desires 
will come to you"   Disney




Now come on Walt, we all know that isn't strictly true, I mean I've sent food back in Disney Land for goodness sakes and once at the character breakfast Goofy touched up both me and a friend of mine during a photo opportune moment, but before I go digressing before I even start, I still do actually wish on stuff, like the chicken wishbone (which incidentally I always win) and eyelashes and what not. 

Since our recent house move I've had a pretty expansive wish list, mainly involving storage spaces and kitchen cupboards. I've also been wishing ants didn't exist, what purpose they have in the Universe I don't know, but I do know that their presence is really not welcome and they have most definitely outstayed what ever welcome they never had. I also wish that Indians knew how to make proper cheese and actually sell it in the shops and I really wish that the building land, recently acquired adjacent, would formulate into a Tesco Metro or a Cost Co or something, or at the very least a Top Shop... It's only then I realise wish lists are just that.

I have also been a little bit crafty, not in the cunning sense, because that takes a bit of intelligence, but trying to adapt or up cycle, which seems to be the blogging buzzword of 2012 so far, random household items and turn them into an episode of Extreme Make Over Home Edition (well without all the hysterical screaming of OMG when I run into each and every room) and for this I blame Pinterest...

Pinterest has really started of late to take over my life, well the early morning parts of it anyways and I am now fully qualified to discuss at length the many merits of vinegar as a cleaning agent, which glue adheres which material the most satisfactorily, which icing nozzle is the most appropriate for making Sesame Street cupcakes and I can now formulate an entire new wardrobe from a couple of old men's shirts and a patchwork quilt, so all in all it's not a total waste of time. I can also make shelving units from wine boxes and masking tape and quite frankly I am really surprised that Ty Pennington has yet to contact me to be on his team, but hey, it's his loss.

Also I've been a bit lazy with the writing and BF has constantly highlighted nagged for some time about knuckling down, in my defence I have been doing a lot of recipe development but mainly I have been rearranging furniture, championing a Brutal Insect Annihilation Mission, I've been growing pineapple trees and making a coffee and shake station (which was origionally going to be a home bar but we don't really have any liquor to put in it as we are not that grown up and sophisticated) and obviously I've been pinning, pinning recipes, pinning dream houses, pinning random swimming pool architecture and the seasonally obligatory pinning of forty different ways to stuff a pumpkin and what not, so there... Are you happy??? And should you want proof click on the Pinterest logo on the above right and follow me and see for yourself.
And now the charming and hilariously funny Miss Picco is in on the highlighting nagging mix, though technically she is in a position to highlight nag as she does have a marvellous blog which she updates way more frequently than I do and I secretly think she must be even hotter than Stacey's Mom because she really does seem to have a lot more going on:-
http://spoonlighting.wordpress.com/

Between the pair of them who needs Jewish parents?

NB:- Last week it was the Ganesha Festival and due to circumstances it was the first one we ever did at home, so it was ten days of Puja's and ten days of vegetarianism, where I had alarming attack of BWS (Bacon Withdrawal Symptoms) So the minute our idol was safely immersed and on his way I whipped out the lean mean machine an once I figured out you could just use a normal contact grill as a fancy panini machine there was no stopping the filling alternatives (which of course mainly featured bacon)
 Our favourites are as follows:-

1. Classic BLT
2. Sausage, Caramelised Onion & Sweet Chili Sauce
3. Meat Feast (basically all the meat you have in the fridge between the bread)
and here is another enjoy...
The BMC Club




4 rashers of bacon, pan fried
half a dozen button mushroom, sliced & sauteed
good handful of grated cheese
2 slices of thick white bread
Tomato relish or sweet chili dipping sauce
Assemble the sandwich & grill for 2-3 Mins

*Eat alone or make one for your nagging BF :)








Monday, 21 May 2012

only mad dogs and english(wo)men go out in the mid day sun

"The Japanese don't care to,
the Chinese wouldn't dare to,
Hindus & Argentines, 
sleep firmly from twelve to one,
but English(wo)men detest a siesta.
In the Philippines 
they have lovely screens
to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay states
there are hats like plates
which the British won't wear.
At twelve noon, the natives swoon,
and no further work is done
But Mad Dogs & English(wo)men 
go out in the mid day sun" 
Noel Coward




Madcap May Recap


1. We moved house, where I managed to achieved a substantial collection of fanciful bruises, which I acquired moving, arranging, then re arranging furniture, (multiple times) all I may add during the hottest May I have ever encountered
2. We tried a new restaurant out  
3. The new neighbours finally stopped banging and naturally chose to move in on the day we moved out, hence an 'elevator battle' commenced.
4. I had to go for a scary scan (all was well, let's not be worried)
5. The most offensively sexist Advert aired on Indian TV (all isn't well on this front, women need to be very worried)




1. Bruises & Boiling
I'm not sure I have ever met anyone who bruises as easily as I do, not even Natasha Bedingfield and she wrote a song about the issue, If I'm so much as brushed by there's a bruise, so as I had to do a lot of furniture shifting it's more than safe to say I look like I've gone a few rounds with Tyson.
During moving, the heat was so intense I actually thought the sun had fallen out of the sky and had chosen to relocate to our kitchen balcony, oh yes and The Loo arrived...





The 
Loo (Hindi: लू, Urdu: لو, Punjabi: ਲੂ) is a strong, hot and dry summer afternoon wind from the west which blows over the western Indo-Gangetic Plain region of North India and Pakistan.[1] It is especially strong in the months of May and June. Due to its very high temperatures (45 -°C–50 °C or 115°F-120°F), exposure to it often leads to fatal heatstrokes.[1] *source wiki






I suspect it's called The Loo, because it's absolute pants and when it's accompanied by a 50C/120F temperature you can really enjoy the full benefits of it as a delightful array of sand/dust/debris, streams through the house every afternoon, rather extra in the delightful catagory as we really only had half a kitchen (think a work top and sink combo) and absolutely no shelves or cupboards, we really have been living the dream , having to dust every single cup.plate/bowl/spoon every time we want to use them, oh and as an added special treat hot water is coming out of the cold tap, which is so very refreshing . So for the last couple of weeks what katy ate next was mainly take out and dine out, which brings me nicely to...


2. The Birthday Buffetless Buffet
Technically it was my birthday in April but due to a pesky cold and cough and the dramas of No.4 we held off going out to celebrate, by the time we did we had kind of actually forgotten it was a birthday celebration, which after this dining experience was just as well.
I had been wanting to try the Authentic Italian Brunch Buffet at a new trendy restaurant in the city, technically I had been before with a friend for lunch and had a fairly decent meal, not that I could see it it was so dark in there (it made Disneyland's Haunted Mansion look positively illuminated) we had to ask for a torch to read the menu) anyways I received an e-mail with regards to their Authentic Italian Brunch Buffet and reading it back in hindsight I should really have seen the comedy of errors coming our way



DEAR SIR/MADAM...
AS YOU ARE OUR VALUED GUEST.
 I FEEL PLEASED TO INVITE YOU ON OUR SUNDAY BRUNCH BUFFET.
INTRODUCING A VERY FRESH MENU INCLUDES..VEG / NON VEG MOUTHWATERING AUTHENTIC ITALIAN CUISINS.
 PLEASE USE THIS APPORTUNITY TO SATISFY YOUR TASTEBUDS.
IT BECOMES MORE CONVINCING WHEN  IT HAVE  A "TADKA" OF
A PINT OF BEER OR A GLASS OF WINE 
WE ARE EAGERLY AWAITING FOR GRACIOUS PRESENCE
EXPECT SUCH MORE SURPRISES HAPPENING IN YOUR FAVOURATE RESTAURENT
THANKS AND REGARDS
MANAGER

If any of this makes sense to you then you might quite enjoy it. I spotted six spelling mistakes and an entirety of grammatical errors (see if you can spot more) We arrived about one o'clock and were seated, this time it was a little brighter (two torches instead of one) and we were informed about the substantial buffet and pizza and pasta so we eagerly went to check out the so called 'authentic mouthwatering delights'
The first thing that caught BF's eye was the  'Cold Slow' (could have been worse I suppose, it could have been cold sore) and then we went on to sample the rest of the dishes, oh wait, aside from a beet salad, some tinned sweetcorn arranged on a platter with some fashionable sliced red onion and a rather tired dry bunch of lettuce leaves (oh lest we forget the pitta bed toasts - pitta that well known authentic Italian bread) there wasn't any. I'm forgetting there was a cold tomato soup (Gazpacho being that other authentic Italian food) which was absolutely ghastly and tasted how I expect body fluids to do. It was literally a Buffetless Buffet'
Next if we were asked if we wanted the pizza/pasta combo, of course we did idiot, here the choices were as follows:-


Pasta - Veg or non Veg (veg being farfalle pasta in tomato soup/non veg being pasta in tomato juice with chunks of chicken) 
Pizza - Veg or non Veg (veg being burnt crust pizza base with same tomato juice on top/non veg being burnt crust pizza with same tomato soup with chunks of chicken)


As you can imagine we were overwhelmed with the choice so we opted for non veg pasta and non veg pizza. When it arrived we were astounded by the lack of vegetables or garlic or onion, or herbs or even salt & pepper. NO seasoning whatsoever, except it had a spice to it (like the chef had just sprinkled chili powder into a can of Libby's. Due to no seasoning the pasta was bland, yet spicy at the same time, I've never actually had bland spicy food before so hat's off to the chef (who, coincidentally was wearing a very big hat) but we were hungry, so we ate and BF enjoyed playing the drums with his pizza crust drum sticks (yes it was that burnt) we got back to the house to do the final moving stuff to discover, yes we were moving the same day as the noisy neighbours from hell...


3. The Elevator Wars
Elevator wars are a bit like Star Wars but without nearly all of the special effects, the first round consists of playing 'who can push the button on their floor first' the second round is 'who can hold the door open the longest so the other team can't press the button'
As I have a good seven months of pent up anger with these guys I was only too happy to put up with the most distasteful noise an ear drum can endure (aka our elevator's door alarm) to ensure I commanded it for up to an hour at a time, didn't really need to, just for laughs really. Anyways we had had other things on our mind which brings me to the pesky and testy test...


4. I'm A Hyperventilating Hypochondriac *Fact
As I have always suffered from hypochondria, I always assume the worst, if I have a headache it's obviously only a matter of time before my brain implodes, if I bump my head (which I did the night before last when a curtain pole fell on it) I automatically assume wait for that fatal clot which will form in the night and a stroke will ensue, so upon discovering a lump, I was rather worried. Also I have a lingering tickly cough which is just bound to be tuberculosis. But after going for a scan and a check up I was put at ease and told to come back in a month just to make sure.

Things started to slowly get organised and I even manage to semi organise the kitchen and rustle up some dinners and I slowly started to calm down and relax a bit after the stressful events of the month and one day, when enjoying a particularly humorous episode of Come Dine With Me..... BOOM POW the Micromax commercial came on....


5. The Less Smart more Sexist Phone
As I don't want to increase my blood pressure any more (as I'm convinced this would bring on full internal body combustion) I'm not going to say anything further about this other than 'only in India'

But if you enjoy sexism, the Indian way, here is the link to it:-





You can watch it whilst I rustle up some dinner


fish & mushroom ragout




2 white skinless, boneless fish fillets
couple of ripe plum tomatoes, sliced lengthways
handful of mixed bell peppers
handful of mushrooms
2 cups of chicken stock
1 red onion diced
glug of olive oil
splash of lemon juice
handful of sliced black olives
bunch of fresh coriander leaves
1/2 cup of finely grated cheese (I used Gouda)
splash of white wine
1 tsp each of cumin, coriander, garam masala powder
chilli powder + s&p to taste


soak fish fillets in water, drain & pat dry
marinade with a little of the wine, oil + half the spices
season with s&p, refrigerate for about 20 minutes
heat a skillet with a little more oil & sear the fish 
remove and transfer to a foil lined grill tray

in the same pan, soften the onion 
add the spices & wine
turn up the heat to reduce the wine
add the mushrooms and peppers to cook
add stock, reduce heat & simmer until vegetables are cooked
meanwhile heat grill/broiler 
place the tomatoes on the fish & grill till cooked
add olives, cheese & some chopped coriander leaves to the sauce
serve fish on a bed of mash potatoes or rice
spoon sauce over & check seasoning 
finish with a little more cheese sprinkles & coriander leaves


























































Monday, 16 April 2012

supermarket sweep

"lets go wild in the aisles" - Dale Winton


"In one of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads dramas, someone exposes themselves in a branch of Sainsbury's. "Tesco's you could understand," says an elderly woman tartly. It's a remark that neatly sums up both the British obsession with class and our almost tribal attachment to specific supermarket brands. Tesco, the implication goes, is for commoner people who are slightly more likely to drop their trousers in public than Sainsbury's shoppers. By extension, Waitrose is for those more likely to have second homes in Chiantishire than the first two; Asda for people who aspire to have a second home anywhere but probably never will; Lidl for people who have never heard of Chiantishire; Marks and Spencer for those who affect to have never heard of Lidl. That kind of thing"  *source - The Guardian


chatting with friends about the dating industry this week 
I was astounded to discover what a colossal money spinner it was, over 16 million Americans admit to having tried a dating service of some kind. And Matchmaker.com alone has 15 million worldwide members.


Now compare that with India, which has a very low percentage of dating agencies to a very high percentage of 'Matrimonial agencies' as quite incredulously ninety five percent of all Indian marriages are still arranged. And even then no more than 12 million people use a matrimonial agency, which in a country with well over one billion adults, is a much smaller percentile ratio than it's Western counterparts. In the West we don't have arranged marriages, but it got me thinking


How different are dating agencies to Matrimonial sites?


I suppose the most obvious of differences lies in 'family involvement' I can't see any American I know asking his Mom to pay for his Match.com fees and arranged marriages, even in this day and age still keep within caste and religious confines. The deal breaker in the UK would be more likely based on which football team you supported.
However there are basic similarities, as in  you fill in some details of the criteria you are seeking (couple of differences here, requesting fair skin wouldn't be allowed on Western sites as caste or class or veg on non veg probably wouldn't factor either) then you ask someone else to get involved and find you someone, next money  changes hands (dowry or fees) and thatsyourmatch.com


The third way of meeting someone is a phenomena I first became aware of some years ago, when I lived in San Francisco. The Marina branch of the supermarket chain Safeway was famed to have special nights  where singles could mingle and select more than a nice French Stick (it was even gay night on Thursday) apparently whilst people were shopping they were being eyed up and judged on their availability and social status (and on Thursdays their personal sexual status) by the contents of their baskets:-
Value anything = welfare
Diapers & family box of fish sticks = a no goer 
Strawberry's and champagne = a goer, albeit an expensive one
I even heard of men putting very expensive items into their baskets they had no intention of purchasing  to entice women into thinking they were wealthier than they actually were. 


In these recession doldrums, more and more people, especially in the US and UK are turning to this 'free' way to meet a potential life partner and there are actually online sites giving tips on this and the supermarkets are clearly encouraging it and it's hardly surprising as although the UK is a tiny country, it's population spends a staggering £75 BILLION (that's $130 BILLION or a thousand SQUILLION  rs) in their collective stores.


I mean if I were on the market to be looking, I would head straight to the aisles, as food is almost the total basis of my existence I would be keeping a keen eye on what purchases were going down, no not for me worries of fair skin or caste or creed or horoscope it's all about the produce baby


So to keep you up to speed (dating) I have compiled a quick ideal match supermarket guide so let's get down with Dale and go  'wild in the aisles'


Rather like the Caste system in India, the UK also hasn't an ancient class system, which is the Supermarket Class system and people will judge your social demographic from the supermarket you ideally like to shop at, as Indians class people by their surnames. 
So from the bottom of the food chain to the top (note I have only included high street retailers as lets face it even if you do bump into Prince William in the Harrods food Hall, you've got no chance, he's taken)


LIDL
Good For: Pikeys (if you aren't English, google 'Pikey' and if you are a Pikey apologies for the derogatory term but you are one so you don't count)


Expect to find:  Pikeys (and possibly, occasionally starving students when their parents forgot to top up their pocket money) Girls, your first date will undoubtedly be at MacDonald's - no salad bar





ALDI
Sightly higher up the food chain than LIDL because there are less Pikeys
Good For: no frills, budget conscious folk


Expect to Find: Cheapskates but not Pikeys, (as in they will be paying for their purchases not stealing them) and as a bonus your first date will at least be at the MacDonalds of your choice - no salad bar



ASDA
Good For: Working class heroes, Asda isn't well stocked on fancy pants produce but apparently they have been voted the UK's best Supermarket Pizza for about a million years


Expect to find: Tradesmen who can't be doing with fancy pants food & divorced men who's ex wives have taken them to the cleaners so they have had to become semi budget conscious & not eat fancy pant stylee - rubbish salad bar




MORRISONS
One up on Asda for it's 'quaint' Fresh Market aisle, a nice but failed attempted to make you feel like you're shopping in a Parisian Market, however the colour scheme is even more visually disturbing than Asda's.
Good For:: The same people as Asda & blind people


Expect to find: The same people as Asda & blind people
fair to middling salad bar



TESCO
Now, the billy big boys of supermarket shopping, the largest retailer in the country and the third largest retailer in the world (and the second largest global profit producing company) oh yes it's good old TESCO
Good For: People who don't have a specific demographic in their head, as with those kind of figures the demographic of Tesco is surely an all class, creed & culture mix


Expect to Find: The whole country, apparently -
salad bar good but only available in superstores



SAINSBURY'S

Good For : Introverted food snobs, wannabe intellectuals & people who are looking to climb the social ladder whilst buying Cambodian hand pressed sardines, also people hoping to possibly bump into Jamie Oliver


Expect to find:  (me when I'm in the UK) & professional busy folk who like to cook but clearly don't like to 'chop' and if you want a specific central African Salad Dressing (as I once purchased mainly based on the cute zebra print stopper wrapping) then this is the store for you - amazing salad bar


*Now sorry I mentioned the fact that its my favourite supermarket, except for the Jamie Oliver bit, I always kept a keen eye out, as we used to live quite near him but to no avail


WAITROSE
The most superior of all supermarket retailers, very snobby & as a result not doing too well in the recession
Good For:  Meeting upper middle class lawyers, Kate Middleton wannabes & C list celebrities, also has an expansive fancy pants section 


Expect to find:  A mixture of high flying professionals, of all ages, aspirational models & C list celebrities - ridiculously over the top, even for me salad bar





Now there are two more major food retailers in the UK and shall we just say they generally are for the more 'mature' dater so we have them once again in lower & upper middle arrangement.


THE CO OP

Good For: The stamps and old men in flat caps with ever so more than slightly socialistic principles (hence the working class aspect)


Expect to find: Working class widows (some maybe heroes, some may just be sporting a shampoo & set) 





*Age discrimination disclaimer, I defy anyone to go to any CO OP at anytime and not find a gaggle of pensioners sporting the standard pastel or beige 'lightweight mackintosh' (almost certainly purchased at Edinburgh Woollen Mill) 


MARKS & SPENCER
Good For:  Men who are older & don't mind a woman who cant cook or younger women who also can't cook and want a sugar daddy with a Mercedes who again, in turn, can't cook, because their ex/deceased wives did it previously & their lady who does is too busy shopping at Aldi

Expect to find:  Middle aged women who never learned to cook & divorced/widowed upper middle class men, who never learned to cook as their ex/deceased wives did it for them (be wary of these men as allegedly they are in the most likely demographic of having a 'lady who does')
Also all the fresh produce in M&S is perfect & unblemished 


*Age discrimination disclaimer, Marks & Spencer have tried for years to get hold of the younger retail market with their sexy borderline food porn ads, but the younger folk still go to TESCO because they have really cool flat screen TV's and what not and a cafe that sells a really good fry up 24/7 so that's that

I also omitted to include Iceland because lets face it any store that has Kerry Katona advertising for them is far too below the food chain and closer to the single cell chain, I also omitted Sommerfields, because let's face it, what use is Sommerfields, it's probably just full of ugly people who you wouldn't want to date any which way.


So there we have it folks, select your store wisely and pick your produce well and if you play your cards right after you've gone 'Wild In The Aisles' a couple of DO'S & DON'Ts...


DO  make them this quick and sexy spiced up omelet 


DON'T   ask how they like their eggs in the morning 




parsi prawn omelet 






per person
3 eggs - beaten 
handful of cooked & peeled prawns
1 ripe tomato - finely diced
1 small red onion - finely diced
handful of grated cheese
1/4 tsp each of cumin - jeera - garam marsala - chilli powder
s&p to taste
handful of coriander leaves - half finely chopped
fresh lime wedges
sprinkle of dried chilli flakes
knob of butter

add spices & salt & pepper to egg mixture
heat butter in non stick pan & swirl in egg 
line the pan with egg mixture till it begins to slightly set
throw in tomatoes, onion & prawns
half fold over, reduce heat until set
toss on shredded coriander leaves & chilli flakes
serve with lime wedges






throw it all together in a casual manner and make 'Bedhead on a plate'






Monday, 2 April 2012

MYTH busting for FACT fans


The Guru Maharishi Yogi: Hello, do you want to be a Hindu?
Woman: Yes, I have always wanted to become a Hindu.
The Guru Maharishi Yogi: Well, you can't! Have a nice day"

goodness gracious me


This ones been a long time coming, I've spoken before about the stupid things curious Indians have asked me - (see FAQ's) but very little about the stupid things Westerners ask me about India and living in India, personally I think there are two major reasons to blame for the Western idea of India
1. The BBC for their ludicrously misinterpreted documentaries, showing us freaks in small villages, oh I'm sure they exist but I have been to many a small village in England and seen loads of freaks (Maypole Dancers for instance)
2. Slumdog Millionaire Now don't get me wrong Slumdog is a great film but if I had a rupee for everytime anyone asked me if living in India was just like that film I'd not only not be a Slumdog but I certainly would be a millionaire, so turning the tables somewhat this week we are going to be Western Indian Myth busting, let's separate the fiction from the facts...


The MYTHical Highway
1. Transport
Exhibit A I once put up a status update on Facebook about how busy the Flyover traffic was that day and a supposedly intelligent friend of mine unbelievably commented "There are cars? In India?"  YES! As shocking as it seems our usual form of transportation isn't via donkey or camel it's actual CARS....






...Regular cars 
The (F)actual Highway
Ok granted technically I've never seen a Cadillac or a sporting green Mini but all the regular brands such as ford, BMW, Mercedes and all those silly named Japanese brands, with names that end in ZKI are available, we even have Gas Stations, with automated payment pumps and these fully fuelled cars drive on real life Highways, just like back home, well not exactly like at home because as you recall we have also spoken at length about the lack of a Highway Code, (see miss manners goes madras) but there are highways NOT Donkey trails


2. Electricity
The MYTHical form of communication





Exhibit B
Whilst trying to catch up with an old
friend on line, also allegedly 
intelligent, I signed into Facebook chat and said Hi and he was astounded to discover I was on the Internet & the conversation went a little something
like this...





supposedly intelligent friend
 "how are you on Facebook in India?"
me
"by the process of logging in, like the rest of the word"
supposedly intelligent friend
"but how do you have the Internet in India?"
me
"Via a broadband service provider & router, like the rest of the world"
supposedly intelligent friend
"Wow, I didn't think India even had electricity"
me
"                                                  "
(speechless)



(F)actual form of communication
Now don't get me wrong, the Indian electricity board are prone to a little inconsistency but in all fairness to them in a country where it hardly ever rains, sometimes the temperatures soars above 50C/130F and there is a population of 1.2 billion, I'd defy even the sturdiest of National Grids not to buckle occasionally. But for the love of God I swear people think I live in a Tribal Village, and walk barefoot every day to go slay my own food which leads me to....






3. Habitat
MYTHical Habitat
Exhibit C
I know it appears to everyone who watches the Discovery Channel and Gordon Ramsay's extremely irritating show about Indian cooking & eating habits and I am sure there are some villages still continuing the traditional lifestyle BUT NOT ALL OF INDIA IS BACKWARDS!!!!








(F)actual Habitat
In the cities we have sky scrapers 
modern office buildings, apartment
blocks, shopping Malls , KFC,
MacDonald's, CPK etc etc all of it, it's crazy but it's true. I once even had a friend comment "when will you be living somewhere more normal?" (???) which I thought was strange as I was making fish and chips and watching Top Gear at the time.








Anyways if you are reading this in the West, don't always believe what Gordon Ramsay/The Discovery Channel or the BBC documentaries would have you believe and if your reading this in India don't always assume that Bollywood, which portrays all Westerners as wayward and immoral, is correct either, in fact for either culture don't assume anything about anywhere unless you have experienced it first hand and even if you're reading this on Mars you can all enjoy this simple spiced up version of the traditional English Fayre as much as we did....




 f i s h & c h i p s











Wednesday, 14 March 2012

HOLI Cowabunga Dudes




Three things happened last week... 
(well obviously other things happened but I'm not sure how riveting showering, flossing, making a cuppa, doing the crossword etc etc is for readers)

1.  Hurray Hurray it's a Holi Holi Day




It was Holi last week, the Festival of paintballing, errr I mean colours, it really is a fun festival especially for kids as they basically have a licence to take to the streets and ambush anyone and everyone with water balloons mixed with intensive colours, the kids (and big kids) love it and it was great to watch through the window as alas being so blonde I would have just ended up looking like all four teletubbies combined till next Monsoon washed it off, also it was BF's first Holi at home as he usually pops off to visit various relatives at this time of the year, so it felt like a real proper holiday, a bit like Christmas but with more mess and I mean it about the mess, to try and give you a visual picture I have created some imagery for you...
Virtual adaptation of how I may look after playing Holi
So in we stayed watching all of the merriment and mayhem from the safety of the terrace and had a lovely lazy day at home.


2. The Mad Cow Goes To The Opticians



I went to the opticians, for the first time, oh since the Jurassic Park cast lived for real life. I'd been noticing a bit of eye strain for quite sometime and finally got round to bothering to get an eye check up. Gosh was I in for a treat (or should that was be eye was in for a treat?) 

Well actually neither me, nor my eyes were in for any treats whatsoever. The 'surgery' was downtown near the dreaded Mecca of Misery aka The Big Bazaar and was in a very old building, with even older people in it. The stairs to the office were akin to climbing the North Face of the Himalayas and I regretted wearing strapless wedge heeled mules early on in the game and I got to wondering (as I always do in certain situ's) 'How do disabled people ever get anywhere in India' ? (answers on an E-Postcard please) as I don't think I have ever seen anyone in a wheelchair, EVER.

Well I made my way through the dark and somewhat skanky hallway, now bear in mind this is a top doctors office I'm looking for,  I see a receptionist in another clinic (I'm guessing it's not the opticians as there are a bunch of pregnant women waiting around and not one is wearing spectacles) immediately the receptionist screams at me in Hindi and points heinously towards my feet, for a split second I think it may be a foot clinic or she just has a toe fetish or something but no, she was screaming at my shoes I quickly stepped back outside into the skanky hall and made my way down the corridor and found people coming out of a room blinking, this could be it I thought.

I tried to open the door but as ever in India you 'push' to enter and 'pull' to exit (fire regulations anyone?) and once inside found myself in some sort of retro ethnic Narnia.
Now where I come, we all slag the National Health Service off but at the very least the waiting room at the doctors has:-
*Fitted Carpets (regularly vacuumed)
*A selection of various plants, often rubber and/or yukka, a nice palm, maybe a fern or two
*Pretty artwork on the wall 
*An array of magazines (well at least Hello) and NHS booklets, containing useful tips about eating healthy or warding off flu and what not
*CHAIRS

This waiting room contained:-
*A barefoot receptionist
*Some strange other barefooted people
*A dirty old wooden floor which had not clearly not seen a broom since Lord Lucan was last spotted
*A sort of Workman's style bench (think along the lines of how a Victorian Workmate might have looked) which the aforementioned strange barefooted people were rather awkwardly perched upon
*NO CHAIRS (or plants or magazines or pretty artwork)

I was called in for the check up and immediately asked to remove my shoes, glancing back down at the broom bereft floor I adamantly refused, I think of all people doctors should really know the reason that footwear was invented, anyways I kept my shoes on and it was a bit like I imagine Dr. Crippins office to have been like except there were a bunch of new fangled machines and also, rather strangely, a bed (in an opticians???) 

After all the machine fiasco (one where it blew wind directly into my eye and I was told not to blink, yeah right) I got the hell out of the house of horrors and skid-addled home as fast as my inappropriate shoes could take me.

3.  Copy Cat Take Out 'Cos That's How Calcutta Rolls

Last week we ordered take out from that semi dodgy but usually delicious fast food franchise,  it's quite a scummy cruddy place (well after the eye clinic experience suddenly it's become the Ritz) but the food is great, a bit like my favourite kebab shop back home. We ordered some Manchurian style chicken, a bit of Tandoori, some fries and a chicken egg fried rice (yes three chicken dishes, meatless Monday it was not) the rice was so amazing that the next day I felt compelled to rework it and so was holed up in the research and development centre   kitchen trying to conjure  up a similar style dish, I pretty much nailed it first time and BF thought it was lovey but he thought their version had a little more oil. So on Saturday night I thought I would make Chinese food a la Take out and I really wanted to make an adaptation of crispy beef but with goat meat substitute...

When it comes to creating, adapting or even following a recipe there are only three categories:- 

1. Average Optimum - It took a bit of effort but it was worth it
2. Ideal Optimum - It was effortless and tasty
3. Saturday Night's Optimum - It took forever and was the biggest disaster since Dallas got cancelled

Let me take the time, to tell you to save the time and the trouble of deep frying goat meat.
Because unless you have teeth of steel and intestines made of girders, don't bother, it doesn't work. 
So then I turned my attention back to the copy cat rice, taking heed of BF's astute fried rice palate I added a tad more oil, gave him a spoon to try and he said 
"Can you make it a little less oily?" 
I thought to myself 'If I could extract oil from things surely BP would have head hunted me by now' even my usual fail safe Prawn Toasts weren't as good as usual, had I lost it? And the so called crispy beef was more Teflon coated goat, proving you can't always turn a goat into a cow  whatever you do with it and at this stage I would have traded Magic Beans for a Cow, but undeterred I foolishly soldiered on and it was..... edible (well we ate it).

So the next day was Sunday (funny how it always follows Saturday) and I think BF was expecting his usual Big Fat Indian, but quite frankly I was done with big fat Asian feasts for this weekend but as the word curry is always kind of expected on a Sunday I decided on an Indo-fused stroganoff with the remainder of the goat meat I didn't cremate and the remainder of the rice I didn't oil up and called it a curry and as it fell into the 2. Ideal Optimum category I thought I must share it with you, so without further ado,  I present to you...

stroganoff curry

2 mutton/goat or beef steaks cubed
1 diced red onion
equal measures of diced red/yellow/green bell peppers
handful of sliced mushrooms
2-3 cups of stock
splash of wine, lemon juice
glug of olive oil + a good knob of butter
half a small tub of cream
1 tsp each of cumin/coriander/garam masala/turmeric powder
chilli powder + S&P to taste
fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves

brown meat pieces & remove from pan
add peppers & mushrooms & gently fry off for a minute, remove
gently sautee onion in butter & oil, add spices
stir in & add lemon juice & wine, simmer to infuse 
add the meat + enough stock to cover
simmer until meat is tender
add mushrooms & peppers to reheat
taste for seasoning + adjust accordingly
stir in cream & chopped cilantro leaves
remove from heat, serve with rice and

chilli  & coriander garlic toasts
spread softened butter liberally over thickly sliced french bread
press in 1 crushed garlic clove per slice
top with chilli flakes & shredded coriander leaves
grill till toasted, serve with the stroganoff
*Handy tip - If your other half is Indian, call it curry

*Vegetarian alternative 
use paneer cubes instead of meat

Hope everyone had a safe & happy Holi with lashings of oil free rice