Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

So, I work with an Itallian. He is always talking about food and wine and how easy it is to cook fantastic food.

I have always enjoyed carbonara and even attempted to cook it once. I made a roux, added cheese and cooked ham, combined it with the spaghetti and quite enjoyed it.  it was garden work though…

My Itallian friend laughed at this and quickly corrected my attempt. He emphasized the use of parmigan cheese, freshly graded so it didn’t smell like sick.  He also stressed the simplicity of Italian cooking, where generally you only need one or two pans.

His method was dead easy and 100% authentic:

1. Put on the spaghetti to cook as per the packet.
2. Grate parmigan
3. Beat 2 eggs together
4. When the past is a couple of minutes from done, fry some Bacon lardons in a frying pan.
5. Drain the pasta and throw it in the pan with the bacon
6. Take the pan off the heat and mix the pasta and bacon
7. Add eggs and mix
8. Add cheese and mix.

You shouldn’t need to return the pan to the heat or the eggs will scramble. 

Serve. How easy is that?



Posted: December 5, 2013 in Culture

Quick and dirty pancakes with no flour!

1x Banana
2x Egg
1x Tablespoon of peanut butter

Mash the whole lot up into a batter.
Pour out a small circle of batter. Not too much as it will not cook through before the outside is burnt.
Fry in a pan for a couple of minutes each side.

Turkey Bolognese

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Culture
Tags: , , ,

This has become a monday night favourite in our house. A simple and tasty bolognese made with Turkey Mince.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion – chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
2 carrots – peeled and diced (or grated works well.)
500g (ish) pack of turkey mince( breast is better, but leg mince works well too.)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (Tesco value range is good, just literally chopped tomatoes and nothing else!)
2 tablespoon size squrts of tomato purée

1 beef stock cube dissolved in 150ml of boiling water
100g of dried pasta per person- i usually halve this for the kids.

This sauce goes with anything, not just pasta. It’s great with some mashed sweed, sweet potato or rice.


1. Prepare the carrots, onion and garlic.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok.
3. Fry the onion, garlic and carrots and for 5 minutes, until soft.
4. Remove the vegetables and brown the turkey mince, breaking it up to ensure it’s cooked.
5. Add the veg back in and stir in the chopped tomatoes.
6. Mix the tomato purée with the beef stock and add to the pan. I usually use the chopped tomato tin to mix it up.
7. Simmer uncovered, on a low heat for 20 minutes.
8. Cook the pasta while the sauce is cooking.
9. You can serve it with grated cheese on top.

Ugali & Sukuma Wiki

Ugali & Sukuma Wiki (Photo credit: ‘Bacardi’)

I don’t usually read this type of book,  but picked it up in a varying book store for £2.99. It’s a sort of autobiography of the, athletics journalist, Adharanand Finn. He decides to move his family to Kenya to learn the secrets of Kenyan running.  The narrative focuses mainly on his various running exploits in training for the Lewa Marathon. It’s quite a good read and has some insights into the portrayal of Kenyan athletics in the world press and the craze for barefoot running.

The author compiles a list of “Kenyan running secrets”. This includes the local staple of ugali. This it basically corn meal boiled until it becomes a solid block of starchy white goo. I had bought some corn meal by mistake last year and it was still in the cupboard so thought I would have a go.

Ugali on it’s own didn’t sound too appetizing so a quick search on the web resulted in a Kenyan curry recipe that sounded just the thing. Sukuma wiki means “Week pusher” in Swahili. It’s a simple stew with lots of vegetables and meat that would go really well with the ugali. It was a wet and miserable day today so just the thing!

The original recipe is posted at the website.

I made a few substitutions but it turned out great! I used turkey instead or beef or chicken. I used a tin of chopped tomatoes and 2 table spoons of curry powder. I didn’t bother with the stock cube and instead of Collard (or spring) Greens I used a mix of spinach and kale.

The recepie is a bit unclear on the water required for the ugali. I went with 2 mugs of water and a minutes of corn meal and there was enough for about 4 people.

There was plenty of Ugali left over for pudding too! Just add jam…

Cheese Sauce

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Culture, Diary
Tags: ,

Found a really simple way to make a cheese sauce. Kids loveded it with vegetables mashes potatoes and Ham.

Olympic Judo London 2012 (85 of 98)

Karina Bryant at the London 2012 Olympics (Photo credit: Martin Hesketh)

I have really enjoyed watching the Olympic Judo coverage this time. I recorded all of the sessions from the BBC, which filled up the DVR – much to my Wife’s annoyance. But hey – its only on TV once every 4 years. I have to put up with Wimbledon every year!
Besides which, I fully expected to be disgusted with the standard of Judo and be deleting the programming like in previous years.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The rule changes have, in my opinion been of great benefit to the sport. Gone is the Koka. Gone are leg grabs.  No more scoring points for landing an opponent on his backside or for simply grabbing the ankle and pulling.

Although the Koka an Yuko were introduced in 1974, all the competitions (British Judo Council and Jitsu Foundation) appear to have recognised the traditional scoring system: Ippon = 1pt, Waza-ari = 0.5pt. Shido for a minor rule infringement, Chui for a major infringement and Keikoku for a grave infringement.

This opinion, I formed during the opening lightweight bouts – before the British Team gained some medals. Most of the athletes put on a great show with excellent spirit. However, for some they would not have survived the old rules. It used to be possible to be awarded a Keikoku (very nearly disqualification) for escaping your opponent by moving out of the contest area or for ignoring the referee. Both of these offences were committed in the 2012 Olympics and awarded shidos. Likewise, hansoku-maki (disqualification) was awarded for diving towards the mat during a throw or falling backwards on top of an opponent. Both of these were present in the 2012 Olympics and were both scoring techniques!

The BBC commentator also commented that he didn’t understand why the bouts didn’t just go to the golden score (sudden death) as so many of the fights were scoreless in the first 5 minute round.

In the bout between Travis Stevens and Bischof Ole a number of questionable attacks from Ole resulted in Stevens being bandaged for a split eyebrow and being poked in the other one. When Stevens put his leg in too centrally during Uchi Mata, it resulted in them squaring off toe to toe. The referee had to intervene and make them shake hands. This is a pretty rare sight in Judo, but again – under the old rules would have resulted in penalties.

Some of the highlights were the Japanese Judoka, Hiroaki Hiraoka, who scored a waza-ari and a clear ippon in 1 minute, 8 seconds. Of course, the performances by the British women, Katrina Bryant and Gemma Gibbons were great performances.

I also happened to see some of the fencing. It happened to be a controversial bout – not the one with the 90 minute sit-in protest by South Korea’s Shin A Lam, but the one where one contestant leapt into the and was thrown off of the podium by the other. After the referees consulted each other and the rule book it was decided that it was a legal move and that thrower (Tori?) had scored by slashing at the recumbent “Uke’s” neck!

I just bought and listened to Quatermass an album by the band Quatermass.

Quatermass (album)

Quatermass (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was a bit of a random purchase.  I had not heard of the band before, they did an album in 1970 and they are not on a mainstream label. Well – that’s three good reasons to buy then!

Quatermass formed in England during September, 1969 as an outgrowth of a six-piece experimental group. The group includes John Gustafson (bass guitar, vocals), Pete Robinson (keyboards) and Mick Underwood (drums). There is a lot of good information on Wikipedia and also Carol Hynson’s site.

It all started during on evening where I re-acquainted myself with the progressive rock collection I built up at university.  I was listening to the album Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow. The track “Back Sheep of the Family” has to be one of my favourites and I found it was originally written and performed by Quatermass.

The band takes it’s name from the Quatermass films. I remember watching these Hammer Productions science fiction films when I was growing up. I listened to a few samples on Amazon and decided to make a purchase to explore the band and music a bit more.

When the CD arrived, I was surprised to find the jiffy bag package was quite thin. When I got the CD out, I found that it packaged in cardboard rather than the standard plastic CD jewel case. The cardboard cover is a replica of the original gate-fold album cover. The package contains the CD (also in a vinyl like protective cover) and a folded set of lyrics and notes on the history of the band and its members.


The first track is called Entropy. It’s a short instrumental piece that acoustically could reflect either Shannon’s Law or Second Law of Thermodynamics depending on your mood. It has a random feel at times, but gives the feeling of a flowing along on a journey or radiating out through a complex jumble of matter. Of course, it may be that the track got its name because “Entropy” sounded cool.

Black Sheep of the Family

The beginning of this track follows on from the feel of Entropy, but becomes a standard rock blues riff. It’s a bouncing positive track that possibly contradicts its subject matter.Its a firm favourite of mine and very similar to the cover performed by Rainbow.

Post War Saturday Echo

This one opens with another short instrumental passage in the form of a Hammond Organ style fanfare style.  This gives way to a very bluesy track with a heavy base line. The lyrics are sung in a powerful blues style. Far from being a post war time related track, the lyrics are timeless. You can imagine this as treatment of a modern city centre like London’s west end, New York’s Time Square or just in your own home watching TV punctuated with commercials. Despite the bright lights and advertisements, you still have to work,  to earn, to spend – a spiral without end…

Good Lord Knows

This track is flamboyant with harpsichord and orchestral sounds. It’s quite uplifting in the manner of a church hymn. The lyrics appear to form a musical prayer to preserve our families from the ravages of war.

Up on the Ground

Another powerful guitar track and vocals. I can only guess the meanings…


Another up beat track, with a rock ‘n’ roll influenced rhythm interspersed with slow Hammond like passages.

Quatermass-One Blind Mice-1970

Quatermass-One Blind Mice-1970 (Photo credit: Affendaddy)

Make up your mind

Another track dealing with the future over the past and the benefits of letting go of past memories and experience. Again an uplifting feeling which gives way to the entropy like randomness of matter in the final ending. This blends into the next track – an instrumental called Laughing Tackle and finally a reprise version of Entropy.

Bonus Tracks

The original album didn’t have these tracks. They released as a single. The A side – “One Blind Mice” is a commercial sounding rock blues song, while the B side – “Punting” is a funky sounding instrumental.