Thursday, 27 August 2009

a little note

Whilst reading about bánh mì yesterday, I came across this foodstuff amusingly called 'head cheese'. I mean, REALLY? Head cheese? That makes it sound like some kind of discharge from a man's unmentionables, or at least something fungal and bodily. Wow. It's chopped up bits of pig head and other things like scrotal sacs, all bound in a tasty jelly.

Somewhere down that page is a little note about a foodstuff that is familiar to me, called 'yaorou' (肴肉), which is a kind of cold pickled pork dish that I used to watch my dad make for special occasions like Christmas (imagine it instead of your turkey!). My sister didn't like it too much. I loved it. I don't know if my dad used trotters or some other cut of pork, but the skin kind of goes jelly-like and crunchy, and the pickling vinegar and punchy spices are wonderful. Sounds gross, huh? Well, I am a bit gross.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Getting excited

On Monday, the husband and I are off on holiday. We are spending four days in New York, followed by six days in the US Virgin Islands. I can't bloody wait - we've not had a proper holiday all year. For poor Mark, the Caribbean bit is actually a work conference, but I'm tagging along to take advantage of the free room in this magnificent resort. I have a feeling I won't belong in such a swanky, super-rich place. I will most likely be surrounded by people who don't carry a little pouch of fat below their belly buttons or have issues with the wibbly bits on their haunches... I have so many hang-ups, but I try not to care too much these days - it's no fun being self-conscious. It's not as if anyone's looking anyway. Or we could be hit by a hurricane, in which case I'll be stuck indoors alone with my problems.

Caribbean, schmaribbean! Who cares what I'll look like in a bikini? What I care most about is FOOD in New York. Yeah, there are loads of flea markets in NY but they are all open on weekends only, and we are there only weekdays this time, so where should I turn to but my next love? I am looking forward to every meal. I want to eat Vietnamese bánh mì, which sound like great lunch food. I even read about congee in Chinatown, which of course you can get in England or make yourself, but they make it sound better over there. Available in 13 varieties in one restaurant! But of course there is proper American food to try too - I wonder whether my little paunch will grow a bit before I get to the beach? Will I even give it a second thought whilst I'm stuffing my face? (Image below from

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

green green vegetables and a thing called pickled tofu

My lovely friend Kat suggested grating courgettes and sautéeing them in butter with a bit of seasoning. We tried that last night, only I used light olive oil instead of butter and slightly overdid it with the pepper. Oh my lord! I could eat a whole plateful of that stuff - the mouthfeel, the bite and the taste were all perfect. Sometimes I love to eat a big pile of green veg that has been gently messed with in some way or other, served with nothing else to detract or distract from its singular moreishness - I love stir-fried green cabbage with a load of oriental chilli sauce and a fried egg, thanks to Orangette; I love old spinach, like the Chinese eat, steamed and stirred through with preserved bean curd (which Wikipedia rather charmingly calls 'pickled tofu' - I've never really given much thought to what it might be called in English. Chinese cheese is another rather delightful name it takes). The latter is something I used to fight over as a child. Thankfully my sister wasn't as fussed about it as I was - for a kid who wasn't too keen on slimy green things that got stuck in your throat halfway down, this was the vegetable dish of the gods and I could eat a tonne of it.

When we were last in Hong Kong we ate a few times at the magnificent Tai Po Market. In the evenings, when the rest of the market is shut, one of the upstairs floors comes alive with cheap and cheerful restaurants serving the most stunningly delicious food. Forget going to more expensive places outside - this is where the locals go. We had, most memorably, poached chicken in chilli oil and spinach done the way I love it. I was fighting my young cousins for the stuff. The place is happily also open for breakfast - what on earth could be better than silky ho fun noodle soup with fish balls and - wait for this - the most earth-shatteringly, mouth-wateringly beautiful fried fish skins. Oh yes, fried fish skins. Served with the ubiquitous and indispensable chilli oil, of course. I am salivating. Why can't English breakfasts be as good as this? I mean, noodles and congee - unbeatable.

Image from Wikipedia

Monday, 24 August 2009

you know you're getting old when...

1. You've been to a party, had too much to drink and it takes you two full days to feel normal again. I didn't start getting hangovers until a few years ago, and I don't drink a lot normally, but this was a tricksy cocktail trap, set cunningly by my friends and those who encouraged me to keep drinking the bright green stuff in my glass... Granted I wasn't the only one to have a sore head the next day, but I thought I'd left the world of excess alcohol behind me...

2. Your fourth wisdom tooth starts growing... in the roof of your mouth! OMG, it's coming through on my palate, on the inner side of my upper left row of teeth. I had an ache there a few months ago, then a lump appeared. The pain went away, then I got this funny little textured bit on the lump a couple of weeks ago. I only deemed to scrape at it with a fingernail last night, and lo and behold it is a tooth. In the wrong place. I feel like an ageing mutant.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


I have a glut of courgettes. Not little, tasty ones, but fat overgrown monsters that I didn't have the time or energy to harvest last week. I should be grateful - both my dad and Mark's grandma have struggled with them this year, but what to do with so many? I've already made and frozen a vast quantity of courgette soup, I could make fritters with some feta and mint, but they aren't the healthiest thing. I could roast them and freeze them to throw into pasta dishes as and when I please... We have given two away this morning, but there are more to come and the fridge is getting full! Last night we tried Jamie Oliver's courgette carbonara, albeit horribly bastardised. I won't say how I cheated here, because it's just too shameful. But I admit I've never made a proper carbonara! Oh how I cringe!

I have spent too many days in the last week working and mooching about in London, perspiring from body parts which surely don't have the capacity to do such a thing. It has been sweaty and hot, smelly and tiring. I am back in the countryside now and relishing being able to hang around the house in my slobs. Bliss.

Here's a good one - I got stopped by the police for the first time in the car on Tuesday night. I was going to pick Mark up from a birthday do in Cambridge and got stopped for forgetting to turn my headlights on. Oop! I think the policeman thought I was retarded and that Mark was on narcotics. Good-oh!

Monday, 17 August 2009

I have nothing left

Wow, I've been away for quite some time. This was not intentional. I have had some problems. Not mental or anything, just a big pile of work suddenly landed on my head and I nearly suffocated. Plus I have no computer of my own this week. Boo hoo. God, I don't half whinge sometimes! Moan, moan, moan...

What have I been thinking? Not a lot. On Friday whilst driving to Yorkshire I briefly considered the merits of eating dog food. You know how it is, you're listening to the radio and an advert comes up for some joint-care dog treats and I wondered if it would be beneficial for humans to eat the treats themselves... yeah. I think I'm going nuts. Too little sleep. And then on Sunday, I asked the husband, who is a lapsed Catholic, what the communion wafers tasted like. He said they were like Crackerbread, only with less flavour. So here's an idea for a rubbish business: flavoured communion wafers! Salt and vinegar! Prawn cocktail! The mind boggles... but then why don't they just buy a tube of Pringles and be done with it? I mean, the shape of them isn't that far off, and there's a certain amount of pleasure to be derived from holding a Pringle in your mouth without chewing it. Well, no, it's horrible, but better than a disc of pap, huh?

Friday, 7 August 2009

cryptic crosswords

Oh no! We have found a new thing to waste our lives doing: cryptic crosswords. Yup, I'm addicted like a crack whore. The problem is though, we managed to nearly finish one from the Guardian last night but we are not Guardian buyers. We get The Times, and the crosswords are mroe difficult in there, so maybe we'll have to change newspapers... No, I can't change! And I don't mind admitting this - I like The Times. I find The Guardian too idealistic, too cheerful - it's for young, liberal, eco types who want to change the world for the better - whilst I do my bit for the environment and care very much about it, grow organic food and want everyone in the world to JUST BLOODY WELL GET ALONG, I'm too cynical for this newspaper. No offence to Guardian readers - most of my friends indulge in it and I love them all. I think I'm just stuck in my ways, I'm a bitter snob, plus I like the jumbo crossword on Saturdays.

Anyway, Mark and I were pleased as punch that on our first attempt at a Guardian cryptic crossword we got all of them bar about four (which we didn't get because of a spelling irregularity, another was a mistake, one was near unfathomable, and another was a word we'd never heard of). Eek! It took WAY too long. I think my crowning glory so far has been the solution to this clue (actually from The Times):
Digger, a merry young soul, might one say? (4,5)
The solution, I believe, is coal miner - Old King Cole (coal); coal digger, coal miner; young=minor, therefore coal miner. Geddit? I don't think it was a particularly hard one, but it was satisfying nonetheless.

One that the husband and I got together was:
Type of school game obligatory for most high fliers (8,5)
Solution: boarding cards. Type of school=boarding; game=cards; boarding cards are required for anyone taking an aeroplane flight. Whoop!

Now I'm sounding like a PROPER geek. Someone get me a life?

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

self help

So what's the deal with self-help? It's pretty sad, really, isn't it, the idea of hiding away alone and reading books to try to make yourself more confident, more successful etc.? I readily admit I'm probably a prime candidate for self-help, but my god, I'd far rather be pathetic without help than a tragicomic self-help reader. You can spot these freaks a mile off. Or am I being silly? Should I start reciting mantras to myself in the mirror every morning telling myself I'm wonderful and beautiful and various other lies?

And there's that nagging feeling with these books that they are written by people who are even more needy than you, the reader, are. Like Greg Kinnear's character in Little Miss Sunshine, who tries to follow his own programme of self-help, and pushes it on his kids, but is nonetheless quite a tragic figure of repeated failure and disappointment.

Well, I'm not about to start reading these books, but my goodness, do I need some help sometimes.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

setting boundaries, creating focus

You know, I'm always looking at stuff or reading things and responding to them in my head, but I wonder sometimes how much of it I should write about here. Should I set myself more boundaries so that I don't say something that could be bad for my career or my personal life? I guess the answer of course is yes - when you edit all the thoughts in your head down to something that you will commit to paper, as it were, I think you have to be quite careful to not end up sounding like a lunatic. I am quite scattershot when it comes to making these selections and I think maybe I should focus a little more on certain things (like, perhaps, NOT spending most of your time on here wondering about the point of blogging at all, silly girl...).

So for today's random post, I thought I'd mention this site I read about at the weekend called F my Life where people can go anonymously to write up things that happen in their life that make them think 'fuck my life' because it sucks in some way or other. For example, the latest entry that was there when I opened up the site this morning was: Today, I had my first blow job. My girlfriend thought it would be sexy to "caress" my ball sack. By caress she meant bitch slap from side to side. FML. Yeah, I think anonymity is a good thing if you're going to write about stuff like that... Jeezus...

Maybe next time I'll write about something more interesting. I dunno. Maybe a lack of decency and boundaries would make me more interesting... ha!