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Monday, 16 January 2017

Rick Stein's Long Weekends DVD now available.

As I wrote in an earlier post linked HERE Rick Stein's superb book supporting his very popular television series Rick Stein's Long Weekends is available to order and now so is the fantastic series on DVD. I can't wait for mine to arrive in the post!



Both can be ordered through the Amazon links (below and in the banner at the top of the blog) in this blogpost and many hours of food and travel stories via the very popular TV food presenter and cook Rick Stein can be yours to enjoy. Bordeaux, Berlin and Cadiz have to be my top favourites and the Italian ones like Bologna have given me a few new dream holiday places to think about.






Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017 to all my readers.

I am delighted to wish all my lovely readers a very Happy New Year for 2017. Thank you very much for reading and sharing my blog posts on Mug Of Strong Tea. This morning my stats recorded that I am now getting 13k hits a month on this blog! Wow! Thank you too to those readers who have used the Amazon link at the top of the site for their various purchases.




For those readers who aren't aware I have also been writing a comedy blog for a few months and because the content isn't always about food the comical blog posts I write don't always fit onto this foodie blog. Lots of them do link in though and this one, recently posted, is about the Groundhog Day nature of my travels to work each day. Obviously the story is exaggerated for comic effect. Click on this LINK for my funny blogpost 'Is Your Day Getting More and More Like Groundhog Day?

If you like my 60plussittdowncomedy blog style do please follow and share.

Phil x


Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas Day dinner chez moi. Roast rib of beef and a brussel sprout free dinner.

After a very busy week at Tesco preparing whole salmon and a few mirror carp (Friday 23rd was especially busy) I had an early night on Christmas Eve after watching a Westworld on DVD. Starring Yul Bryner as the dangerous robot cowboy, the film was like the curate's egg - only good in parts. The computers in the Delos holiday resort operations room looked very dated with their spinning tapes and meaningless patterns on the computer screens. It is hard to think back as to why I liked the film and probably went to see it two or three times at the cinema in its original release. Anyhow, early to bed I trotted for a well deserved kip.

On Christmas Day morning I caught up with some clothes and bedclothes washing and ironing and put the oven on to cook my roast beef rib for Christmas dinner. The single bone rib was placed in a casserole with some cold water and some spices including cinnamon bark, cloves, star anise and a couple of bay leaves. I cooked it for two hours at gas mark 5 giving it a basting half way through the cook. I kept my dinner simple with some roast potatoes and a jar of baby carrots and petits pois. The gravy was made with a beef stock cube added to the cooking juices from the joint. A bottle of Prosecco saw me toasting a nice relaxed Christmas Day with Harris and Soufie - the cats from next door. Not a single brussel sprout entered my kitchen.









After dinner I listened to the Together album by Michael Ball and Alfie Boe and I watched the delightful Katherine Jenkins in a Christmas concert. After some French Fitou red wine from the Languedoc region I nodded off like one does on Christmas Day. In the evening I enjoyed another DVD of comedy by Bill Bailey. Part way through I realised I had seen it before but watched him until the end anyway.




During the day I rang my step mum to offer my seasonal best wishes and was also busy on my Samsung tablet wishing my friends a Merry Christmas. My lovely neighbour Jo popped round with some cat food and a few nice presents for me. This year I am cat sitting for a few days to help her out whilst she spends some time with her family in the Wirral. And now on a quiet Boxing Day morning I would like to wish a very 'Merry Christmas' to all my super readers. Phil Lowe





By the way: as well as working I reviewed at least eight Christmas shows in the East Midlands prior to the run up to the Christmas shopping frenzy at Tesco. Most of them are still running so if you are undecided what to go and see do check out my reviews at East Midlands Theatre.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The attraction of a German Christmas Market in Nottingham 2016.




Suddenly the key is word is 'German' at most Christmas Markets and with Nottingham's (better than usual) Christmas Market and attractions this year we seem to have a plethora of stalls that associate themselves with something Germanic. In my mind that is no bad thing as most purchasable things from modern Germany have the stamp of quality running through them. This year the Nottingham Christmas Market on the Old Market Square is full of quality stalls mainly selling food and sweet treats alongside a couple of old fashioned traditional rides like the Helter Skelter and the Merry Go Round. Of course it wouldn't be Christmas in some people's eyes without the large skating rink: icy onlooker to many an accomplished skater and a few prat falls.



Last Saturday I visited the Old Market Square and a few other festive places in the city to photograph the festivities and check out the food. The Curry Wurst and French style German chips (you work that one out) were ausgezeichnet - excellent! The mulled wine was very good value too from the stall near to the Helter Skelter.

Here is a short video slide show I have put together to give you a flavour of my trip into Nottingham City centre and the Christmas Fair.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Those cats eat me out of house and home!

First of all I will say that I was never ever influenced by the 1960s film title That Darned Cat! starring the very manly Rock Hudson and possibly a hot to trot vampish female like the lusty sex goddess Doris Day. I haven't looked this up but it is amusing to think of these stars of yesteryear in this way. Anyway, to what am I referring to in terms of being influenced? Opinions about cats of course!

I have always been a cat lover since the family cat, a Russian Blue called Misty absently trotted into our Lowe family lives mid 1970s and perpetually stuck his pretty in pink tongue out at the world in his later years.  Then there was Peron and Timmy, Titus and Scritchy, Itchy and Titchy and the still hanging on Henry the Eternal Kitten who now lives with my former wife and is stone deaf. The cat, not the former wife.

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware of Mr Harris and Madame Soufie (my add on titles incidentally). They are daily visitors in search of extra fuss, cuddles, stroking and shockingly - food! They are not even my cats. They belong to my very nice neighbour and her house cat flap is the cat parachute to the communal path onto which they land and yowl outside my door. Or simply make pathetic cat noises.



"Tuna!!!!!!!"

I didn't glue them in place honest!



"I am so starving Daddy Phil!!!!"




They are so used to coming round that my kitchen floor has official status on the Moggy Ordnance Survey Maps charter. A permanent groove has been worn across the floor to their secondary bowls which house crunchy biscuits and a water bowl. Any spare money (laughs ironically) gets spent on pussy treats: slithers of  lean bits of fresh lamb chops; chicken breast; lean pork chops and once in awhile delicate slithers of trimmed sardines. Silver darlings for the little darlings. Harris did puke up some bits of stomach warm sprats the other day but only because he wolfed them down far too quick.

The back of the top of the settee has a special place in the cats' hearts as it is right next to the warm radiator and puurfect for depositing incredible amounts of cat hairs for 'Daddy Phil' to collect via a liberal dabbing of masking tape. Those Darned Lovely Cats! Bless 'em.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Return visit to the first place I ever cooked a meal: on a pile of rocks in Derbyshire!

Nostalgia is like learning to reverse a car: it is all about looking back. On Monday last I went back to my teenage years favourite haunt. No, not a derelict Yoof Centre in the middle of Chaddesden (a big housing estate near Derby) but rather a beautiful Scout camp site in the Derbyshire Hills. In fact Drum Hill Scout Camp site near Little Eaton.



I am currently writing a book about my days in the Wolf Cubs and the Boy Scouts. The book will be a funny and poignant account of me being a wimpy kid and wimpy teenager who never visited a Wimpy Bar but regularly lost his woggle. This is not a euphemism. I wouldn't have known what a euphemism was if it crept naughtily into my Scouting shorts, raised the flag and tickled my fancy. I was a shy boy with an odd interest in learning to tie knots. That too is not any kind of oblique euphemism about latent interests in bondage. Whatever that is. Enough said. The book will be called Where's My Woggle? I expect you all to buy a copy! Scout's Honour and all that. It will be as much about growing up in the 1960s as about Scouting. Promises to be a hoot!



So, after my digression I headed off to Drum Hill walking all the way along Moor Road to the back of the campsite. My intention was to photograph an old gate that sported a hand carved Scout sign. I thought it would make a good image for the cover of the book. I walked and walked and walked and walked. I reached the gate post but no old gate was to be seen. Undaunted I clambered up through the woods in my old hiking boots (one can take nostalgia too far as I was to find out via my later aching feet). Feeling my teenage memories flooding back I was on a high as I finally reached the middle of the campsite and began taking photos and a bit of video. Below is a two minute video of my visual journey at Drum Hill.





The imaginary scent of wood smoke was instantly in my head and the very altar fire on which I cooked my very first proper meal (beef stew and dumplings) was still there right in front of me. I was cooking for my Scout Camp Cook badge. Cast aside any thoughts of a camper than camp Kenneth Williams type flapping vapidly over the flames. This was manly stuff and I was very proud of my outdoor endeavours. The other boys dumplings (stop it!) were all stuck to their hands. I somehow knew to roll mine in flour. Suddenly I had found something I was good at that was practical and useful!




So back to Monday. I spent some time at the campsite wandering from beech wooded enclave to mid field water facility and the trig point which holds a focal memory for camping excursions to the site but no practical application in my own experience. I did however remember dock leaves and how we Scouts rubbed them on our nettle stung legs to ease the throbbing pain after getting stung.



Via Morley Lane I chatted to some young cows and revelled in the good weather. If I had a penny for the amount of times in my young life that I must have hiked up and down Morley Lane I would have at least... I was never too hot at maths.



On the way back home through Little Eaton I popped into Barry Fitch's butchers shop to say "hello" and grab a hot Cornish pasty.




The next day I was going through an old photo album and found a picture of the old gate. Here it is in all its nostalgic glory. "Campfires burning, Campfires burning, draw nearer, draw nearer..."







Thursday, 24 November 2016

Liver Lover? Liver and onions and mashed spuds

Before I start I must alert you to one of most popular blog posts on my 60plus Sit Down Comedy Blog. It seems that everyone and his pensioner's dog want to check out what you can expect when you get to pensionable age. Here it is. How to be a pensioner.



Right now, to save money by going for one of the Winter Warmer type dishes: Liver and onions. A hearty casserole of this has lasted me three meals already and may well extend to four. It is simple.



Dust sliced lambs' liver in flour, fry. Cook down some onions in the frying pan. Make some mashed potatoes and glam it up with steamed cabbage. Add liver and onions to three tins of chopped tomatoes in a casserole and place in hot oven for forty-five minutes. Serve piping hot.