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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Eating al fresco in the park

No, I have no idea who Al Fresco is (ha ha)but I did enjoy another day at an event in the Arboretum Park in Nottingham this weekend just gone. It was the Nottingham Gay Pride event and a great opportunity to get some fab photos as well as to relax in the one of Nottingham's lovely parks and sample some African food again. Once more I had the jerk chicken and some brown rice and onions with a spicy sauce.

Eating with a plastic fork always proves tricky so I ate most most of the food with my fingers and kept a supply of paper napkins aside to wipe my fingers. I started my meal in the shade of a a tree but the grass was very damp and so I moved out into the sunshine and had the added entertainment of wafting away a rather persistent wasp! The Fosters lager from the beer tent was an extorionate £3.50 per pint, so I went without.

Photographically, I had a super day and even got ten of my images shown on the BBC Nottingham website.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Abigail's Party

I am delighted to say that I have just been offered the role of Laurence Moss in a Lace Market Theatre production of Mike Leigh's 'Abigail's Party'. It goes on in early October.

On reading the hilarious script and the remembering the social niceties of the 1970s in Britain I'm trying to recall the party foods that seemed so decedent at the time.

Here are a few: please add to the list and I would love to hear of any memories around these party foods and drinks.

Cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks, mini sausages on sticks, fondues, olives (so foreign!).

Pomagne and party cans of beer - seven pint cans.

PS: As I type this in the local library there is a grown man slurping and crunching on a bloody lolly. He is doing my head in! And calm...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

What's your fave tipple?

Personally, I am not a fan of spirits like whisky or vodka as a social drink. Also, I am not a big fan of fancy cocktails (I find that the umbrellas get stuck up my nose and the garish colours clash with my shirts) but I do like a variety of beers - aside from from the evil 'Special Brew' which a friend got me sample the other week. Never again.

I confess do enjoy a glass or three of dry white wine and a good quality red wine often helps improve my cooking, that is if I am not too pissed to enjoy the food after all the effort of hours slaving over my stove. Glug glug. :0) I have no huge preference over the origins of the wines, even though I have a habit of heading for the French section on the shelves in the supermarket.

What are your fave tipples?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Why am I so happy?

I often get comments on the header picture of me in this blog and people generally say 'You look really happy'. And I am. Very happy.

I am often happiest when I am cooking for myself and others and being creative with my writing and photography. I am unemployed, reasonably skint, have no partner and live on my own. All reasons to be a miserable git but then I feel that I have a choice, as Hamlet might have said, 'To be happy or not to be happy.' I choose to be happy and to laugh at life because I believe that is what life is all about. Having fun and caring for others.

On that note I went to a fabulous Caribbean Carnival in Nottingham at the weekend and rejoiced in the colour and joy that the event was all about. Myself and a young photographer friend called Lewis followed the parade all the way and we were tempted to try some jerk chicken as the BBQ smell was driving us mad. There was a lot of Afro Caribbean food on offer including the oddly named 'goat water' and corn on the cob cooked over the BBQ coals.

If you want to get a sample of the day take a look at my pictures on my flickr site.

Additionally you can take advantage of the scratch and sniff picture of the guy cooking jerk chicken below. Just scratch the computer screen on the BBQ image and a smoky chicken smell will permeate your computing space. Don't scratch the guy cooking it as he looked a bit hot and sweaty!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Barbie time! Death to flying ants!

Yes, it’s that time of the year when the rusty old barbeque gets wrenched out of the impenetrable cobwebs at the back of the shed and dusted down for an evening of foodie fun and frolics around the glowing embers and charcoal flavour sausages.

I haven’t got a barbeque so my neighbour went out and a got one from the local garden centre and left me in charge of the assembly. Why are you smirking?

Yesterday morning, already sweating from the heat and suffering with a slightly strained back I lugged the box into my living room and tipped the many and various parts onto my living room carpet. All in all there were 21 main pieces to assemble and 50 nuts, bolts and washers all set to confuse me and make a visual mockery of the illustration on the assembly instructions. First of all, I realised that I would need spanners and asked around my neighbours, none of whom had any. A quick trip to Mr Perkins the perky provider of everything a village hardware shop could possibly offer meant that ten minutes later I was now the proud owner of a set of spanners for a mere £3.99. I got down on my hands and knees prepared for a lightening quick assembly job.

Two hours after that I had got the first leg attached, well loosely attached, well loosely attached on the wrong side. By mid –afternoon I had lost my temper with several cheeky nuts and bolts and the Deluxe Oval Steel Trolley BBQ was now resembling a bad car crash and I was convinced that the remaining parts were breeding behind my back. I checked the next stage of the destructions – sorry, instructions.

Step 3 – Attaching windshields.

3a. Attach left windshield (8) to firebowl (1) with M5 x 10 bolt (C) and M5 nut (D) at left two holes.

3b. Attach right windshield (9) to firebowl (1) with M5 x10 bolt (C) and M5 nut (D) at right two holes.

3c. Attach windshield (8) & (9) together with M5 x 10 bolt (C) and M5 nut (D) at median hole.

3d. Attach windshield (8) & (9) together with M5 x 10 bolt (C) and M5 nut (D) at top hole.

I wanted to kill that ‘median hole’ as the whole windshield kafuffle was splaying out like a big toe in a bad attack of foot cramp and it took a mighty amount of force to push the bolt through the two holes and secure a nut (D) on the outer rim. And anyway, what the buggery is a median hole when it is at home?

Five ‘simple’ steps later. Ahem, more like aeons later, I finally fitted the wooden handles and proudly stood back to view the assembled BBQ. It looked good. I now needed a cuppa and to go to the woods for kindling. The weather was baking hot in a muggy way. Even the butterflies and insects were wilting.

Off I trotted in my summer shorts, lily white legs exposed for the first time this year, and came back with a big sack full of small twigs, dried grass and several scratches around my knees and swollen nettle stings itching my calves. I was also dripping wet from the sun and went and had a shower. Get your self a beer for the full virtual BBQ experience that follows. Ready?

Here comes the food bit and the manly lighting of the BBQ. Those years camping with the cubs and boy scouts stood me in good stead and impressed the neighbours no end – those that could see me for the thick smoke that is.

BBQ lighting instructions ( devised my me)

First lay dry grass in BBQ tray and cover with bits of dried twig. Split open bag of BBQ coals and empty on top of twigs. See a flying ant and panic. Completely over –react and send BBQ coals skywards whilst shrieking like a person having electrodes attached to his scrotum. Pick up coals and look around nervously for more evidence of flying ants. Tuck in three BBQ fire lighter cubes for instant flame effect. Enjoy oily paraffin odeur. Strike a match and thrill to sight of flickering flames. You are almost there.

Once lit, waft fire like a person possessed. Use a plate or cutting board to fan flames and watch garden disappear in a cloud of dense grey wood smoke. Identify neighbours by coughing and swearing sounds and rapid getting in of clothes from washing lines.

As wood and grass burns, gently move coals about to ensure spread of hot coals. Keep beady eye out for more flying ants (I hate them). Flames and smoke should be dying down. Do not apply petrol or other flammable liquids at this stage.

Open bottle of cold beer. This can be done at various stages of fire lighting and is an integral part of the process. Swig beer, belch and go “Ug, my fire!”

Lastly, to complete the best BBQ experience: rely on friendly neighbours to have prepared brochettes and other nice things to eat, cook on BBQ until pitch black and enjoy more beer and convivial times swatting insects. Feed the cat with leftovers.

Happy barbeques folks.