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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Calling the emergency services because of hamburger order displeasure.

I just had to share this  irate phone call from the USA of a woman calling their 911 service (like 999 in UK) about her annoyance over a hamburger order and her opinion over bad service. It is so funny and dealt with very well by the lady operator. Enjoy.

I going to call 999 now as I have run out of rock salt and it is criminal that I have none in my cupboards.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A challenge for my brain weighing approx 1,350 grammes.

I'm about to start my training for my new job on 11th October and it dawned on me that it may well be useful for me to gen up on the metric system. I believe that the metric system came into place in the change challenged British Isles in the mid 1970s. In fact it must have appeared the day after I left school (joke).


Since then I have existed in the comfortable world of pounds and ounces, feet and inches, yards and miles, pints and half pints. Like a lot of people  I don't recall ever needing to actually ask for a kilogramme of spuds, a litre of milk or a half kilo of sausages. The weights side of things metric will be the most needed in my work so I've searched the internet for a table of imperial and metric comparisons. Oh my goodness and quelle horreur! We seem to be dealing with decimal point blah de blah type figures. Examples: a pound = 0.4536kg and a gram = 0.035 oz.


note rather helpful imperial and metric boxes

500 grammes isn't that big.

 
Two pork chops are about £3 and weigh under half a kilo.
I have decided that the best way to learn is to haunt a few supermarkets and actually SEE what these weights equate to and learn that way and become used to thinking in metric. As you can see from the pictures above I've even taken to photographing the labels on food to educate myself. At home that is, not in the shops. Another little challenge for the brain of Phil.

Friday, 24 September 2010

What do you think of clutter? Are you a hoarder?

I was having a lovely chat over a coffee and pain au chocolat in French Living with my friend yesterday and besides talking about the subject of food we got onto the subject of clutter. I like a reasonably tidy and organised house to live in and whilst not fanatical about where things lay in the habitat of my choice I feel happier when the place looks tidy and clean. That need for clean clear spaces also counts in my kitchen and although the room is allowed to look a creative mess whilst I'm cooking I usually get the washing up done reasonably quickly after the meal. Occasionally I will wash up the next morning. Occasionally. In fact there are some dishes on the side right now if anyone fancies popping round to do them for me.

Some folk are happy to live with varying degrees of clutter in their homes and work place and some folk love to hoard things and won't throw anything away because it might come in useful one day. My dear departed Dad was a big hoarder and he had a garden shed chock full of odds and ends - like scrap lengths of wood and balls of wire and old plastic sheeting and jars and jars of rusty nails and screws. You could actually hear the shed walls groaning in the early hours with the effort of containing all the junk.

He wouldn't throw anything away because 'you never know when it might come in useful'. He even stored a giant box of fish food for years after he had given up the hobby of keeping tropical fish because 'it might come in useful'. Eventually the knackered old box fell apart, cascading a dried rainbow of smelly guppy food all over the shed floor. Well actually that is not quite true because there was no actual floor space for the stuff to land on. It was all full of clutter! How one family could cram five push bikes, a large chest of drawers and a lathe and all manner of useless crap in one average garden shed is beyond me.

Storage heaven or hell.

So, dear reader are you living in a clutter free world or do you know people who love to hoard things for no rational reason?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

South of France festival in the UK.

From the 17th to the 30th of September, the Sud de France Festival is bringing the French Mediterranean lifestyle to Britain. Many shops and restaurants around London and UK countrywide are displaying special Sud de France food and wine features. There will be organised as fun events teasing your taste buds with wonderful Mediterranean flavours and great opportunities to try out the Sud de France lifestyle where casual and elegant outdoor living is promoted. I'm on the way to Oddbins right now!



The main partners for the festival include Oddbins, Majestic, Laithwaites Wines, Jeroboams, John Lewis Food Hall, Roberson Wine, WSET and Café Rouge.




This Thursday 23rd September my friend Dawn and I are off to Cafe Rouge in Nottingham to try out their £10 offer on food from the Sud de France. The offer  includes a main course and a drink from from selection on the image below. What would you choose? The offer voucher can be downloaded from the Cafe Rouge website.    http://www.caferouge.co.uk/


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Making a stew in the rain.

It rained a lot here in Nottingham yesterday and I spent the morning audio recording various chapters about French food from a lovely book, The Food of France – a journey for food lovers. I was able to copy the files on to a CD-R disc with the Toshiba disc creator, a tool I never realised existed on my laptop until I found it by accident a few days ago. All this talking to myself about food left me feeling hungry and despite the now pouring rain I ventured out with my umbrella to the village shops and got together some ingredients for a bulk stew. Once back home I put the umbrella in the bath to drip dry and spent a very happy afternoon making a big stew with stout. I put on one of my French music CDs and happily chopped and peeled and cooked my dinner. Well, actually it was a dinner that I could have for the next few days.


raindrops on the kitchen window

As well as photographing the stages of the meal (I could feel a blog post coming on whilst cooking) I attempted to make a short video of the food cooking and me dancing around in the kitchen. This attempt was done by holding the laptop up in the air with the camera on. At one point I nearly dropped the laptop into the frying pan of bubbling stew and after looking back at the footage decided that actually it was a bit crap and deleted it.



raw ingredients of the stew

chopping the coriander
one glass of stout for the meat - one for me. :0)

 


Chopped coriander and stew


Leeks and chestnut mushrooms cooked in butter
suet dumplings




The dumplings actually came from a packet and my neighbour’s cat Soufie came round to be with me in the kitchen. Wierd that. She sat quite enthralled with her whiskers on full alert and sat sniffing the air, sucking in great aromatic waves of delicious stew.



Miss Soufie looking hopeful

Dinner time!!!

When it was finished I shared some of the meal with my neighbour Anna, had a glass of wine with her and spent the evening watching four hours back to back of Rick Stein’s French Odyssey programmes on two dvds. I had a great night’s sleep and will be enjoying some more of the stew today and tomorrow and the next day.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Prêt à travailler - ready to work.

This is the news you have all been waiting for folks. Yesterday I recieved the letter from Tescos that confirmed that I have been offered a full -time job on the meat section at the new store in Beeston. I start on 22nd of October. All the additional focus and attention I paid to the application was worthwhile and I look forward to developing my food based career with Teso.



Artist's impression of new store

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Do you like chocolate and why?

"Hello? Is that the chocolate factory? I've got a red nose again!"
I was speaking to my friend Alison last night about chocolate and she was getting rather excited about the subject. So today, as a fun social experiment I sent an email to a selection of friends old and new asking if they liked chocolate and why. The answers came through thick and fast and I was suprised by the men and how passionate they were in their experiences enjoying various forms of chocolate. I have kept the correspondants anonymous. Thanks to all who were kind enough to respond. As to whether I like chocolate then my answer would have been yes but too much can give me a red nose and nasty spots.

The ladies.


  • I do like chocolate but don't know why ..... I just do. I know that I'm not addicted to it though I sometimes feel the urge to have some and I could live without it if I had too. A bit like sex really!!!!!
  • I like it but not an addict like some females.
  • Are you mad Philip? Lol. Because it tastes soooooo GOOD. Now where’s that chocolate?
  • It's the comfort factor really. For that limited time you are eating it, you get completely zoned out and all your troubles seem to fade away. It always makes me feel better anyway!
  • I love it but seldom eat it because it's too fattening.
  • I think it is because it is romanticised and it tastes darn good!
  • I don’t like it but then my girl friends say I’m not right in the head.
  • You mean boxed chocolates? Yeah they’re ok. Who am I kidding? I eat far too many. I also use chocolate in food as you know from my Mexican dishes.
  • Good question. You’ve heard of love handles? Well my husband calls my bulgy bits chokky handles. Bless him. Not.
  • You know I am not as choco mad as I used to be. Now, generally I have chocolate as a treat so when I do I indulge and get something a little more high end. I used to love it but now I am more of a savoury girl so I’d sooner kill you for a piece of Bavarian smoked cheese than a Snickers!.  l like choco for the same reasons anyone does I guess - it is creamy, melts in your mouth and full of sugar and gets those endorphin receptors going! I love high milk content in my coco. I mean the age-old stereotype of woman loving choco. Is it actually true or has marketing from choco companies just made you think it is true so men will buy more boxes of chocolates for their partner??? (that said I am not going to say no to a box of Green and Blacks!) - an amusing point I guess. There is also the feeling of indulgence you know. Grab yourself a posh choccies and enjoy the treat!
  • Don’t talk to me about chocolate. I’m on a diet/was on a diet. Thanks for that.
  • Love Belgian chocolates. Ever been to the Belgian Chocolate Museum in Bruges? It’s great.
  • Two words Phil – chocolate truffles – hmmmm – creamy filling – hmmmm.
  • Hate those chocolate fountains. I was once sick after a party with one of them. Otherwise love Continentals.
  • Love it. Makes me feel very naughty. Tee hee. Bad me. You got any then?
  • I love chocolate! Enjoy the rich, creamy taste and I suppose women can get passionate about it because it never lets them down. Always there when needed! X
  • I am not fussed about chocolate to be honest. I never buy it and if I do get some for Christmas etc then it usually gets thrown out.
  • As to chocolate, I adore it and I eat it for comfort when I’m stressed which is most of the time. If something bothers me, I get chocolate, and now I need it all the time. It takes about 2 weeks to come off eating it!.



    Belgian chocolates

The Men.


  • I do like chocolate – in fact I love it – not the dark sensuous, bitter, powerful stuff that the girls like – so called “real chocolate” 70% + cocoa ----- yuk ! No – I like the light brown, fatty, super-sweet choccy that melts very quickly in your mouth, and smells so good it makes your mouth water from 100 paces. The sweeter and meltier the better – best is Cadburys Dairy Milk, next is Galaxy....Mmmmm! PS you have to lick it off your fingers too – the ‘proper chocolate’ never melts enough to do that. PPS After all this Choccy talk I’ve got to go downstairs to the chocolate fridge now to get my daily treat...

  • I like dark chocolate (min. 70%; the stronger the better!) much more than milk chocolate. I prefer it with a cup of coffee after a meal. I only ever buy dark chocolate, but will eat anything if it's put in front of me (except white chocolate!). I occasionally buy a Snickers or Double Decker as a snack.

  • Love it. Can't stand sweeties - they are for girls and leave my mouth tasting sticky and sickly. Chocolate melts in the mouth. Dark chocolate is ridiculous and should be banned. The Dairy Milk versus Galaxy debate is always a hot one, and I would plump for Dairy Milk myself. Almost certainly my love of chocolate stems from childhood when good behaviour or a finished dinner would be rewarded with chocolate.   Girls like chocolate because they see it as a treat, a naughty secret almost. Guys like it cause it tastes good, we deserve it after a hard days work and because our Mum's used to give it to us.

  • Yes I do mate. Because it makes me happy and calm.

  • Hi Phil, aside from music my favourite topic (no pun intended) - unfortunately since being diagnosed as diabetic I've had little chance to indulge - so called 'diabetic friendly chocolate' leaves a lot to be desired! However, pre-diabetic I enjoyed every type of chocolate that was going from the milkiest 'milky bar' to the darkest & highest cocoa content I could find. It's not just that I have a sweet tooth - there has always been something about chocolate that I've really enjoyed much more than any other confectionary (except for maybe ice cream) - bit it has to be chocolate not one of these chocolate/snack bars like Mars or Snickers or Twix etc. I did at one stage subscribe to the Hotel Chocolat web site and email updates and belonged to the tasting club - but I tend now to only visit it coming up to Easter and Christmas to buy pressies - but I indulge in a small box of each of the white, dark (85%) and caramel batons. They each have 20 batons of gorgeous chocolate and I usually make them last until Easter time! I like to simply place a baton on my tongue and let it slowly melt away - pure heaven!

  • Not me but my partner does. He has them every day at work.

Fine French chocolates in a shop in Bordeaux.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Today I killed the new paper shredder.

  1. I don't normally swear. Unless really angry.
  2. I am very patient.
  3. I hate wasting money esp when I haven't got much to waste in the first place.
  4. I'm not Irish despite the lingo of the text.
  5. You may continue......
B*stard brand new shredding machine (£16.50) I bought today has bollocks -up and kept on jamming. So I take the fecker to bits (well, I took several screws out) and salvaged the mushed up paper, three times in all , so I did. Then it jams for the fourth time emitting a burning electrics type smell. So I take it completely to bits with no prior knowldge of basic electronics but safety conscious all the same. The feck just fell to bits!!!!!! Kill !!!!! I pushed and I shoved the components back into place, to no avail. My hands were covered in greasy stuff like engine oil.

Then I dumped the feckin' shite in the dustbin and cursed the day I spent what little money I have on the fatherless son of a bitch! All for the sake of shredding a wadge of bank statements. Aaaargh!!! And I am such an easy going chappie. To be sure. So I am.


the broken insides of the 'waste of space' machine
And me hands still smell of  engine oil!!!!

A new job offer...

For those who aren’t aware I gave up my kitchen porter job in July as the job was making my hands swell to twice their normal size and I struggled to make an acutely painful closed fist. Part of the reason was the excessive amount of washing up I was expected to do in a week (Saturday was tear inducing) and the lack of professional equipment that the company didn’t employ. There are other reasons which I am far too professional to disclose. Anyway, onwards and upwards.
Phil all dressed for his interview
Since my departure from the cafe I have been to a big Tesco meeting in the Nottingham Council House and passed an interview and numeracy & literacy test which led on to an intensive seven day course relating to the retail world based at New College Nottingham. I passed this too and thus was granted a guaranteed interview with Tesco. They are opening a new store early November in Beeston (Notts) and I want to work in the butchery/fishmonger/deli region of their store. As you may have read previously, I am a former butcher with over fifteen years' worth of experience and subsequent retail experience at The American Adventure Theme Park and a strong background in customer service at my last major employer, Capital One. Plus I have passed my Food Safety Hygiene Certificate Level Two in February this year.

The interview took place last Friday and I felt it went extremely well so I am enthusiastically awaiting the positive outcome.We shall see.

Since the interview I have been sorting out my affairs and organising myself should I (quite possibly) have to move house in order the function properly and be on time at my new job. Some of the starts may be as early as 6am in order to set up the displays. I have been through a lot of my paperwork and had a mad shredding moment or two and I have packed a few things as a start towards the possible move. I don’t drive a car and so I have been considering the notion of acquirring a Vespa scooter or similar to get me to work and back. Some investment and some lessons needed first, I think. The romantic in me sees me whizzing around town with a Latin beauty in headscarf grinning beautifully on the back! All such Latin lovelies apply within.


homemade carrot soup and chilli con carne

In the last few days I have been going through my freezer compartment and making the best of previously frozen meals and vegetables to save money and not waste the food should I/when I move.


plum and strawberry crumble prior to biscuit topping
I have enjoyed a nice chicken curry (top quality chicken bought from Tesco, Long Eaton) and a yesterday a chilli con carne and a decadent and gorgeously fragrant fruit crumble. Today I made myself a carrot and grilled peppers soup from freezer scraps. Yummy!!!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Stats are us

Has anyone noticed the 'stats' option that has now appeared on the blogspot 'dashboard'. It is really useful and a great tool for seeing where the visitors come from totally free of charge.

You can now view pageviews per hour, per day, per week and month and the best thing for us bloggers is that you can see what blog post of yours are proving popular and most viewed. It's also quite inspiring to think that after all the effort/joy of publishing your writing that some of the older posts are proving popular even if no-one has actually made a comment. Good huh?

PS: I looked at my other less used blog about my acting and the stats were very illuminating regarding what topicis had proved popular. My post about my adaptation of A Christmas Carol for the stage was clearly the winner with lots of views. http://philloweactor.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Do you take photos of your food at home or on holiday?

I have made a short video about taking pictures of your food as a reminder of the food, good times, writing references ect. I hope that you enjoy it and the following images are from typical times when I have been in France on holiday doing exactly what I describe: taking pictures of my food. I would love to hear from you if you do the same as me and why.




Note: If this video shows up as white just click on the arrow sign in the left hand corner.
Steak and chips at Les Embrums. Ste Martin de Ré


Dessert at Les Embrums. Ste Martin de Ré


A lovely goose leg dish at the railway buffet at Bordeaux


Basque moules and chips at La Baleine Bleue, Place Ste Eugenie, Biarritz.
A beer and some nuts at a bar in the railway station at Toulouse.

Railway bistro in Bordeaux


A dessert at the La Baleine Bleue.





A rather expensive steak frites at the Grande Cafe in Bordeaux.

A part of my writing that evolved from the meal on Monday 15th September 2008 at the Grand Cafe. This was mostly people watching.