SPANISH SUPERMARKET STEW

Well, that’s my name for it.  When we lived in Spain, we used to do a big shop at Carrefour hypermarket, once in a while.  Carrefour is so big that we often spent several hours there and stopped for lunch.  One of my favourites was the beef stew and I think it was a little like this.

Ingredients:

Chunks of beef for stewing

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped, or if you really like garlic, put a whole bulb cut in two halves.

A small tin of tomato puree

Olive oil for cooking

A red bell pepper, cleaned and sliced

Salt and black pepper

Beef stock

3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

A jar or tin of pre-cooked peas and carrots

1 tablespoon of gravy granules with 200 ml of water

Method:

Cook the beef in a pressure cooker if you have one

Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil (large saucepan)

Add the tomato puree, cooked beef, salt and pepper, vinegar and gravy made up with the water.  Add a beef stock cube and more water if necessary.  When everything is soft, add the red pepper, peas and carrots.  Adjust the thickness of the sauce with more or less stock.

Serve with either a baguette to dip or paprika potatoes sliced in the oven on a tray, cooked for about an hour on 180C.  Or Yorkshire pudding goes nicely with the stew.

Spicy French Chicken

 Ingredients:

A whole free range or corn fed chicken

A chunk of onion

A whole lemon cut in half

Parsley leaves and stalks

A few bay leaves blended with paprika

Salt and pepper

A knob of butter or two

A cup of water

A tablespoon of cornflour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C

Place the chicken on a rack over a roasting tray

Cover with the ground bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper

Dot with butter and squeeze half a lemon on the chicken, then pop the lemon and onion inside the chicken to create steam inside.  Put the chicken in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.  Take the chicken out and cover with tin foil to rest for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour the residual juices into a pan, mix the cornflour with the water and pour that in the pan.  Simmer until you have a sauce.

Maybe serve with potato dauphinoise.  Rub a pyrex dish with garlic and olive oil or butter.  Add thin rounds of potatoes.  They should be floury, such as King Edwards, Desiree or Maris Piper Add 500 ml of double cream.  Bake with the chicken and decorate with flat leaf parsley.  The cream can split if the oven is too hot, so if you are lucky enough to have a second oven, put them at a lower temperature of 140C.

HEALTHY COOKING TIPS

  1. Choose lower fat alternatives, such as substituting low fat cheese for cream cheese.
  2. One third of your meals should consist of salad or vegetables.
  3. Remember to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
  4. To help you use less olive oil, try using an olive oil spray for cooking, or when making salad dressings.
  5. If you are trying to cut down on salt, use extra spices and herbs to add flavour to your meals.
  6. Want to cut down on fat? Swap frying or roasting with grilling, using a griddle pan or steaming your food.
  7. Choose a leaner cut of meat without fat such as poultry with skin removed, fillet steak. Cut off any visible fat.
  8. Choose wholegrain rice and pasta as they are higher in fibre than the white alternatives.
  9. When using cheese, maybe think about a mature Cheddar or a hard blue cheese, for more flavour, but use less of it, perhaps grating it.

A Few More Household Hints and Tips Part Four

Chopping boards need a clean?

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of salt on the chopping board.

Wipe down with half a lemon

Rinse in hot water, but don’t soak.

Does your iron look dirty?

Spread clean paper onto your ironing board and sprinkle with salt

Disable the steam button on your iron and make sure there’s no water in it

Turn the heat setting to maximum

Pass the iron over the salt to remove any dirt.

Dirty oven? Try this

Pour one cup of baking soda in a bowl.

Dab a wet sponge in the soda and apply generously to the dirty parts of your oven

Using a spray bottle, spray white vinegar on the paste

Wipe clean with another clean sponge.

Clogged drain? Why not try this?

Mix half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of salt, in a bowl

Pour the mix over the blocked drain

Then pour a cup of warm vinegar over it and leave for a few minutes

Rinse with at least 1 litre of boiling water.

Spice Tailor Rogan Josh

I normally make my rogan josh according to Madhur Jaffreys first Indian cookery book but the book is in storage due to many house moves so I don’t have it to hand.

My son, a big curry fan, a trained chef, but now working in television advertising, is short on time so recommended the Spice Tailor. I tried it today for the first time and must say I wasn’t impressed as there was so little sauce. However, the taste was very authentic. I decided to do a base of chopped onions, ginger and garlic, all blended. I had to add a little water simply because our hob is so crazy and doesn’t understand the word simmer.

If you are interested in curries and spicy foods, come visit me at allthingscurry.wordpress.com

YOUR DOG NEEDS A HOLIDAY TOO

How do you deal with your dog when you go away? Do you put Fido in a reputable kennels or take him with you? A pet is part of the family. I should have some idea, having owned a boarding cattery for a few years and written a book about it. Before Covid 19, I started to work as a pet sitter but only had chance to look after one lovely white doggy called Stitch, for a neighbour.

If you prefer to take Fido with you (do you know anyone who has a dog called Fido?) then why not stay in a dog friendly hotel? I haven’t stayed in any of these, but they sound good.

Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside. They even have a bar called Copper Dog. It isn’t cheap but has what looks like a wonderful whiskey bar and the country walks look appealing.

Overwater Hall in the Lake District. Every doggy visitor will have a homemade biscuit on arrival. Adrian has shared the recipe with owners. There is no additional charge for Fido. Dogs are welcome in one of the hotel lounges and bar, but they don’t allow dogs on seats. The hotel is set in 18 acres and has a woodland board walk. They offer breakfast and a limited dinner menu in your room if you wish to eat with your dog as they aren’t allowed in the restaurant. A dog sitting service can be arranged for rainy days.

Tyddyn Goronwy Camping Park near Snowdonia. Dogs are allowed at this site which is close to the beach. They take tents and campervans. At the moment it isn’t allowed, due to Covid 19, for people living in England to book.

The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury in Dorset. Dogs are welcome in the bar with a full menu, but not in the restaurant. Boutique style bedrooms and dogs allowed in all of them.

Cholmondeley Arms in Cheshire. A very dog friendly hotel with a charge of £10 extra per room. There are water bowls at the front door as well as around the garden, dog biscuits at the bar and even doggie beer available to buy. Well behaved dogs preferred.

New Park Manor in the New Forest. Dogs are welcome in the rooms with doggy biscuits, blankets etc. They do a Paws break.

When booking accommodation it might be an idea to check if they only allow small dogs. Also how many dogs are welcome and check what restrictions apply to where the dog is allowed.

If you are travelling by car, it’s best they are in a container but with room to stand, sit down and turn around. Making regular stops for a leg stretch and toilet break for you and Fido.

If you decide to leave your pet at home, there are several options, a kennels, pet sitter or perhaps a relative who will look after your dog.

As I write, hotels are closed due to Covid but restrictions are being lifted.

Dog friendly beaches, all year round, Milford-on-sea, Hampshire, Troon beach in Ayrshire, Sandymouth in Cornwall, Babbacombe in Devon, Perranporth in Cornwall. Watcombe Bay on the Isle of Wight, Lulworth Cove in Dorset. Embleton Bay in Northumberland has a wide beach.

The Woman in a Wheelchair

One day she wheeled herself to the lounge, opened the curtains and noticed the water in the pool rippling in the sunlight. At second glance the movement of the ripples seemed more than usual. The pool man had set the pump to come on automatically twice a day. She turned the chair slightly, intending to head off for the kitchen to make coffee to enjoy in the early morning sunshine, beneath the rubber tree, when she drew breath to scream but nothing came out. A man’s head was bobbing in the water. He spoke, “Morning, please don’t be afraid”, he smiled, water droplets dripping from his jet black hair down his tanned forehead. Continue reading “The Woman in a Wheelchair”

Look where we are today

The boss went to look for carpets and bathroom cabinets and came home with doormats and would you believe it, real cactus fridge magnets. She just dumped us in the room with the packing boxes! We don’t even know where our new downmarket friend from Marks and Spencer is.

Oops, looks like he has fell asleep next to the new mattress.

She cares more about her silly new cactus than us.

Moving home

My boss has moved to a new flat in the same postcode but a quieter area. She’s going to be 70 this year and so slow at unpacking. My name is Tedward from Hamleys toy store in Regent Street in London. I’m the one with the brown bow. My best friend, Edward from upmarket department store Harrods in Knightsbridge is opposite me but I have been forced to share with Christmas bear from Marks and Spencer. There really is no accounting for taste! There’s a bed made up in the spare room and we were so comfortable sitting on the pillows, socially distanced as it’s currently called, when she decided to have a nap. She ordered a super luxury bed which arrived today for the main bedroom but she hasn’t bought carpet yet, so we have been turfed out next to all the boxes and upturned mattress. Wish I was born in Toy Story.

Anyone think CBT therapy works?

During a difficult period in my life shortly after my 84 year old mother died, I volunteered for CBT therapy. I trained as a psychotherapist but didn’t take my final exams because of reasons I won’t bore you with. I already knew about the deep breathing techniques and used them when I had a panic attack. Apparently panic attacks are more likely to happen in the morning when our bodies use adrenaline to let us know it’s time to wake up. I went for CBT therapy for a few weeks and found it a bit daft to be honest. What I did gain from it was to put my worries in a suitcase to deal with for only 15 minutes a day and then send the suitcase down the river. This helped me enormously. I plucked up the courage to ask my therapist how old she was and when she qualified. She, like myself, hadn’t qualified and was a student. So was that the blind leading the blind!

Anyone out there have experience of CBT therapy you are willing to share?