Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Incredible Overuse of the Word Incredible

The Incredible Overuse of the Word Incredible

Friday, 16 September 2011

The United States of Europe and the Democratic Deficit

How do you criticise an enigma, except to say that it's too enigmatic? I think the European Union is a mystery to most people. Few people I know, know who their MEP's are let alone what they do at that peculiar edifice.

There are people at this moment shaping our destinies, and if we don't get involved with the process, they'll shape our lives to suit their selves.

When I think of EU democracy, it reminds me of a pub owner I once knew, who was prosecuted for watering down the whiskey. Yet those who adulterate the democracy that guards our quality of life suffer no such constraints.

The following link is for a rant I did on HubPages. It's only speculation, because I can only guess at the true nature of that mysterious beast that they call the European Union.

The United States of Europe and the Democratic Deficit

Thursday, 1 September 2011

It Seems Austerity Measures Can't Wait But Banking Reforms Can

I notice that the UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, was trying to get some progress on banking reforms on Thursday. A report due on the 12th September from The Independent Commission on Banking is expected to recommend that banks will have to ring-fence their retail sides, from their investment (casino) sides...(more)
It Seems Austerity Measures Can't Wait But Banking Reforms Can

Monday, 29 August 2011

SNP Wants Control Over Corporation Tax But Who Controls the Corporations?

Alex Salmond's SNP government wants control of corporation tax.  That way they expect to bring jobs to Scotland.  The question we should ask, is what kind of jobs?  He might take less tax from big business (until they move elsewhere for a cheaper more vulnerable labour force) but he has to get his tax revenue from somewhere.  No doubt, that’ll come in the form of income tax from working people.  What will working conditions be like in Salmonds future Scotland under the hegemony of fly-by-night global corporations?  Wouldn’t it be better to incentivise local business?  To what extent does this kind of policy-making undermine democracy?  Another interesting question is why is Rupert Murdoch’s Scottish Sun newspaper so supportive of Scottish Nationalism?  (More...)

Will the Scottish Nationalist Party Fight For Independence From The Banksters
SNP Wants Control Over Corporation Tax But Who Controls the Corporations?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Looters, Rioters, Bankers, Petitioners and the Rest of Us

One of the saddest things about the recent rioting in UK cities is the divisive nature of it, for there's nothing a ruling elite loves more than division among the hoi polloi.  "Divide and conquer", is how Julius Caesar described the tried and tested tactic in his day. 

Just the other morning I heard on the BBC news that 600,000 people have signed a petition for government to introduce legislation that would mean the courts could dock benefits (social security) from anyone involved in rioting and looting.  Maybe the rationale is that if they don't have any money, they won't be able to afford the bus fare into town to attend any future riots. 

I dread to think of the social consequences of chucking entire families out onto the streets for the sins of individual members of each brood - so I shan't.  However, as I've already alluded to the Romans, maybe Pontius Pilate could help us understand the mentality of a disinterested elite sitting in its tax havens, washing its hands of the whole affair and letting the peasantry stew in its own juice - as if they should care that the peasants are revolting.  I suspect that at this moment, they're more concerned that we might not revolt.  For they thrive on the conflict of others, and on the competition they force-feed us, knowing that it's something they'll never have to swallow themselves.

Another interesting thing to emerge in the aftermath, is the disproportionately severe sentencing:  One young woman who'd been asleep during the rioting got five months in jail for buying a pair of looted shorts; two young men got four years each for trying to incite riots on websites to which pathetically, no one responded (except GCHQ, no doubt).  Another man received eighteen months for stealing a bag of doughnuts.  Yuck, was my response, when I heard that.  For being made to eat such disgusting mass-produced gunk, would be rougher justice to me.  Someone else got the jail for stealing a £3.50 bottle of water.  If he'd done that here, in Scotland, taking into account the rainfall we get, they'd simply put him in a mental institution, more to be pitied than punished. 

The upshot of all this might be that, before you can say Joseph Stalin, internet access will be subject to the kind of sanctions that the authorities in the People's Republic of China would envy.  Furthermore, I bet that the global plutocracy would be co*k-a-hoop were 600,000 UK plebs to sign a petition for blanket censorship of the internet under the pretext that it would protect the public from the rioting hoards. 

However, the question is how we deal with the divisiveness of it all.  How do the decent ordinary people who make up the majority of society come together and deal with those who would riot in our streets, at the same time as hold to account those who are responsible for the societal and economic conditions that are at the root of the problem?  It's a difficult question, because we all experience the World differently and 80s ideology seeped into our culture insidiously. 

Many people even of my age and still yet, seem unaware of the dangerous creeping changes exemplified in the anti-union legislation and government repeals to such as the Glass-Steagall Act, that formed the noose that choked off our democratic freedom.  Few people see treachery until the treachery reaches them.  We know very well too, that many people just switch on the mainstream news and swallow what's dished up.  Many accept political, economic and societal change, on the hope that there's something in it for them.  That, I believe, facilitated the privatisation of public assets and council housing, at a time when outsourcing of 'the means of production', made it less likely that there would be the jobs needed to pay for the scheme.  However, everyone's views differ, and of course, those who don't have to compromise, don't compromise - so here we are, reaping what we've sown.

All of the above tend to strengthen autocracy, and weaken democracy.  Much of the change permeated our lives by the impersonal non-negotiability of computerisation, imposed by those who are geographically, and empathetically distant and who've somehow managed to convince our representatives and many of the rest of us, that this will serve our societal needs better than proper representational government.  Seemingly, we should replace that with 'small government', on the vague rationale of its efficiency - when it really just looks like another tool for hamstringing democracy.

These days, when we air our problems, we get a facetious 'tell me about it', instead of a sympathetic ear.  "Laugh and the World laughs with you", wrote the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  "Weep and you weep alone".  Yet 'what goes around comes around', and weeping alone in an overcrowded World of gadgetry, and mechanised production, mightn't best exemplify human progress.  My parents' generation seemed to know that instinctively.  I call them the War generation, because I think their wartime experiences helped them to value camaraderie much better than we do now - to our detriment.

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world".  Does that make the mountain seem too high?  Should that mean that the best we can do is look after number one?  Similarly, do we turn to rioting and looting, or petitioning for draconian measures against others - all of which would only serve to exacerbate further violence?  The odds of one in six billion (in the unlikely chance that it were reduced to such odds) might seem almost impossible, however, zero in six billion is impossible odds - and that's where we'd be, if no one ever took steps to "be the change".

For the small acts of kindness and the empathy that we can all achieve as individuals, can make a difference to our own lives.  It affects others, who respond in kind.  That reciprocity can ripple outwards, rolling back the crass ideological tides of the 80s. We might think of these small steps in the road back to a more egalitarian society in a similar way to the proverbial 'first step' with which, 'the longest journey begins' - because the building of culture, good or bad, is myriad, and is the result of multitudinous small steps made by many individuals.   

Values will ebb and flow, as they have done through the ages:  Were you a Christian, you might call them Christian values; were you a Muslim, you might call them Islamic, and were you humanitarian you might have similar values too.  Those values change according to circumstances.  During times of turmoil, the dichotomy seems much greater than usual, but the 'silent majority' is normally just that: silent.  They're willing to neither riot nor petition in a way that would hurt others unnecessarily.  Yet it's from that majority that most change emanates. 

Politicians are like water, they're inclined to take the route of least resistance - as most of us do.  I suspect that even medieval tyrants knew that their fortunes were subject to the ebbs and flow of the tides of popular support - though King Canute might've thought differently, for a while.  Modern tyrants whether their methods are economic or militaristic, do better when they recognise that.  Hence, the almost blanket control of media, and the use of focus groups and security services, all over the World by those who hold dominion.

Therefore, regardless of current political and economic problems, we together, are our own best hope of a more equitable future.  Sometimes change is slow; sometimes it's sudden.  Some few individuals are in better positions to affect change than others, yet no individual can do it alone, because cultural change is the sum total of the change coming from us all.

We might sympathise with the family of a looter forced out onto the streets because of the petitioning of others.  Our hearts might go out to the bereaved families of the murdered men who tried to protect their property, in the absence of proper police funding from a state that nevertheless found billions to refund a coterie of gamblers.  We might join the petitioners.  We might sympathise with the banksters; that happens.  Yet all of the options above are divisive, whereas surely cooperation is the key to the greater democracy that most of us desire.  For that, we must empathise with everyone - even, (dare I say) the banksters and the corporation chiefs.  Yet we should give them no quarter where their assault on democracy is concerned. 

Above all, we should be aware that the only change the majority of us can hope to influence is the change within ourselves, and the only hope we have that that will duly influence others, will come in the message of our own example.

Looters,Rioters,Bankers,Petitioners and the Rest of Us

Monday, 15 August 2011

Get Those Rioters and Looters Back 'Intae The Body o' The Kirk'.

'Come in tae tha body o' tha kirk', is an old Scottish expression.  I can't remember where I first heard it.  I can't remember who said it, why, how or when either - but I remember clearly the emotion it evoked. 

I felt wanted, a part of something, I remember feeling that I mustn't do, or say anything that would disaffect me from this group of people who'd invited me into their midst.  I felt that kindness such as this, required commitment, and that I had to conduct myself in a way that would please them.  I had to think carefully about what I said and did in their company, so to keep their approval. 

'Come in tae the body o' the kirk', translated, means come and join us; we want you to be one of us.  In Scotland, the word 'kirk' means church.  The saying no doubt dates back to a time when the kirk was all-encompassing, and is no doubt rooted in the maxim that a truly Christian society excludes no one.  We don't have to be religious to appreciate that.  I'm not religious, but I think that we all respond best when we feel that we have a value to others.

In 1997, Tony Blair took office amid much jubilation.  I remember the happy cheering crowds out on the street.  I still remember the emotion I felt on that May morning - as the sun shone.  I remember too, the feeling of hope.  Union flags were flying as Tony and Cherie Blair took a long triumphant stroll along Downing Street shaking hands, smiling, laughing and backslapping amid the euphoria.  I remember a song, "Things Can Only Get Better".  I, like many, I suspect, felt I was to become part of something: a change in society, which meant that everyone was invited.  We all had a value. 

He talked about, "a stakeholder society", and said it was for, "the many, not the few".  Those sound bites, I suggest now, are clear evidence that politicians are well aware of what their electorate wants.  I felt deep emotion.  It seemed, at last, that everyone was invited into 'the body o' tha kirk'. 

Yet, I don't remember any promise of greater distribution of material wealth; that didn't seem so important.  The predominant feeling was that a nation had made a decision about the kind of society it wanted to be; that was all that mattered; if that was put right, no difficulty was insurmountable.  Everyone had a value.  Everyone had a "stake" in society.  No one was on the scrapheap.  Tony and Cherie reached out their hands to the people - all the people.  Then they went into Number 10 Downing Street and shook hands with The Establishment. 

In 2010, Nick Clegg, now UK Deputy Prime Minister, said, "Don't let anyone tell you, that it can't be different this time".  That put him on the political map.  His Liberal Democrat Party held the balance of power and we woke on the morning after the May 2010 Election, to find that we had a hung parliament.  He took his party into coalition with the Conservative Party, went into Number 10 Downing Street, 'Sir Humphrey' smiled at him and Nick shook hands with The Establishment.   If the establishment had not been his tribe before, it is now.  

However, when we accept an invitation into 'the body o' the kirk', we don't want to do or say anything that might offend our new tribe. 

I suppose that's what happens when a young person joins a gang.  "Come with us my friend.  Join our tribe and we'll go bling-hunting together.  We think you belong amongst us.  We'll take things from others who are not part of our tribe. Tonight we will riot and loot against those who do not invite us amongst them.  You are invited to come with us." 

No one else wants you.  No one else has given you a value, or a stake in things.  No job, no hope of involvement in anything that gives you a feeling of worth, a reason to jump out of bed in the morning and offer your services to the tribe.  The only people, who evoke the emotion that feeds that sense of belonging and worth, are those who want you to loot and riot with them.  Do you go?  Some do, but actually, comparatively few, when you consider the demographics.

The politicians say you're violent criminals.  Of course you are.  They say that you do it for gain.  Of course you do.  Banksters and corporations don't do what they do, to gain everyone's approval; they do it for the approval of their own tribe.  Whether people are banksters or blingsters, the motivation is the same - to be part of a group to whom they feel an affinity.  Some, no doubt feel so emotionally tied that they can't contemplate ever provoking the disapproval of their tribe, regardless of the demands it puts upon them.  It often seems that the bling or the financial reward isn't the motive, but merely the badge. 

This same emotion manifests in every social stratum - and on the battlefield too.   In the UK, we award soldiers who do deeds of great courage and self-sacrifice with the Victoria Cross.  When we read or hear the details of what these people have done, we find that they didn't do it for financial gain; they weren't necessarily just following orders.  It's not even as if they were all patriots.  Furthermore, VC awardees come from all social spheres, colours and creeds.  Some were from the slums; some had criminal records; some were from the nobility.  Yet, we know that commitment and camaraderie amongst brothers-in-arms are the predominant motivators behind the deeds that earn our heroes their VCs.  They feel a bond that often overrides concern for their own safety. 

People do both extraordinarily good and bad things for their tribes.   Wouldn't it be good if we could take that enormous emotional potential and use it for the common good?  What sort of society replaces that with robots, computers and plays it off spitefully against outsourced cheap labour?  That only serves the interests of an elite and socially distant tribe.  Why is all that emotional energy out there on our streets causing mayhem for us, when it could be enhancing our lives?  Why is it that, amid all the political rhetoric, there has been so little progress made towards bringing everyone back, into 'the body o' the kirk'?

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Good Way to Eat Sprouted Seeds, Lentils and Beans, is in Cole Slaw.


You can grate, or finely dice a carrot and an onion and add it to salad cream and instead - or as well as - using raw cabbage, which is the other main ingredient in Cole Slaw, you can mix in your sprouted seeds etc.

So here's the ingredients:

1 finely diced/shredded raw onion
1 finely diced/shredded carrot
1 handful of alfalfa sprouts
1 handful of soaked (8 hours) pumpkin seeds


Mix it in with your salad cream until the consistency looks and tastes right.

Here's a link for - The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How To Make A Healthy Spread or Margarine Using Coconut Oil and Canola Oil

This is a quick, healthy recipe.  I don't know if it's unique to me; I doubt it, because it's a real no-brainer-cinch. 

My wife said, "What does it taste like?"  I said, "A bit like margarine with a hint of coconut, I suppose."  And she thought that might be a bit peculiar.  However I spread some on her home-baked bread and she liked the taste, so I thought it's worth blogging about.  Here's the recipe; don't blink or you'll miss it. 


2 tablespoons of rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tablespoon of coconut oil


Put both ingredients into a small dish and gently heat them until the coconut oil melts. Virgin coconut oil melts at 76 °F (24 °C), so you don't need to damage it by overheating.

Stir them together and let it cool.  Refrigerate.

The Healthiest Possible Salad Cream Ever Created By Me So Far

Friday, 12 August 2011

Mustard Honey and Lemon Salad Dressing


1 dessertspoon of mustard powder
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 teaspoon of bouillon powder
1 freshly squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon of rapeseed (canola) oil


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Did The American People Lose Their Triple-A Credit Rating or Was It Stolen?

They were saying on the BBC News (UK TV) yesterday morning that the US has 'lost' its Triple-A credit rating.  I wondered what they meant, 'lost' it.  That sort of thing doesn't just drop out your hip pocket. 

When I was a boy, if I went home to my Mum saying I'd lost something, she'd ask, "Where did you leave it? When did you last see it?  Think back!  What were you doing at the time?"

"A couple of big boys said they'd look after it for me, and then they started playing Pig-in-the-Middle with me." 

"Get right back out there and take it back off them then!"

"They keep throwing it over my head, and telling me to jump higher."

"Why didn't you report it to teacher?"

"Teacher says they're too big to discipline."

"Where is it now?  Do they still have it?"

"Yes, they say I can have it back, if I give them my dinner money
every day until - forever."

"That's extortion!"  "You haven't lost it!  They stole it!

I agree with Mum.  I think there's a difference between losing something and extortion, and I think we ought to take account of that before we chastise ourselves or let anyone else tell us that that's what we ought to do. 

Besides, if we let people take something from us because they said they would do the right thing and that it was the 'only way', and we trusted them, our wisdom might be in question, but not necessarily our honesty.  If they say we must jump higher, or they'll give it to those who can jump higher than we can, we might be unwise to go along with a game that neither our competitors nor we can possibly win.  Maybe we should've known that they were beyond the pale - but that doesn't make us responsible for their behaviour.  However, we do have a responsibility to learn from the experience and to do our utmost to redress the situation for the benefit of future generations and out of respect for previous generations who struggled so hard, to benefit us.

UK politician Tony Benn spoke the following words in The House of Commons in the early 90s.  He was one of the few who never sold out on his principles, even after the majority of his colleagues and party members in the UK Parliamentary Labour Party did, abandoning much of the founding principles - just to ingratiate themselves with an unelected clique, who held the strings to their puppet power: 

"These are assets built up by the labour of those who work in (electricity) and by the tax payer who put the equipment in.  Now to be auctioned off at half their price, to make a profit, for a tax cut for the rich, before the next election comes.  If these were local councillors, they would be before the courts for wilful misconduct.  And because they are ministers and then some of them later go on the boards of the companies they've privatised, they are treated as businessmen who know better how to handle it as members of  the Board of Directors than allegedly they did as ministers responsible."

However, parliament is there to make the laws, and it was by that means that much of those assets were "taken" - but not lost. 

For how can anything be lost when everyone knows where it is?  It's all there - all stashed away in the tax havens, because decent ordinary people wanted to trust those whom they chose as their lawmakers and representatives.  That trust now seems the greatest loss of all.  Yet even that trust wasn't 'lost'.  It too, was taken - from our culture - and now, we have to replace it.

In The House of Commons, one doesn't accuse Honourable, and Right Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen of stealing. 

This is Tony Benn again: "What's really happened is that after ten years when people have taken things they should never have taken, there is a return of self-confidence and hope..." 

(Tony Benn - Pit Closures) 

Most ordinary people I know just want to play their small part in society and have fair remuneration, for their contribution to that society.  They want to trust the people whom they choose as their leaders.  That might be naive and unwise; you might call it lazy and complacent - but it's what most of us do.  Moreover, we get great comfort from that trust and belief in others.  Its absence impoverishes us as a society and as human beings, because it enhances our lives in many ways that financial wealth never can. 

We might've been short-sighted, we might have made mistakes and misplaced our trust, but 'we, the people', are not the perpetrators of the theft.  Our compliance did not make us complicit in that theft, and as long as we remember our responsibility to future and past generations there's still hope.  We might have to replace the stolen assets, as only 'we, the people' can - for the wealth of a community, society or nation always builds on the backs of the majority.

Yet, has anyone noticed recently that, when you finger the real culprits - those "who have taken things they should never have taken" - more and more people are willing to listen?  I have.  I've found that people are listening now.  Now they see it.  More and more of them do - and that tells me that there is hope.  Perhaps, all that's missing now is the audacity.
Did The American People Lose Their Triple-A Rating

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mrs Murdoch's Right Hook

Just to enhance the police’s reputation more, there had to be a guy with a pie at the Murdoch Hearing yesterday.  Of course, it also had to be a fake pie, because if anyone were seen near the Murdoch Hearing with a real custard pie on his or her person, the police would’ve sussed what was going on.  They're not completely daft; they'd surely have known to draw the line at custard pies.  

I can just imagine the security.  All those policemen and policewomen milling about, telling people to strip to their underwear and checking diligently for anyone carrying knives, rifles, telescopic lenses, bugging equipment - all hand-me-downs from MI5 - and of course, custard pies.  A paper plate and an aerosol of shaving cream are an entirely different matter - and perfectly innocent looking to anyone who can't tell the difference between a proper news organisation and Lord Haw-Haw. 

When they saw the shaving cream, they'd have known straight away that the chap, who incidentally, looked like he should've stood a bit closer to the razor yesterday morning anyway, was going to sit placidly next to Rupert, listening attentively.  He'd be foaming up and innocently peering at his reflection in a paper plate whilst agreeing with every word of Rupert's profession of ignorance.  It all makes perfect sense. 

"Hear, hear Rupert".  He'd nod supportively, careful not to cut himself with the open razor (another perfectly innocuous piece of hearing goers' paraphernalia).  "You didn't get to where you are today Rupert, by knowing what your minions do for their money." 

I suppose it is a bit much to ask of a police force.   After all, they can't even spot a phone-hacking organisation when their Chief Constable and its Editor in Chief are sitting directly across the dinner table from one another, or playing footsie in the local luxury health spa.  How are they expected to protect a philanthropic 80 year old man, whose raison d'être is the unearthing of the scoundrels in our midst, from a custard pie (ok, a paper plate of shaving foam), and have to rely on the right hook of the genial old chap's Mrs for his protection. 

Yet, there's something likeable about that woman - although I know absolutely nothing about her, other than the efficiency of her right hook.  However, I bet that, if ever his empire disintegrates and all his erstwhile fawning acolytes have deserted him and are in the process of sullying his name further (if that were possible) and prising as much of his ill-gotten gains from his grasp, she'll still be there ready to swing that right hook in the direction of any potential assailant. 

Mrs Murdoch didn't wait for the police to jump in and do the job they were there to do; "we, the people', and noticeably our representatives - did.  For many decades, we (the men at least) ogled at the boobs on page 3, whilst complacently ignoring the future political and economic ramifications of his odious type of ideology.  We howled in outrage when his papers said we should.  We believed what we were told to believe and did what we were told to do, and now we haven't a pot-to-p*ss-in.  We have no means of production and neither have our successors.  At least Rupert has a guardian angel with a right hook - what do we have now that the music has stopped?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Healthy Tuna Fish Crumble With Quinoa Flour and Olive Oil

This is a real quickie.  It's a savoury crumble, which went well today.  I seem to remember, from my days as a chef, a Fish Crumble recipe.  The trouble is the name is all I remember about it. 

Anyway, I'll call it Healthy Tuna Fish Crumble With Quinoa Flour and Olive Oil. 

I just used the same base/filling as I do with Quinoa Crunch With Broccoli and Tuna in Coarse Tomato Sauce.  Here's the link:

So, the new thing about today was that I made a Quinoa Flour Crumble Topping, instead of  Whole Quinoa Crunchy Topping.


1 Heaped tablespoon of quinoa flour
1 tablespoon of olive oil
¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric (for colouring)
¼ teaspoon of Fajita seasoning


Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, and rub them together to get a crumbly texture.

This is better done in a slow oven - about 200-250°. 

If you have vegetables in this dish that you don't want overcooked, put them in raw.  Remember, the thicker you chop the vegetables the longer they take to cook through - hence you'll kill off fewer vitamins.

Healthy Scottish Shortbread Made With Quinoa Flour Xylitol and Coconut Oil

 This is an experiment with healthy ingredients that worked first time.  It'll fill the base of an 8½”/21.5cm baking tin. 


4 heaped tablespoons of quinoa flour
3 heaped tablespoons of Xylitol sweetener
4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

A soft sticky dough - but healthy

Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Don't overheat the coconut oil to melt it; it melts at 76 °F (24 °C).  You’ll get soft dough, which you can just flatten evenly down into a greased and floured baking tray. 

You can mark out the wedge shapes with a knife and crimp or use a fork to decorate the edges. 

Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°. 

To check if it’s cooked you can put a knife or fork into the dough at the centre of the baking tray and if it comes out clean (no uncooked, moist dough sticking to it) the shortbread is cooked. 

Let it cool and settle for a few hours to get the traditional hard, crumbly shortbread texture. 

The Healthy option for Scottish shortbread
Most people who Google this sort of blog up onto their screen will already know that the three ingredients in the blog's title are known for their health benefits, i.e. quinoa flour, Xylitol sweetener and coconut oil.  Although, I’m not convinced about coconut oil, there’s no official (government, for what that’s worth) advice that coconut oil is any healthier than other saturated fats, like butter.  There’s plenty of information on the web about the different kinds of fatty acids and why the saturated fat in coconut oil is healthier than animal fat (it’s something to do with the length of them). I won’t try to BS you that I know anything much about that, but here’s an article I found on the web.

The traditional Scottish Shortbread is made with butter, but if you believe the guff about coconut oil being healthier, then coconut oil does the job. 

Here's some guff about quinoa:

Quinoa has the nine essential amino acids the body needs for muscle building protein, and fibre for a healthy colon. Quinoa has minerals like magnesium for relaxing your muscles and blood vessels, manganese and copper antioxidants, which protect against cancer, and it has more calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than wheat, barley, or corn.

Health gurus recommend whole grains nowadays, but quinoa isn't really a grain; it's a seed. It's more nutritious than grains, with: amino acids, fibre, vitamins and minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Here are some articles about quinoa:

Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute - they make it from birch tree bark and often, corn.  It attacks the bacteria that cause the plaque, which is the cause of tooth cavities - whilst, as we all know, sugar rots teeth and gums.  It also has a low GI (glycemic index), which means that diabetics can use it safely.  It's much lower in calories too. 

So with Xylitol, you're a winner all round, as long as you're not a dog.  IT KILLS DOGS!  However, I know you're not a dog; otherwise, you'd be in the circus - being, as you are, able to read this, and work a computer. 

Here’s some guff about Xylitol:

Monday, 11 July 2011

Quinoa Crunch With Cod Loin and Broccoli

1 Cod loin (it was frozen)
1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
1 heaped tablespoon of porridge oats
100grams of broccoli florets (about ¾" dice)
½ teaspoon of bouillon powder
1 dessertspoon of chopped parsley

 Today's Quinoa Crunch With Cod Loin and Broccoli was a success. 

It's just a variation of  another of my blog postings.  Quinoa Crunch With Broccoli and Tuna in Coarse Tomato Sauce, but this time I'm using white fish and instead of tomato puree, I'm using bouillon powder and fresh parsley. 

I'm continuing with the quick, thickener ideas.  Instead of messing about with different types of roux and adding stock to make béchamel and velouté sauces, I'm just using porridge oats as a thickener. 

What a cheat - but I'm a Scotsman, so what I do with my porridge is my own business, (no suggestions invited, thanks). If I were an Irishman, I'd have to make everything with potatoes - even the sushi.

Anyway, this is quick, thick and tasty. 

I microwaved the following ingredients in an ovenproof dish for 10 minutes in DEFROST MODE then another 5 minutes on full:

1 Cod loin (it was frozen)
1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
1 heaped tablespoon of porridge oats

I let it cool, and then I stirred in the following ingredients:

100grams of broccoli florets (about ¾" dice)
½ teaspoon of bouillon powder
1 dessertspoon of chopped parsley

That’s the filling; now the crunchy topping ingredients:

½ a cup of dry quinoa
1 cups of water

I put these two ingredients into a saucepan and brought it to the boil, and then immediately turned the heat down as low as possible to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  The quinoa absorbs all the water.  I took it off the heat.

I added to the cooked quinoa:

½ teaspoon of Fajita seasoning
¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric (for colour)
1 knob of coconut oil

I coated the quinoa in the seasoning and oil and sprinkled it over the filling. 

I gave the dish 15 minutes in the microwave and then lightly browned the topping under the grill to make it crunchy.

The Best Possible Way to Store Fresh Green Vegetables
Fish Kedgeree Made With Quinoa and Sprouted Mung Beans
Quinoa - Health Benefits and Cooking Tips
Quick and Easy Ways to Get Your Five a Day

Quinoa Crunch With Broccoli and Tuna in Coarse Tomato Sauce.

1 tin of Tuna Fish
100 grams of raw broccoli florets
1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
1 heaped tablespoon of porridge oats
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of Fajita seasoning

Thickening agents come in many forms; the quickest one I know of is porridge oats.  It's healthy and unadulterated too.  (I mean it's a whole food. - so I don‘t know why I didn‘t just say that, because I don‘t know what unadulterated means anyway.)

I don't know of anyone else that uses porridge oats in this way, but I'd be surprised if it's unique to me. 

This recipe is a winner in this house.  I don't know why cooks think that sauces have to be smooth anyway.  Smooth sauces are for sissies.  A substantial texture with plenty of flavour is much more appetising:

I was in a hurry this morning anyway, so I had no time to mess about with a proper roux, or cornflour, and I never bother with shop bought thickeners like granules etc, so here's what I did. 

I'll call it Quinoa Crunch With Broccoli and Tuna in Coarse Tomato Sauce

Ingredients for filling:

1 tin of Tuna Fish
100 grams of raw broccoli florets
1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
1 heaped tablespoon of porridge oats
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of Fajita seasoning

Method for filling:

Microwave the oats and water in an oven proof dish for 5 minutes.  (Use a medium to large casserole dish to prevent it from boiling over the sides.)  Let it cool a little, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, leaving the Tuna and broccoli to last. 

Ingredients for quinoa topping:

½ cup of uncooked quinoa
1 knob of coconut oil or a dessertspoon of olive oil
1½ cups of water

Method for crunchy topping
Cooked quinoa coated in coconut oil,turmeric and Fajita seasoning

1½ cups of water to every ½ cup of quinoa.  Put the quinoa in the cold water and bring it to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
When it’s cooked, (it’ll have absorbed all the water) add the oil and seasoning, and coat the quinoa with it.  You can stir in a little spices or flavouring too.  Turmeric will give it a yellow colouring - you can use some Fajita seasoning for this too - sprinkle it over the rest of the dish. 

If you like your broccoli cooked, give the whole dish a further 10-15 minutes in the microwave. 

To make the topping crunchy, brown the top layer under the grill/salamander.

That’s it!  I find this recipe quick and easy - more to the point, it goes down well, and that keeps me out of the doghouse.

Fish Kedgeree Made With Quinoa and Sprouted Mung Beans
The Best Possible Way To Store Fresh Green Vegetables
 Quinoa - Health Benefits and Cooking Tips

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What Happens When the Free Market Fails To Deliver Essential Goods and Services?

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how the prices of all the essentials, like food, utilities and petrol (gasoline), are going up - not just a little either?  I thought we were 'all in this together'.  I just wonder if it's wise to leave our vital goods and services to the vagaries of The Market.  Is there really, "no other way"?

Correct me if I'm wrong - but don't these people in stocks and shares control the price of everything we buy?  You can't blow the snot from your nose, without that shower, putting a price on it.  This is supposed to be a free society, operating under a 'Free Market' system, but, if I were trying to thread a needle with an irate gorilla clutching at my privates, I'd feel less constricted than I do under this setup - and I suspect the unease is intended.  I think it makes as much sense as putting a paedophile in charge of a nursery, leaving that lot in control of our food and utilities - and it's especially dodgy, at a time when, governments have such enthusiasm for 'small government'.  There's nothing to stop them pricing us into our graves.  Suppose they don't like the way, we vote, for example.  These markets control everything that's vital to life, in the modern World, and they do little to deserve our trust. 

When I look at what's going on in Ireland and Greece, I think we're just starting to reap, what thirty-odd years of laissez-faire has sown - and the key to it all, is legitimacy.  That's what the rush to privatisation was all about: Publicly owned stuff, legally belonged to everyone (notice the past tense).  Privately owned stuff belongs to individuals or cabals (notice the present tense) - and that's what we opted for, when we put a succession of governments, hell bent on privatisation into power, whether we realised that that's what we were sleepwalking into or not. 

Taking a short step backwards in time, I just have to think of slavery, (that was legal once), and the Irish potato famines, to find examples of 'man's inhumanity to man'.  As a Scot, I think in particular of the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and I'm reminded how willing some people are, to shift the legal goalposts, for personal gain - leaving others destitute in the process.

In more recent times, we just need to look at our industrial wastelands to realise why 'we, the people' no longer have an industrial pot-to-p*ss-in.  All those assets, which past generations had toiled to build up over many decades of industrial hell, were sold off and the proceeds, no doubt, are now ensconced in far-off tax havens.  This went on, at a time when politicians were waving the Union Jack and singing Rule Britannia. 

However, we put politicians into power to make laws, and that's what they did - but to the advantage of private ownership - under the pretext, that what they did, was in the interest of their electorate.  I think we've been sold a pup for the good faith we we've shown by our compliance.  Laissez-faire doesn't assure us the value of our property - and now we find our pensions and social services under attack.  Soon, no doubt, to become cash cows in the latest round of profiteering.

Some say, 'you couldn't make it up', - yet there are others with all day to doss around the tax havens, doing exactly that.  Then, when the 'Free Market' fails, as it often does, it hands the tab over to the public, which means 'austerity measures' that ironically get endorsed by those who purport to represent the majority.  Maybe 'you couldn't make it up' - and keep a clear conscience - but there are some who can, so they do, with neither constraint nor compunction.

I think we need much wider and deeper discussion going on, about the way we secure our essential goods and services.  We should at least have a plan B, against the vagaries of the 'Free Market' and the miseries that some people would blithely impose on others, in their pursuit of personal gain. 

Where once the general trend was homeownership, it might be wise now to trend towards self-sufficiency and better cooperation with one another.  We can survive without gadgets and trinkets made in sweatshops, let the 'Free Market' indulge in that, if it must, but food and shelter should be out of bounds to that sort of people. 

On the other hand, - to use the mantra of recent decades - we could just continue to 'leave it to The Markets'.
 What's So Free About The 'Free Market'?
Who Are 'The Markets'?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Xylitol Syrup for Fresh Fruit Salads - Making Fresh Fruit More Appetising


1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
2 tablespoons of Xylitol (natural sweetener)

This should cover about 200grams of fruit.


Put the water into a saucepan and bring it to the boil.  Add the Xylitol and stir it in until it dissolves.  If you want thicker syrup, boil it until you have the consistency you require.

For people who want to eat fresh fruit but find it difficult for one reason or another to eat fruit raw, a quick, healthy way of doing it is to put it into syrup.  I use a natural sugar substitute called Xylitol - they say it's made from birch tree bark and often, corn. 

It's beneficial to teeth - whilst sugar rots teeth and gums.  It also has a low GI (glycemic index), which means that diabetics can use it safely.  It also has much lower calories.  So with Xylitol, you're a winner all round, as long as you're not a dog.  IT KILLS DOGS!  However, I know you're not a dog; otherwise, you'd be in the circus - if you were able to read this, and work a computer. 

Another reason for putting fruit into syrup is to preserve it.  My wife brought some strawberries back from the supermarket yesterday and they were already starting to decompose.  They had these purple/pink patches on them, which I cut out.  I washed the strawberries thoroughly, pulled off the stalks and put them into the syrup. 

I also made a fresh fruit cocktail, for the same reasons.  There were some cherries and peaches looking a bit sorry for themselves.  So I cut out the dodgy bits, washed them, pitted and diced them and put them in this Xylitol syrup.  I added a mandarin orange, which was a bit sour anyway, and a banana and got a pat on the head for being a good boy.  That way it stayed eatable, until it we ate it; whereas, the peach, which already had a beard on it, wouldn't have made it through the night.

Here's the recipe (yet, it's so simple I wonder if I should call it a recipe): 


1 cup of water (1 cup = 6 fluid oz)
2 tablespoons of Xylitol (natural sweetener)

This should cover about 200grams of fruit.


Put the water into a saucepan and bring it to the boil.  Add the Xylitol and stir it in until it dissolves.  If you want thicker syrup, boil it until you have the consistency you require.

If you want to make this with ordinary sugar (did I mention that Xylitol is much more expensive than sugar?), use the same proportions - and remember to brush your teeth to get rid of the plaque. 

Ah!  That reminds me.  I didn't mention that, according to the guff, Xylitol inhibits the growth of the bacteria that causes plaque.  Don't ask me how, but I'll put a few links up herewith for you to check out:

Monday, 20 June 2011

Semolina and Strawberries Made with Xylitol Sweetener

Here's another simple, quick and healthy pudding today.  I'll call this Semolina and Strawberries Made with Xylitol Sweetener, because that's exactly what it is. 


A fistful of strawberries
1 heaped tablespoon of semolina
1 tablespoon of Xylitol
½ pint of milk


Wash the strawberries - I had about a dozen left that I hadn't scoffed over the weekend.  Chop them into quarters, and put them into dish, keeping about three of them to decorate the top.  

Put about half the milk into a saucepan and bring it near to boiling.

Here's a tip - gas is easier to control than electric cookers, because once the milk comes up to the boil, you can turn it down to a peep to stop it from burning.  However, if you keep two hobs going: one going full blast to bring the milk up to the boil, and one going at its lowest possible, to put the milk onto the minute the milk nears boiling point, you'll have the same control over the process. 

So now, you have the milk just at boiling point, but on the lowest heat possible. 

Mix the semolina in with the remainder of the milk, a little at a time to avoid lumps.  When the mixture is smooth and runny, pour it slowly into the hot milk.  It should thicken almost immediately, but it'll take some time to cook through.  Don't get impatient and turn the heat up, or it'll burn to the pan.  Give it time and keep stirring, and it'll thicken without sticking to the pan.

Pour the semolina over the strawberries and decorate the top with the remaining strawberries. 

Here's some guff about Xylitol:

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Tuna Fish and Broccoli with Crumbly Quinoa Topping

2 knobs of coconut oil
 My cheap Tesco camera isn't giving me good pictures.  (A bad photographer blames his camera - until he can afford a better one.  Then he runs out of excuses - and money). 
 I'll put them up anyway because they'll help to get the proportions across.  (Proportions like a knob of coconut oil in proportion to a dessertspoon.) 

quinoa flour makes a good roux
 I'll call this recipe Tuna Fish and Broccoli with Crumbly Quinoa Topping.  I liked it, and I think Madeleine did too, because she scoffed the lot. 

I made a thick velouté (white) sauce using quinoa flour.  I’m experimenting a lot with quinoa just now.  I made a proper roux this time, just to see how suitable quinoa flour is for making roux, and it worked fine.  In future, I’ll probably just make Liverpool roux; it’s quicker and as no fat is used, it’s probably healthier.

Ingredients for filling:
Add stock slowly

A knob or two of coconut oil
1 heaped dessertspoon of quinoa flour
Hot water or stock
1 stock cube or 1 teaspoon of bouillon mix
100 grams of raw broccoli florets
1 tin of tuna chunks in brine or spring water

Method for filling:

To make the roux, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan.  Keep the heat as low as the hob goes.  Add the quinoa flour, and blend it to a thick paste (a white roux).  When the roux is cooked, slowly add the hot water or stock, keeping the heat as low as possible.  (You can use a bain-marie or double steamer if you have such things). 
Keep the hob as low as possible

To begin with, the roux will thicken, but just keep adding the stock and allowing the sauce to come back up to the boil - but at the lowest possible heat - until you have a thick creamy velouté (white) sauce.  If you’re using water, add flavouring like stock cube or bouillon mix.  Otherwise, use a suitable fish or vegetable stock.  Mix in the broccoli florets.

Broccoli in a thick veloute with a layer of tuna beneath
Press the tuna fish down to the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  Spread the broccoli and velouté over the tuna fish. 

Ingredients for crumbly quinoa topping:

½ cup of dried quinoa
1 knob of coconut oil
1½ cups of water

Method for topping:

I use 1½ cups of water to every ½ cup of quinoa.  It takes about 10-15 minutes to cook and absorb all the water.  After it's cooked, add the coconut oil and stir it around to coat the quinoa with the oil.  You can stir in a little spices or flavouring too.  Pour this over the rest of the dish.

Cooked quinoa coated in coconut oil
So, you have a layer of tuna on the bottom, a layer of raw broccoli florets in velouté and a layer of cooked quinoa coated in coconut oil. 

If you prefer to cook your vegetables, give it 10 minutes in the microwave.  Then just lightly brown the quinoa on top, under the grill or in the oven.  Don’t roast it to death, or so hard that it breaks you teeth. 

Brown lightly under grill
That's it - I'll put the photos up tomorrow if it's raining.

It was raining.

Fish Kedgeree Made With Quinoa and Sprouted Mung Beans
Quinoa - Health Benefits and Cooking Tips

Friday, 17 June 2011

Apple Crumble Made With Quinoa Flour, Xylitol and Coconut Oil

Apple Crumble Made With Quinoa Flour, Xylitol and Coconut Oil

My wife (tha-boss-o-tha-hoose) said she fancied something sweet with fruit in it, so I've put together an apple crumble made with all the healthiest ingredients.

To spare you the preamble, I'll get straight to the recipe, and maybe I'll make a quick account of the health benefits of the ingredients.  However, the internet is teaming with such info, so I won't go on too much.

Stewed apples ingredients:

1 Bramley apple (1 cooking apple)
1 tablespoon of water
1 knob of coconut oil
1 heaped tablespoon of  Xylitol (natural sweetener)


Core and chop the apple into inch cubes (don't bother to peel it unless you're a sissy).  Bring it to the boil in a saucepan with the water, Xylitol and coconut oil.  As soon as it boils, turn the heat right down as far as you can and let it simmer. It'll take about 10 minutes for the apple to mush. Put it into an oven proof dish.

Crumble topping ingredients:

1 heaped tablespoon of Quinoa flour
1 dessertspoon sized knob of coconut oil (keep it cool so it doesn't melt)
1 heaped dessertspoon of Xylitol

Throw these three ingredients into a mixing bowl and rub in the coconut oil until you get a gritty, crumbly consistency.  Don't handle it too much, coconut oil melts at 76 °F (24 °C). 

Cover the stewed apples with the crumble topping, and bake until it's brown on top.

Here's some guff about Xylitol (sweetener):

Here's some guff about Quinoa:

Guff about coconut oil:

I'm not convinced about the health benefits of coconut oil.  I did some Googling some time ago to see if there's anything concrete regarding the health benefits, and I wasn't too convinced because there's no official (government) endorsement of the stuff.  (Not that I'm all that convinced about government info either).

Ya' pays yar money and ya' takes yar choice.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Work is like food

I was thinking today that work is a bit like food, in that too much of the wrong kind is unhealthy, and so is too little of the right kind.  Does that mean I won't retire when I'm eligible to do so?  It depends upon the available diet.
Pensions and the F***'em Factor

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fish Pie Made With Quinoa Flour

Fish Pie Made With Quinoa Flour

 The fish pie got the thumbs up yesterday.  The idea was simple:  I used quinoa flour instead of  wheat flour, and made a simple, basic fish pie. 

So here's the recipe measured very roughly (it was an experiment):


50grams of white fish
50grams of uncooked broccoli
½ pint of milk
1 small onion - finely diced
1 tablespoon of quinoa flour
Thick bechamel sauce
½ a teaspoon of bouillon mix
2 medium sized potatoes boiled and mashed


Lightly poach the fish in half of the milk, along with the onion, using the lowest heat on the hob. 

Chop the broccoli into ¾" florets. 

When the fish flakes easily under a little pressure from a fork or spoon, it's cooked.  Take it out of the pan and lay it aside.  Use the milk still in the pan as stock for the white sauce - leave the diced onion in too. 

I use a Liverpool roux.  I think it's healthier than a proper roux because you're not using fat. 

Sauce Covering White Fish and Broccoli
To make a Liverpool roux, just mix the quinoa flour in a little fresh milk, and keep adding milk until you’ve mixed it all in and it pours easily.  Slowly add that to the milk and onion in the pan - keeping the hob at its lowest possible heat (especially now, to keep the sauce from sticking to the pan.)  Keep stirring until it cooks through and you get a thick white sauce.

Chop or flake the fish into a pie dish.  Add the uncooked broccoli on top of that.  Pour the white sauce over and cover it all with the mashed potatoes.  You can top that with a little grated cheese. 

Potato Topping
I put mine in the microwave for 5 minutes to par-cook the broccoli and then use the grill to brown it quickly on top.
Quinoa - Health Benefits and Cooking Tips