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'?