Monday, 27 April 2015

Quiz - All the Answers begin with the letter E

Ok, I'm giving the monthly quiz thing one more chance.  This time I've made it a bit easier on myself by using questions from a Quiz in our local paper.  I hope you enjoy it!

As before the answers are below each question – you just need to highlight them with your mouse to see them.  All the answers begin with the letter E.

1             A law or a proclamation

2             French singer who sang La Vie en Rose and Non, je ne regrette rien
Edith Piaf

3             Country formerly known as Abyssinia and ruled by the emperor Haile Selassie

4             Sword used in fencing


5             Cake made of choux pastry, filled with cream and iced

6             Capital of the Canadian province of Alberta

7             Mythical South American city which Spanish conquistadors searched for
El Dorado

8             Musical instrument made by Leo Fender, including the Telecaster and Stratocaster models
Electric guitar

9             Hard Swiss cheese, similar to Gruyere, with large holes


10          One of the descriptions given to Rome: the _______ city.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

I can't believe they capitalised ee cummings name!

An Oldie but a goodie: Sweet and sour pork – using fresh pineapple

Carole's Chatter:  Sweet and sour pork – using fresh pineapple

I originally posted this recipe in November 2012.  Sorry for the retread but life has meant very little original or interesting cooking lately!

 I decided to do a simple sweet and sour pork.  I was lucky enough to be able to get a half pineapple that was just perfectly ripe and altogether yummy.

My first thought was to do pork ribs but the butcher didn't have any that weren't already marinated so he cut up some pork belly into strips for me.

I cut them into pieces which were uneven in size because some had bones in them.  But I don't think that mattered too much in the end.

I marinaded the pork pieces in a mixture of salt, sugar (actually I used Stevia for the first time as a sugar substitute), soy sauce, wine vinegar (should have been Chinese cooking wine but I didn't have any), a heaped teaspoonful of cornflour (cornstarch) and a spoonful of a five-spice type powder I made up myself because I didn't have any store bought.

Five spice powder is normally a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds.  I ground up a tiny bit of star anise (watch it, it is a really strong flavour), cassia bark (instead of cinnamon), Sichuan pepper corns (I like a bit of heat) and some chopped fresh ginger.  So it wasn't authentic five spice but it smelled good and did the job.

I left the meat in the fridge – covered of course while I prepped the other ingredients:

Pineapple – had to be peeled, the core taken out and cut into chunks.
Onion – ½ a red onion roughly chopped
Capsicum – ½ a red bell pepper chopped roughly
Garlic and chilli – finely chopped
2 spring onions – finely chopped
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

When the pork had been marinating for an hour or so, I then deep fried it – twice.  This is the first time I have deep fried anything for years and years – so I was a bit nervous about how it would go.  I don't have a deep frier so just used a deep pot.

I did the pork pieces in small batches.  And then when they had all had their first cook, I put them back in and gave them another fry up.  I tasted a corner of one of the pieces to see what it was like and it was so crispy and yet tender inside, I was very excited about it.

If only, I had just served it like that.  As you will see once the pork was put into the vegetables and sauce, it lost that crispiness.  Next time I will serve it on top rather than mixed through.

Setting the pork aside, I gently shallow fried the onioin, garlic and chilli.  When a bit soft I added the capsicum and then after a minute or 2 the pineapple.  I then put in a store bought sweet and sour sauce – I know, I know – lazy – but it was recommended to me – and it was ok but I think I should have made my own.

Then add back the pork and put in the tomatoes.  They only need 30 seconds or so in the pan so you need to figure out your timing.  Serve with the spring onions sprinkled on top.

It tasted nice but … it would have been much better if I had kept that pork as it was coming out of the second deep fry!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lest We Forget

ANZAC Day is an important day for New Zealand and Australia.  We stop to remember those who fought in wars.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is obviously an imposing sight.  On occasions when I've walked past it, it has always struck me as slightly incongruous to see loads of busy workers striding past without giving it a glance.  So much history is held within those walls, much of it grisly. 

Just take the executions that have taken place there – Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard plus others who had also incurred the wrath of a monarch.

And then there were the 2 young boys who probably came to their deaths in the Tower at the hands of a member of their family.

Of course, some of the people imprisoned there did get out – and in Princess Elizabeth's case, she became Queen of England.

The Tower even held Rudolf Hess prisoner for 4 days in 1941!  He was the last prisoner to be held there.

The Tower was enlarged and fortified first by William the Conqueror – but later monarchs extended the castle considerably.  It was more or less complete in 1285.

The Tower wasn't just a prison for important prisoners. It also held an arsenal of weapons, the Crown's Treasury and later on the Crown Jewels.

This is the Imperial State Crown – that must be a huge strain on the neck and spine to wear!
I got the idea to re-visit the Tower after seeing this year's spectacular poppy event in the moat of the Tower – how fabulous did that look!