Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It’s Pancake Tuesday!

I love pancakes any day but I try not to eat too many as my favourite is pancake with honey and lemon. I don’t have sugar but it’s still a bit fattening.

Never mind our grandchildren love pancakes too so we have to make and eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.

The pancake has a very long history and has been featured in cookbooks dating back as far as the 15th century. Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, (apparently the word Shrove came from the old English word shrive which meant confess all sins) is traditionally a time to feast before fasting. Apparently it started when Christians who observed the Lenten tradition of fasting wanted to use up all the rich ingredients in their cupboards before Lent started. The humble pancake was the perfect way to use up ingredients like eggs, sugar and fat that weren’t allowed and would otherwise spoil.

The tradition of tossing or flipping a pancake dates back just as far and is a very serious pastime for some people.

Did you know?

• Ralf Laue from Leipzig broke the world record for tossing a pancake by flipping it into the air 416 times in two minutes.
• The world's biggest pancake was cooked in Rochdale in 1994, weighing in a three tonnes, measuring a delicious 15 metres in diameter and holding an estimated two million calories.
• The largest number of pancakes tossed in the shortest time in the UK is 349 tossed in 2 minutes at Felixstowe, Suffolk in January 1995.
• Chefs at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago tried to build a record-setting stack of pancakes, but the wiggling, wobbling stack of flapjacks just wouldn't stay put. Organisers wanted to nab a space in the Guinness Book of World Records by building a pancake tower that was 16 feet tall. After nearly an hour of work and the help of some extra-long toothpicks the crumbling stack of buttermilk pancakes never made it past 16 inches.
• The tallest recorded pancake stack is two feet, three-inches tall.
• Mike Cuzzacrea ran a marathon whilst continually tossing a pancake for three hours, two minutes and 27 seconds.

The Art to Pancake Tossing

It seems that there is far more to tossing a pancake than meets the eye. According to a study conducted by a senior physics lecturer from Birmingham, the solution to tossing the perfect pancake is down to speed. He concluded that a pancake should be flipped into the air at a speed of 10 miles-an-hour, which means it takes less than .5 of a second to reach the top of its trajectory. I think it just needs a pretty nifty wrist and a good non-stick pan!

My husband is the better pancake maker and he made sure we had all the ingredients and the accompaniments yesterday.

The BBC website has more information and fancier recipes for anyone wanting more sophisticated culinary fare.

Here are some tips and a good basic recipe:

  • Don't use a heavy pan, yes they will cook more evenly but you'll either not be able to flip them or end up dropping the pan.

  • Do not put too much oil in or you'll end up splashing yourself or someone else with hot oil.

  • Stand slightly to the side of the hob, if the pancake falls on the floor you can just thrown it away. If it falls on to the gas ring you've got problems.

  • Be confident when you flip them, you need height not forward movement.

Basic Pancake Recipe

Makes: 8 pancakes
Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus standing
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

4 ozs/110g Plain flour
2 Eggs
7fl ozs/200ml Milk mixed with about 3fl ozs/75ml water(You can use all milk if you wish)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sugar, lemon and orange wedges to serve.

Method:

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
2. Add the eggs and beat with a whisk or fork.
3. Gradually beat in the milk, drawing in the flour from around the edge, until you have a smooth batter.
4. Cover and leave to stand in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5. Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan, tilting the pan to spread the oil evenly.
6. Pour out the oil into a dish, be careful this will be very hot.
7. Pour in just enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan.
8. Cook for 1-2 minutes until golden on the under side.
9. Flip over, and cook the other side until golden.
10.Transfer to a plate and keep warm, while you cook the others.
11. Oil the pan again and repeat with the remaining batter to make eight pancakes.
12. Serve with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of orange or lemon.

I prefer honey with lemon on mine and my grandchildren like chocolate spread.

Happy flipping!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you Rudee for this award. I'm not sure I'm that creative but I try.

I'm meant to pass it on to seven other bloggers but as usual I'm going off track, breaking the rules because I find it hard to choose from all the lovely blogs I visit. So if you visit my blog on a regular basis please take the award.

If you want to follow the rules for this award, here they are:

1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominated.

So thanks again Rudee, I love reading your blog. You make me laugh and you inspire me. Happy house hunting!

Blogger Backup

As a final note I found a back up site for blogs called Bloggled which is free if you sign up for just the basic service.

I've had a couple of problems with Blogger and worried that it seemed to have lost the content, however it did come back. I just thought that one day it might not!


Seems OK it copies the photos and comments as well as the content of your postings. So if you want to take a look it's at http://www.bloggled.com/


Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sisterhood Award


Thank You Patsy for this award!

I'm going to cheat otherwise I would never get this done.

I'm supposed to choose at least 10 blogs which show attitude and or gratitude, then link to the nominees. After that I have to let them know by commenting on their blogs and then link back to them.

Well I have to say it takes so long to choose just 10 other blogs and I feel awful leaving some out of all the great blogs I follow. Then there's checking out whether they already have the award before I do all the linking stuff!

Too little time available so if you're a regular reader and would like the award, please feel free to take it.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Guilty Pleasures

I saw the TV programme Guilty Pleasures advertised a while back and I was intrigued. What was going to be revealed here I wondered.

“Actor, writer, director and presenter Stephen Fry reveals the things he considers his guiltiest pleasures. These include darts, romantic novels by Georgette Heyer, the work of Richard Wagner and TV game show Countdown”.

Well I can’t see anything to feel really guilty about there. I suppose maybe he feels guilty because being the clever, witty, urbane, definitely upper class in my book, ex Oxford student, maybe he feels people expect him to have different ways to spend his time than this.It set me thinking and wondering, what my guilty pleasures are. It didn’t take me long to come up with quite a long list, after all when you’re a Catholic you can feel guilty about anything!

So I thought I’d start a Blog off with this, maybe do one a week. If you feel like coming clean about your guilty pleasures feel free to join me.

I like a glass of wine, or maybe two

Now what’s to feel guilty about there? Well, when I was working we often went through spells that were fairly stressful. My husband kept saying “How on earth can you be stressed doing what you do?” Charming! Let’s just say as government services are reorganised life isn’t easy.So I liked a glass of wine maybe two or three nights a week but my husband didn’t. He kept on saying I’d end up an alcoholic which irritated the life out of me. I don’t think there are alcoholics who can only drink a couple of glasses of wine and that’s all I can manage.

I really enjoy the first glass of wine but for some reason the second doesn’t taste quite as good and after that it tastes horrible. Weird! However it does make me feel guilty that I’m drinking the wine and he isn’t.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Reading and Me!

I have a fluctuating relationship with reading. Sometimes I read voraciously and at others I don’t read for weeks at a time. One of the main reasons I don’t read, is that if I find a book I really like, I can’t put it down. Nothing gets done, no cooking, no housework, no sewing, absolutely nothing. Then the guilt sets in and I don’t read again for ages. I wish I was one of those people who can read for half an hour or an hour in bed before they go to sleep. I’ve tried it but it ends up with me up all night reading, I have to go downstairs to avoid disturbing my husband.

My main time for reading is on holiday. I’m loaded up with books to read lying on a lounger beside the pool under the sunshade. Not for me trekking about the Roman and Greek ruins in the heat. I don’t mind a little wander now and again to see some sights, but don’t expect me to go on a long day trip anywhere. Just leave me reading.

Now I’m not a good reader, I’ll admit to that. I’m a bit of a speed freak. I used to be a good reader but I got into bad habits when I was studying for a degree with all that scanning and skimming. I start off fine but then I seem to speed up and want to find out what happens. I often have to go back to read a section again because I’ve lost the plot, literally. So what makes a “good” book for me? I’ve been trying to suss that out and I’m not really sure. I don’t have a particular genre I like. I can enjoy a detective story, a historical novel, comedy, satire and so on. I don’t really enjoy sci-fi and wild west stuff though.

I know when I really like a book because I keep trying to remember phrases the author has used. It’s a bit like moments you remember from films, like James Stewart in Harvey who said, “Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

I have a few quotes that I can remember from books and believe me I have a terrible memory so it’s no mean feat for me. Here are a couple of my favourites:

Bill Bryson’s introductory sentence in The Lost Continent is totally unforgettable and always cracks me up. “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to!”
What a fantastic opening line. How could you put that book down? Well maybe if you came from Des Moines you might.

Another phrase is from The Great Gatsby, there were quite a few I loved, but this one always sticks in my mind, “he dispensed starlight to casual moths”. So simple, but so memorable. It’s all credit to Scott Fitzgerald that I can recall that after over twenty five years.

Over the years there have only been a few books that I couldn’t get away with and finish reading. After all I did manage to get to the end of Umberto Ecco’s The Name of The Rose, a bit of a marathon I can tell you. I doubt I would have done that if I hadn’t seen the film which I thought was wonderful and that kept me going. One of the few times the film isn’t a poor reflection of the book.
However for the first time I can remember in years, I’ve given up on a book. Maybe it’s because I’m conscious of not having a tremendous amount of time left to waste, after all I’m 64. This book was such a disappointment to me as it’s by Alexander McCall Smith who wrote the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I loved the TV programme and I had tried to get the book from the library but currently 90% of the library’s books are packed away while it’s being refurbished as a "Library and Customer Service Centre", get that! I should have ordered it from another library but I was in a bit of a hurry and just took what books they had by him.

The book was The 2 ½ Pillars of Wisdom – The Von Igelfeld Trilogy. Now this book contains three stories about three German professors, I struggled reading the first, Portuguese Irregular Verbs. I read five of the eight chapters of it and I just felt the stories were stupid, not funny and I was thoroughly bored by them. Life’s just too short to be so bored by a book so I moved on to the second one by the same author. I don’t give up easily!


This one is the World According to Bertie. Again it’s part of a series, it’s A 44 Scotland Street Novel. Funny how this chappie’s book titles contain a number. I decided to read a few pages to avoid sitting down for a lengthy session being full of great expectations and then being disappointed!

It’s a portrait of life in Edinburgh covering a range of moral issues, love, friendship, child rearing, duplicity and more. There are a number of different stories being played out with characters including Bertie a confused six year old boy, Bruce a conceited and greedy young man, Cyril a dog about to be wrongfully executed and Matthew and Pat a couple who are not exactly suited to each other.

It certainly was much better than the other book but it won’t make my list of favourites. I’m a person who likes things resolved, even if it’s not a particularly happy resolution, but this book left some of the stories unresolved. Now as it’s part of a series, maybe the stories continue. I’ll keep a look out.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I know this isn’t seasonal but I have laughed at this more than anything else for ages. The speaker is Frank Kelly aka Father Jack from the well loved TV comedy series, Father Ted.


By the time it got to Day 6 I had lost it and the tears were streaming down my face. My grandchildren think I’m a nutter!




There are lots of Father Ted videos on You Tube but they’ve disabled the embedding so I can't post them.

So if you’re a Father Ted fan, I’ve posted the link to Channel 4 where there are lots of clips. My favourite is in Series 3, Kick Bishop Brennan up the Arse.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/father-ted/episode-guide

Happy viewing.



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