Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reading, A Funny, New Laundry System,

I am reading the most delightful book at the moment, The Little Paris Bookshop. "Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own?" The bookshop owner, M. Perdu has a barge on the River Seine which he has converted to a bookstore. He won't, basically, sell you just any book, but one which he thinks fits you personally and which can cure what ails you. Unfortunately he cannot prescribe a book like that for himself. The book is full of interesting characters and resonates of France. M. Perdu himself lost his love 20 years before and although she sent him a letter he has never opened it - until now - after Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself. The book is written by Nina George. She is, apparently, a very prolific writer and hails from Germany.

I also just finished a book by Clive Cussler. This author was recommended by a bowling friend who apparently reads many of the books I too enjoy so I decided to try one. I enjoyed it, but the premise seemed a bit far fetched and the situations people got into were not so exciting because you know they will get out of them. Yes, this applies to most books, but these guys were in and out of situations on almost every page. I have ordered another from the library. We'll see how I get on with that.

To my author friends, I thought this one was perfect for you. It's from How to Geek.
Matt went to the laundry room this morning only to find that the machines were not available. He
later ran into some other tenants who told him what was happening. Finally, I was off to exercise class when I met the Property Manager and the Super's wife who were going round delivering a special card and a leaflet explaining how to use it. It turns out there is a new machine downstairs which you use to load money onto this card - using either a credit or debit card or cash - and then use the card on the machines to pay for washing and drying. At that  time it will tell you how much money you have left on your card. So, OK, No problem, right? Wrong. For a start in the exercise class we have a number of elderly people who don't understand any of this. Our 94 yr. old was in tears because the whole thing was confusing her badly. A neighbour is going to show her how to use it all. She doesn't have a credit card and doesn't really understand a debit card. She pays for everything with cash. Some of the others were similarly confused it seemed. Not only that, we couldn't use the machine today so the neighbour couldn't demonstrate how it worked. I mentioned to the super's wife that this woman was so upset. She was extremely unsympathetic (big surprise) and said her son could explain it. He doesn't live in the building!! For me, I am quite happy as it means I can charge the money to my Visa on which I get cash back and we don't have to go to the bank all the time to get coins for the machines.  Only trouble was, I wanted to load the card today because we have a load of towels to wash, guess I was out of luck.

This looks wonderful to me but I don't think Matt would like it somehow. He doesn't like kimchi for a start, I gobble it down.

Cold Spicy Kimchi Noodles

Could this be the anti-ramen? Either way, it’s my new favorite cold pasta, custom-made for hot summer weather
because it is refreshingly and unapologetically spicy. Make the sauce in advance, but wait to toss with the noodles until just before serving. While you could order Korean ingredients online, it’s more fun to go to a Korean supermarket, if only to see all the different types of kimchi. Korean red pepper flakes are without seeds, and only medium hot, so you can use a lot.

1 cup finely chopped kimchi, plus 2 tablespoons kimchi juice
1 medium garlic clove, grated
2 tsp grated ginger
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 Tbs Japanese red miso
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp fish sauce
½ tsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
8 oz flat rice noodles or soba noodles
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced into half-moons (about 1 cup)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3 or 4 large red radishes, sliced into thin rounds
½ cup scallions, slivered
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)
3 eggs, boiled for 7 minutes, cooled in ice water, peeled and halved (cook 9 minutes for a firmer yolk)
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
Cilantro sprigs or chopped cilantro, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Make the sauce: Put the kimchi, juice, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, gochujang, miso, sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, orange zest, fish sauce and gochugaru in a mixing bowl, and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust salt. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes (or you can store overnight in the fridge, covered).

2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through but still firm. Drain in a colander, transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool, then drain again and set aside, covered with a towel.

3. Just before serving, put noodles in a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce, along with cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, scallions and chile (if using) and toss gently to coat. Divide among individual serving bowls. Top each bowl with a halved egg, sesame seeds, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

Servings: 4-6

Author: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Have a great day

Monday, August 22, 2016

Open Fires, Outhouses

I was eating a piece of toast and started thinking about toasters and then open fires. I don't suppose there are many places where homes are heated by open fireplaces any more which made me nostalgic for the days when we used to toast bread on a long fork held up to the flames. Crumpets too were toasted this way and another thing we used to do was to butter one side of a piece of bread and toast the other. Delicious. The fire used to give the toast such an excellent flavour which a toaster doesn't achieve. As the song says, we also used to 'roast chestnuts over an open fire' too. In fact we had a brass bed warmer which was actually an antique and we would put the chestnuts inside to cook them. Not good for the antique I guess. Looking for a picture, I see Amazon.co.uk still sells toasting forks so I guess there are still lots of open fires in the UK. Many older houses are probably still heated that way. Only trouble with that, you were usually warm enough in the room with the fire, but when you left to go to another room or to bed, it used to be chilly as all get out. However, toasting over an open fire is a gustatory experience not to be missed.

There are many, many older house in the UK and I don't suppose that many of them have been retro
fitted with central heating although these days they probably have electric heaters all over the place. I remember my first parents-in-law having a toilet outside, built on to the house, but you had to go outside to use it and the seat could ice up during the winter, causing all kinds of problems. Now I think of it, this was very much the case in Canada until quite recently. I have stayed in places where they had little or no plumbing and the toilets were outhouses. I remember one place in the Algonquin Park area where there were bears around and I made Matt come outside with me - I would NOT go out there alone in the dark. Not sure what he would have done if a bear had turned up mind you. There are probably many outlying places in Canada that do not have regular indoor pluming due to the vast distances. However, I expect most have septic tanks these days.

For my vegan friends. You do need an ice cream maker for this unfortunately. I remember my mother used to make ice cream in the freezer without any machines. We used to have ice trays with removal dividers. I assume you can still buy those. She used to take out the dividers and put the ice cream mix in the trays. It was good.

Chocolate Cashew Vegan Ice Cream

Source: Rick Martinez, Bon Apétit

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup raw cashews
4 oz vegan, soy lecithin-free, dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons organic or granulated sugar
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted, cooled slightly

1. Place vanilla bean and cashews in a large bowl and add 2 cups boiling water. Cover and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours (hydrating the cashews thoroughly is key for a silky, smooth ice cream).

2. Heat chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until melted. Remove from heat and let sit, stirring occasionally, until cool, 10–15 minutes.

3. Transfer melted chocolate and cashews and their soaking liquid to a blender. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard pod. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Purée until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the motor running on medium speed, slowly stream in oil and purée until thick and creamy.

4. Immediately process cashew mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. (Head’s up: this will take longer than a traditional dairy-based custard to reach soft-serve consistency.) Do not chill before processing or oil will harden into tiny bits and texture will be grainy.

5. Transfer to an airtight container and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

6. Do Ahead: Cashews can be soaked 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Ice cream can be made 1 month ahead; keep frozen.

Yield: 1 Quart

Have a great day