A day between the insantity of Christmas and the drudgery of normality.
Boxing Day isn’t an old tradition here, only going back a couple of hundred years or so. What’s supposed to happen today is that we give servants, postmen, errand-boys, chimney-sweeps, and milkmen their ‘Christmas Box’ of maybe a sixpence.
What actually happens is a lot of sport and a hell of a lot of shopping. The Sales start today and about twice as much money gets spent here as on the recently imported ‘Black Friday’.
I will admit that I plan to visit some of the better local stores today because I’m working on being the best version of me that I can possibly be.
So WTF has that got to do with shopping?
I want to change my look, my health, my place ~ and that means out with some of the old and in with some better new stuff. I’m trying a different, maybe more fashionable, but certainly more ‘English’ and preppier look in clothes ~ even to wear when I’m a visiting tourist in other countries. Why would I want to look like a Californian when I’m in California, or a Frenchman when I’m in France? (OK I have no objection to looking like a cool Italian guy anytime, sans the man-bag.) And, as Shakespeare said; the clothes maketh the man.
As for buying stuff to help improve my health and fitness….. I hate to admit this, and don’t tell a soul, but I want a blender because I have accepted the health benefits of the whole ‘smoothie’ thing. I know, neither manly, nor English. But sometimes a cool guy needs to bend a little. It seems that if you want to get the full benefits from spinach you need to have it in a smoothie.
My place needs some new art, lighting, and bed linen. Probably I will need to look further afield than this one-donkey town to find that stuff, but I’m used to doing that. For example, I always bought my silk ties in either Florence or Sienna, (which is also where I usually bought an annual boot-load, (trunk-load), of olive oil and wine).
So, sometimes even a cool guy should spend a little time shopping. The trick I find is to know what I want before I venture out, and never, ever get stressed.
Stress will kill you.
let others get stressed if they wish
I’m inspired by collections of recipes from around the world…..
From time to time the cooks / chefs whose blogs I follow and feature in Food on Friday, post recipe collections, and I think that’s so cool. Usually these compendia of dishes have a theme, and that’s cool too.
Sometimes we get collections of other interesting cooking and kitchen related tips and ideas ~ and it’s worth remembering these when gift-giving time comes along. Dependiong upon when you read this ~ there are only 60 more days until Christmas.
From Chungah at Damn Delicious we have a collection of her 15 best fall soups. Chungah says these warming, delicious, and easy soups can be made on the stove top or crockpot. They all look good to come home to on a old autumnal evening, but I especially like the look of this recipe for Greek lemon chicken soup ~ maybe because I’m not long returned from the Greek Island of Crete.
Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
Some say avocados are very good for you. And that there are lots of delicious avocado recipes to choose from. All I know is that San Diego girl Averie Sunshine contributed to this Community Table collection; 6 creative, delicious ways to use avocados. One of my favourite of Averie’s avocado recipes is for chicken avocado lack bean salad. Doesn’t that look fabulous?
Chicken Avocado Black Bean Salad
With Thanksgiving coming up for all you Americans I make no apologies for including friendsgiving 2018 with anthropologie, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest. This is packed with tips on how to lay a perfect Thangsgiving Table, including recipes and drinks. We don’t have Thanksgiving in England, whci is a bit of a shame….. (If you didn’t know, Anthropologie is a store.)
Friendsgiving 2018 with Anthropologie
From Expert Home Tips, these 24 cooking hacks you NEED to have in your life aren’t strictly recipe realated, but there are some damn cood idea’s here. And you know what? I really like #1 which is about juicing a lemon without a juicer.
Juice a Lemon Without Fancy Equipment
You can’t get to work on time, but you’re first in line for a pot luck
Usually I like to have some kind of a theme to the recipes I feature in Food on Friday, but today you’re going to get dishes just because I like the look of them. I hope that’s OK will all of you.
All of these recipes will be great for your office’s Halloween Pot Luck lunch.
First for this week, from San Diego girl Averie Sunshine we have this quick, easy, and delicious 15-minute spicy korean skillet chicken. Now, here in my part of England we get hardly any Korean food, but I do so like cooking with a good, heavy skillet. If you don’t have one, then get one.
15 Minute Spicy Korean Skillet Chicken
I promise you that there’s no overriding theme to this week’s Food on Friday, but our second dish is also Korean based. From Chungah at Demn Delicious there’s these delicious-looking Korean chicken kabobs. What a fabulous dish for parties or barbecues.
Korean Chicken Kabobs
Just to prove that I don’t have a Korean theme running this week, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have this great looking slow cooker herbed chicken and rice pilaf. This is just the right time of year for us all to pull the slow cooker out of the cupboard. Fabulous!
Slow Cooker Chicken and Rice Pilaf
Well then, perhaps there’s a chicken theme going this week, because next up, from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats I’m featuring this dish of yogurt and lemon marinated grilled chicken. Doesn’t it look fabulous?
Yogurt and Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken
Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes has another great looking dish for warming barbecues or parties on a cold autumn night, these bourbon maple glazed chicken wings. How classic!
Bourbon Maple Glazed Chicken Wings
Last for this week, and we’re back to an Asian themed dish from Heather Christo; asian chicken zoodle soup. How pretty! How healthy! How Delicious! How quick and easy! Zoodle? What a silly name for an ingredient! I love it!
Asian Chicken Zoodle Soup
It turns out that there was an accidental theme this week ~ great looking recipes for chicken.
There have been previous posts all about poultry, for example Healthy Chicken.
Life can take us down unexpected and difficult paths.
Through painful experience, I have learned that to be very successful in your life, there are some things we must do. Most of them are difficult, bordering on the impossible, but all of these 10 things listed below are actually achievable.
There are two types of people who will tell that you cannot make a difference in this world; those who are afraid to try, and those who are afraid you will succeed. ~ Ray Goforth.
I firmly believe that these are the most important of the rules we must follow in order to overcome life’s challenges, and ultimately win out:
- Stay Healthy. It’s almost impossible to be successful if you’re often ill, spending time in bed, or in hospital.
- Overcome Addictions. Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Gambling, Smoking….. to name perhaps the most dangerous of all possible addictions. If you drink too much you will lose almost everything. If you drink and gamble you will lose everything. If you drink, gamble, smoke, and take drugs, you will lose everything, and then you’ll die ~ horribly
- Stay Within the Law. If you get involved with illegal activities, including taking drugs, drink driving, illegal gambling ~ sometime or other you will have a run in with The Police. A criminal record does your chances of living your dream life no good at all.
- Say Goodbye to Toxic People. Toxic relationships will make you unhappy, corrupt your mind and soul, and prevent you from realising how much better things can be.
- Seek Out, and Take, Good Advice. If you’re physically ill see a doctor, if you’re suffering mentally see a counsellor, and if you’re just struggling seek out your closest and wisest friend. Whatever advice you’re given, really take it to heart.
- Do Not Waste Time or Money. Too many people throw their money away without thought. Almost everyone wastes their time on unimportant activities. A fool and his money are soon parted. Time is the most precious resource we have.
- Stay Romantically and Sexually Faithful. Affairs, casual sex, multiple partners, using sex-workers, are all going to waste your time and money. You will get into trouble, and if you’re married, you will be asked for a divorce.
- Keep Learning. Nobody can know everything, but most people don’t even try to improve their mind and knowledge once they finish their formal education. The internet and a million books are out their, and something you learn may just give you the edge you need to become successful.
- Focus On Things You Can Control. God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. And, don’t let me try to change people, because that never works.
- Follow Your Dreams. Dreams are the fuel for your success. Without dreams there can never be any meaningful and lasting success in your life.
Some very smart people can ignore some of these rules, some of the time, and still be successful. But you can’t ignore all of these rules, all of the time, and still have a hope in hell of making a success of your life. And, never worry about failure, just make certain that you pick yourself up and start again.
Marmaduke is a success,
and he loves Bentleys and Jaguars
Should a guy always pay the tab in a fancy restaurant?
Following my ‘Shipping Forecast’ post earlier today, I have been roundly disabused about what women want. A close friend of mine has told me, in no uncertain terms, that most women do not want ‘guys who pick up the restaurant bill, arrange the vacations and buy the tickets, and who will go to wild parties and pretend to enjoy them……’
Funny, she could have fooled me, because where ever I have been with her, whatever great road trips we have been on, whenever we have been to a nice restaurant, or called at a cool bar ~ I have always paid for everything. And, from the first time I met her she has expected me to always pay for everything. (With the exception of a few drinks, or a meal once in a while…..)
Also she has expected me to enjoy meeting her family and friends at various lunches and get-togethers. Quite frankly I don’t want to get to know her family and friends. We don’t have that kind of relationship.
As it goes I don’t mind always picking up the tab, but I object when she says that’s not what she wants, and that it’s not what most women want.
Or, have I got things totally wrong, again?
the end of a great road trip
When you’re cooking a delicious meal, it’s easy to feel good about life.
Living alone in the garret, meals that I can make using just one pot / pan / baking sheet really appeal to me. I like cooking, but I don’t like washing-up afterwards, so the fewer pots and pans I use the better.
If you can make your whole meal in your slow cooker / crock pot, then that also counts as just one pot.
As for me, not only do I try to make all my meals in just one pot, I also try to use no more than 5 ingredients, (not including herbs and spices), and make meals that require no more than 20 minutes of prep time.
First this week we have a soup recipe from Dana at The Minimalist Baker; 1-pot golden curry lentil soup. I bet this would be fabulous after a long walk on a cold autumn’s day. This vegan dish takes about 90 minutes to make, but most of that is it just simmering away on its own.
1-Pot Golden Curry Lentil Soup
Now from Chungah at Damn Delicious we have a cold fighting chicken noodle soup. You’ll only need one pot and about a half hour to make this wonderfully warming autumnal dish. And maybe it fights two kinds of cold…..
Cold Fighting Chicken Noodle Soup
Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb has a collection of pumpkin recipes for this fall, and knowing how Americans like their pumpkins coming up to Halloween, I thought I would feature this creamy pumpkin soup with grilled cheese croutons. You are going to be able to make this in less than a half-hour
Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has posted this great looking recipe for one pan sesame chicken. admittedly you’d want to serve this with rice, but these days I make my rice by using a microwaveable packet, so that doesn’t really count as using a second pan. hahahahaha
One Pan Sesame Chicken
Moving on to a slow cooker recipe, there’s this gorgeous looking healthy slow cooker turkey an white bean chili, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest. I like that Tieghan has served this dish with sliced avocado.
Healthy Slow Cooker Turkey and White Bean Chili
Found for us by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes there’s this great one skillet dish from Lisa Lin; pasta skillet with chicken sausage, cheese & spinach. Ready in just 30 minutes and so easy to make in just one skillet ~ and if you don’t have a skillet, get one.
Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage, Cheese & Spinach
Our collection this week is from Country Living magazine again; 33 quick and easy one dish-meals ~ I know a girl in California who might find this collection most helpful when it comes to meal planning. From these 33 recipes I particularly like the honey-soy glazed salmon with mushrooms and peppers, for a $12 spend and 35 minutes it doesn’t get any better and easier than this.
Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon with Mushrooms and Peppers
This is Marmaduke’s idea of what goes into a one-pot meal.
There is more to love and desire than just picking apples.
How boring one may think, a whole Food on Friday about apples! Well, leaving aside that apples are one of the most interesting, nourishing, tasty, and healthy ingredients you could add to a dish ~ an apple is the most mystical and spiritual of fruits.
Myths about the apple being the ultimate symbol of love, sex, and sin go much, much further back than the Bible’s Adam and Eve. The ancient Minoans had almost the same apple myth, and their civilisation goes back around 9,000 years. Most appropriately we are now in the star sign of Libra, and if you know your Myths of Libra you will also know that this is the time of Aphrodite, and her fruit is the apple ~ well it would be, wouldn’t it?
So to begin this week, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower we have apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal. Now I’ve never liked oatmeal, mostly because I hate milk. But, this recipe appeals to me, and it uses almond milk ~ cool.
Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal
San Diego girl Averie Sunshine has this recipe for caramel apple sheet pan pancakes. Ready in 10 minutes for breakfast or brunch, or a dessert….. Oh Wow! (Perhaps I’d make the pancake mix from scratch.)
Caramel Apple Sheet Pan Pancakes
Some combinations are just meant to be, and this is one of the very best. From Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have apple butter and sage pork chops ~ perfect.
Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops
Another main course, this time from Heather Christo, pasta with apples, bacon, sage, and chantrelle mushrooms ~ and this recipe is both gluten and dairy free. Never mind that so much, it both looks and sounds delicious. Apple and sage go so well together, and there is no truth in the rumour that apple is a female aphrodisiac….. sage is a different matter all together.
Pasta with Apples, Bacon, Sage, and Chantrelle Mushrooms
Lets move along to dessert, or something for afternoon tea and from Todd and Dianne, the White on Rice Couple there’s this spiced apple coffee cake. For me, this looks delicious. It’s a recipe I’d like to try, even though I can’t bake for love nor money…..
Spiced Apple Coffee Cake
And now a drink for those of us ho don’t want to get absolutely hammered on scrumpy, Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a cool post entitled; how to make an apple cider shandy. You know what? I don’t touch booze anymore , but if I did, I’d make a beeline for this at parties. Something else, you can cheat on this already alcoholic recipe and come up with something that’s almost as strong as scrumpy.
How To Make An Apple Cider Shandy
Finally for this week we have our recipe collection. From Country Living Magazine 60+ easy and delicious apple recipes to make this season ~ and amongst this cornucopia there’s this simple and easy garden tuna salad sandwich. You need not use white hot dog rolls if you want a healthier alternative such as a sprouted grain bread.
Garden Tuna Salad Sandwich
I have written a previous blog about apples.….
and one about the medicinal use of rosehips in apple cider vinegar
Only a fool will let miserable situations run on from year to year.
Despite everything, there have been some dark clouds over my head. Ergo yesterday, on a whim, I took a train ride to the nearest big city to do a little shopping.
More than just going shopping yesterday, and buying whatever took my fancy; in a few weeks I’m going to New Mexico to attend a ‘new-age’ retreat, and I’ve just booked a week on the Algarve for over the Christmas Holidays. That Christmas trip will be my 6th vacation this year. How fortunate is that?
Oft times I tell you of my woes, bemoaning my luck, revealing the darker parts of my psyche ~ and yet there are so many others who are far worse off than I. Even in this moderately wealthy country, this green and pleasant land that is England, much misery abounds. There are those who struggle to find the next penny, let alone have the cash and freedom to just take off whenever they feel like it.
And, in America, that Land Of The Free there are more people living on the streets than a supposedly civilised country should countenance. Some say those people are just down on their luck ~ some bad luck America.
Without revealing too many confidences; yesterday I had to give a friend enough money for petrol, (gas), to allow her to visit her son who had been rushed into hospital. Even some of my friends aren’t as fortunate as I.
Maybe I want so much that I aim too high, and just going off shopping, or taking a vacation, is ultimately less than satisfying for me. Those foreign trips may put me under a different sky, but I still often feel alone and unsatisfied. Perhaps this is because I have unreasonable expectations, or that I am acting with selfishness, or it may be that I am not living a mindful life anyway.
One hope is that my upcoming New Mexico trip will give me some new psychological tools to put in my bag. Another is that as I become more self-aware and more self-confident, I will be able to look at my life, my relationships, my wants, needs, desires, and dreams in a more honest and mindful way.
Some say it’s not what you keep that matters, it’s what you are prepared to leave and lose. And, that if you have doubts about people it’s time to walk away. All I know is that the harder I work at things, the luckier I get.
Living on the streets is not much fun
You can’t do the job if you haven’t got the proper tools.
Yesterday I was very tempted to book a trip to Agadir in Morocco, even though I’ve just returned to England after my recent vacation on Crete. (You would like Crete.)
The Moroccan adventure would have been for a week, departing England on October 11th. The whole deal would have cost me less than it’s costing me to fly the Atlantic for my trip to New Mexico in early November. And, that upcoming trip is one reason I’ve decided not to take the Road to Morocco just now ~ I would probably have spent my whole time in Morocco thinking about going to New Mexico.
That, and the main reason for travelling right now is me not wanting to be here on my own, me escaping from what’s going on inside my own head, not wanting to face the fact that I’m the world’s biggest screw-up, me running away…..
I don’t think I’ve shared that each day I pray to my Goddess, and that I write these prayers on slips of paper about the size of a personal cheque, (check). I save these prayers, and each day I take an old prayer from the found vase I keep them in, and contemplate what I was saying in the past.
Today, the old prayer is from December 1st 2015; …..please help me to learn a way to stop finding the bad things in Life.
That is just as appropriate right now as it was then. I am still right back at square one.
In my life there has been heartache and pain. For most of my life I suffered from undiagnosed and untreated Borderline Personality Disorder ~ a seriously dangerous mental illness. For the past few years I have been striving diligently to be a ‘better man’. And, it would seem that I haven’t had that much success.
Here’s the thing, no matter how hard you try to achieve something, no matter what you do, you cannot succeed if you don’t have the right tools for the job.
Today I have come to realise that I don’t have the right tools to achieve enough significant personality changes to become the better man, the superior man.
And then Serendipity kicks in. This New Mexico retreat I am attending in November has the strapline From Chaos to Coherence ~ The Power To Thrive In Life Extremes. If you know anything at all about BPD, you will know that I go to extremes, but perhaps this retreat will put some more and better tools in my psychological toolbox.
Some say that all prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is ‘no’. And, that if the only tool you have is a hammer then you see every problem as a nail. All I know is that if you’re fighting with the alligators, it’s difficult to remember that you’re supposed to be draining the swamp.
Right now the alligators are winning,
so fuck the swamp.
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst of all.
These days a lot of us don’t have a lot of time to cook, and we certainly don’t have much spare time for finding recipes, meal planning, shopping for ingredients, meal preparation ~ and a lot of us tend to eat on the run. Real life gets in the way of an idyll spent in the garden / yard and kitchen. For some of us work chews up 10 hours an day and then family commitments chew up whatever time is left.
Ergo, I’ll try to help with some recipe collections that are mostly easy recipes, with just a few ingredients that you can use for several meals during the week for dinner and a healthy lunch to take to work.
First up this week, from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes we have 21 best recipes with ripe summer tomatoes ~ what could be easier or healthier? From the collection I like this very simple dish, avocado heirloom tomato salad ~ you can serve this with any leftover chicken, steak, or cheese you may have in your refrigerator, or just drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and have a very healthy lunch.
Avocado Heirloom Tomato Salad
Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a cool collection; 25 of my favorite easy dinners ~ (she says this is for back to school, but I don’t care much about that…..). What I do care about is the very first recipe in this collection; rosemary chicken, bacon, and avocado salad. Once you’ve made the rosemary chicken you have endless possibilities, but this salad looks fabulous.
Rosemary Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Salad
Chungah at Damn Delicious has posted 12 quick and easy summer recipes ~ I do love quick and easy. From Chungah’s collection I’ve chosen these garlic butter scallop bowls ~ scallops served with cilantro lime rice and pico de gallo, how fabulous is that? This will take you a little time to prepare, but doesn’t it look worth it?
Garlic Butter Scallop Bowls
Here’s a super-sized collection from Olive Magazine; 42 best ever quick and easy healthy recipes ready in under 30 minutes ~ wow! From this collection I have chosen to feature a chargrilled chicken chimichurri salad. This will be ready in just 15 minutes and it’s perfect for dinner ~ but make enough to that you have some to take to work for lunch.
Chargrilled Chicken Chimichurri Salad
This is a fair-sized collection of quick and easy recipes; from Country Living magazine we have 99 easy dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less ~ come on, there’s 3 months worth of dinner recipes here. From their list I’ve decided to feature this grilled pesto chicken with summer squash, by Marian Cooper Cairns. This dish is so fast and so easy…..
Grilled Pesto Chicken with Summer Squash
I’ve never done this before, but this is a link to a whole sub-section from the website of San Diego girl Averie Sunshine; it’s her entire 30 minute meals archive. From Averie’s archive I have chosen this foil pack lime cilantro salmon. This is so easy to make, and it will be ready to eat in 10 minutes ~ you heard me right, just 10 minutes to produce this wonderful healthy dish.
Foil Pack Lime Cilantro Salmon
Here’s something else I’ve never done before. Here in the garret I often use packet sauces to make my cooking tastier, quicker, and easier. I guess that in England we are spoiled for choice with this type of product. However, I know you can buy this kind stuff in the USA, for example I know that you can buy exactly the same kind of Schwartz packet sauces I use from Amazon.com. Or if you’re sick of Amazon you can buy Schwartz sachets from BritSuperstore,com; there is an almost endless choice of flavours and cooking methods, and all you need to know is written on the back of the packet.
Some of the Schwartz Range
honey salmon in foil