45 years and we still don’t know each other

Our kitchen sink has a draining board and on that draining board sits one of those draining trays that you can stack the cups, cutlery and dishes to dry off. We’ve had several replacements over our married life.

Today I plucked up the courage to ask the extreme knitter why we had one.

She said “because you wanted one”.

I said “I never wanted one, I hate the dam thing”

She said “I hate it as well”.

45 years of married bliss and all this time I thought the E/knitter wanted it and she thought I wanted it. Lack of communication I think, but we are still getting to know each other.

The dish tray is now in the dustbin and all is well in the household.

 

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Ham Burger

Following on from the last post about Faggots, I remembered that it used to be rumoured that the Ham burger was originally invented in the Black Country. The story went like this.

The History of the Ham Burger

In 1925 on a cobblestone street in Dudley, butchers boy “Billy King” rode his delivery bike. His cargo of freshly made Black Country faggots sat proudly in the bicycles wicker basket.

His bicycle ran over a discarded horseshoe. Hiss!! His front tyre sprung a leak.

He placed the faggots on a nearby wall, removed the tyre and repaired the puncture in double quick time. Unfortunately a gang of grubby urchins from the Priory came along and set about him.

They called him a Wimp. in fact he was such a weakling that his nickname at school was “Wimpy King”. They pushed him backwards against the wall and he landed on the faggots and squashed them flat.

Disaster! What should he do, he decided to ride on to his destination or he would have been in great trouble back at the Butchers shop.

He finally arrived at Mrs McDonalds house and presented her with the tray of squashed faggots.

She stared at the tray in disbelief.

The faggots were for a special evening supper party she was holding in her garden for the orphans of Dudley.

“What shall I do” she exclaimed.

“I know I’ll put them in a bread roll and call them? O bugger what can I call them” she said.

“That’s it, I’ll call them buggers, Ham buggers,” she cried in her strong Scottish accent

She clipped the butcher’s boy around the ear and sent him packing, then proceeded to cook the squashed faggots on an open fire in the garden.

The Orphans enjoyed the Buggers so much that it became a regular trip to Mrs McDonalds every Saturday to saviour the tasty delights.

She felt a sense of pride as she watched the skinny orphans start to put a bit of meat on their bones.

Mrs McDonald would sometimes give away a toy with her Ham buggers, perhaps a spinning top or a hoop & a stick.

Her Ham buggers became famous through out the Black Country and indeed all the land.

Her nephew Ronald was travelling on a World tour with the circus as a clown and so it was that her Ham buggers reached the shores of America in his packed lunch.

The Ham buggers became an overnight success with the Americans and Ronald set up restaurants through out the USA selling McDonalds Ham Buggers, although he was a successful businessman, Ronald couldn’t forget his true vocation and still dressed every day as a clown.

Because the Americans couldn’t speak proper English or Scottish for that matter they pronounced Bugger as Burger.

Back in the Black Country “Billy King” the butcher’s boy who sat on the faggots was now a Butchery tycoon owning a chain of butchers shop through out Great Britain.

Being the entrepreneur, he set up a chain of Ham Bugger restaurants in England and called them Wimpy’s.

Alas the Wimpy restaurant chain hit hard times and he had to sack all his employees and close it down.

The disgruntled employees decided to set up a new restaurant chain and because they hated Billy King so much they called it “Bugger King”.

And what became of the orphans? They grew into extremely large pillars of Black Country society, know as “The Buggers of Dudley”

V Southall ©

Pie or Parcel

As I have a follower from America I need to explain from the onset that here in the UK a Faggot is basically a large meat ball made from Pork and offal. Their origins date back through the ages and was a poor mans meal. Fast forward to 2017 and a Faggot is now a foodie’s delicacy.

However, back in the sixties with the advent of frozen food, Mr Brains started producing frozen faggots. These became part of a staple diet for us kids.

http://mrbrains.co.uk/home/

I’ve sampled faggots from various butchers around the country all adding their own twist on the recipe, but just like Beanz Meanz Heinz  there is always going to be Mr Brains faggots. Although as kids we were teased that they actually contained brains (I don’t think they do), hey when you’re hungry you will eat anything.

Mr Herbert Hill Brain

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Pubs in the Black Country used to have Faggots and peas nights, now it seems to be Curry nights.

(Again for my American reader). The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands where the industrial revolution started. It was called the Black Country because of the soot, smog and grime from the steel and coal industries. Black country dwellers speak a totally different language to the rest of the UK. Queen Victoria hated the area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Country

This language difference can be awkward. I’m not even going to mention that the word Trump in the UK is another word for Fart.

When we were away in Scotland I had a couple of light bulb inspiration moments, one of them was a Faggot pie. Not just any old faggot pie, but a Mr Brains Faggot pie.

After a lot of pleading and cajoling, I convinced the E/Knitter that this was the ultimate pie and she needed to make one or perhaps two.

I present you with Faggot pie or parcel

Obviously you start with a pack of Mr Brains frozen faggots that are packed precooked in a foil tray ready to reheat. These were allowed to defrost at room temperature.

The pastry of choice was puff.

Now you could prep your puff pastry using up valuable eating time or like us buy frozen prepared puff pastry.

After a lot of debate, the E /knitter convinced me that it would be easier to place the faggot in a pastry parcel and tie the top like a sack. Ok it’s technically not a pie because it doesn’t have a lid on top, but it’s going to taste the same.

A large circle was cut from the pastry.

The faggot was placed in the centre and the pastry was gathered at the top.

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An off cut of pastry was rolled into a long worm and used to tie the top.

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On to a baking tray and placed in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes at gas mark 7 or until the pastry is golden brown.

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Ideally they should be served hot straight from the oven with any of the excess sauce that was left over.

I thinking sauteed potatoes, marrow fat peas and faggot parcels.

The results exceeded even my expectations. The faggots have a rich taste thanks to the West Country sauce and combine that with puff pastry it becomes food for the gods.

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If Mr Brains wants to contact me with a royalty payment offer, I’ll gladly let him use my idea.

There was some puff pastry left over from the pie making event, so I suggested to the E/knitter that she might like to make some sausage rolls with added sage and apple stuffing. The results didn’t last long enough to be photographed. mmmmm!!!

Oh and the second light bulb inspiration moment is being worked on as we speak.

All I can say is forget fidget spinners, this one is destined to become the next world wide craze, but the E/ knitter isn’t so convinced and I need her expertise to create it.

Watch this space.

 

Well I’ll be a bananas uncle

I’m sharing this recipe from a blog that I follow, so all credit to them.

https://familyoffthemap.com/2016/10/31/plantains-and-sausage/

When I read their post I had never heard of Plantains, so my curiosity got the better of me. I started searching the UK for them in shops and supermarkets, but the only ones I could find were sold on line with a hefty price tag.

I had all but given up of ever tasting this elusive vegetable/fruit when by chance we visited the local Morrison’s store in Redditch and there they were a great big pile of the banana look a likes, green as green could be. Now, you know I like to push the boat out sometimes, so without any thought of cost I purchased two Plantains for the princely sum of 84 pence. I do like living on the edge.

It now appears that everyone I speak to has heard of Plantains, so it seems it was just me that was off sick from school when that little nugget of information was given out

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/plantain

The plantains were green and my research told me that they are better left until they ripen; in fact they would be just right when turning yellow / black.

I panicked a little because one was ripening faster than the other.

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One plantain was ready, ripening after two weeks sitting on the window ledge

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I cuts some chicken breasts  into thin strips.

I fried the plantains in a little vegetable oil, the pineapple chunks were added to the mix a little later. The strips of chicken were put in the pan and everything browned off nicely.

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The plantains gained a caramelised coating and the results were delicious.

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The combination of the individual ingredients complimented each other and the plantains didn’t taste like banana, more of a sweet potato type of thing.

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One plantain left ripening. I might try this again, but with some smokey bacon bits added.

The pressures on

We use a large 8 litre capacity pressure cooker at home that is great for large quanities of stew or soup to freeze. Large meat joints are so succulent when cooked this way. 8 litres is big and also a bit of a hassle when you only want to cook a small amount.

We started looking at small pressure cookers that would serve as a useful everyday size for the kitchen at home and double up as a utensil for the campervan.

The advantages of using a pressure cooker are low running cost with a vast reduction in the gas used and the food retains its flavour in the enclosed pot as it is steamed rather that boiled.

Research highlighted the Indian manufactured Hawkins range and I started to look for a 2 litre capacity Hawkins original cooker as made by the company since 1959.

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Luckily, the guys from the Betty Bus Blog told me about their Hawkins Futura model and that’s what I purchased.

https://bettybus.wordpress.com/

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http://www.hawkinscookers.com/1.1.8.hawkinsSS.asp

Although a 3 litre would have been a good size for home use unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in the campervan.

The quality is exceptional, with its hard anodised finish and clever mounting of the pressure weight. It’s flowing modern design has earned it the accolade of being the only pressure cooker in the world to have been displayed by The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

We use it on a daily basis at home as it’s ideal for two people, so it will be ideal for our campervan trips.

Our world is collapsing around us

 

As any campervan owner will tell you, size matters. The storeage space is so limited that it takes some creative thinking just to pack the essentials let alone any luxuries.

We’ve taken the Silicone collapsible route that up to date includes

Outwell collapsible bucket with lid

Outwell collapsible colander

Outwell collapsible kettle

An assortment of collapsible storage containers with clip on lids

A collapsible dog bowl.

 

The bucket is used to transport the washing up to the campsite pot wash. It collapses in sections so it is low enough to be placed under the waste water tank outlet to collect the grey water and used for any bucket duties.

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The colander

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The kettle reduces in size to allow it to be stored under the grill thereby saving valuable cupboard space. The Outwell kettle has an ergonomic handle making pouring easy.

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The storage containers come in various sizes being ideal for packing food into the fridge particulary our first night special (meat balls in tomato sauce) and take up little space when not in use.

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Anything that reduces to a third of its size for storage has to be a benefit.

It’s getting hot in here

One thing that Puffin lacks is an oven. We have two hob burners and a grill which is fine, but sometimes it would be nice to oven bake some delicacies.

I discovered the Omnia oven on a boating web site and it seemed to be just right for our camping style however the purchase price of £45- £50 was putting me off buying one.

Well blow me down with a feather, Ruby only went and bought the extreme knitter and me one for Christmas. This alone is an amazing feat for such a small dog.

The Omnia Oven

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The Swedish designed Omnia oven sits on top of a hob burner and heats the ring shaped oven chamber by convecting heat up the central chimney.

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The first test was to warm up some part baked rolls bought from Morrisons. These were heated on a low setting for 15 mins. I put them on some tin foil to stop any burning. The results were great.

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We bought our Omnia from http://www.simplybrilliantstuff.com/

This will open up our cooking choices instead of just eating bacon bap; we now have a vista of dishes only limited by our imagination and ingredients.

Jacket potatoes, bread, unusual shaped pizzas and even cakes are now on the menu.

The trick to using it revolves around getting the cooking time and the hob burner settings correct.

The recipe book that is downloaded from the Omnia web site gives away the ovens Swedish origins as most of the dishes are fish based.

The book gives you an idea of the cooking times, but it takes some experimentation to get it perfect

I initially thought that it would use a lot of gas. We only have room in Puffins gas cupboard for one 2.72 kg Camping Gaz 907 and one 6kg Calor Gas cylinder and I was worried it would quickly deplete our gas stocks, but the hob burner needs to be set quite low. A rough costing of gas usage worked out at 40 pence an hour

One of the by products of the oven is the heat generated which quickly warmed Puffin up, so for our 40p we are getting roast potatoes and heating Puffin for an hour.

Who would complain about sitting on a chilly winter’s night in a toasty warm campervan eating freshly baked crusty bread and homemade soup?

The oven packs down to quite a small size in its storage bag, so finding room for it in Puffin wasn’t too bad.

 

I’m lucky that I’m given unusual and quirky Christmas presents. The e/knitter gave me a Tiffin sandwich tin that I’ve been wanting for sometime. This is the only cool way to transport your lunch.

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I also received a bottle of Camp coffee. I haven’t see Camp coffee since my childhood when it was the only inexpensive coffee available, Nescafe instant was far too costly in those days. It wasn’t always Costa and Starbucks.

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I can’t tell you how pleased I was to get a roll of sniper tape and a length of Para cord of my Grandson which will be used in one of my future projects on the campervan.

A favourite Niece (well the only one we have) gave me pair of VW socks and a Ukulele pin badge.

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We received a smelly candle in a jar off our Granddaughter that will be used in Puffin to take away cooking smells. We had a very good Christmas.

Tomorrow the Lady extreme knitter returns to hospital to have her plaster cast changed. She’s hoping for a pink one this time, but I think she has plans to knit a big sock for it anyway. Any excuse to get her knitting needles out..