Sunday, 18 October 2009

Vegetarian Boeuf Bourguignon recipe

Kitchen Supplies:

9- to 10-inch,

fireproof casserole dish ,

3 inches deep Slotted spoon.

Boeuf Bourguignon:

Quorn bacon strips

1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil

2 Quorn steaks , cut into 2-inch cubes

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced onion

1 tsp.

salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 2 Tbsp.

flour 3 cups f

full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti 2 to 3 cups

vegetable stock or vegetable bouillon 1 Tbsp.

tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1/2 tsp. thyme

Crumbled bay leaf

18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock

1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter

Parsley sprigs

Cut Quorn bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long)

Preheat oven to 240 degrees.

Sauté the Quorn bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat before you sauté the Quorn beef.

Dry the stewing Quorn beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the Quorn bacon. Brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing juices. Return the Quorn beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the Quorn beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the Quorn and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the Quorn with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 200 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the Quorn is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmersvery slowly. While the Quorn is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the Quorn beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the Quorn. Skim off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon.

Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the Quorn and vegetables.

Et voila! Vegetarian Boeuf Bourguignon ala Aaron!

Bon appetit!

Friday, 9 October 2009

'Having a horrid time in Naples. Be glad you're not hear. Love Aaron. X'

Ok, so as previously promised here is my account of the days leading up to and during Naples.

Ok, so it must have been Tuesday before last. I was just going to the lifts to go for lunch and smoke a few Marlboro Menthols as per my usual work routine and some fettered old hag with awful witch thin bleached hair and a horrid pinched face only a mother could love said to me 'I was talking about you last Friday...'
And I replied 'oh really..?' eager to know what this sow faced cretin was talking about.
She then re-accounted that her friend's brother (or some such) said that he knew me and that I was going out with his!

And after a bit of basic detective work which would have made old Miss Marple very proud I worked out that it was a guy I am acquainted with who my boyfriend used to have dalliances. Dalliances do not a relationship make. But that wasn't my main cause for concern at all.
Why should HE be interested in me?
Snooping. I know how men work. Snoopy snoop.

So that was the work drama. Now I have a link to that horrific woman who a friend who worked under her assures me that she is as nasty as she looks.

So now on to Naples *sigh*.
I had hoped for an idyllic Italian get-away-from-it-all weekend. I was really looking forward to using my bad Italian, sitting outside cafes, smoking cigarettes and looking good.
How very wrong I was.

When we arrived at Naples I was met with grey, filthy flyposted walls avec graffiti and an overwhelming cloud of smog.
This was going to be far from the Naples Rosemary Clooney and Dean Martin had crooned about some fifty odd years back.
There was going to be no Mambo Italiano on this lil holiday!
Anyways. We got to our hotel which was in a shabby building apartment but the hotel itself was lovely. Decadently high walls, tasteful furniture (a very rare thing to find in Italy!) and friendly staff.
Our room was small in feet but the ceiling's height saved us from feeling too shoe-boxed.
Food in Italy was as expected; delizioso!
But after a day I noticed I was being stared at a fair bit.

Now please don't think I'm vain or deluded but I often get looked at. London, Glasgow, Belfast, Stockholm, Spain, Switzerland...all have had a good look at old Radders but this felt different.
Generally I get looked at because I look different. In Paris and Nice it's nothing but admiration (and believe me the feeling is mutual there!) but Naples was the kind of staring I had never experienced before.

I wasn't dressed odd. As per usual I was wearing my smart travelling holiday attire which always consists of polo shirts and deck shoes during the day and long sleeve shirts and brogues in the evening so I knew that wasn't it. I then assumed it was my hair but when styled different to look less long and indie the results were the same. Stare, stare, stare!
It gets worse...

Twice I noticed people actually talking to their company about me!
How rude! No sense of manners! Even when I made it clear that I was aware of what they were doing they didn't seem to care nor did they stop.
I made a promise there and then to never grace that cesspit of Italy that is Naples with my presence ever again!

The odd thing was that in Sorrento and Portofino I didn't meet such a response.
There was a lot of drama in terms of bad public transport but general service in restaurants was very friendly and my bad Italian seemed to make them happy which is nice.

I have to confess that it really bugged me and gave me a very awful feeling. I can't quite describe it but it wasn't good and it was hard to ignore. Richard tried to be understanding and told me to ignore them but it was so hard.
Anyways I did a bit of research and found several articles and discussions on blogs on Southern Italy and Naples specifically and I found my answer as to why I received such a disgusting response...

Racism. Good old, ignorant, based on stupidity racism.
I was shocked. I thanked god that I have had Italian students, have worked with several Italians and have visited Rome (which was nothing short of amazing!) otherwise I would be in danger of assuming that all of Italy was as Naples seemed.

It really saddened me that such a beautiful country has a big dirty smudge on the bottom of it's beautiful long leg and that smudge is Naples.
Oddly enough the bad attention was always from young Italian working class folk and never the older generations as one may expect.

Anyways I will always advise anyone against going to such a place. The best part of Naples is the getting out of it! We had a lovely time in Sorrento and Pompeii was as impressive as I had long hoped it would be.
Naples was so bad that I was actually glad to be in the company of German and American tourists in their hordes as they made their way around the beautiful ruins of a once gargantuan Roman city.
And the driving...horrendous! They do literally as they please. It was funny at first then it got old very quickly. Mopeds were everywhere. Which you obviosuly expect in a country that gave the world the Vespa and the Lambretta but they drive on pavements and do not care if you have to jump out of the way. Signalling seems to be something you just don't do and they all beep their horns just because it's there. If I never see another moped it'll be too soon!

The holiday was such an awful experience that I didn't mind going back to work one jot!
I even have a new appreciation for London. I won't ever complain about how dirty London is from now on.
Yes it's not as clean and fresh as Paris, Geneva or Stockholm but it's far from the decrepit filthy stinking cadaver of a city such as Naples.

So that, dear reader, was my account or a rather bad week.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Drowning past regrets in tea and cigarettes...

'It's my heart. It's broken. Can you tell?'

It's been a bit long since my last post so it's high time I had an update.

Got back from Naples, Italy late last Sunday but had major drama at work before hand.

I'll go into depth on these a bit more in my next post but for now I wanted to post one of the most honest, cynical and jaded pieces of my writing I may ever have written.

I wrote it a couple of years ago. I had finally reached new levels of clarity in regards to dating and men and after a heavy drinking binge of a night out I came home full of angst and just wrote the anger down in the best way I could in such a state of intoxication of both alcohol and bitterness.

After I had written it and I had read it in the harsh light of the day with a heavy hangover I decided the only title I could possibly call it was an old word word of French origin with aristocratic connotations, therefore a very 'me' word; Ingenue.
Anyways, here it is:
Bastard followed by a fucker, don't think I could take another.
You to me were just a retaliation, a physical act of gratification.

I thought I had you in a box by my bed, then that all changed with what you said.
No man shall come so close again, too close you got...never again.

As times of H.James and times of now, men always seem the same somehow.
You always think you have the upper hand, but this again I will not stand.
Although I strive to be meek and mild, no longer am I a forgiving child.

I feel for all those who think they know me so well, for to you all I say go to hell!
I paint a picture of calm deep blue lochs, but I am a torrent of twisted knots.

A thorned rose I am and forever shall I be, get too close and I shall hurt thee.
Once I was a little lamb, that lamb was long since slaughtered for a gram.
A gram of lies of which I bought, a long hard lesson I was taught.

A hymn to the heart, a hymn to the soul, love is a lie, love is droll.
I cry not, I cannot weep, I pray for rain, my soul to keep.

An old soul, a young mind, love is a projection, love is not kind.
Was it love? What is fate? It's all such a tattered state.

A state of affairs which I shall no longer engage, what's left of my heart is in a cage.
A cage of which I myself have built, I will still have my marital kilt.

I see the truth behind the lies, do not think it is in their eyes.
The eyes lie still, as silent as the grave, don't look to them, but to yourself, be brave.

Lovers come, and lovers go, in the end, the finale is always woe.
And so I leave you with my findings, they are mine, not all are binding.

I am just a simple boy, who loved and lived with open joy.
But seems it is so, this was wrong, this was not the path to go.
So who or what can you be, in life, in love, if it's not "me”?