Not Saussure

March 28, 2007

Food for Thought (don’t try these at home)

Filed under: Blogroll, Food — notsaussure @ 8:12 pm

Feeling hungry? Looking to add to your culinary repertoire? Perhaps you had better not use the recipes and photographs to be found at The Gallery of Regrettable Food, an hilarious collection of truly horrid recipes, accompanied by even worse photographs, collected from cookbooks of the 40s, 50s and 60s. As J. Likleks, the anthologist, says,

They’re not really recipe books. They’re ads for food companies, with every recipe using the company’s products, often in unexpected ways. (Hot day? Kids love a frosty Bacon Milkshake!) There’s not a single edible dish in the entire collection. The pictures in the books are ghastly – the Italian dishes look like a surgeon got a sneezing fit during an operation, and the queasy casseroles look like something on which the janitor dumps sawdust. But you have to enjoy the spirit behind the books – cheerful postwar perfect housewifery is taught in every book. Sure, you’ll fall short of the ideal. But what’s an ideal for if not to show up your shortcomings?

Great stuff.
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March 13, 2007

A success story of British farming

Filed under: environment, Food, Politics — notsaussure @ 11:30 am

Shame it’s illegal, of course, but apparently

The number of cannabis farms being found by police has trebled over the last two years, according to a report.

Charity DrugScope said 1,500 cannabis farms were found in London alone in the past two years, compared with around 500 in the previous two years.

Its magazine Druglink said over 60% of cannabis sold in the UK was grown here, compared to 11% 10 years ago.

And all this without any assistance whatsoever from David Miliband, DEFRA, the EU or anyone else.

The solution to the woes of British farming is clear; remove it from the ambit of DEFRA altogether and, instead, have John Reid declare war on it.

Better still, have him appoint a Farming Tzar to prosecute this war on farming. Within 10 years, all the farmers will be coining it.

Update:  should be news to gladden the heart of The Times’ Richard Morrison, at least; I see, via Tim Worstall, that he’s complaining

Either we commit to local values, protect and support our own industries, and nurture a pride in community, or we take our chances in the global marketplace and dump all this Britishness nonsense. In other words, either the nation state still has clout and deserves allegiance, or it doesn’t. Ordinary people need to know where the Government stands.


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December 16, 2006

Marguerite Patten’s Christmas Pud-cast

Filed under: Food — notsaussure @ 12:48 am

I read in the print edition of Metro today (can’t find it on their website) that Britain’s first TV chef, Marguerite Patten, has released a 3 minute podcast showing how to make a traditional Christmas pudding for the microwave in 12 minutes.

Should you wish to try it, here it is (method and ingredients below):

Pudding Ingredients
50 g butter 50 g cherries
50 g plain flour 50 g currants
One teaspoon mixed spice juice of half a lemon
75 g white breadcrumbs 2 eggs
100 g soft dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons of treacle
150 g sultanas 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
75 g raisins 50 ml orange juice
50 g dates 75 ml apple juice


  1. Sieve all the dry ingredients together and mix well.
  2. Stir in all remaining ingredients until mixed.
  3. Lightly grease a half-litre (one pint) microwave-safe pudding basin and fill with the mixture.
  4. Cover with clingfilm and make a slit in the top to allow steam to escape. Cook in microwave on high for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow to stand for 10 minutes after cooking.
  6. Sprinkle with brandy and serve.


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November 25, 2006

How to cook Bambi’s mum (for Rachel)

Filed under: Blogroll, Food — notsaussure @ 1:42 am

Rachel has bought herself a casserole and invented what looks like a scrummy lamb and bacon casserole with Polish apple beer to cook in it.

Despite the fact she’s apparently planning to put up her Christmas decorations before December 24th, I’m taking the opportunity to offer her — and anyone else — the recipe for a casserole that I’m doing for some friends shortly. It’s a tried and tested favourite, originally found by my late wife in, I think, a Readers Digest cookbook. The fruits complement the venison surprisingly well and also render its gamey taste more palatable for folks who don’t generally like that sort of thing. (more…)

November 23, 2006

The Children’s Database… and an answer for Polly

Filed under: civil liberties, Food, UK — notsaussure @ 7:39 pm

First, I’ve come across a very valuable resource for anyone who’s interested in the issued raised by The Information Commissioner’s Study of the Children’s Database:    this is the Database Masterclass,

a blog project designed to give you your very own cut-out’n’keep guide to all of the children’s databases (note the plural). Because it’s complicated, we’ve built it up in steps. Start at #1 and work through to #14.

which does what it says on the label.

This is produced by ARCH, Action on Rights For Children, whose website has detailed information on the proposed database.

Second, some time ago Polly Toynbee, in the course of dismissing concerns about privacy and civil liberties as ‘a middle-class disorder’  made the spectacularly fatuous observation that ‘if Tesco knows what I buy, I am having trouble frightening myself’. 

Not just Tesco, though, Pol.   Have you studied the small print on your Tesco’s loyalty card and are you sure about with whom and under what circumstances you’ve given your informed consent for the data on your shopping to be shared with a third party?   I ask because I do not know; I won’t have a supermarket loyalty card precisely because I’ve in the past worked with a company that writes data mining software (primarily for the financial services industry) and I know how loose such agreements are.  

I raise the question because, notoriously, children’s eating habits, or, at least, whether or not they’re eating their recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, are one of the many matters to be recorded about them.   So, too, under certain circumstances, are their parents’ drinking habits.      

Natural enough, if someone’s got concerns about how little Tarquin (or, more likely, little Kylie) is doing at school, to want to supplement his information by taking a look at Mum’s shopping habits to make sure she’s not stuffing the poor mite with Turkey Twizzlers when she’s not drinking herself under the table with Tesco’s own brand gin, so’s he can get social services to give her some parenting lessons if necessary.   Easy enough, too — we have the technology — and if she hasn’t actually given her permission, which I suspect she may well have done when she took out the card, that’s probably easily remedied by a Statutory Instrument or two. 

And who but a middle-class privacy and civil liberties freak like me could object?   It’s in the child’s best interests, after all, isn’t it?  


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November 17, 2006

Halal Chicken in Christmas Menu horror

Filed under: Food, Religion, UK — notsaussure @ 11:04 pm

It’s a bit unclear from this report in the Telegraph quite what Mrs Johnson and her daughter are objecting to here; I can’t make out whether they’re bothered about being offered chicken as opposed to turkey or halal chicken as opposed to chicken slaughtered by more conventional methods: (more…)

October 25, 2006

The Army and doping tests

Filed under: Food, Medicine, UK — notsaussure @ 8:18 pm

All very serious, and I know I shouldn’t chuckle, but I rather liked this report from the BBC:

A controversial drug which can keep people awake for days has been tested by the UK military, MPs have been told.
Modafinil pills – known on the drugs scene as "zombies" – are used to treat the rare sleeping disorder narcolepsy.
The Ministry of Defence has previously denied testing the drug on troops although it reportedly bought thousands of pills ahead of the Iraq war.
Defence contractor Qinetiq told the commons’ science committee the drug had recently been tested for military use.
Qinetiq scientist Dr Anna Casey told the Science and Technology Committee the MoD funded research into stimulant and performance-enhancing drugs and dietary supplements.
"One is always looking for something that would give military personnel an extra edge," she told the committee which is investigating the use of such drugs in sport.

She said the military was not under the same constraints as the International Olympic Committee, which had banned Modafinil and another stimulant, Ephedrine, which she said had also been tested by the MoD.

Well, errm, quite.  The report continues,

Ephedrine, which is similar in effect to amphetamine or "speed", had so far been ruled out for use by British combat personnel due to its side effects, which included anxiety.

But caffeine was "something we may well end up using in the future," she added.

Hang on a minute,  I thought the Army already did;  according to Wikipedia,

Tea is another common source of caffeine. Tea usually contains about half as much caffeine per serving as coffee, depending on the strength of the brew.

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October 24, 2006

An important scientific discovery

Filed under: Food — notsaussure @ 2:04 am

Bubbly is no secret to science. When you pop a Champagne cork, yeasts ferment sugars and form carbon dioxide gas.

The Bubbly

The bubbles in the lab that led to the discovery.
Image © Gérard Liger-Belair, University of Reims.Used with permission. Research published in the Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry
(2006, vol 54, pages 6989-3994)

But only recently has a solution to spirit’smysterious gas “trains”—the tiny beads of rising air that gives champagne its sparkle—bubbled to the surface.

But only recently has a solution to spirit’s mysterious gas “trains”—the tiny beads of rising air that gives champagne its sparkle—bubbled to the surface. – Champagne Bubble Mystery Solved

LiveScience also provides answers to many more of life’s mysteries, including How People Walk on Fire, Why Knuckles Crack and Joints Creak and Why Giraffes Don’t Get Dizzy

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October 11, 2006

Vorsprung durch Technik

Filed under: England, Food — notsaussure @ 3:47 pm

Doesn’t this — quite seriously — make you proud to be British? Something to do with the practical and enterprising application of science to an apparently mundane problem that’ll doubtless, if it works as advertised, in its own quiet way make life that little bit easier and more enjoyable for millions of people every day.

A British student has invented a way of boiling an egg without water – with the help of high powered light bulbs.

The Bulbed Egg Maker (BEM) can even be programmed to chop the top of the egg off at precisely the right height for dipping toast soldiers in the yoke.

Simon Rhymes, 23, came up with the idea while studying project design at Bournemouth University, from which he graduated in July. He has now set up his own company to market the product.

And Prince Charles — certainly his catering staff, anyway — will doubtless be delighted.

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September 26, 2006

Not by bread alone?

Filed under: Food, Religion — notsaussure @ 1:57 am

Not sure what to make of this; I assume the research refers specifically to the USA, but apparently your religious practices (or lack of them) in some way affect your size there. The Times reports

Even allowing for their Southern roots, Baptists were the largest all-round congregation, with 30 per cent being obese. Next, with an obesity rate of 22 per cent, was Fundamentalist Protestant (including Church of Christ and Pentecostal). Third, at 19 per cent, was Pietistic Protestant, which embraces the Methodists, among others.Some 17 per cent of Roman Catholics are obese. Among non-believers, the rate was 7 per cent. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons came in at 3 per cent, and Jews at 1 per cent. Taken together, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists had an obesity rate of 0.7 per cent.

Professor Ferraro suggests that Baptists may fare badly because alcohol and cigarettes are frowned upon, leaving food the only legitimate vice. He also notes that the lowest obesity indices were found among religions, such as Buddhism and Judaism, featuring strict dietary codes.

In addition, the study noted that Baptists and those immersed in fundamentalist religions tended to be less well educated than other followers; lack of education is known to be a risk factor for obesity.

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