Saturday, 21 April 2018

Teach them Origami.

Pupils and parents at a particular school in Hertfordshire UK have been complaining that during the recent heat wave, the pupils were charged 5p for a plastic cup, in order to get themselves a drink of water.

Parents have been rightly outraged, as not only is the world trying to use less plastic, but it is also the 'human right' of every school child to have a ready supply of drinking water.

The solution is, of course, very simple. Show your children the short video below, and make sure they take careful note.

The best paper to use, is that page from their History Textbooks that contains the dates of all the British Kings and Queens (that you're supposed to learn). Alternatively (if that page has already been used), equally good are any pages from the Algebra section in your Maths book.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Those holiday souvenirs.

Lady Magnon is never allowed abroad without taking a list of goodies to bring back. Her recent trip to Blighty was no exception.

The French had no real colonial presence in India (other than Pondicherry), so Indian foods are not common here; certain spices (although available in tiny quantities) are always on my list. A large bag of crushed chillies, another of cumin seeds, and some good hot curry powder, were all needed. 

Certain veg'  seeds I can't buy here (I can't think why); perpetual Spinach, Cavolo Nero, and curly Kale, are still not grown in the French potager, so the seeds have to be imported.

Also on the list were small 75mg aspirins, some kitchen hooks, Polo mints for the car, and some really good mature Cheddar cheese.  

A copy of  Private Eye is always brought back, as well as the most recent Sunday Times with all its supplements.

I'm not sure if I should mention this, but she also brought back a dozen pairs of pants for me! I am very particular about my underwear, and my favourites come from Marks and Spencers. The cheap rubbish that one buys here is banned from the Magnon 'smalls' drawer. The last lot will now all be rounded-up, and thrown away.

My goodies were very much appreciated; thank you m'dear!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

The preservation of Mushrooms.


I make three types of preserved mushrooms (exclusively Cepes, Boletus edulis). I bottle, I dry, and I freeze.


The bottled Cepes (above, and below right) are blanched, cooled, and bottled in water; then sterilised for two hours. They need to be well fried before use, otherwise they can be a bit 'gooey'.

Drying (above, bottom) is very simple, but does require two or three consecutive hot sunny days. They are sliced thinly, then laid out on racks to dry. I usually give them a final blast of heat from whatever oven had been used, before being put away. These are mostly used for risottos.

Freezing (above, left), I have come to think, is my preferred method. They are roughly cut into cubes, lightly fried in olive oil and butter with garlic and parsley, then, when cool, frozen in cheap plastic cups (hence the shape of the block). These give the best flavour for omelets; one small pot, with two eggs, is enough for two!.

All three methods have their advantages, but freezing (from cooked) gives the 'freshest' taste. I recommend.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

A Pleasant Surprise.

Yesterday, before heading off to collect Lady Magnon's London shopping from the airport (plus Lady Magnon, of course), I made myself a simple salad for lunch.

Imagine my delight when I found that my hard-boiled-egg was a double yolker; the first of 2018.

Last year my egg man supplied double yolkers for well over a month; every single one was a double.

I do hope he repeats the favour; there's something really nice about double yolkers!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Peter the Con and The China Shop.

                               Résultat de recherche d'images pour "chinese bronze vessels"
               A genuine Chinese antique bronze ceremonial bowl.

You meet all sorts of rogues in the Antiques business. Resting actors, small-time crooks, lost souls; any old wide-boy can turn-up under the guise of an 'antique dealer'.

In my own case I'd been managing a small West End art gallery, and was invited to join Justin de V in his antiques/interiors Co. I was brought into the fold as the 'Art Expert' (ahem). Justin soon went off to manage young Twiggy, so I then set-up on my own.

There were some wonderful people around in mid-60's Chelsea, one of whom was a rather murky character known as 'Peter the Con'. His 'girlfriend' was a chunky, very well known, 50-something, resting TV actress, who used to knock him about; he seemed to like it.

Anyway, dear Peter came under the 'lost soul' category, and seemed to have no ambition or goal in life; he just 'lived'.

His claim to fame was that he bought very convincing bits of brand-new 'antique style' Chinese bronzes from The China Shop (that used to be up by Marble Arch), and expelled his copious daily intake of beer over them each evening when he returned home (there were usually a dozen or so bronzes, all lined-up outside his back door).

After a few months they changed from looking brand new to looking several hundred years old, and were sold on as such; gaining a considerable mark-up. It made him a meagre living, and no doubt many Peter the Con antique Chinese bronzes are still around in treasured collections.

I wonder what happened to him? Maybe some disgruntled client pissed on him from a great height, and he died of his own verdigris poisoning; or maybe his pugilistic girlfriend finished him off!

Bok and Friend.

Our next door neighbour at my first house here was a champion breeder of Alsatians. They were trained for a particular type of competition, and were taught the art of arm biting, attacking pistol firing baddies, etc. They were not the sort of dogs you petted, and were kept locked-up.

However I've always liked Alsatians. When properly cared for they are very affectionate and friendly. It's only when they are trained to be guard dogs, etc, that they are aggressive.

Bok's friend Marley is a stunningly beautiful boy. He pops round to see Bok quite regularly. They exchange news, play a bit, then off he goes. His visits tend to last about 30 mins, unless we are off for a walk. 

I think you can see by his photo why I like him so much. Handsome just isn't the word for him; he's simply GORGEOUS.

This was him yesterday.

Monday, 16 April 2018


Many of you may remember my outrage at the misuse of the word 'Vaulted' in certain TV 'country homes' programmes; well I become equally annoyed by the throw-away use of the word 'Inglenook'.

Nowadays any fireplace wider than about three feet, and with a wooden lintel, is called an 'Inglenook' by the TV presenting ignorati; and it really makes me angry.

Basically, an Inglenook is a kitchen, where the cooking was done over an open central fire. It often contained a small bread oven built into the back wall. They were tall and wide, so as to accommodate people, wood, and cooking equipment. 

Our own example (above) once had two small benches either side (as below), for the residents to benefit from the warmth, as well as for stirring the pot.

                             Résultat de recherche d'images pour "inglenook fireplace"

This small version (above) is almost NOT an Inglenook; it is quite small, but it gives an idea of how they were used.

Every time I hear some TV presenter calling a small fireplace an 'Inglenook' (and it happens frequently), I feel like stringing him up from his non-existent bloody vaulted ceiling.

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