February 6, 2016 by Michael Madden

My Golden Plums

The Transylvanian Green Bean Soup caused a bit of stir last week. Sally asked how I would ever consider making such a thing, and its quite simple really. She would not think twice about buying a hundredweight of beetroot or red cabbage to eventually end up with a small jar of pickle, whilst I looked in the freezer and saw that we had at least 5 kilos of green beans, therefore, in my mind, a green bean recipe was called for. The green bean forest was caused by Sally’s scatter gun approach to shopping, but that is a discussion for another day. Anyway, green bean soup is, unfortunately, not just green beans, so I had to get soured cream and parsley, but everything else was already in the cupboard.

And here’s how it happens…

900g green beans
bunch of fresh parsley (chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
2-3 slices bacon
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 onion (chopped)
1 pot soured cream
3 tablespoons vinegar

Put the green beans, parsley, garlic and salt in a large pan. Cover with water and bring to the boil.
Fry the bacon until well done, then chop and add to the pan.
Add the onion, cornflour and a little water to the frying pan and mix until smooth. Add it to the green beans pan then stir in the soured cream and vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

If you want any other recipes for stuff mentioned here just let me know.

Sometimes there is something that I just want to make, for instance Creole Cake. This calls for a load of ingredients, including Cherry Brandy and Angostura Bitters. There’s no way I’m buying bottles of those for a one off cake, so I put out a a FB message and found them both in the same place. Fortunately my sister Fiona has a reputation where alcohol is concerned, and she will be delivering at least 3 tablespoons of each this week. Any idea what Angostura Bitters is? I had always thought that it is part of a hangover cure, and maybe it is. Originating from Trinidad in the Caribbean, it contains 44.7% alcohol. So maybe it won’t cure your hangover, but it will probably make you forget about it in a hurry.

Heading for Nottingham last week I left Chilli Chicken and Garlic Chilli Chicken behind. One extra word but completely different dishes. The first is along the lines of chilli con carne, whilst the second is a curry. Both can be found in Mmm…No1…Cookbook.

Mmm…No1…Cookbook on Kindle

Today I made Beef in Chilli and Ginger (with a few other things thrown in) and Rocky Nests. These are like Rocky Road with less biscuit, and after pouring the first half into the dish to set, Cadbury’s Mini Eggs are placed uniformly onto the mixture before the rest is poured on top. In theory, each piece should have a mini egg inside. I’ll let you know how it turns out later! And whilst on the subject of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs we appear to have a magpie in our house. The eggs, in their original packaging, were stored safely out of the way from prying eyes and prying fingers. Unfortunately, Sally found them and by making a tiny hole in the bottom seam she managed to extract an egg, and then another, and then several more. Of course, the bag now looked and felt considerably lighter than it was before, so I asked the question. Who has been stealing the eggs? It did not take long to figure out that the uncontrollable sniggering and tears running down her cheeks said ‘guilty’. She then had the bare faced cheek to offer to show me how she had perpetrated the crime. Now you see how Zac’s maternal role model has an adverse effect on him.

And now on to my golden plums. I got them from Sainsbury’s. Fresh and juicy and already ripe. Then I noticed that the package said ‘keep in the fridge for extra freshness’. Up until today I had always kept my plums on display, golden or red, so was I doing it wrong? I did what every self respecting person would do, I Googled it. I then discovered that there was a whole science and a plethora of different rules for keeping fruit fresh. Ripen at room temperature seems to be the standard advice, then move to the fridge to enable it to last longer. Berries should be placed in the fridge straight away, but then there is the avocado. To get that to ripen you should place it in a brown paper bag with some bananas. So now you know, and now I know how I can keep my juicy golden plums fresher for longer!

My Blog is certainly getting read. I got a message from California regarding the contract mentioned in the last edition, whilst my daughter said, ‘I read that you had been cycling’. Felt a bit like I was being paparazzied for Hello magazine! I wonder how much further I can reach?!

Its been quiet on the WI Jam & Jerusalem front, but I am sure that the Whaley Bridge chapter of this originally Canadian institution will soon be in full swing. The aims of the WI were originally to revitalise local communities and to encourage women to produce food during the first World War. I expect that the second of these will come to fruition in the form of a Whaley Bridge Bake Off or a Who’s Got The Biggest Marrow? competition, whilst the revitalisation of the community will come about through loose tongued gossip, whispered over cups of Earl Grey and a slice of Lemon Drizzle, I suppose that is just the nature of the beast. No? Well I already know a potted life history of many of the attendees! Seriously though, the WI is a great institution and is to be encouraged. I just think that in this most unique of rural villages their choice of speaker and subject matter must be very carefully considered!

Got a bit of an ear infection or possibly just a blockage this week. Quiet disorientating when one of your ears won’t clear. Solution is simple – just drive to Buxton and hey presto, ‘Pop’ at the top of Long Hill.

Back to cycling this morning, and although the stiffness and a little soreness is still there, I was able to get up out of the saddle for a few yards/ I managed to turn the corner out of Shallcross Mill Road onto Elnor Lane without getting off and walking. A small triumph but another significant step forward.

The US election is all over the tv at the moment, and Zac wanted to understand deficits.

Zac: Why do we want to leave the EU?
Me: Well sometimes we have to pay more money than others.
Zac: More money for what?
Me: Well remember when Greece went bust?
Zac: Yeah.
Me: Well we had to pay a lot of money to bail them out.
Zac: And will they pay us back when they are back on their feet?
Me: Hmm, probably not.
Zac: Are we richer than America?
Me: Well we both owe money, but I suppose as they are bigger than us then they probably owe more.
Zac: Is that why they don’t have proper traffic lights?
Me: Err, what do you mean?
Zac: Ours are proper traffic lights that are fixed in place, but theirs just hang over the road.

So, America, you need to get your house in order on the traffic light front!

Finally, frustration on the football field. Zac’s game got switched last weekend, whilst Ole’s was called off altogether. At this rate the season will extend well beyond April, and Sally is getting a bit fed up about it. Our own pitch certainly takes a big part of the blame, and she questioned the drainage. ‘Why didn’t they spend money on the drainage rather than that fence? Or why did they buy that silly little thing that they sit in (the dugout) rather than sort the pitch out?’ She has a point. With no games the fence and the dugouts become rather glaring white elephants.

N.B. The next edition could well concentrate on the unusual subject of ‘Lady Magnets’. Yes, there is such a thing, and I have commissioned a bit of a survey to verify the benefits of these magical devices.