It’s one of those days today


I hope not as sour as that lot above in the photo, but I suppose every cloud, even in the computer world, has its silver lining. First of all it is the day to change the bed linen, which I almost forgot. It is a communal job and we split it 50:50 although I must admit one of the 50’s is bigger than the other and I don’t do it. Thankyou Mr. Swiss.

Next: when all is done with the breakfast the cleaning programme arrives and today I have a few extras. All being well I can begin to cook some time in the morning and in the afternoon I have one of those doctor visits. Thank goodness our doctors keep to the time and I will not have an hour to wait until he sees me (thinking of the National Health Service in the UK with which I am fighting a battle at the moment for the neglect shown to my 100 year old dad who fell out of the wheelchair when he arrived at the ambulance).

At some time today I will be finished with everything knowing I can take a deep breath of relief and take it easy until the beginning of next week and will no longer have to take a bite into the sour fruit.

Have a good day everyone and remember it can only get better. Perhaps there might be some apples and oranges on the way laced with chocolate.

Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well – Just follow your nose

We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

What can I do well? Everything really to keep me alive. I can cook. At least I have not yet poisoned anyone, although this week I had a low with my cooking. One of those days when you don’t know what to buy and cook. Monday was successful. We had polenta with cipolata (you know those small sausages) and peas. The polenta was mixed with parmesan cheese and butter (of course) and it was a success.

Tuesday was doomsday (at least for me). Mr. Swiss suggested cervelat, the Swiss sausage, only available in Switzerland although I believe the skins are imported from Brazil, because they have the best quality for the super cervelat. I don’t mind a cervelat and I quite like it with hashed browns (fried potato – have to speak American colonial here other no-one really knows what I am talking about) and cauliflower: two days of sausages, it can only get better.  It was decided that as we had french fries on Sunday, it would be time again for pasta. I like pasta, with a tomato sauce called spaghetti, but I was not in the mood for pasta with my cervelat. So we all sat down to lunch and it was all eaten, but I did not enjoy it. I told everyone that it was the last time I would fry a cervelat and serve it with pasta.

Photo by mobile phone

At the moment I am in a photographic form of mind. Armed with my mobile telephone and camera nothing is safe from me. I don’t know if I can do it well, but it is fun. To illustrate my photographic abilities there is a photo of a photo. I took a photo with my mobile which is still on the phone and to illustrate my crafty methods, I took a photo of the photo on my mobile phone with my iPad and then beamed it over to my Flickr site, where all my photos originate on these blogs. I know I am clever, brilliant, ingenious – there are not enough adjectives to cover my abilities.

There are of course a few rules to be followed when taking photos. I took the photo on my mobile phone in a small restaurant where they sell cakes and all sorts of creations. Unfortunately my mobile phone did not spring to photo immediately and I was standing in the tea room and I think the ladies serving in the tea room were a little annoyed, although I did not notice it. Actually the tea room had our Apple shop (computers) in the back room and I just wanted to look around. Mr. Swiss found perhaps I should not take photos in public places. We escaped and there was no damage done.

Oh, come on WordPress, I wrote it all last year and I am really getting bored with these warmed up prompts, just like my caveat with pasta. The cauliflower was also not so good.

Daily Prompt: Teach Your (Bloggers) Well – Just follow your nose

Daily Prompt: Handmade Tales – I am Mrs. Do-It-Yourself in person

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?


Who makes their own lasagna? The photo is a Mrs. Angloswiss lasagna fresh from the oven. Perhaps there are those with Italian ancestry that would not dream of buying a ready-made, frozen lasagne and would do it all themselves from the beginning. Is it worthwhile to make the pasta pastry, roll it out to size; make a cheesy sauce as well as cook mincemeat in a tomato sauce put it in a dish layer by layer and top it all up with the remains of the cheese sauce, sprinkle parmesan over it and bake in the oven? There are not many that bother today; after all it is all available in the supermarket, even if the British did have a crisis when they discovered that some frozen food companies were using horsemeat instead of the normal beef. Mrs. Angloswiss does it all herself, although I do buy the ready-made pasta leaves to save time.

I have a thing about ready-made food. I do not trust it. I do not know what it really contains and today there is so much automation, the greedy food companies do not really care. Now and again there might be some food poisoning, but nothing serious and today’s news is always news, but tomorrow? If I write a prize suspicious blog today, tomorrow it is already forgotten, or a few days later, because something new has arrived. So if the customers of supermarket “A” all have digestion problems because the ready-made automated food they bought from the frozen food selection or special sterilised section or whatever from the shelf had some sort of germ, who cares. No-one really talks about it a week later and the toilet roll sales multiply in turnover.

If I am invited to a restaurant I will go and I will eat, but I will not visit a restaurant as a treat. I had to make enough compromising solutions when I was a working woman. I arrived home half an hour before lunch. I cooked for my son and I, with enough left for Mr. Swiss in the evening and I returned to the office ninety minutes later. I could not afford to eat in a restaurant with son no. 2 daily, and I did not want to. I had dealt with the shopping problem before I arrived in the office and I had it all worked out timewise. Pasta cooking needed about twenty minutes, veg ten at the most according to what it was, and meat could be cooked in the pressure cooker to save time. I did it all myself. I could have taken advantage of automated food, but would I know what I was eating? There are so many preservatives, chemical elements mixed into everything. It is not my sort of thing. Basically it is all a question of logistics. I remember once I had to bring my car to the garage and near the garage was a MacDonalds. I had to eat something for lunch and so I entered this fast food temple. I found a small table. The other tables were occupied by mothers and their children. Do mothers actually cook today I asked myself?

Today I am a golden oldie and no longer a working woman, so I have the time to think it over and cook it. I do not need prepared packages. I buy my meat over the counter usually. I do not buy pre-packed meat in a cellophane wrapper. Perhaps I should have married a farmer, then I would even know the mother and father of the cow I was eating, but there I would have a problem. I am not a vegetarian, but prefer my meat to be anonymous, otherwise I would not eat it. If I knew that the leg of lamb I was eating came from the farm around the corner where Bluebell was its mother and the only ram in the pack the father, then forget it. I prefer New Zealand lamb. There are thousands of them roaming the prairies and probably the mothers do not even remember how many children they had. My dad had a basic saying on stock as always “Let’s face it there are enough cows walking around and they must be there for something”. I am not agreeing, but try feeding a cat vegetable, he cannot digest it and so it always eats meat. The human body is able to digest meat, so why not.

That is the food problem dealt with for me. I love knowing how things arrive. I made my own clothes for many years; mainly because I had such an impossible figure, that it was the best solution – I was very tall. I even made trousers for the kids, but that was more a financial solution. Today I have perhaps shrunk a little, but what I have lost in height I have gained in width, although being a golden oldie who bothers. I dress in comfort and comfort clothes give and expand and I can buy it.

I buy bread although I even baked bread almost daily some time ago. Ok, it taste fine, smells good, but is it worth it? I decided eventually no, it was not worth it and so I now buy my bread. I do not eat a lot of bread. Making shoes is nothing I ever thought about, but I do not think so. There is nothing better wearing a pair of adidas or whatever for roaming around the country, and in summer either shoeless or a few leather thongs wrapped around the feet do the job quite well.

A thought came to me. This prompt is really directed at the so-called western civilisations. I remember a week in Marrakesh, Morocco. There is a market (souk), full of hand workers. They recycle what they can. They are not rich people and they would probably laugh when they would see the subject of this prompt. They would not have a great choice (except for the rich), they know how to make everything themselves and do not throw it away because something new has arrived.

Daily Prompt: Handmade Tales – I am Mrs.Do-It-Yourself in Person

Daily Prompt: Sad but True

Tell us about the harshest, most difficult to hear — but accurate — criticism you’e ever gotten. Does it still apply?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us HARSH.

If I was asked perhaps forty years ago I would probably have written a record blog in length, accusing the world of not understanding my talent, being ignorant of my gifts but today, I do not even hear criticism, and am also in the lucky position to be surrounded by comments which are more in the constructive line of things.

Of course there are some people, some places, where criticism is the daily bread. At work it is a pastime, not even a hobby. What would a chief be when he would not criticise? He would be a failure. He is under the impression he has to keep his staff on their toes, grovelling for favours and living in fright that they might do something wrong. Luckily I am gifted with a thick skin, often a duck’s back. You know the one where comments just run down like water. I always felt so sorry for the workmates I knew who seemed to spend their lives apologising and felt they had to justify every action and comment they made, before they were asked.

Somehow a comment remained that a colleague once said in the office. She was new and was learning the routine and was one of the competent workers. My chef was OK, I had no problem with him. If you made him a coffee in the morning and let him read the newspaper in peace, he was a fantastic bloke. He was god’s gift to women (he thought), but I always treasured his way to leave me alone with the work. Now and again he would ask a question, but with my natural talent for avoiding negative situations, I would tell him I am looking into it and that seemed to suffice.

Then one day this fairly new person in the office asked “What does he have for a function?”. I stifled my laugh, but thought about it. She had hit the nail on the head. In future I did not hear the negative criticisms, questions, or even try to think how this human ballast looked when it stood under the shower, those words spoke volumes. I survived him in the office to cut it short. I had an early retirement because I was probably considered eventually as the living dead, and I was costing too much. The company was suffering under the economy.

Tomato-chorizo-spring onion sauce with spaghetti

Does anyone ever dare to criticise my cooking? Sometimes. Who am I to judge if the criticism is warranted or not. I remember the famous words of my mother, when I was a victim of her daily cooking.

“I pity your old man when you get married, he will be living on fish fingers.”

To explain “old man”: it is an endearing cockney term for husband and fish fingers were the revolution in fish cookery. Most children at that time did not know that a fish had fins and swum. They grew up with the impression that they were born into the world shaped as fingers, coated with bread crumbs and fried. I was lucky, before this glorious invention I had seen and eaten real fish.

However, my mother found this a brilliant invention and at least once a week this formed part of my diet. Was it to be doubted that “my old man” would eat this in his marital bliss. Of course now and again I serve this delicious revolutionary meal, but I also branch out into other directions. I do not actually hear criticism from my cooking victims, I just notice when the aromat is added to the food, more salt and perhaps some other saline spice. The mention of it being hospital food I ignore. My taste buds still work perfectly but as you grow older it might be that some people need more salt in their food (notice, no names mentioned).

The dish in the photo (which I photographed as an unforgettable memory) is an own composition. I quite like hot and some time ago discovered a Spanish sausage known as chorizo, nice an spicy flavoured with a good portion of paprika chile I think. So I developed this idea and cooked it in a tomato sauce with spring onions. I found this fitted perfectly with Italian pasta, preferably penne. This is the proof that “my old man” is not just fed with food, but with events, with creations and he has survived. Thus this dish is known as Chrorizo al penne di mama Angloswiss. I think I will cook fish fingers on Friday for lunch with chips as a change.

Daily Prompt: Sad but True

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  8. ‘You are DELUDED!’ | alienorajt
  9. Telling myself off. | thoughtsofrkh
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  27. Regarding Those Friends Who See Through You to Something Better: | Rob’s Surf Report
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  32. Admit It. | ayimas
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Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words – Cook of the Year

It was six o’clock, time for the evening meal. All the tables were occupied and the guests were waiting impatiently for the food.

Jack Crow was the first to get his food. It was a self-service restaurant, but he was always given the first choice. He chose a chicken soup as a starter, followed by roast pork, vichy carrots and pommes duchesse. Gradually the others took their place behind Jack and their plates were filled.. There was only one dish on the menu, it was not a gourmet restaurant, but a secret tip amongst the guests. They knew why they wanted to come to this particular place, it had the best reputation for food.

Jack Crow often wondered at the secret of the cooking and asked the supervisor who the cook was.

“Just eat your food Jack, you don’t really want to know who the cook is. We always have the same cook and he does the job well.”

“I just want to thank him for the great meals is conjures up. No harm in that is there?”

and so the cook was brought to Joe’s table.

“Are you the bloke responsible for all this fine food? Actually you look familiar, have we met before, or did you cook in one of those posh restaurants in the West End where I used to eat, when I was living somewhere else.”

“No, no, I never had the chance to work in the West End, but I don’t want to bother such an important man as Jack Crow with the details.”

“I have got all the time in the world” answered Jack, “take a seat and tell me all about it.”

The cook looked at the man in charge of the restaurant, but he nodded in approval so the cook sat down and started to tell his story.

“I used to work in a French restaurant in Soho and then I saw there was a cooking competition on the TV for Cook of the Year. I was one of the best in the restaurant and the owner told me to enter the competition. If I won it would make good publicity and one of the prizes was to work as a cook in one of the best restaurants in town.

The cook paused to make sure he was not boring Jack Crow, but Jack said he should continue

“Did you win the competition?”

“Sort of. First of all I had to be chosen, but they appreciated my cooking and I qualified quite easily. I just had to prepare some oysters, serve a Chateau Briand with sauté potatoes and fennel purée. I was one of the best, so I soon arrived in the finals of the completion.”

“So you won.”

“Not really.”

“Tell Jack what happened” said the restaurant supervisor. “We don’t have all the time in the world. The restaurant is closing soon, and everyone has to go. You have to clean up the kitchen and make orders for tomorrow’s dishes.”

“OK, ok” answered the cook. “No rush, the next part is now coming.”

“And the finals?” Jack Crow was getting impatient.

“Yes the final night, there were just two of us left. Actually there were three cooks in the final, but the third cook had an accident. That was Basil Greenleaf, the son of the famous Mayfair restaurant owner. Unfortunately he had an accident with his Jaguar on the evening before the final and crashed on the motorway. The car was a complete wreck and so was poor Basil. By the time they had cut him out of the wreck, he was gone.”

Here the cook made a pause in the story telling to compose himself before continuing.

There were only two of us left. Pauline Camroux, the daughter of Patrice Camroux the famous wine expert and myself. Unfortunately , she was quite distraught when she arrived at the competiton and had to be comforted by the judge Maurice Poubelle. She fell into his arms and was crying.  He was full of sympathy for her and asked what had happened.

“I am so sad. Minou my Persian cat has been stolen. When I awoke this morning to serve her chopped liver and she was gone. I called for her everywhere. I just do not know how I am going to get through this competition.”

“Don’t worry Pauline, we will help to find Minou after the competition. Now just concentrate on your cooking skills and I am sure everything will turn out well” said a concerned Maurice Poubelle.

We began to cook. We had to select various products from the choice given to us and create a five star menu with three courses which was served to the judges for their approval.

I decided to start with honey glazed onion rings, followed by sautéed pistachio crusted salmon and as a desert chocolate mint soufflé. I was sure this was a winner and I would walk away with the prize.

Eventually the food was served and despite Pauline Camroux’s problem, she succeeded in presenting her menu of  bouillabaisse, followed by milk lamb, gratin dauphinois and broccoli in a sauce hollandaise. As a desert she had prepared mincemeat palmiers with vanilla ice cream.

Both our meals were perfectly cooked and prepared, although I was sure that my chocolate mint soufflé was a winner.

There was a silence in the television studio, nerves were at their zenith and I was waiting to feel my hand being raised as Cook of the Year. Unfortunately it was Pauline Camroux’s hand that was raised and she was proclaimed Cook of the Year, despite the fact that her Persian cat Mimou was waiting in my apartment to be fed with a daily dish of chopped liver.

Of course I was angry, felt cheated, my cook’s pride was injured. It was not easy playing around with the brakes on Basil Greenleaf’s Jaguar. I just grabbed the first thing that came to my hand, a meat knife, and stabbed Pauline Camroux. Unfortunately she survived, otherwise I might have become cook of the year as the runner-up.”

“Of course” said Jack Crow, who was serving his sentence in Her Majesty’s prison for murder, embezzlement, a bank robbery and fraud. “Now I remember you. I believe you got life.”

“Yes, for the murder of Basil Greenleaf and stabbing Pauline Camroux” answered the cook. “That is why I am now serving a life sentence in this prison.”

“All the better for us prisoners” answered Jack Crow. “I have never eaten so well in a prison. You are one of the best, so keep cooking.”

And all the other prisoners in the restaurant stood up and started to clap.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Cook of the Year

Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill

If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us NOURISHMENT.

Frying Onions with Calf Sausages

You want to do what! Replace our beautiful, well formed, 100% veal swiss sausages with a pill. It took me more than forty years to perfection my ideal of Swiss cooking and now I can just throw experience and knowhow away; just swallow one of these and you have time for all the other things you want to do.

I do not think so. My mum always said “I pity your old man (she meant husband – she was a cockney). All he is going to get is fish fingers when you get married.” Sorry mum, but you could only cook what your mum cooked and to be quite honest, it was not my taste. Admittedly money was scarce at the time, but the saying “as long as we have food on the table, is all that matters” did not really impress me. It meant that life’s nourishment consisted of boiled potatoes with every meal. As a vegetable we had greens (some sort of English type cabbage) and a piece of meat (I was too young to know the difference in quality). One day I rebelled. I think it was the first sign of enjoying the art of cooking. I said “just a mixed salad and some meat will do”. I was looked upon as a cuckoo’s egg that had been laid in the family nest, but at least I ate it all.

Later I spent two years in an Indian-Swiss household and then I really learnt how to spice my food. Mum only used salt and pepper (I think). I discovered chilli, cumin, turmeric, cardomum, coriander, and cooking in Ghee instead of oil.

The next step to my culinary development was catering for a six-headed family every day, until the kids left. It is now just me and Mr. Swiss – at weekends and evenings my eldest son. It was then I discovered Rösti (a fried potato dish), Bratwurst (see photo above) and geschnetzeltes (finely chopped meat usually served in a cream sauce). Switzerland having Germany, France and Italy as neighbours, our cooking had a definite continental influence .

Now I should replace my creative talents in the kitchen with a pill: no more shopping excursions in the morning, choosing the vegetable, examining the meat, and buying according to the seasonal offers? : no way.

The scene changes to lunch time..

“Love, what’s for dinner?”

“I thought I would serve one red one and a blue one today. There is now a new development. At last the colours have been mixed. There is a striped pill in red and blue, and if you miss  a salad on your plate, you can have a pill with an additional green stripe.”

“Anything to drink?”

“Of course. If your pill gets stuck in your throat, you can wash it down with a glass of water.”

So husband and wife sit down to a meal and after two minutes they are finished. There is no washing up to do: a stress free life. Wife has spent the morning playing with her vacuum cleaner and the extra time won by not cooking or shopping, she might play games on Facebook. She just loves café world, where you can build your own café, cook dishes and build various kitchen machines. She can even expand her virtual restaurant, accommodating more guests and have a wider choice on the food offered. In the meanwhile her husband decides to take a walk into town where he meets some friends at a street café. He orders a cup of coffee and a croissant. He finds it good that the wife has no stress with cooking, but now and again likes to reminisce how it used to be.

No, people, this is not my idea of life. As opposed to my mum that regarded cooking as a necessity, I enjoy cooking, especially since I am retired. I enjoy my shopping excursions, meeting people, talking to people, the real world. I enjoy designing a meal; savouring the flavours and spices, trying something new.

The bitter pill we might have to eat one day is that the world is not producing enough food for everyone. In our comfortable Western world, we see the pictures of starving children in other lands torn by wars and greed of their government. Those children would be thankful if their mothers gave them a pill or two every day to ensure their healthy survival. There are always two sides to every coin.

Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill