Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let Them eat Toast

Last week Food Writers and Critics were thrilled by the long-awaited launch of ‘Britain’s cheapest lunchtime meal’ – after aeons of in-depthest research by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), this can now be revealed as THE TOAST SANDWICH!

Here’s the recipe:
2 slices bread and butter
1 slice toast
salt and pepper to taste
Make sure toast slice in the middle

The amazing thing is that the recipe is not new!  It was created and published 150 years ago by Mrs Beeton  in her Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management – And here is her original version:

 Toast a thin slice of bread
 Butter two slices of bread and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
 Place the toast between the two slices of bread-and-butter to form  a sandwich

No margin for error there - you can see why her recipes were so successful. Personally, I swear by her Rice Pudding…

So, you may ask, just how cheap is this 'cheapest lunchtime meal'?  Well, the cost these days of the Toast Sandwich is estimated at 7.5p, and energy value at 330 calories.

If You can create a cheaper alternative, however, let the RSC know at once, because you might win a £200 prize!  (How much does a 3oz tatoe cost, I wonder)…  Although you'd spend a goodly dollop on cooking it, probably...

Various thrifty suggestions have been proposed to make the sandwich recipe even more appetising: why not add an egg; a sardine; a slice of courgette…?  say the chefs.

And mine own tasty addition... a dollop of tinned tomato (I love those), or three or four baked beans.  And an exciting smattering of paprika or nutmeg or basil?

The basic recipe could probably benefit from a tantalising Something after all – as highlighted by one of the comments received: "Well I just tried this and it was the most boring, tasteless sandwich I've ever eaten!"  Bit harsh...

I've been trying to remember what I used to eat in destitute bedsit days - Mothers Pride was certainly a favourite. But I could only dream of a toasting implement.  My brother apparently once made pepper soup (to boiling water, add ground black pepper).  Not only was it unsatisfying, he reported, but it tasted bloody awful.

Anyway, here is a Homage to Toast by (hell's teeth - he looks young!) Paul Young in 1978.  On what one can only assume is some strange children's tv emission.  Great hats, though

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cat Worrying

Does your cat worry? Does it get tense… ? Nervous headaches?

Or is your cat just bonkers?

Recently we were out gallivanting all day and half the night – (I know - call us WILD!!) – so feeding times were in disarray.

Arriving home we found Mulder-Cat glaring at us from the top step, the protest giblets of a vole arranged at his feet. Scully, trapped inside with only KittyCrunch to nibble, burst to freedom as we let ourselves wearily in. We found that she had enthusiastically emptied her bladder with only her head inside the covered cat tray: ‘Looks nice in there – think I’ll have a pee…’.

But why? She’d never done it before – did she have something on her mind; had she drunk too much KittyMilk and not quite made the little jump required? Was it retaliation for being shut in or – most terrifying – was she… Confused?

After all, the cats are fifteen now – brother and sister twins. Wikipedia says that’s 76 in cat years. And that a cat’s expected lifespan is twelve to fifteen years… have they been reading it too?

In fact Mulder has always been confused. Not incontinently - he just forgets everything he’s ever learnt…

His morning patrol begins with an ecstatic Surge out of the back door then a screech to a halt as a leaf settles close by… A tentative sniff and poke of every plant pot, step, and car wheel - if he’s not careful, any one of them could take a bloody big swipe at him!

Both cats have always been rationally scared of things like traffic… Or the vacuum cleaner - I mean who wouldn’t be concerned about a voracious roaring tube that could have had my flaming ear off, that could!  

Next door’s new puppy was also understandably scary - it got into our garden and bounded joyously after Scully to say Hello. D’you know, she’d never managed to climb the maple tree before… And it was a Hell of a long time before we could make her let go. 

But recently, they’re scared of anything, including us – getting them to come across the threshhold for FOOD is like trying to entice them across a lake of piranhas. Have they forgotten who’s been feeding them for fifteen years? What do they think we’re putting in it – fur-balls?

We started to wonder if there was an evil spirit in the (very spacious & comfy!) room we shut them in at night so they don’t wake us up. We’d usher them in and they’d shoot up onto a table, or perch death-defyingly on the mantelpiece. (Did anyone ever see that film of olden times where they force a maid back into the attic with the fearsome phantom? Our cats had that same stricken look).

So, they chose to stay out, and during the whole summer we only caught fleeting glimpses of them as they snatched a quick bite from under the outside table. Didn’t they Love us any more…? (‘Course not – they’re cats).

A couple of weeks ago, though, the night-time temperature dropped to zero. We noticed them hanging around on the steps as darkness deepened, doing the cat equivalent of nonchalant ball-kicking – 'well… if you really want us to come in I suppose…'

And once I’d achieved that first Grab round the throat and Haul into living room, they remembered all their old habits! One on my knee, one on the floor by the radiator, the brush-before-bedtime, the consoling tin of tuna after worming…

It’s been wonderful – real cuddly pets again - perhaps we would take them when we moved after all!

And then they go and Spoil it All by crotting in the conservatory plant trough. I'd just RePlanted that plant trough!

Actually, anyone have shed-space for a couple of daring vole-hunters...?