Hello, Faithful Followers! Lifestyle Support Guru here after a long absence. Have you missed me? Such wonderful news – today, I went out on a ‘social occasion’ and met up with not one, but two – yes, TWO –acquaintances! However, please keep it to yourselves that we were a ‘ménage à trois’ (so to speak), since we are only supposed to meet one other person, and in a public space, but we were in a garden, so not technically a ‘public’ space, but it was in the open air, so we felt that we were staying within the rules – more or less.
And what was the reason for this ‘social occasion’? An exchange of alcoholic beverages and literary works – in other words, swapping bottles of wine and books. I swapped a bottle of Sardinian white wine and a book about ‘cork dorks’ (wine nerds) for a bottle of Provençal rosé and a book written by an anti-fascist about his exile in a remote region of southern Italy. I think this says a lot about our differing literary tastes and intellectual capacities – I leave it up you to decide who is the ‘lightweight’.
We had a jolly chinwag as Bazza, the Friendly Geordie, (BFG), who has appeared in my stories before, and the LSG sat at the garden table, wrapped up warmly, while her paramour, BSG (Bazza’s Shy Geordie), sat just inside the kitchen door, so should the riot police come charging into the garden, they would find no one breaking any rules. We are a law-abiding lot, even though we compared speeding offences during our conversation!
(It was lucky that it wasn’t a warm spring day, otherwise I would have had to remove my jacket and thus shown that the (new) jumper I was wearing was in sore need of ironing, having not long been taken out of its wrapper, but that is now a secret I can take to my grave.)
Having swapped our various items, including a bottle of out-of-date beer, which happened to be lying around in the LSG’s kitchen, BFG suddenly asked – apropos of nothing – if I liked hummus! ‘Yes,’ I replied with great enthusiasm. ‘Oh good. Would you like to take some home with you?’ ‘Yes, please.’ I said, thinking that perhaps they had purchased too much on a recent shopping trip and were trying to fob the LSG off with some out-of-date hummus in exchange for the out-of-date beer, knowing that the LSG has the constitution of an ox and would laugh at the idea of wasting something simply because of its ‘use by’ date – this is someone who, only a week ago, safely consumed a packet of microwave rice that was seven years past its ‘best before’ date! (Yes, YEARS!)
But I digress – this hummus was not out of date, but homemade! HOMEMADE! Who knew there was such a thing! I thought Sainsbury’s and M&S had cornered the market in hummus! HOMEMADE! And so a tub packed to its brim with hummus – HOMEMADE! – was duly put into the LSG’s bag along with the rosé and the anti-fascist book – oh, and a book about an Italian detective.
But this was not the end of the surprises at this very convivial social occasion – oh no! BSG then said that, when cutting BFG’s hair in the garden yesterday, he had missed a few bits, so he thought he might get at them while she was outdoors, at which point BFG asked if I would like to stay and watch! I was overcome! Such a personal invitation! And I was told that I could take photos if I wished! There is no end to this couple’s generosity! And to prove how enjoyable this event was, I have attached a small number of photos from the Sweeney Todd Barber Shop (Mickleover branch). I turned down the offer of having my own locks trimmed – I was anxious to get home and taste the hummus – HOMEMADE! – but I am expecting a delivery of meat pies next week
Tonight, dear devotees, I intend to offer some tips on cooking. As you know, I am particularly adept at producing the perfect Pot Noodle, but you don’t need me to advise you on this culinary creation since the instructions are written on the pot anyway. No, today I wish to offer some advice on poached eggs on toast and, more specifically, poached eggs in the microwave. You may not have realised that poached eggs could be cooked in a microwave, so I am here to broaden your horizons and offer you two alternative methods of poaching eggs in the microwave, as tested by the Lifestyle Support Guru and a male sibling. It is up to you to decide which method you will eventually choose. Both are equally effective. I will set the scene:
Male sibling suggests poached egg on toast for lunch as a change from Pot Noodle. You point out that the sliced bread has mould on it, but accept that the cobs are still relatively fresh, so they could be cut in half in order to fit in the toaster. And now here are the two methods:
1. Male sibling looks at the instructions for the (until now unused) poached egg device for using in the microwave and breaks two eggs into it, pricking the yolks and whites, as instructed, so that they don’t explode. He then says that he needs to add half a tablespoonful of water to each egg and proceeds to add water straight from the tap rather than go to the trouble of getting a tablespoon out of the drawer. You stand looking on in awe at this facility to measure half a tablespoonful straight from the tap. The instructions go on to say that the eggs should be cooked on low-medium power; unfortunately, neither of us has ever used this function before and can’t work out how to change the power setting, so he takes a chance and stays with ‘high’. (I did offer to get the microwave instructions out, but he said not to bother – so I didn’t.) Meanwhile, he has forced the two halves of the cob into the toaster and there is a wonderful smell of burning coming from it because they are a touch too wide for the slots, At the same time there are some wonderful popping sounds coming from the microwave before it pings. Since the sibling is wrestling with getting the oversized cob halves out of the toaster, you open the microwave and find that there are splatters of egg white decorating all its inner walls and a puddle of water on the microwave plate. Sibling slides the eggs onto his ‘toast’ and goes off to eat them, quite satisfied with his efforts.
2. You follow the same method as above right up until you realise that you need to add half a TEASPOONFUL of water to each egg, which you duly do. You then get the microwave instructions out and learn how to change the power setting. The eggs are ready to go, so you follow the sibling’s actions with regard to the cob halves. Unfortunately, you have cut them unevenly, so one of them has to be squashed into the slot, which means it comes close to setting the toaster on fire. There is that wonderful smell of burning again! But no popping sounds from the microwave! And no layer of egg white or puddle of water in the bottom (so to speak). You wrestle with the ‘toast’ and eventually have to turn the toaster upside down to get all the bits of cob left inside, but it needed a good clean out anyway. The eggs don’t quite slide smoothly out of the microwave dish – they need a little ‘persuasion’ with a knife, but they taste fine, even if the toast is a little unevenly cooked (or, rather, hardly cooked at all since you started to panic at the first smell of burning) and it doesn’t matter that the whole meal is cold because of the time you spent working on the toaster (which has since remained safely unplugged) because you get an immense feeling of satisfaction from having cooked it all yourself, putting in even more effort than you would for a Pot Noodle. And it only took half an hour from start to finish!
Please let me know if you would like more detailed instructions on preparing this healthy, quick and tasty meal. Buoyed by this success, next week we will be attempting Chateaubriand steak with duchesse potatoes and asparagus spears.
Good evening, faithful followers and beloved believers. Tonight, a tale with a moral.
I had a most excellent lunch today with a couple of good friends, marred only by the lack of awareness of one of the party of how many vegetables should be taken from the dishes placed in the middle of the table. I shall refer to the friends as Mr and Mrs Marzipan, to spare their blushes (the name comes from the fact that are both members of a quiz team called ‘Marzipan’), although they aren’t married. Actually, they ARE married, just not to each other; but, before you sit in judgement on them, I hasten to add that they are happily married to other people who hadn’t come to the lunch – one was working and the other was trying on some lederhosen (but more of that later).
We were a jolly trio, chatting gaily about anything and everything. We ordered our food and continued chatting and, when the main course arrived, the plates were placed in front of us, with the vegetables in separate dishes in the middle (although the LSG had a salad – not for any reason of feeling virtuous but because I didn’t feel that French fries or potatoes and vegetables would go with risotto). I tucked into my risotto with gusto (a bit like pesto, but nicer) when, suddenly, Mrs Marzipan said to Mr Marzipan, ‘Do you especially like carrots?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, heaping the rest of the carrots onto his plate as well as dropping one or two on the table.
Mr M then realised there was a point to this question and looked up. ‘Ah,’ he said with dawning comprehension, looking at the vegetable dishes (now denuded of carrots) in the middle, ‘they’re meant to be between us, aren’t they?’
‘Yes,’ replied Mrs M. ‘but that’s ok.’
‘No, no,’ he said anxiously, ‘have some of these off my plate – and there’s a couple that have fallen on the table. Will they do? And what about some extra broccoli? And you can have all the potatoes if you want!’ (I clung on to my risotto for dear life, I can tell you, in case he started on that as well!)
By this time Mrs M and I were in hysterics, wiping our eyes at the stricken look on Mr M’s face – even the stern-looking lady at a table across from us couldn’t help smiling as we squealed with laughter! What larks, what japes!
And the lederhosen? That was Mrs Marzipan’s husband, who waved to Mr Marzipan through the kitchen window when he came to collect Mrs M for lunch.
‘Why is your husband wearing lederhosen?’ asked Mr M as Mrs M got in the car.
‘Yes, I could see the straps across his chest through the window.’
‘They weren’t lederhosen straps – that was the harness for his saxophone which he’d been practising before you arrived.’ When I heard this story, picturing Mrs M’s tall husband in lederhosen, it sent me into gales of laughter, once more bringing a smile to the stern-looking woman’s face! At least she left the restaurant happier than when she came in!
And the moral? Get stuck into the vegetables before anyone else does! Enjoy your weekend, whatever you may be wearing! (I couldn’t find a lederhosen emoji, so you’ll have to make do with a carrot, some broccoli and a laughing face!)
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru.
I decided to write this after reading an article in that esteemed, if just the teensiest bit left-wing, newspaper, The Grauniad (not to be confused with its sister paper, The Guardian), about the TRUE cost of being single.
‘Aha!’ I thought, ‘someone else who has wondered why M&S doesn’t do a ‘Dine in for One for £5 with free bottle of wine’, instead of assuming that everyone has someone with whom they wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne with a side of Wild Rocket (that’s a SIDE dish?? That’s just a few pieces of grass which stick in your teeth and tickle your throat, making you cough and choke!)
He Doesn’t Like Vegetables!
In fact, come to think of it, there are probably people who are NOT single who would not wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne, but they are called ‘greedy’ (and they’d probably go for the side dish of Chunky Chips rather than the Wild Rocket, and the other person in their life wouldn’t even get a look in at the Profiterole Stack).
But I digress. How disappointed I was when I read the article in full and found that it was just a whiney piece by some woman who was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t found her rock, her soulmate, her ‘yang’ to her ‘yin’, her Andy Pandy to her Looby Loo, her Simon to her Garfunkel, her Thelma to her Louise (I’m being fully inclusive here), and how the government is bleeding her dry because of that. She came up with one or two interesting facts, I have to say – there are more unmarried women alive today than at any point in history, apparently, although I’m not sure if this will still be the same tomorrow or the day after…
However, on the plus side, I find I’ve saved money because she says, on average, women spend £1,280 a year on dates. The obvious answer is – just don’t go on dates, you stupid woman!
Hah! Bet some of you thought I was going to make some obvious, sexist remark about how women shouldn’t pay on dates anyway – believe me, I learned my lesson on that a long time ago in Redditch (where I was working at the time) when my date paid for the meal but said I could choose the wine since I spoke French (logic?) then said he only drank Liebfraumilch (not my favourite tipple, as Beloved Believers will know). Not only that, when he drove me back to my flat and I politely asked him if he wanted a coffee – hoping he’d say no – he produced a LITRE bottle of Liebfraumilch from the back seat and said we could drink that instead. He got coffee.
To compound matters, as he was leaving shortly after (I made him drink his coffee very quickly), he gave me a goodnight kiss and said I was a very sweet person. SWEET? SWEET?? SWEET??? The LSG may be many things – all-seeing, all-knowing, all over the place, but SWEET??? Reader, I did not marry him…
But I have strayed from the subject again. There are times when I feel aggrieved because I have to pay a supplement for being single (hotels, holidays, that sort of thing) but they have not yet started charging a premium on single women drinking wine, and that is something for which I am eternally grateful… unless someone from the government reads this and thinks, ‘What a jolly wheeze! Let’s start a new tax for all those people drinking on their own, even if they’re happy doing that. In fact, let’s tax them even more simply because they’re happy being on their own!’ They’d make a fortune from at least three people in my family!
Have a good weekend, dear LSG followers. I shall spend it avoiding anywhere and anyone that offers me a glass of Liebfraumilch…
… and paying for my own meal.