Category Archives: Food

Saturday Again

Six word Saturday button

Once again it’s Saturday and time for six word Saturday.
Today my six words are

Man in the kitchen making dinner.

Want to play along? All that’s necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words – click on the picture above or  click here for more details.

My friend has been talking about using his slow cooker for ages.  We have had discussions about what one cooks in it and yesterday he announced that he was cooking corned beef in his slow cooker.

I am very impressed.  He chopped the vegetables and put them in the pot together with the beef and he has now left it to cook for 8 hours.  Meantime he invited his sister-in-law and her husband to join us for dinner.  My only contribution is to make the white onion sauce for the meat.  Easy peasy as they say.

Pot roast

For over 40 years I was married to a chef aka man who loved to spend time in the kitchen and in later years when he had retired, we had a reversal of roles when entertaining.  He cooked and I poured the drinks.  I wonder if this is going to happen again tonight.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright,
Pavarotti, My Own Story



It’s Six Word Saturday Again

Six word Saturday button

It’s Saturday again so here we go.  If you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

Only barbecue this summer with friends!

At Easter holiday weekend we were enjoying lunch at the beach with friends when somebody mentioned barbecues and one of us said that he hadn’t used his barbecue this summer.  I have written and moaned often recently about our dismal summer so this wasn’t too surprising.  I don’t possess a barbecue so I didn’t enter the conversation on this subject.

However, it was decided that we would fire up the barbecue today and invite those friends and another couple for dinner.


So we agreed that I would prepare the vegetables and today we have been to the market to buy them.  They really are so much fresher than those in the supermarket and look so good.

Potatoes dish

This is my stand by dish that uses all and any vegetables with the potatoes.   I make it like Au Gratin Potatoes but put other vegetables in the mix.  This is also great because I have only one dish to clean up and it is always a success.

Today along with the potatoes we shall have cauliflower, leeks, onions, and zucchini/courgettes.  A great accompaniment to the steak and sausages on/off the barbecue.

Often when I am on my own, I make this dish as a main course.  Filling and very tasty.  If you haven’t already tried it do so.  Let me know how you get on.

And still no sign of Andy.  Where could he have got to?  I wonder if he would like this vegetable dish. 

And noodling (my sister’s word) around the internet today I
found this gem in an article in  Time Health of April 27 2011

“Armadillos — the armored placenta mammal found throughout much of the South. You probably imagined that, at worst, the threat posed by armadillos would be to your car by becoming roadkill, but that’s not all. According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, armadillos may actually be spreading leprosy to human beings. “There is a very strong association between the geographic location of the presence of this particular strain of M. leprae [a strain of the bacteria that causes leprosy] and the presence of armadillos in the Southern U.S.,” said Stewart Cole, the head of the Global Health Institute at EPFL in Switzerland and a lead author on the paper. “Our research provides clear DNA evidence that the unique strain found in armadillos is the same as the one in certain humans.”

Perhaps somebody at border control has seen this item.  Oh oh – I worry for poor Andy.

Photo courtesy Georgette Sullins at Andy's last stopover

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

Anti bull cookbook

I have written before about this cookbook and how it make fun of the pretentious while delivering some really good recipes.  On looking through it today for some inspiration I came across this:

Dinner Guests

This picture accompanied the suggestion that we assemble a really nightmare selection of guests for a party:

  • Career woman (remember the book was published in 1964)
  • Repertory actor
  • Accountant
  • Pop star
  • Tough young writer
  • Back bencher (for those who don’t know this is a member of the parliament who doesn’t hold a Ministerial portfolio)

The actor, the writer and the star will no doubt have had to starve at times while making their fortune and the rep actor probably is still starving.  So they will be reasonably easy to please.  The author suggests that the career woman has”had t fight tooth and claw to establish herself in a bluff man’s world and she’s nobody’s fool” and the accountant probably has an ulcer or is diabetic because of the stresses and strains of his chosen profession.  And the Back bencher is used to being fawned over and eating at Bellamy’s (or the equivalent of the restaurant in the seat of government) so he is likely to be more demanding.

So what would you serve this nightmare group?  Our author suggests two menus:

  1. Hot grapefruit flavoured with brandied honey; followed by Lobster Thermidor and then Negre en Chemise which I decipher to be chocolate souffle.
  2. Oysters “in the English manner” which I decide is oysters sprinkled with cayenne pepper and then skewered with streaky bacon and grilled; followed by roast lamb, new potatoes and french beans and then brandied melon.

But for these disparate and perhaps difficult people I would serve:

  • Chilled cucumber soup because they would be so busy talking and trying to impress each other that a hot starter would soon get cold.
  • Beef Wellington with scalloped potatoes and a large green salad
  • Pavlova with fresh fruit and cream*

Hopefully this will impress the career woman, the accountant and the Back bencher and totally ‘blow the socks off’  the other three.

*Pavlova is a dessert with a meringue base, topped with fresh fruit and fresh cream.  It is the subject of hot arguments between New Zealanders and Australians as to which of them first introduced this desert.  But we all agree that a well made Pav takes a lot of beating- excuse the pun!


Image via Wikipedia

Then hopefully, they would all make their way home having been thoroughly entertained by the other guests and well fed by me.  And leaving me to clear the table and do the dishes and all those other follow up chores after a party.

“I went to a marvelous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence…”
From I went to a Marvellous Party,
Sir Noel Coward

Wrung Out

“When it’s too hard to look behind at the past
and it’s too difficult to look forward to the future
look to the side and you will see a friend.”
Judith Baxter, blogger and friend 1938 –

It is the end of a long, hard day here and wrung out describes exactly how I feel.

I have a couple of friends with major problems in their lives at present and usually I feel honoured that they can confide in me, knowing that even if I can’t help I will listen.

Well today started off well – a lazy Sunday morning, a cup of tea in bed, conversation and breakfast with a friend and then a telephone call that set the pace and the terms for the rest of the day.

My friend is hurt and angry at the way her children are behaving and unfortunately, there is nothing I can do or say to help her.  I just have to be there for her.

So having arrived home I am going to curl up with a good book and after reading  Jackie Cangro’s  Friday Five Post in which she told us

This is my all-time favorite comfort meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s quick and easy to make and tastes oh-so-good. And I always feel happy when I eat it. Sometimes I doctor the soup and add herbs or veggies, as I did here, but I also love plain Jane tomato soup. Some purists insist on only cheddar cheese in the sandwich, but I like to get fancy. Fontina, gouda, mozzarella? Bring it on.  soup and a cheese sandwich for dinner and tomorrow my world will be back on an even keel again.”

I am going to open a can of chicken soup (sorry Jackie no tomato soup on hand and too bushed to get in the car and drive to the supermarket).   With the soup I shall have a toasted cheese sandwich.  Maybe not what the nutritionists would approve but for this ‘wrung out’ elderly lady it is exactly what is needed.  So thank you Jackie.

And tomorrow as Jackie says, my world too will be back on an even keel and I shall be ready to lend a helping/listening ear to my very good friend.

2 old ladies

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu

The Big Yellow House

Several years ago when visiting my sister in Los Angeles we spent a few weeks driving through California, stopping occasionally where and when something caught our eyes.

Big yellow house signWe drove hundreds of miles during those weeks and of course, I have many notes in my notebooks about this.

I particularly remember one place where we stopped for lunch was the Big Yellow House.  This was one of my sister’s favourite places to eat.

My memory is that the restaurant served straightforward American fare   Mashed potatoes and turkey, pot roast and corn on the cob, big bowls of salad; large bowls of soup notably minestrone or chowder with baskets of hot, freshly baked rolls just begging for butter.   Then generous slices of fresh-baked pie with a dollop of ice cream melting on top followed and completed the meal.  We were both full by the time we left.

Because I was intrigued by the building I decided to do some research into its history.  I learned that the historic structure was built as a private residence by Mr H.L. Williams, the founder of Summerland, in 1884.  And then I discovered that at some stage it had been used as the focal house for a spiritualist community that later became known as Summerland.  There are tales of hauntings; of sightings of a large dark-skinned man surrounded by several other ‘spirits’; of things being moved supernaturally, and other unexplained occurrences.

Dr John Griffin PhD who has written of his experiences at the Big Yellow House bemoans the fact that he with various  friends and colleagues didn’t mount ” a scientific study, complete with instrumentation, of what seemed to be a genuine, multi-spirit haunt.” He goes on to say “Over the years, however, there have been various investigations of reputed haunts where spirits have not only been observed, but anomalistic readings on instrumentation have also been recorded. ”  Read more of this at

Note – Of course I hadn’t heard the term anomalistic and so went to our trusty friend Wikipedia where I learned

“In psychology, anomalistic psychology is the study of human behaviour and experience connected with what is often called the paranormal, without the assumption that there is anything paranormal involved.

On the hypothesis that paranormal explanations do not exist, researchers try to provide plausible non-paranormal accounts, supported by empirical evidence, of how psychological and physical factors might combine to give the impression of paranormal activity when, in fact, there had been none. Such explanations might involve cognitive biases, anomalous psychological states, personality factors, developmental issues, the nature of memory, the psychology of deception and self-deception.”

The property was purchased in the early 1970s by John and June Young.   June Young was one of the founders of Santa Clause Lane and she promptly painted the large house bright yellow with a bright orange roof. The house could not be missed and The Big Yellow House was a landmark for many years.  I was intrigued to learn that for many years, children’s meals were priced ‘by the pound’ – not the food, but the children. Those under 10 years old would be weighed on a large scale and their meals priced accordingly.

Whatever the truth of hauntings and supernatural occurrences, I was very sad to hear that the building was the subject of a mortgagee sale in 2010 and so the restaurant had to close.  But now I am heartened to learn that it has been bought by a local Santa Barbara developer who is looking for tenants.  I hope that one of the tenants is a restaurateur who might continue at least some of the things that made The Big Yellow House famous.

He may live without books – what is knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope – what is hope but deceiving?
He may live without love – what is passion but pining?
But where is the man who can live without dining?”
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English statesman and poet. (1831-1891)
























..Note 2 – Still having trouble with posting comments on other people’s blogs.  Perhaps the ghost of The Big Yellow House is haunting me!

Sunday …

It’s 11.15pm on Sunday night and I haven’t written today’s blog.  It has been a busy day but that’s usual so why isn’t the blog written?

I had a lazy start to the day.  The sun was shining brightly and I had been to the library yesterday so had a new clutch of books.  I decided that it would be good to sit in the sun for a short time and read The Sinner by Terri Geritsen.  This is a writer new to me and I found her book absorbing.  So much so that it was suddenly 10.30 am and I wasn’t dressed and had to be in town to help at an Open Home at 11.45am.  So rush rush.

It was such a lovely early summer day – the temperature at one stage reached 21*F such a difference from the past few grey days that I felt like singing.  Luckily common sense prevailed because I think I would have scared anybody within hearing distance.  I do like to sing but only if I am alone with only my small dog to hear me.

We had a short walk and then it was home to make dinner for friends who were prepared to chance my cooking.  Have I told you that I am no cook and in fact had to learn all over again once my husband died?

Well dinner was a success – or at least everybody was polite about it.  Stir fried chicken, mushrooms and vegetables on rice with asparagus and a side salad.  I really couldn’t go wrong.

But then, after they had gone and the kitchen was restored to order I was sitting enjoying a last cup of coffee with the one remaining friend when I remembered my blog.

So just to keep faith with myself and my commitment, this is a very short blog today.  I shall do better tomorrow when I shall tell you about the last movie I saw at the Italian Film Festival.

A man is generally better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table than when his wife talks Greek.
Samuel Johnson, English author, poet and essayist.
1709- 1784.

The Gastronome

Gastronome definition -a connoisseur of good food; gourmet; epicure.

Looking through my very old copy of The Anti Bull Cookbook once again, I came across an article about a gastronome.  We have all met them.  “He’s portly, fruity and rather pretentious, not to say on many occasions, downright pompous.”

Fortunately, these people seem to become more rare as this 21st Century progresses but I clearly remember such a person.

When we were newly married and very young and living in London, my late husband and I had been asked for dinner by one of his business acquaintances.  It seemed to be a good thing for Robert’s career prospects and as we were being asked to a first-class restaurant, he accepted with alacrity.  Oh dear, what a mistake.

The host was so very pompous and as soon as we were seated in the restaurant began by telling us all the places in the world where he had eaten.  Many were Michelin star rated and he proceeded to give them his own rating.  He then took over the process of ordering for all of us.

Having accomplished this the Sommelier was called  – no mere wine waiter for him – and a lengthy discussion ensued on the correct wines to have with each of the courses.

Then followed two of the most boring hours I have ever endured.  This man was used to laying down the law to his underling sycophants.  He knew everything about everything and he had strong views on all things.

The food was excellent but that I suggest was nothing to do with him.  He had chosen one of London’s (then) top restaurants.  How could he fail?  But how the time dragged.

These people were at least 25+  years older than us.  Can you picture it?  A 20-year-old and her 28-year-old husband, out ‘on the town’ with this pompous 45+ gourmand?  His wife who was a quiet little mouse said very little. After being introduced to us she sat back and let her husband take over.  From the dreamy look in her eyes, she had taken herself off to some other, more interesting place.  No doubt she had plenty of practice and no doubt she had heard his ramblings many times before.

It was an interesting evening. I had never met anybody quite like him before and there was the added bonus of a Michelin starred restaurant in which we ate. And in retrospect, I did learn a lot from him, once I could put aside the bull nonsense and listen to what he said about food and wine.  But  I wasn’t in any hurry to repeat it.  I couldn’t imagine having these two for dinner in our one-bedroom, ‘garden flat” – here read’ semi-basement with access to rear garden’ in a not particularly upmarket area of London.  And as at that time, my husband’s expense account was measly, we didn’t reciprocate.  I did know enough to send a thank you note to the wife the next day with some flowers.  But spend time in his company again – never!

“A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek”  Samuel Johnson