Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why Drink Decaf?

What, you may ask, is the point of denuded, decaffeinated coffee? Well, there isn't one. If you don't mind the prospect of a future of addiction, shot nerves, insomnia, high blood pressure and headaches. Ever wondered why some European nations are so excitable? It's the ritual of the early morning espresso, so thick that it may be possible to stand a spoon in it, and so strong that it has to be washed down with a glass of water by the unaccustomed and unwary. OK, I exaggerate. But I do have difficult-to-control high blood pressure; and caffeine doesn't do anything to abate my insomnia. So I have been drinking  decaf for a long time - possibly longer than you have been alive.
Wikimedia Commons Licence

Frankly, most of the instant stuff is awful. So I bought a cafetiere some years ago and have endured sludge at the bottom of my coffee cup ever since. My justification for this less than satisfactory state of affairs was that the grounds were helpful to the garden. Wrong. Recent research leads me to the conclusion that coffee grounds are what did for the potted bay conveniently situated outside my kitchen door. Enough is enough. To cut to the chase - I ordered a bean grinder to enable me to produce a more suitable grind.  Oh, yes. And at a vastly reduced price from my favourite, not-to-be mentioned departmental store. The purchase naturally necessitated a search for decaffeinated coffee beans. Who would have imagined it could be so complicated!  Turns out that some decaffeinating processes will not help in the quest for good health. We have to source coffee beans that have been washed, using the Swiss Water Method, or the Mexican Water Method. Oh, my days! It turned out that choices were limited in this small backwater. In fact, after extensive googling, I found only one local supermarket that stocked Peruvian Coffee Beans Decaffeinated by the Swiss Water Method. I was down there as quick as Jack Flash and I've been grinding away ever since they hit the kitchen counter.

Serendipity landed on my shoulders late in the day after, with the aid of Google, I had wasted several hours immersing myself in the study of coffee production. It turns out that there is a Whittard store a few steps away from my hairdresser. So after travelling twenty miles for the next chop at the Sassoon hangout I can stagger home with bags of coffee beans. If I can wait that long. I drank so much coffee yesterday that the store of beans is alarmingly low. I may have spend my Sunday afternoon making a forty mile round trip to buy more. Life can be such a grind.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Blog Hop: Celebrate the Small Things

How did I get by before I discovered rice cakes? Yes, they look and taste like polystyrene but they are the answer to this girl's dreams. I'm a grazer. Put me in the vicinity of my kitchen and I'm likely to dive into the fridge for a hunk of cheese or raid the cupboard for a handful of nuts. And these are the least of my sins! So a rice cake (whole grain, in a nod towards healthy eating) at 18 calories a slice is something to be celebrated. I've already eaten five and it's only just 9 a.m.

The best adjective I can come up with for my past week is gentle. English life as experienced in my childhood. On Sunday I drove out to one of the villages to meet up with friends for a visit to a cottage garden and nursery, followed by a guided tour of the village church. (The tour was meant to last for half an hour but went on for an hour and a half, so I was becoming a bit fidgety toward the end).

The cottage garden at Norwell Nurseries

St Lawrence's Church Norwell

 Saint Lawrence was a Christian martyr who was roasted alive by the Romans.

Eventually released from captivity, we made our way to the friend's cottage and enjoyed scones with cream and jam and a pot of tea in her tiny courtyard garden, which overlooks the High Street. A warm and peaceful Sunday afternoon with just the occasional tractor chugging past or a bypasser wishing us a good day. How I wish that I could return to a rural life!

Continuing the culinary theme, I've been putting some effort into coming up with new supper dishes this week - life was becoming too predictable and boring. Earlier in the week, we ate Cod Steaks with Chorizo and Haricot Beans in White Wine and yesterday evening an incredibly quick and cheap concoction Chick Peas and Smoked Bacon Lardons in a Spicy Tomato Sauce. I've put the recipes on hub pages and you can reach them by clicking the links. I also made a rhubarb crumble with produce from the garden and some real custard sauce to pour over (no Bird's Custard Powder to hand). Resident squatting son seems to enjoy Bird's Custard ( which was devised in 1837 by a man whose wife had an egg allergy) but I prefer the real thing.

It's been a lazy, laid-back week. Mostly, I've been pottering in the garden, deadheading pinks and pruning shrubs. On rainy days I've dived into a pool of library books. At the moment, I'm revisiting Fay Weldon, who has to be my most favourite of all female modern novelists. So clever, acutely observational, and amusing. Getting down to the more serious reading material, I'm still working my way through The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray. If you are starting to have concerns about uncontrolled migration it's worth a read. But be warned, it can read as extremely right-wing in parts and I can't agree with all of the points that he makes.

Thanks for Alexa Cain and friends for maintaining the Friday Blog Hop. Click the link on the right if you want to know more, or join the gang.

Bye for now x