Friday, 16 October 2009

I'll be back

This is the thing about projects - the closer to delivery date the more hectic. I am going to have to work night & day till 30 Nov. There'll be very little posting or reading of other blogs (if any). See you all in Dec. Will miss you. (Ps. If any one of you know where to buy a strap-on spine, please let me know, there's a jellyfish on this project in dire need of one - I'll buy it for him as an early Christmas gift)

Friday, 9 October 2009

You're a lout if you lurk

I was just wondering whether I only have 4 people reading my blog and not feeling very good about my blog when I went over to Doodles of a Journo. In her current post she is wondering about lurkers. It made me wonder... do I have any readers who do not comment - in spite of my explicit instruction? I checked the word 'lurk' out on the online etymology dictionary and found that louts lurk... lurk c.1300, lurken "to hide, lie hidden," probably from Scand. (cf. dial. Norw. lurka "to sneak away," dial. Swed. lurka "to be slow in one's work"), perhaps ult. related to M.E. luren "to frown, lurk" (see lower (v.2)). lower (v.2) (also lour), M.E. louren, luren "to frown, lurk," from O.E. *luran or from its cognates, M.L.G. luren, M.Du. loeren "lie in wait." loiter 1362 (implied in loitering), from M.Du. loteren "be loose or erratic, shake, totter" like a loose tooth or a sail in a storm. In modern Du., leuteren "to delay, linger, loiter over one's work." Probably cognate with O.E. lutian "lurk," and related to O.E. loddere "beggar," O.H.G. lotar "empty, vain," Ger. Lotterbube "vagabond, rascal," O.E. lyðre "base, bad, wicked." lout (n.) 1548, "awkward fellow, clown, bumpkin," perhaps from dialectal derivative of O.E. verb lutan "bow low," from P.Gmc. *leut- "to bow, bend, stoop" (cf. O.N. lutr "stooping"), from PIE *leud- "to lurk" (cf. Goth. luton "to deceive," O.E. lot "deceit), also "to be small" (see little). Non-Gmc. cognates probably include Lith. liudeti "to mourn;" O.C.S. luditi "to deceive," ludu "foolish." Sense of "cad" is first attested 1857 in British schoolboy slang. If you punish me for not commenting over at yours - I am busy! work work work work work.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Al work & no play take Hardspear from his blog away...

I am not even going to talk about work, just to say that it is tough at the moment. So here’s a bit of an update I eventually went to see District 9. Actually Lamb and I went to see it two weeks ago. Lamb is a sensitive viewer and the movie was graphically too intense for her, so we walked out an hour into the movie. I enjoyed the bit I saw very much and I wanted to see the rest, so I went to see it again on Thursday evening. Lamb and Image was away visiting Grandma for a few days, as per usual during school holidays.
The Sarie KOS magazine is out and I must say it is nice to see your photo & name in print. They did a cool 2 page spread on my recipe and the photo of my sosaties is mouthwatering. Braaiday was such a success and we had a super day! We had a typical South African spread and as always there was way too much food. As always we had a cook-off between the guys, but as always the cook-off part is just for fun. There were mussel pot and skilpadjies (minced savoury liver wrapped in caul fat and grilled over coals) for starters. We had the following on the braais for mains: Snoek, Mozambique style Portuguese Peri-Peri baby chickens, boerewors and of course, my sosaties. We had fancy salads, pap with tomato & onion relish and sweet potatoes wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals (with butter of course)

When Lamb and Image are away, I usually take the opportunity to do something which I can only do when I am alone. Last time it was the seriously rare rump steak salad with coriander lime dressing....... This time round I watched the opening & closing scenes of KOYAANISQATSI about 7 or 8 times. The music and visuals are intensely hypnotic, though I have yet to encounter someone who experience the movie the same way I do.

I am procrastinating doing our taxes, but if I don’t do it now, I am going to miss the e-filing deadline in Nov.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Meme, Myself & I

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have nearly never done this most bloggerest of blogger things: A meme. I’ve been tagged before, but did not respond. Since Angel regularly posts memes, I’ve decided to ask her to suggest one. Angel responded with this one: I have to write about ten things I love. There is a snag though... she assigned the letter ‘J’ to the instruction, so every item on the list must start with the letter J. In the end it did not prove that easy, but I came up with a list which I am satisfied with and this is in no particular order or ranking: 1. Jeep clothing: It is the most comfortable clothing around. Especially if you are big like me. It actually makes your shoulders look bigger and your tummy smaller. I cannot wear Truworths Man clothes for example. Their largest size is XL and is too small for me. A Large Jeep shirt on the other hand fits me comfortably. 2. Johannesburg: Although I do not live there, it is the best city in SA. I really like Jozi. Cape Town is good for a long weekend and I cannot stand Pretoria (en omtrent 50% van alle Pretorianers). 3. Jockey briefs: Pure cotton comfort. (It is an ADD thing – clothing must be extremely comfortable) 4. Java-jolt: Strong cup, freshly brewed, good quality - first thing in the morning! 5. Jalapeño Peppers: Not too strong like Habañero – but lots of flavour 6. Jack Russel Terriers: We’ve got 2. 7. Jelly Tots: Reminds me of childhood 8. Journal: On-line – this one and other people’s 9. Janis Joplin: Boy, that girl could sing! 10. J&B: Amongst other Whiskeys

Friday, 18 September 2009

Observations on the R59

Two years of commuting alone in my car on the R59 from Vereeniging to Johannesburg and back each day made me realize a few things. The observations to follow are what I have discerned from countless trips on a very busy highway. These observations exclude the obvious (BMW drivers (men) Mercedes drivers (women) and large trucks (very many between the Vaal and JHB)). Here we go...

  • Fastest bakkies = Late model company branded (usually machinery) Toyota bakkies – both double and single cabs.
  • Slowest bakkies = Old Ford bakkies (baby blue with an orange driver’s door) driven by an old oom with a hat. Fuck knows where he is going at 5:30 AM travelling on the R59.
  • Taxis = Perceptibly fewer taxi’s than on other highways. (thank God for small mercies)
  • Cars sticking too close on your tail =Toss-up between VW Polo tdi’s driven by some young @#*&! with a shark-fin hairstyle or a Mercedes Delivery Van driven by a man in overalls.
  • Preferred lift-club car for women = VW CitiGolf. Usually 4 large middle aged ladies with big hair and big earrings. As one cruise by you see a lot of mouths opening & closing, bangles flashing, heads turning to & fro, tight perms bobbing up and down and earrings swinging. I also imagine 4 strong clashing perfumes. A lot of talking & gesticulating. Kids, husbands and bosses, I guess the main topics to be. Sometimes there would be a pale thin young man stuck between the two ladies on the back seat. Blue is the preferred colour of the attire, so I fancy them to be working at Standard Bank in downtown Jo’burg.
  • Preferred lift club car for men = Men from V-town do not lift-club.
  • Most out of place and overly cautious = Middle class family looking uncomfortable in their Sunday best. I’ll put money on that one family member needs to see a specialist in Sandton and the rest go along for support. Daddy reckoned that you’ll never know what the traffic’s gonna do, so let’s leave early so that we make our 12:00 appointment comfortably. We can stop for burgers in Alberton on our way back, Mommy’s going to be too upset to cook tonight anyway.
  • And who said ADD’ers aren’t observant?! Ha!

And on the way back in the afternoon I thank God for 94.7 Highveld Stereo. Imagine the crap I would have thought out if I did not have a radio in the car! I wonder if someone categorised me...? I wonder if the new Heineken Brewery halfway to Vereeniging will have a factory outlet? Should I stop at the Blockhouse for a colddrink? Aah! My favourite song! I wish they would play .... for a change. That *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* at work today *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* will get his comeuppance *Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored Censored* Bliksem 94.7 Highveld Stereo irritates the hell out of me sometimes, let’s see what is on the other stations: Radio 5 - no, Radio Oranje - no, Classic FM - no, 702 - no, Khaya- no, Metro - no, aaaarrrrgghhhh – JACARANDA!! – back to Highveld thank you very much. I am sure my penis just moved. TOET VIR JOU FOKKEN GAT MAN!!! I forgot to pray this morning. Meyerton, finally I am nearly home. What shall we eat tonight? I need to have the shocks on the car replaced.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Braai 4 Heritage

The Braai 4 Heritage initiative started off as National Braai Day on the 24 of September (I think 2 or 3 years ago), coinciding with Heritage Day (SA public holiday). This became a politically tinged issue in the press and subsequently the initiative was re-named Braai 4 Heritage. I’ve never been one for celebrating public holidays (Exept the Christian holidays of Christmas & Easter). I did not celebrate The Day of the Vow or Republic Day in the old SA and I am not celebrating any of the ‘New SA’ holidays. I just couldn’t be bothered. To me they can call it Bank Holidays like they do in the UK. The only benefit to me is a day off, especially if it falls on a Friday or Monday, so one can have a lekker long weekend. However, having a day to celebrate the South African Braai... now that is worthwhile commemorating and celebrating. For the past two years we’ve been a group of friends that comes together on the 24th of September and have a good and proper SA braai with all the trimmings. We do it in the form of a cook-off, but no one takes the competition part seriously – it is done just for fun and for the braaiers to mock each other. This year we will be doing it again and I can’t wait and guess what I will be braaiing. Please check out the site http://braai4heritage.co.za/ for interesting bits and for a good laugh (especially the braaictionary. Also check out this site dedicated to the wonders of the braaibroodjie http://braaibroodjie.co.za/. Are you having a get-together something on Braai Day? Well, start arranging and may the wors be with you (and the chops, and the steaks, and the pap & sous, and the braaibroodjies and the potato salad...)

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Cubes of meat on a hard spear

I am not going to be able to NOT blog about this, so (and I hope I won't regret this) but here goes: I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, am officially South Africa's Sosatie champion. The Afrikaans women's mag Sarie has a seasonal food edition, the Sarie KOS. In this they have been running competitions where they ask the readers to send in there recipes looking for SA's best. So far the emphasis has been on very traditional SA fare. The first one was melktert (a traditional SA tart with a baked egg custard filling in a flaky- or short crust and cinnamon sprinkled over), the second one was - tamatie-en-uie-smoor (warm tomato and onion relish) which are served with pap at a braai. The winning entries were exceptionally good. Sarie food actually prepare the entries and have a panel of foodies select the winner. They then do a spread in the Sarie KOS on the winning recipe and a photo of the winning entrant. In the winter 2009 edition they announced that they want SA's best Sosatie (curried lamb kebab). Sosatie is as traditional South African as you can get. Very popular in the braai culture and has it's roots firmly in Cape Malay cooking. I decided to enter. I developed my own recipe, made it and tested it. The result was PERFECT! I e-mailed my entry and waited. The other day I had a call to say that I won! I am over the moon! So - unfortunately not in time for Braai 4 Heritage Day, please buy the Spring Edition of Sarie KOS - on the shelves 30 September 2009. It is one of the best food mags around (Sarie Food Editor Barbara Joubert won a speciality editor award) and their website publish the recipe's in English as well.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Weird Food...or Drink? Kopi Luak Coffee

It takes me, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, a long time to select a topic for a weird food post. I do not want it to take the form of “did-you-know-that-in-Outer-East-Mongolia-Yak-penis-broth-is-considered-a delicacy...’ type of posts. If you look at previous weird food entries, you should be able to see what I am trying to do here. So it takes a bit of research and a lot of thought before I do a weird food post. Kopi Luak coffee is now better known because of the movie, ‘The Bucket List’ where Jack Nicholson’s character has a particular affinity for this coffee. As a result of this affinity of his and Morgan Freeman’s character’s mockery of the origin of this coffee, they achieve one of the items on the list, which is laughing till they cry. So, from Wikipedia...the story behind Kopi Luak. Kopi Luak (pronounced [ˈkopi ˈloo - uck]) or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) and other related civet populations. The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, in the Philippines (where the product is called Motit Coffee in the Cordillera, or Kape Alamid in Tagalog areas) and in East Timor (locally called kafé-laku). Local lore in Vietnam has given the name "weasel coffee" to civet coffee, in what is considered the closest recognizable translation to English. Kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee, and luak is a local name of the Asian Palm Civet. The common palm civet is normally found in Ceylon, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, India and Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), and Southern China, south to Sumatra and Java, east to the Philippines, Borneo, Celebes and the Lesser Sunda Island. In Malaysia, the common palm civets are wild-spread on the mainland, in Langkawi, Pulau Penang, and Pulau Tioman. Palm civets are primarily frugivorous, feeding on berries and pulpy fruits, including those of Ficus trees and plams. They also eat small vertebrates, insects, ripe fruits and seeds. Civets are often casually referred to as "cats" or "weasels" (Vietnam typically) but they are not in the cat or weasel family. In Sumatra they are in the family of Viverridae, and in the Philippines they are known as Paradoxorus Philippinensis, an endangered species currently aided and protected by the cultivation of civet coffee. Civets consume the red coffee cherries, when available, containing the fruit and seed, and they tend to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. Thus there is a natural selection for the ripest coffee beans. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but a unique combination of enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee's flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are defecated, still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process. Light roasting is considered particularly desirable in coffees that do not exhibit bitterness, and the most pronounced characteristic of Kopi Luwak is a marked reduction in bitterness. In early days, the beans would be collected in the wild from a "latrine," or a specific place where the civet would defecate as a means to mark its territory, and these latrines would be a predictable place for local gatherers to find the beans. More commonly today, civet farms allow civets to roam within defined boundaries, and the feces produced are then processed and the coffee beans offered for sale. Many consumers question whether civet coffee is safe and sanitary, and whether it contains e-coli bacteria. The civet is not known as a carrier of e-coli or other bacteria potentially dangerous to humans, and there is no public record of any illness conveyed by civet coffee. It is professed by producers that the enzymes in the digestive tract, as well as the rigorous washing and sun drying of the beans, help to eliminate bacteria, along with the high temperature roasting process, and that the coffee is entirely safe. Kopi Luak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between $100 and $600 USD per pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and the United States by weight, and served in coffeehouses in Southeast Asia by the cup. It is increasingly becoming available elsewhere, though supplies are limited; only 1,000 pounds (450 kg) at most make it into the world market each year.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Double Ritalin on Coffee with two sugars please – oh, and lots of milk.

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea know I should not take double doses of Ritalin, but last week I did. The new job is very hectic. My predecessor left and I am coming on board ¾’s of the way through the project. So I have a lot of catching up to do. My predecessor did NOTHING so everything on my project role is a mess. Now remember Ritalin is a stimulant. So I worked like a man possessed on the double dosages. I also had to do a personal financial management cum team building on the side on Saturday. My colleague worked out the teambuilding part, but I had to work out the presentation for the personal financial management bit. That had to happen out of work time. So you can imagine... I did pay dearly though. By Sunday I was klaar, klar, klarrrrr. Monday I walked round like an automaton. Yesterday I started to recover, but I nodded off during a meeting (9:30) in the morning. I think one lady saw me, because I caught her trying to suppress a smile. Today I feel my old self again and I am only on Chai Tea.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Whoooo Hoooo!

I’ve had such incredible good news! I won a competition in a popular magazine! I cannot decide whether to give details here or not, because my real identity and recent photo will be published with the effort which afforded me a win. (The photo on my blog header is 12 years old. It was taken in Lucerne in Switzerland. I was standing in the Altstadt (old city) with the Vierwaldstättersee (my knowledge of German is very elementary, I think in means ‘lake of the four woods cities) behind me and Neuestadt (new city) in the background. Lamb took the photo. This was shortly after I asked her to marry me in Paris on the banks of the Seine across from the Notre Dame Cathedral. I bought the ring in Germany a week later. Lamb fancied having a pearl ring and we found an antique Art Deco 14 carat gold ring in Munich with a pearl set in silver with diamond chips. The setting is typical Art Deco and 14 carat gold is rather unusual. The pearl took on the deepest cream sheen since Lamb started wearing it. The ring is very special to the both of us – even if it is not a big mother-of-all-diamonds diamond ring)

Monday, 24 August 2009

How do I get FUCKING Google Adsense removed from my Blog?

I used the word G@y in one of my posts and now google Adsense is posting these online d@ting ads on my blog! Now I have to misspell like a spammer for fear that they will place more such ads! I don't have anything against mentioned individuals, I just don't want ads advertising "hoekie-vir-eensames" services on my blog, irrespective of orientation! First I went into my account and put filters on the ads. The filters only seems to have made it worse, and now I get all kinds of d@ting ads on my blog. I have tried to switch off google ads - to no avail. I have removed the widget from my blog template, but still they appear. I have made diddly squat from google ads anyway, so no use in keeping it, but now it turns out to be like having termites under your house. It is very difficult to exterminate! If any of you can offer suggestions (adsense help is really KAK) please, I implore you...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Thoughts like glue

In the previous post I mentioned how people with ADD can get stuck on a topic. It is hard to express how one thing can consume one so totally and completely. When I plan a big meal for friends, I think of nothing else for days. I become one with the ingredients. I become the recipe. I struggle to sleep because my thoughts are consumed by what I am going to make to eat, how I am going to make it, how I am going to make it special, what we’re going to drink. I start living the event for two days and up to a week before the time. If I manage to sleep, I dream about it. I know beforehand that no matter what the guests will be drinking, I’ll be wanting a good robust red wine with a nose of wood and smoke and palate to match. Or sometimes it will be crisp Riesling smelling of cut grass and tasting of green grapes. Sometimes I’ll feel like having beer only, but it will definite be part of my beforehand thoughts. I will also start to feel just how a good time we will be having. During this time it is hard to have conversations about anything else. It is then also hard to cope with other people continuously INTRUDING, or TRYING TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT! WOE BETIDE YOU should you inadvertently and innocently and unsuspectingly mention one of my favourite topics in a conversation. At first you will think – “Aah, nice, we have something in common.” Then you’ll think, “he’s quite knowledgeable about this.” From there it will quickly progress to, “heavens, how am I going to get him to stop!?” Jaaa, I know we ADD’ers mess up sometimes, but because of getting thát stuck on a topic, we’ve been practicing for so long in our heads, that by the time we actually get round to do what we have been stuck on, the results will surprise you, for it will be perfect and done with a lot of creativity. As for ourselves, many times other people will love the result, but we will still not be satisfied, for it may not quite be how we imagined. At other times it will be even better than what we visualised it. If it came out not as we would have wanted it, we will agonise for a little and then drop it. If it came out better... well we will be even more stuck to the subject for a bit. Sometimes you’ll want us to repeat what we did, only to be annoyed to find us pulling a face. Remember, by that time we may already be stuck on something different entirely... And you’ll be like “you’re so gooood at it, why don’t you keep at it and make money from it?” And we’ll be like “Dude!, I am trying to figure out how to build this bird-feeder in the form of a medieval castle!”

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Anti-Feminism Campaign Continued

Oooh, one thing about ADD, once you get affixed on a topic, you’re literally welded fast! It is like a scratched record being stuck in a groove repeating the same bit over and over. (I hope you’re all old enough to remember vinyl. It is very different from a scratched CD which gets stuck). This post is based on a comment I made a long time ago on Betty Noire’s blog. I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea FULLY prescribe to gender equality, but believe that feminists in the end miss this objective. I think the Suffragettes of old would hate to learn what modern day feminism has become. I hate the fact that women are being treated unfairly even in modern Western societies. Next to child abuse, I find the abuse of women abominable. Very few things make me angrier. Yet I believe that equality between the genders can co-exist comfortably with a definite split in gender roles. Here is an example of what I am on about. I want to raise my little girl to be financially (and in most other aspects) independent of any man, so that she can marry for love. I want her to become a woman in full right, so that if she meets the right guy, that she can be the woman, girl, wife, lover and mother of his children whom he can love and cherish as an equal, but still as a woman. Equality does not mean we have to give up our gender roles. Men must also stop being so asswupped scared to be men. Somebody please kick this soapbox from under me so I can blog about something else for a change!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The things men don’t talk about

The previous two post made me realise again that there are so many things men don’t talk about. I want to thank Spear the Almighty though for commenting honestly. I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, think the strongest deterrent for men not to talk about certain subjects like sex, money, their jobs, religion etc has to do with vulnerability. Oh, men talk about sex, money, their jobs and religion all the time and yet they don’t talk about it at all. Yes, we brag about conquests, and make jokes. We will tell others of how good we are at our jobs, what an idiots our boss/colleagues are. We will say that one should avoid the topic of religion, but we comment on it all the time. We don’t however say that the sex drought after the baby came, touches the core of our masculinity. Although with our minds we understand (or try to) what our wives are going through, somewhere deep inside a little voice says – maybe she’s not into me anymore. And THAT makes me insecure and makes me feel vulnerable. We will talk as if it is all about the act and ‘I-gave-it good-to-her’, but we never express the need for an unreserved response in lovemaking. For that unreserved response is THE single most powerful affirmation of who and what I am right to the core of my being. We never tell anyone of how our job situations makes us feel apprehensive about the future. I’ve never told anybody that when I was without a job, I felt castrated and lesser of a man. I am after all the provider – never mind that my wife works as well and contributes financially to the household. Let me also use this to start my anti-feminist rally. These things I am talking about might be sneered at by feminists who find the frail male ego laughable. Well, let me tell you. Stuff like job & position being linked to ego and feelings of masculinity comes included with the package of having a dick and balls. Laugh at it if you want - but young or old, macho or meek, gay or straight – men measure their worth by the jobs they do. They also measure others with the same stick. And yes, despite what we project to the outside, our egos are frail. We will (sometimes) tell others of our religious convictions, but we will very seldom tell anyone of our real religious feelings and experiences. I don’t believe in feminism as I do not condone chauvinism. I am a firm believer of equality between the sexes, but I also believe just as a ton of gold and a ton of platinum differ in volume and composition, equality does not mean sameness. I believe differences should be celebrated and nurtured. And this does not mean putting someone in a man-mould or a woman-mould. It is the difference between encouraging and criticizing. I’ve found, contrary to what I have ever believed and found to be rational, that talking about stuff men don’t talk about has made me feeling less vulnerable instead of more, coz I ain’t got no more secrets some can ‘discover’ and hurt me with. I’ve put it in the open and if you don’t like it, well you simply don’t like it.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Daddy got nooky

Thanks everyone for the comments on the previous post. I know and UNDERSTAND all of that as much as a man can possibly TRY to. I have been doing the communication thing, and I told Lamb exactly that. I understand that there are various reasons for her libido not being what it was before baby. I explained very nicely that I really need us to have sex more often. Believe it or not, I also want nice romantic sex and not just a quickie here and there to sate the physical need only. Lamb also understands what I have been saying to her. So, what got us to have sex in the end? Humour! A stupid little joke I made (and it was not even sex related at all) was what was needed for Lamb to take the initiative and instigate sex without me even having to ask. (Or maybe I just looked thát pathetic and she felt sorry for me.) So what got us to have GREAT sex? More humour! In bed I told her that I feel like a dog for wanting to have sex with her, knowing she feels a bit under the weather with a cold. But, that like a dog I also have certain urges! Lamb laughed so much she cried and then we had wonderful sex.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

New Dad No Sex

I write this post with the utmost respect to my wife, Lamb, and do not wish to put her in a bad light in any way. This is just something I have to get off of my chest. On Oprah the other day, she had a discussion going with mothers and the things mom’s do not usually admit to others and true and honest feelings about childbirth and children. One discussion was around resuming (gmph!) sex life after the birth of the baby. The women Oprah talked with gave all the usual (though valid and realistic) reasons of why new moms does not feel like having sex. I prepared myself for this before the birth as I have been forewarned by other new dads. What they didn’t tell me was for how loooong this was going to be. Now listening to my wife and the women on Oprah, gave me even more insight into this. The problem for me is not lack of understanding. The problem for me is I NEED MORE SEX! So I went and looked on the web for tips today. What, is this all, is there nothing else I can try? Here is some Great Dad tips I’ve found, but the author only state that maybe this will get you some – no guarantees... I’ve commented on each of them. 1. Break out the flowers and champagne. This one is a little too transparent to work more than once a month, but always worth a try. Done that. Most times I’ll get an honest thank you and get told how much I am appreciated. Nice, but no nooky. 2. Be a great dad. Actually, moms are turned on by strong men who can show they can take care of little kids. After putting the little one down for a nap, you might get one of your own. Try my levelest. Regularly get told that I am the greatest dad and she appreciates everything I do soooo much. Mmm still no nooky. 3. Plan your getaway. Yeah, it’s trite, but organizing a weekend away, including a relative to watch the kids, does wonders for a girl’s libido. You might even pack some toys. Done that. Went to Thabela Thabeng in the Vredefort Dome. THANK YOU B E T T Y FOR THE TIP!! Mother-in-law agreed to look after the baby for one night. It worked! Very nice break. Veeery nice nooky. But it was a month ago and it is not realistic to go away somewhere romantic 5 times a week. 4. Watch some smut. Casually leave a Cinemax-style soft core playing around bed time. You might be surprised that it gets her in the mood. Just don’t play anything too graphic. Well, to say that porn does not turn me on would be a lie. I just find it creates unrealistic expectations and does more for one’s fantasy life than for your actual sex life. Yes, before baby, Lamb could also get in the mood with some soft porn, but it is a route I am choosing not to go with. I crave meaningful sex with my wife, not a quick wank with only my fantasies. 5. Do the laundry and the dishes and make dinner. Women hate that stuff hanging over their heads. If she’s just getting home from work and it’s all done for once, she may have room in her brain for other things. I DO! Often! And I clean the house, and I do the washing! It is nice to hear how much she appreciates it. BUT ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS! 6. Throw out the bedroom TV. A study last year in Italy showed that couples who gave up TV in bed, doubled their sex per week. Never had a TV in the bedroom... Never will... 7. Don't expect much quickie sex. Unfortunately, it's less about animal lust these days. I am willing to fake 6 hours of foreplay if there had been any interest! 8. Stay in shape, shower up and be stay attractive to her. What's good for the goose... Mmm... I could do with slimming down a bit. 9. Don't push it. Don't whine about not getting any sex, or insist when she's not into it. That only will lead to bad feelings all around. You're going to have to be more artful here. Haven’t done this yet, but it is starting to get difficult not to whine. 10. Suggest baby #2 or #3. Nothing motivates a woman more than when she's trying to have a baby, as you will recall from baby #1. This is not recommended unless you are really ready for the next one Fuck dude, are you crazy!? When Lamb was pregnant she was horny as hell and we had fantastic sex and quite often, but I do not think suggesting another baby will do the trick right now. If there is any other new dads out there, you are welcome to either give tips which work, or commiserate.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The angry red carbuncle

Why....WHY? Why is it that the day before you start a new job a zit the size of a carbuncle develops on your forehead / nose / chin?

Friday, 7 August 2009

Aaah, the smell of Grandma

Tamara of Doodles of a Journo talked about associations in one of her recent posts. She related how sometimes a smell or seeing something can trigger a memory. She also wrote about how some memories seemingly appear unbidden. Much has been written and said about how powerful a memory trigger smell can be. The lines from the famous Afrikaans poem “my nooi is in ‘n nartjie, my ouma in kaneel” immediately springs to mind. Literally translated it means – my girlfriend is in a tangerine, my grandmother in cinnamon. So smells of tangerine reminded the poet of his girlfriend and smells of cinnamon of his grandmother. Now, today I have a story which proofs just how strong the smell memory trigger can be. Tamara mentioned that the smell of tea reminds her of her grandmother. I commented on her blog that my grandmother smelt of Singleton’s Medicated Snuff and Frisco Coffee. I’ve left something out. Something very significant. When I was small, my grandmother changed her perfume from the famous 4711 cologne to Yardley’s Moon Drops. So whereas I remember the smell of 4711 very well, the other smell I associate with my grandmother is Moon Drops. Lamb and I was married for about a year when Ouma (Granny) Rose passed away. After the funeral, Bee, my mother rounded up all the stuff in Ouma Rose’s flat and handed it out to all her sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews’ wives. My male cousins and I got a few photographs. When people know Grandma likes a certain type of perfume, they buy it for her on her birthday and Christmas. So all the unopened bottles and Gift Sets of Moon Drops that my mom found were handed out as well. A month or so after the funeral, I was watching TV and Lamb was taking a bath. Later she called me from the bedroom. She was laying naked on the bed, beckoning me with her finger and a beguiling smile. Not needing to be invited twice, my clothes evaporated from my body and I jumped onto the bed next to her. As I sidled up to her, it was as if hit by a hammer on the forehead. She positively reeked of Moon Drops. She liberally doused herself with body lotion, talcum and perfume from the Moon Drops gift pack she got from my mother. (Sorry, I am using split infinitives again). Although we’re Afrikaans speaking, I told Lamb the following in English: “Sorry Doll, but I cannot get it up if you smell like my dearly departed Grandma.” So there’s the proof, smell can trigger a memory so strong it can stop a recently wed warm blooded man in his tracks and turn a tumescent torrent to a drooping drip. Luckily we laughed so much that no nooky didn’t matter in the end. What is your strongest smell association / memory?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Relief

The job-drought seems to be braking. I have started on a new project and although it is only two days a week, I am quite relieved.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Julie & Julia

One of the reasons I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, have started blogging have been made into a feature film! I’ve always wanted to write a book. I never knew (and still do not know) what about and how to start. One of the events leading to me starting a blog – and I have mentioned this previously - was a very irritating Margarine ad on TV about a woman in her kitchen busy cooking and getting wax lyrical about blogging. Ever since Stork’s ads improved greatly. (Print & Television). But hey, it still is and remain NOT BUTTER! But that irksome ad prompted me to ‘research’ blogging (I read the Wikipedia entry). When I read about a woman called Julie Powell who began the Julie/Julia Project, a Web log chronicling her attempt to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I was interested. To learn further that she gathered quite a food blog following and that she reworked the blog into a book which got published and was successful, I needed no further convincing. And now a movie called Julie & Julia has been made! Admittedly, there is more to the movie than just the Julie/Julia project. The movie also deals extensively with Julia Child’s interesting life as America’s first really popular celebrity TV cook. In the film Meryl Streep plays the role of Julia Child. I acknowledge that my casual and unsystematic jottings on this blog are not publishing material. I feel though that I have made a start and maybe something will come of it at a later stage. At some juncture in a natural progression I have started blogging more about food than the main ADD theme. According to the stats I’ve gotten more hits as a result. I am glad that I read about blogs before starting blogging. I picked up a few tips, such as never to blog (especially anything negative) about the place you work, colleagues and friends or family - in particular if you are not blogging anonymously. (Tamara – I see you also share this sentiment) My sister knows a woman who got fired (they live in a small town) after publishing negative comments about her boss on her facebook page. An unexpected surprise was the wonderful on-line friends I have made. Reading their blogs and interacting with them definitely makes my life richer. For now... I cannot wait to see the movie.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cost of connectivity

Hi there. Due to the exorbitant costs of connectivity in South Africa, I will only be able to blog in August again. I have used up my bundle for the month. I am going to kill someone at Vodakak!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Computer Generated Café de Paris Sauce for Steak

One of my favourites at a local restaurant is steak with Café de Paris butter. Now according to Wikipedia a vast difference exists between Café de Paris butter and Café de Paris sauce. Café de Paris butter is the most wonderfully savoury, deeply satisfying sauce you can possibly have with steak. It does not overpower the taste of the steak, it greatly enhances it. So when I checked on the net, there were too many recipes all claiming to be the authentic Café de Paris sauce (but meaning butter). I downloaded loads of these recipes and put the lists of ingredients into an Excel Spreadsheet. I then ran it all through a Pivot Table, which gave me the amount of times a specific ingredient featured in my collection of recipes. I decided on a arbitrary cut-off point and only used the ingredients featured in a certain percentage of recipes. I read through the original recipes to get a feel for amounts and method of preparation. The result was staggeringly delicious and unspeakably good. It was delightfully first class and just so satisfactorily mouth-wateringly tasty! I have made it many times since and always makes extra to keep in the freezer. So when Lamb and Image visited Grandma last week this was definitely on one evening’s menu for one. I bought a nice juicy piece of rib-eye steak which I sizzled in a griddle pan. It was a large piece of steak and I was not in the mood for starch, so I only had steamed broccoli with a lime-coriander dressing with my Café de Paris steak. Lamb had the camera with her, so the photo below is not my own – got it from the web. When one looks at the list of ingredients, one would think that this cannot possibly taste good. It’ll certainly spoil the taste of the steak, but look at amounts and method and I promise you, you will not be disappointed. Hey it is me, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, will I ever post a recipe which is not good? I ask you?
Here is my computer generated recipe then:
Filet Café de Paris 250 g Butter (Soft) 4 tbsp (in total combined) Fresh Parsley, Tarragon, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Sage (At least 5 of the above) Try to get as much fresh as possible and use dried only for those you cannot get fresh. The Tarragon and Sage is very important, so use dried if you must. 2 Cloves Garlic 2 Lemons (Juice and Zest) 1 Chopped Shallot or red onion 1 tsp Curry Powder 8 Anchovy Fillets 1 Small glass Madeira/Sherry/Port Season with salt & Pepper Finely chop shallot and sweat till soft in a little oil. Add Madeira/Sherry/Port and cook till evaporated. Add anchovies and stir till dissolved into the mixture and add the curry powder. Remove from the heat and let cool. Chop the fresh herbs as finely as possible. Mince the garlic, grate some zest off of the lemons and squeeze the juice out. Thoroughly mix everything with the soft butter. Can be prepared well in advance and kept in refrigerator or freezer. Coat whole fillet with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Cook on Weber using indirect method – hot fire for 35-40 min. Put Café de Paris butter in a cast iron saucepan and pan on the grill. Whilst on the grill, cut into steaks and flash each piece directly over the hot coals and then into the Café de Paris butter. Serve straight away. Works also for steaks grilled directly over coals or steak fried in a griddle pan on the stove.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Father

Father, you know that I don’t like to pray in front of other people, for it makes me feel vulnerable. Please understand then how much I need You today. I thought that I’ve bared my soul to my online friends many times before, but I know that I have not really done so. As I was passing the Christian bookshop today, You made me go in. A place I’ve never felt comfortable in. Suddenly in there I needed to find something which is going to make everything right again. You know that when I watched that Fireproof movie a while back, I thought that it was a good story, but just a tad to preachy for my liking. Yet, I walked out of that shop with a copy of the Love Dare book from that movie. I gather You want me to start with my marriage. I don’t think that that is the biggest problem in my life right now, but I’ll trust You on this. You know I have the attention span of a gnat. Still I am going to do this 40 day dare with sincerity and vigour. You know that You are going to have to help, however. You have put me on this track, and I commit with all my heart, but I am going to need You very close. Why couldn’t You have kept me close all the while? Why must I drift away during good times and why must I hit a low before You pull me back? You know that I consider myself to be blessed with a child-like faith in You, even when I am far from You. You know that I never ever doubt that You are the true and only God. But You also know that I have ADD and that I have MAJOR problems with authority, even Yours. I HATE to be told what to do (and not to do). You made me and therefore You know that I will very easily do the opposite of what being told. You also know of the subsequent regret, remorse and guilt I experience. I know You gave me the ability to choose, but You also know how self-deterministic I am and that I consider ME to be the one who makes decisions about me and my life. YOU KNOW THAT! I KNOW THAT! I’VE JUST NEVER ADMITTED IT TO YOU OR ANYONE ELSE! I’ve admitted it now though and with all humility I come before You and I tell you that I will listen and I will do. I am not bargaining with You but I will ask this... Can’t you try a different tack with me like a father or mother would try something different with a wayward child? Because You know that is what I am. Today I am not asking for a new job or anything, the things I ask is that inner joy and peace [sob] of which You speak of and that You help me with this Love Dare and that I be totally unselfish with my motives in doing it. Do You know that people perceive Christians as dull and grey and ineffectual and weak and as wimps and hypocritical and sanctimonious and judgemental? I don’t want to be seen like that! I want to be seen as a man of courage! Surely Moses and David and Caleb and Joseph and Peter and Paul were no wimps? Some of them died for You! Please make me a modern day Christian with strength and integrity! Since I was little and I’ve asked You to come and live in my heart, this is the most honest and sincere prayer I’ve ever prayed. Please listen to my heart today. May Your Holy Spirit help me please and I ask for forgiveness for all my wrongdoings. Forgive me also for not thanking You, for yet another miracle You’ve affected in the life of my sister. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

A first time for everything

For the first time ever I've deleted a post. I apologise for having been blasphemous. I know I swear like a trooper and it doesn't bother me much, but I hardly ever use the Lord's name in vain. As I am one for facing up to one's actions I am not going to blame it on too much wine (what was I thinking drinking semi-sweet wine anyway?). I am not going to blame it on still not having a new job. I did it, I feel bad, I've repented. There is no way of getting pass the fact that I am a bit depressed about the job situation however. I've had two unsuccessful interviews and no matter how much I told myself those positions were not meant for me and that there is something better waiting out there. But Momcat & Angel, thank you, today it is chin-up again and me and CareerJunction have a date yet again.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Where am I?

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have a SEVERE and PROLONGED bout of Blogger's Block. Also been preoccupied with other stuff (in my mind and in the real world). As soon as it breaks, I'll become a prolific poster again and you won't be able to keep up with the torrents of new and interesting posts. It is 2.5 cm cold in V-Town at the moment. I think both my brains are frozen.

Friday, 19 June 2009

A diet fit for Royalty and other weird food

I have been thinking for two weeks about my 100th post on this blog. I wanted it to be something really profound. I haven’t come with anything nearly weighty, philosophical and reflective enough to be termed profound though... What about something fun however? Yeah! Let’s do another weird food! I have a small selection of rather unusual cookbooks. I find them in dusty old second hand bookshops. If you browse through all the Microwave cookbooks (which came standard with microwave ovens in the 80’s) you’ll find some unexpected treasures. There was one Microwave Oven brand and I think it was Sharp which came with a cookbook called Bon Appetite. I have yet to come across a second hand bookshop which does not at least proudly sport one copy! Back to old cookbooks though, many times their worth are not much to use for cooking from, as for making a fascinating read instead. One of my little treasures is Mrs McKee’s Royal Cookery Book. The caption below the title describes the book as: A day-to-day cookery book by the former cook to H.M. The Queen and H.M. The Queen Mother. The book was published in 1964 by Arlington Books. References in her book makes me suspect that she was of Swedish origin. She states that she learned to cook in Sweden. Here then, two weird recipes from Mrs McKee’s Royal collection: NETTLE SOUP (Nessel Kal in Swedish) If you have a garden with a stinging nettle problem, don’t despair – eat them. In Sweden nettle soup is quite a delicacy; (why is weird food always a delicacy somewhere?) Nettle tops have a light delicious taste rather like asparagus; and people say they are good for you, I can’t remember why, something to do with rheumatism, I think. However, they are certainly good made into soup. Snip off tender nettle tops in April or early May, cook and sieve them and make according to the following recipe which has been handed down through many generations in Sweden. ½ pint cooked and sieved nettle tops 1 pint good stock made from veal and pork bones 1 tablespoon cold butter ½ tablespoon finely chopped chives 1 tablespoon flour, Pepper, salt and a pinch of sugar Bring the stock to the boil and thicken with the flour diluted in a little water. Simmer for ten minutes. Add the seasoning and sugar, the sieved nettles and chives. Simmer for twenty minutes. Add the butter, remove from heat and stir with a whisk. Keep warm. And another treasure from Mrs McKee BEEF TEA (Beats any diet for weight loss) Preparing Beef Tea is another thing which makes you feel wonderfully virtuous and Mrs. Beetonish. Originally, of course, it was designed for invalids but it is also excellent when you want to go on a crash diet and still preserve your energy. Drink nothing but beef tea for two or three days and you will be strong as well as slim: 2 lbs shin of beef A root and two springs of parsley 2 pints of water Salt to taste Cut the meat into small pieces and free from fat. Place in an earthenware jar or pot with water and a little salt. Clean and cut the parsley root and add to the meat with the springs. Allow to stand for half an hour. Then cover the jar and place in a pan of water. Boil for five or six hours. Strain through a muslin cloth. Nou ja, daar het jy dit!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Ethan of Athos

‘Ethan of Athos’ by Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It is Science Fiction, but falls in the category of ‘Soft SciFi’. The distinguishing quality of Soft SciFi is that it is character driven. The story and characters takes precedence over the ‘science’. In ‘Hard SciFi’ the characters and story are also important, but the science is more of an integral part of the story. The Original Trilogy of StarWars can be presented as an example of Soft SciFi. StarWars OT is basically, if you analyse the elements, a fairy tale set in space. Soft SciFi are often very accessible to everyone and not only to hard baked dyed-in-the-wool SciFi fanatics. Back to Ethan of Athos – here’s the back cover summary: You might think that an obstetrician on a planet forbidden to women would be underemployed... Not so, Dr Ethan Urquhart, Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Centre is one of the busiest men on the planet Athos. That is, until a mysterious genetic crisis threatens Athos with extinction. Drafted to brave the wider universe for his cloistered fellows in quest of new ovarian tissue cultures, Ethan braces himself for his first encounter with those most alien of aliens...females of his own species. But braced or not, his wildest imaginings could never have stiffened him sufficiently for alliance with Dendarii Mercenary Commander Elli Quinn, an utterly gorgeous mercenary intelligence officer who has her own secret interest in Athos’ problems and Ethan as well.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Sourdough bread, a heavenly pastry and job-hunting

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea finally managed to produce a genuine sourdough loaf! (Well two actually) Much as I want to say that I have cultured the initial sourdough starter (suurdeeg plantjie) myself, I cannot claim that. After not getting it right, I sort of put off and put off and putt off doing it again, though I very much wanted to give it another shot. Then I heard about this peculiar bakery in Vanderbijlpark – remember I live in the Dirty Vaal Triangle. The place is called the Civic Bakery and is situated in an obscure place sort of on the edge of the CBD. Now, as everywhere else in South Africa, the CBDs of towns and cities have degenerated quite dramatically. High-end shops are now situated in malls in the middle-class and upper-class neighbourhoods. Now, when being told about this not-easy-to-spot bakery in Vanderbijlpark (town known for its mega-sized steel industries) which sells divine and heavenly items of confectionary, real sourdough bread and even unusual items such as pain de fantasie (breads sculpted into forms like animals or plaited or highly decorated breads), I must admit that I was sceptical. I had to go there though. I found it because of the good directions I was given. Walking up to the bakery, I was confronted with shop-front windows painted cream sporting a non-descript logo and the words ‘civic bakery’. It had the look of a low grade industrial bakery. Inside looked much the same, save for what was stacked behind the glass of the counter and shelves. ‘S true’s nuts! Little bread rolls looking exactly like tortoises, twisted & plaited breads. Crisp sugared doughnuts and the most irresistible looking Danish pastries. I chose a cherry Danish. I then asked the lady behind the counter if they use real sourdough. She replied that they did, especially the German and Austrian rye breads and the Italian chiabatta. I lamented that I am unable to culture my own sourdough starter and asked if she would sell me a piece of theirs. She then told me that her husband is the baker and that he is not in. I asked her for his number so that I can ask him myself. I must have looked desperate, because she went to the back and came back with a walnut sized piece of sourdough in a greaseproof bag. She looked a bit worried and informed me that she sincerely hopes that her husband would not be angry with her, and that he still would have enough for tomorrow’s batch. Outside I opened my little box containing the Danish and gingerly took a bite. At the sound of violins I closed my eyes and ascended to heaven. The fresh flaky pastry melted in my mouth. The richness of the buttery pastry, the sweetness of the icing and the tart cherry filling made me slowly spin in the air. I gave the big old black dog that has been snapping at my heels all week a great big kick in the mouth and he ran off yelping into the distance. Yes, no Prozac can dissolve depression like real top quality confectionary! But then it must not be a dry bready piece of confectionary filled with evil gag reflex inducing gelatinous confectioner’s custard or fake soapy confectioner’s cream made from dairy substitutes so loaded with trans fats that it coats your tongue and palate with goo reminiscent of rancid sheep’s fat. To make it worse, some of it is covered with “chocolate” which turns out to be chocolate icing made from cheap margarine. The strange thing is though, people love this crap. They queue at supermarkets’ bakeries to buy these abominations. Back on earth I manage to find my car and drive home. When I arrived I’ve sufficiently recovered to give the sourdough some attention. I made a well of flour (1 cup) on the countertop into which I poured ¼ cup warm water. I broke up the sourdough ball in this well and proceeded to incorporate some of the fresh flour into the middle. (Some higher-end SPAR stores sell organic unbleached bread flour from Eureka Mills near Heidelberg in the Western Cape.) I continued till all the flour was incorporated into a rather stiff ball of dough. I then kneaded till soft and very malleable. I then put it in a bowl covered with a tea towel in a warm place for about five hours. I repeated the process a few times every time increasing with a greater amount of flour and water till by the next day (Saturday afternoon) I had enough to bake with. All this and I ended up with two lovely loaves of Pain Blanc au Levain (white bread made from sourdough) We invited friends over and I made soup for starter and a hearty stew for mains. I served the bread as an accompaniment to both. The soup and stew went down well, but everyone raved about the bread. They finished both loaves and complained that I didn’t make more bread. One guest actually became upset. I managed to appease him a bit with baked pudding which he had with both cream and custard! As I have said, I had the old black dog on my back last week and did not have the energy to post regularly. The whole out-of-work-staying-at-home thing is getting a bit long in the tooth now. A cherry Danish saved me though, and bread baking gave me some purpose. I have saved a piece of my second refreshment of the sourdough and put it in the fridge. The challenge now will be to keep my sourdough alive. The bread is so delicious though, I have enough motivation to keep on baking. The next bread I am going to try is.... TADA!... a real San Francisco Sourdough! I have started looking for jobs with renewed vigour now, and I have actually had initial responses from putting my cv on a job-site on the internet. I am also considering going to the baker of that weird bakery to ask if he would take me in as an apprentice...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Laughing at ourselves

ADD Jokes How many ADDers does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it took several light bulbs and several months to get it done because the ADDer..... Paid for the lightbulb then left it in the shop on the counter. Dropped another light bulb out of a hole in his/her shopping bag didn't notice and ran over it with a truck. Bought the wrong sort of lightbulb because s/he couldn't be bothered checking which sort of light bulb was needed cause that's boring. Left the light bulb under a pile of clothes for several weeks before s/he got around to trying to put it up. Couldn't remember who s/he gave the ladder too so decided they had to go buy another. Took the old light bulb down put it on the floor next to the new light bulb got distracted by an idea in his/her head. Ran to get notebook to write idea down idea forgot about light bulb for an hour as other thoughts came to mind, remembered lightbulb couldn't figure out which was the old light bulb and which was the new light bulb AARRRRRRRRRRRRRGWho invented such an inhuman thing as a light bulb?! Have you heard about the ADD computer virus? It periodically erases your RAM but your computer runs at 1000 000 Mhz and multitasks like a supercomputer! QUESTION: How would they diagnose ADD in a chicken? ANSWER: It never gets all the way across the road because of all the distractions.

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Ritalin Song

Ever wondered what it feels like to take Ritalin when you have ADD? I’ll do my very best. I have a song I associate with Ritalin. It is ‘Remember Me’ by Blue Boy. The song has only one line – “Remember me, I’m the one who had your babies.” It also includes a scat refrain going “ging-gi-gi-ging-ging-ging”. The one line and scat gets repeated over and over during the song. Remember Me was a dance hit in 1997. The song starts with a bzzz sound – reminiscent of a machine being switched on. Then there is a sound which can only be described as electronic bubbles before the lyrics start. There is also a very strong beat which gets repeated without variation throughout the song. So, about 10 minutes after I take my first Ritalin at 7 in the morning, a bzzz feeling starts and gets stronger till the methylphenidate hydrochloride (active ingredient in Ritalin & Concerta) kicks in good and proper, just as the bzzz in the song starts very soft and become louder. When I feel the electronic bubbles, I know we are at full strength now. For the next 4 hours I am on a sustained repetitive beat, same as the beat in the song. The lyrics and the scat are immaterial, but their repetitiveness and upbeatness (I know there is no such word) is the only way in which I can describe how it feels to be on Ritalin. If I take my 11 o’ clock and 3pm Ritalin, I will be on this beat till 7pm, after which I will come off. I will usually be tired then. Concerta is a slow release version, and works very good for many people, but I don’t like it. Because of the monotonous repetition of the lyrics, beat and scat, I feel with-it and I can concentrate on things. If I don’t take Ritalin, it is like having headphones on with two different songs playing in each ear. (Come on Eileen in the one ear and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in the other.) In both pieces the rhythm and cadence keeps on changing drastically. It is huge fun, but it makes it near impossible to concentrate on anything else.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Aeroplane Jane Image & Daddy

Last week Thursday I learned that I had to go to East London on urgent personal business. As my parents live there I decided to visit them for a few days as well. (That is why you haven’t heard from me.) I booked with 1Time going down on Sunday and SAA coming back Wednesday (yesterday). Immediately after booking a strong internal debate started. Should I take Image along or not? I did not really feel up to it flying alone with a 6,5 month old baby, but my sister Honey Bee, who is not well because of her heart condition, has not seen Image yet. By Friday afternoon I was becoming paranoid that Honey Bee will never see Image. I discussed it with Lamb and so I decided to take her along. I quickly phoned the airlines to let them know that I am bringing an infant along. I did not tell Honey Bee nor my parents that I am bringing Image along. So off we went early Sunday morning. Image strapped to my chest in her Kango Pouch, my Laptop over my one shoulder, Image’s bag with all the baby paraphernalia on the other shoulder and the car seat (I’ll never let her travel in a car without) in my right hand. Negotiating the airport like a pack donkey was no joke. Once we boarded the 1Time flight it took forever to get settled and then we waited and waited and waited. The aircon was not switched on and eventually more than half an hour passed. They then asked us to disembark. We loitered another 20 mins in the airport when the announcement came that we can board again. We all were feeling a bit uneasy by then. I dosed Image with Stillpaine because of the stinging ears the babies get when the plane descends. It helped and she was very good. Tears flowed when the grandparents saw that I brought her along. We had such a good time and the grandparents enjoyed her tremendously. Honey Bee was thrilled to see her as well. The trip back was uneventful, but I was quite stressed. It is still no joke to travel alone with a baby on a plane. Driving back from Jo’burg, I do not know how I reached Mordor in one piece. I struggled to see through all the tears. Honey Bee is not Honey Bee any longer. All the joy in her is gone. No more silly jokes and comments. She still works for my Dad, but I can see it takes just about everything she has just to get through the day. Since my previous post about her, my Dad phoned the doctors and told them that he knows that they are not telling us everything and he demanded to know the full truth. They then told him that Honey Bee’s heart is finished, kaput and on its last legs. I really am glad that I took Image along in the end..

Waiter, there is Beer in my Belgian Beef Bistro Dish

Waiter, there is Beer in my Belgian Beef Bistro Dish! I have decided to contribute to the Waiter there is something in my... challenge again. This time it is being hosted by The Passionate Cook... I had a very hard time deciding between two very definitive Bistro dishes. The one is my very secret Beef Filet with Cafe de Paris sauce and the other is Boeuf à la Flamande – or Flemish Beef in Beer. The reason why I chose the Beef Braised in Beer is because I associate bistro food with ‘where restaurant and home cooking meet’. I associate Bistro food with hearty braised dishes. Dishes which leaves one sated and contented. I am not a very good photographer, but here is a picture included. We South African’s love our rice, so although the recipe calls for serving the dish with thick slices of French bread cut diagonally, I served with rice and red cabbage and courgette stir fried on the side. Ingredients 1 Kilo beef short rib or braising steak cut into largish cubes (I used the short rib) 425 ml beer – I used lager 2 onions peeled and chopped 1 celery stick chopped 2 carrots grated 1 heaped table spoon plain flour Half a teaspoon ground allspice Few thyme sprigs 2 bay leaves Salt & freshly ground black pepper Olive oil Heat oven to 180˚C. In a large flameproof casserole dish (I used a cast iron pot with lid). Fry small amounts of the meat in batches till all have been browned on all sides. Keep aside. If needed put some more olive oil in the dish and slowly fry the onion, celery and carrot till soft. Add the meat back, give a good stir. Add the allspice, thyme, bay leaves and seasoning. Also add the flour and give a stir to evenly coat everything with the flour. Add the beer and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on the dish and transfer to the oven. Leave in the oven for about 3 hours.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

God and Guns

I am being very bad. I keep on referring to old posts and do not put much other content in my posts. I am rather busy with odds and ends at the moment and will be able to be a good blogger again from tomorrow onwards. Please also accept my apologies for the sparce commenting on your blogs. I shall rectify. For the last time then, please go and read one of my very old posts. It is one of my personal favourites and it deals with how I got my firearm license renewed. (Betty, in which instance is license used and in which licence?)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Mordor revisited

Hi there! Long time ago I did a post about the place where we live. Mordor. Angel and Glugster, who know my real identity also know where Mordor is. I've decided to come clean to the rest of you. Please do not judge me because of where I live. (Though it is very hard to be really clean where I live). I live in the Vaal Triangle. More specifically - Vereeniging. Good old V-Town. I do not have time for a proper post today, so if you have started reading my blog recently, please go and have a look at the post I did in 2007 titled Mordor. If you live in SA, you will know why I call the place Mordor. Soon I'll do an update on Mordor and one on our neighbour 'Ant Stienie.

Friday, 15 May 2009

If this does not impress your dinner guests...

I’m neglecting my ‘weird food’ posts. We have had Kentucky Burgoo and Deep Fried Twinkies. Today’s post is on two types of roasted fowl. One, the most magnificent walking the earth and the other, the most graceful on water. I am talking of course of the peacock and the swan. Both were popular from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance at the banquet tables of Europe. If you don’t believe me, consult the most authoritative Larousse Gastronomique. After roasting the cooks dressed it again in its feathers, added a few spectacular embellishments and served with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Here is an excerpt from the Larousse: “The peacock was served with great ceremony, roasted and entirely reconstituted, sometimes spitting fire (the beak covered with camphor and lit). It was skinned, roasted (the head wrapped in a wet cloth to protect the crest), then re-covered with its skin (still bearing the plumage), and its feet were gilded. The task of carving it was allotted to the most eminent guest, who carried it out to the applause of the company present and then made a vow to perform some exceptional deed, for example in a war venture or in the service of his lady or of God.” The entry in the Larousse on ‘Swan’ reads more or less the same. I am an adventurous eater, but in this case I think I shall stick to chicken and duck. I am glad that ever since the peacock and swan gained status as ornamental birds only.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Househusband - Stepford vs. Desparate

Yesterday I looked and felt like a frumpy housewife. I have a cold which I caught from Image. So I kept Image with me at home. I tried to clean and did 3 loads of washing. Now trying to do that when feeling ill with regular cold symptoms, whilst having a fussy, ill baby strapped to your chest in a Kango Pouch is no joke. I have new sympathy with stay-at-home moms. I was dressed in my oldest track suit and I never combed my hair. Luckily I had a frozen Bobotie, which I made a few weeks back, in the freezer, so I could at least give Lamb a decent plate of food without having to go through too much trouble. She is really tired at the moment and so last night I told her to take a tablet and go sleep in the guest bedroom next door and I took Image in with me – so Mommy can get some sleep. Image usually sleeps in her own room now, but when she is ill, either one of us keeps her in our bed. The privileged one who’s allowed to sleep, must take the guest room though (the bed is not as nice as ours). Today I had a root canal. The dentist is very good, and I didn’t feel a thing whilst he was working, but the feeling is returning now and my jaw aches now. I keep on being astounded by the baby products on the market. On recommendation I bought a Nosefrida today. It is a nasal aspiration device and on the website they advertise it (so ewe tong in die kies) as a snot sucker. Which is exactly what it is. It is a plastic tube attach to a rubber pipe, with a disposable sponge filter in the tube. One then stick the tube into the infant’s snot filled nose and suck on the rubber pipe end. The filter prevents it ending up in the parent’s mouth. It sounds awful, but ask any parent about those rubber bulbs which also are purportedly effective to remove mucous from a child’s nose. Purportedly, because in reality it does not work.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Grooming and priming - things which men shouldn't admit

Grooming - I am a bit lazy in that department. I have my hair cut, I take a bath and wash my hair once a day and sometimes even twice. The Nutrogena for Men Moisturizer with SPF 15 unfortunately stands in the bathroom cabinet and I may remember to put on once a week. I love a good and expensive (tend to like the old fashioned) eau de cologne like Terre d' Hermes or Vetiver by Guerlain. The whole metrosexual thing is all fine and well - but I just couldn't be bothered. I cut and clean my nails regularly and I comb my hair and I wash my face with Lamb's face wash. I don't exfoliate nor use toner (where do girls get the time?). There is just one thing I do which I feel men should not admit, but I'll be brave today.... I pluck my eyebrows. By no means do I shape my eyebrows or anything, but some mornings when I wake up and look at myself in the mirror, it looks as if I've sprouted antennae overnight. I have thick unruly and very long eyebrow hair. Every now and then one becomes particularly wayward, long and wavy and it sticks out either upwards or across my eye, thus impairing my vision. There is only one way to deal with those. Pluck it out. I've found it better to do it myself than to have Lamb rip one out when I least expect it. I've inherited the affliction from the old man, who has his trimmed when he goes for a haircut, which leaves him with thick rows of thick, short stubs. Ek sien nie kans daarvoor nie... I've put the promised photograph in yesterday's post.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Indian Butter Chicken for Mother's Day

Indian Butter Chicken for Mother’s Day. I haven’t yet done a post about our friends Supplanter and Lanza. They have a baby boy (John the Messenger) about Image’s age, which is one of many things we have in common as couples. Supplanter and I decided to treat the first time moms Lamb and Lanza on Mothers’ Day. We did all the cooking and we got them movie vouchers so that they can go out after lunch and the daddies will look after babies. In the end we were more people, including Lanza’s parents, Supplanter’s Sister, Mom and Mom’s Boyfriend, as well as Kara Noir, whose husband is overseas and her two children (Singularity - girl 3 and Germaine St. John - boy about 18 mths). Her mom and dad also came along. I got the most wonderful recipe for Indian Butter Chicken from Lotus Flower – an Indian lady and former colleague of Lamb’s (see below). We got together at Supplanter and Lanza’s house and we had a fabulous day (apart from one very scary incident). Supplanter set the table outside in the late autumn sun and him and me kept ourselves busy in his kitchen. Kara Noir (also a foodie) made small amounts of Rogan Josh- and Bombay Curries which we had for starters along with naan bread, lime pickels and a few other sambals and dips. It all tasted extremely good. I then served my butter chicken with basmati rice and everyone raved about it. Supplanter assisted with the sambals and he also made a very good Tiramisu for dessert (Delia Smiths’ recipe from her Winter Collection cookbook). I know the dessert didn’t go with the theme but we felt like Tiramisu and it was lovely. We had lots of fun (and wine) preparing the food. The moms and other guests also had a great time outside. Lunch was all conversation, laughter and merriment as only good company, good food and good wine can bring about. Then just before serving dessert, little Singularity came running around the corner shouthing, GERMAINE ST JOHN IS IN THE WATER. Kara Noir and Supplanter were the quickest to respond and rushed to the pool on the other side of the garage from where we were. Supplanter’s Mom grabbed her head in both hands and wide eyed started rocking back and forth. Supplanter jumped into to pool and rescued Germaine St John crying and soaking wet from the pool. He was fine otherwise. We then had dessert, slightly more subdued. Kara Noir decided to forgo the movie with the girls and went home. I also took Image home as she has a bit of a cold and do not want to keep her out after dark. The girls went off and watched the SA movie – White Wedding – which they all thoroughly enjoyed (by Lamb’s account). I really thanked God for Singularity’s quick response in calling for help... As I am not working at the moment, I did not take Image to daycare today and I’m keeping her at home with me. It calms her tremendously to have Lamb and me around when she’s not feeling well. Here follows J. Hardspear de la Azotea’s adapted version of the recipe.
caution - arteries may clog only reading this recipe
Indian Butter Chicken A) Marinade + step 1
3 kg chicken pieces skin removed (thighs & breasts – cut into smaller pieces) 2 tsp yellow food colouring 3-4 tsp hot curry power 2 tsp garam masala 2 tbsp crushed garlic 2 tbsp crushed ginger Zest & juice of ½ a lemon 2 level tsp salt 750 ml natural yoghurt Combine all of the above & marinate overnight In a large saucepan put 250 ml chicken stock & chicken pieces including marinade. Cook on stove on medium heat till moisture reduced by half. B) Butter & step 2 375 g Butter (it is Indian BUTTER Chicken – not Margarine chicken) 2 cardamom pods crushed 2 sachets or 1 can tomato paste 750 ml fresh cream Chopped fresh coriander Almond slivers. Melt butter at low heat, add cardamom and tomato paste and allow to come to boil. Add cream and all of the chicken and liquid from the previous step. Cook for about 10 mins till sauce thickens. Garnish with coriander & almond. Serve with basmati rice.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Star Trek the Movie

I just saw Star Trek 11 (eleven not two). It was brilliant! Mr. Spock made the movie though. They could not have gotten anybody better than Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes) to play Mr. Spock. I do not want to give away any spoilers, but I must tell you, I nearly cried a few times during the movie – especially when new- and old Mr. Spock meet. I am a Trekkie at heart (even though I did not pitch up at the movies in full costume). Live long and prosper! (Oh, Spear TA, I did follow that Onion NN link you've put in the comments of yesterday's post - Hillarious!)

Monday, 4 May 2009

Less gloom

Momcat's comment on my 'Recidivist' post made me realise that I should be more positive, and I am going to be. I do realise that I my outlook on life has been rather gloomy of late. I have to complain about one thing though. One of my upper molar teeth started disintegrating last week and I phoned the dentist for an appointment. They could only help me on the 6th, but as I did not have any pain, I said it was fine. As I said, we went to visit Lamb's mother - Ewe - who lives in Tappet-Valley (large mining town in the North West Province) this weekend and she babysat Image so that we could go for a meal and a movie. Whilst we were munching our pizza it suddenly felt as if someone put a chisel to my tooth and and gave it a massive bang with a great big hammer. Shock waves of pain originating from the epicentre (broken tooth) radiated through my whole head as Lamb chatted happily away - blissfully unaware of my agony. Only when I uttered a mangled curse, she realised something was wrong. Not wanting to spoil the evening, I had the rest of the meal put in a take-away and we drove back to mother-in-law's house where I raided her considerable pharmacy of painkillers. I made sure that I had a very good coctail of analgesics. I poured a bottle of Image's teething remedy into the hollow tooth, and we rushed back to the cinema, and arrived just in time to still catch the movie. We watched X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The reviews I read was not so good, but I liked it. Good escapism fun! Wanted to see Slumdog Millionaire - but it didn't show in Tappet-Valley. Glad to see our very own Gavin Hood (of Tsotsi fame) made it as director of a Hollywood feature from a successful franchise such as X-Men. This morning I badgered the dentist's receptionist till she gave me an appointment. The guy did his drilling and injected some sweet relief into the tooth. Now I have to go for a root canal next week...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Waiter there is something in my retro 70’s Charlotte...

Interesting challenge – Cooksister’s blog. The popular food blog Cooksister published an interesting challenge... To time travel back to the 70’s and try out a retro 70’s dish which you remember. Boy did this challenge inspire me. I wanted to do a whole menu, but will not be able to accomplish that before the closing date on the 4th of May. What I did is do a bit of writing on what I can remember and some inspiration I’ve found doing informal research (browsing in a dusty bookstore really) Non internet research In addition to what I remember, I decided to do some research in a retro way – without the internet. I went to our local book exchange’s recipe book section for inspiration. I found a series of magazines called ‘Supercook’ which was published in the seventies and I include scans of two photos further in the post. What I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea remember, what I associate with the 70’s and SA steakhouses & restaurants What did we (in my case – white middle class Afrikaner family) eat in South Africa in the 70’s? I first went to school at the age of 7 in 1980. I was a very fussy eater as a pre-schooler (something like little Nigel Slater in his book ‘toast’). I remember that our menu’s consisted mostly of gekookte kos or boerekos which was cooked meals and consisted rys, vleis en aartappels, rice, meat and potatoes. Rice was served with the gravy of the mutton (baby sheep weren’t the thing back then), beef (roast silverside) or chicken. Potatoes were either peeled and boiled or peeled and cut into thick chips and cooked with the meat. The meat was very often a roast (how did my parents afford it then?) Veggies were sweet pumpkin with cinnamon, green beans cooked with diced potato and onion – slightly mashed, very sweet sweet potato, very sweet carrots, very sweet peas – overcooked cabbage, overcooked spinach or overcooked cauliflower. Quick and easy meals were chops baked in the oven – also served with the above veggies, fish & chips, spaghetti bolognaise, stew or curry and rice. Saturdays were hamburgers or braai. Dessert used to be baked brown pudding or jelly and custard. My Grandmother was fond of making sago pudding. Of the above I only ate roast chicken (breast without skin), peas, fish & chips, spaghetti, hamburgers, and braaivleis. If anything else was on the menu, I only had cooked rice. I remember that I liked Weetbix, Pro-Nutro, soft white bread (crust removed) with cheese spread. I loved Coke and Salt & Vinegar crisps and Nicknacks. I didn’t eat eggs. I didn’t drink milk and I still don’t, unless if it is with tonnes of chocolate Nesquick. I didn’t eat custard, baked pudding and definitely no sago. I didn’t eat boerewors. I loved eating stiff or phutu pap like our domestic – eating with your hands, making balls with the pap and dipping it into the tomato relish (sheshebo). I loved polony. I loved KFC then already. Though it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken and the menu was limited to pieces, mash & gravy, coleslaw – which I didn’t eat - and those funny little loaves. Today there is very little I don’t eat. I do not eat tripe or offal of any kind. I don’t like peas but I’ll eat it and the one time I tasted abalone I did not like it. I still love rice and any rice dish: Pilau, paella, pilaf, nasi goreng, jambalaya, risotto. I like basmati, Thai fragrant, brown, wild, long grain, short grain, sticky, loose and yes – good old Tastic, whatever type that might be. So what do I associate the 70’s with? I cannot think of anything more 70’s than a fondue. I know the origins of fondue in Switzerland are shrouded in age old myth and legend, but the fondue came to the pinnacle of its popularity in the 70’s. In SA the fondue bourguignonne (small beef fillet cubes cooked on spears in a metal fondue pot filled with oil) were just as if not more popular than the cheese fondue. For me as a child, there was nothing more fancy and impressive as a fondue. My mom would do a fondue for the family if she planned one for a dinner party in order to keep us kids satisfied not being able to attend the dinner party – the family one usually a few days before the dinner party. Flambéing things from steaks to puddings were all the rage during the 70’s. Steak Dianne (as remembered by Cooksister), Crepe Suzettes, flambéd cherries – and they came to prepare it at your table! What can be more impressive? Never again after the 70’s did people serve entire meals in aspic. All the salads were set in rings. Avocado ring, cucumber ring, mustard ring etc. My Grandmother’s standard starter was steamed and flaked haddock with whatnot else, set with gelatine in a square dish. She served small squares in shells on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with a mayonnaise sauce and curled carrot shavings as garnish. Also ever popular was the salmon mousse set in a large fish mould and turned out on a bed of shredded lettuce. Mains meant Chaudfroid beef, -chicken or –venison, which is meat and elaborate garnish set in a glaze of sauce/gravy and aspic. For desert – strawberry jelly mixed with a can of evaporated milk and whisked with an electric mixer till frothy. It used to set to a weird frothy mousse-esque something. Snacks in the 70’s were prunes / olives / cocktail sausages wrapped and baked in bacon; bread spread with margarine coloured with food colouring, wrapped around viennas (wiener sausages) and sliced in rings; pieces of cheese, viennas and green / yellow / red cocktail onions and gherkins skewered onto toothpicks. You could spear basically anything onto a toothpick and stick it into those green blocks florists use wrapped in foil. Oh, and can you forget the stuffed boiled eggs? My favourite though was called Wolmuise, woolly mice if you must translate directly. It was made by cutting rounds with a cookie cutter from slices of soft white bread. The rounds of bread were spread with a mixture of margarine and marmite. The one side was stuck to a Bacon Kip cracker and the other dipped in powdered biltong. For very long SA restaurants were stuck in the 70’s and some still are. You’ll find the following on the menu: chicken liver pâté; prawn cocktail; melon balls with parma ham; garlic snails; Chicken Fricassee; Chateaubriand; Chicken Kiev; Roquefort Steak; Fillet of Sole Mornay; Peach Melba and Cherries Jubilee. But admit it – how lekker do you eat at such a restaurant. Pork chops with apple rings, chicken terrine, braaibroodjies, slaphakskeentjies, this-or-that-Au-Gratin, Quiche Lorraine, French onion soup, beef olives and horribly sweet punch at weddings made with cheap white wine, crushed pineapple and lemonade. Devilled meant adding a shitload of pepper. I do not remember freshly ground black pepper in the 70’s - it used to be fine white pepper and it made you sneeze. No Shell UltraCity or Engen OneStop next to the roads – on long road trips lunch was packed. Padkos consisted of hard boiled eggs, frikkadelle, biltong sarmies, chicken legs and tea in a flask. This I remember and associate with the 70’s. My Entry (with authentic 70's pic) The Seventiest of 70’s puddings to my mind must be a Raspberry Charlotte (Charlotte aux Framboises) Ingredients: 28-30 finger biscuits 115 g castor sugar 8 egg yolks 15 g gelatine dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water 750 g fresh raspberries, hulled, washed and drained 750 ml fresh cream stiffly whipped. Line the sides of a 2 litre mould with dampened waxed paper. Place a row of finger biscuits upright all around the inside of the mould. Do not line the bottom with biscuits. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar into the egg yolks with a whisk. Continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow and will form a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted. Place the mixing bowl over a saucepan of just-simmering water and continue beating, over moderate heat, until the mixture is thick and hot. Remove the mixing bowl from the heat and stand it in a basin of cold water. Add the dissolved gelatine. Continue to beat the mixture until it is cold. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and leave it to chill for 30 minutes. Sieve 500 g of the berries into a small bowl and place the puree in the fridge to chill. With a metal spoon, fold the puree into the chilled egg yolk mixture and add 2 ½ cups of the cream and stir until well blended. Pour mixture in a lined mould and arrange the remaining sponge fingers over the top to completely cover the mould. Trim off any protruding sponge fingers. Cover the mould with waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve the Charlotte, remove the paper from the top and run a knife around the edge of the mould. Place a serving dish over the mould and turn it upside down, giving a sharp shake. The Charlotte should slide out easily on to the dish. Decorate with the remaining berries and cream. Although it is a lot of trouble – it can be made the day before – leaving you more time with your guests.

Long time no post

I am working very hard on a very long post and therefore have not posted much. I will have to post it this afternoon, whether finished or not. I am surprisingly busy for someone currently out of work. I wonder how that could be. I am tensed about getting onto a new project – companies are cutting back on expenses and projects and consultants are the first to go. I am also loving having time for myself for the first time in aeons. This weekend we are going to Lamb’s mother, Ewe, who lives in Tappet-Valley (A large mining town in the North-West Province). Luckily there are cinemas so Grandma can babysit and Lamb and I can get out for a bit.

Being recidivist

Angel’s son has ADD and is making her moedeloos (no English equivalent) at the moment. Angel feels that much of it is her fault. As parents – people do make mistakes and the things parents do and don’t do does have an effect on their children. I still feel Angel shouldn’t beat herself up too much. Personally I am very wary of blaming ADD for everything that goes wrong in my life, but if you read my blog and the blogs of people like Angel & Momcat (both to whom I regularly refer to) you’ll find that it ain’t easy. The word recidivist often applies to people with ADD. A recidivist is someone who continues to display undesirable behaviour or even commit crimes despite having been punished for such behaviour before and despite of full knowing well what the consequences of such behaviour may be. Lamb tells me of a boy with ADD in her grade 1 class. This boy sits at the back of the class and every afternoon when the final bell rings and Lamb lets them out he puts his schoolbag on his back and as he walks to the door bumps off all the little chairs which Lamb had the children put on the desks before they leave. Notwithstanding everything she’d done to deter the boy from doing this and even in the face of her threatening him with whatever punishment, he continues to do this. People call this anti-social behaviour and whatnot, but here is some insight that I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea can give you, being a recidivist myself. Even though I have become extremely adept at hiding my bad behaviour, I still get caught. Why do I do it then?... Well I don’t know. All I know is that the simplest of tasks, for instance having to make a short phone call at work to arrange something, sometimes seems insurmountable to me. And when I get to such a task – it is like a dam wall, blocking all the other things I have to do. I find it impossible to do anything else until I’ve done this thing which I positively cannot get myself to do. So all my work pile up and pile up till I am in real trouble. When I then get into trouble, it most definitely does not deter me from doing it again. Ok, that is: not doing what I should do. The same applies for: doing what I shouldn’t do. The compulsion to do something I know I must not do sometimes becomes overriding and an obsession. And it is not only addictions. It is like starting to swear real bad at someone without being provoked, simply because you feel like it. Why do I feel it is not anti-social? Because my conscience eats at me when I do that which I shouldn’t and even more so when I don’t do what I should. It positively eats at me. I do feel that people with ADD should face the consequences of what they do like anybody else, but sometimes it feels to me that my life consists entirely of facing consequences. When I am in a good mood I can with effort desist these compulsions, but boy, when I am tired or depressed it becomes real hard. I can deal with significant people in my life’s disappointment in me, but fuck; I cannot deal with my own disappointment in myself nor the regret of not doing which I should. Nor the guilt of doing which I shouldn’t.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Fuuuck Oooooffffff Jeremy Clarkson

Lamb's car was stolen right in front of our house in the middle of the day today. I am thinking again of the letter on how safe SA is which Jeremy Clarkson wrote. Doing a stint here in SA once a year for two weeks may give one the impression that all is well here. But live here and see how your friends, family, colleagues get robbed blind, murdered, raped or attacked. Visiting SA you may not experience all these things, but try living here... Our house was broken into - I did a post a while back - about a month and a half ago. Not long ago I had our alarm system upgraded - fat lot of good that did. I honestly do not know who I am going to vote for tomorrow. Out of the selection we have, I cannot see, honestly, that any one can make a difference. I am fed up and gatvol.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Potato Soup

Saturday morning Lamb and I decided to invite friends over for dinner. Enthused by my new passion for home baked bread, I devised a simple menu of bread and potato soup. I made a focaccia using the ‘sponge’ method described in the post below. Just before baking, I brushed the top with olive oil, fresh garlic and fresh rosemary (I forgot to sprinkle the salt flakes). This is my own version of potato soup and it is truly delicious, very easy to make and surely will impress your guests. This is one of my top winter warmer comfort foods. 5 large potatoes peeled, quartered and boiled till soft. 1 Chouriço (Portuguese) or Chorizo (Spanish) sausage 1 Kassler chop 2 large onions peeled and chopped 2 chicken and 1 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1 ½ litre of water. (I won’t insist on making your own stock or using expensive concentrate) Olive oil Little bit of lemon zest Juice of half a lemon Freshly ground black pepper.
(Serves 4 generous portions – increase stock & potatoes for more guests – double Chouriço and Kassler if more than 8 people)
Remove the piece of bone on the Kassler (but keep it) and chop together with the Chouriço to pieces roughly half the size of dice. Fry on low heat till browned in a large saucepan (including the piece of Kassler bone). Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and fry the onions slowly in the same saucepan till translucent and light caramel colour and add the stock. Increase the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the onions with a sieve and discard. Add the stock and meat back to the saucepan. Add the potatoes and carefully mash the potatoes – you want part to remain whole and the rest will thicken the soup. Simmer on a very low heat for 10 mins, add lemon zest, juice and black pepper. (Remove bone) Serve with a nice crusty chewy bread. The Chouriço imparts its wonderful spicy flavour to the soup and the Kassler adds extra smokiness and depth. Do not add any salt and be careful using too many stock cubes or too much stock powder/concentrate as the Chouriço and Kassler are salty already. Lamb contributed this easy and very good dessert. Some foodies may frown upon this, but trust me – it is good. Pour 1 litre Ultra Mel Custard into a bowl. Heat in microwave. Break up 1 box of Romany Creams Chocolate biscuits (not too small) and mix into the custard. Allow to cool completely before serving.
The table the next morning...