Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Where have all the good men gone ...

...and where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
to fight the rising odds?

I need a hero...

Yesterday I read a post in which the blogger reminisced about old TV programmes like Night Rider, Buck Rogers, MacGyver, Airwolf etc.

I thought about it again as I started to make my way home after work. It struck me that I do not have a hero and I really felt like I should have one... like when I was little. I mean, Buck Rogers and Steve Austin - Die Man van Staal (The Six Million Dollar Man) – they were my ultimate heroes.

When did I stop having heroes and why?

Why should it be different now that I am nearly 38? I thought about it long and hard, and the issue really bothered me a lot. I then decided from now on I am going to have heroes again and I chose the 1st 3. In no particular order I chose as follows:

- Riaan Cruywagen. He has been reading the news since I was pre-school. I promise. All you Saffers will know that I am not exaggerating. He is such a gentleman, with his stupid jokes at the end of the news and all, and his slightly too green eye make-up and his toupee. I mean, like how old is he?

- Miles Vorkosigan. My favourite SciFi character from my favourite SciFi author – Lois McMaster Bujold. One cannot describe Miles, you have to read the books.

- Natalie du Toit. For obvious reasons.

What purpose will it serve for me having heroes? I don’t know, but I feel better for having heroes again...

What about everybody else? Do you still have heroes?

Monday, 25 October 2010


Slegte Kos! (Bad tasting food).  I am still stuck on this - what makes something taste good to some and horrible to others.

I do not like tripe, liver or kidneys and I do not drink milk.  That is not too uncommon - many people do not eat tripe.

I cannot stand cotton candy (candyfloss)(spookasem).  I cannot touch it and I cannot put it in my mouth.  I know people who won't eat cheese.  I know someone who are positively revolted by fresh fruit and someone who shuns butter, margarine & mayonaise.

Do you have any particular food dislikes and why?

Friday, 22 October 2010

If dangerous driving does not get me, clogged arteries will

I know this is so WRONG on every level, but like Dexter I, J. Hardspear de La Azotea like eating junk food whilst driving. Also the messier, the lekkerder. Here’s a list of my favourite drive food:

• Wimpy Bacon & Cheese Burger with Extra Relish. (Toasted version is slightly easier to eat in the car, but then you have to hold the sandwich/burger horizontal to take a bite. It takes a while to scrub the pink stains from the cheap tomato sauce off your fingers again.

• Woolworths Pie. Just be careful – they are always extremely hot. Take a bite out of the crust at the corner to expose the filling and hold in front of the aircon vent to blow cold air in. You’ll be able to take a safe bite within the first two kilometres. Your whole car will be covered in flaky crumbs.

• Quattro Stagioni Pizza with extra cheese. Just wash the grease off of the steering wheel at your destination.

• Soft Serve Ice Cream on a Cone (at least 4 turns of Ice Cream) on a hot day you have to eat especially fast. If you break hard it usually ends up in crotch of your black work trousers.

• A mega lemon & poppy seed muffin from a garage cafe.

What is your favourite car food?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Twitter Song

Mark Pilgrim called this 'The Twitter Song' on the radio yesterday.  Since then the "tweet tweet twee-twee-twee tweet tweet" part got stuck in my head.  I hear it over and over and over and over and over again.

Here is Pack Up by Eliza Doolittle:

ps.  DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKING, YOUNG LUKE.  Or shall we say Woolworths.  Christian mags are back on the Point of Sales "cattle passages" at Woollies!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Woolworths bans Christian Magazines

Wow. You should see the reaction over Woolworths’ decision not to stock Christian magazines any longer. See News24 Article.

Personally I do not buy them. I once bought the Christian-endorsed magazine “Intiem” which proved to be quite risqué in terms of its target market. I was surprised by the quality of content, topics of discussion etc.
However... although I find most South African Christian Magazines a trifle boring, just as I find the Cosmopolitan, Huisgenoot, You and GQ boring, there is in essence nothing wrong with them. They are aimed at a specific target market and are enjoyed by many.

Getting to my point... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea think it is very hypocritical of Woolworths doing this and calling it a “business decision”. Woolworths started unpacking Christmas stuff in their stores on the 30th OF SEPTEMBER ALREADY! They are always and forever welcoming their Jewish Customers during Rosh Hashanah, Hindu Customers during Diwali, Muslim Customers during Ramadan, etc. They stock Halaal and Kosher products, but they serve Mammon! (Stop me, I am starting to sound like a manic street preacher!)

I wish I had more backbone to join the Woolies boycott, but I am dreaming of Butter-Caramel filled Mini Swiss Rolls. Maybe I am as much of a goody-goody-two-shoe as they are...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Awarding an Angel

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea are for the first time honoring another blogger with an award.  Angel consistently scores as the best commenter on my blog.  Thanks Angel, you mean so much to me.  Go add this to your wonderful collection!

Julia says...

New Blog Alert! 

"Julia says, she doesn't know what it's all about..."

Now I have that frigging Wet Wet Wet song stuck in my head.

Anyway, go have a look at what Julia says over at Unwritten

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pee on your lemon tree

My pen-pusher hands took some severe mauling this weekend. As you may or may not know people with ADD tend to overdo things a bit at times.
The previous weekend Lamb bought a few trays of seedlings in order to get some colour in our garden. I bought a few herb plants. We never got round planting it, so it spent the week under a tree on the front lawn. Then this past Saturday, Image and I went to the nursery again, they had a special on lemon trees (R44.00 for shoulder height) they cost up to R300 sometimes! Now with Lamb not there to put some restraint on me, I ended up spending R500.
I am not a good gardener, and have not spent time in the garden in AGES (other than watering it). So, unlike Tamara, with her green fingers, I generally do not know the names of plants (unless it is of the edible variety of course). This is what (over two weekends) we bought: Lamb: seedlings (petunias, I think), geraniums-which-is-actually-pelargoniums (I looked it up just now – we call it ‘Malvas’ in Afrikaans – but it has nothing to do with the pudding) and a few bags of compost. Hardspear: more seedlings – I don’t know the name but conical shaped ones with 2/3rds dark green leaves at the bottom and 1/3 dark red pointy flowers on top, 3 lavender bushes, the on-special-lemon-tree, a shrub of some sort, a shitload coriander, basil and chilli plants (very small), a larger basil and coriander, traditional curly leaf parsley and chives. I bought more compost, bone meal and LAN lawn dressing.
Then... yesterday (Sunday)... after church we went to the shops and got home at 12:00. I donned myself in old clothes, wide brim floppy khaki hat, slathered sunscreen on (Lamb’s SPF 30 ROC on neck shoulders and her SPF 50 Vichy on my face – which I sweated off within 10 minutes) and my trusty old Crocks on my feet. I then proceeded with serious back-breaking work:
• Prepared the built-in flowerbox by the kitchen door for Lamb. Tilled the soil & mixed with compost. Watered.
• Dug 3 holes next to the back wall in the garden. Arduous – since the soil is extremely poor and hard packed. Not even the recent rain loosened it much.
• I have two large loquat trees on the sidewalk (left of the drive-way) – and schtuff does not grow well under it, but I managed to get the better part covered in small-leaved ivy. It took years. To the right of the driveway is a small ugly square, where I managed to get a rectangular frame of dessert roses growing. So inside the frame I dug another 3 holes and planted the lavender in a row from the wall to the street. In-between I put some of the pointy red flowers.
• Dug a yet another big hole in the hard packed stretch next to the back wall. My mother-in-law says it is better to put compost/potting soil mixed with ordinary soil in large outside planters, since it keeps water better. Proceeded to mixed soil with compost as per the old woman’s advice.
• Planted a dying indoors potplant, the shrub and lemon tree next to the back wall. Took out a few waist length weeds (my fortnightly gardiner spends all his time in the beautiful shady front garden, but avoids the massive back garden totally. My back garden is like The Beginning – formless and empty. (Though I don’t believe the Spirit of God hovers over the water since we do not have a pool). I do hope he (or his Angels) hovers over the whole property though – I pray that anyway...
• Screamed at the dogs who got hold of the bag of bone meal and licking it and rolling in it where they spilled it.
• Put layer of rocks and gravel at the bottom of two big empty planters and then filled it with compost & soil mix. Shouted for Lamb that flower box & planters are ready, she can come and do the very tasking sticking-in of seedlings & pelargiums.
• Nearly gave myself a hernia by picking up a very large planter (full of wet soil – but devoid of plants) in the front garden, loading it on a wheelbarrow and taking it to the back. My boardshorts split from my crotch right down the left leg as I was straining to lift the damn thing. Lamb nearly wet herself. Repeated the process with second large planter, pants split further.
• Arranged one narrow tall planter, two large squat planters and a number of small pots in a corner near kitchen door. Planted most of the larger herbs in the big planters. Took all the small ones out of their trays and re-planted them in the smaller pots.
• Suddenly got MASSIVE headache – ate a sandwich, drank gallons of water and one of those migraine kits one get from the pharmacy.
• Watered everything – swept up the dirt, cleaned up and stashed the garden tools.
• Peed on the lemon tree through torn shorts. Cool, only had to negotiate out of my Jockey’s no zippers or waistbands to hamper.
Finished by 19:00. Took a bath and really had to scrub to get myself clean again. Lamb then got a very bad allergic reaction, sneezing, coughing and itching all over. Drove to emergency pharmacy to get Allergex. I am wondering if perhaps the moist compost from the sealed plastic bags contained high levels of spores or something, hence my sudden headache and Lamb’s allergic reaction.
My long departed uncle had the most beautiful healthy lemon tree in his garden bearing massive fat, juicy lemons. He believed that this was due to him and my cousin taking their last pee at night before going to bed, next to the lemon tree.
Looked it up on the web. Seems to be a good old Aussie tradition. When having a barbie, the men pee on the lemon tree. Apparently urine is also a very good compost activator.
I am still in a daze from whatever they put into that migraine kit...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday Morning

Woke up at 2am, got up at 4, left home at 4:45, arrived at work at 5:40, made coffee, peed, played freecell, stole biscuits, tweeted, blogged, re-arranged my balls - ready to work at 6:20.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tongue Orgasms – What makes something taste good? The elusive fifth taste?

This post has been inspired by James Bond, Tamara and my own curiosity and quest for the perfect dish.

What makes something taste good? Well what? It is more than something being sweet, salty, bitter our sour and your preference. Oh so by the way, for the last ten years, they have added ‘umami’ to the list of primary tastes. So let’s digress...what is umami? Robin Rinaldi wrote:

“For this experiment you need five things: a pinch of sugar, a little table salt, a lemon, a cup of good black coffee and some chicken bouillon. Start by putting the sugar in your mouth. You'll notice an instant sensation you recognize as "sweet" up on the tip of the tongue; you may even feel a tiny head rush. Then do the same with the salt. This registers intense and mineral-like, spreading to the sides of the tongue. For the remaining three, you must hold your nose tightly to prevent the aromas from interfering with your taste perception. Bite into a wedge of lemon and feel how the whole mouth reacts against "sour." Next sip the coffee, whose steely "bitter" hardness lingers at the back of the palate. Now take a slow drink of bouillon. See what happens, how the whole tongue seems to light up? There's saltiness, yes, and a little sweetness, but there's something else. It leaves an almost warm, creamy trail as you swallow. You might call it "meaty" or "savoury."”... or UMAMI. Umami is a loanword from Japanese meaning "good flavour" or "good taste". In as much as it describes the flavour common to savoury products such as meat, cheese, and mushrooms, umami is similar to Brillat-Savarin's concept of osmazome, an early Western attempt to describe the main flavouring component of meat as extracted in the process of making stock. Umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by a NATURAL glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products.

As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavours, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, but it plays an important role making food taste delicious.

Umami is beef, pork, certain types of fish. Umami is potatoes, seaweed, carrots, mushrooms and sun-ripened tomatoes. The sun-riper – the umami-er. Über-umami is dry cured ham, parmesan cheese, MSG, fish sauce, dried fish, biltong & beef jerky, Worchester Sauce, A1 Sauce, HP Sauce, Bovril, Marmite, Vegemite and anchovies. Bacon is the King of Umami. Aromat is umami in a can. Umami is that what makes you scream “Ooooh Mommy!”

James Bond’s cover in ‘You only live twice’ was that of an industrial spy, trying to steal Osata’s formula for making Monosodium Glutamate. Tamara over at Doodles of a Journo cannot see what the great big fuss is over a juicy steak. She likes oriental dishes – also high in umami content.

Soooo, what is it that makes something taste good? It cannot be the umami thing on its own... There is no umami in Dulce de Leche Ice Cream...

The picture above is self-explanatory – it is a combination of so many things. However... I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea will still give you my own spin on this. We forget that other things play a role in what we perceive as good tasting and not. Sound... ‘Snap-Crackle-Pop’. The sound of insect legs rubbing together, a bubbling stew, sizzling meat/vegetables. You cannot properly taste a curry dish if you have a cold and your nose is blocked. Is it acceptable in your culture to eat live insects or do you gril?

I can even bring ADD into this. Tactile Defensiveness. Your little fussy-eater may not as much be averse to the taste of something, than not being able to tolerate the texture of it.

Fat. Cuts of meat marbled with fat throughout the muscle tissue is tastier that extremely lean meat. Oil, butter, lard, dripping etc. makes food just so much more tastier.

Method & preparation. Some people have the ability to assassinate the taste in even the best of ingredients. Some lovingly coax the very best out of quite mediocre stuff.
Gender? Generally men would classify meaty, starchy food as comfort food and women sweet stuff like chocolates & ice cream.

Piquanteness? Spiciness? Astringency? What about the pungents (onions, garlic, shallots, chives)? How does it look? Is it pleasing to the eye?

Now, MSG...MSG...MSG. MSG is fake umami. It is like using lurid yellow banana essence instead of real bananas. The fast food & ready-made-food industry can dress up the most horrible tasteless substance by adding MSG, excessive fats, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, excessive (hidden) salts, colourants, flavourants, additives, solidifiers, emulsifiers, preservatives etc, etc. When in doubt – cover in bacon and melted (processed) cheese.

Some research says these additives are safe, some say it is harmful, some say it’s addictive. Hell, I don’t know? Common sense dictates that it cannot be good though. Personally, too much fast foods, snacks etc makes me either full but not sated or sated but not full or whatever. It is not the same satisfied feeling one has after a proper square meal made from scratch.

The challenge then is this: To be able to make extremely tasty good food from fresh ingredients, bring out the natural umami, salt, sweetness, bitterness and sourness and by combining different tastes in such a manner that the introduction of that to your taste buds will cause them to experience multiple spontaneous and long lasting orgasms.

...and who is Robin Ronaldi...? I haven’t the faintest...

I wish all I have said in this post is original and my own, sadly it is not, I have just quilted bits from different websites & blogs together into this. It is however essentially what I WANT to say. (The thread for stitching the different pieces together was spun by me though...)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Gross Out Challenge

Hi there!

Remember, I said that I came to the realisation that you can deep fry anything...

How about deep fried meatball & spaghetti on a stick!  I got this from a photo-blog called 'this is why you are fat'.  I challenge you to follow this link and click on older posts or newer posts till you are totall grossed out.  I managed 35 clicks before I was sick to my stomach.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Roughly in life...J. Hardspear de la Azotea’s current obsessions

Work... My current project ends in a month. I have sent my CV out, I have irons in the fire, my time on this project may get extended, I may patent a product and sell the manufacturing rights to Nabisco/Frito-Lay/NASA/UNILEVER/The Government of San Marino, blog may become super popular overnight and I can switch Google Ads on again and make tons.

Lady Gaga. Saw her on Oprah the other day. Realized her closet-personality is actually a NERD! Bought the Fame Monster CD yesterday (didn’t tell Lamb), listened to both CDs with headphones on my PC 3x today already.

Rain. Wish it would come now – looked super promising yesterday

My weight. Bought USN Phedra Cut XT yesterday (didn’t tell Lamb)

My Finances. The lack thereof exacerbated by my excessive frittering away of money.

SANRAL. GFIP to be completed over the next 5 millennia.

My Blogging Stats. (Will do a separate post on that one)

Lamb. We’ve been having a number of ups-and-downs lately but lately more ups.

Janis Joplin. Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. See YouTube below for coolest clip you have ever seen. WHY DID SHE HAVE TO DIE?

Baconaise – Blogged about it before – Now available in SA from P’nP Hyper. Sinfully delicious.

Lamb. Worried about her health. She went to see a Iridologist / Naturopath – seems to get slowly better (Chronic fatigue, horse voice a.o.)

Science Fiction. I promise you, I really have 1000 sci-fi books on my Kindle. Currently reading Ringworld by Larry Niven. He wrote it in 1970 – won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus (3 biggest SF awards).

Image. Cuter than ever. Talks, strong-willed, lovable, her 2nd birthday is coming up early November.

Dad. Seems to be doing well. Bought a new car.

Sister Honey Bee. Health has improved.

Paula Deen. Her Lasagne Sandwich

My friends. Guilt...I am neglecting them...

eMalahleni. Formerly known as Witbank. Going there Thursday & Friday.

Soda Water. With lotsa ice and slice of lemon. Can drink tons.  Or is it kilo-litres?

Amatomu. What happened to it?

Sport. Infidelity, match fixing, suicide attempts, politicians interfering, illegal substances.

Muscle Cars. I want a Chev SS like my Grandfather had. Yellow with a black roof and double black stripes on the bonnet and boot. The sound of that engine is enough to make me hard.

Stimulants. Ritalin. They used to give it to American Troops in the Vietnam War to combat battle fatigue.

Summer. Balmy evenings, the delicious smell of Syringa Tree blooms (atichoooooo!). Sound of impulse sprayers wetting countless lawns, braai fires.

Heidi, Pinocchio & Nemo. Image’s current favourite DVDs.

The Dutch. My funny colleague. The funniest ever, EVER video clip on YouTube.

Afrigator. Why is it so damn slow

Twitter. 1 Tweet per day diet.

Amazon Kindle. Lamb currently annexed mine.

Kathy Reichs. Bones to Ashes. Reading physical copy since Lamb has spread like a fungus all over my Kindle. I still read paper books. Got nothing against them.

Sheebee. She knelt on her Amazon Kindle DS. Wonder how she managed that. Wonder if it can be repaired.

BlackBerry PlayBook. The Apple iPad has competition. The Amazon Kindle is NOT competition. eBook Readers are not to be confused with Tablet PC devices!

Zombie. What’s in your head, in your head?