Monday, 16 April 2012

The Hunger Games Movie

As the other me said in a facebook update, I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have had neither the benefit nor the drawback of having read the book ‘The Hunger Games’ therefor I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect.  I asked my Heavy Number Two (brother-in-law 2) to accompany me and off we went.

I was totally blown away!!!  I have not enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time.  I quickly picked up on the Greek Mythology theme of the story of Theseus, the Labyrinth and Ariadne’s Thread.  From the desperation of the people in the districts to the decadence of the citizens and rulers of the Capitol hegemony and eventually to the events in the Arena, the movie is one big visual stimulating experience.  I wanna see it again.

Effie Trinket & Katniss

I also cannot wait to get hold of the books.  I cannot understand why I have not yet read it, but will remedy this omission promptly.  (Maybe in my mind I was expecting something similar to the Twilight Saga, which I cannot stand.  I have said before – the whole teenage-angst-and-vampire theme does not work for me.)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 7 - Friday

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, am proud to declare that I have lasted 6 days on the Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet).  I did aim for 10 days, but alas, for someone who thinks food, have a passion for cooking, who reads recipe- and cookbooks for leisure, who lives for and dreams of the next culinary success, to NOT eat for 6 days is a major fait accompli.  I also did stop smoking in the process.

So what happened?  It was late afternoon on Day 6 and I sat in an important meeting in which our team was discussing an important deadline for Monday.  I was feeling very low on energy and my concentration was totally shot.  All I heard was blah, blah, blah – Hardspear needs to blah, blah, blah and Hardspear has agreed to blah, blah, blah before close of business.  It was someone’s going away function earlier the day and there was some snacks left in our open plan office.  I got up in the middle of the meeting, walked out of the boardroom, went to the office ate a LITTLE of the snacks, drank a cup of coffee and re-joined the meeting.  I surreptitiously ascertained what the blah, blah, blah was and started executing on the blah, blah, blah.  I simply cannot afford not to have all my wits in one place from now till Monday.

In the evening I had a bowl of the lovely vegetable soup which I made earlier in the week.  Delicious.  I could feel the goodness seeping into every molecule of my body.  I also had a cup of yoghurt and a gut-flora tablet to re-establish and start re-populate all the good bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive system.
I walk away from this:
·         Feeling lighter
·         Feeling happier
·         Having lost 5 kilos
·         Tummy shrunk noticeably
·         Clothes fit looser
·         Stopped Smoking
·         Determined to continue henceforth eating healthier and smaller portions
·         Determined to start exercising.
So what to do with the left over Maple Syrup?  Well, I am already devising a recipe for Caramel Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Syrup, Mascarpone & Pistachio Icing.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 6 - Thursday

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea nearly went mad last night.  I craved food so bad, I nearly lost it.  In the end I had to make a choice…  Either I quit, or I try some workaround to preserve my sanity.  I decided on the workaround.  I put a teaspoon of Bovril into a cup of hot water and drank the resulting lovely salty and savoury broth.  Immediately the Giant Pizzas stopped floating in front of my eyes.  I am not happy that I ‘cheated’ but I still feel good that I haven’t quit…  After today, only four more days… Then two days to ‘come off’ of the diet and then I am getting myself a gourmet pizza from Piza e Vino or Doppio Zero!

My concentration is all over the place – I have not taken Ritalin in 6 days.  Of course this does not bother me, but I can see I get to my colleagues a bit…  Luckily they think I am wonky because of the diet.

Oh… before I forget… Day 6 – Weighing in at 105.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 5 - Wednesday

Weighing in at 106 kg.  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am shitting what I haven’t eaten.  (Or perhaps I did eat it, only a year ago!).  It is amazing what comes out even after having nothing to eat for 4 days…

I am starting to get bored with this lemonade thing, to the extent that I actually look forward to my cup of laxative tea in the evenings, just because it is hot and tastes different…  But, mind over matter.  I will finish this thing.  I think the benefits and rewards will be worth the while.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 4 - Tuesday

Weighing in at 107 kg. My kidneys ached during the night.  My ankle which sometimes gives me problems is also sore.  Apart from that I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am feeling quite good.  Had to catch a 6 o’ clock flight, ran around all day and had a slight craving for a cigarette for the first time in 4 days.  Landed at Lanseria again at 18:10 and back home just before 19:00.  The food cravings are not so bad during the day anymore (the first two days were terrible), but I tend to get hungry in the evenings.

I had a very good day yesterday (day 3).  I decided to make my vegetable soup for when I have to start eating again.  (Since you cannot start on solids straight away after having eaten nothing for 10 days, you have to start with orange juice on day 1 and 2 after the diet and on the evening of day 2 one can start to have vegetable soup).  I feel that I would need some serious nutrition by then, so I made a strong beef stock from scratch.  This took 4 hours.  I then sautéed onion, carrot and celery in my largest pot until it caramelized.  To that I added my lovely beef stock and a truck load of vegetables.  I simmered that for two hours and dished out half of the vegetables and blitzed it with a blending stick and poured it back.  The result – thick vegetable soup with whole chunks of veg still in.  I then put it in containers and stuck it in the freezer for when I am coming off of the diet…

Monday, 9 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 3 Monday (Public Holiday)

Weighing in at 108.  Phew!  Picked up 1, lost 2 – therefore down one in total.

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea woke up on the dreaded DAY THREE (everyone says day 3 is the worst) feeling actually quite good.

Did salt water flush (with lemon).  Poop looked like deep yellow oil.  Disgusting.

I was very sleepy and tired on day one and two.  Really feel much better today.  Hope I feel good tomorrow.  I will be flying to some bumblefuck nowhere place for work in a small charter plane in the morning and back in the afternoon.

My slight double chin seems barely noticeable today, but I do feel hungry…

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 2 - Sunday

Weighing in at 110.2 kg.  WTF?  I PICKED UP 1.2 kgs!  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea will try to drink more water as well.

The salt water flush is working, despite me putting in lemon juice.  I just cannot drink a litre of salt water without flavouring it with at least a bit of lemon.

I don’t know how to say this in English…  Ek is meer LUS vir kos as wat ek regtig honger is.  I am not really hungry, but I am salivating if I think of Pizza.

We went to buy groceries today. It was pure torture.  I was very sleepy and tired yesterday and today, but I do not feel too bad.  Tried to take a nap this afternoon – didn’t work.  Had to pee to every 5 seconds.

Late afternoon I told Lamb that I am going to get us a DVD.  I feel tense and need to relax.  Also I am thinking of pizza all the time.  I could not believe my ears when Lamb asked me to stop at Mimmo’s and bring her a pizza…

The rest of the evening was unadulterated agony.  The smell of the pizza driving back in my car was torment.  I tried not to watch as she ate the pizza.  I was very close to giving in.

I am actually starting to look forward to my laxative tea in the evenings.  I think it is mainly because it is ingesting something hot.

Muscles ache a bit.  Kidneys feel sore.

Never watched the DVD in the end…

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The best Oxtail you’ll ever have… Quite Simply…

La Queue de Bœuf des Vignerons (Oxtail as cooked by the winegrowers) a la Elizabeth David.  

Elizabeth David

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea turned 39 yesterday, and I decided that I want to cook this for my birthday dinner.  Yes, I know I said it in a the previous post as well, but this post won’t deal with the matter of my detox diet, which starts the day after my birthday, but with the recipe for Oxtail Stewed in White Grapes.  I found the recipe in the book, South Wind Through the Kitchen – The best of Elizabeth David.

My Copy of South Wind Through The Kitchen

The recipe first appeared in Elizabeth David’s legendary cookbook, French Provincial Cooking.  When I first read the recipe, I knew that this is something special.

I deviated very little from Mrs. David’s original recipe, and here is how I made it:  Steep 2 oxtails (cut in the usual 5cm lengths) in cold water so that the blood soaks out.  Drain well.  Cut a 200g piece of pancetta in cubes, peel 4 large carrots and cut in large chunks (4 cm).  Chop 3 celery stalks and 3 onions.  I could not find pancetta on Good Friday and used Parma Ham instead.  You want something like unsmoked bacon, salt pork or pancetta.  If you use ordinary bacon, the smokiness will overpower.

The Ingredients

Put the pancetta and a little olive oil in a large heavy saucepan/pot with a tight fitting lid over very low heat.  Add the vegetables and cook slowly for 10 minutes or till the fat of the pancetta starts to run.  Arrange the oxtails on top.  Add 4 2cm thick slices of beef shin.  Season with salt & pepper.  Add a bouquet garni made with sage, tarragon, bay leaves, thyme and parsley.  Add a little allspice.  Cover and cook slowly for 20 mins.

Take 1.5 kg sweet white seedless grapes off the stalks and crush the grapes slightly in a bowl.  Add on top of meat. Cover saucepan with a sheet of aluminium foil and press the lid on top.  Cook over a very low heat for 4 hours.  The shin most probably will have “cooked away” but the meat and marrow add a deep meaty richness to the gravy.  Transfer the oxtails to a dish and keep warm in the oven.  Put the rest of the ingredients through the finest mesh of the mouli-légumes. 

Put the resulting sauce in a glass bowl in a basin of cold water.  This will aid the process of the fat rising to the surface quickly.  Skim off as much of the fat as you can manage. Put the oxtails back in the saucepan/pot and pour the sauce over.  Heat thoroughly.  Make a gremolata with the rind and juice of a lemon, two crushed cloves of garlic and chopped fresh parsley.  Stir the gremolata into the stew and serve with white Basmati rice.

Oxtail Stewed in White Grapes

The tender richness of the oxtail, the deep savoury sweetness of the meat & grapes gravy are balanced with the gremolata and makes for a dish so satisfying, you will have to search far and wide for it’s equal.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: Day 1 - Saturday

Day 1 – Saturday

Early AM.  I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea not sleep too well.  Woke up early.  Tummy roiling with rich food, too much drink and the effects of the laxative tea.

Weighing in at 109 kg.

I switched on my computer to get the directions for the salt water flush I am supposed to do and to make my first bottle of “LEMONADE”.  Two teaspoons of sea salt (I am using Himalayan rock salt) on a quart of water.  I look up “quart”.  FUCK…  It is nearly a litre!  Made the schtuff.  Gagged on the second swallow.  Added juice of half a lemon.  I am sure I am not supposed to, but the lemon juice did the trick and I managed to force it down.

No coffee…  No cigarettes, no sleep, no light, no sound.  Nothing to eat… well I do have a book to read…

The “LEMONADE” does taste good.

Late PM.  Friends invited us to breakfast at the Spur (so the girls can play while the grownups eat).  I was strong.  Did not eat.  The hardest part was not having coffee.

I do get hungry, but I seem to miss eating more.

Hardspear's Master Cleanse: T-3 to 1 and counting...

Wednesday T-3 and counting…
Feeling better emotionally.
Thursday T-2 and counting..
Scared. Master Cleanse is weighing on my mind. Will I be able to do it. Tuesday I will be flying somewhere. I get nauseous on a plane? I will not be able to take anything. Maybe I can take ginger tea?
Friday T-1 and counting…
It is my birthday! I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea am turning 39 today. We’ve invited friends over for dinner and I made La Queue de Bœuf des Vignerons (Oxtail as cooked by the winegrowers). It is basically oxtail stewed with white grapes. Had a number of Jim Beam Black’s with soda before dinner and quite a few glasses of red wine with dinner. The guests were super impressed with the meal, which imho was simply the best oxtail I have ever had. Thanks to Mrs. Elizabeth David who always provides a trusty recipe. This one is from her classic book – French Provincial cooking.
Tomorrow is lift-off, so I had my cup of laxative tea before I went to bed.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Hardspear's Master Cleanse T-7 to 4 and counting

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea have decided to go on the Master Cleanse detox diet (also known as the lemonade diet).  I am allowing 1 week to prepare mentally and get everything I need. 
For a minimum of 10 days I will only take 6 glasses a day of “lemonade” made with real organic Canadian maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cayenne pepper mixed with purified water.  No food, no supplements, no nothing.  It also involves drinking water with salt each morning to assist in flushing out schtuff and taking laxative tea in the evenings. 
Preparation for the Master Cleanse:  T minus n and counting… 

Saturday T-7 and counting… 

My wife (Lamb) wanted to go to Jo’burg to buy a nesting mirror from Hadeda Marketing in Jan Smuts Drive in Rosebank.  I dropped her there and went to look for Fresh Earth Health shop in Emmarentia.  2 Different Google searches pointed me there.  One… They sell Bragg’s Cider Vinegar (containing the Vinegar Mother)  I am going to try to fish out the Vinegar Mother and add it to red wine to make my own red wine vinegar. 
Two… They sell large bottles of B-grade Canadian Maple Syrup, which I need for the Master Cleanse I am starting in a week’s time.  Since I have an internal GPS, I found the store on my first try without looking up the address.
I bought the vinegar, maple syrup, Himalayan rock salt and a Grow-your-own Pink Oyster Mushroom kit as a belated birthday gift for my friend Army Man who has green fingers and a lovely vegetable garden.  Fuck the maple syrup is expensive.  Picked Lamb and my little girl Image up again and had lunch at JB’s Corner at Melrose Arch. 

Sunday T-6 and counting…

Made french toast and Bacon for breakfast.  Stole a little bit of the Maple Syrup.  Oh my goodness… the syrupy maple sweetness with the salty smokiness of the bacon and the soft squiginess of the french toast was pure heaven (How’s that Nigella?) 

Monday T-5 and counting…

Woke up depressed and got more depressed as the morning progressed.  I cannot see my dick unless I lean forward to peer over the great expanse of my large gut.  I feel bloated and fat and my shirt stretches over my tummy.  I feel tired and ssstuhRESSED out.  We have a work function and Madame Zingara’s tonight (Monte Casino).  Phoned Lamb and asked her to go and buy me a snazzy shirt (XXL) *ashamed* for tonight.  Smoked too much.  Feel guilty cos Lamb thinks I quit. 

Despite my emotional hubris I made a mental list of what I will not be able to put in my mouth whilst on the Master Cleanse:
1.   Food
2.   Coke
3.   Fruit Juice
4.   Ritalin
5.   Blood pressure meds
6.   Cholesterol meds
7.   Cigarettes
8.   Scotch
9.   Bourbon

10. Red Wine

I am more determined than ever to complete the Master Cleanse

 The lights were out on the William Nicol offramp from the N1 and I was nearly late, but Madame Zingara’s was a blast!  Bought a wig which is supposed to look like a David Bowie mullet.  He must have a very narrow head, since it looked more like a Tina Turner hairdo on me.  We had a ripsnorter time! The food was real good (not fantastic, but real good still).  We had ao a bottle of Rupert & Rothschild, which I found a little insipid.  I asked Cathy Specific if I can have a picture taken with her.  “I thought you’d never ask,” she replied in her deep baritone voice.  So there I was having a photo taken with Cathy Specific’s firm foam rubber breasts pressed against me. 

Tuesday T-4 and counting…

Slight headache from too much red wine.  The Master Cleanse will only be the start of a healthier lifestyle.  Quit Smoking.  Start exercising, eat less & better.