Bible punchers, even bandier legged chickens and curry powder

I took Millie over to Castle upon Alun for a walk yesterday and parked up by Nick’s house, as I pulled up I noticed that there were half a dozen eggs on display, yippee the hens had started laying again. I got Millie out of the back and went over to get the eggs and put my pound in the tin at which point Millie decided to have a dump in the middle of Nick’s entrance, anyway I cleared this up and walked back to the truck, popped the eggs on the seat and walked down the lane. At this moment I saw a couple (well dressed with black briefcases under they’re arms) walking up the lane towards me, as we came together they stopped and asked if I lived in the house (Nick’s house), somehow you know, don’t ask me how but you know, I said yes (thinking I’d be saving Nick from a doorstep conversation), they immediately unzipped the briefcases and out came the pamphlets and leaflets. I told them politely that I was walking the dog and didn’t have time to stop, this didn’t perturb them they started telling me about the benefits of their beliefs, so I told them that I was an atheist, this didn’t put them off either in fact it seemed to stiffen their resolve. I again said that I didn’t have time as I was going for a walk with the dog (Millie sat patiently waiting), they then asked if the lady of the house was in as they’d call on her instead, I told them that she had gone out to get the children from school (it’s the only thing I could think of in the moment), this again seemed to redouble their resolve, they thrust the pamphlets etc under my nose spouting words of redemption and the error of my ways (I’d been extremely polite up to this point), I pointed out that I was entitled to my beliefs as much as they were to theirs. They weren’t having any of this and proceeded to tell me of the fate that they saw for me, at this juncture I told them to fuck off and I walked off with Millie for our walk, I can only take so much.
When I got back Nick and Bella were waiting for me, I asked if anyone had called, which they hadn’t, I told him about my encounter, had a good laugh and arranged to go for a pint some time soon. I did comment again about the size of the eggs, he couldn’t explain it but hoped it would continue.
Take a look at the photo, the one on the left is a free range large supermarket egg the other is probably the biggest chicken egg I’ve ever seen.

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Many years ago, the very early 70’s, I knew a chap called Lal, he ran one of the first Asian food shops in Cardiff and he told me how to make a type of curry powder for a quick meal, it’s really easy and very imprecise so you can use just about anything you want in whatever compound you want or get to like.

Green cardamom
Black cardamom
Chilli
Cumin ground
Cumin seeds
Black onion seeds
Cloves
Coriander ground
Coriander seeds
Turmeric
Cinnamon stick
Bay leaves

You aren’t restricted to these but these are what he suggested, you can use any quantity of each that you like as they will all subtly alter the flavour. I tend to make up a large jar and use at my leisure. Lal also had an Indian restaurant, at the time there were only 4 or 5 in the whole of Cardiff and each one was totally individual as they reflected the regional cuisines, oh how I miss those days, the curries were so much better than the mass produced stuff the Bangladeshis serve today.
Asian supermarkets are a really good place to shop as they are generally very inexpensive and the spices and herbs tend to be much fresher than those in a Schwartz jar.

I did a lamb curry yesterday using the above, I’ll tell you what I did but please don’t be afraid of making it your way.
I used 2 lamb neck fillets cut into bite size pieces marinaded in a dessert spoon of the powder, I let this stand in the fridge for about 4 hours (longer is good), I then heated about 4 tablespoons of oil in a Wok and fried the lamb vigorously for 5 mins until they were browned all over. I then added another dessert spoon of the powder and stirred that in and enough water to just cover the lamb and brought it to a fast simmer for 3 mins and then reduced the temp to a gentle simmer for 30 to 40 mins with the lid on.

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By this time the liquid will have reduced quite a bit and thickened up, I added salt at this stage. I cut up 2 red peppers into large pieces and added them in (you only want them to cook but stay slightly crunchy) for 10 mins, add 3 dessert spoons of plain yogurt, stir in and serve. I sprinkled on some chopped coriander and served with a slice of lime and boy did it taste good, quick and easy, just the ticket.

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You can use chicken, beef, pork, onions, green peppers, tomatoes (instead of water and yogurt) or whatever takes your fancy, it really is easy and it’ll taste different every time. Enjoy.

Bandy legged chickens and a stir fry

I popped over to see Nick the other day to return an egg carton, it was a really nice afternoon so we had a bit of a chat. When I got there his three remaining chickens were sat on his front door step and seemed completely un-fazed as I reached over to knock the door, when Nick answered (Maddie was there too) the chickens tried to get indoors, maybe they weren’t happy with Millie sitting there staring at them (she just sat there eying them, well they are related to pheasants) and scenting the air. Anyway Nick said he’d check if there were any eggs, there weren’t, mind you I’m not surprised really, I think I’d be a bit reluctant to lay an egg after the last lot, they really were huge. I told Nick that I wasn’t expecting anything as I was surprised that his chickens had survived the last laying. I think Nick is going to buy some more chickens.

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They really were huge.

Now I’ve had a few enquiries about stir frying, it seems that some of you aren’t getting good results, so I’m going to explain what I do to get good results, here we go.
The basics are quite simple really, if you follow my suggestions I can’t see how you can fail.

Make sure that all the vegetables and/or meat are going to cook at the same rate, this means cutting everything up in a way that they’ll cook evenly, ie its no good putting large chunks of onion in with small slivers of say red pepper. If you are using carrots and courgettes then you have to consider the fact that carrots are far more dense than the courgettes and therefor will need to be cut smaller to cook at a similar rate. You’ll need to experiment but it’s logical really.

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As you can see in the photos I’m using parsnips and carrots with other softer veg so when I cut them up I compensated allowing for their density (they’ll take longer to cook so they’re smaller). You’ll notice that the courgettes and onions are slightly larger.

I sometimes use ginger and spring onions (amongst others) to flavour the oil before adding the meat or veg, it is important to cut these very finely as they will only need seconds to transfer their flavours.

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I should point out that your Wok or pan should be very hot. What I normally do is put the Wok on a very high heat and then add the oil and swish it around, this should immediately start to smoke, it’s only then that anything should be put in to cook.

When you add your chosen veg you must keep turning it over and over so that it all cooks evenly, this is very important as the veg will give up some of their water content and you want to fry not boil. Remember the idea of a stir fry is to have veg that are just cooked not soggy, the golden rule is ‘if you think it’s cooked it is’. If anything you want to slightly under cook as they’ll keep on cooking even when removed from the Wok. There’s nothing worse than a soggy stir fry.

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If you want to add other flavours to your stir fry (oils etc) it’s best to add them at the end just before you remove from the Wok, give it a quick swish around just to coat everything and remove. If you go to a good Chinese supermarket you can buy black beans (soya), these are normally dried, take a dessert spoon of these add a drop of water, lightly mash together and stir in at the last minute, the flavour is fantastic.

If you are using meat in your dish it must be cut small enough to cook through but not over cook, add it first or just after you’ve flavoured the oil (don’t use to much oil, a dessert spoon is normally enough).

Your local Chinese supermarket has loads of useful stuff for stir frying and is normally very inexpensive, don’t be tempted to use Sharwood’s or similar as they are crap, the real stuff is far better.

Fry on brothers and sisters.

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