Sunday January 31st, 2016

Food for thought.

Certain foods bring back memories.  Well they do for me anyway and I’m sure for most people if they stop to think about it.

This notion came to me this morning as I was fixing my porridge as it has the strongest memory for me. I’ll always associate it with my old boarding school because until I went there, I’d never tasted porridge and the way they served it there, with tons of sugar in it to make us hyper all day, made it delicious. I think that without all that sweetness, I’d have passed on porridge and just lived with not running around the gym all morning like a headless chicken.

Especially when I was supposed to have been at French class !

For years I’ve had porridge as my breakfast as it’s simple and fast to make, if done using the microwave. I still add lots of sugar (substitute) as it’s the only way to get it down as lets face it, oats and milk do not a happy meal make.

The other food I associate with school is potato bread….or potato cakes or even fadge, as it was called in Norn Iron. These little squares of potatoey deliciousness just have to be smothered in butter or every bite will stick in your throat like a dry cracker. I’ll often put them in a sandwich to “beef up” the otherwise limp filling and turn it into a full meal rather than a snack.

Of course they are more often eaten as part of a fry up, especially the infamous Ulster Fry which is mentioned in The Lancet as being the cause of more heart attacks than getting your quarterly fuel bill.

And on the subject of this artery clogging, cholesterol enhanced, life shortening and totally scrummy meal, the next memory laden foods are wheaten bread and soda bread. These two home baked staples of any meal when I was growing up…..and out…….are best prepared when lightly toasted in the remains of the FAT that’s left over in the pan from an Ulster Fry. They are excellent mopping up breads with lots of tiny holes to soak up fat from the bacon and sausage residue and if any little meaty bits adhere to the slices, all the better.

ulster fry

Keeping with this healthy theme, another food with memories for me is the McDonald’s Bigmac which I associate with Canada.  Yeah go figure.  But it was on my first Canadian trip (New Brunswick) that my friend and I ventured across the border as he wanted to introduce me to this uniquely American delicacy as we didn’t have it yet in the UK.

Ahhh it truly was an age of innocence.

So we crossed over to the town of Calais (pronounced cal-ass) and my jaw dropped when I saw this behemoth burger for the first time.  I’ve only had a few since then as I don’t like the sauce that is the only way to get it down your neck.  I tried one sans sauce and basically it’s two dry, ultra thin meat patties, dry shredded lettuce and a dry burger bun. Try eating that without a drink !

Moving on, and a joint of ham brings back memories of my first Christmas in America. It happened to be in a remote town in Georgia where everyone knew everyone and all the kids looked strangely alike.  The year was 1989, or maybe 1889, as I’m not sure if I passed through immigration at the airport or a time warp. The women all had long thick curly hair half way down their backs (and alarmingly lots on their arms too) and the men wore bib overalls and carried pitch forks.


Anyway the point was that we had ham for the Christmas Day meal, a novel seasonal experience for me.  Seems the turkey all ran out a few days after Thanksgiving.  When I saw the food on the table, the ham was all I recognised.  Oh and a small dish of mashed potatoes they’d done just for me. There were plates of black-eyed peas, cornmeal mush, plantains, sweet potatoes and other items that I can’t recall now. Come to think of it, all easily eaten with one or two teeth.

At least the squirrel, raccoon and opossum were off the table, it being Christmas an’ all.

I’ll think of other “foods with memories” another time.


After my porridge breakfast I had a lazy Sunday.  A bit like a lazy Mon-Sat but with extra laziness thrown in.

I looked in the freezer to see what to have for supper and found a frozen (go figure) joint of ham with a sachet of honey glaze included in the packaging.  For once I read the cooking instructions and was happy to see they were “from frozen” so no defrosting needed for this sucker.

Skipping ahead in the day to when I was ready to cook it, I removed the outer covering, tore off the thin protective film and there was the ham joint in a tin……with the sachet of honey glaze down the side.  Yes, down the side…..of the ham joint.  Stuck to it in fact.  Wedged between the joint and the side of the tin…..and stuck firmly to both.

What bright spark at Sainsburys thought this would be a good place for it WHEN FROZEN.   I stood looking at it for ages, my poor brain trying to come up with any sort of idea how to remove the glaze sachet without bursting it and without giving myself frostbite doing so.

I finally came up with this solution which worked….sort of.  I took a standard eating knife and heated it over the gas flame on the cooker……for speed.  I gently ran it along the inside of the tin to free up the sachet on that side.  This worked nicely.  Then, after reheating the knife again, I did the same between the sachet and the ham joint and with some disturbing sizzling noises as the knife touched the frozen ham, the sachet came free and more importantly, did not burst.

Hurrah and up yours Sainsburys.  I won.


I was in a Facebook chat last night with a guy from Hell, Michigan. I’m sure he wondered why I didn’t make more of the town name but given my extensive travels around the US in general and Michigan in particular, I can honestly say I’d already been to Hell…..and back !   He worked for Ford and we were talking about the demise of the BBC show “Top Gear” of all things as he liked the presenters and was anxious to see the new series of James May’s Cars Of The People which just happened to be on that evening here in the UK.

After sending him a copy which made his day, we got chatting for a while and this is what is great about the internet.  Meeting new people from around the world.

Maybe we can share some ham and black-eyed peas sometime in the future !


I didn’t watch a movie this evening but caught up on some shows……Elementary, The Blacklist, Criminal Minds and Limitless.  Still got hundreds to go.

When I went to bed I wanted to return to Ken Follett’s “Fall Of Giants” as of course I’d finally finished “Treasure Island“.  As I said before, I’d made 2 or 3 previous attempts to read Fall Of Giants but it’s a huge tome with hundreds of characters charting the lives of several families from different nations at the time of the first world war. Interesting as it is to see the war from their different view points, it’s a nightmare for me to keep up with the names…..especially if I leave the book for a while.

fall of giants

Having it now on my tablet, I didn’t know where to jump in again and then remembered that I probably left a book mark in the actual book from the last reading, many months ago.

I did….and so I was able to jump straight to that point on the ebook and was amazed to find that after only a few lines, I could remember who the people were, their backgrounds and so plow on as if the passing months hadn’t…..passed.

AND the ebook was able to show I was 73% into the tome so who knows, I might get it finished this time.



4 thoughts on “Sunday January 31st, 2016

  1. Mary

    We could talk food memories for a long while. Black eyed peas are something you cultivate a taste for and it takes time. Then there are purple hull peas, white peas, and several varities of the green kind. Very good thinking on your problem with the ham glaze package. I would have hacked it off with a bowl under it and then scraped off the rest. Good reading here!

    1. silverback69 Post author

      Thanks Mary. Yes hacking at it might have burst the flimsy sachet so wasn’t really an option. The writing on the sachet transfered to the side of the ham….but tasted delicious anyway. 😉

  2. Joe McReynolds

    Harumph!! Beans with an Ulster Fry? Oh dear, you have been too long in England. Substitute black pudding for the beans and you have gourmet heaven.

    What did you think of Treasure Island? When I re-read it a few years ago I found it quite hard-going and struggled to get through parts of it. I think that the Disney’s Treasure Island got the best out of the book. Arrgh!

  3. silverback69 Post author

    That wasn’t my own photo, Joe, just the nearest one I could get online. As for Treasure Island, I agree with you. Hard going and I skipped the paragraphs that were full of ye olde nautical terms and didn’t move the story forward. No idea why it’s a classic. Gonna try Robinson Crusoe as the next classic despite again knowing the story from the movies.


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