Friday, 24 October 2014

Lamb fillet in a soy sauce and honey glaze

Our whole family love lamb, so I decided to perk it up a little with a rich and sticky sauce.  A change from roasting it or making a curry!

Serves 4 to 6

8 pieces of fillet neck lamb
Bunch of spring onions, washed and finely chopped
Half a cucumber, washed and cut into large chunks
Olive oil
Baby tomatoes
Oregano....1 tablespoon
Kikkoman soy sauce......2 tablespoons  ( )
A splash of  good quality balsamic vinegar
A dessert spoon of  good quality honey
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:  mashed potato with half of the spring onions, German mustard, cream and butter.......any dark green vegetable such as purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, green beans.

In a large frying pan, heat some olive oil, just enough to seal the lamb.  Add the lamb and cook for about 2 minutes until the meat is sealed.  Remove with a slotted spoon on to a plate and set aside.  

Put half the spring onions in the oil and cook until translucent.  Add the cucumber, baby tomatoes, oregano, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook for about 2 minutes to amalgamate the ingredients.

Transfer the meat to an oven proof dish with lid and pour over the ingredients from the frying pan.  Lay half the green vegetables in the tray.  Cook in an oven preheated to 180C for 20 minutes (rare) or 25 minutes (medium).

Serve with the creamy mashed potatoes and the other half of the green vegetables, gently steamed with a little salt.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Filenes in Boston, Selfridges in London, Keddies in Southend

If I was a television scriptwriter, I would follows in the footsteps of Andrew Wynford Davies involved with the popular "Mr. Selfridge," first televised in 2013.

Department stores have always been popular and often considered "a bit of a treat" for people who lunch or enjoy afternoon tea.

Names to remember in the UK are many.  Most of them started as drapers and expanded.  H. Binns Son and Co. Ltd. was incoporated in 1897 and went on to produce stores in Sunderland, Darlington, West Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Newcastle upon Tyne, South Shields, Grimsby, Carlisle and Hull in England.  In Scotland, stores appeared in Dumfries and Edinburgh.  House of Fraser took over Binns in 1953.

There was Featherstones of Rochester, Keddies in Southend which opened in 1892 and went into liquidation in 1996.  Most large towns had the department centre at the core of its shopping areas.

Do you remember Marshall and Snelgrove?  It is now part of the Debenhams Group.

John Lewis is 150 years old this year.  John Lewis himself a draper, found a job in Oxford Circus with another draper, Peter Robinson.  In 1864 John set up his own shop in Oxford Street selling ribbons and bows.  Around 1905 John purchased Peter Jones in Sloane Square, Chelsea.

Charles Harrod, aged 25, set up his business in Southwark back in 1824.  He too listed the business as a draper and haberdasher.  Customers using the escalator in 1898 at Brompton Road were offered a brandy at the top, to help with their "ordeal."

France boasts Galeries LaFayette and Printemps.
Spain has Corte Ingles

Think of New York and Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Barneys come to mind.

Cats' Vocal Chords and Purring

Cats have 10 times as many vocal chords as dogs.  Dogs have 10 and cats have 100.

Cats can vibrate the muscles underneath their vocal folds, very slowly, producing a purr.  Domestic cats purr at a rate of about 26 cycles per second, similar to the frequency of a diesel engine as it idles.  Purring doesn't always mean the cat is happy.  It can also be a sign that a cat is in pain or some distress.

Cats rarely meow at each other, reserving this sound for their interactions with humans.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Jacobson's Organ in Cats....What it does

Humans only have about 5 to 20 million olfactory smells, where as cats have around 60 to 80 million.  The Jacobson's organ is located on the roof of a cat's mouth.  It detects and analyses pheromones (scents), especially the ones found in urine.  The scent is collected in the mouth and the cat uses its tongue to flick it up to the vomeronasal organ.  During this process, the cat will curl its upper lips in what appears to be a grimace and this is called the flehmen response, facilitating the transfer of pheromones into this vomeronasal organ.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


"BEAUTY may fade and riches be lost, but a sense of humour ripens with the years, and cannot be stolen. It remains a very real solace, and a talisman against the ills of life."
The Lady. The Invaluable Possession 2nd May, 1912

Friday, 6 June 2014

Notting Hill (the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts) points of interest

Last week I joined our Walking Club for a change of scene.  Normally we walk in a London park but decided to follow the trail of the Notting Hill film.  We met at Notting Hill tube station.  Our first stop was the Coronet was drizzling, but we managed a few photographs.  Then we went to Bella and Max's house in Lansdowne is a long time since I saw the film, so I couldn't remember any of it (must get the DVD)..  We took photos at the Travel Book Co. and went on to The Blue Door (William's flat) which confused us as it is now painted white.  The house was owned by Richard Curtis, the screenplay writer and the original door was auctioned at Christie's.

We stopped for lunch at The Kitchen and Pantry in Elgin Crescent mid walk, a nice place with leather sofas and some outside seating for sunnier days.  The rain had stopped when we reached there but chose to sit indoors as it was rather cool.

Monday, 19 May 2014

How reproductively prolific are cats?

Well, one pair of cats and their offspring can produce more than 400,000 kittens in under 10 years.

In 1970 a Burmese cat called Tarawood Antigone, in Oxfordshire, UK, gave birth to 19 kittens.  14 males and 1 female survived.  The Burmese have the highest average birthrate at around 5 kittens per litter.

Dusty, a tabby from Texas, gave birth to 420 kittens in the course of her lifetime.