Tuesday 28 February 2012

A very un-Kosher pasta dish

Sometimes, a recipe comes from almost nowhere.  That's what happened with this.  A chance glance at a photograph on the BBC Good Food website, led to me dreaming up this recipe on my drive home from work a couple of weeks ago.  It was so visceral, I could almost taste it.  In the end, I gave into my cravings, dug out the non-kosher cookware and came up with this:

Bacon and cream cheese pasta

Serves 4 to 6


150g bacon trimmings

1 onion sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
100g mushrooms, sliced
250ml dry white wine
200g cream cheese
30g or so of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (real "parmesan" not that Danish fake rubbish)
500g pasta shapes (I used quills because that is what I had)


  • Put the water on to boil for the pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the packet's directions.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the onion, garlic and mushrooms and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • In a non-stick frying pan, dry fry the bacon until the fat begins to run.  Stir occasionally.
  • Once there is fat in the frying pan, add the onion and continue frying it until the onion becomes glassy/clear.
  • Stir in the mushrooms and the garlic.  Continue frying, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have made water and it has evaporated.
  • Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil.  Stir in the cream cheese and keep stirring until it has melted and the sauce is creamy.  Switch off the heat and stir in the parmesan.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan.  Pour over the sauce.  Season with freshly ground pepper and serve.
- Pam

Sunday 26 February 2012

Free Entertainment: Kermode and Mayo's Film Review Podcast

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of radio.  I'm also a huge fan of podcasts and audiobooks.  If you look at my MP3 player, half of its 16GB is occupied by music; the other half is occupied by either podcasts or audiobooks. Of course, podcasts are the free/cheap entertainment of the affluent - you need a computer/smartphone and internet access to play.

My absolute favourite podcast is Mark Kermode's and Simon Mayo's Film Review, which is their Friday afternoon radio program edited to remove the travel and news items.  Even if you aren't a huge film buff, the interplay between Simon and Mark will have you in stitches.  The only problem I have with them is that I have so many knitting podcasts on my playlist that I have to make a conscious effort to move  "Kermode" up to the top of the list each week, or I fall too far behind and have to spend a week catching up.

Last Friday, I caught up on the "Kermode" from 10th February, where they reviewed both the 3D release of Star Wars Phantom Menace and the new Muppet film, The Muppets.  Mark was justifiably scathing about George Lucas' latest attempt to extract money from a gullible public.  To summarise:  the original film was poor; the retrofitted 3D version was worse.  Lucas has only re-released it for the money to be made from merchandising. 

What cracked me up, though, was their response to the clip he played of Yoda ("Thank you Fozzie") because Yoda did sound exactly like Fozzie Bear.    Sadly, I can't find that clip but you should try Simon's Fozzie Bear impression  because it's very entertaining.  I'd just walked back to the car after a night out and had to lean against it to stay upright, I was laughing so hard.

I really urge you to try this podcast.  It's available globally via iTunes and there is an archive of several years' worth of podcasts.   Each episode lasts approximately an hour and forty five minutes.  You can get a flavour from this collection of clips. I'd particularly recommend their Twelve Days of Christmas if you want a laugh.

- Pam

Friday 10 February 2012

The Use It Up Challenge

You may have noticed that one of my goals this year is to work my way through the small stockpile of "stuff" I have accumulated: a random collection of make-up, hotel shampoo bottles, cosmetic samples, herbs and spices, jars of jams and sauces, even clothes that don't get worn because they have committed the crime of needing to be ironed. It is an eclectic list. The only defining factor is that the item involved is something that is currently gathering dust but it is something that I use and therefore don't want to throw out, because if I did throw it out I will have to purchase a substitute. Does that make sense?

Another part of the challenge is that I don't want to waste something just so I can tell myself it is "finished". By that, I mean lipstick has to be used right to the bottom of the tube and not just to the point where you can't paint it on your lips without using a lip-brush. Ditto lip gloss and make-up base that comes in a stick. I still need to get my money's worth.

Here are the make-up stockpiles and what I propose to do with them:-

Make-up base. 

I have ten in my stockpile, including two tubs of PanCake (bought because it doesn't melt off your face in humid weather), four Avon all-in-one bases for travel (bought in bulk to take advantage of an offer) and the last of my famous Boots score from 2004 (when I bought 6 bottles of base at 50p each, thinking they would last maybe 3 months each - instead they lasted 10).

What I've started with, though, are the dregs of a tube of PanStick. Like lipstick, probably the bottom third of any stick make-up is inaccessible, so I gouged it out of the tube and dumped it into a recently emptied Avon make-up compact. I now apply it in exactly the same manner, using the sponge that came from Avon.


Most women probably have a stash of assorted lipsticks, at least one for every occasion. I know for a certainty that I have only bought one lipstick in the last 4 years and yet a quick count tells me that I have 34! However, that includes my stock of 9 Covergirl lipsticks in the Bistro Burgundy shade, the brand (and colour) that I wear almost daily but which is unavailable in this country.  I buy them whenever I go to Australia or North America.  I have two on the go at any given time: one on my dresser and one in my bag for top-ups. When the one on the dresser is completely used up, I rotate the handbag one to the dresser and pop a new lipstick in my handbag.

Although I wear lipstick every day to work, each one lasts for close to two years, partially because I use a lip brush to apply the bottom third, and partially because I've solved the problem of keeping lipstick "on" all day, so that you don't have to constantly reapply it.  (There is nothing worse than having your lipstick come off on your mug or glass.)  The secret:  apply lipstick to dry lips, blot on a tissue and then apply a coat of Lipcoat. It will then last the whole day, unless lunch is really greasy, although the colour may fade a bit as the day goes on.  If your Lipcoat peels, then you didn't blot it well enough.  You have to apply it to dry lipstick.


I'm still using a blusher that I purchased in...... wait for it...... 1986.  That's right 26 years ago.  If that's not an advert for the longevity of Clinque's products, I don't know what is. Admittedly, for the first 6 years, I worked in a job where you did not wear make-up (I never wore make-up to work when I nursed - it'd come off on the masks).  And twice it went into time-out when I used up other blushers, but neither of those lasted longer than a year.   I have been expecting it to run out for a long time and purchased a replacement some time ago.  However, a quick count reveals I have six other blushers stockpiled, which includes the replacement, a "travel" blusher, the emergency blusher from this post, and two Estee Lauder free-bees from a "gift" (one of those buy "2 items and get a free gift" things, in this case the set of bags that are my knitting bags.  I was surprised to discover they held make-up).

The big secret to making your blusher last a long time is to use a proper blusher brush.  I think it is because the brush covers a larger area of you face per application than the one that comes in the compact.


Apparently, I have seven, including three sample-sized ones and the one I'm using now.  This is another product I use to the very end.    I am aware that "experts" say to only use a mascara for three months because of potential contamination but I have never had an eye infection from this product.  If I feel any irritation after applying a mascara, it goes straight in the bin.  (I can't wear Rimmel mascara.  It has something in it that irritates my eyes.)  I do not share my mascara or my lipstick so consider that any bugs that might be growing in them have cousins still on me.

OK, that's my "dirty laundry".  What's yours?

- Pam

Sunday 5 February 2012


And now back to your usual programming....

Saturday 4 February 2012

The Toy has an announcement to make:

To all those muscle cars, driven by hotheads who think they own the road, next time you're pretending speed limits don't apply to you and insisting the rest of us move out of your way, here's something you'll never be able to do:

Here, take a closer look:

Yeah.  See what I mean?

Next time you come roaring up the motorway, weaving in and out of cars like you're a pin-ball, remember this is what a REAL MUSCLE CAR is all about.  And that car, is me!!!

Milestone 250,000 miles 22 January 2012