Friday 9th April 2010
For some inexplicable reason I decided I should start a weekly blog to share some of the events and thoughts that occur to me during the week. Some things I’m sure will amuse you as much as they amuse me. Some things may even surprise you. Enough cogitation; let’s BLOG!
YouTube is an amazing place. It has a complete cross-section of society wandering its virtual landscape. Educated people, talented people, interesting people, and people just wanting to be entertained or informed flit from video to video and leave trails of comments from the amusing to the fascinating.
Then there are the bozos; those people who seem to make it their life’s work to meander randomly around the videos leaving abusive, insulting or ridiculous remarks. There is something in human nature which causes us to reflect much more on the 1% of negative comments when 99% of comments are very positive. Fortunately I have a very thick skin! Whenever I find any really distasteful comments I exercise my right to push the Delete and Block user buttons…
The comments that really amuse me are the ones that begin “I don’t mean to be offensive, but…” Take, for example, this fictional illustration:
YT Viewer: “I don’t mean to be offensive, but your face looks like a donkey’s a**e.”
TN: “Oh that’s OK. I don’t mind you saying that because you started with the magic words ‘I don’t mean to be offensive, but’”
If I wanted to be a model I’d start snorting coke and beating up my employees.
I’ve been working most nights this week on re-filming some of my more popular earlier videos in HD. I now have a freezer full of Chicken Madras and Vindaloo. It’s just as well I have an office to myself at work. Why am I doing this? My plan is to produce a DVD with accompanying booklet, a sort of visual recipe book if you like. From little acorns do little shoots grow.
For this weekend I’m going to try and answer a couple of viewer’s requests by making banoffee pie and doing something interesting with rhubarb (ooeerrrr!). Bananas and rhubarb – my colleagues are in for a treat next week!
16th April 2010
This week’s YouTube rant concerns those people who belong to the “Sub-4-Sub” club. In case you don’t know, there is a whole sub-culture of people who will subscribe to your channel and in return they expect you to subscribe to theirs. They have no interest in your videos, only to add you to their ever-expanding list of subscribers. Often these people produce just a few videos of questionable quality, but have thousands of subscribers and subscribe to thousands of channels!
My one question is… What is the point?
The Banoffee Pie was almost a disaster. I had just made the caramel and I placed the hot pan in a few inches of water in the sink to help it cool a little quicker. The washing machine needed emptying so I wandered downstairs (yes, downstairs – the house is upside down) for 5 minutes. When I came back to the kitchen I found Man running the tap into the sink, rinsing out his dirty soup mug. Time and space became distorted; in slow-motion I was heard to cry “Nooooooooooooooooo” as I floated slowly towards the sink, arm outstretched. Too late. My delicious caramel was covered in a layer of murky water speckled with bits of basil and tiny pieces of tomato. “I thought it was just a dirty pan that needed washing up”, said Man.
The good news is that the caramel had cooled enough that I could pour the water off and rinse the surface with a small amount of clean water. Catastrophe averted, I banished Man from the kitchen for the next couple of hours.
The moral of the story? Beware of men drinking soup!
I’ve had a couple of requests for a few more low-fat recipes. (Looks down at slightly tight waistline on slacks) Good idea! Perhaps I’ll do a light version of Bitokes (Russian meatballs), but first I feel I must make Rasmalai…
23rd April 2010 – St George’s Day
I’m getting used to subscriber patterns. A handful of new subscribers usually appear overnight from North America. Then there is a quiet spell until late afternoon when the Europeans go home and “Tube”. I knew something was up on Wednesday morning when my 10th French subscriber of the day appeared before 9:30am. I was right… Bienvenues mes amis!
From the comments I get on my recipes for Italian dishes, I know that some Italians are very passionate and almost protective of their national dishes. Recipes must be cooked using certain ingredients (and only those ingredients) and they must be mixed in a certain way! This weekend’s video “Pizza – the Italian way” is a light-hearted tribute to all my Italian viewers who take food so seriously. I hope they have a sense of humour!
This weekend I am rather unexpectedly in the UK. Until Tuesday night I had resigned myself to the thought that the Volcano with the Impossible-to-Pronounce Icelandic Name (Egyjygyjovjyzjnson, or something like that) had indirectly caused my planned flight on Wednesday evening to be cancelled. But no! Smoking volcanoes are not so bad for the health of aircraft engines after all! My flight departed with me and Man on it; Mission “Decorate Adelle’s Wedding Cake” is already in full swing. Alhamdulillah!
30th April 2010
I had imagined my subscriber count falling like treacle from a spoon when I posted my “Dogmatic Pizza” recipe. I knew it was a risk, but I had to get my point across. There are people who wander around YouTube making comments saying that recipes are wrong, usually because the recipe differs from the way that they or a family member (or their favourite TV chef) cooks the dish.
A question that always runs through my mind is this: If they know so much about how to cook the dish, why are they watching the video?
I digress… Often the comment says something like, “that’s not the way to cook this dish”, with no explanation as to what the “correct” (in their humble opinion) method might be. This week I had a wonderful comment: “That’s not the correct way to fold samosas“. There are MANY ways to fold samosas! Should I spend an entire video showing all the ways it is possible to fold a samosa? Would anyone watch it?
My point is that I truly believe that cooking is about experimentation. It’s about adjusting flavourings to your personal taste, cooking things in ways that work for you, and producing food that you and others can enjoy. Dogma has no place in cooking.
Adelle's Wedding Cake
My trip to the UK to decorate my step-daughter’s wedding cake achieved its objective, but I needed two attempts to get it right. Putting fondant icing on a 10″ (25cm) cake is a daunting prospect; to use my preferred technique would have required me to roll out AND LIFT a disc of icing about 18″ (45 cm) in diameter! So I decided I would cover the sides first and then cover the top. Bad idea. I just couldn’t remove the join between the pieces and I started to put more wrinkles in the icing with my smoothing tool than I was actually removing. After 30 minutes of frustration I took out a knife and carefully sliced off the icing to start again.
This time I took a deep breath and rolled out a GIANT disc and transported it to the cake on a rolling pin (exactly as I’ve done many times for an 8″ cake). Five minutes later the cake was iced and smooth. The moral is, “do what you know will work, even if you think it won’t!”
While I was in the UK visiting Adelle and her fiance Will, Adelle started to feel unwell on the Saturday afternoon while I was decorating the cake (pure coincidence, I assure you). The next day when she got up she was not well at all. The doctor diagnosed the Coxsackie virus, otherwise known as Human Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in which the mouth, hands and feet puff up like balloons. Most of us are exposed to this virus as small children as we have not learned the basics of personal hygiene at that age. Obviously Adelle had been a very “clean” child. Will was very sympathetic, suggesting that Adelle needed a Sheep Dip. Thankfully Adelle is now much better, but for a while she did bear an uncanny resemblance to a pufferfish…
Let your kids play in the dirt and suck their fingers. It’s good for them.