22 January 2011

The one where I explain how.......

……I got Garden Girl to marry me.

I cooked scallops wrapped in Parma ham, a dish which has, for the last seven(ish) years been a favourite and is still a bit of a treat on a Saturday night.

As The Girl is working all weekend, I thought that tonight would be a good time to return to the reliable classic and to share it with blogland. I think it was originally a Jamie O recipe.

The ingredients needed are

Scallops, fresh or frozen, Tesco Finest frozen Canadian are great value and quality
Parma Ham
Lemon Thyme leaves – a handful
Juice of a lemon
Olive oil

First job is remove the Thyme leaves from the stalks. Put aside half the leaves and add the remainder to a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pestle and half the lemon juice – bash it up with the mortar.

Dip the scallops in the oil/thyme and roll up in a strip of ham and secure with a cocktail stick if needed. These can then be put in the fridge while you sample the vino or prepare the veg.

Total cooking time is around 5 minutes, add the scallops to a dry frying pan and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes on either side, until the ham is crispy and the scallop is cooked through.

Remove from the pan. Throw the remaining thyme and lemon juice into the pan which will get all the good stuff off the pan and make a tasty liquor to pour over..

Tonight I have gone for sweet potato mash and soya beans

Give it a go, the sweetness of the scallops with the saltiness of the ham and the sharpness of the lemon is a cracking combo.

14 January 2011

Chasing Pavements

Tonight brought the first run of the year, ill health and bad weather has meant it has been almost a month since our last outing. During the late afternoon text messages were exchanged with Garden Girl and our running date was confirmed.

It was my first chance to try out my new Skins compression top (photographs are not available) and Mrs F was giving her ipod shuffle a run, pardon the pun, for the first time. Both were deemed to be a success.

We stuck to our usual route and maintained a steady pace and managed to keep going all the way round, running for 26 minutes non stop. 

Not exactly a marathon but we were very happy. If G reads this or if N tells him about it, he will wonder what we are so pleased about (G is a triathlon legend for whom we have massive respect).

Our plan is to get back to our early December level of fitness and then enter into some 5k races and hopefully raise some money for charity at the same time.

We have celebrated our success with M+S dinner, Sauvignon Blanc and Lindt chocolate.

13 January 2011

Press 2 if you get the chance

I wasn’t planning a mid week blog, but this morning’s experience with my car insurance company has led to one.

5th February heralds the renewal of the car insurance, and therefore over this last week I have been trawling through the comparison websites, the one with the opera singer, who is apparently the genuine article from the Royal Opera, the one the meerkat and the one that I am amazed Peter Jones of Dragons Den fame feels he needs to promote.  I also looked at the sites that tell you can only deal with them direct. It transpires that this is because they are twice as costly as those on the comparison sites. I digress.

The results after the search showed that my current insurance company were the cheapest again, a slight increase on last year, but with the increase in VAT it was acceptable and I was all set to renew at a figure of £255. On my return home yesterday I had received a missive from my insurers saying that my policy would be renewed automatically, I didn’t need to do anything, and it would only cost me £295 this year!

Hmmm, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

I called them first thing this morning ready for battle, and within the automated telephone menu I heard the option I was hoping for…

‘Press 2 if you are thinking of leaving us’

Once you hear this phrase you know you are going to have a result. When you select option 2 you are put through to the pleasant, well spoken, mature people who want to retain your business and try their upmost to help you. Unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the South African accented lady who helped me this morning at the large insurance company based in Bournemouth. She was excellent and provided me with a quote for £234.
Happy days

8 January 2011

Back in the old routine

This first week of January has been like a week of Mondays, get through the day, get home, get something to eat and get to bed. It may be because I have just started my 40th year. Having said that, it is good to be back into a routine.

This week has had its highlights,

England have won the Ashes in Australia (I am happy to discuss this in depth with anyone who is interested. Anyone?). Particularly enjoyed the fact that at as England were about to seal this historic victory, Radio 4 went to a shipping forecast, missing the vital wicket.

I have finished a great book, ‘The Burning Girl’ by Mark Billingham, which is the fourth book in a series starring DI Tom Thorne in pursuit of another murder suspect.  If you like crime thrillers, DI Thorne is worth a read, start with ‘Sleepyhead’.

I have started a great book, ‘Nothing to lose’ by Lee Child. I am sure that the hero Jack Reacher, is aimed at the boys, an ex army major wandering across the USA righting all the wrongs. One of my favourite writers, worth a try.

I have been watching episodes of Yes Minister on DVD, which was a Christmas gift. Apart from the excellent writing and delivery, what struck me is, what comedy writers saw a satire 30 years ago has somehow become a ‘how to guide’ for modern politicians.

I have returned a pair of Timberland boots and a Fat Face jacket, which makes me about £120 better off, the perils of online sales shopping. (I am glossing over the fact that I have ordered another pair of boots). On the subject of sales, do men actually shop at Boden? My theory is that the chaps clothes are aimed at the ladies who buy for their men. Real men shop at Crew, hehehe.

Garden Girl supplied me and my colleagues with her special mix of condensed milk and spices which transform your standard cup of coffee into Chai Latte. Most excellent and very popular in the office. You may be able to extract the recipe from her if you ask nicely.

Mostly importantly this week, Garden Girl returned to blogland with an excellent blog.

That brings me up to the weekend, which I have off; alas Mrs F is working, our rotas once again conspiring against us. It is a day of chores, the second load of washing is on, the shopping is done and dinner is prepared. A new recipe for baked chicken curry, which is currently marinating in the fridge .

That was this week, next week I am looking forward to, getting the running back on track, reinstating the Wednesday curry night, using my Moleskine reporters notebook, which arrived this morning, and having next Sunday off with my wife.

3 January 2011

3, 2, 1........Go

After several years of reading the blogs of others and occasionally writing on All things lovely, I thought it was about that I made a contribution.  

Most evenings I return home and tell Garden Girl the tales from my day and these together with my love of books, films, music, comedy, food, wine, running, taking photos and Cornwall, will form the basis of my ramblings.

I plan to have my first blog ‘proper’ online next weekend.

To bring things up to date, we have just had a busy December like most people, but also fitting in a wedding anniversary which we celebrated in Covent Garden

and my birthday which we spent in prison,

albeit a very special prison - Malmaison

The truth behind my blogging is, that I was looking for excuse to buy a Moleskine, lined reporters notebook.