Pancake recipe from my childhood

My daughter has just texted me asking for my pancake recipe. It took me a while to find it and I got into a panic. My mother is no longer around and if I had lost it, a whole tradition would have likely died. So I thought I’d better commit the recipe to posterity on my blog right now when it’s still in my hand, on a card which is covered with the grease of many times slaving over a hot ring. Slaving is the right word as I used to hate the time it took to cook them. But my mother’s and no doubt her mother’s recipe is well worth the hassle. So here it is for you Colleen and Emilie and perhaps for many of you out there who, like me despise the ready made mixture.

To make about 12 pancakes you’ll need:
300g of plain flour  –  3 eggs  –  1 pint of milk  –  25/30g of butter  –  2 tablespoons of oil and sugar and jam for topping  ( I like mine with Grand Marnier or Bailey’s)

Gently heat up the oil with the butter until melted. Then add the milk to the pan.
Sieve the flour in a large bowl and then make a hole in the middle.
Add the egg yolks in the hole and start mixing bringing the flour gently into it.
Add the mixture of milk and fats a few spoons at a time.
When all the eggs and milk are mixed with the flour, beat the mixture really hard with a hand whisk so there are no lumps.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and then add them gently with a metal spoon. You must kind of envelop the whites by drawing up the mixture carefully from the bottom up. It does not matter if they are lumps of whites left.
Add a knob of butter into your frying pan and heat it well, then using a small ladle pour some mixture in the middle. Now because your mixture is thick, it won’t run into a pancake shape by itself. So use a spatula to spread it.
It should take less than a minute to cook that first side and a little more for the other, et voila! Whether you try and flip it is up to you!

As you progress, the mixture will become more runny, so cook them all here and then. Oh and you should never put the ladle in the mixture or you’ll shorten the time when the egg whites work their magic.

In my youth, the first pancake was never the best one, so it was shared between the cats who waited patiently and the canary who would not shut up until it got a piece. That’s how good they are. Non appetit !



Brexit: Remain & Leave; both were right

This week, the future of Britain has taken what seems like a dramatic turn. For the last few weeks I have been busy trying to convince anyone in my circle to vote Remain, updating my facebook page or liking various bits of information that were meant to prove that Britain is better off in the EU or that the politicians were lying or using over inflated, positively twisted or simply out of context arguments. It would appear that most of you were Remainers too and the arguments missed the other side inputs; at least the sensible arguments and they are a good few. Without them we can become bogged down in our beliefs and, as we are seeing now, intolerant of the other side.

You could argue that I had a very personal reason to support the Remain campaign. As a French national but a citizen of the UK for 40 years, I do not have the right to vote in general elections and referendums. That is a bone of contention for me and for many years I have been hoping that eventually the EU would legislate to give voting rights to EU citizens like me who have put down firm roots in another EU country. No chance of that now.

I have, from as far as I remember, always felt like a citizen of the world and not of a particular country. So another reason is my wish to see the ultimate goal of the EU towards a federal state of Europe come to fruition; something I know most people bulk at. It was unimaginable 20 years ago, but with the nearing completion of the EMU, technically sealing the economic, financial and fiscal arguments, all that will remain is social cohesion; for the heart to follow the brain; possibly the tallest order. But with the English language spreading fast amongst the youth in Europe (all my nephews and nieces speak fluent English) and with their homogenised living lifestyles, it makes the dream of a one nation stretching across Europe a whole lot more plausible in the future. The idealist and optimist that I am sees Europe as one country with a myriad of rich cultures but a common goal, the PPP; Peace, Prosperity & Progress through the  sharing of wealth, discoveries and opportunities, Perhaps that’s what young British people were voting for, knowingly or by intuition. Now, it would seem, that dream has moved on for the British youth too. Or has it? Nothing is ever set in stone. People have the power to change things, anything if they join together, preferably across borders.

I was as angry as the next person when the Leave camp looked like a hard cookie refusing to crumble under the pile of “evidence” and “lies” which I was happy to share with my colleagues. But Alan, the only brave Leaver to challenge me was having none of it. So last Wednesday evening I gave some thought to his arguments. By Thursday on my way to the ladies, I jokingly told Alan at work that the Remainers were voting today and his turn would come on Friday. “Don’t care what you say, am still voting Leave” he said. “You know, you’re probably right” I heard myself say before disappearing quickly into the security of the ladies.

I could list here a million reasons why it was un unfair campaign, run for personal reasons by unscrupulous politicians preying on the knowledge that, let’s face it, hardly any of us care to really look at what the EU does or does not do for Britain, let alone the rest of the EU countries. Most of us, Remainers who have had the chance of a good education, have jobs and got used to the freedom of travel across Europe and the conduct of business free of the mound of paperwork and tariffs that used to be in existence think that it’s all down to being in the EU. We also think that we are more cosmopolitan in our views and more sophisticated than those “feckless” leavers. We gave little thoughts to those living in depressed areas, surrounded by an influx of “foreigners” who push their schools, housing chances and job opportunities to the limit. The crumbs of money sent from Brussels in those areas compared to London could not mitigate 20 years of Government indifference. It was easy in those areas for cunning politicians to make the EU a scapegoat. When it seems that you have little to lose, shooting yourself in the foot is no big deal and you might think the gamble is worth it.

When people whose values and arguments you respect because they are always facts based and thoughtfully put together say they have voted Leave, you also have to ask yourself some questions and engage in the debate. It is amazing how many things you remember opposing vehemently, years or months ago but then conveniently forgetting or diminishing in your workings of why it is “imperative” that we remain in the EU. I am still a Remain supporter, but today, in the light of all the vitriol that is being thrown at the Leave camp, I’d like to mention a few reasons that make sense to leave and that have hardly been talked about in the debates.

Britain is not fully part of the EU; not in the Eurozone, not in the Schengen agreement and benefits for many exceptions of all kinds. By 2027, the EU hopes to have achieved its aim of Economic and Monetary Union. In the light of what happened to Ireland, Greece and others, this probably can’t happen fast enough. Since Britain will never join the euro (London being the financial capital of the world that leaves it out of what could be a massive economic power. So, in the eyes of Leavers, getting out at some stage is inevitable and doing it now will save years of heartache and will give Britain the push it needs to prepare for it and work out its own future.

What about my biggest argument, the peace that is intrinsic within countries of the EU. If the EU manages not to lose other countries and speeds up its EMU, then the countries with the more fragile social and economic issues are supported and peace within the EU will prevail. For the rest there is NATO. As to the EU being a force for compassion and effectiveness, well the disaster of Yougoslavia, the disgusting arrangements recently struck with Turkey to keep migrants out by paying Turkey to, in the words of one of my friends, “throw them back over the fence” is little comfort to the Leavers. “European governments leading the charge in the ‘war on terror’ have bought the right to turn their backs on its casualties for a cool £4.6 billion by striking their deal with Turkey. In exchange for the funds and loosened visa restrictions on Turkish citizens, the European Union has been able to violate its international obligations and outsource its refugee crisis. For its part, the EU has promised to ‘resettle’ one refugee from Turkey for each one deported back from Greece, trading them like gambling chips across the table until they reach their cap of 72,000: a fraction of the two million refugees already there.”

I was also reminded of how Germany handed out 1 million passports to immigrants from Syria without consultation. As we know that’s 1 million european passports, not German passports. How undemocratic is that, he said. I am all for welcoming refugees and I believe Europe can cope with more, but for those  who will suffer most from the influx, it’s understandably “I want my country back”.

At the end of the day, all the wrongs that can happen as a result of Brexit across Europe in terms of the rise of the far right and the blaming of foreigners can all be dealt with by a strong united voice of the people. Don’t wait for Governments, revolt when needed, stick your neck out when needed, don’t be a Little Englander or a selfish self-centred European.

I’ll say no more on Brexit.  Back to reality and raising funds to feed all my 26 orphans in Kenya next month. That in my view will have far more impact long term than whether or not we are in the EU. Probably better for Africa too.

New Year’s 2nd resolution, ya don’t make me laugh

juice2In typical new year style, my 2nd resolution to improve my health won’t last long. Unless the fright I got when I received a letter the other day from the NHS about a Bowel Cancer Screening Programme available from the age of 60 finally moves me into realising that I am at that age when bits and pieces of ill health can start to creep up on you. May be it is time now to make a commitment to a new routine, whether I like it or not. Might even help with resolution no 1 and also improve my stamina.  So resolution no 2 is exercise more (can’t really be less) and get back into green juices because they are apparently the thing to get into if you want to avoid a multitude of illnesses; so I am told. The thing is I do like green juices, I simply can’t stand the cleaning of the juicer.

juicesYesterday I made a batch and froze them, but that’s only 5 servings and the maximum I can juice before the machine throws a tantrum. Exercising will be a far harder commitment, even though I have been the proud owner of an exercise bike for nearly a year (did I make that resolution last year already?) which I placed facing the TV so I can bypass the boredom. Is it all doable? of course it is. Will I do it, regularly, not just once in a while? Hmm,  I might need another kick from the lovely test kit that I am told will be with me in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, how about another one of those great cappucinos from my new birthday gift coffee machine. I never said coffee was off my food list.

New year’s 1st resolution and book review

man madeHope 2016 isn’t going to go on the way it started with another bad night sleep. So for sanity’ sake, sorting that one out is resolution no 1. Coaxing Bobby the dog to sleep in his own bed may be a start, but I have slept well with him by my side (glued to me in fact) for several years now, so other tacts will be needed. One might be to stop whatever “intellectual” thing I do in my evening a good while before I hit the pillow or take a pen and paper to bed and make notes. For I am sure the need for me not to forget what just came to mind as my eyelids try to close, is one of the reasons I can’t let go. The thing is that list can get quite full with work bits, charity bits, deco bits, and when am I going to get a Sergei Meerkat! (If you’re thinking of changing your insurance, do use and get me one, please).  Another reason may be simply reading too late and again filling my brain with activity. Take the night of 30th, I finished a book at 3.40am and couldn’t sleep for another 45mns or so afterwards. I was reading someone I know 1st book “Man Made” and although I don’t normally read science fiction I decided to give it a go. Well you would if you knew the author, wouldn’t you? It would be kind of rude not to. The prologue bit went somewhat over my head but I persevered (for previous reasons) and really got into it. As a 1st book, it’s pretty good and keeps you gripped. So you could do worse that downloading it and giving it a go. (It’s only £1.99). For someone like me who prefers to read autobiographies, travel books and anything on Africa, ie mostly non fiction, it was a strange but welcome escape even if a bit too violent at times. I hope this view of the future remains pure fantasy (although the full development of nanites would be brilliant) but I can see how today’s events and human failures could lead to something as bizarre as the world pictured in Man Made. It also raised a few questions in my mind about what goes on in Jack Hunter’s mind (not his real name). I guess the same could be asked of famous writers of the genre. At least some made a good living from it. So good luck Jack and I can’t wait for the sequel. But I won’t be reading it at night. Now resolution no 2 needs a post of its own, later

Alternatives to The Great TV this or that programmes

I watch very little TV. One of the reasons is of course because I am busy with the charity. What with working full time, getting there, coming back, cooking, shopping, washing, fixing something or other, giving the dog some attention, catching up with the news and what’s going on in FB, there are few hours left and most have to be spent on the charity. But that’s not the only reason. When I have time, I prefer to read a book. TV is just so full of self-gratifiyng programmes where people seem to want their few minutes of fame. If it’s not singing, dancing, cooking, gardening, entertaining, “finding” help (do they really need some?) with cleaning, buying a house, looking good, budgeting, holidaying, it’s  money-grabbing quizzes. Yes the world is full of self-centered, bored people, watched by as many self-centered and bored people  it seems.  Perhaps I am a bit harsh here, since I do watch Grand Designs and am looking forward to the next series of The Great Interior Design Challenge. So there, I do have a weakness too. My gripe is that there seems to be a growing tendency for these programmes at the detriment of either pure entertainment, great information or something, well more fulfilling; a bit like DIY SOS. OK, my line of weaknesses, but at least it benefits people in need. If only there were more programmes with an added  value to society, we might all feel a bit better in ourselves. So why not have some community competitions instead. How about The Great Community Homeless Busters Competition, or The Great Community Youth Cooking Skills Challenge, or the Great Community Get To Know a Culture Season. You get my gist?

Matalan what were you thinking!

T-shirt labelYesterday I put in the wash a pyjama top from Matalan because it had come out of a previous wash smelling like, hmm cat pee?  I thought that the dreaded alzheimer had started to play trick and I had mixed it with clean clothes rather than thrown it into the laundry basket. Still that wouldn’t explain the foul smell; I swear I do wash my clothes well before they pong that bad. I have just been to fold away / iron that particular wash only to be met with that hideous smell again and only from that top; everything else smells just lovely. I don’t get it. So I have checked the label and there to my astonishment I read “contains non-textile parts of animal origin”. What the heck are those and are they the cause of the smell? There are no buttons or anything that could even slightly suggest using a non textile part of an animal (spare the thought) on what is basically just a T-shirt. So what’s going on Matalan? What is in my T-shirt and how on earth do I get the smell off? I certainly can’t wear that again

Finding work at 59 – a new kind of experience?

Have been up since 6am, pondering my future with gloom rather than excitement. Why ain’t I happy? After all I am off to sunny Cannes tomorrow. Well I hope it’s sunny or I’ll ask for my money back! But while it will be nice to see the family, get a bit of fresh air and walk the sites I haven’t visited for over 15 years (or there about), I am anxious at disappearing for a week when in the middle of finding a new job and preferably the perfect job for me; ie interesting, within walking distance and of course outrageously well paid so I can save for my fast approaching retirement. Not too much to ask, is it? Unfortunately and realistically, just finding an employer who’ll have me may be the only criteria I can hope for. I can’t help thinking that they’ll be counting the years left in me and thinking “not worth it”, “too old for change”, etc, etc. I can counter all that, but only if given the chance. Continue reading

The absolute damage of corruption

Africa2This evening I was expecting to get a call to say that the new children’s home I and my fellow trustees were setting up in Kenya had had its final inspection and that the home manager Jec could get the last bit of paper we needed to open; a hygiene certificate of sort. I haven’t heard yet and I am wondering if there has been another hiccup. This was to be the last hoop we had to jump through and an infuriating one at that; after all what do they care about the welfare of the hundreds of street kids? Nought, yet they were not happy with us only using the 2 indoor toilets for now. No, we had to go and rebuild the outdoor ones too and the rest of it. All this, no doubt, because we always refuse to pay bribes. I repeat, always. Continue reading

Born in the wrong decade

I was most definitely born in the wrong decade. About 3 too early in fact. When I left college in 1976, I had just discovered “word processors”. Wonderful stuff I thought, but far from what I can achieve today using pretty much the same looking keyboard.  So why too late since I am pretty clued on when it comes to IT? Well I think I would have like to learn CSS, HTML coding and all that gibberish stuff that you need to build a decent looking website and make a living out of it. It’s fascinating and very rewarding when something you have been nitpicking on for hours just suddenly fits right. Continue reading

Decisions, decisions

16/08/2015 –  Time to get my written prose onto the “bloggy-sphere” now that, Eureka! I thought of a name this morning. “You never learn Mum” is what my youngest daughter said to me last week when I confessed that I had started a new charity…. again! (long story and if you stick with me, you’ll get to find out). My philosophy is that no two situations are ever entirely the same, so whilst one might use some of what they’ve learnt along the way, the mistakes they made or the situations they found themselves in are unlikely to repeat themselves in an identical manner. So, of course I have learnt. Learnt enough to know that it’s the right thing to do, now. Besides I like my free time to be challenging, useful and I admit, a bit of a roller coaster. At this stage of my life, I haven’t got time to waste and as Mother Teresa once said “What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.”