This whole grilled cheese sandwich phenomenon is beyond me. I love cheese on toast or toasted sarnies as much as the next girl (if not more), but why would anyone pay $28,000 for a ten-year-old one, even if it does have a vague image that may or may not look like the Virgin Mary on it? It's all getting a bit out of hand - if you search on eBay for grilled cheese now, you come up with Virgin Mary grilled cheese memorabilia (framed print anyone?), cds of original music inspired by the grilled cheese phenomenon, fresh grilled cheese sandwiches blessed by a priest, and more t-shirts than you can shake a stick at. Weird. Somebody somewhere is making a fortune out of all this...

Returning to the slightly more real world, the Vieux Boulogne has been named the world's smelliest cheese. Can't say I've ever tried it, but next time I'm in France I'll definitely try and sniff one out (sorry, never could resist bad puns. Blame the editor in me...)



You've probably seen this before, but I've only just discovered this wondrous gadget - the ice-cream making yoyo. Fantastic. Finally, there is some point to spending hours flinging a yoyo around (for the record, I've never been able to make it go upside down and do fancy tricks. It always ends in tangled string, much swearing, and throwing down in disgust until the next time).

Which reminds me - do you remember those lovely green minty chocolate biscuits, which in the dim recesses of my memory I think were also called yo-yos? The nice people at Nicecupofteaandasitdown.com don't have anything on this, so I can't corroborate it. The biscuits themselves weren't green, I hasten to add. It was just a greeny-silvery foil cover that you could peel off, smooth out, and then stick in your scrapbook, if you were a sad child of the 1970s. I think the silver foil was probably better than the biscuit, but wasn't that always the way? No, obviously just in my head then.



I've decided that I like birthdays. Especially when they involve scallops and lobster. We should definitely have more of them...although that would make me older quicker, which I'm not too sure about. It's bizarre enough being a thirtysomething without my age increasing any faster. I can't even remember how old I am when people ask (my guess of 26 last time was unfortunately a bit out - you feel like such a twit if you get it wrong).

Back in the world of food, today's big news seems to be that chocolate could be a cure for coughs. There's no limit to the excuses we can come up with to eat this stuff...hurrah!



Bored with Rice Krispies? Fed up with toast? Well, head on over to Mr Breakfast, and he'll sort you out with some marvellous ideas for what to have first thing in the morning. He's a little heavy on the egg and waffle recipes, but his guide to breakfast in bed makes great reading (Rob, if you're watching, please take note!).

Mind, I have to say that wonderful though the institution of breakfast is, it's one that I have less and less time for. I'd love to boil an egg and sit there with my marmite soldiers of a morning, but more often than not it's a four-minute bowl of cereal, before legging it to work. It's that age-old dilemma - more time in bed asleep, or more time eating? I think the sleep wins.



Now that's what I call a good bottle of wine...although at my current rate of consumption of about 2 glasses a week, it would take me 11.5 years to get through it all. By which time it would taste particularly disgusting.

Bovine bovril is no more

Hot off the presses from Staffordshire comes news that Bovril is to no longer be made from beef stock - it's being replaced with a "savoury yeast mix". Mmmm. Sounds tasty. In fact about as tasty as drinking Marmite. I never could fathom the delights of drinking Bovril - it's probably one of those things that you have to be brought up on to find nice (like chicken dripping on toast, for example, which Rob loves, and which just finds me making puking noises round the kitchen whenever he has it).

Equally revolting is the new superburger introduced by Hardee's in the US - it weighs in at 1,420 calories, 107g of fat and just over $5 in price. Probably hardens your arteries in seconds, and makes a Big Mac look like child's play...

I think I know what I'll be going for when I'm out on the toon tonight. And it won't be anything beef-related.



Did you know Cornish pasties were first heard of in the 13th century? No, neither did I. It's amazing what you can find out there on the internet, armed with a history degree and a desire to compile useless trivia. I knew that degree would come in handy for something at some point. Anyway, back to the pasties. Apparently they have a long and illustrious history - it's just a shame that Ginsters had to then go and spoil it for everyone, by populating every motorway service station, garage and supermarket with their evil wares.


We love lard

Apparently, we are facing a national, nay European-wide, shortage of lard. It's all the fault of those nasty Polish and Hungarian chaps - according to the BBC, they've been buying up all the cheap cuts of pork in Europe to make sausages and salami, so there's nothing left for us British lard-lovers. Rationing's already started - Somerfield have been forced to limit the number of tubs on sale in their stores. I foresee panic buying from cross-channel swimmers as we speak.


Oh sweetie

After a nine-hour trip home from the depths of West Sussex (we really appreciated the M25 detour via Sutton, Cheam, Croydon and Bromley), I've now decided never to get in a car again. Ever. Until the next time. Even the car trip sweeties soon lost their appeal - the delights of dolly mixtures jelly babies and pink shrimps (curiously described as being made of 'foam') can only tempt you for so long. And after a four-hour sugar rush of wide-eyed staring at the oncoming traffic, somehow you start to look at them in a different light...



Did you know, that if you filter cheap and nasty vodka through a Brita water filter a few times it ends up tasting quite good? No, neither did I. *drawls* Whatever will these science boffins come up with next? So that's me down to Morrisons for a bottle of Morinov then.

No Green Wing DVD until August next year, according to the lovely James Henry's blog. Boo hiss.


Would like to meet

Walmart's special singles nights at its supermarkets in Germany are proving to be a roaring success. You're issued with a bright red bow on your trolley, given sparkling wine and oysters to get you in the mood, and then have your photo taken (presumably to put on that manky adverts board which all supermarkets seem to have - that one at the back of the store with second-hand sofas, kittens and Gameboys for sale...). And with participants like this, ladies, you'd better start buying your air tickets straightaway: "I first tried out discotheques, but that did not work," said Mr. Semprich. "First of all, when you see some of the women again in daylight, I sometimes almost fainted. No, this here is much better. It is a natural, relaxed atmosphere. And besides, I can also save money. The milk is cheaper than in any other store." How can any girl resist?


How to immediately put someone off their breakfast - if you read Stuart Jeffries' Shanghai account of eating snake and roasted duck heads and avoiding the dog hotpot at the same time as eating your shredded wheat, you might start turning a funny shade of green...


Words words words

It's absolutely fascinating looking at the keywords that people use in google et al before they end up on this site - in descending order, the top ones at the moment are: recipe jamie oliver nigella tunnocks pie newcastle bolognese lamb lawson minestrone cakes exploding sweet zizzis chef onions showpiece redcurrant kitchen sauce green baked wing sugar recipes. It's good to see (a) that the cult of celebrity chefdom isn't dead (no Delia though?) and (b) that people share my obsession with Tunnocks teacakes and Green Wing (no Julian Rhind-Tutt fans yet though). I'm a little puzzled by the redcurrants, mind.


Ooooh. Aaaaah.

Off to a fireworks party tonight - and yes I do know that it's the 9th of November, and not the 5th. We're just a bit behind in the North East, and working to our own dates. There's the Julian calendar, Gregorian calendar, and the Geordie calendar... Anyway, I'm looking forward to the traditional oohs, aahs, cricked neck and damp patch down the front of my coat where I spill my drink when the bangers make me jump.

I tried looking for good fireworks cake recipes, in the vain hope that I might actually have time to bake one, and look like some sort of domestic goddess when I got to the party. Well, it's not to be. I was a bit stymied by the fact that a 'fireworks cake' seems to be some sort of technical term, and Google returned about 219,000 pages dealing with Chinese firecrackers and the like... If you didn't know already, pop pickers, a fireworks cake is "an assembly of tubes, usually single-shot Roman Candles, fused together to fire in rapid sequence.". Don't say I didn't warn you.


Vain hopes

French women don't get fat because (a) they are vain (b) 76% of French people eat meals they have prepared at home and (c) they eat less. The Observer Food Monthly article's a bit longer than that, but essentially that's the conclusion it's coming to. I have to say, I suspect English women are every bit as vain as the French - I blame the difference on the ready meal syndrome over here, and the fact that quantity and value for money are always far higher up in everyone's minds than quality. And the fact we eat crap milky chocolate really can't help.

The postal service is clearly using carrier pigeons, Concorde, Harry Potter owl post or small green pixies for its deliveries at the moment - my latest order from Amazon arrived this morning. Considering it was supersaver slow delivery and was ordered on Friday night, that's definitely suspicious. If anyone saw Hedwig flying over the area last night, would they please let me know.


Random mishaps (2)

The strangeness and unpredictable feline actions continue...my random week got even worse when I managed to leave my swimming cozzie in the shower at the swimming pool on Tuesday, and then embarrassingly had to ring up and see if it was in lost property. If you're ever in the same situation, it always helps if you can remember the colour and make - two things I managed to burble my way through and then realise that I'd given completely the wrong information. I then managed to refil the dishwasher salt dispenser on Wednesday and leave the top off, with the result that I had a beautifully clean and wonderfully salty set of plates, knives and forks (not really recommended). Yesterday the cat weighed in with her contribution again, and managed to get into (and eat a fair amount of) a cling-film wrapped ball of farmers' market mince, that was defrosting on the work surface in the kitchen. She's got taste, that cat.

I'm glad it's not only me who does this sort of rubbish though. Take a look at waiter rant (I particularly like some of the really dumb customer sayings...). I guarantee you'll be terrified the next time you go in a restaurant.


Welcome to the future

It's an odd week for random mishaps. Yesterday the cat decided to chew through the cable of the brand new phone charger that Rob had got with his phone the day before, leaving two severed pieces snaking across the floor. She had the gall to look very smug too. Although she's been told that if she does it again she'll be stuffed... Today's mishap was mine - I took Rob to the garage to put the car battery back in the van, said goodbye, and then drove off with the battery still in the boot. To make it even better, my phone was switched to silent, so I couldn't hear his increasingly frantic phone calls as I drove off down the road (the prospect of a 45 minute walk to work through Byker wasn't an enticing one). I feel like I'm living in some kind of mad sit com - what with the unpredictable feline, disappearing car batteries and an increasingly surreal line in pie queries (squirrel pie anyone?) it's all getting a bit strange.

Back in the normal world of food, schools are going to serve retro dinners, and Welcome to the Retro Future debates the delights of 1960s space food. Weren't we all supposed to be eating little pills, or transmogrifying particles into fish and chips by this point? Or have I just seen one too many episodes of Star Trek?



ovenpies Originally uploaded by rachc.
If anyone works out a way to stop their glasses steaming up as soon as they open the oven door, leaving me groping around in a fog, would they please let me know....