Monday, December 18, 2006

NOW THAT WE ARE OFFICIALLY THE MOST SPIED ON NATION IN THE WORLD I do hope that someone is watching me and noticing that I really need a week or two of total peace and quiet, preferably in a sunny climate with my every need catered for...otherwise I might become a danger to the public.

Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud is the story of a journey of self-discovery and faith written by a friend of ours, Sun Shuyun. Sun grew up in central China during the Cultural Revolution, but her paternal grandmother to whom she was close had never lost her Buddhist faith, and told her the story of Xuanzang a Buddhist monk who was the inspiration for the monk in the Chinese classic 'The Monkey King'. When Sun arrived in Oxford many years later she discovered that Xuanzang had really existed and determined to find out all she could about him. Eventually she decided to retrace his epic journey from Xian in China all the way to India and back - the journey Xuanzang had made to find true Buddhism. Ten Thousand Miles without a Cloud is the story of her travels, through China past and present, to find her own soul. It is an intensely moving and spiritual book, and at the same time a vivid account of the landscapes and people she meets along the way.


Whether you were for or against the war on Iraq (and I was vehemently against for reasons I won’t go into now), it is inexcusable that our military personnel were sent into a theatre of war without the equipment needed. Enhanced Combat Body Armour is a basic protective flak jacket, and is an essential piece of kit for soldiers

It is totally outrageous that the reason the soldiers in Iraq didn’t have the basic equipment was a political decision. Politicians decided to send our troops into conflict, and then decided not to let them have the basic equipment because if they did have it, it might have political implications for them (the politicians). The Secretary of State at the time, Geoff Hoon, delayed the decision to supply the requested equipment for 8 weeks – although it was available – because government advisors didn’t want to make it obvious that Britain was about to go to war. As a result Sergeant Steve Roberts, on active duty in Iraq, was ordered to hand over his ECBA jacket for another soldier to use as there were not enough to go round. This left him unprotected and he was killed by a shot that the jacket would have deflected. I hold our Government totally responsible for his death. It is unforgivable, and my heart goes out to his wife and family.

Millions of Britons will be shocked and appalled by this, and we will NOT forget. Eventually there will be elections, and then we must show them how truly despicable we consider this behaviour by our politicians.


For the past week I have been suffering from the most ghastly fluey cold which has turned into a horrible cough, so Christmas preparations have taken a nose-dive (ha ha). Tomorrow I must get myself going again and I thought I'd start with two prepare ahead recipes. B is for Bread Sauce and Brandy Butter. The Brandy Butter will keep well in the fridge for ages - providing I cover it with clingfilm and put a label on it threatening immediate death to anyone who decides to "test " it. In the past a whole bowl of the stuff has mysteriously disappeared before Christmas Day so I ended up making a fresh batch at the last minute. The Bread Sauce can be made one or two days ahead and kept in the fridge and then reheated on the day with a slurp of cream and knob of butter stirred in at the last moment. I suppose you could freeze it, but I never have.


150g fresh white breadcrumbs
(use day-old loaf of good bread, and do NOT use horrible sliced white bread which tends to go all slimey)
1 large peeled onion

6-7 cloves

1 bayleaf
6-7 peppercorns
2-3 pieces of blade mace

600ml milk

60g butter

3 tablespoons double cream

Salt to taste

Cut the onion in half and stick the cloves in to it. Put the onion, mace, bayleaf and peppercorns into a saucepan and pour the milk over them. Bring to boiling point then remove from the heat, cover the pan and let the milk infuse for a couple of hours at room temperature. When the milk has infused long enough, use a slotted spoon to remove the onion and flavourings from it and put them on one side, and then add the breadcrumbs with half the butter. Give it a good stir and place the pan over a very, very low heat; stir every so often while the breadcrumbs swell up and start thickening the milk - this takes 10-15 minutes. Put the onion back into the sauce, and tip into a bowl . The sauce can now be kept in the fridge until half an hour before you serve the meal. At that time tip the sauce back into a pan, remove the onion, heat gently and beat in the second half of the butter and the double cream. Put into a pre-heated sauce boat to serve.


175g unsalted butter - room temperature

125g icing sugar

2 tablespoons caster sugar

6 tablespoons brandy

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in the caster sugar, then beat in the brandy little by little. Taste to check there is enough brandy - if not, add more! Put directly into a serving bowl, cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge until needed.

1 comment:

realdoc said...

Happy Christmas hersch hope you get a rest at some point.