Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Teacher Dies.

When I was driving into work on Monday of this week I learnt of the death of one of my teachers from the 1970's - Gordon Fulton. If my memory serves he replaced Mr Shepherd who exited teaching after the murder of his friend Senator John Barnhill on 12th December 1971. Gordon taught English and supervised Foyle College Players of which I was a member during my scholastic years. I was surprised to see that he was only eight years my senior. Maybe it was the presence of his beard that suggested a more advanced age. I think it was in 1975 that he persuaded me to fill a temporary vacancy in a production of the 1971 Players.

In the 1980's Gordon decided that he should disclaim the joys of teaching and become a professional actor. A brave decision but his natural ability proved it to be the correct one.. I was aware of his appearances in, "Game of Thrones," 'Taggart," and " Give my head peace." The last time I saw Gordon was at Glenveagh Castle when I was in the company of my paternal uncle and his wife. My uncle had been a departmental colleague of Gordon.



Nut Harvest

It is now three years since I planted four cob trees in the area which I insist on calling the orchard. Clearly this is the wrong nomenclature so far as these trees are concerned but as the remainder of the trees are all fruit trees it seems more sensible to talk about an orchard rather than a combined nuttery and orchard. This is the first year that there have been any nuts to pick. All four trees had a small crop, some very evidently smaller than the others. I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of the nuts and I am hopeful that next year will provide a much enhanced crop.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Courgette Chutney 2016

September's vegetable glut has necessitated the unearthing of the large chutney making saucepan from the cellar. It hasn't been a great year for vegetables but the courgettes haven't objected to the lack of sunshine and the very temperate temperatures. I have been picking ten or twelve courgettes every week for the past couple of months. With the best will in the world this is a number that I can't consume as courgetti, stuffed or fried.

Today saw the third batch of 2016 courgette chutney being manufactured. The template receipe for today's culinary experiment came from the National Trust's, " Jams, Preserves & Chutneys." This tome was originally published with an asking price of £18.99 but it had been discounted to £6.00 by the time I purchased it from the shop at the Argory this summer. The original receipe had the grated rind of two oranges as an ingredient. With no oranges in the house I substituted lemons for oranges, (I have never found a gin that needs an orange!). With a large supply of apples available from the roadside tree I decided to add in a pound of diced apple. The quantity of courgette was also increased slightly. Accordingly the following were the ultimate contents of the saucepan. I should point out that the courgette was salted overnight and rinsed under cold water before being tipped into the saucepan.

4 lbs diced courgette

1.5 tablespoons of table salt

1 lb of chopped tomatoes

0.5 lb of chopped onions

1 lb of sultanas

1 lb diced Apple

grated rind of two lemons

2 lb granulated sugar

Half pint red wine vinegar

Half pint malt vinegar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Pop goes the Sweetcorn.


There aren't many plants in the vegetable garden that you can grow from seed and which will give you a seven feet tall specimen within six months. This is particularly true of the Northern Ireland garden. Our wet and very temperate climate does not assist the gardener.

I think that is why I like growing sweetcorn. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck. The variety which I have grown over the past few years is Mini Pop. As the name suggests the cobs that this variety produces are quite small. The sort that you might use in stir fries and the like. The plants definitely give a bit of structure and height to the vegetable plot. I grew twenty plants this year. This should give me some one hundred mini cobs. I probably won't be able to chomp my way through all of these fresh from the plants. The balance will be thrust into the freezer and extracted as and when required during the winter months.






Thursday, 1 September 2016

White Tiger Seen On Village Street


Well yes I suppose that is slightly misleading. The animal in question was in the window of a shop not actually prowling up and down the thoroughfare in search of tiffin and I do have to admit that it was very definitely dead. Still it's not everyday that you come across a white tiger in Northern Ireland even if it has been the subject of Victorian taxidermy and the victim of the big game hunter. I was able to discern three tightly grouped bullet holes on its left flank.

Seeing the tiger brought back memories of my paternal grandfather's house. It was rather dark even on the brightest of days and it's halls and staircases were bedecked with animal antlers and horns. Was it just coincidence that the initials of his forenames spelt, "Raj."? Strange that.

Anyhows this is one tiger whose eyes no longer burn bright in poetic symmetry.