food & drink
Misty Mountaintop Stew
recipes from the mountains
The weather closed in like an evil spell from the wizard Saruman, ‘Me kid thee not’. Densest swirling mists and high winds soaked everything to the bone, yet it only rained a thick drop from the trees. Visibility was less than twenty metres. Seeing is believing the truly bizarre. Only a hearty recipe would dispel the doldrums as we sat by the fire of protesting damp wood.
Rustic home cooked recipe courtesy of Nico, the man who knows his meat.
The road rose steeply from the coast and began to weave precariously into instantly engulfing mists in the blink of an eye. Some further place a mere thousand metres beyond the concerning short visibility stood our solitary destination.
In the fog filled dim; stars and the light of the world was as a forgotten dream. The blurry misted reflections of our vehicles lights framed by the white impenetrable unending fog bank gave little to cling. That and the near edge of darkness promised only a fall down a rocky abyss from which there would unlikely be return.
One might think it all seemed to have a smidgen of embellishment expected from a scene out of The Hobbit or some similar work. Any fantasy it resembled was out-shadowed by the blustery wild windy cold wet dense terrain revealed only at a distance too short to trust.
The refuge was dark, damp and cold. The glassless front door to the beaten fireplace was a sorry sight. It was tired or unwilling to be of further service. The heat from large damp log and scant firewood was uninspiring, but made necessary forays into the blustering wet winds for bark and pieces that would dry quicker at its feet. What it lacked in homely decor was amply made up by the potential for an opening scene in a horror movie set in a remote place.
… ‘I’m just popping outside for some firewood.’ As he swung open the door; the howling wind whistled, a sudden flash of lightening lit up the fog and revealed a dark shadow waiting within…
We lit candles, began our trips to the cars to bring in the food, butane gas burner, tents, inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags and everything that would make that open spaced shelter into as homely a place as possible. We had thankfully raided all our drinking cabinets. Apart from the slabs of beer; there were sufficient bottles of unfinished liquor. Even that of aunty Maria’s famous after dinner tipple that had remained untouched since her death.
Our provisions were calculated to last us for three days, if we would have been three sumo wresters on a binge. We hoped beyond measure by the hour that the sky would clear to reveal breathtaking panoramas to greet our easy paced morning ramblings prior to copious food and alcohol. Day followed night, then day, without hint of a break in the weather. Pines bent, creaked and made all manner of displeased sound.
We had fire, a burner, foods, raw and to soak drink, seasoning, oil and butter and cooking fat. Fireside chats, good food and free-flowing drink dispelled a goblin’s damp night. The unrelenting weather, and mysterious wilderness embodied that only found in tales told. We laughed, joked, related stories of life and sat staring silently at the flames for what seemed like an uninterrupted stretch outside of time. Such situations require punctual hearty food to dispel the doldrums, even Thor himself would have been a thankful guest.
El Puchero de Nico - Nico’s Stew.
-Boil four litres of water with two cured mature marrow rich bones. When boiling remove surface layer of excess simmering fat.
-Add two full chicken legs, 150g of Iberian fatty pork (panceta), 250g of pork ribs, 200g of Spanish Serrano ham chopped small. When the water returns to the boil, set to simmer for about an hour.
-Then add 1 medium to large potato, 1 leek, 1 turnip, 1 celery stick, 4 carrots and a piece of mint (hierbabuena, yierbabuena). Simmer until vegetables cooked. (hierbabuena or yerbabuena, is not exactly mint. Various dictionaries translate this insufficiently well as mint. It is considered botanically of the mint family, but they are not the same. It further seems that neither spearmint nor peppermint are accurate translations based on visual comparisons of the plant, though ‘mentha spicata’ is the botanical name. Hierbabuena leaves are softer and less intensely green than its mint counterpart. They also give off a different, yet satisfying aroma. If you were to see them, use and taste them side by side; you would not consider them the same. Also hierbabuena does not have sorbitol, where mint does. It makes a great infusion and has agreeable properties.
Once the puchero is ready.
Traditionally, the meats and vegetables are removed from the consommé like liquid and eaten with bread. The clear remaining soup is used to boil short chopped thin spaghetti pasta. Mashed hardboiled egg and small pieces of cooked ham are added with a squeeze of lemon to the soup. Hearty traditional recipes to fill and make complete use of all the ingredients.
Having spent two days and nights closed in by howling water-droplet loaded winds, trees that appeared to rain of their own accord and a dense fog; it was time to cut the excursion short. Upon clearing the cloud level the skies opened up. The ground was dry and patchy sun cast itself annoyingly upon the land. Our provisions were not as yet consumed. There was the string of plump homemade chorizos best consumed after frying with wine, filets of pork and chicken, cheese and vegetables. With quick last minute thinking, Bernie suggested we return to his country house to do nothing other than to continue cooking, eating and drinking our provisions.
This homestyle recipe article is dedicated to Nico, the man who knows meat, and Bernie, copious quantaties of food, drink and gregarious revelry advisor.
The Changing Face Of Fast Food
Fast food may have had its roots in something more traditional before the franchise factory food production wanting in nutrition established itself for the fat future it made. Tastes and demand has changed with the advent of travel and internationalised foods serving the hight street.
Popularised as junk food; the fast food chains and franchises may have given the fast food concept a bad name by cheating the palate and using agro-industry adulterated substandard quality produce. Food changes over time might not be so news worthy as the political puppet theatre, the wealthy or famous force fed to us daily for entertainment. Looking at the high street burger joints might lead to believe that business is as usual. There have been changes, some subtle, others more recent and stark.
The love hate relationship powers might have with populous health and overpopulation in the sickness verses health benefit to the considered human work cattle might be as expected, but concerns rose, both in health as well as consumer choice circles. Concerns about the convenience of the long term effect on health due to heavily processed foods containing hormones, chemicals and the methods used for ridiculously long shelf lives.
This subject is no doubt where retained lawyer firms do their work to protect the interest of fat cats of industry with little interest in life or the planet. Regardless of falling IQ points over the century and the rising mobile mesmerised populous; the dissatisfaction and moreover the lack of trust in the suited and white-coated experts of all things and nothing was palpable. Fast food was fine, though they didn’t want that cheaply made toxic crud to kill them slowly over years with chemicals that altered or compromised the functions of the human organism.
It was shocking enough to come to terms with ammonia blasted grey meat, hormones, steroids and reconstituted vegetables with the use of high corn fructose GMO corn syrup. Healthy organic (whatever that meant) or pesticide free fresh produce by all types of growers hardly had the marketing clout that the big players had. They certainly could not match prices the average crap salary job worker with no future, faith or hope, had to spend out of pocket. Reassurances by the bankrolled experts was becoming a thing of disdain by those supposed ignorant masses. The huge bullshit pile stink could not go ignored indefinitely; not even by humblest of educated folk.
Fortunately, independent organisations and ethical leaned people bring concerning matters to light regarding long term health issues of foods said to be safe. Government’s affair with big bank and business when it comes to food, medicine and petroleum-chemical industry administrations is not up for debate. Poisoning people for profit is not a fake documentary title for the tin foil hats, it’s fact. All is fair until otherwise decided in a court of contracts where persons are not human beings, thus not afforded certain rights, but permissions. Toxic aspartame in almost every chewing gum, sweetener, and soft drink is fine. Poisonous sodium fluoride in toothpaste, mercury and formaldehyde in medicines; all acceptable and legal of course. Let us not forget the profitability of putting toxic byproducts of other industries in those consumables. Seriously, just stop and think for a moment. There you go; you’ve just joined the tin foil hat brigade. Furthermore, natural products with none of the side effects or disease creating components are made illegal. Wrap your logic around that one. Down the incomprehensible rabbit hole we go. Only unfathomable to those who do not have a sick, degenerate, predatory psychopath mind. I’m baffled how people do not turn into a pitchfork mob, find the major share owners of those central banks, industries, governments and certain organised societies and put heads on pikes.
Increasingly over the years more of the big fast food outlet companies have boasted a reduction, removal and opt out of questionable ingredients and processes. They have also vowed in cases to purchase local produce to boost their good product and low pollution market standing. Image is everything, with the added bonus of attracting a wider consumer base of informed and cconscientious consumers. The fallacious argument proposed before was that healthy options could not be offered at bargain prices. In the psychology of perceptions; what kind of confidence could the so called informed consumer have in a product that was pitched at a low price under the quality prime food banner?
The increased legislation demanded of food labelling in different countries has aggravated those grotesque lobbies. Paraphrasing Saul Bellow. ‘A great deal of intelligence is invested in deluding the people if the profits are great.’ Apologies Mr. Bellow for altering a marvellous quote. As for fines; the courts of judges and laws allow deliberate crimes to be profitable for a few. It certainly takes time for things to move in the right direction.
In the long run it is good news. Vintage fast food trade names see the profit and benefit in changing practices, the variety and quality of products has increased on the high street. A larger group of people are informed, choose accordingly, and fresh, fair priced ingredient fast foods are available.
Home Made Chilli Sauce Recipe
Making your own fresh chilli sauce is easy, fun and a healthier alternative to manufactured products. Many of the ingredients used are known as power foods. For these reasons the basic blend is offered to all viewers and readers.
Great for marinating fish, meats, adding to soups, noodles, rice pasta and even potatoes. Solis Chilli Sauces come in five varieties; Original, Asian, Oriental, Sweet Tropical and Caribbean.
Basic ingredients for your home made chilli sauce.
Water (for varied viscosity).
Additional and alternate ingredients across the range of chilli sauce recipe varieties.
Ginger, garlic, olive oil, sunflower oil, rice vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic, white wine vinegar/ dark, sherry vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar, honey, refined sugar, syrup, turmeric, paprika, white pepper, black pepper, dates, prunes, mango, soy sauce and a couple of others… even KFC doesn’t give the whole game away. Blend choice ingredients and store in the fridge.
Why not experiment? Make your own blend. Here are a couple of alternate suggestions for my readers. (Just for you, mum’s the word, nudge nudge, wink wink, our little secret… just kidding) Green chillis, horse radish, cumin, curry powder, dried apricot, pineapple, and banana. Ingredients limited only by the imagintation.