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(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Many are the tales the Chinese tell of the wonderful cures that ginseng has wrought. They will tell you that its roots are a remedy for every illness, that they are able to prolong life and even to restore it after death; and their legends recount how the wolf, tiger, snake, and panda protect this miraculous plant from harm, and how the roots save themselves from capture by moving from place to place underground. And so, although our own physicians regard it as of little value, Johnny Chinaman still buys it at any price.

The most valuable ginseng – sometimes worth £10 an ounce – comes from Korea and Manchuria, and an inferior quality is cultivated in Japan. Most of the wild ginseng has now disappeared, and a cultivated plant is taking its place.
But the wild variety always commands better prices, because of the Chinese superstition which prefers roots resembling a man or some grotesque being (ginseng means “form of man”) rather than the regular roots which cultivation tends to produce. As shown above, the most fantastic shapes of men, animals, and wild birds are often dug up.

Ginseng belongs to the genus Panax. Panax ginseng, a native of China, and Panax quinquefolium, of eastern North America, are the most noted species.

PEOPLE-ONLY-Nigella-Lawson-1955475

Nigella Lawson rowed in public with Charles Saatchi.

In photographs published in a Sunday newspaper, the television chef appears to have become embroiled in a violent dispute with the wealthy art dealer.

The couple were sitting outside Scott’s in Mayfair, central London, when he appeared to lean over and grab her by the throat.

Lawson, 53, looked terrified before leaving the restaurant alone in floods of tears.

A witness told the Sunday People: “It was utterly shocking to watch.

“I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes. Nigella was very, very upset. She had a real look of fear on her face.”

The witness added: “He looked guilty. It was clear he knew he’d done something wrong. He was menacing, there’s no question. She had been abused and humiliated in public.

“No man should do that to a woman. She raised her voice and got angry but at the same time was trying to calm him down, almost like you would try to calm down a child.”

I always knew Saatchi was a shit, but now it appears he is a stupid violent shit. Will he get away with it? Probably. Scotland Yard has received no complaints about the incident, which happened in a public place. No one intervened.

Lemon

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

The demand for lemons increases by leaps and bounds as the mercury rises. In Italy, Sicily, Corsica, and other parts of southern Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal, lemon culture has been a large commercial industry for many years.

The lemon is a close relative of the orange and has followed it all over the world. The straggling branches of the lemon tree, however, are very unlike the compact dense foliage of the orange, and the purplish flowers have not the agreeable fragrance of the white orange blossoms.

The lemon is much less hardy than the orange and the area of cultivation is more restricted. It is cultivated and propagated in much the same manner as is its near kinsman the orange.

If lemons ripen on the trees they lose their keeping quality, and so they are picked green, before there is any sign of the golden yellow colouring. Each picker has a little ring 2¼ inches in diameter, and the fruit is cut when it can just slip through the ring. From the moment the lemons are harvested they must be handled as carefully as eggs. In dark storehouses, well ventilated but free from draughts, they are spread out and slowly ripened. In curing, the fruit shrinks a little, the skin becomes thinner and tougher and develops a silky finish. When the process is completed the lemons are washed, dried, and wrapped in tissue paper. In this condition they will keep for months, which is a very good thing for the growers, as most of the fruit ripens in the winter and the great market demand is in the summer.

The lemon is used in more different ways than any other of the citrus fruits. From the rind, lemon oil or extract, used in flavouring and perfumery-making, is obtained either by expression or distillation, and candied lemon peel is made. The pulp yields citrate of lime, citric acid, and lemon juice. Besides its use in flavouring foods and drinks of various kinds, lemon juice is much used by calico printers to produce greater clearness in the white parts of patterns dyed with dyes containing iron.

Scientific name Citrus limonia, the lemon tree is exceedingly fruitful.

(Taken from Real Cooking by Nigel Slater)

I love a banger. Mild, herby British butcher’s variety, blow-your-socks-off fennel and black pepper Italian ones, or thick wodges of black pudding. Love them all.
To be good, really good, a sausage must be hot and sticky. It must sport that tacky, savoury goo that you get when it has been cooked slowly. It must be sweet, savoury, gooey, chewy and all at once. And a sausage should always be eaten when slightly too hot – part of the joy of a banger is to toss it around in your mouth whilst making sucking and blowing noises. A tepid sausage is a friend to no one.

Sausage suppers, bangers and mash, or grilled black pudding with creamy mustard sauce, are cold-weather food of the first order. I can think of nothing I would rather come in to after raking the leaves on an autumn afternoon than slow-fried sausages and a mountain of mash. Sausage hotpot comes pretty close. Or a woman with huge tits peeling off her sweater … where was I? Yes! Big hot sausages!

At the risk of upsetting sausage fanciers I honestly think that the plain butcher’s sausage is a tastier affair than all these fancy links around at the moment.

Choosing a sausage is not that difficult. Choose ones that are meaty and moist-looking, and perhaps freckled with pepper and a few herbs. It is best to avoid the butcher’s effort at originality until you have tried their house brand, which may be very good indeed. Some butchers really know how to make a banger. If in doubt, just go for a plump, friendly-looking one – banger, that is.

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(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Good Manners at the Table

Sit upright at the table. Do not slide down on your spine nor sprawl forward on your elbows. Lay your serviette across your lap; don’t tuck it in your collar.

Don’t fidget with your knife and fork, drum with your fingers, or tap your foot on the floor. Don’t make a noise in eating and drinking or take enormous bites or chew with your mouth open. Don’t bite into a whole slice of bread and butter. Break the bread into suitable pieces for eating and butter each piece separately. Don’t bend over your plate and give the effect of shovelling your food into your mouth, and don’t reach for things.

If soup is being partaken of, dip the edge of the spoon that is farthest from you to fill it, and take the soup from the other side, not from the tip. Don’t tip the plate to get the last spoonful.

Table-talk is a fine art. Because unpleasant thoughts interfere with the enjoyment and digestion of food, disagreeable topics must not be mentioned at table. Table-talk is light, bright and crisp, never very serious, and should be as general as possible.

When you have finished eating, drop your napkin unfolded beside your plate, since at a dinner party a napkin is not supposed to be used again; and lay your knife and fork on your plate, side by side, not crossed.

Don’t let memories of school dinner pilchards put you off, Cornish sardines are one of England’s finest seafoods.

The sardine, or pilchard as it can be known in this country, is one of the humblest, yet to my mind finest, fish to be found around our shores. I am obsessed with its staggeringly delicious flavour. Simply grilled over charcoal, brushed with a little lemon juice and olive oil during cooking, and sprinkled with sea salt, it tastes sublime.

Served with garlic-rubbed grilled bread and a chunkily made rough tomato sauce redolent of garlic and rosemary, it captures the essence of cheap and sustainable seafood.

The problem with sardines is that they must be fresh; they need to be shining silver, with gleaming eyes, and ideally stiff as a board.

Ingredients

50ml olive oil
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
12 fat Cornish sardines, gutted, scaled and cleaned
1 small bunch of rosemary
4 thick slices of crusty bread
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
a handful of basil leaves, torn (optional)

For the tomato sauce:

100ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 red chilli
750g ripest cherry tomatoes
125ml dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Start with the tomato sauce. Warm the oil in a heavy pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and leave to infuse on a low heat for 10 minutes. Prick the chilli several times with the tip of a knife to allow the flavour to escape. Add the tomatoes and chilli to the oil and cook over a low heat for 40 minutes. Add the wine and a sprinkling of salt and plenty of pepper. Turn the heat up slightly, then crush to a rough sauce using a potato masher and simmer for 5 minutes more.

Whilst the sauce is cooking, light your barbecue and wait until the flames have died down and the coals have gone grey, or preheat your grill to medium. Now for the sardines. Mix the oil and lemon juice together in a bowl. Place the sardines over the barbecue or under the grill. Brush with the oil and lemon mixture and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 4–5 minutes, then turn the fish and repeat until cooked through, brushing with the oil and lemon as you do so.

Just before you finish cooking, throw the rosemary on the coals to infuse the sardines with a final blast of flavour. Rub the bread with the garlic, brush with a little more oil and grill until crisp.

Serve the sardines on plates with the tomato sauce spooned over the toast, adding lemon wedges and torn basil leaves to finish if you wish.

Cockles are possibly our most modest and unassuming shellfish. For me, however, the humble cockle is among the sweetest and most delicious morsels to be found on Britain’s seashore. Cunningly hidden inches below the sand and mud, the cockle can typically be found in such beauty spots as Morecambe Bay in Lancashire and the Gower peninsula of South Wales, where they have been an essential source of food for millennia.

Ingredients

100g butter
1 leek, finely chopped
3 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
100ml cup dry cider
150ml double (heavy) cream
1kg fresh cockles (baby clams), washed and prepared
500g mussels, washed and prepared
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat up a heavy saucepan or casserole over a medium heat and add the butter. When it foams, add the leek, shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the cider and cook for a further 3 minutes, then pour in the cream. Tip in the cockles and mussels, throw in the parsley, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, turn the heat up to high and cook with the lid on for 3 minutes.

Discard any shellfish that haven’t opened. Serve with chunks of white bread and mugs of cider.

Click to embiggen Nigella Lawson

(Source: Telegraph)

Nigella Lawson has called in lawyers to deny claims that she bought “under the counter” foie gras at Selfridges in London.

The Queen of Gastroporn and Caramel Bukkake vehemently denied a newspaper report published at the weekend suggesting that she bought the controversial French delicacy from Jack O’Shea, a prominent butcher, at his former concession in the department store.

Although production of foie gras – made from the enlarged livers of force-fed geese – is banned in Britain, it can be sold legally and is stocked in a number of London shops.

Selfridges banned it on animal welfare grounds two years ago after a high-profile campaign led by Sir Roger Moore, the former James Bond actor. Mr O’Shea, however, continued to offer it for sale to a select group of customers who requested it using the code name “French fillet” (reminding me of the sinister butcher of Royston Vasey, Hilary Briss, from The League of Gentlemen). He who said he prided himself on his animal welfare standards, and was unrepentant after his dismissal from Selfridges last year. He said at the time: “I couldn’t give a damn, my conscience is clear. Stuffing a goose with grain is like stuffing me with Guinness.”

Another revolting 1970s recipe from my complete set of Good Housekeeping cookery cards; beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, they are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

Ingredients

Praline:
5 oz. sugar
2 tbsp water
pinch of cream of tartar
2 oz. unblanched whole almonds

Soufflé:
3 large eggs, separated
¼ pint milk
2 tbsp coffee liqueur
3 level tsp gelatine
2 tbsp water
¼ pint double cream
¼ pint single cream
toasted flaked almonds for decoration

Method

Make praline. Dissolve the sugar in the water, add cream of tartar and almonds. Bring to the boil and simmer until syrup is golden brown. Pour on to an oiled baking sheet or marble slab. When cold crush with a rolling pin.

Put egg yolks, milk and coffee liqueur in a double saucepan or bowl over a pan of hot water. Cook until thick, stirring. Stir in gelatine dissolved in 2 tbsp water in the usual way. Cool until half set.

Whip together the double and single cream until it holds its shape. Fold all but 1 tbsp cream into egg mixture with praline followed by egg white.

Turn into a prepared 1-pint soufflé dish. Leave to set in the refrigerator.

Carefully remove paper. Decorate edge with flaked almonds. Pipe a whirl of cream in the centre.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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