Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Quick Chinese Herby Egg Noodles

Chinese noodles is a treat when it is flavoursome. Just a few little additions are needed to the regular boiled noodles to make it quite yummy. For this recipe, I suggest you buy the egg noodles that are already in dried portion sizes.

Quick Chinese Herby Egg Noodles - for 2 people

2 portions dried egg noodles in portion packs
a large handful of herbs - Coriander, Parsley, chives (any of these or all) -chopped finely
half teaspoon sea salt flakes
1tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce

- Boil a large pot (3 litre size) of water and add one portion per person.
- Let it boil according to packet, or 3 minutes.
- Stir often with a spaghetti stirrer to separate the strands of noodles.
- When cooked, drain in a colander.
- Replace noodles in pan, and add sesame seed oil, salt, and soy sauce.
- Close pan with lid, and shake vigorously, but carefully, and put aside.
- Using a clean, dry, small saucepan over low heat, place some sesame seeds and toast, stirring continuously till it smells toasted, but not burnt. Be careful to switch off heat immediately, and place in a cool, dry bowl.
- Serve noodles, and add sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

You can have this with any other meat, chicken or vegetable Chinese dish, or on its own if you wish.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Quick Chinese Chicken and Vegetables

Good Chinese food is fresh and does not contain a lot of preservatives and mono sodium glutamate which you find in cheap take-way restaurants. Here is a quick dish that is tasty and extremely healthy. The main thing about this dish, is that it is quick frying in minimum oil, while not letting anything go brown. Everything should retain natural colour, except the chicken which should be white and opaque, NOT translucent or brown.

Quick Tasty Chinese Chicken and Vegetables - for 2

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into half inch cubes
1 large onion - chopped
3 large cloves garlic - chopped
2 sticks celery - chopped
1 handful dwarf green beans (or any kind of string beans) - in 2 or 3 inch pieces
one third of a head of broccoli - cut carefully in small florets
2 medium tomatoes - quartered (optional)
2 spring onions chopped in 1 inch pieces (optional)
Half a large green sweet pepper, cut lenthways
1 large carrot (optional) - cut in 2 inch sticks (not shown above)
half tsp sea salt
2 table spoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
half table spoon vegetable oil


-  Season chicken with salt and leave for a few minutes
- heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or a wok on a medium to high heat
- pour in the vegetable oil and heat till almost smoking but not burning
- add onions and soften till slightly brownish
- add chicken cubes, stir and fry till it turns opaque but not brown (about 5 minutes) Lower heat if necessary.
- add garlic, stir and fry for 1 minute
- add carrots, stir for 2 minutes.
- add celery,broccoli and spring onions and cook for 2 minutes
- add rest of vegetables and stir.
- Add soy sauce and sesame oil, and stir for the next 4 or 5 minutes
OR, cover pan, and lower heat if you have doubled or tripled ingredients.
- switch off heat when chicken is cooked but vegetables are not limp.

Serve with noodles or rice.

Later this week I will give you a lovely quick recipe for Herby Chinese Noodles.

Let me know how you get on!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Quick, Tasty Trinidad Chicken

Every writer has to eat. I love cooking, but good Trinidad cooking often requires time to season with herbs and spices, and then marinade for hours. I have little time, so here is a quick tasty recipe to try.

Trinidad Style Chicken Thighs for 2 persons 
(you can use any part of the chicken if you wish so long as you use the right proportions of meat for the seasoning below)

4 chicken thighs (or 4 drumsticks, or 2 breast portions)
4 large cloves garlic or 6 small ones - chopped finely
half teaspoon sea salt
about quarter teaspoon ground black pepper
large bunch fresh thyme (a good handful) - chopped finely
1 large red onion - chopped finely
2 large ripe tomatoes (or 3 medium ones) - cut up finely
half tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking
half cup of water

1. Wash chicken and remove the skin and place in a large bowl.
2. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, thyme, and tomato.
3. Mix thoroughly with your hands, making sure all the seasoning gets into all parts of the chicken.
4. Cover and leave for 15-30 minutes.
5. Using a non stick frying pan (with a lid), heat pan on a medium heat, and add oil.
6. When oil is hot, add onions and fry till light brown.
7. Add chicken pieces carefully making sure each piece is in contact with the hot pan.
8. When one side is light brown, turn chicken pieces.
9. When both sides are brown, add in the rest of the seasoning left in the bowl.
10. Stir, turn chicken again, and cover the pan.
11. Turn down heat to minimum.
12. Leave for about 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn.
13. Add water and stir again to make a little sauce.
14. Make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked and just separating from the bone.

Serve with boiled rice, and any lightly cooked green vegetables, or salad.

Fallen from a Great Height - Rise or Die.

Well what would you expect when life turns round and bites?
You bite back of course! Why not? The first infantile reaction,
the instinct to retaliate, the pain of watching her win
and take what is rightfully yours! Yes, mine, you say.
In your childish way. All is mine. And that is what the split will do.

But all around you see examples of those who fought
and lost. Fought fair, fought weak, fought foolish.
Then those who fought with all their might to win
whatever the cost to lives, and hearts, and minds.
Instinct takes over when the brain fails to put its best foot forward.
Money buys a very small mind. But you had that anyway to start.

Get the lawyers! She says. I'm the lawyer! You say.
I will litigate! I will castigate! Hell, I will fumigate
until you weep, you say. Until she weeps. Until he weeps.
Until they all weep and get no sleep, because with my little feet,  
I will creep into all the crevices of their breaths of all I can hurt,
You scream and scream in your dungeon of darkness.

At night you cry yourself to sleep. You wake with itch and scratch
resolute to make them squirm like the worm you feel in your pain.
You rub your arms to feel the skin, the life remained, and
scratch the spot the mosquito got. Your blood! My blood!
You rise again. Swear to get her, get theirs. Anyone in reach.
But your pain still worsens with all the effort of adversary.

And there you go! You continue in tracks of failure.
You fall from the great height you placed yourself and find
the ground is hard. But rising to your feet even harder
in all the mess you managed to create. The mire slips 
and from there you reach for internet - the need to communicate.
For people. But how? With a brain as big as mine, you say. I know,
I will lie, you say. That's sure to reach and breach and teach them.
And you do. I will destroy whomever I can, you think.

Advise yourself. A fools paradise is where you sit.
In slime and lies and crime. So deep the muck
you cannot smell your own breath that pervades your own space
and that of others. Wasting time with destructive devices will
will never succeed in superseding the efforts of constructive creations.
Waste your effort at your peril my friend. If you must.

Advise yourself! Less you remain the worthless piece
you created in yourself. Rise up and think. Job did not lose his mind
with all his life destroyed about him. Yourself is not the worst
you have lost, but the possession of hearts of those you love.
Blind is not a fault of the mind. But you make it so
with your impaired mental vision. Severely so, with your split.
Rise up or die.Wash yourself. Your mind. Make amends.
Scratch you head and think.
Take pride in your persona.
Else you might never
regain respect.
Divorce is but a snap in time.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

No Brother, No Time

A child, but old
enough to know
That he was wrong
and she was sane.
When cake was in
the mix of pain.
When all she needed
was exchange of words
to fetch her educational
attire. But what instead
you passed was stone and
fire. The bigger the brain
the smaller the mind, when
all that mattered was knowledge
and gain, of words not yours,
of thoughts not worth the
breath inhaled. Mother exhaled,
but you? You leapt to anger
from behind spiked trees
like dogs and gods of
mightless power.

You win the battle, 'tween you and me, 
but lost the war in all you glory.
For I will never again regard
a father who cannot himself respect.
Who loses his baby in all the
bathwater of fight and fume
in petition and perdition.
In litigation I hear you proclaim in
fit and rage that I am no
child of yours. Well here
I am to tell you that what you represent
in all your counter and petition
is nothing but superstition
and violation of all those
you care not to call
my family. My mother and me.
My brother and auntie.
My cousin and grandparents.
You failed mon pere, to see, that my
schooling lowly in comparison
to all your college Latin
and meals at Inns, were useless as
a sick severed brain
sitting in a sweltering stinking box.
The family is all I have, mon pere.
What else? Mon pere? What else?

by Marilyn Rodwell

Fabulous Holiday!!! New Thoughts for Characters of another Culture.

I have just returned from a fabulous holiday in North Africa full of the joys of character, culture and plots overflowing from my head. I'd love to write a romantic novel with a hero from this new land and culture, where I found the young men absolutely charming and good natured, despite the fact that it was Ramadan, and they had been starved of food, water all day in the heat of the Tunisian sun, and sex in a married relationship.

Cultures are fascinating and educational. And I am curious as to what makes peoples of various parts of the world tick. Of course every culture has good and bad. But to find such politeness and charm all in one place from almost ... no....everyone, is quite something. They weren't all happy, of course, but still polite, and certainly appeared a genuine people. Yes, they wanted you to buy their goods in the medinas, and yes, they did their best to encourage you to part with some cash, but all was negotiable. Mostly, you could barter, they expected it and encouraged you to. They tried to entice you to at least look at their beautifully made leather goods, clothes, ornaments. But they were friendly with it, even when visitors ignored them and walked away. "Smile", they would say. "Looking is free". "Asda price" !!! Yes, that was surprising.

I had read on various internet sites that it was difficult for Western visitors in an Arab country when it is the time of Ramadan, and that worried me a bit. But it was a good time to go. I learnt a lot.

Something I learnt about Ramadan, is that not everyone has to do it. People exempt are children, the elderly people, the sick, anyone with a long standing medical problem like diabetics, pregnant women, and people doing a job where it is very difficult to fast from 3.30 am to sunset - around 8pm. So it is not unreasonable. But those strong and healthy and past puberty, are encouraged to fast mainly for their own wellbeing. They pray 5 times a day during Ramadhan, and still work and live a normal life. They must also think of others, and do good for other people.  Those people who are exempt from fasting are encouraged to do extra in the way of helping others. 

I wonder if this caused the extra good aura I felt amongst the Tunisians last week. To be amongst people who are calm, friendly, and trying to do good, for religious reason as well as their own, is quite an experience. Of course there was something for them to look forward to after a full day of fasting. After dark, there was much joy and merriment everywhere too. Feasting, singing and dancing, drums and music everywhere. Little sleep was had, if you tried to sleep through it.

Tunisia was a French colony, and therefore Tunisians speak fluent French as well as Arabic. The populations is also 99% Muslim, so that Arab/French mixture is sure to make a wonderful hero whether it is Ramadan or not. What with the heat of the days, the wonderful sunsets, the sultry evenings, and the beautiful haunting sounds of their music, it is certainly worth me taking this idea further.

I'd surely return to Tunisia another time. The food is also quite something, and the smells of fresh ground spices in the market places allure me, just thinking about it.

Monday, 16 July 2012


I spent this weekend in the company of around 200 writers, mostly romantic novelists, new and published, and some who are people who I should have been in great awe of, but are so humble themselves, it was difficult not to enjoy their company. In other words I had a fantastic weekend.

Anne Ashurst is the Chairman of the RNA (Romantic Novelist's Association) and I met her for the first time at this year's RNA Writer's Conference in Penrith. in the beautiful Lake District. Anne officially belongs to the Birmingham Chapter of which I am the Chapter Liaison. She has a very busy schedule as you can imagine, but I believe she will be visiting us in Birmingham soon.

She writes as Sara Craven, and since starting writing in 1975 for Harlequin Mills and Boon, she has produced almost 90 novels.

She gave a talk this weekend at the 2012 RNA Conference, which was both lively and interesting, as well as most useful to new writers, as well as published ones.

The topic of her talk was - moving TOWARDS ZERO - the point when everything changes in the story. The point when there is no turning round .... when a SECRET IS REVEALED.

Here are some highlights of that talk:

If a secret is included at the beginning of the novel, the writer can slowly fill in the pieces, drip by drip. Until Zero is reached. Zero, being the point where everything changes. The secret is discovered.

By this time the reader has found out a great deal about a character, how they operate, what has caused them to behave in a certain way, and why.

The Past is crucial, in order to understand the Present. 

Therefore, knowing the character's past is important.

For this reason, BACK STORY is very important. And there are various ways of including back story and still make the writing flow well. However, it depends on the nature of the story itself as to which you should use.

 - Drip Feed, to slowly reveal the facts, when all the information is not needed at once.

 - Flashbacks may be used where appropriate to reveal the past as if it is the present - in big chunks, to make it clear that it is a flashback.

 - Allow other characters to say what is going on to reveal what you want them to let the reader know.

 - Prologue is another technique of revealing the past, and giving some back story before the actual beginning of the first scene. 

- Epilogues can also be used. 

Anne uses all these techniques according to the nature of her story. Her talk was most inspiring, with lots of tips on how to improve you own writing, to make it work.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Higgs Boson Explaned - a Link

The Higgs Boson Explained.

I thought I'd keep a record of this somewhere ... Click link. It is quite a good explanation.