Cooking with Lard

A conversation with CStM about deep frying this evening. Mostly because we’ve just bought a deep fryer. It claims it should be filled with vegetable oil and not olive oil – apparently that’s unsuitable. Has to be corn oil or sunflower oil. Well it uses so much that olive oil would be prohibitive anyway, due to cost.

Then again, olive oil has been shown to have health benefits whereas corn oil definitely doesn’t. Still the fryer says it won’t work.

Anyone my age will remember the ‘chip pan’. A saucepan with a mesh basket for deep frying – mostly chips, but basically anything. When it was cold you couldn’t get the basket out because it was in a saucepan full of set lard. It was only washed when the lard needed to be changed.

It didn’t really need to be washed. There isn’t a living creature, microorganism or otherwise, that could survive in boiling lard. Once the heat was turned off, that damn thing was sterile.

Yes it was a high-risk cooking thing. There were many TV ads about what to do if it caught fire and that childhood indoctrination is why I insist on having a fire blanket near the cooker. Never needed to use one but it’s there just in case.

It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time. Is cooking with lard really as bad as they say? Or is it going to one day be scoffed at, like the ‘butter is evil, buy our plasticine substitute’ has been debunked? I’ve always preferred real butter. No substitute comes close.

I’ve fried meat in butter and it’s well worth it.

I think the clincher for me was fried bread. Some years back, the radio in Local Shop (while they were still allowed to use it in the back room before the ‘public access’ licencing became silly) had a talk show on. The DJ didn’t believe ‘fried bread’ was a real thing. Really. The youth have no idea what that is.

So what is it? In the old days, you’d have a lot of fat left in the frying pan and fat is food. You can scrape it into the bin or you can use it to fry something else or you can have it right now by frying some bread in it. If you were poor, as many people were, you could get that extra energy rather than waste it.

Fried bread, done properly, is gorgeous. If you have never experienced it you’ve really missed out. However, it does not work with modern cooking oils. It has to be in hard fat.

Maybe there’s a food scientist who can help with this. If you try to make fried bread in vegetable oil, you get a soggy mess. If you do it with lard or butter or bacon fat, you get a crispy result like a fried version of toast.

I have wondered if the hard fats have to be hotter so the surface of whatever is fried seals quickly and goes crispy. The vegetable oils are already liquid, they don’t need to melt, so they are cooking at a lower temperature. So they don’t seal the surface and have more time to soak into the food.

Which would mean that cooking with lard gives you less fat intake than cooking with vegetable oil. Most of the fat stays in the pan, not in the food.

Incidentally, these days, after frying up some bacon, we clean the frying pan. My grandmother didn’t. That bacon fat cooked tomorrow’s food. A friend of mine once described how, after he left home, he couldn’t get his baked beans to taste the way his mother made them. He was following the instructions on the tin – heat gently, don’t boil…

Then he visited his mother while she was cooking up some baked beans. In a frying pan. His words, as far as I can remember them –

‘The pan was bubbling like bloody Vesuvius. I said you’re not supposed to let them boil. She said fuck that, there’s two ounces of butter in there as well as yesterday’s bacon fat.’

Try that. You’ll be amazed.

We didn’t have an ‘obesity epidemic’. We didn’t have pompous arses telling us what we should eat (well yes we did, but we ignored them). We didn’t have things we couldn’t believe were not butter, we had butter. Not the processed plasticine that isn’t even margarine now. We didn’t have corn oil, we had melted lard. So why were we not all Weebles?

Well we also didn’t spend twelve hours a day sitting in front of computers playing at imaginary lives. We were outside playing real ones. That might have more of an effect than anything to do with food.

The fryer we have doesn’t mention lard in its instructions. Maybe it can’t handle that.

Maybe we have to get an old style chip pan to get the real deal.

Extermoonate!

Around 1990, I worked alongside some scientists who studied methane emissions from ruminants, particularly (but not exclusively) cows. I wasn’t directly involved, I was working on probiotics for pigs, but we are talking the same scientific group.

Their aim was to reduce methane emissions from cows, in the name of global warming, because otherwise we’d all be dead by 2000. Must have worked then, eh?

Nope. Not at all. The meddling kept getting funded but the cows farted and belched unhindered. My suggestion of adding a spark plug at either end to burn off emissions and simultaneously create double-ended dragons or self-cooking steaks was scoffed at. No imagination, those scientists.

Besides, the methane and CO2 belched and farted out of cows is as nothing compared to what comes out of mud flats, wetland, bogs, marshes, swamps… and when a subsea methane clathrate collapses, the cows become utterly irrelevant for that whole year. Sometimes you even get to see swamp methane as will-o-the-wisps when a bit of naturally-produced phosphine sets it off. Worrying about cow farts was, and still is, pointless but if you throw money at scientists they will find a way to use it.

To be fair, these days they have to accept funding. Their jobs depend on it. The days of pure research are gone and I count myself lucky to have been part of them. Now, you have to have a commercially viable aim for a project. Research for pure interest, and the inventions that came as byproducts of that, are gone for good.

Well, after a few decades of failing to stop cows farting (plugging the holes just makes them inflate and float away) the only solution left is the one that was obvious all along. In the name of conservation, in the name of ending animal cruelty, the plan is… kill all the cows.

The Amazing Occasional Cortex’s ‘Green New Deal’ is neither green nor new. There have been decades of research into stopping cows farting and belching methane and nothing has worked. Even if it did, all those wild ruminants would fill the void very quickly. So we’d have to kill all of them too.

If we do, their niche will be filled by other species and since most animals produce methane to some extent, and all of them produce CO2, the only way to save life on the planet is to exterminate all life on the planet.

Including insects and microbes. They represent an enormous biomass and they all produce CO2. They all have to go if we are to truly reduce CO2 emissions because shutting a few power plants is going to make no difference at all overall.

Makes sense? Has any of the ‘progressive’ claptrap ever made any sense?

No, it makes no sense. In the 70s we were heading into a global ice age due to rising CO2, then we were heading into a planet with a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus because of rising CO2, now we have ‘climate change’ because of rising CO2 so they can claim a win either way.

And they have an army of acolytes hanging on every word. Believe! Listen to our High Preists with their white coats and hockey sticks! Live as we direct or the Green God will smite thee! The End is Nigh!

I have tried to point out to these people that this is the basis of every major religion on the planet and that they are members of the Church of Climatology. Do they listen? Of course not. Who would willingly deny their own religion?

Now, the Occasional Cortex says we have twelve years to kill all the cows and abandon all technology. All those advances, all those innovations, must be discarded. Yes, she tweets this from an iPhone while drinking Starbucks and checking the time on a posh watch. And to think, people say Americans don’t understand irony.

Is that what happened to those who built the ancient structures we don’t know how to build now? Did they fall for the same scam? Did they abandon their technology because of farting cows and destroy all records of their inventions to make the world a safer place to bang rocks together and collect berries?

There are so many ruins under the Amazon forest that it is becoming clear that it’s not an ancient forest at all. It’s a runaway weed patch. The ‘lungs of the planet’ are not a discrete organ all in one place. It includes that lawn outside your window, the weeds growing in hte cracks in the pavement, the algae around your windows after a wet season. All of it is absorbing CO2 because all of it needs CO2 to live.

We are all to become vegetarian to save the planet by eating its lungs. Isn’t that a fun image? Well it can’t work. Those grasslands the cattle graze on are not used for crops because those areas are only good enough to grow grass. You can’t plough a field when the bedrock is six inches down but grass will grow there and cows will turn that into something you can eat. Vegetarianism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There will be climate change, there always has been and always will be, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not a thing. You adapt to it or you die. Nature doesn’t give a damn either way. If the human race is eradicated, another species will take our place. Just like the cows.

If you want to worry about humanity getting wiped out, you’d do better to worry about what’s currently happening between India and Pakistan than worry about half a degree of temperature change or a millimetre rise in sea levels. But hey, if that’s what floats your boat…

This planet has gone through changes that have put cities under the sea and the sea bed at the tops of mountains and humans have never, and will never, have any control over any of it. If the planet decides to have an earthquake or a tsunami or a volcano, the best you can hope for is getting enough warning to get out of the way. You cannot control this.

That is the part that the control freaks really cannot stand. We have absolutely no control over nature. None at all. So they have to pretend we do. They pretend we are ‘causing an ice age’ or ‘causing global warming’ or ‘causing climate change’ because they cannot stand not being in control. I’m surprised they haven’t blamed dinosaur farts for deflecting an asteroid so it crashed into Earth and killed them all.

We really don’t have hat much effect on the planet. Sure, we had cities with smog and some places still do but that’s a local effect. Not a global one. Cleaning up our cities to get rid of the smog is a Good Thing but really, only for ourselves. The planet does not care.

If we managed to get this planet to a state where we cannot live on it any more, nature will not care. It will replace us with species that can live on it in its new state and carry on going around the sun as usual.

Taxation will not affect that one jot. What does the rock we stand on care about our money? What does any other species on the planet care about it? Hell, there are whole populations of humans who don’t care about it.

Going back to living in huts made of dung and working dawn to dusk on subsistence farming is not going to make the slightest difference to climate change. It will only affect our ability to cope with it.

We really are not Gods. We do not control the weather and we have absolutely no control whatsoever over the planet. We are hairless monkeys with fancy toys and smugness and that is it.

The planet doesn’t care if we wipe out our species with our own self-importance. The loss of a species is nothing to Nature.

It can simply make another one.

New Year. Again.

This will be my 58th New Year although I don’t actually remember very many of them. I’ll remember this one for sure. I have to drive to the lab on New Year’s Day to (hopefully) complete the removal of all my stuff.

Actually I don’t care about the stuff left there now. It’s just that I don’t want to leave the junk for someone else to have to clean up. I won’t be leaving the lab as I found it – I had redecorated in there when I first moved in because it was a shithole – but I won’t leave any mess either.

This does mean driving on New Year’s Day so it sets a limit on the drinking. Once the lab is clear I can have my own little New Year. CStM gave me a bottle of Johnnie Walker’s ‘White Walker’ for Christmas and I’m saving it for when the lab is clear.

The date of the new year doesn’t really matter. The planet notices nothing, it doesn’t reset anything (unfortunately) and no global counter clicks up a notch. Hibernating animals don’t all wake up, murmur a bleary ‘Hooray’ and then go back to sleep. Nothing on this planet except humans has any regard for the moment the Western calendar adds another number.

China won’t care. They have their own calendar. So does Islam and so do many others. There are places in the world where humans don’t count the days at all. If you have always lived on the equator, the concept of ‘seasons’ might be hard to grasp. Oh there’ll be some change throughout the year but the idea of wildly varying temperatures just won’t figure.

Long dark winter evenings and summer nights where the sky is blue all night? Some equatorial peoples might well find that hard to believe. Just as those, like myself, who have never experienced the equator find it difficult to envisage a hardly-changing day length throughout the year.

Where we decide to start our calendar is entirely arbitrary. I’d have preferred New Year at a more pleasant time of the year, weather-wise, and distanced from Christmas so we don’t have two consecutive weeks of chaos. But then I’ve always been a bit of a Grinch…

I know, this is a major ramble. But it’s New Year’s Eve, so no bugger is reading it anyway. CStM and I might be the only sober ones in Scotland (aside from police, medics, firemen etc who are at work) by the time this autopublishes. Oh yes, it’s on a timer. We have some scary films to watch.

I think my decision to largely retire from science (I’ll still take consultancy work if it’s offered, but I have done my share of 60-sample marathons and I don’t want to do that any more) really took hold when I sold the gutbugs.com domain last April. Someone made an offer, I wasn’t using it and really wasn’t likely to now. I had set up sites in the past but meh, I was already considering retirement anyway.

The lab hadn’t seen very much action in years. I was paying rent for storage, basically. Not very harsh rent but letting the lab go will free up some cash. It has, unfortunately, also filled the utility room and garage with lab equipment. I’ll sell most of it but I’m keeping all my 5-litre flasks and maybe a couple of water baths for winter brewing.

Anyone need a peristaltic pump (Masterflex, none of yer crap) or magnetic stirrer? I have several, and other stuff too. I can’t let CStM get hold of my Gilson pipettes or lab balance – she is already over-precise with recipes and those things would let her take it to the edge!

I am now, primarily, a publisher and an author. Oh I’m still ‘doctor’, you don’t lose your PhD just because you stop using it. Although I rarely used the title unless someone pissed me off. I worked as a janitor for a year before anyone found out who I really was, and one member of staff called me ‘Alan’ for two years because I answered to it even though it’s not even close to my name. It never mattered to me.

Every member of staff in Local Shop who found out I was ‘Doctor’ had the same question – ‘What are you doing in here then?’ I had a variety of answers.

I finally tuned in and dropped out, man.

I know stuff, and I’m hiding.

I’m undercover.

Many more, but I did learn a lot from being one of the Untouchables in the shop. It validated what I had believed from day one of science work. The cleaners know everything so always make friends with them. Why do they know everything? Simple. Management treats them as equipment, not people. They are ignored. Polishing the woodwork while two managers discuss where the company is going? They don’t even know you’re there. You’re far too stupid to understand what they’re saying. You’re no more important to them than the brush you’re holding.

Cleaners are the core of every business. It can’t operate without them – especially in the food industry – but they are ignored and if spotted, treated as subhuman. Always befriend the cleaners. They know more about what will happen to the business than the managers do and if/when it goes down, they’ll be cleaners somewhere else.Their profession is secure, if way underpaid.

Most importantly, I now know exactly why food poisoning outbreaks occur, who is really to blame, how they could be stopped and why it is going to get progressively worse in the coming years. Naturally, I’m not going to tell anyone more than a few of the basic and obvious parts because that information has value.

Also, because Puritan Health want to hammer all prepared foods with more taxes. They want to ban bacon and ham because the curing process gives them nitrites. Nitrites were once encouraged because of their antibacterial properties, you know. It was in Nature, in the early 1990s, so it’ll be hard to find but if I do, I’ll post it.

Well I won’t be buying that stuff and it has nothing to do with the risk of obesity. There are rather more immediate risks in my mind now. I’ve been at both ends of this chain – I’ve been a lecturer and researcher in food safety/gut disease and I’ve been a cleaner in a food shop. When I took the janitor job I knew what to look out for, and found it. All of it. All its variations and nuances and why it will not go away.

How many like me are out there pronouncing on food safety? And yet I will say nothing. There is no point. People will believe ‘experts’ who have no idea of what is happening at the start of the chain they claim to understand. All they will see of me is four years of ‘the cleaner’ and not the thirty years before.

I am really glad that hard times forced me into that lowly, essential and underrated job. I learned so much more than I could ever have learned from scientific papers written by those who ignore the cleaners. I learned the structure of food shops and where the risks lie – and I know why they are increasing to very dangerous levels.

Maybe I’ll write it all down and make a book of it. Nobody will read it, of course, but at least I can say ‘I told you so’.

Or maybe I’ll take the information to my grave and just watch the world burn.

Anyway. Happy New Year to all, and if anyone is still alive and not shitting through every orifice in 2019, there’ll be a new Underdog Anthology at the end of March.

You might need extra pages 😉

Fat or sugar. Make your choice.

There is a current spat on Twitter about the low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets. Which one is better for weight loss?

Neither.

Also… both.

Anything can make you fat. I have met the occasional fat vegetarian. I was once pretty fat because of whisky. Really. There are around 1800 calories in a bottle of whisky so a daily bottle plus all the food plus the fact that, back then, I spent most of my time in front of a computer, made me into a stunt double for Mr. Blobby. Some nights I became less intelligible than him…

I cut down a lot on the whisky, landed a job as a janitor (times were very, very hard). Very physical working 6 to 8 hours a day, 6, sometimes 7 days a week – the weight simply vanished. I made no changes at all to my actual food intake. It was the same ‘unhealthy crap’ I always ate and still do. Curries, pizza, lemon chicken, anything I can culturally appropriate, I’ll eat it. Except rat on a stick. Everyone has a limit. I’d try it once though.

It’s really simple (as long as we are talking solely in terms of weight loss and ignoring essential amino acids, vitamins etc). Calories in, calories used. If you take in more fuel than you use, your body will store the excess. If you use more fuel than you take in, your body will use its stored excess to make up the difference.

What should you eat to lose weight? It does not matter. Eat what you like but don’t eat more than you need. Eat less than you need and you will lose weight.

Do remember to stop dieting at some point though. Too thin is actually more dangerous than too fat. Having a little bit of reserve is always a good thing – you never know when you might need that little bit of extra energy reserve. Chubby Venezuelans will attest to this. So will all the currently-villified British fatties if Corbyn gets in.

There is much more to it than weight, of course. Healthy eating does not simply consist of calories. The above considers body weight in isolation, it does not consider what those calories consist of.

Sugar, the naked truth – you don’t need any, other than what’s already in the food. Now before you get all outraged, hear me out. I don’t need to smoke, I don’t need to drink whisky. In fact I know that those things are likely to be bad for me one day. I do them because I like them. I know the risks and accept them because to me, the enjoyment outweighs the risks. Okay I don’t drink as much as I used to by any means but I do still like my whisky. One of the advantages of reduced whisky intake is that I don’t need the swill at the bottom end of the market. I now have smaller amounts of the good stuff.

I like sugar too. I will not buy aspartame sweetened things because I know, from personal experience over many experiments, that aspartame will make the world drop out of my bottom. My guts don’t like it at all.

Then there are the energy drinks, or ‘wakey water’ as I call them. I have, again, restricted my intake to one or maybe two a day and never after midnight. But I still like them. Actually I prefer most of the cheaper ones to the full-fat Red Bull but that’s a matter of personal taste and also wallet strain. One for about £1.50 compared to a pack of six for £1.50, it’s not a heavy decision for a one-time homeless guy in Scotland.

As I said before, calorie-free ‘energy’ drinks are a joke. If you drink those and believe they give you energy you are insane. And probably awake and tired.

We use sugar because we like it. Yes, too much is bad for you but too much of anything is bad. The dose makes the poison – even too much water will kill you. It will kill you faster, too. We do not, however, need raw sugar in the same way that we need water. In an internal sugar shortage, your body can make the sugar it needs from fatty acids produced by bacteria in the gut, and even from protein. There is also sugar in a lot of foods anyway, especially plant foods. Your body can get all the sugar it needs from a salad but, well, salad… chocolate… no contest really.

Oh I eat salad sometimes. With salt, because everything is better with salt.

That’s another issue. The healthists insist we have a daily salt allowance. I do not accept any kind of ‘allowance’ because I’ve always been a rebellious little goblin and always will be. I live by my own rules and often break those too.

The salt thing is bollocks on many levels. If you have a job that involves a lot of physical work you will sweat a lot. If, like me, you really don’t like hot weather because it makes you sweat to the point where you have to replace your eyebrows with rain gutters: If you labour day in, day out at heavy lifting… you lose salt as well as water in that sweat.

If your job involves sitting at a desk in an air conditioned office then you don’t need to sweat much. If you are one of those Satanic hybrids who like hot weather and don’t feel like you’re melting whenever the sun hits you then you probably don’t sweat as much as those of us from normal, cold places. So you don’t lose salt and water so quickly.

A one size fits all approach is horrifyingly wrong. In anything, if it comes to it. I eat a lot of salt. I’ve no idea how far over the ‘allowance’ I am because I don’t care enough to measure it. I carry little salt packs from takeaways with me everywhere and I have been known to just open one of those packs and eat the contents as raw salt. On very hot days, usually.

Your body regulates its salt/water balance. Too much salt and your urine is salty. Too little salt and you die of hyponatremia. It takes a hell of a lot of salt intake to wreck that balance, and you’ll know if you’re heading that way. Your kidneys will tell you with pain.

It doesn’t take very long to die if you have too little.

There is no point drinking water on hot days if you’re not also taking in some salt. You lose water and salt in sweat, you have to replace both, not one, or your body will simply piss out the water to keep them in balance. Modern medicine makes no allowance for this, nor for differences between individuals. Modern medicine uses the British Standard Human as their model and if you don’t fit the manual, well tough. They will let you die.

It used to be enough to have a bag of peanuts or crisps to get plenty of salt. I have, in recent years, had to add salt to peanuts and crisps when I eat them because it’s now been reduced to silly levels. Like the calorie-free energy drinks, we now have ‘ready salted’ crisps to add to our list of false advertising. I remember when crisps were unsalted but came with a litle blue twisted bag of salt to add as much as you wanted. Sometimes a pack had two bags of salt by mistake. I loved getting those.

Let’s talk about fat.

You do not get fat from eating fat, unless you are eating human fat. Or you are eating too much fat. Your fat is not the same as cow fat or pig fat or sheep fat or nut fat. Yes, bags of nuts now have a ‘high fat’ warning. Sigh. They are seeds. The plant has to start growing underground, in the dark. It has to have energy reserves in the form of fats and starches until it can get its leaves into the light and start making its own.

Seeds are full of stored energy. That’s why we eat them.

In fact seeds – cereals, grains – are so full of stored energy that you can get very fat indeed eating those things. Even if you never eat any meat based fat at all.

When you eat a bag of nuts or cereal or rains you are not eating pure carbohydrate. You are also eating some protein and a lot of plant fats. So don’t tell me you are ‘avoiding fat’ by eating those things. You are avoiding certain types of fat by eating loads of another type.

In the end it doesn’t matter. Any fat you eat is broken down by your cells and if it doesn’t need to be used, it is reassembled, along with any excess carbohydrate, into human fat and then stored. Fat does not make you fat. Carbohydrate does not make you fat. Taking in more calories than you use is what makes you fat.

There’s a lot more – there’s enough for a series of lectures in this topic!

Some vitamins are fat soluble and you will not get them at all on a fat free diet. They only exist in the fat. They are insoluble in water. Vitamin K – ever tried to make a bacterial growth media where that was an essential ingredient? It just sits on top in a little blob.

So much more, but this is just a little backwater blog and putting whole lectures up feels somewhat futile.

Protein is worth a mention. Some years ago, the Atkins diet was all the rage. No carbs, just protein. Everyone on it was instantly recognisable because they had acetone breath. Their bodies broke the protein to make sugar and dumped the excess parts as nitrates and acetone. Sure, you can live like that but if your only goal is weight loss it’s pointless. All it does is make you smell like cleaning fluid.

All you need for weight loss is to take in fewer calories than you use. That is all there is to it. There is nothing more complex involved and it will save you money, not cost you money. You spend less on food. Alternatively you can spend more to have someone else to tell you to spend less on food. Can you see how silly that sounds?

Diets are expensive. You pay people to tell you to spend less money on food. You pay more than you save. Does anyone see the scam in this?

Look, it’s really simple.

Are you happy with your health on your curent diet (ignore weight)? No? See a dietician. A proper, quialified one. Yes? Your diet is fine.

Are you feeling like you have to lose weight but answered ‘yes’ to the first question? Just eat less and/or exercise more.

Are you feeling like eating a cake of yourself and don’t give a shit? Good. Carry on.

All of those are correct answers. If you want to lose weight, take in less than you use. If you are feeling bad, and you think it’s because of what you eat, see a dietician. If you are happy as you are, carry on.

Modern medicine will never get it.

So the diet scammers have an open field for profit, when losing weight should, by any definition of logic, cost less than whatever you spend on food now.

You can change your life and body without outside help.It does not depend on how much you want to spend.

It only depends on how much you care about it.

Crouching Tiger, Militant Caterer

(The phone post is still bent over but the engineers have rewired it. I have internet again. At some point they will disconnect it to fix it properly but I have downloaded the last three months’ sales in case I can’t get to tomorrow night’s final numbers for this quarter. It’s not likely there will be a last minute rush but I always live in hope…)

 

The Mockney slimeball is still at it. Having proved he can’t run a restaurant business he is now trying to ruin everyone else’s business so he won’t feel so bad.

His latest wheeze is to attack things that have existed before his mother plopped him into the world like a pink squalling turd with a thick tongue poking out of a face that should have been roundly slapped from the beginning. And should still be getting a daily slap to this very day.

Seriously though, what in God’s name is our government thinking? They are not only taking policy advice from the caterers, they are bragging about doing so and then actually acting on it as if Jimmy the Oil and his sidekick Huge Feathery-Wailingwall were more than just jumped-up kitchen staff.

The people we elected to run the UK are genuinely taking advice on packaging that’s been around for decades, and on the ‘future of the NHS’, from the kitchen staff. A chef who, incidentally, is presiding over the collapse of a business that is based on cooking. His area of expertise. He can’t get that right and yet our utterly cretinous ‘leaders’ laud him as an expert on the NHS and on the marketing employed by actually successful businesses who have been around longer than he has.

Personally, there is something I find more depressing, more humiliating for this country than having the caterers decide how to run it. And that is that the people we elected to do the running of the country are so bereft of any form of rational thought that they jump on any idea being promoted by any available idiot just so they can (they think) look good.

Newsflash, Gubblement Monsters: You do not look good. You look like a bunch of children being mesmerised by the Magic Roundabout and actually believing cows and dogs can talk, that living with a lorry suspension spring up your arse is a viable option and that rabbits spend their days spaced out on dope. You halfwits will believe any old shit, won’t you? Why are there never any candidates with actual sense available?

Next up, if it hasn’t already happened, the Rice Crispies elves are an insult to short people and the Coco Pops characters are racist. Well, even cycling is racist now so there is no limit.

Breakfast cereals are being marketed to kids. THEY ARE FOR FUCKING KIDS! That has always been their target market. It’s their reason to exist. Okay, adults like them too but then adults like chocolate and toffee and custard and pretty much all the things they grew up with.

What is the Jamie Oliver generation going to grow up on? Tofu and water and hardtack with a side order of smug catering staff presided over by a ruling class with minds so pure they are totally untouched by the ravages of intelligence.

Today’s children are going to have a really shit childhood thanks to the likes of Oliver “Please sir, can I have some more bans” and Huge Farty-Shittingstall and the upcoming wave of Militant Caterers. All enabled by a government that is far, far worse than useless and shows no sign of getting any better.

This is not going to save your restaurants, you idiots. According to the rules you are demanding, nobody will be allowed to eat in any of them.

Won’t affect me, really. I have never visited a ‘celebrity’ kitchen staff restaurant and never will.

The sooner all your businesses collapse, the better. You can beg on the streets for scraps and I won’t give you any. I’ll eat my MacDonalds with fries right in front of you and express exaggerated, almost orgasmic pleasure until you drool out the last drops of water in your bodies and blow away in a dust-cloud of dehydrated despicability.

Next election I will not vote for any of the current ‘main’ parties. Every one of them is utterly mindless. Not a single one of them has the intelligence to run a whelk stall.

When they look to the kitchen for policy, they have lost their last shred of credibility.

 

The bullets with ‘Foot’ written on them.

Jamie Oliveoil has been smugly tweeting Burger King with his fat-tongued demands that they abide by his current fad rules. However…

Oily Jim’s kids’ burger contains more fat and calories that the equivalent Burger King one.

Bang. Footshot hits its target.

Huge Fatty-Whittlingstick has joined the fray. He tweeted (since deleted) his utter shock that half a jar of pickled onions contains 10g of sugar. Now, bear in mind this is a ‘famous’ chef talking. One who clearly does not understand that almost all that sugar is dissolved in the pickling vinegar which nobody sane would drink, who does not understand that sugar is a preservative in high concentrations (think jam) and who has a recipe on his own website for pickling onions that uses far more sugar than the amount he pretends to be shocked at.

Brace yourself Foot. Here it comes again.

Would you really eat anything cooked by either of those morons? They clearly have no idea what they are putting into the food they make. This could partly explain the collapse of Jimmy the Oily’s restaurant empire, along with the also-plausible possibility that so many people hate the pompous nannying twat that his smug-faced photograph is prescribed by the NHS as the most effective emetic medical science has yet encountered.

And now Hoo Thehell-Isthisanyway declares we can only have 150 ml of fruit juice in a day.

I like a glass of orange juice in the morning (I use the term ‘morning’ in the loosest possible sense, as in ‘when I wake up’ which is not necessarily before noon). I am still struggling with the transition into wakeyness when I pour it and I am damn sure not going to use a measuring cylinder. I use a half pint glass from a long-past Bristol beer festival and how much goes in depends on how dehydrated I feel.

It seems Huw Fannyabout-Williewiggler aspires to the heights Olive-oil Jim has reached. Imminent bankruptcy and the utter disdain of an entire country, if not the entire planet.

Well, okay, if that’s what you want, just carry on.

You celebrity chefs should become politicians. That’s a far quicker route to being universally despised. But hey, your way is working really well too.

Other celebrity chefs, well, we’re going to tar you all with the same brush, you know. The whole ‘celebrity chef’ thing is tainted forever now. There is no going back.

Ask science. They know what happens when the nutters get the limelight.

 

Books and deposits

Many years ago, back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, glass bottles had a deposit paid on them. You got that back when you took the bottles back to be reused. There were few, if any, plastic bottles around at that time. Everything came in glass.

We kids loved it. We could take found bottles to the shop and get a few pennies for sweets. Looking back, it was like a reward for litter-picking. Anyone who discarded a bottle, as long as it didn’t break, was funding our sugar habit.The environment was kept clear of bottles and we got free sweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Then came the terrible day of the ‘no deposit – no return’ bottle. It was moulded into the glass so there was no way to get anything on them. Bottles accumulated because nobody had any incentive to collect them any more.

Then came the plastic bottles. Again, no deposit, no return. Worthless, once empty. Some glass ones were good for beer making but the plastic ones, well they were no use at all.

So recycling began. We were to wash out all that glass and plastic and pay the council to take it away so they could sell it to recyclers. It was a great con. Here, the council doesn’t collect glass any more. We are expected to take it to the bottle banks and not put it in general rubbish. The nearest bottle bank is 3 miles away… needless to say, glass recycling doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I have a plan for the accumulated empty bottles. I’m going to try setting them up in the woods with the necks in different directions so no matter which way the wind blows there will always be a ‘woooo’ sound out there. They’ll gradually fill with rain, which will evaporate in warm weather, so the tone of  the ‘woooo’ will change over time and vary depending on the levels of water in each bottle. I’d call it an art installation. I suppose many would call it ‘that damn freak and his lunatic ideas’ but art is often misunderstood.

Recycling hasn’t worked. All the crap is shipped to China and Africa for recycling and the overflow gets dumped into rivers and then into the sea. China and Africa get the blame for this while we pretend to be all clean and holy. The truth is, it’s our crap plastic that’s coming down those African and Chinese rivers.

China is getting sick of being sent contaminated and generally crap stuff for recycling so are clamping down on what they’ll accept. No more of the shitty stuff.

Recyclers are complaining that the councils sell them crappy stuff. Councils complain that people aren’t washing out the plastics etc before putting them in the recycle bins.

The ones at the end of the line are at fault. These are the people who make no money from the recycling game and who actually pay to have theirs taken away. But they are the ones at fault.

On that basis it’s never going to work. Not while those at the end of the line are expected to not only work for free, but to pay for the privilege. That won’t change.

It was therefore good to see the return of deposit-paid bottles. Some are calling it a tax. It isn’t. It’s a deposit. Basically you pay a retainer to have the bottle and if you bring back the empty bottle, you get that retainer back.

If you just throw the bottle out of your car window or drop it in the street, someone else will collect it and get the deposit money. We can look forward to a return to volunteer litter collectors who turn that litter into sweets.

It would be good to see this applied to glass bottles too but one thing at a time, eh? Besides, glass is not a big deal in the environment. Chuck a bottle into a river and it will soon sink to the bottom. The river will gradually wear it down back into the sand it came from. No toxins, no floating around getting tangled up with marine life, just a gradually eroding bottle.

I’ve seen the plastic bottle deposit in action in Denmark. Other European countries use it too. It does need a good network of the machines that accept the bottles. The machine checks the barcode to make sure it’s not an imported bottle (it’ll spit those back at you). If it’s a legit bottle, the machine shreds it. It doesn’t give cash, it gives a voucher to use in the shop. Well no problem, you’d have used some cash in the shop anyway and not giving cash means junkies can’t load up with bottles to get a fix.

It also means there’s no purpose in printing fake barcodes for a load of imported bottles. Oh, it happens  😉  but only on a small scale – one or two that someone brought back from a holiday. There’s no point in organised crime getting involved, it’s pennies per bottle so once you take off paying for the printed barcodes, paying someone to print them, paying patsies to take them to the machine, there’s nothing left. Besides, it’s all in vouchers.so no cash. You can sell the vouchers at a fraction under face value, sure, but you’ll be lucky to make a penny a bottle. And you have to ship in a load at a time from somewhere that doesn’t have the deposit. No, the crims won’t be interested.

Of course, if the idiots in charge ramp up the deposit enough, it could then become of interest to the Mafia…

It’s a good idea. I’m all for it. The deposit is not a tax, it’s entirely refundable on the return of the bottle just like in the old days. Rather than pay the council to take away our recycling and earn money on it, we get a refund on the used plastic. It will work better than the present system.

As for the vouchers, well, we used to spend the deposits in the shop where we took back the bottles anyway. Vouchers or cash, makes no difference to me. As long as the vouchers aren’t banned from use on baccy and booze, which would be a silly but predictable move on the part of our lunatic government.

Even sillier but impossible to rule out – you’d take back ten Coke bottles and can’t use the voucher to buy Coke. Oh I can well believe the dickheads we have in charge now are capable of making a rule like that.

If the vouchers turn out to be only good for salad and vegetables, I might add plastic bottles to my glass-bottle ‘woooo’ machine.

Or maybe retry my old attempts at melting them down into bricks for garden use.

***

Books –

Underdog Anthology 5 is a definite. There are more than enough stories to make it a ‘go’ but it can always take a few more. Deadline is midnight GMT on the 1st April and if you’re a few hours late, I’ll still consider it. It’s Easterish timed but not Easter themed. This one is the one filling the gap between Christmas and Halloween and I think I’ll keep it that way. The Spring non-themed anthology.

Price rises at the end of this month will not apply to the anthologies because the authors are paid in advance, there are no royalties, and the prices are as low as I can make them. None of the anthologies have made break-even, possibly because I keep giving them away, but that is not what they are for. They are advertising for Leg Iron Books and its authors.They might take a decade to reach break even, if ever, it doesn’t matter.

The price rises will also not apply to books by me. The only ones I have to increase are the ones I pay royalties on – the novels and single author story collections. They won’t go up by a lot but I need to pay my authors more than they get now. They aren’t going to be keen to send me more books if they get a pittance every quarter, and I don’t want to lose any of them just yet.

I only want to lose an author when they get an offer from a big publisher. That’s the point of this venture. I don’t want to be a big publisher, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be in the 40% tax bracket. I’ve been in it twice and it was horrible both times because I don’t want to succeed for half pay. I’d like to make enough to live on, eventually, and see the Leg Iron Books authors make it into the big time. I am not the big time. I’m a step on the way, I hope.

I have been staying up far too late working on Lee Bidgood’s ‘You’ll Be Fine’ because it’s a compelling read. A complex story, tightly written, where even the most apparently irrelevant detail is woven in to a logically bizarre tale. And it has an orange Lada. I actually once worked with someone who had an orange Lada and he took a lot of stick for it. It was a uniquely revolting vehicle.

I hope to finish my so-far trivial edits by tomorrow. Then I have my son’s 30th birthday to deal with (yes, I am old enough to look unironed and well slept in) and then the anthology.

Today I was up in the horrible early time when the sun was on entirely the wrong side of the sky and the car was still frozen to the ground. It was day-job stuff, actual microbiology, but it won’t take effect for a while yet. It will not stop the anthology and will not stop Lee Bidgood’s book work. It won’t even affect Longrider’s next one, which is imminent. It just meant that tonight has been a bit of a wipeout because I’m not designed for mornings.

If you have something for Underdog Anthology 5, get it in by midnight on April 1st. There is a +/- day or so tolerance on this deadline, since it’s not specifically linked to a calendar event but a week late is far too late.

The next anthology will be Halloween. If you have a good scary one, you might want to save it for that.