I have just discovered through reading Karen Miller's blog that Dick Francis has died. He is one of my all time favourite authors and I have every book he ever wrote and re-read them now and again. There is an article about it in the BBC news although there doesn't seem to have been much coverage here. Apparently he was 89 which, in this day and age, is not that old you can read more here. His son will be carrying on the tradition, but the flavour won't be quite the same especially since, as far as I know, Felix Francis hasn't lived and breathed the horse world as Dick Francis did. One thing emphasised in the article is the fact that he wrote all his books longhand. To me that is incredible, but I guess if you never learned to type, a typewriter wouldn't be much use. Maybe his son uses a computer these days but of course in the original days of Dick Francis' novels, there were only typewriters. I gather they lived in the Cayman Islands, so that is at least one author who made it 'big". I do hope some of my friends, who are authors, will also hit the big time.
I actually intended to write about an article I came across yesterday in which Britain is slamming Canada's hosting of the Olympics. I was very distressed to read that the Brits are blaming Canada for the death of the young luger (investigations already having cleared the organisers) and saying we are treating it very casually. One thing Canadians never do is treat death casually, and a service was held for the young man before his remains departed for Georgia. As for our hype about dominating the podium, it is a way of encouraging our athletes and giving them a sense that the coountry is behind them. I am not sure we actually do enough for our athletes but that is not something I really know enough about. As for "thirst for glory" and "perversion of the Olympic movement for national gain; made by a culture of worthless aggrandizement and pride”, isn't that a distorted reflection of the way most countries feel about hosting the games. Maybe the games are held for profit reasons, but that is certainly not exclusive to Canada who really, really want their athletes to do well for a change. We are usually not very high in the medal stakes. As an ex pat Brit, I was very upset to read such criticisms.
Last night we watched the Free Skate programme of the pairs figure skating which was all such a sad fiasco until the end. Every couple we saw had at least one fall which marred their otherwise flawless and beautiful performances. Even the couple who got the bronze, a German pair, fell although their skating generally was a delight to watch. However, the silver and gold were won by Chinese skaters who did deliver flawless performances and were wonderful to watch. As the commentators said at the time "Happy New Year" China - Gung Hai Fat Choy. It is the first time China has gold medalled in the pairs apparently and then they got the silver too. They certainly deserved the accolades. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo were the gold medallists. One of my favourite skating segments is the men's singles although I guess I love to watch all the figure skating.
I have always loved Jambalaya although the recipe I use for a cold Jambalaya may not be truly authentic as I got it from a local paper. Mine uses shrimp and ham. The following one is for chicken and shrimp with the addition of andouille sausage which is not readily available everywhere - however, any spicy sausage would do if not giving quite the same flavour.
Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya Source: America's Test Kitchen Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Because andouille varies in spiciness, we suggest tasting a piece of the cooked sausage and then adjusting the amount of cayenne in the jambalaya to suit your taste. If you can’t find andouille, try tasso, chorizo, or linguiça; if using chorizo or linguiça, consider doubling the amount of cayenne. The onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic can be chopped by hand instead of in the food processor. The shrimp don’t need to be deveined, but you can do so if you prefer. If you’re serving only four people, you may choose to skip the shredding step and serve the chicken on the bone.
1 medium onion, peeled, ends trimmed, and quartered lengthwise 1 medium rib of celery, cut crosswise into quarters 1 medium red bell pepper, stem removed, seeded, and quartered lengthwise 5 medium cloves of garlic, peeled 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 8 ounces andouille sausage , halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (10 ounces) 1 teaspoon table salt 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme , minced 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note) 1 can diced tomatoes (14 1/2-ounce), drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved 1 cup clam juice 1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 2 bay leaves 1 pound medium shrimp (31 to 35 shrimp per pound), or large shrimp, shelled 2 tablespoons fresh parsley , minced DIRECTIONS In food processor, pulse onion, celery, red pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Do not overprocess; vegetables should not be pureed. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken and cook until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, add vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice, salt, thyme, and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to pot; stir to combine. Remove and discard skin from chicken; place chicken, skinned-side down, on rice. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping chicken on top, skinned-side down. Replace cover and continue to simmer until chicken is no longer pink when cut into with paring knife, about 10 minutes more; transfer chicken to clean plate and set aside. Scatter shrimp over rice, cover, and continue to cook until rice is fully tender and shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more. While shrimp are cooking, shred chicken. When shrimp are cooked, discard bay leaves; off heat, stir in parsley and shredded chicken, and serve immediately.