Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Texas Mop Sauce, Andean Bears, Bear Stories, Kentish Castles.

Andean BearThere was a lovely article in the Telegraph on line about the Peruvian relatives of Paddington Bear, or Spectacled Bears as Andean Bears are known by the English speaking world. The writer refers to the newest Paddington Bear book ‘Paddington Races Ahead’ which is due out on April 26th and visits Peru to check on Paddington’s relatives. The bears are not yet endangered but are threatened by a combination of agricultural expansion, drug production, poaching and fear, to quote Christopher Heaney. They are a small bear and generally live very much hidden away with nests in high trees being a shy and solitary animal. The youngster in the pPaddingtonicture has quite a nasty set of claws on him I notice. They do occasionally eat corn and cattle which tees off local farmers. Let us hope the humans don’t win. Paddington Bear is a well known character in England more than in Canada. Author Michael Bond first wrote about Paddington (famous for eating marmalade sandwiches which he often keeps under his hat) some 50 odd years ago, telling the story of a lost bear from deepest, darkest Peru stranded at Paddington Station bearing a name tag and how he was adopted by the Brown family. On the 50th anniversary the Peruvian embassy gave Paddington his own passport. Michael Bond has written other stories including the delightful Monsieur Pamplemousse series which I read and enjoyed some years ago. The food descriptions alone make these books worth reading. Monsieur Pamplemousse is ably assisted by his hound Pommes Frittes. Here is a blog about one of these stories which I can highly recommend.

I wonder Rupertwhat it is about British children’s stories and bears, everyone knows about Winnie the Pooh created by A.A. Milne, but when I was a kid I used to get an Adventures of Rupert annual every Christmas which was actually began as a comic strip in 1920 created by Mary Tourtel and was published in the Daily Express. I used to love those stories too, there were lots of characters which became favourites, I particularly remember the little oriental girl called Tiger Lily. Reading Wikipedia I find there was a dragon too named Ming. Maybe that’s where I got my love of dragons although I had forgotten about him. One thing tickled me, he started as a brown bear but became white to save on printer’s ink. I would have thought the clothing colours would be expensive anyway. Paddington Bear was after my time although I have read one of the books about him in recent years.

I knew a lot of people wrote blogs, but this A to Z challenge has drawn in close to 2,000 bloggers all of whom are posting away at their blogs for the letter of the day. I have been reading some fascinating thoughts on all kinds of things. I am particularly enjoying the two blogs by Bob Scotney and Hilary Melton-Butcher on British Castles, who knew there were so many, I certainly didn’t. Saturday Hilary came up with Scotney castle which is kinda just down the road from where I lived for much of my life; in Kent. It has the most beautiful gardens. I had never heard of it; Matt had, vaguely.  Bob has been telling some of the ghost stories attached to his castle posts which makes one realise just how barbaric we were (are we better today? I hope so). One thing that staggers me is just how many castles there are in Britain. 19 posts by the pair of them and only once did they choose the same castle. Having lived in Kent so long, I was mainly aware of Dover, Rochester Leeds_Castle,_Kent,_England_1_-_May_09and Leeds castles. Dover and Leeds still being in good repair. Rochester they have done some restoration since we left England I understand. Leeds Castle was in private hands til 1974, as we left in 1975 I hadn’t realised it wasn’t private any more.  I guess no-one has the money any more with taxation and upkeep draining their reserves. There may well be more castles in Kent that I don’t know about. Checking it out, I realise Hilary had written of Lullingstone Castle, also in Kent. I wonder how many more I don’t know about, I didn’t know I was so ill informed about the castles in my back yard. I went and checked how many there are and discovered Upnor Castle which I had completely forgotten, although this castle was familiar to me being very close to where I lived. As far as I can discover there are actually 12 castles in Kent. Who knew? I’m somewhat ashamed that I didn’t.

I picked this recipe up from South Beach Diet and thought it sounded rather interesting. It’s a diet friendly version, obviously if you are not concerned, you can use non diet ingredients. I think we just might try this, sounds tasty.

Texas Mop Sauce and Grilled Steak

Coffee might be a surprising barbecue ingredient, but in Texas it often shows up in “mop sauce,” which is used to baste, or mop, meat while it’s cooking, resulting in a moist and tender dish. The name probably comes from the fact that pit Texas Mopmasters in the South actually use cotton mops to baste large quantities of slow-cooking meat.

Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/4 cup strongly brewed decaffeinated coffee
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar-free pancake syrup
1 (1 1/2-pound) sirloin steak, about 1 1/2" thick
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, coffee, Worcestershire sauce, and syrup. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Transfer 2/3 cup of the sauce to a small bowl and reserve for dipping.
Lightly coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Rub steak on both sides with pepper. Grill steak, basting frequently with remaining 1/3 cup mop sauce, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove steak from grill and allow it to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Cut steak into thin slices, divide evenly among 4 plates, and serve with reserved mop sauce for dipping.

Have a great day


  1. Sadly, as I have popped around visiting various A to Z blogs, I have come across several with signs of giving up. I hope it is simply a sign of chaos in people's lives and not catastrophe.


    1. I'm sorry to hear that, I guess a lot of people find it difficult to maintain a blog 6/7. I do that anyway and have done for a number of years so don't have the problem. Got a lot to gab about LOL

  2. i got to visit leeds castle last year and I totally loved it!
    Happy A-Zing!

    1. I understand all kinds of open air entertainments are held at Leeds Castle these days. It is a lovely place.