Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bullying, Dirty Hotels. Bowling. November 11.

Isn’t it odd that as kids we used to say “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but Bullyingwords will never hurt me” and today it appears to be words, very often, which do hurt people enough to drive them to suicide, A complete about face from what we used to say, or think. I don’t really know if bullying has become much more prevalent today or just that we learn more about it. I don’t remember hearing of anyone being bullied so badly they had to end it all, when I was a youngster, did it just not happen? Did we just not hear? If its much worse today, why? I know cyber bullying didn’t exist in those days, but is that the only difference? It seems to me much of this behaviour is learned from parents in the first place. The picture was on Facebook yesterday. 

CBC Marketplace conducted a test of 54 hotel rooms in chains across Canada warriner-bed-testand have uncovered superbugs which are resistant to antibiotics. I don’t suppose, for one moment, these conditions are exclusive to Canadian hotels and similar tests in other countries would reveal similar results, but it is a pretty horrifying thought and I am quite glad I am not planning to stay in any hotel at the moment. I do sympathise a bit with the hotels themselves, they have to clean so much in such a short time and if some of the bugs are resistant to antibiotics they are certainly resistant to regular cleaning products. Its pretty scary though. There was a CBC TV programme, The Dirt on Hotels covering this topic.

How about that, I was in two minds whether to bowl or not 5-pinyesterday. Decided to bowl a few frames, started getting good marks, legs felt reasonably OK and ended up having two of the best games I have had in a long while. A team member said neither of us had bowled the second game when someone asked our scores. They were something to hide. Bowling is definitely the craziest of games.

As I don’t blog on Sundays, I thought I would acknowledge Remembrance Day today. I only just learned that the poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by a Canadian. John McCrae from Guelph, Ontario (same town where I am having my surgery). It is a wonderful tribute to the dead of the first world war.

In Flanders fields the poppies blowPoppy Field
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

This is a twist on a classic dish from France – the recipe below is by Jacques Pépin who is, as you may know, one of my favourite chefs.

Brandade de Morue au Gratin (Whipped Salt Cod Gratin)

Contributed by Jacques Pépin

  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 1 MIN 24 hr soaking
  • SERVINGS:8 to 10

The Provençal dish known as brandade de morue is a great example of how to elevate modest ingredients like salt cod and potatoes—in this case, by whipping them with milk, olive oil and garlic until luxuriously silky. Jacques Pépin's extra step of serving the dish au gratin (browned, with cheese on top) makes it that much more delicious.

  1. 1 pound skinless salt cod filletEssentialPepin
  2. 1 pound large red-skinned potatoes
  3. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  4. 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  5. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  7. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  9. Freshly ground black pepper
  10. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  11. 2 baguettes, cut into rounds and toasted, for serving
  1. Put the salt cod in a bowl and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Refrigerate for 24 hours, changing the water 4 times.
  2. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil over moderately high heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and let the potatoes cool to warm.
  3. Meanwhile, drain the cod and transfer to a saucepan. Add 2 quarts of water; bring just to a boil. Drain the cod and rinse out the pan. Return the cod to the pan, add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Drain the cod and return it to the pan, add the milk and garlic and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Peel the potatoes and break into chunks; transfer to a food processor. Add the cod, milk, garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice and cayenne and process until smooth. With the machine on, slowly pour in the 3/4 cup of oil until incorporated. Season with black pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread the brandade in the dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with toasts.

Make Ahead The assembled brandade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Have a great weekend



  1. I think in the 'old days' Jo, kids went out to the playground and fought it out (not with knives however) and grudges were quickly forgotten. In this age of IT 'social' networking the human touch has been gone and we're losing the ability to communicate in person. Cyber bullying is cowardly but easy I guess.

    As you know, David and I were in Bruges earlier this week. We were both wearing poppies on our coats. Whilst sheltering from the rain in a bar in Central Square, the waiter (Dutch) asked what sort of flowers we were wearing and where they came from. He genuinely didn't know about Flanders Poppies .... very sad!

    1. You are probably right Sue. We used to sort a lot of things out ourselves when we were younger.

      I thought everyone wore poppies, including the Dutch. That does surprise me. Must ask some Dutch friends here about it.

  2. That poem has been set to music, it certainly brings a tear to the eye when Beth sings it!

    1. Didn't know that Mike. Would love to hear Beth sing it.

      How did the show go yesterday?

  3. Knew there was a reason I hate staying in hotels.

    1. LOL, didn't realise it was this bad though.

  4. Love that poem. I've just finished my blog post about Remembrance Day and remembering a visit to the war cemeteries in France where my great uncle is buried. It still shocks me that he was only twenty two and had previously been awarded the Military Cross when he died.

    1. Never have visited them myself although Matt did once upon a time. Another favourite poem is "if I should die, think only this of me, that there's some corner of a foreign field, that is forever England".

      A lot of very young lives are lost in wars.

    2. Helen, was looking for your blog, where is it?

  5. It's at, Jo.

    1. Thanks, but how come I can't leave a comment on your blog?

    2. You should be able to - I've just checked the settings and they seem to be working - but I moderate all comments so there might be a slight delay. Please try again and let me know if they still don't work.