Monday, March 11, 2013

Soccer and Borstal. Greek Gold Mine.

Matt was watching soccer (football in the UK) on Saturday and I suddenly wondered who invented the game. Naturally, I Googled. It soccer Ballappears there is no definitive answer, but the nearest game to our modern soccer was played by the Chinese in 255-205 BC, the game was called Tsu-Chu which, translated, means kick ball. There seem to have been several other ball games involving hands or feet in those days which were all probably involved in the development of modern day soccer. I certainly had no idea it went back so far. I commented that the Borstal Villagegame Matt was watching was being played with heavy sleet falling, he replied that they weren’t a bunch of wussies. He used to play soccer you understand, in fact he nearly turned professional until he tore his cartilage during trials. Of course, in those days, the salaries were pretty meagre nothing like they get today. When I first knew him, he was playing for the Borstal where he worked and I used to go stand on the side lines. The Borstal was in Borstal village  which actually gave it’s name to the Borstal system in England. Borstal village was actually only a short walk from where I lived in Rochester, Kent and I understand it has now been absorbed by the City of Rochester.

gold nuggetJust read a report that some Greeks in Thessaloniki are protesting the opening of a goldmine in their area which is being operated by a Canadian company??? I hadn’t heard about this before. I wish I wasn’t too old to apply for a job there, I absolutely love Greece. The week before this protest there was a rally in support of the gold mine because it will produce something like 1,200 jobs

This made me think of a story; first of all you should know that in the UK we call SunchokeJerusalem Artichokess by the name Jerusalem Artichokes. In appearance they look a bit like knobbly potatoes. As a young woman, I was staying with a family in France and got talking with Madame about food, something we did often. She knew what artichokes (artichauds) were but couldn’t understand me when I described Jerusalem Artichokes as Artichauds Juif, Jewish Artichokes!! After lots of discussion, explanation, attempted description, all in French you understand, she finally realised I was talking about Topinambours which is their name in French. That was like another time when I was trying to describe a lace dress and didn’t know the word for lace so described it as ‘string with holes’. I didn’t know the word for thread either at the time. Lace is dentelles if you wish to know.

Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro

Contributed by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo


Comfort food is rarely healthy, or vegetarian. This soul-satisfying winter hash is Sunchoke Kale Hashboth. The recipe from F&W Best New Chefs 2009 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, of Animal and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, combines crispy sunchokes, silky oyster mushrooms, tender kale and chewy farro. It’s wonderful served with grilled steak or on its own as a meatless main course.
  1. 3/4 cup farro
  2. 2 1/2 pounds large sunchokes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  3. Salt
  4. 1 pound Tuscan kale, tough stems discarded
  5. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil blended with 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  6. 1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
  9. Freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the farro.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, 10 minutes; drain. Slice the sunchokes 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the Tuscan kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop them.
  4. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes.
  5. In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet.
  6. Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil along with the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 one day ahead; refrigerate the components separately.

Have a great day


  1. Your 'French' story made me laugh, Jo. One can have some embarrassing experiences when trying to express onself in a foreign language. I had a particularly bad one involving uses of the verb 'baiser' - 'nuff said!

    1. Now I am wondering what that was all about? Do email me Satima, I would be fascinated to know.

  2. My first competitive football matches were for the village boys team against a Borstal team at Tixover in Rutland in the 1950s.

    1. There aren't any Borstals now are there?

  3. I've never heard of Topinambours before.

    1. That's the French name of course. Here I gather they are called sunchokes. You might like them, they have an earthy taste. I used not to enjoy them, but tastes change. My parents loved them.

  4. Bummer your husband never got to go pro.

    1. Yes, but in those days he wouldn't have earned more than £8 a week which is roughly $16. However, I expect he would have liked to be a pro footballer anyway.