Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PCT, Ada Lovelace, Bowling,

One of the sons working at the bowling alley was telling me he had been hiking this weekend. Funnily enough Matt and I had watched a programme about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail which runs for something like 3,000 miles (from memory) and we figured the people doing the trail were nuts. They start off in searing heat and desert conditions and need to carry gallons of water, then they get to the mountains and have to climb through snow and a high pass, and they pass areas of volcanic activity and pools of boiling acid together with fumeroles and so on and so on. It is apparently a very expensive trip because of all the stuff you need to survive from beginning to end. One girl we were watching had to give up because she ran out of money. She was hauling a pack which was twice as heavy as anyone's. Not only that, she seemed to be wearing flip flops for the first part of the trail??

Following that, there was a fascinating programme about Lady Ada Lovelace and her connection to Charles Babbage who designed a huge calculating machine which Ada had the intelligence to realise could be adapted to do all kinds of mathematical calculations but also to play music and such, i.e. a computer. She has the distinction of writing the first computer programme which heavily influenced Alan Turing who is widely recognised as the original constructor of the computer when he built a machine at Bletchley Park during the war which was able to crack the Enigma code being used by the Germans. This was the subject of the movie The Imitation Game if you ever saw it. I have a copy of it and think it is an excellent film.

Bowling wasn't great today, not sure how many points we took, think only two as we left before the other team had finished. Our last game was abysmal - we accumulated scores of over 900 for our first two games and ended up with 800 and something in the last game. Personally I had one good game. Matt had two.

On the way home, went to return a library book and was going to pick up one and not until we got there did I remember it was a holiday, duuh.

I thought this dish looked and sounded pretty tasty and will be trying it in the not too distant future. It appeared in a list of Spanish recipes. I loved the food of Spain (actually I have always loved the food of any European country I visited) so I share this chicken dish with you.

Chicken with Catalan Picada

This Catalan dish, made with chocolate and spices, is reminiscent of Mexican mole, says Janet Mendel. "But without the spiciness of the chiles, it's much easier to pair with wine." The sauce is
thickened with picada, traditionally a blend of toasted nuts, herbs and garlic

4 whole chicken legs, split (2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup oloroso sherry
1 bay leaf
1 3-inch strip of orange zest
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1 slice of peasant bread, crusts removed and bread cut into1/2-inch cubes (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Large pinch of saffron threads
Small pinch each of aniseeds
Small pinch of ground cloves

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat until very thick, 5 minutes. Add the broth, sherry, bay leaf, orange zest and thyme and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, turning once.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the bread and almonds on a baking sheet, about 8 minutes.

4. In a skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with the bread and almonds, the chocolate, parsley, cinnamon, saffron, aniseeds and cloves. Process to a paste.

5. Stir the picada into the sauce and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and orange zest, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Servings: 4

Author: Janet Mendel
Source: Food & Wine

Have a great day


  1. Hi Jo - I've seen programmes on the PCT trails - they look 'amazing' and not for the faint-hearted. I gave a talk on Ada Lovelace ... she was an amazing woman ... and was the only legitimate child of Byron. The area of Catalan is very much in the news over here ... but like you I particularly love the Mediterranean flavours ... cheers Hilary

    1. Yes, a very difficult trail Hilary. They said she was the legitimate child of Lord Byron but that once he left her mother, she made sure Ada never saw him again. Amazing woman particularly for her time. Yes we hear about Catalan over here.

  2. That hike is not for the faint of heart. Or faint of money either.

  3. I watched a documentary on that trail and that girl with the flip flops had no clue did she? I would never hike to that extreme. I love the Imitation Game and feel Benedict Cumberbatch should have won the Oscar. What a shame that Ada Lovelace never got her proper due

    1. If you watched the documentary it was on TV on Sunday, the Ada Lovelace story came after it Birgit. No I agree, she didn't have a clue. Never done any hiking but even I know to be better prepared than she was. I love that movie too.