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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Archive for July 2008

The Three Waiters

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Last night at work, we had a truly extraordinary act on, they were amazing!

I had seen these guys once before.  Three guys dress as waiters and blend in with the rest of us, serve drinks, clear plates and whatever.  Then they do a bit of a comedy announcement then a bit of opera.  Before you know it they have the whole room joining in singing nessun dorma and allsorts.  Needless to say the Golfies loved them.  It isn’t often I see a really good act but you do occasionally get a superb one.

Apart from that, things are going ok.  We were at Claire’s parents yesterday, and caught up with them for the first time since they were away on holiday.  They were caravanning throughout France, as far down as Andorra before turning back.  They saw some amazing places and met some wonderful people.  It is really great to see them getting out and about after the year of hardship we all had last year.

With luck I might actually get to see my own mum in a week or two if I can arrange to get the time off.  Lets hope.

By the way the writing is coming on well now.  I have even found a site that reckons it pays freelance writers.  Well, we will have to wait and see.

I have a long weekend ahead of me yet, two weddings and a golf day.  Hopefully, no funeral.

Buonos nightios

Nick

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 25, 2008 at 10:15 am

Posted in Humour

Cajun Stir Fry

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An easy to make Cajun stir fry

An easy to make Cajun stir fry

Today we have a simple idea for a stir fry with plenty of scope for adaption. You will need:

One large onion

Two peppers (any colour)

a punnet of mushrooms

Three or four thin slices of parma ham

Four thin slices of chorizo sausage

Four slices of Pepperoni

Six frankfurter sausages

160 grams of fresh king prawns, cooked

One cup of rice

A good shaking of Cajun spices

An interesting mix of cooked meat, seafood and vegetables

An interesting mix of cooked meat, seafood and vegetables

Method

Put a pan of boiling water on the stove. Once it is boiling add the cup of rice and stir gently. Next dice the onion as thin as possible. Then chop the peppers and mushrooms and roughly chop the frankfurters, and dice the cooked meat.

Take a large wok and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onion and break it up with a spatula, stirring regularly until the onion is a light caramel colour. Then add the mushrooms and continue to stir until they have shrunk down. The peppers are added next and lightly fried.

Stir fry all the ingredients

Stir fry all the ingredients

After them you add the meats, the frankfurters and the prawns. Finally add two tablespoons of Cajun spices. Once the rice is cooked drain the water and add to the stir fry. Continue to stir well and taste a bit. If it needs a bit more spice add a sprinkle. Finally dish it up into a large bowl and serve. And thats your lot!

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 22, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Madaleine McCann, The Unfinished Story

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Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann

Well it seems that the story of Madeleine McCann is drawing to an unsatisfactory conclusion.  If she is ever found now it will be down to sheer blind luck and I would not be so crass as to give the odds of her appearing alive.

The Pyrric victory for the poor parents is that their suspect status is now retracted, and also that of Robert Murat.

Well I have to say that the police operation, even if it did take up unprecedented amounts of time and manpower, has been a total failure.  They have not turned up a single shred of reliable evidence on any of the suspects.  They have not found any other suspects or made any arrests.  They made the parents suspects on the most frivolous of evidence.  They made Robert Murat a suspect simply because he had the means, (by which I mean access to the pool’s plant room) if not the motive, to kidnap a child and hide her close by.  They did not use the local or foreign media to their own advantage.  And now that have announced that they have virtually given up.

Sorry, that just isn’t good enough.  What if it was your child out there?

But the past is the past, there is no further need to go raking over it.

The important thing is what do they do now?

If the police need to re-deploy their resources then they need to allow the McCanns to re-employ a private detective.  Under Portuguese law this counts as interfering with police business, but if they take it to the high court they may get a special dispensation.

They will need to make closer ties to Interpol, and establish contacts within them.  And then I guess they just keep on hoping, like we all do.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

Posted in in the news

Uncle Mario’s Meatballs

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Ok the guy wasn’t really my uncle but he was my Mother’s boyfriend for a long time. He was also an excellent cook and he passed down the recipe for light meatballs to me about ten years ago. You will need:

A full loaf of cheap bread for the bread crumbs.

Six Eggs

A kg of minced beef or pork. Even lamb can be used.

Three tins of tomatoes

A small amount of flour

Parmesan cheese

Good quality Spaghetti

A pinch of fresh Oregano

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Method

First you need to lightly toast your bread on both sides

Toast the bread lightly
Toast the bread lightly

Then use your hands to break it up into small pieces and break down into bread crumbs in a blender

Break the toast down into small pieces
Break the toast down into small pieces

Break the bread into crumbs using a blender
Break the bread into crumbs using a blender

Then turn your over on at about 180 degrees. Then tip all your bread crumbs into a baking tin and place in the oven. Occasionally check they are not burning and shane the tray carefully to bring the crumbs at the bottom to the top. In about fifteen minutes they should be nice and brown.

Nice brown dry bread crumbs will keep for weeks in an airtight jar.
Nice brown dry bread crumbs will keep for weeks in an airtight jar.

Next you take a nice big mixing bowl. Unpack your mincemeat and add it to the bowl. Next you remove the egg white from the egg by breaking them very gently and pouring the egg white into a container. You do not need the yolk. When you have six egg whites add them to the mixing bowl. Add three good handfuls of breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, a good table spoon of Oregano and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Before you get your hands dirty, half fill a bowl with flour and place a frying pan with a little oil on the stove, alow it to heat gently. Have a plate ready for the meatballs when they are formed.

A good size mixing bowl and the mince, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning
A good size mixing bowl and the mince, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning

Befor the next bit you first need to roll up your sleeves and wash your hands thoroughly, with soap, and under the nails. Now the bit you have all been looking forward to! Mix the ingredients of the bowl together thoroughly making sure the egg and the breadcrumbs mix into the mince. When you have one huge big ball of mince you roll it into smaller, golf or tennis ball size meatballs (depending on your appetite) and place them on the plate. Then place them in the bowl of flour, one at a time until they are covered and place them back on the plate.

One big meatball needs to be rolled down into smaller ones and covered in flour
One big meatball needs to be rolled down into smaller ones and covered in flour

Now wash your hands again, getting all the ingrediants off, and from under your nails, and dry them. You may want to turn the ventalation on or open a window as the next bit can get a bit smoky. Next fry the meatballs in the shallow oil one at a time and place back on the plate.

Coat the meatballs in flour
Coat the meatballs in flour
SHallow fry the meatballs one at a time till they go brown
Shallow fry the meatballs one at a time till they go brown
The finished articles
The finished articles

And that is your meatballs themselves done. If you want to leave some to cool and freeze for another day feel free. They often feed you for two or three days! Anyway onwards and upwards, tomato sauce next.

Take a nice thick bottomed steel sauce pot that is oven resistant. Add three tins of chopped tomatoes, and add a cup and a half of cold water. Gently bring to simmer on the stove and add worstershire sauce, salt, sugar and a drop of tabasco. How much of each depends how you like it so I recommend that you take a teaspoon and keep sampling it until you have the taste just how you want it. If you like you can add salsa sauce or any ‘secret’ ingredient you prefer. Switch your oven on at 180 degrees. Carefully place two meatballs per person into the sauce and spoon the tomato sauce over the meatballs. Then when the oven is hot place the whole pan into the oven and leave it to bake for 30 minutes, checking occasionally and you may carefully stir the tomatoes and spoon them over the meatballs to prevent dryness.

Allow the sauce to simmer and adjust the taste to how you like it
Allow the sauce to simmer and adjust the taste to how you like it
Bake the meatballs in the sauce for 30-40 minutes

Bake the meatballs in the sauce for 30-40 minutes

Finally boil a pan of water and add enough spaghetti for two people. When it is al dente, or as soft and you prefer, drain it and add to a dish. Using a thick towel or oven gloves remove the meatball pan from the oven. Allow them to stand for a minute. Take a ladle and spoon the meatballs over the spaghetti. Finally drizzle the tomato sauce over the meatballs. You may add a little Parmesan or Oregano for garnish.

Finally serve and enjoy.

Buono Appitito (As Mario would say)

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 18, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Food and Drink

Malta: It’s big, it’s clever, it’s grown up.

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We had an absolutely brilliant, brilliant time in Malta.  Something we needed so much, we finally got a chance to let our hair down.

Easyjet flew us out there early on a sunday morning out of Gatwick.  As an airline, Easyjet is sometimes thought of as a bit of a gamble, but we found them both punctual and their aircraft spacious.  The only snag was an extra £20 baggage fee which we were made to pay.

Malta airport was small and clean with a lot of it’s history framed on the walls.

The capital, Valetta, isn’t a place for youngsters or small children, nor is it truely for the elderly and infirm (too many hills).



The Valetta does however, exude drama and romance.  It was here that the Christian Knights held out against an overwhelming Ottoman Armada.  Centuries later it held on in the face of Hitler’s Stukas and potential starvation.

It is the only country to have been awarded, as a whole, a British bravery decoration, the George Cross, which is presented on the national flag.

A brief run down of what we did included the following.  Monday we did a tour of the capital, Valetta, on foot.  It is a beautiful place, with boroque balconies and faded grandeur.  (I know what I am talking about, I have seen Grand Designs..)



Tuesday we just chilled out in the sun.  Our hotel, the Fortina had a lovely lido deck where we could lounge in the sun and sip cocktails.

Wednesday we took a bus tour around the coast, finding ourselves in Marasokk bay, which was full of little market stalls and brightly painted fishing boats.  We loved it.

The painted eyes were there for good luck

Thursday we did a boat trip to Comino.  On any other day it would have been fantastic, a chance to see a turqoise lagoon, but the sky was gray and the weather was cold!  We spent most of the time on the boat trying to keep warm.

Friday we did a smaller harbour boat trip, exploring the three cities, the Grand Harbour and gawping at the rich people’s yachts.

Saturday we had a walk around Valetta and did a bit of souvineer shopping, then chilled out on the hotel’s lido deck for the afternoon.

Sunday, we came home..

Our hotel, the Fortina Resort, was, even by my standards, extremely impressive.  It has two parts, the four star part and the newer five star part.  We stayed in the four, but we had access to the five star part.  We had an outdoor lido deck with a seawater pool in front of the harbour, with an outdoor bar.  We went all-inclusive so all our drinks were included, including cocktails… heaven!



The food was of a very high standard.  Maltese cuisine is virtually none existant, but they take a lot of influence from British food, which they do rather well, and italian food.

Valetta and in particular, Sliema, are highly commercial.  They have every shop you would find on a British high street, including BHS, Marks and Sparks, Evans, Burger King, KFC, and most high street retailers.

The Maltese themselves are a nice sort of Mediterrainiean people.  They are not as arrogant as the French or the Spanish, nor as Hawkish or grasping as the North Africans.  Nor are they as boisterous as the Greeks, they are just nice, slightly reserved well brought-up children of Empire.

They don’t hassle you to go into their bars or shops.  You could walk around, even at night, and feel completely safe.

I set myself the slightly sad task of photographing as many people as I could who wear socks and sandles.  My target was twenty, but if had been quick enough, I could have easily doubled that.  My poor travelling companions were rather embaressed by my strange quest, but it didn’t stop them acting as my spotters or getting very excited when one came my way.

Anyway all in all, it was the best holiday we have had in ages and I cannot recommend the place enough.

Written by Nick Gilmartin

July 3, 2008 at 11:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized