Monday, February 29, 2016

Apple Crumble

This recipe is based on the one called "Sweet Apple Buckle" from a Gooseberry Patch Family Favorites, however, I changed it considerably, especially by drastically removing the amount of sugar.

You will need

6 medium sized apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 c flour +1/2c whole wheat flour mix (I actually used rye, spelt and whole wheat flour).
2 TBSP brown sugar + 1 TBSP honey
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c butter, melted

Arrange sliced apples in a baking dish of the size shown in the picture above. In a bowl, combine flours, sugar, honey, baking powder and salt. Add the egg and mix until crumbly. Spread over the apples. Pour melted butter all over and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at about 175*C for +/- 25 min, reduce the heat till 160*C, bake for ab. 20 more minutes or until it starts getting too brown. Serve with whipped cream as a dessert or by a cup of tea/coffee.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Captain Blood: A Review

Speaking of pirates. Captain Blood is a 1935 film adaptation of a novel by the same name written by Rafael Sabatini with Errol Flynn starring as Peter Blood. Though the movie is black-and-white, it's a great fun to watch, and features adventure, humour and, of course, a love story. It's nearly two hours long but you won't be bored for a moment. Since it's a vintage film, there won't be much blood and gore or nudity or stuff like that so it's suitable for family entertainment.

For those who don't know what the story is all about: the original novel was based on historical events (Monmouth Rebellion), and though I read it long ago, I have an idea that this adaptation is more or less faithful to the original. Peter Blood, an Irish gentleman after a career in the army and the navy settles down in England where he works as a doctor. While some of his friends join the rebels, he refuses but later when he is asked to treat the wounded rebels can't deny them medical help for which he is arrested and sentenced to death by hanging.

However, King James II needs slaves to work in his oversees plantations in the Caribbean so he is transported to Jamaica (Barbados in the novel) together with his unlucky comrades where they are bought by the cruel Colonel Bishop to work in his sugar cane fields. Peter from the beginning has a rebellious attitude which catches attention of the colonel's niece, beautiful Arabella. She recommends his medical skills to the governor of the island who suffers from gout. Blood acquires freedom of movement and starts planning for escape but Bishop interferes.

At that moment, the Spanish attack the city of Port Royal and demand a huge sum of money as ransom. Little do they know that Blood and his men have captured their ship together with chests of gold and are planning the revenge. First, on the Spanish, and then on anyone, as they are now men without a country. Soon Peter Blood becomes the most famous and feared pirate of the whole Caribbean...

You can watch the whole movie at DailyMotion

Here is the original trailer:
Captain Blood 1935 Trailer

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Civilising The Uncivilised?

Someone told me that it's a duty of the Western man to civilise folks in non-Western countries, to teach them about human rights and to explain that sowing off heads with a blunt knife isn't really a good pastime. We also should intefere in their armed conflicts to restore peace and prosperity.

Which reminds me of a sci-fi story I read in my youth. Two locals in the South American desert are shooting at each other for the possession of a well. Suddenly a flying saucer lands and an alien comes out. He tells the adversaries that shooting at each other is really NOT NICE and that all men should live in peace and harmony. He tells them he is a space alien and they think he is an American. The alien further preaches about pacifism, non-violent conflict resolving skills and the brotherhood of men. They keep shooting at each other.

Finally the alien has enough, he picks up his own blaster and after destroying a couple of lone trees/rocks (don't remember what it was exactly) tells the men he'll kill them both if they don't stop fighting. This time they obey. The alien steps into his flying saucer and flies away. The local men resume shooting at each other.

Well, what do you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Treating People Like Commodities

It's quite popular nowadays to talk about Sexual Market Value (SMV) while discussing the relationships between men and women. For those unfamiliar with it, it basically rates women on scale 1-10, with ten being the highest and divides men into categories like alpha, beta, gamma etc.

There is certainly some truth attached to this theory. I guess we all can agree that a healthy fit 18 year old girl will be attractive to most men, while overweight 50 year old not so much. We also know just from observations that there are men who all girls appear to flock to, and passive-agressive losers unable to form healthy relationships. It's also true that traditional marriage contract had a financial aspect to it.

The problems do arise, however, when we are trying to reduce human beings with their complex emotions, to simple economical units. Life is much more complicated than an equation and people aren't entirely rational creatures, either. Moreover, a woman isn't just a sum of legs and breasts. She also possesses a personality which can be pleasant or otherwise. Further, the theory of absolute SMV rests on the assumption (not at all traditional) that all women are basically social equals and only get distinguished by the degree of beauty and youth they possess, which is entirely untrue since there is also such a thing as social/class distinctions.

A young waitress can be much prettier than a 30 year old PhD feminist, but a man from "a good family" will be more inclined to marry his social equal, though not always, of course.

So my next point is, that while I do believe SMV exists it's relative, not absolute. Take the example of an 18 year old vs a 50 year old. While in absolute terms, the younger woman will have much higher SMV, most men of certain age will have very little chance with her and they know it, too! But for a 60 year old widower, a 50 old lady may be a very good companion and just exactly what he needs.

I'd also like to point out that from a Christian point of view, we should be a bit more charitable to those less fortunate. It can be dangerous when we start dividing people into groups based solely on their utility/ worldly achievements. I've seen men saying that women after certain age should die already since nobody wants them, or that all childless unmarried women are totally useless. Of course, we can apply the same criteria to men and come to the conclusion that for instance, a handicapped man who doesn't work has totally no SMV and should die, already. The same will be true for older people of both sexes.

Yet, guess what? I've known a lady all my life who chose not to get married because she has a inheritable disease and wouldn't want her children to have it. She's worked all her life, she helped her family, she's a good Christian. I object to the idea that her life has no value.

I also knew a lady disfigured by cancer whose husband died when she was in her late 60s. Her SMV was probably close to zero, but then what happened? She found a slightly older widower, also suffering from cancer and not in the possession of an ideal body, either, but they are happy together. They support each other in their old days.

Treating people as commodities who only exists that you can profit from them isn't something which we should aspire to. It's a merchant logic, not Western and not Christian.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

From The Home Front

Last week we were supposed to celebrate our wedding anniversary only we all had been down with flu so we decided we'd celebrate it one of those nice spring days instead. I did, however, get some nice flowers:

and this dress:

Tarl has his birthday today, he became 1 year old!

And this is little Finn:

He must be some sort of a dwarf cat, really. His favourite toy at the moment is a sponge:

Yes, a dish-washing sponge but he seems to be genuinely attached to it:

Today is dark and kinda stormy, though warm, but we'll get cooler weather again. i'm more or less in spring mood already, soo tired of winter.

Have a blessed Sunday, all of you!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Sport For Real Men

Do you enjoy watching ice hockey brawls just as much as I do?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

True Love Exists

Yesterday while visiting family I saw an interesting TV program. Now I may have missed some details as by obvious reasons I couldn't give my full attention to the telly, but in the nutshell, the story was about a couple with their children living somewhere in the wilderness in the manner of nomads of old.

The interesting thing was that the wife is 30 years (yes, thirty!) her husband's junior. She met him while traveling at the age of 22 and he was 52 and an American (I think). She left her own country, her CAREER, her family and friends to marry this man and to travel around the world with him, living in primitive circumstances and cooking food over the open fire.

The husband said to the reporter that he is a gypsy at heart and simply can't settle down. His wife (who, by the way, still looks great after 3 children and is in an excellent physical condition) appears to be very much in love with him.

While watching this surprisingly traditional program, I caught myself thinking that this is the western way of life: not gathering harems and locking your women up, but pair-bonding and the wife as a companion, following the man she loves to the end of the world, if necessary.

Now our television is very liberal and they probably only showed this couple because they live like hippies but probably unknowingly to themselves they stumbled upon something much bigger than their intention.

The heart of a man to the heart of a maid --
  Light of my tents, be fleet.
Morning waits at the end of the world,
  And the world is all at our feet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lunch Ideas: Spinach Omelet

This will serve 2-4 people, depending on how much you eat and what else you are serving for lunch. It's loosely based on a quiche recipe from Recipes for Comfort, a Gooseberry Patch cook book.

You'll need grated cheese, some flour, some frozen spinach, defrosted; milk, 3 eggs, 4 bacon slices, ketchup and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix everything together in a big bowl, except bacon slices. Fry bacon in butter, pour the egg mixture all over and cook on low until done. May need flipping once.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Short Note

Mia from Mias Landliv has deleted her blog recently so I removed the link. It's a pity really since it has been one of my favourite decorating blogs.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Healthy Coffee Substitute

If you, like me, can't tolerate caffeine but still want to enjoy a cup of coffee, there is a solution to all your problems - roasted chicory root!

It's quite pricey and doesn't taste exactly like coffee, but comes close enough so that even coffee lovers agree that it's the closest alternative.

Apparently chicory root was known and used for its healthy properties already by the ancient Egyptians and Romans. It contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and a prebiotic inulin and is supposed to help digestion, calm your nerves, strengthen your immune system, regulate glucose levels and especially as a coffee substitute, has cardiovascular benefits, too.

You may want to give it a try!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Health Hazard Few People Know About

Apparently, it's artificial light, especially the one emitted by various electronic devices, such as TVs, tablets and computers.

Artificial light after dark suppresses the body's production of melatonin, a very important hormone since it regulates, among other things, blood pressure and glucose levels. Melatonin shortage can increase the risk of cancer, diminish your fertility, disrupt your sleeping patterns, affect your immune system and put you at risk for obesity and heart disease.

Laptops and other electronic gadgets are especially dangerous since the blue wavelengths they use are the most disruptive at night. Staring at computer screen after dark is basically equivalent to staring at the bright sun and it's not something you should be doing at night.

There are special programs which adjust the colours of your monitor to the time of day. One of them is called f.lux. Also read this article on the danger of tablets.

It's interesting that while many people are obsessed about their diets few appear to realise that there is danger lurking in something as seemingly innocent as electric lights! If you want to know more on the topic, just google melatonin and artificial light.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Carnival Ideas From 1940

It's this time of the year again - when Catholics celebrate Carnival. Here are some cute costume ideas from the war year 1940:

The lady on the left represents Mrs Sale. She is wearing a simple dark dress with two different sorts of fabric hanging on both sides. A clock is attached to her waist belt, pointing to 12 (midnight), the hour when all the masks are removed. She is also decorated with a milk jug, a container for sugar and various stickers with sales announcements.

We further have a lady Goldfish, a Mr Dolphin and an Unlucky Number. He is in the possession of an old black umbrella decorated with those ages old symbols of bad luck, such as spilled salt and crossed knives.

The second picture features The Market Star (on the left), with beer barrel sleeves and other consumer items, such as scissors, spoons and the like.

The lady dressed as a candle represents Light In Dark Times (God knows they needed it that year), with the candle made out of stiff carton. There is also An Archeologist and The Symphony In Black And White.

Personally I find these costumes more interesting than ready-made cheap store stuff we witnessed yesterday and what do you think? Do they celebrate Carnival where you are from?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't Be A Social Justice Warrior

"But what are we to do?" said Susan...
"My dear young lady," said the Professor, suddenly looking up with a very sharp expression at both of them, "there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying."
"What's that?" said Susan.
"We might all try minding our own business, " said he. And that was the end of the conversation. 

C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Harper Collins Children's Books, 2001, p.58.

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

(Scriptures quoted from this site).

Being a busybody is seldom attractive, however, nowadays it's promoted  as virtue. Do-goodism has become a religion of its own, we are all supposed to engage in campaigns to save the climate, Africa, women in third world countries, children in South America who don't go to school etc etc. There are whole missionary teams going to some obscure village to dig wells. I always wonder, can't men in those villages dig wells? Are Westerners supposed to be babysitters of the entire world? Do adults and/or wealthy people in those countries have no responsibilities to their own? And finally, why should I care?

The world would be a much better place if we just started paying more attention to the needs of our immediate family, neighbours and friends, instead of engaging in pointless campaigns to eliminate world poverty and inequality, or becoming a part of internet lynch mobs fighting an -ism du jour.  I believe that women especially are prone to this malaise of busybodism, hence this poem from 1906:

She's a woman with a mission, 'tis her 
heaven-born ambition to reform
the world's condition, you will
please to understand.

She's a model of propriety, a leader in
society, and has a great variety 
of remedies at hand. 

Each a sovereign specific, with a title 
scientific, for the cure of things
morbific that vex the people sore;

For the swift alleviation of the evils
 of  the nation is her fore-ordained
vocation on this sublunary

And while thus she's up and coming,
always hurrying and humming,
and occasionally slumming, this 
reformer of renown,

Her neglected little Dicky, ragged, dirty
tough and tricky, with his
 fingers soiled and sticky, is
 the terror of the town.

Author unknown, quoted from here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Is There Really A Global Warming Trend?

My husband's company has its own weather station. Here are the yearly temperature averages for some twenty years:

1994      11.5                 

1995      11.4            
1996      9.6
1997      11.2
1998      11.4
1999      12.1

2001      11.2
2002      11.3
2003      11.2
2004      11.1
2005      11.2
2006      11.6
2007      11.7
2008      11.2
2009      10.9
2010       9.6
2011      11.4
2012      10.7
2013      10.1
2014      12.1
2015      11.1

Now the question is, does it look like a there is a warming trend to you?