Ruth's Diary


There are times that I just marvel at the letters contributed to the editor by Daily Telegraph readers. Granted that it is more out of amusement that I read them most times, but the letters sent to the Sunday Telegraph seem far more out-of-touch with reality than most.

Now the thing I don't blame them for is their opposition to HS2, the brand new high-speed railway that will connect London with Aberdeen. Eventually. I support the reasoning and theory behind HS2, but the plans in their current form are so faulty and problematic that they really need to get hammered out before anyone even thinks of putting money to it. Want one example of the kinds of problems I'm talking about? Well, it's meant to connect travellers with Eurostar, which has its terminus at London St. Pancras, so why do the current HS2 plans have the trains end at London Euston?

Back to what I'm gawking at in the letters: among the various suggestions for what the freed money from HS2 can be spent a new yacht for the Queen.


Now in all fairness, being a bit of a monarchist, I'd love to donate £2 or £20 or whatever the paltry sum is per person to either build a new yacht from scratch or buy one secondhand and redecorate it to present to the Queen as a present of thanks for all her (involuntary) years of service. But you see, I've researched the Royal Family and their activities over the years, I know all the valuable stuff they do that's unpublicised. I highly doubt that in this austere economic climate, with the poor having an angry vendetta against the rich enjoying anything, the average person straining to stick to a budget and make ends meet will happily see the Queen get an expensive present. It might make all the conservatives and monarchists happy (and proud to be British) but I don't really see anyone else giving a toss.

Now, I wish to part with you some more of my culinary adventures. I mentioned a while ago the interesting experience of reheating food in the oven. I later discovered that it's easier to reheat fried food in an unoiled pan. Well anyway, something else I've noticed about the Czech Republic is the lack of ring-pulls on their food tins. Although judging where the products actually come from it seems to be a thing in central Europe in general. So I found myself faced with tins without ring-pulls for the first time in years, and I got reminded why I wasn't used to this: in Britain it's rare to find a food tin without a ring-pull, something I reveled in because the tin-opener that was included in my box of basic kitchen cutlery that Mum bought me for Uni absolutely sucked!

Seriously, it was poorly made and functioned terribly. And considering how a part of my childhood was spent opening tins of spaghetti, I know a tin-opener is not meant to be a struggle to use. So when I attempted to use this same crappy tin-opener a few weeks ago, I noticed that the pressure I'm forced to exert upon it just to make it work meant the handle broke. So I had to buy a new one, and my new tin-opener works like a dream. Opening every new tin with it is so satisfying, I'd honestly forgotten the feeling.

The other thing I wanted to try out was baking. I can cook well enough but I've never successfully baked anything on my own. But having made Cottage Pies and Aufläufe in my oven, I know how it works and I'm pretty familiar with it now. I wanted to try my hand at making turnovers, both sweet and savoury. But when I went food shopping I couldn't find any pastry sheets and just snapped up the various price deals offered on tins, pasta and cookies. I looked someplace else for pastry sheets, but that supermarket didn't have them either. I guess it's in America you can find pastry sheets. I'll have to get the full shebang and make the dough from scratch, which I have no problem with. But I have a little too much food right now and will have to buy a mixing bowel. So I decided to snap up the deal on cheap carp instead. As I was buying it, I noticed why it was cheap: the items on sale were carp heads.

Now I figured, waste not/want not, so I spent a bit of time last night poking through the carp head and trying to figure out which of the yummy fleshy/meaty bits I could cut out. The fleshiest bits were the gills, but they were so feathery in my hands I really didn't fancy trying to cook them. Or get them out. I don't actually have the correct equipment for snapping fish bones. So that's one experiment I won't try again. I was told that carp are very bony and difficult to prepare for cooking as a result. I'll stick to the fillets next time. A shame since what carp meat I did manage to cook was quite nice.

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