Friday, January 20, 2017

Simply Delicious Beef and Ale Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 diced carrot
1/2 cup diced potatoes
1 pint Brown ale (1/2 a cup for the pie and the rest for the waiting)
1 tspn Kitchen Pepper
1 tspn Worcestershire sauce
3 bullion cubes
1 tspn flour
top and bottom crusts

Blend all of the ingredients evenly and simmer in a frying pan until the meat is thoroughly browned and the grease/beer has blended into a thick gravy. Place the crust into a pie dish and place the filling into the crust. Cover with the 2nd crust and bake at 350°f for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with a generous slather of HP Brown Sauce. If there is any ale left after the wait in the oven, drink it as you enjoy.
It is lovely to serve alongside a plate of mash and peas.

10 Hobbies That People Actually Do For Fun

So here I am looking a new hobby. I've done lots of things for fun over the years but I am looking for something that I can do on the weekends that will be A) fun and B) not prohibitively expensive. In the process of searching for a new hobby (which thus far has been unsuccessful) I have come across some interesting things that some people apparently do for fun. I thought it might be interesting to go through and create a short list of 10 interesting hobbies that people actually do for fun. Now I am going to include a few things that I do but not quite so extensively (or in some cases casually) as to call them hobbies. So here goes.

1. Historical Reenacting

Have you ever been to a historic park and seen those strange people who wear old timey clothes and pretend to be from a different time? That is reenacting. Contrary to what a lot of people might think the vast majority of people who do that are not getting paid. It is a hobby, and rather an intense one at that. The people who reenact often (but not always) spend extensive time and effort to research their "impression" or what they are trying to portray. Reenacting is done for various time periods from the Neolithic well into the 20th century. 

2. Writing Letters to Royals 

Yes. There are people who spend considerable time writing letters to royals around the world. Personally I write an occasional letter to HM Queen Elizabeth II and her family but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a hobby. I did have the privilege of receiving a personally signed correspondence from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall last month. That was rather exciting. Some people go all out though, spending time and money taking letters to professional translators in order to send them to royals who don't speak your native language. Or you could...

3. Learn a New Language 

If you're ever bored you could just learn another language. With advancements in technology and economic and social globalization happening at the rate it is learning another language or 3 is a great way to spend your time. And these days programs like DuoLingo make it exceptionally simple.

4. Take up Cricket

I was quite surprised to find out that here in North Carolina there is not one, but there are 3 cricket LEAGUES. That's right. Not teams... Leagues, each consisting of at least 14 clubs. Once I eraser he'd a little bit more it made sense though. The Medical and Technology markets expanding here there have been numerous professionals moving to our state from India, where Cricket is considered a national pastime. 

5. Learn to Play an Instrument 

Go to a music store and buy a recorder, or if you fancy it buy a saxophone. Get a book or go onto YouTube and find a "learn to play" tutorial. A few minutes a day and you'll be Yoyo Ma in no time... Well... Maybe not but if you stick with it you can always impress your friends by serenading them with Jingle Bells at the office Christmas party.

6. Learn Needlepoint 

Samplers, monograms, doll faces, seat cushions... The things that you can do with needlepoint are endless. And you'll never have to buy useless Christmas gifts again. You can make them yourself!

7. Amateur Paleontology 

If you're looking for something to do outside and you want to get dirty then taking up amateur paleontology could be the thing for you. It isn't difficult. You don't have to join a special club, although you can if you want to. All you really need is a bucket and a spade but I would encourage sun cream. There are loads of Internet databases that you can look through to find local fossil deposits near you. If you live in East NC then driving to Aroura is always an easy way to guarantee your first find.

8. Go back to School 

It might not exactly sound like a hobby but with advancements in technology and accessibility of knowledge these days it is absolutely possible to go back to college and finish that degree that you always wanted. Online or one night a week programs make it easy and affordable to go back and start making your life better.

9. Become a Substitute Teacher 

Work when you feel like it. Make some extra money. Interact with kids and impact their lives. Believe it or not they might change your life too. In most counties it isn't hard. In North Carolina you have to have 48 transferable University credits or take a class called "Effective Teacher Training." It is usually a three day class at a city or community college. If you can do that and pass a background check then you're probably good to go. Most substitute teachers make around $70 or $80 dollars each day they work. Not bad for a hobby. 

Last but not least

10. Start a Blog

Be a food critic, an experimental chef, religion blogger, fashion blogger... The options are endless. Pick up one hobby and start a blog about it. You can do or be whatever you want online. Blog about food, politics, tabloids, whale ecology, Princess Kate and her shoes, whatever you want. 

Anyway, these are just a few of the thousands of hobbies out there. Look around. Find a hobby that fits you. Kill some time and have some fun.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Vicar's Life

Through the portal and down the Nave,
he march’d with Holy Writ in hand,
to kneel and pray
at break of day
and lean upon the reading stand.

Of first order is morning prayer
so on is thrown a surplice.
Then follow he
with the Litany
and say the Lord’s Prayer twice.

Then the rite all love the best
to say, Holy Communion.
The words of Christ
they’ve now prayed thrice
with Christendom in union.

Into the vestry and off is put
And hung upon the door;
the surplice there.
Now gown to wear
to go into the church once more.

Now to expound the words of Christ
for all who stay’d to hear it
that all who hear
should come draw near
to take up the cross and bear it.

A sermon preached like none other wrote
or ever read before.
Take off the gown
and throw it down
to don the surplice from the door.

“Draw near with faith,” he tells them all
to make contrite confession
and hope and pray
what he had to say
was not lost in the lesson.

Then to the Table of the Lord,
by the north most side to stand,
to pray the line,
of words divine
while taking loaf and cup in hand.

They pray again, this comes to four,
“Our Father which art in heav’n”
All did meet
His meal to eat
and all before eleven!

The Curate’s work is never done.
He’s earned a drink of liquor!
So on Sunday
please take time to say,

“Dear Lord God, bless the Vicar!”

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Refreshing Orange Barley Water Squash

1/2 pound pearled barley
2 quarts of water
3 whole oranges

Boil the barley and water until the barley is tender. While it is boiling juice and mash the 3 oranges. Strain the barley from the water. The water should be milky white. Pour the water over the oranges and juice and return to boil for about 5 minutes. This allows the barley water to absorb as much of the Orange essence as possible. Strain well and return to medium heat once more. Add sugar and sweeten to your own taste. Cool the squash and keep it in the refrigerator. It should keep for 6-7 days. To make it last longer you can put it in a sealed container and freeze it.

I serve it over ice mixed about half and half with Ginger Ale.

You can use the same recipe using lemons (or any citrus fruit really) instead of oranges if you like.