Word of the Day – Ubiquitous

Ubiquitous – adjective meaning: Present, appearing, or found everywhere: “his ubiquitous influence”.



Of donor cards… A rant @BBCr4today

As the recipient of foreign offal, I feel moved to respond to this morning’s Today programme.  I tossed a quick tweet into the ether this morning but 140 characters just doesn’t cover it.

I mean no disrespect to my unknown donor re: the offal description.  In fact, I will be profoundly grateful for the rest of my life.  I find sick humour helps when discussing things that still make me feel slightly squeamish.

When my kidneys failed, I lost my job, my flat and even my ability to concentrate & remember fully.  At the age of 44, I had to go home to live with my parents.  But by far the worst was the dialysis.

I expected the dialysis to be unpleasant but I wasn’t prepared for how bad it was going to be.  I took the graveyard shift, thinking that it would allow me to find some work during the day. There are 3 sessions a day: morning, afternoon & evening. You have to go 3 times a week and each session can take 3-5 hours.  Even when my dialysis sessions were event-free, which was not often, I got home between 12 midnight & one o’clock in the morning and was exhausted for most of the next day.  When the blood did not run smooth, I could be poleaxed for 3 or 4.  Don’t think it keeps you going as well as a real kidney either.  The truth is that each day without a working kidney, the closer to death you edge.

I was very, very lucky. I have my life back and I only had to wait 2 months from the start of dialysis. The average waiting time is currently about 3 years. I am also quite old so hopefully this kidney will see me out.  Some people may need 3 or 4 in their lifetime.  I am not prone to emotion but the thought of those brave people (10,000+) still waiting does make my eyes damp & bring a large lump to my throat.

There are approximately 15,000 accidental deaths a year which might have suitable organs, yet only about 3,000 transplants take place.

So imagine my rage this morning when I wake up to the suggestion that people on the transplant lists should be penalized for not carrying a donor card because the government is too lily-livered to adopt ‘Opt out’ rather than ‘Opt in’.

The answer is definitely not to punish the sick and dying  for not carrying a piece of paper while they thought death didn’t apply to them, or to force the bereaved have to make this decision when they are at their lowest ebb.

We, the people, need to register, tell our next of kin and our government need to legislate.

There endeth my rant.

Ratatouille & Hungarian Good Luck Lentil Soup

After my little holiday at the NHS’ pleasure, I have finally got back into cooking.  I have made two new recipes this week.  The first, an old favourite, Ratatouille.  This recipe I found in the Guardian by Felicity Cloake.  Its a delight – the vegetables are mostly roasted rather than bubbled in a pot which gives it a lovely roasty flavour.  Heaven.  Here is the original:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jul/15/how-to-make-perfect-ratatouille


  • 2 peppers – whole
  • 1 medium onion – small dice
  • 8 tomatoes – 4 chopped, 4 sliced
  • 3 courgettes – sliced
  • 1 aubergine – sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic – minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of thyme (I used dried as a substitute)
  • pinch of saffron (I didn’t have any so left this out)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (I added a tbsp Madeira instead)


  1. Roast the peppers at 230deg.C (20mins-ish) then leave to cool.
  2. Soften the onions with 2tbsp olive oil (8mins).  Add garlic 5mins in.  Then add the tomatoes, thyme and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Peel and dice the peppers and add to the pan with the Madeira (saffron & vinegar).
  4. Put in the oven-proof dish with the other vegetables, cover with foil and roast at 140deg.C for 2 hours. Remove foil & roast for a further 30mins.

The second recipe I tried was a Hungarian lentil soup or stew made with a Hungarian paprika sausage.  I found it on a website called Starving Chef:  http://starvingchef.com/2012/12/good-luck-lentil-soup-traditional-hungarian-recipe/  It made my partner very happy & nostalgic for Hungary which was my intention (risky because I have never been there and he has).  I added diced potato & mushrooms to bulk it out a bit. You could add more lentils but they are rather wind inducing.


  • 1 tin green lentils
  • 2 carrots – thickly sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes – peeled & diced
  • 2 large mushrooms – sliced
  • 2 celery stick – thickly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 2 medium red onions – diced
  • 1 Gyulai Hungarian dry sausage – sliced (Needs to be a paprika based sausage if you need to substitute.  I found some ‘Hungarian Pepperoni’ which was the closest I could find.  I suspect Spanish Chorizo would also work)
  • 1/4lb Kolozsvari bacon – diced (I used British bacon)
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks rosemary
  • water (I added about about 3mugs full)


  1. Saute the sausage & bacon till its brown and crispy (~5mins) & remove from pan
  2. Add all the vegetables, rosemary, bay leaves & lentils and sweat for about 5mins then add the puree & water. Season as necessary and simmer for about 50mins.
  3. Return the bacon & sausage and cook for another 10mins.

Roast Duck a la Wareing

I made Roast Duck using a Marcus Wareing recipe today – delicious, lovely and moist.  Thank you Mr Wareing.

Mr Wareing’s recipe:  http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/roast-duck-recipe-whole-duck

I did have to depart a bit as I was missing a few ingredients.  Some I wished I had, especially the Madeira.

  • Madeira – I substituted white wine and a little brandy.  Madeira would be better.
  • Leek – I added extra onion
  • Star Anise & Cinnamon sticks – I substituted two tsps of 5 spice.  Whole spices better but 5 spice contains both.
  • Garlic & Ginger – I used a squeeze each of the fresh purees.  Obviously fresh pieces would be better.
  • Chillies – Added a punch of course ground dried red chilli.

The liquor didn’t thicken enough to glaze the duck for the final roasting – I suspect because there was not enough sugar without the Madeira – but it was a joy to eat:  Moist with a slight kick of spice and a crispy skin.  We had a weird ‘crown’ roast – poor thing was missing its back legs and arse but its going to last one more meat meal for two of us and then the bones and left over bits will make a nice soup or stock.  I also have enough duck fat for a few weeks – looking forward to the roast tatties.  So my £5 special offer bird will have made 6.5 meals.  A lovely treat from not much more than a chicken.

I miss Mr Adams

Found quote of the day:

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes”

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