Your New Second Mortgage

Working out how much the Government received from the European Central Bank, to deal with the Banking Crisis of 2008 can be difficult. Presumably because the figures involved are deeply frightening. We talk in Billions (that’s nine zero’s).  And because I could not fathom it out, I went to Wikipedia and it turns out its 67.5 Billion Euros.

This is debt that has now been socialised – you always knew socialism was a bad idea. And here’s all the proof you need. In terms of cost per citizen this amounts to (67.5B/4.581M) – €14,700.

Of course there’s a problem with this figure, it includes children and old people, who don’t work, or generate income, so it would be pointless to go asking them for 15 grand. It may be more useful to think in terms of households – so here goes. (67.5B/1.658M) – €40,700

This means if you are a householder you need to be afraid. Your second mortgage has arrived, and its 41K. You might think this is politically unacceptable and you would be right. This is why the European Central Bank has not sent you a Direct Debit Form. They are worried you might find that a bit pushy.

Instead it is forced to rely on the government finding sneaky ways to extract this money from households. And it is one of these sneaky ways that I wish to consider here. The Local Property Tax, which we are told goes towards funding Local Government, rather than paying off the Second Mortgage that you didn’t want and definitely didn’t enjoy spending in the first place.

horatio1

Local government gets its money from a variety of sources, Car Tax etc. (so called Goods and Services), Rates – a Tax on local business premises and Government Grants.

 Government Grants – amount to just over a third of Local Government funding, on average. Instead of paying this money, which amounts to €1.3 Billion a year to local Authorities. The Government has been told that it’s a lot better idea to pay it to the ECB.

So to raise this amount from Households,the Government is introducing the “Local” Property Tax – this is essentially a levy of 0.18% on the perceived value of a property. And it would say that this is fair and equitable. Sido would maintain this is not the case.

Let’s consider the Taoiseach’s constituency Co. Mayo. Government Grants would amount to (78M/48200) around €1,600 per household Consider Sido’s County – Roscommon (36.25M/23700) just over €1,500 per household. All this sounds fairly generous doesn’t it? – except its paid for from our taxes VAT etc.                                                                          It isn’t so generous when it gets to Dublin though (153.5M/468000). Crikey just €330!         It would seem a city like Dublin is more efficient to run than the rural Manors. This is also true of cities like Galway, Cork and Limerick.

And there’s a Double Whammy. The injustice is compounded because property values in these urban areas are higher. Seriously, even in Limerick. As a consequence they pay more property tax.                                                                                                               The government suggests you can estimate a Tax Valuation for your property by going to Daft.ie  A site which lists the Average Aspirational Price for properties in a certain area.

 Aspiration is of course different from the real value of your property. Using the new Central Property Price database we can put a value on Aspiration of somewhere between 20 to 25%. It is this lower figure, that most people will be using when asked to value the price of their house. Because people aren’t erm …Daft.

Sido used these lower prices to generate a property tax for Dublin. He found that government in the past contributed 153.5M but would now raise 150M in property taxes. Arguably a break even so.

Compare this to say Carlow where the government contribution is 26M but the potential property tax would seem to be around 4M

Roscommon is an odd County because of very low property prices, as mentioned before the government Contribution is 36.25M the property tax that might be raised is around 4.5M

So in conclusion – The Dubs are going to be wearing the Green jersey all the way to the European Central Bank – Heck the Government might even turn a profit on you and why not. Consider it payback time for the trams bitches! Sido salutes you from his country pile.

Because I don’t know a lot about Dublin. And in any event totally approve of the idea of Dubs being charged more than Culchies. I can’t say whether the Government will break even or make a profit. I have mined a load of Data and transferred it to Excel. However I need someone who is familiar with the Dublin Area to combine it and work out the story.

There are three simple tables I have extracted As Follows

Cost of Government Grants to Local Authorities (Dublin) in 2012 (CSO)

Dun Laoghaire – Rath

48,621,600

Fingal

48,162,500

South Dublin

56,693,400

Total

153,477,500

Households in the Dublin Area (CSO)

Dublin City

208716

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown

75953

Fingal

93305

South Dublin

90148

468122

Daft.ie  Valuation (Please reduce these by dividing by 1.25)

Location

House Value

City Centre

            155,379

North Dub City

            207,514

North Dub County

            202,253

West Dub County

            164,945

South Dub City

            214,064

South Dub County

            345,324

Local Property Tax is 0.18% in 2014 – Magic Michael’s Introductory Special Offer 0.09% for 2013!! – (Terms and Conditions apply)

Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to combine the Valuation table with the House price table and see if you arrive at a figure over the 153.5 M given as the total of government funds for Dublin in 2012. If you can then you might want to tell your TD about it.

3 Wheeled Vehicles of the UK

I recently did a short essay on British Three Wheeled Vehicles, and as I haven’t stuck up anything of late, I’ve decided to put it up on my Blog

The probable reason for the  “popularity” of three wheeled vehicles in the UK may have been financial.  The “Road Tax” was a poll tax imposed on annually on motor vehicles to be paid at a post office.

If you were a millionaire  you would pay the same  Road Tax on your brand new Rolls Royce as someone (from the lower social orders) would pay for his second hand Austin Seven (crap car).

In the fifties and sixties of the last century, this tax was for the common man, eye wateringly high.  As indeed was the price of cars in general.

For the less fortunate there was always the motorcycle, which attracted a lesser rate of Road Tax than the motor car. Some people took to attaching a side car to their motorcycles  to extend the amount of passengers they could carry. This three wheeled “combination” was taxed in the same manner as a motorcycle.

The motorcycle combination was a three wheeled vehicle, and thus it was deemed that for the purposes of Road Tax – the Three Wheeler would be catogorised as a motorcycle. No it doesn’t make sense but when did tax ever make sense?

image002

The 1937 Morgan – Putting the Sports in three wheels

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_ThreeWheeler

I always thought these Messerschmitt three wheelers were very cool. Presumably the bombed out German Aeroplane manufacturer needed something to build after WWII. And not surprisingly, given the propensity of the Hun,  they were banned from building Aircraft for a while after the war.

image004

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_KR200

And here is BMW’s entry into the market after WWII The fabulous Bubble Car.

image006

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isetta

I suppose nowadays they would call it the “0” series

And here is the British entry – The Reliant Robin made by the Reliant Car Co, who also used to also produce the Reliant Scimitar, a hand built sports car,  driven by that doyen of fashion Princess Anne.

image008

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliant_Robin

It doesn’t look very cool compared to its early German Rivals but was seemingly in production till 2001.

And they were lovingly referred to as “Plastic Frogs”.

See also Reliant Regal (the pre 1973 versions)

In the seventies Reliant also produced a “cool” three wheeler –  Presumably inspired by the VW buggy’s  and the West Coast American Dream – the so called Bond Bug

image010

What’s not to like?

image012

As good looking and well designed on the inside, as it was on the outside.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bond_Bug

How to fry an egg

I’ve looked up the advice, given by the major culinary smart arses on the Internet. They seem to miss the basic problem that a lot of occasional egg fryers face. That is – that the egg sticks to the pan like glue.

What a lousy experience to greet the potential breakfaster in the morning – Oh yeah – you can’t even fry a fuckin’ egg!  Help is at hand – Sido is here- to sort your problem – for free!  Unlike say, Gordon Ramsay who will sell you a book for twenty euros and still not tell you the trick – confirming your prejudices  about – “people you think you don’t like”.

Frying off, Meatballs after frying off Onions and Red Peppers – makes a mess of the pan.

A lot of us use our frying pans for many purposes. We get all sorts of crud and crap on them. And then we wash them up so that they can be reused.  So when you are trying to fry the sort of fried egg that the likes of say  – Gordon Ramsay (for instance) might approve of.

And you get out your frying pan and shake in some extra virgin olive oil. And everything is cool for about a minute, until you realise your egg has completely adhered to the pan. Like a blob of lightly fried emulsion paint. It is at this stage you need advice because scraping it off the pan – frankly does not cut it, at any culinary level. And scrambled eggs is out of the question unless you are a serious drug user.

Protip – Simmering the Meatballs in a Tomato Sauce for half an hour – may help with the washing up!

The trick is to heat up your oil – I’ll write it twice.

The trick is to heat up your oil – Heat it so it’s blue and smoking and you will alter its chemical structure.  I’ve used cheap sunflower oil here – though you can use a cheap hard white like Frytex.  The trick is to get that hint of blue smoke coming off it. Keep a very watchful eye on this process. Then take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool down a bit otherwise you will burn your pan and end up back at the sink with a nasty mess.

OK – you can’t see the slight blue smoke on this picture – so use your imagination.

After that, you can ditch the excess oil in the pan (or not) and use butter or some other fancy oil. Then at a nice low temperature cook the sort of fried egg that is a dish fit for a king or queen.

Whatever your preference.

Sunny side up – with a knob of butter thrown into the pan

Enjoy.

1st August 2012

Frank Fieghan TD

An admirer and a fan of the El Sido blog, Hand Solo, made the following comment about the blog on Broadsheet.ie

“Ah the fascinating (and rarely seen) Roscommon mating method. Blunder in, defend some sarcastic auld bilge, then sit back and wait for laydeez. I love watching you at work Sido, you’re a ray of sunshine in these dark Summer days. Thanks buddy.”

Well thank you Hand – it’s nice to be nice. And it’s nice to get a bit of positive feedback every once in a while. So much for the so called Internet Hate Machine.

Franks election bash with generous free entertainment

Franks election bash with generous free entertainment

Though sadly the most positive criticism I can offer the subject of this post,  Fine Gael Deputy Frank Feighan, is resign!  At least that way you can start to regain some sense of self worth and human decency.

Maybe I should explain, under Ireland’s Proportional Representation  System Roscommon and South Leitrim is represented by three politicians.  Luke Flanagan  an Independent who likes to represent the views of his constituents.  A quaintly old fashioned notion in Kenny’s Ireland .

Denis Naughton an Independent, who was forced to resign the Fine Gael party whip, on principle, when his leader Edna Goldilocks Kenny was caught telling lies to his constituents and also the nation about the closure of the A & E Department in Roscommon Hospital , along with his mendacious side kick, the Minister for Health James Reilly.

And Frank Feighan who presumably thinks the right thing to do was to is just take home his fat pay cheque and hang on in, presumably till the next election when he gets to cash in his fat pension. In fairness to Frank hanging around waiting to be made redundant is an experience that a lot of Irish people have had to live with in recent times. What’s not to like? Alas though, this story of casual fealty doesn’t end up with Frank taking a back seat for the next three years.

Recently, Frank has decided, or been told, that he needs to bull shit the abused electorate of Roscommon even further. Presumably , Fine Gael fear that he will be replaced with a maverick Independent  at the next election rather than a Fianna Fail candidate (their best reasonable outcome)Though don’t rule out some attempts at gerrymandering, as the government makes sweeping reforms to the Houses of the Oireachtas (using “state of the art”brushes) . And in truth going from a constituency where you hold 2/3 of the seats – to one that is a “No Go” area for the Prime Minister in the space of a week , could be regarded as politically naff. Frank started the fight back by explaining the government’s position by way of a patronising letter in the local Free Sheet.

The Government position on the A & E is a rather strange construction – Readers may need to read this twice to understand the twisted logic of the argument.  The government does not pay any money for staff to be put in place, therefore if you go for treatment at Roscommon  Hospital A & E there is a severe risk that you will not get treated. Therefore it is necessary and in the public interest to close the A & E Department.  Did you follow that? I thought not.  Frank does though. Some would say his argument would have appeal to the “Brain Dead” – though I’m not in a position to offer a medical opinion.  Neither is anyone at Roscommon A & E.

A Graphical explanation of government policy

A Graphical explanation of government policy

Not satisfied that he was getting the government position across Frank posted some glossy 4 pages of crap through Sido’s door yesterday –

Frank says- “The decision to make changes to services at Roscommon County Hospital has been a difficult one, causing upset and anger among many people. But we cannot get away from the fact that management and consultants – the people at the coalface in Roscommon Hospital – were increasingly worried about patient care.  The decision to close Roscommon’s A & E was very regrettable but patient safety could not be compromised in any way.”

When life deals you lemons – It behooves one to research the  limited market for lemon juice.

To further patronise the electorate the government pretended that a new Med Evac helicopter that it had purchased for the army was to evacuate patients to a distant hospital facility. Sadly the helicopter “had a hard landing” after a couple of weeks. And not a lot has been heard of it since. Though  Frank has a picture of it on the back of his glossy sheet. I read from the news that the service will now be operating from Dublin because the helicopter was too noisy for Athlone.

Over weight Health Minister James Reilly with Minister Alan Shatter. Yes they couldn't even be bothered to paint over the green military paint

Over weight Health Minister James Reilly with Minister Alan Shatter. Yes they couldn’t even be bothered to paint over the green military paint.

I could go on about the glossy. The last sentence says that the government is proposing “New laws modernising our bankruptcy and personal insolvency regime offering heavily indebted people a way back to productivity” – Something that will be useful to Health Minister James Reilly who had a judgement  made against him recently in the matter of 1.9 million euros owed to the Bank of Ireland.

And because I wouldn’t want it said that Sido is in the habit of backdoor sniping using the anonymity of the internet.  I’m going to e-mail Frank this article with a link to the blog to give him the opportunity to address my criticism. That strikes me as a lot nicer than questioning Frank’s motives for defending the indefensible – The sort of small minded crap that I have no time for.

Edit at 17:37 12th July 2012

I’m posting this link to a Post by Chompsky on the Broadsheet.ie site concerning Health Minister James Reilly and the possibilities that one of his business partners Anne Devitt  has been involved in some corrupt activities – http://www.broadsheet.ie/2012/07/12/dr-james-reilly-cllr-anne-devitt-and-the-airside-clinic

Champers with Sido

Or is it cider? You decide

Or is it cider? You decide

Summers in Ireland are fairly predictable affairs. They usually start unexpectedly in early May, with a blast of unseasonal heat that gives the media something to get crow about.   The scantily clad weather wenches of RTÉ , regale us with stories about how it is hotter in Belmullet  than on the Costa del Sol. Ever more dubious statistics and facts are sought out –by people who are clearly overpaid and have nothing better to do. Experts claim the last time it was this warm was in Death Valley Gultch in June 1959 and so forth.

If this period lasts longer than two weeks then environmentalists, the self appointed seers of this scientific age, who have been hiding throughout the bitter winter gales pop up, to sternly remind us of a new Hell starting with demise of the polar bear. Gagging on cattle farts before drowning  in a salty sea of sin, sweat and tears, in the oil field formerly known as the North Pole or somewhere.

This period can last as long as the start of June when the weather reverts to normal. And media types start rooting around for stories about the last time flood waters were this high.  February 1962 or when Noah and his mates last went by –  that sort of thing.  And that is pretty much it.

As June gradually floats into July – I like to put some work into the Orchard. The magnificent Sido Orchards are on a South facing aisle in Aldi, Roscommon. Next to the Sido Vineyard.  I don’t intend to ponce on like yer French types about terroir and stuff like that.  So let’s look at bulk White Wine (sparkling or still ) and bulk Cider – both very easy recipes.

The magnificent Sido Orchard

The magnificent Sido Orchard

Aldi White Grape Juice declares a sugar content of 151 gm/litre  though my hydrometer puts the sugar content at around 185 gm/litre.  If 185 gm/litre were all converted to alcohol this would give a content of around 9.4 % ABV

Aldi Apple Juice declares a sugar content of 104 gm per litre though my hydrometer puts the sugar content at around 120 gm/litre. If 120 gm/litre were all converted to alcohol this would give a content of  around  5.8 % ABV

And the discrepancy – (insert your own conspiracy theory here ) I suppose that we can assume that most people drinking fruit juice will be health conscious and worried about the calorie count – this might explain the discrepancy.  Also bear in mind Coca Cola claim around 116 gm/litre. Hopefully by the time you have processed the juice, you will have stripped away any health claims that can be made for it. It won’t be a part of your “Five a Day” plan. Whatever, take my readings as being the correct ones  (to play it safe).

You might want to leave the alcohol content at that or you may fancy a bit more of a workout for your liver. To do this you add sugar . I use an American ¼ cup of sugar to the litre this is between 40 or 50 grams of sugar per measure. Alternatively, you could dissolve a 1Kg bag of sugar and put it in with a 21 litre brew this would increase the alcohol content of the Cider to around 8% ABV and the Wine to 11 % ABV.  My recipe allows for a casual approach to measuring – though never be tempted to overdo the sugar – As you will just end up with a nasty mess!

Youngs 5 Gallon Vessel

Use Champagne yeast for both products – I know this sounds a bit weird for the Cider. And I have been accused by an American blogger of “feminizing” my Cider. What utter shite these colonial types talk. I have tried a “Cider yeast” and the taste was not as good. It was also the case that when I opened the finished bottle the Cider yeast rose into the bottle – making for a slightly cloudy drink.

Champagne yeast is very hardy and very forgiving. It also gives a reliable secondary fermentation, for a fizz, should you require it. It is also easier to pour your beverage without the yeast at the bottom of the bottle clouding up the drink.  I will be giving links to suppliers at the end of the post.  I start mine in a 2 litre starter bottle about 2 days before I put the bulk mix on and then pitch this mix in. This is because I don’t want to use all of the powdered yeast. I might typically use 20% of the pack. I also add a level teaspoon of Youngs Yeast nutrient per 5 litres of brew, mixing this in with the bulk bucket (if I can remember) .

Hygiene  – use Aldi’s spray on Antibacterial surface cleaner this is a cheap product that does not leave an after taste. Make sure to rinse it off as any detergent left in the brew will tend to dull any head on a sparkling product.

It might take about 2 to three weeks to fully ferment your mix – champagne yeast will go by itself in summer and needs a warm room in winter . If it tastes sweet then  give it longer.

5 litre water bottles

5 litre water bottles

I mature my brew in gallon water containers to help clear it. Should you wish your product to taste like it has been stored in an oak barrel (and who doesn’t nowadays) then throw in a bit of oak sawdust at this stage. Be careful though, as “over oaking” can be regarded as being vulgar.  If you are leaving your brew still at this stage some would recommend the addition of as preservative. I don’t . Just make sure your brew is well sealed to prevent  oxidation.

You will also need a siphon with a lump of plastic on the end so that you don’t suck any yeast that has settled on the bottom of the container onto the next stage.

To get a fizzy product – Add one level teaspoon per pint bottle to the finished product. And store in a warm place for about ten days before moving to somewhere cooler. Don’t overdo the sugar as the drink will fizz all over the place when you open it and you will be left with only half the product in the bottle and the other half over you.  If you do end up with a product that is to fizzy then make sure to chill it well in the fridge before serving, this will help keep the carbon dioxide dissolved in the drink.

You will need from a supplier

A fermentation bucket. (5 gallons/25 litres) with a lid with a hole in it.

A hollow rubber bung.

A fermentation lock.

Dried Champagne Yeast

A syphon

Youngs Yeast Nutrient.

You might also consider

 Oak sawdust (for that brewed in the barrel flavour) For some reason this is outrageously expensive!

A preservative (should you want one) if you are making a still product.

You will also need.

5 litre water bottles – handy for settling your product.

Bottles either glass or plastic

A surface cleaner.

I have also used both these suppliers.

http://www.homebrewwest.ie

http://www.thehomebrewcompany.ie

A Quiet Rebellion

Turf being Harvested in Roscommon

Illegal Turf being Harvested in Roscommon

I’m putting up some pictures from the countryside in County Roscommon, where I live.

Situated in the Mid West of Ireland, just East of the constituency of the Taoiseach  (Prime Minister)  Enda Kenny’s County Mayo. Like a lot of people in “Austerity Ireland”, many Roscommon citizens find themselves dissatisfied with the government led by Mr. Kenny.

There are a number of reasons for this, and as this post is about the possible start of a rebellion, I will try to cover them all, albeit briefly. Though no doubt pedants would say I have over simplified the arguments.

Firstly, there is the general dissatisfaction felt by a lot of the electorate – with the new coalition government. Which was voted in with the expectation that it would make some attempts to clean up Irish politics. This has not happened, and sadly it has been business as usual, after a few cosmetic adjustments. 

As an example of this “gombeen” mentality, in next door County Mayo in the Prime Ministers / Taoiseach home town of Castlebar. Where despite huge government cut backs in spending, a new sports stadium is being built, using (so we are told) 10 million euros from the soon to be privatised National Lottery Fund.  I could go on – the fact of the matter is that Irish Politics finds itself unable to extract itself from the mire of corruption and cronyism that is its past.

Secondly, The County Hospital in Roscommon was singled out for the closure of its Accident & Emergency Department. This despite an assurance made on television, by Prime Minister Kenny,  as a very cynical pre election promise,  that there would be no closure. Put bluntly – the chances of you surviving a serious medical emergency in Roscommon are reduced.

The reason given for this closure was more bizarre. Apparently, there were Health & Safety issues at Roscommon Hospital which made it necessary for government to act by closing down the department. These Health & Safety Issues were to do with inadequate staffing, as a result of Government cost cutting. Thus government had to act to save lives. Should you require emergency treatment in the County the nearest Accident and Emergency Unit is over an hour away by ambulance.  It was later discovered that even the Health and Safety issues used for the closure were a government fabrication.  The reader may find out more about local political opposition to the closure from this website http://www.roscommonhospital.com/home.html

Thirdly, an issue that has been simmering for quite some time. And the point of this post.  A lot of the Energy used for domestic heating in Ireland comes from peat or “turf”. Ireland is a nation that is for the greater part devoid of the traditional fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. This peat/turf is ancient vegetation that has rotted down in a wet bogland and is harvested and dried to be burnt as a low grade fuel.  In rural areas, such as Roscommon, many people own their own bog and use it to cut bricks of peat to be burnt on their household fires.

Indeed with the general increase in the price of Fuel Oil (Kerosene) and other fuels and the imposition of Carbon taxes and other duties raised by the new government to pay back the gambling debts of the Irish Banking System – Using your own harvested fuel has become, for many, the financial necessity it was in bygone years, before the so called “Celtic Tiger” era. 

Brussels – the EU – the unelected bureaucracy, that nowadays seems to resemble some benign form of Stalinism – has stepped into this mess. In fairness it did so about ten years ago but no one seemed to be listening.  It is concerned to preserve the Peat Bogs for future generations as they have a unique Flora and Fauna.

Various schemes have been conjured up by government to stop the harvesting of peat from these bogs, they usually involve a mixture of patronising bribes, with just a hint of blackmail, whereby the owner of the bog, gives up the right to harvest fuel from the bog, for a relatively small sum of money. Leaving them the proud owner of their own nature reserve – a very useless piece of land.

Now matters are coming to a head. One of the M.P.’s /T.D’s for Roscommon was elected to fight the turf cutting ban. The Independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan is a political campaigner who goes back to the nineties, someone who has campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis and spent a small time in jail for his beliefs. Making him literally – a conviction politician.

He was also the former Mayor of Roscommon before being elected to the Daíl (Parliament) in the recent election. With his pony tail and goatee beard and his failure to conform to the usual dress etiquette of politicians (Marks and Spencers suit and tie) he is often derided by the main stream media. Usually as a moron. You can find out more about this interesting and committed politician from this Wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Flanagan

Election Poster for Luke Flanagan

Election Poster for Luke Flanagan

Faced with demands to get tough on the peasantry, from its European Overlords, the government has now started to threaten the turf cutters. Though in truth there is not much they can do, as the number of Garda / Police that they employ in rural areas is quite small.  Various scare tactics have been employed. Involving suggestions such as using “spy satellites” or pressing the three aeroplanes owned by the Army into aerial surveillance.  A lot of sabre rattling has been going on. 

Last weekend I drove over one of the bog roads near my house and saw that it was being worked  There was a checkpoint after a fashion, provided by two cars on the road. The drivers of these vehicles  recognised my non hostile intention.  I went back this weekend and took my camera.

A storm in a teacup or the start of something bigger?

Taking Security Seriously on the Bog

Taking Security Seriously on the Bog

Peat Bricks being dried out

Peat Bricks being dried out

An illegal "stash" ready for transit

An illegal “stash” dried and ready for transit

 20th June 2012 – Things are hotting up in Portumna Co. Galway http://www.independent.ie/national-news/galway-turf-cutters-stay-out-overnight-to-protest-at-protected-bog-restrictions-3145719.html 

An Excellent Breakfast for under 10 cents

Slow Cooker

I read recently that the BBC had decided to ban the music of Gary Glitter , the convicted paedophile musician, though they still intend to show films by Roman Polanski . Presumably it is a matter of taste. I was going to do a post on the subject but can’t be bothered –

I’ve decided instead to post on Porridge. Also a matter of taste. As I have discovered an easy, cheap and trouble free way of making it.

I have recently become fascinated by the subject.  In Ireland we have quite a few varieties some a lot more expensive than others.  They divide into three main types.

1)      A ready mix version that has a shiny crystalline appearance and that I believe is probably made by spraying liquid porridge onto a hot metal surface to dry it. This is subsequently  taken off the drying surface with some sort of squeegee.

2)      Rolled Oats – presumably Oats that have been through some sort of mangle or calender. To mechanically improve their cooking performance.

3)      Porridge Oats – the cheapest. These make porridge that are not very smooth and inferior in my opinion to the Rolled variety, when using a quick cook technique. I use these in my recipe.

There are two main problems with porridge. Both of which mean that it is often overlooked, as old-fashioned or impractical.

Firstly, the production – Try as hard as you can you always seem to end up with a pan that needs grievous washing up.

Secondly, As a sophisticated lady from Manchester (the sort who should eat porridge) explained to me – “It gives you wind”. Indeed I have eaten it and it has had a profound effect on my already sensitive bowels on occasions.I presume this is something to do with carbohydrates not being turned to starch – and subsequent “intestinal fermentation”. Hopefully, the prolonged cooking times I use will minimise, this gastric side effect.

Whilst watching a TV program about Kitchens of the Past. It occurred to me that with the first/primitive  arrangement – An open fire and a pot – sat on a crude stone hearth. It must be difficult to achieve a boil. It would also have been financially prohibitive at the time. And possibly chokingly unpleasant.

Porridge must have been one of our first primitive foods – something that possibly even predates bread. As the temperatures required for cooking are far lower.

I tried experimenting with my porridge in my electric slow cooker or Crock pot. This device was designed by a bean company in America in 1971 and has changed very little since 1976. When the innovative detachable bowl was introduced.  It has three temperature settings. High, Low, and Warm,

I found through experimentation that the oats started breaking down to form a porridge at around 55 C. I did quite a bit of further work on the porridge with different temperature settings and arrived at a technique.  Using the slow cooker for two people as follows.(will serve four people as a cereal course)

Two cups of Oats, Four Cups of Water, Salt to taste.

All ingredients into the Slow cooker set on Warm when you go to bed the evening before . Do not stir it or otherwise mess or fiddle with it.

When you are ready to serve it in the morning – on taking the lid off the mixture, you will be confronted by  a vaguely brakish smelling, crusty gloop.  Stir it about – in a few seconds it forms a recognisable product. As simple as that.

Washing up is easy. You can substitute milk for water (in the above recipe).  Serve it with whatever takes your fancy – I’ve even served it with a blob of vanilla ice cream in the middle. It was very nice too. This technique allows for good porridge to be made from the cheapest of oats.

Cooked Porridge

Crikey! – The end result looks fairly unpleasant first thing in the morning But a ten second stir will produce a lovely velvety result.

Stirred to serve