Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Civilized Sky

The Civilized Sky.

Salon · Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010

The men came in dark suits, striped ties, white shirts. The women wore suits too--with floppy ties and high-collared blouses, or wide-legged pants and tunic tops. Even the children dressed up. Little girls in party clothes, boys in sherbet-coloured Polo shirts and khaki pants. This was 1978, when flying was still an occasion, a special grand event that took planning and care. I worked as a TWA flight attendant then. I stood in my Ralph Lauren uniform at the boarding door and smiled at the passengers through lips coated with lipstick that perfectly matched the stripe on my jacket. Mostly, the passengers smiled back.
For eight years, I walked the aisles of 747s and 707s and L1011s in my high heels, handing out menus and magazines, playing cards and stationery. Back then, cocktails came with a stir rod shaped like a propeller and there were three choices of entrees on flights over four hours--in coach. We served after-dinner drinks on a cart topped with dry ice we'd sprinkled with water to create fog and passed pale green mints on a silver tray. In first class, we laid the linen napkins on tray tables, making certain the TWA logo was in the bottom right corner, mixed martinis and dressed lamb chops in gold foil stockings.
What we did not do, or even consider doing, was jump out the evacuation slide after a fight with a passenger, as Steven Slater, the Jet-Blue flight attendant, did. It wasn't that the passengers back when I was asking them to stay seated until the plane came to a complete stop and the captain turned off the fasten seat belt sign were more compliant or better behaved than they are now. Nor was it that we flight attendants were more patient or tolerant. Passengers got up when they weren't supposed to and yelled when we ran out of manicotti; flight attendants stood in the galley and rolled their eyes at the guy in 47F or got on the PA and demanded people obey the rules. But somehow, over the past three decades, all of us have grown tense and miserable -- passengers and employees alike. It seems that every time I fly, I hear someone say out loud: Flying just isn't fun anymore.
When I began my career as a flight attendant, I was a 21-year-old with a BA in English and stars in her eyes. I wanted to see every city in the world.. I wanted to have adventures that, I hoped, would fuel a writing career some day. Flying was glamorous then, and as I wheeled my suitcase through airports from Chicago to Cairo , kids still pointed and adults still smiled at me. Deregulation had just passed, and I watched as fares began to drop and flying became more accessible to everyone. Yet that did not change our level of service or the passengers' attitude. A mutual respect existed, and despite the occasional grumpy businessman or harried mother or someone who was just a jerk, I went to work eagerly and left happy. I think it's fair for me to say the passengers felt the same way.
By the time I hung up my wings in 1986, change had begun. Corporate raiders were buying up airlines, slashing salaries and fares, and cutting amenities. I cannot deny that a job that combines physical labour, standing up for long hours, dealing with people and jet lag is tiring. But the changes in work rules turned tired into exhausted, and the changes in pay turned comfortable into barely able to make mortgage and car payments. Smiling became harder.
But passengers still expected the service they'd grown used to. Simple pleasures like cream for their coffee and pillows on their seats disappeared. Before long, they were paying for food and to check their luggage. They sat in seats with less leg room and had fewer choices of flights, and those flights had more connections than ever before. Flight attendants stopped smiling and passengers started grumbling.
After 9/11, new security measures not only added longer lines and earlier check-ins, but took away our privilege of carrying knitting needles or our favourite moisturizer on board with us. Although we want to be safe when we fly, in some ways it all just adds to the misery of our experience.
Last summer, I used my hard-earned frequent flier miles to upgrade on a United Airlines flight from Honolulu to Chicago . For several years I'd endured long flights with no food, cramped seats and some of the crabbiest flight attendants around just to keep adding up those United miles. When I sunk into Seat 4A, I expected that for the first time in many years I was going to have a great flying experience. Even when the flight attendant announced that the movie system was broken, I didn't mind. Even when they ran out of Champagne at Row 3, I only minded a little. But by the time they ran out of first-class food, and brought me instead a coach meal in that familiar foil, I minded a lot. I minded the way the flight attendants scowled, constantly. I minded that they didn't respond to the call button. I minded that my seat got stuck and no one knew how to fix it.
I looked at my seat with its fabric worn in spots and I looked at the miserable flight attendants shuffling through the cabin. They were as unhappy as I was -- unhappy with all of it, the bad food, the broken equipment, the unhappy passengers, their own crappy jobs. I remembered how, when I began my job at TWA, my cousin called me a glorified waitress. Sure, I served meals, but to me that job was so much more. It was glamorous and fun and sophisticated. I learned about fine wine and gourmet food; I learned how to get around foreign cities alone, how to talk to strangers, how to get along in the world. Today's flight attendants, selling prepackaged food and explaining about ever-increasing fees and cutbacks, are not even glorified waitresses.
So Steven Slater, a flight attendant for 20 years, the son of a flight attendant and a pilot, finally had enough. His dramatic exit from the airline business made a point that he probably didn't intend. If we had the choice, we'd probably all evacuate these crowded planes. Those slides are meant to be used in emergency situations. When is the industry going to realize that we are all -- flight attendants and passengers alike--in an emergency situation?
I understand we can't return to a time when flying was an unforgettable experience -- for positive reasons. When girls like me imagined putting on a uniform and a smile and striding down the aisles of a jet with purpose. When the passengers on that plane felt coddled and safe and cared for, if even for just a few hours. On Dec. 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made their first flight, an amazing and celebratory achievement. Over a hundred years later, that sense of wonder and celebration is almost completely gone. Maybe Slater will remind us of that. Maybe he'll remind us of a time not so long ago when the sky really did seem limitless, and those of us up there together still felt we were a part of something extraordinary.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Baby Noble My Family and Fuzzy Animals



















Saturday, June 2, 2007

James Martin Tuna Romanesco

1 slice white bread cut into croutons, finely chop 1 chili, 3 cloves garlic and fry off into a pan with some olive oil till the bread is golden not too fast.

Take 3 apples quarter and into blender then the croutons, Spanish wood roasted peppers. Same amount as tomatoes, about 100 toasted almonds, juice whole lemon season lid on and blend till it still has some bits
a good slurp

For the Tuna infused some oil with thyme and brush your tuna with the oil and then place the fish onto your hot griddle season after about 30 secs give it half a turn to get the nice criss cross lines cook another minutes and then turn now depends on how rare you like your tuna. No more that 4 minutes total.

Serve with wedge of lemon and the Romanesco sauce.

Grenobloise Classic French sauce for fish

Peel and Segment a lemon, then cut each segment in 3, make a cup of croutons
1 tbs capers and 2 tbs chopped parsley.
Knob of butter in pan and let it brown, add capers, lemon, a few croutons, add dash of white wine and dash of lemon cook it for a couple of minutes and finish with a piece of fresh butter and then the parsley at the evry end.. Pour over your pan fried fish.

Tuscan Fish Stew
Huey’s Adventures

This hearty fish stew is a bit like a New Orleans
Gumbo, just needs some crusty bread to finish it off.
It has a citrus tang from orange zest
It needs a good meaty fish in fact hoki is perfect for
any strong flavoured fish meal so for 4 people

The Stock
1doz mussels washed de-bearded
1 tbs vege oil preferably rice bran oil
1 shallot finely chopped
100 mls white wine
The Stew

The Seasonings
750 gms hoki
filleted and skinned
sea salt and black pepper
30 gms butter

6-8 torn basil leaves
50 mls olive oil

Few sprigs thyme
½ cup fennel
finely chopped
½ glass red wine
½ cup celery
finely chopped
½ glass white wine
1 med onion
finely chopped

½ leek
washed and finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1 carrot
peeled and fine dice
1 star anise
2 cloves garlic
peeled and finely chopped
pinch fennel seeds
Zest if 1 orange

pinch saffron
1 tin tomatoes
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup tomato puree

The Garnish
2 prawns per person sautéed in olive oil till pink

Even though this looks like a lot of work just have all your ingredients ready, the actual cooking is very simple and quite quick.
So take a big pot with a lid, add oil…pump up the heat till oil is smoking.
Add mussels, shallots and white wine and immediately cover with lid. Turn heat down and leave to steam, lid on for about 5 minutes, strain mussels and reserve juice.
Meanwhile start the stew. In another pot melt butter and olive oil, add the garlic and the rest of the vege, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper-sauté till they start to soften, add orange zest, herbs, deglaze with the red and white wine-add the tomatoes, puree-mix-throw in fish, the reserved mussel stock and simmer 40 minutes.
Add bay leaves, saffron, star anise a slosh of Pernod and cayenne pepper simmer a further 5 minutes. Serve in big bowls
Garnish with prawns, mussels and with a little coriander.

Worrall Thompson’s Fish Tagine
For 4 people
100 gms meaty fish per person cut into 3 cms chunks
3-4 prawns per person shelled and de-veined.

Make marinade

½ tbs each ground cumin, ground paprika, turmeric. Pinch saffron, 1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, 2 tbs parsley, 2 tablespoons coriander the skin of ½ preserved lemon, juice of1 lemon and olive oil., sea salt to taste.

Put everything into your food processor whiz and add enough olive oil to make a liquid marinade.

You can make this earlier.

2 tbs Olive oil
2 onions chopped
1 green pepper roughly chopped
1 yellow pepper roughly chopped
1 red pepper roughly chopped
3 baby potatoes each washed and cut in half
2 cups chicken or fish stock

Olive oil into hot pan add onions gently sauté,
Add peppers and potatoes keep cooking until potatoes start to stick to the bottom.
Add stock to deglaze and get all the tasty bits off the bottom.
Add tin of tomatoes and a tbs of the marinade
Bring to boil and simmer till potatoes tender.

You can put this aside till 30 minutes before you need to eat.

Right it’s time to go.

Take half of the marinade and stir fish in and coat well and leave for at least 30 minutes.
Not much longer the lemon juice will cook the fish.

Bring the vege back to a simmer and add fish.
Quickly marinade prawns coat well and
Add to the tagine

Cook for about another 3 minutes.

Into a lovely serving dish garnish with mixture coriander and parsley chopped.

What a beauty
Always looking for new fish dishes and Anthony Worrall Thompson made this on Food TV recently.

We had friends arriving to stay and this one pot dish was so simple and really fantastic
I have made up the spice mix to our taste but you may like to vary the cayenne.
I think it could have done with a teensy bit more for my tastes but our guests were pleased with the heat.

I made the spice mix in the morning and cooked the vege mix early as well.

All that remained was to marinate and cook the seafood.
How easy is that?

Sicilian Fish

Jamie Oliver inspired this dish

Good to use a nice thick meaty fish for this.
Probably not salmon or tuna.
Sword or bill fish could be good.
He suggested the following herbs

White fish 200 gms per person

4 stems fresh rosemary
1 small jar capers
Olive oil

3-4 lemons
1 jar anchovies

1 small glass white wine

Finely chopped parsley

Cut the fish into large bite size pieces.

Strip the leaves off the rosemary sticks and place them in a mortar along with the capers and good slurp of olive oil.
Scrunch it up together

Pour over the fish and massage it in
Season sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Place in roasting dish
Cover with thinly sliced lemons
Drape anchovies around the dish and sprinkle over the rest of the marinade\.

Drizzle with white wine

Init 220C oven about 20 minutes

Garnish with chopped parsley

Serve with little new potatoes tossed with basil oil

A Curry from Jamie Oliver

This would feed 2 greedy 4 normal people
This uses lamb but you can use other protein.
Make the sauce and add 150 gms fish per person and simmer
for 5 or minutes till fish flakes.
You can also use this sauce over mixed vege of your choice.
It looks wonderful

2 tablespoons vege oil
150 gms per person of lamb steak chopped
1-2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Handful curry leaves pulled off the stem
3 onions peeled and chopped finely in food processor
1 piece ginner about 4 cms peeled and sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 can coconut milk
6 whole tomatoes pulped in food processor
Sea salt

Coriander leaves roughly chopped.

Into hot pan add oil had throw in lamb brown
Add mustard and fenugreek seeds
Let them pop.
Add curry leaves
Add ginger
Pulp onions and add to mix
Then chili powder
Mix well

Add coconut milk
Pulp tomatoes and
Season with sea salt
Bring to simmer and cook for about 10 mins

Garnish with coriander and serve on basmati rice.

Gilli wrightson hw5

white panacotta

White Chocolate Panacotta

1200 mls cream
2 vanilla pods
Zest of lemon
3 leaves gelatin
150 mls whole milk
200 gms white chocolate

Take 900 mls of cream and reduce by about 2 cms with the vanilla pod and lemon zest.
Meanwhile soak gelatin in milk
Finally chop chocolate
Add milk and chocolate to cream

Cool it down over ice till it starts to thicken when chilled
Whip remaining cream with icing sugar and fold into chocolate mix.

Pour into little moulds fill to about 1 cms from top.

Chill in fridge at least 2 hours

Pop moulds into hot water for a couple of seconds and turn out on plate.

Serve with muddled strawberry sauced and drizzle a tiny but if good balsamic

Muddle strawberries with 1 tbs sugar

Monday, May 28, 2007

Caesar by Jamie

What aroma or taste is better than Roast Chicken
Not a lot…(except if you are my husband and hates chicken).
This tasty roast chicken lifts Caesar salad to new heights.

Anyhow Katie of has won the “Hay Hay It’s Donna Day Mousse Competition” and its now her turn to host the next event.
She has chosen Caesar Salad and I think this recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver on his “Jamie @ Home” TV series is probably one of the tastiest I have had for a while

What really gives it a real difference is roasting the chicken and the croutons together.
Along with lovely crisp cos/romaine lettuce, crispy bacon and a zingy dressing, it is definitely now part of my repertoire.

You will need for 4 people
3 chicken thighs (bone in for more flavour)
Sprigs of rosemary
2-3 garlic cloves crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

4 x 4 cms slices of your favourite country bread-ciabatta is excellent.

4 slices pancetta – streaky bacon is OK

Cos/Romaine lettuce

Shaving of Parmesan Cheese

3 anchovies
Grated parmesan cheese
Crème fraiche 1 tablespoons
Juice ½ lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop the rosemary leaves and garlic cloves with a little sea salt

Slash the chicken thighs and rub in the rosemary and garlic
Rub all the chicken with olive oil
Season with freshly ground black pepper.
In a baking dish place a little oil
Place bread ripped into big chunks
Lay chicken on bread and pop into oven and roast
It should take about 30 mins.
Place bacon slices over the chicken and back into oven for another 5 minutes to crisp up the bacon.

Remove from oven and rest the chicken and bacon for 5-10 minutes.
Rip meat off the bones (cook's treat is sucking the bones)
Break bacon into pieces

Make dressing in mortar and pestle
Pound anchovies and garlic
Add cheese and creme fraiche, freshly ground black pepper
Mix well
Add lemon juice
then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil to make an emulsion

To Assemble

Break up the lettuce, pile it on your plate arrange croutons, bacon, chicken and parmesan shavings and finally dress with the tangy dressing.

Toss around with your hands making sure everything has a fine coating of dressing.

I will guarantee this taste treat will make your day.