Boxing Day Turkey Baguette

Boxing Day Turkey Baguette

From the Restaurant at Home sandwich menu.

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Still stuffed with Christmas Day turkey? Loads left over and wondering what to do with it? For something slightly different, try our hot turkey baguette:

Cut the turkey into goujon-sized pieces and coat in plain flour. For a little more decadence, make our southern fried chicken coating of plain flour, salt, pepper and other herbs of your choice, such as dried parsley, basil, garlic, hot paprika and so on. Coat the turkey pieces first in the flour, then in beaten eggs and again in the flour.

Fry the turkey in a little oil for five to ten minutes, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, heat as many baguettes as you have mouths to feed in an oven. Alternatively, use part-baked baguettes.

Place the turkey pieces in an oven-proof dish, switch the oven off and place the dish containing the turkey in the oven to keep warm in the residual heat.

Slice the baguettes, drizzle a little oil over the cut sides and using the oil left over from frying the turkey, place the baguettes soft side down in the pan. Toast / fry them for two to three minutes until slightly charred.

Using other leftovers from Christmas dinner, make up an accompaniment to go into the baguettes with the turkey. This can be stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, mixed together or on their own. Alternatively, make a simple mustard mayonnaise, garlic mayo or honey and mustard mixture.

Spread whatever you’re having with the turkey onto the baguettes then add the fried goujons. If you prefer, ciabatta works just as well as baguettes but if you have neither, just thick-sliced bread is fine so long as it’s toasted.

Add salad if you wish, or cheese, then melt it under the grill.

Finally, add some immediacy and serve hot, with fries if you like.

A Literary Mountain to Climb

A Literary Mountain to Climb

Twenty six, twelve, fourteen / Day three six eight

Thirteen forty two

The more observant regular reader will note that the keyboard of Little Blue II is still only semi-functioning, or rather mostly functional apart from the number keys and certain shift key functions.

I’m suffering an episode of writer’s block, specifically with the novel I’ve taken on which my Paradox series of short stories form the basis of. I have the bones of a plot, the first draft of the cover notes and at least three – possibly four – chapters written. It’s pulling it all together and hanging the initial hook that’s causing me problems. It’s said that the hardest part of a book to write is the beginning and that’s proving to be the case right now. The whole story hangs on that initial hook. I’ve got a beginning and an end written. Now there’s just the small matter of the bit in between.

It’s not just the writing of the actual story either; it’s the character biographies, settings, chapter structure and so much else. Writing a book – as I’ve decided to do – is like climbing a literary mountain, if not a literal or actual one. It’s like being faced with a cliff of books, spines facing inwards, so that all which can be seen is the white edges of the pages. It’s a white cliff. All of those pages are blank and need to be written on. It’s a big challenge but the biggest are often the most rewarding once overcome. In writing a novel – as I am – you have the opportunity to create people, characters, events, places and whole worlds. You then get to share all of that which would otherwise exist only in your mind. I love to write and short stories come fairly easily to me but a novel is a whole new and bigger challenge.

Why have I decided to write a book? Because it’s said that everyone has a novel inside them, struggling to get out. Most don’t make it and I may not yet but I do have the seeds in my short stories, The Paradox of Shadows, The Paradox of Reflection – both accepted for publication – and The Paradox of Time, which is yet to be submitted. With those two or three stories published, I may have a head start with the novel. Provisionally entitled The Paradoxicon, it could be launched under the banner, “Based on the Paradox series of short stories.”

Other reasons for deciding to just go for it and write the novel include advice and encouragement from my writing peers, readers and fans. Yes, I have fans. I’m not financially motivated as there is little money in writing and it’s a fiercely competitive business. A few successful, prolific authors aside, not many people have or are likely to grow rich from writing. But I lost most of my material belongings long ago, so money isn’t my motivating factor. I’m merely doing what I enjoy and hoping that I may be noticed and make some sort of living from my passion. I guess that why I spread myself to indulge in my other passion: that of cooking. Very few chefs are particularly wealthy but I love to cook and work with people, so if I can make a little money from each of my two passions, that will be nice. One day.

Some of my writing has been compared to some of the contemporary literature giants, namely Roald Dahl and Stephen King: high praise indeed. The author I aspire to write in the style of though is Paul Auster and it’s he who I continue to read and study at great length and depth in the hope of honing my writing skills to something resembling his style for The Paradoxicon. Auster though is a writer different to most others I have read. Along with the likes of Will Self and Martin Amis, he writes at a higher level. It’s subjective of course but I place Paul Auster way above most of his contemporaries and recognise a unique style in his writing. He’s the literary equivalent in my mind to Peter Cook in the world of comedy: a whole different level.

So this has been me loosening my elbow with a few notes by way of writing practice or limbering up for the job ahead and which I shall return to shortly.

In other news, the one I refer to as The Wife is at the forefront of my mind as we seem to have a complete breakdown in communication. She’s with another and I have no control over that, any more that I would want to. Truth be known, I’d like to shepherd her in a different direction but she’s a free spirit and needs to spread her wings. This she has done but seemingly to the exclusion of some others, including me. It’s that quote from The Shawshank Redemption again:

I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’ve gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

So yes, it would seem that my little girl has flown the pretend paternal nest. She leaves a big hole, the same as others. The one who’s referred to as The Ninja seems to be having a hard time keeping her head above water at the moment but I’m powerless as I’m unable to contact her.

Among many things on the mountainous to-do list for the novel is dedications and acknowledgements. Those two girls and others will live inside my book. I have room for them as characters and like the website I produced for my bestie Meg, inclusion in the book will be from the heart, using a skill which money can’t buy.

I’d better get on with writing the book and getting to know my characters more intimately.

From writer’s block to writer’s cramp.

Merry Crassmas

Merry Crassmas

26.12.14 (Day three six eight)

09.42

Christmas Eve Eve – the twenty third – marked the anniversary of me being put out on the road. I’ve written this post as I’ve dipped in and out of writing over a few days.

One year. One whole fucking year of being out here. Out on the road. I didn’t celebrate.

365 days, 365 ways of surviving and 365 degrees of separation.

I’m not celebrating. Why would I? I’m not going to do a review of the year just passed. For that, I simply have to look at myself.

I’ve aged well. I’ve grown up but I’ve got younger in spirit and outlook. I’m definitely tougher; hardened. Less and more emotional at the same time. Less and more reflective and inflective. I’ve learned and I’ve taught. I’ve beaten and been beaten. It’s all recorded in this blog.

Those who’ve stuck by me are still with me; still stuck: my hosts, my best friends, my sister (The Courts) and the one I call The Wife. I saw her yesterday and was cheered by the mere sight of her looking as well as she did, for I feared for her. We’re still together: friends with benefits. Living our own lives by degrees of separation imposed upon us but still sharing a life whenever we can steal a moment.

That was three days ago. Now she’s lost again. How things change so quickly. I seem to have lost her to another. Such is the way with kids. I’ll be here for her as always when things fall apart and I pick up the pieces.

And another lost one who I wish I could be there for more: a fellow blogger who recently said this of me:

“I was told, not so long ago, to keep my head up because i can swim as long as i carry on moving my legs. It’s the only piece of advise i know. Spoken by a friend of mine, that man from McDonald’s. Only a small few will know who the man from McDonald’s is or understand what i mean because that’s how most met him.”

Little Blue II is broken. The keyboard gave up first, then I managed to drop what was left: the tablet part. The droid still works but it’s cracked somewhat. It was simply a matter of wrong place, wrong time but somewhere I was forced to be. Sometimes, wherever I am seems to be wrong. Out of the way but not out of mind. Visible but in the way. I can’t win. I’m in an impossible place sometimes. Displaced and misplaced.

That was two days ago. Now calm is restored. Temporarily at least but sometimes permanence is borne of repetition and this is somewhere I’ve been before. I’ll find myself there again.

The keyboard of Little Blue is working again, to a fashion. The letters work but the numbers don’t and neither do some of the shift functions. Hence this being day three six eight and not written numerically and the whole post not being as well decorated with punctuation as is the norm, apart from the part which I wrote at the top when the keyboard still worked. So I still need a new keyboard unless this one continues to improve and I certainly need to get the cracked screen replaced. I just need to find the money.

I have money due as the church I cooked the last community lunch for have insisted on paying me, despite my protestations. I was at a church yesterday as well, giving Christmas lunch to the homeless, elderly and other lost and lonely souls who are especially vulnerable at this time of year. The mood I’ve been in lately, it was fortunate there was no public transport yesterday as I was in the mood to play with the trains.

I received generous, practical and thoughtful gifts and gave what I could with limited means. I may not have much money but I spent what I could spare on gifts for the host family and am fashioning gifts for my other family, which are works in progress. I do have time though and I invested a fair deal of time on a personal gift for my best friend Meg in the form of a personal website at http://www.iammeg.net. I’ve also made her a blog.

Of course the best Christmas gift of all would have been seeing my kids but this is a pleasure which continues to be denied me. The next best thing came in the form of a framed set of photos, one each of my two kids and a third of the two of them together. That was from one of my other best friends, Nettie, the host mum.

Two days until P-day. That’s publication of the first in the Paradox series of short stories, The Paradox of Shadows in Schlock e-zine. The second installment – The Paradox of Reflection – is due to appear in the next issue a fortnight hence. Both should then appear in the printed magazine. The third installment – The Paradox of Time – is yet to be submitted to the editor. And as mentioned before, on the advice of several writing peers, the whole lot are to form the basis of a novel, which is a very large work in progress. I’m probably looking at two to three years of work.

So I’m writing and I’m cooking; engaging in two passions but not getting paid yet for either. I shan’t give up.

The title of this post is also that of a song by a punk band I used to follow back in the day: Crass. The closing line of that particular song goes “And if you’re eating your Christmas turkey, I hope it fucking chokes you”. There are few people I’d wish that on, although they do exist but I do find the whole Christmas charade crass. It’s all about the kids but I’m unable to see mine.

It could be worse. This time last year I was in hospital and Christmas lunch was a turkey sandwich.

Merry Crassmas.