Rare Bit

A few weekends ago, I met this rather sorry old feline, whose distinctive features were his lack of not only one eye but also one half of his tail.

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He seemed to be a stray, wandering bored and in need both of depth perception and a reliable vestibular system around the nondescript hotel I happened to be staying in for boring reasons. Well, not entirely nondescript: it’s also relevant to mention how the grounds of said hotel are teeming with rabbits, who for some reason I forgot to photograph. Take my word for it though: rabbits every-bloody-where. Poor old one-eyed and semi-tailed moggy doesn’t stand much of a chance catching any of them, what with his disabilities, which may well explain where there are so many rabbits hanging around in the first place, coming up to silflay 24/7 howsoever they please. Delicate ecosystems, hotels are.

Yesterday during a disenchanted half-hour in Oxfam, I treated myself to a pile of second-hand books, one of which was Morrissey’s Autobiography. I’m pleased to say I’m already on page 183. It’s a delicious book: self-indulgent and pretentious in all the right ways, as you’d expect, and even more needlessly to say, superbly written and hilarious. As it’s a subject very close to my soul at the moment, I thought I’d share an extract from Morrissey’s comprehensive dismantling of the meat industry. The fact that the diatribe appears to distract him altogether from a lengthy track-by-track review of one of his own albums (guess which one?) only adds to its vitriolic brilliance:

“The aspirant moment [of Meat is Murder] is the title track, each musical notation an image, the subject dropped into the pop arena for the first time, and I relish to the point of tears this chance to give voice to the millions of beings that are butchered every single day in order to provide money for agriculturalist butchers. Meat is Murder enters the UK album chart at number 1, kicking Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA off the top spot. Although the title track of Springsteen’s album continues to blast from radio stations on constant rotation, no radio station ever plays Meat is Murder. In the year of 1985, abuse and torture of animals is protected under various British laws, and if you therefore want to act in defence of animals then you are forced to break the law. To publicly make the observation that meat is murder is, in fact, to claim that the law is wrong. It is also to suggest that all British judges who enjoy hunting and shooting and fishing, and who have personal investments in animal industries, are themselves terrorists, which, when viewed from any perspective, is undeniable. The horror of animal abuse is now common knowledge due to such famous cases as Huntington Life Sciences, and the global conspiracy of animal abuse is so financially profitable to the highborn and the upscale that the judiciary reserve their most aggressive and severely exaggerated prison sentences for anyone who selflessly attempts to rescue animals from unimaginable conditions of torture. The debate has opened up considerably in recent years, and it is no longer denied by anyone that eating animals and fish are cruel things to do. You either approve of violence or your don’t, and nothing on earth is more violent or extreme than the meat industry. Generally, the media still believe that animals deserve all they get – after all, they are not human, so how could their feelings matter?…In the UK, the NHS has expressed anger towards people who smoke because such an unavoidable habit ultimately saps NHS resources. Yet the same can be said of people who eat pigs and sheep. Environmentally, the meat industry damages the earth’s resources more than any other known threat, and 80 per cent of global warming has been attributed to meat production. Yet people are still encouraged to eat death, and to have death inside their bodies – long after tobacco warnings have cautioned people into fits of fear. Although many people are certain that the planet is for human use only, and that sea life should be called seafood, the British judiciary continues to label animal protectionists as ‘extremists’, whilst being unable to consider the Holocaust carnage inside every abattoir to be extreme. If the RSPCA were a credible organization they would not allow abattoirs to exist”.

This isn’t even one of the most eloquent passages in the book, copies of which are available on amazon UK for £2.18 second hand, though quite why anybody would not consider it an asset worth proudly displaying on their bookshelves is entirely beyond me. At this rate, by tomorrow I’ll have finished its chapterless 450 pages and will know exactly what he thinks about lonely high court judges, with respect to whom he has implausibly claimed he bears an even larger number of grudges, as if that wasn’t fairly obvious already.

Something frugal to do: Make vegetable stock from scraps

Here’s something you can easily do with all the scraps you get from vegetables, which would otherwise be discarded – potato peelings, carrot tops, stems, ends, etc. Collect them all in a bag in your freezer, then, when you’ve enough to half-fill a large saucepan, throw them all in the water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for at least an hour. Add a generous sprinkling of whole peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves for extra flavour. For the batch I made today, I used carrot tops, pea pods, celery, beetroot leaves, the end of a cabbage, the end of a red pepper, broccoli and cauliflower stems and some bits of garlic. Wouldn’t have hurt to throw in a couple of small potatoes but I didn’t have any to hand. Use anything you’ve got, that’s my advice. Experiment. Experience the simple joy.

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After about half the liquid has evaporated, top up with more water, squash down the scraps (I use a potato masher for this) and simmer for another hour or so. It’s important not to overheat your stock as it can get very bitter – a good 2-3 hours on a low heat and you’re ready to go. Don’t stir it more than you need to either. Just let chemistry do its thing. Drain liquid to use in soups and things of that nature. It’s mega.