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Ham Wellington (10 of 11)Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and the man who famously led the British force that defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo, was an Irishman. As an aside, the poor chap had nothing to do with the Beef Wellington that many believe has been named after him. He, being an Irishman, enjoyed (afforded) pork rather than beef. Being a wealthy Irishman, he was able to afford pork fillet rather than crubeens (pigs feet) and regularly dined on same. The problem with all pork meat back then was that it didn’t keep particularly well. It certainly was no good to bring on a long trip into enemy territory. 

Simple lamb shanks (9 of 10)“Five hours. Wow. How come that takes soooo long?” “How do you have the patience for that sort of cooking?” Such are the questions asked of the slow-cooking cook. “You have great patience.” Now, it is probably true that I am more patient than the average schmuck. A couple of decades living in our house has contributed to that state of affairs. However, I am aware that family occasionally read this stuff, so I had better leave that aspect alone. Now back to the point of this tale….

The McGary Chilli Challenge. Some of the best cooking fun possible.

The McGary Chilli Challenge. Some of the best cooking fun possible.

On 9th of October 2015, I learned of the passing of my food blogging colleague Richard McGary, of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas. One could take the view that I shouldn’t have been very upset. I had never met Richard. However, in the four years I have been writing this blog, there are very few people who would have had more of an influence on me than that kind, sharing and convivial man. 

Sweet and Sour Pork (14 of 15)Over many years, I have suffered the recommendation of traveling companions who insist that “If it’s got trucks outside, it must be good.” Nobody knows the roadside cafe as well as the Heroes of the Highway, talking on their CB radios and tooting their air horns as they roll 18 wheels of hunger into another greasy spoon. I don’t have any truck with truck drivers. Nor do I have any amongst my inner circle of besties. But, I do imagine (yes, imagine only) that gourmet dining is top of the list when it comes to fuelling the man as well as the 40 footer. 

Fillet steak sous vide (9 of 10)

A properly cooked fillet steak is a joy to enjoy. Cooking a fillet (tenderloin) is not difficult either. Simply sear it on either side and throw the pan into a hot oven for a few minutes and the job is practically done. You can complicate the process and clog your arteries by finishing it (and yourself too) with butter. I have never seen the need to do this. A good fillet is a good fillet. Right? 

A deal better than my presentation. Sous vide Pork Fillet

A deal better than my presentation. Sous vide Pork Fillet

Regular readers will know that I do a bit of cycling. The day that I post this, I will be taking part in the 2015 Paris2Nice Cycle to raise funds for an Irish national suicide charity. It involves 75 cyclists from Ireland riding over 700 kilometres, with a number of us taking on the dreaded Mont Ventoux as part of the exercise. This is the 5th year of Paris2Nice and, to date, the endeavours have raised well over two million euro for a number of worthy causes.

Pork Knuckle (4 of 4)I ask the question, not because I am a racist. But, instead, in a pathetic attempt to get your attention (and your vote) for my candidature in the Blog Awards Ireland 2015.  A few weeks ago, I begged you to vote for my entry in the Cono Sur Blogger competition. Many of you tried and failed (It is restricted to Irish based voters). I have forgiven you foreigners for your inadequacy and realise that there is a wider question to be answered. Should you be allowed to vote in Irish elections at all? 

Rib steak How many of them have you read? The recipe for the ‘perfect steak’. Every (male) idiot who ever owned a barbecue believes that he holds some mystical secret that makes his steak better than every other. They (you, if the cap fits) are almost all wrong. I have seen grown men squeezing the base of their thumbs and then poking their flaming steaks in an effort to prove perfect doneness. Most don’t know what they are doing. If I try that approach, I mess up the arthritis in my talon-like hands. I can prove nothing except that I can inflict some pain on myself. Blokes with fat hands only demonstrate that the steak is as thick as themselves. 

Coffee and orange beef cheeks (7 of 7)One of the great deciders in life is how we deal with anticipation. I often feel that the joy of expectation can, in itself, be a greater pleasure than a desire satisfied. So too, can the dread of a potential negative outcome be far worse than the eventual reality. Keeping a balance between these two extremes can also be difficult. I tend to lean on the side of the optimists. That way, I get the pleasure of anticipation and, when things turn out well, the additional pleasure of having things go my way. 

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