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"various different small things that are considered together, usually because they are not important enough to be considered separately" Cambridge English Dictionary

Yet again it's Sunday and yet again I am out of ideas, so here is one of my regular posts which round up little things from here and there that are not worth a post of their own.

To illustrate - the window of a shop in the town of Castiglione del Lago in Umbria. An amazing array of dried herbs and spices and spice mixtures and some lovely drawings as a bonus.

"Make a brine, add Sriracha, throw in chard stems and let the refrigerator pickles hang out for a few days. Really good stuff."

So says the introduction to this rather interesting idea. No cooking involved. Just mix together 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 sliced onion, 3 tablespoons Sriracha and 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds. Pour over your chopped chard stems in a jar. Cover and store in your fridge. Not sure how long they would last - possibly for some time because of that sugar. It's an interesting idea though and may well introduce me to Sriracha some time. I mean David doesn't have to eat it. You could probably adapt to other vegetables too.

2; 5; 7

This one is really nothing to do with food but I thought it was such an interesting idea, that I should share it.

The ABC is currently screening a series called Our Brain, and last week's episode was about being smarter. There was a lot of stuff but this one stuck out for me. The idea is from The University of Texas Centre for Brain Health and is called 2 + 5 + 7. Of course it is mostly aimed at people who are working with strategies for improving their performance at work, but as the program pointed out it can be applied to oldies like me or anyone really, just generally in life because it is designed to keep your brain active, healthy and even growing not to mention warding off the dreaded Alzheimers and dementia. It's a bit like my little to do lists that I make in my diary, so you can tick them off and feel good about yourself. So what are these numbers? In spite of them being sometimes presented like a sum, they are not a sum. Although I suppose they are sort of because if you do them all then they will add up to a healthy brain. It's something you should do every day.

Two - these are top priority items which require thought, application, planning - all those good things. For somebody not working like me it might be writing this blog, planning dinner, planning some social event - all manner of things that you do in life. So you should do two of these more time consuming things every day.

Five - make yourself take a brain rest of five minutes five times every day. In other words don't keep doing one thing for long periods. Particularly digital things. The program as a whole was very clear about the dangers of not disengaging from a screen, and also somewhat paradoxically of interrupting tasks every time you got a message or a phone call. They maintained that if you are working on something - one of those two priority tasks - and you stop to take a phone call, or check a text message, whilst still continuing your task, it will actually take you as long as half an hour or so to really get back to efficiently completing your task. Multitasking they said is just not possible. So those five minutes you take are supposed to be times when you just let your brain wander and day dream.

Seven - I think this is the difficult one. Innovative problem solving they call it. Seven times a day you are supposed to think of a different approach to something you are doing. Examples given were going a different way on a walk, learning something new, trying to do something you do every day a different way. Seven - quite a lot. Although I suppose learning something new is relatively easy. If you really think about this you probably learn more new things every day than you realise.

Japanese curry roux

I rarely watch Adam Liaw's The Cook Up, but the other day I caught 5 minutes or so in which he was making this dish - Dry curry mince. Apparently it is a Japanese kind of curry and therefore contains a curry flavoured roux. Which sounds bad enough, but then I was appalled to see him take a large block of something that looked like a stock cube, slice it and mix it in with his mince and vegetables. I couldn't believe my eyes really. It looked like something you would find in a supermarket magazine not being cooked by someone who I assume cooks 'authentic' Asian food. However, I now discover that it is sort of authentic. The Japanese do indeed cook curry like this - they merged French influence - a roux (butter, flour, milk - well some kind of liquid), with British curry powder and added in their own love of mechanisation. Real fusion food really I suppose. As I say I was a tiny bit horrified, and not at all tempted to give it a go, but I checked out the supermarkets. Coles had nothing but there in the Japanes section in Woolworths was this. Even the picture makes it look synthetic. I knew I was not a fan of Japanese cooking.

From Yotam Ottolenghi - well it's summer over there in England. This I would like to try some time, although the day before yesterday I discovered David didn't like fennel seeds - yet another thing he doesn't like - would this count as one of those 7 new things I learnt I wonder? I suspect not. Candied fennel seeds is a nifty idea though isn't it? The herbs in question by the way are basil, mint and parsley and there's a goodly dose of lime juice as well. I suppose it might be one of those savoury sweet dishes that actually is horrible however pretty it looks. But then again it might just be amazing. It would certainly count as an innovative project.

More Ottolenghi of which he says:

"Keep a jar of these marinated sardines in your fridge: they’re such a treat to have around for summer evenings, to be eaten just as they are with crusty bread and butter."

What really attracted me to this is that we are talking tinned sardines here, not freshly caught on the Mediterranean coast kind of sardine. It's a really interesting recipe that I will try very hard to remember when next I have a summery outside kind of meal. You only have to marinade them for half an hour, but they will keep in the fridge for three days.

Speaking of crusty bread and butter - on to the next challenge - chicken, mushrooms, day-old baguette? What am I going to do with that? Maybe I should try some kind of creamy chicken soup. Yes might try that.

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