Why would you eat Pancakes? (and other questions)

Recently I have been spending some time on Quora, I don’t intend to but it’s addictive.

I joined Quora to research things and to maybe sometimes answer questions. When I signed up I said I could answer questions on food, cooking, recipes, leftovers, ice cream and the British Virgin Islands. Now I can’t leave it alone, mainly because of the utterly weird and delightful questions people ask.

But before we get into the funny stuff I recently answered this question …

Why would you eat pancakes?

Well apart from the fact that, made properly, they are delicious, here are 7 good reasons …

1.   Quick and Easy – that’s two points really. It takes literally a minute or two to whisk up the batter and only a few minutes to cook a batch.

2.   Cheap - probably 40p-60p per batch depending on which pancakes you make.


3.   Super Flexible – sweet, savoury, thick, thin etc. See How to Make All Sorts of Pancakes for Pancake Day for how to make crèpes, gluten free galettes, thick fluffy American style pancakes and how to use different liquids, fillings etc. 


4.  Pancakes are (almost) infinitely variable lots of topping ideas for pancakes here.


5.   You can use all sorts of leftovers in pancakes. Shrove Tuesday was/is the day when all the goodies in the pantry, such as eggs, were eaten up before fasting for Lent. Read more about Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day here.  Pancakes were a great way of using up all the leftovers – and they still are. You can add pretty well anything you like and if they won’t actually form part of the pancake then add as a filling – as I did with these Scallop and Leek pancakes

6.   Suitable, in various forms, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and side dishes.

7.   You can even make a cake out of pancakes

So, that was my answer, someone else put …

Simply because it will annoy, upset, and anger members of the International Coalition of Anonymous People Who Judge Others’ Choices.

This answer went on, quite amusingly, at some length but must have angered some members of the aforementioned coalition; it was removed by the administrators!

Other questions that have been asked on Quora ...

What if any person's shoes you touched turned to cheese, would you eat those shoes?

Did Jesus like bananas?

And ...

Is it unethical to eat vegetables when they are unripe? I mean as in being below the age of vegetable-puberty. What if the vegetable really wants to be eaten?

I also enjoy the excellent answers sometimes given, for instance to this question ...

Can I eat banana in the morning?

To which someone replied …

This might come as a surprise but in fact you eat anything you want in the morning. It's really possible, try it. Just as long as you believe in yourself, you'll be able to do it! Don't give up, keep working to get that banana down your throat!

7 Excellent Reasons to Learn to Cook …

I have written before on how important it is to learn to cook  but recently, due to joining a Faceboook group on cooking, I have been amazed to read how very little some people seem to know about the utterly basic skills of cooking and how little food knowledge they have. 

Some say that this is because cooking is no longer taught in schools (is that true?) and some say it is because mothers now go out to work and no longer cook at home so do not pass on what they learnt from their Mums. Here is how I learned to cook  – and it is thanks to my Mum, but not in the usual way!

This is such a sad loss to people that I’ve decided to go into more detail in the hope that I might be able to help or at least encourage people to give it a try. Please believe me, learning to cook is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.

7 Excellent Reasons to Learn to Cook …

1.   You will save money

Bought in food is so much more expensive than making your own! Here are two examples but I could go on (and on and on!).

Yorkshire Puddings – six ready-made Yorkshire puddings cost about £1.70 in Tesco but see here for how to make six lovely Yorkshire puddings for only 26½p! Not only that; mixing the batter takes literally two minutes, maybe less! 

Croutons – these are about 75p an ounce in Tesco and contain all these things!!!

See here for how to make all sorts of delicious croutons using different breads, oils, seasonings and additions from scraps of bread you might otherwise throw away.  Lots of ideas for using them too!  Say a loaf of standard white bread costs £1 for 800g that means the croutons costs approximately 3½p an ounce.  Actually, this simple idea is so good it may qualify as a genius recipe – see below! ***

2.   You will save time.

It might seem that having take-out is a quick way to get a meal but really, if you have had the presence of mind to think ahead a little and have the ingredients, making a burger, for instance, at home is so much quicker than driving to, parking outside and queuing in a take away and then driving home. Not only that, your food is fresh from the stove so in prime condition.  Read more here, including how to make the perfect burger.

3.   You can eat “cleanly”

I recently enjoyed watching Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets on the Beeb presented by Grace Victory which was about extreme and sometimes ill-informed advice on “healthy” eating to lose weight etc. I am not proposing that my readers do anything extreme such as go gluten free (apparently only about 1% of the population are gluten intolerant) or give up carbs or protein unless medically advised to do so. See what you think ... 

What I mean by eating “cleanly”, however,  is that by cooking at home you can avoid things that might be seriously bad for you. See, as an example, the ingredients in bought in croutons pictured above.

Even if bought in foods don’t contain any chemicals, e-numbers,  etc. they may still be high in salt, sugar and/or fat.  When you make your own you know exactly what is in your food.

4.   Personalise your food 

Make it is exactly how you and your family like it. My real man and I both love eating but eat very differently.  I like spices and garlic and all sorts of delicious stuff (have you tried black garlic, for instance, it is wonderful) he doesn’t even like pepper! I seriously believe he is a super taster – find out if you are a supertaster here – so even if we do have basically the same meal I will make adjustments. For instance, when he has steak and chips I might have Peppered Steak Salad with Two Dressings!    That way we are both happy.

If you are a supertaster don't get too excited! John Hayes, professor of food science at Penn State University, does warn …

It's not a superpower, you don't get a cape and it doesn't
make you better than other people

5.   Treat your loved ones

Related to above, if you can cook and want to spoil someone then you can make them their absolutely favouritest meal ever!

6.   Pass on this apparently dying skill – teach your kids, it seems no-one else will!

7.   Stay happy – I have read that eating fast food can make people depressed and not just because it is not quite what they wanted! 

As I say on all my social media ...


Learn some Essential Cooking Skills

Here are some important ones, I have more but don’t want this post to get out of hand! I am gradually archiving my Sudden Lunch posts on Flipboard here so take a look, or several looks as I keep on adding things!


Knife skills

You will be gobsmacked how much being able to use a knife properly speeds up food preparation. This is how to hold a knife.

To learn some knife skills watch this ...

... or if you’d rather read about it than watch a video then see here.


How to brown meat – and why you should!

The reason it is important to brown meat before braising, stewing or whatever, is that the searing of the meat causes a reaction (known as the maillard reaction, if you’re interested) which creates great flavour!  Read all about how to brown meat properly here. 


How to cook eggs

There's lots of information on cooking eggs here including important and surprising stuff about how to store eggs!

You might like to read my post 12 Commandments of Cooking Well and also see my book of cooking tips mentioned at the end of this post.

Useful “Genius” Recipes ***

I’ve written about these all over the place but they are such a boon to home cooking I am going to mention them again.  Basically, what I call a genius recipe is a simple basic recipe with the potential to be varied ad infinitum, limited only by your ingredients and imagination.  These are truly useful and genius  – read more about genius recipes here

A Well Stocked Storecupboard

It’s no good picking up a bargain or a wonderful find, being inspired and then not having the wherewithal! A well-stocked storecupboard (and fridge) allows you to be spontaneous and creative.

I can’t tell you what, exactly, you need to keep in stock, other than the basics such as salt and pepper and flour and sugar, cooking oil, onions etc.; it all depends on what you and yours enjoy eating.  But once you know your preferences start gradually stocking up.

Further help with Cooking

The internet (including this blog) is awash with recipes – choose something simple from a reliable site such as the BBC  (or this blog!) and follow it exactly, to the letter. When you are confident maybe try adding a pinch of this or a little of that (except in the case of baking which is a chemical reaction, don’t mess with those recipes).  Try another recipe and so on.

In the sidebar of this blog you will find a section Useful Foodie (and drinkie!) Links where you can find links to all sort of useful information.

I have written a kitchen "hacks" book in which I give over 500 useful ideas, methods, hints, tips and tricks I have learned or come to realise. They are all ways of making cooking quicker and/or easier and/or more effective and/or more delicious, additionally they will probably help you save money and eat more healthily. 

You will be glad to know I have not included any of the silly hacks one sees on the web – read about some of these here but don’t bother trying any of them! 

If you would like to hear more from me (as you can tell I am very interesting) please sign up at the top of the page to receive Sudden Lunch! straight into your inbox and please like my Facebook page, it is appropriately named Learn to Cook!

Happy Cooking!

Food for Love ~ Aphrodisiacs Quiz for Valentine's Day and beyond!

Here is a little quiz based on my book … 
Don’t worry if you haven’t read it yet, you can do that later!
which nut is an aphrodisiac
1.  Which nut did the writer Colette spurn because she thought that “they add weight to the breasts”?

     ~   Brazil nuts

     ~   Almonds

     ~   Cobnuts
     ~   Walnuts

2.  What do Hindus traditionally leave on the doorstep to indicate that a marriage is about to take place?

     ~   A handful of rice
     ~   A banana
     ~   A jar of honey
     ~   A coconut

3.  And which food do the Amish traditionally associate with weddings?

     ~   Carrots
     ~   Sauerkraut
     ~   Celery
     ~   Candy

4. What did Casanova say could “restore an old love and … ripen a young one.”?

~  Champagne
~  Cheese
~  Chocolate
~  Something else starting with Ch!


5.  Who wrote a long, strange and rather naughty Poem called “Figs”?

~  Philip Larkin
~  Oscar Wilde
~  D.H. Lawrence
~  Allen Ginsberg

ginger root

6.  Ginger derives its name from a Sanskrit word, srngaveram, meaning …

~  Healing root
~  Horn-shaped
~  Tickling stick
~  Sweet heat


7.  Who said “If you have no Honey in your Pot, have some in your Mouth.”?

~   Benjamin Franklin
~   Mark Twain
~   Walt Whitman
~   Henry David Thoreau

8. Which of these is NOT considered to have aphrodisiac qualities?

     ~  Baboon urine
     ~  Horny goat weed
     ~  Stinky toe
     ~  Spanish fly

vanilla for impotence

9. What is held to be the ideal length for a vanilla pod?

~  The longer the better
~  A good 6 inches
~  11cm
~  125mm

10. What fruit was known by the Aztecs as the Testicle Tree, in their own language of course — ahuacacuauhitl?

     ~   Granadilla
     ~   Papaya
     ~   Avocado
     ~   Soursop

11. Which herb in Italy is known as “bacia-nicola” which means “kiss me Nicholas”?

~   Oregano
~   Marjoram
~   Sage
~   Basil

12. Which food did the Talmud say that people, “even women”, should eat on the Sabbath, because it “promotes love and arouses desire”?

~   Roast Chicken
~   Gefilte Fish
~   Garlic
~   Locusts

 Wait - you're not cheating are you?

sexy food cookbook
Oh - before we get to the answers here's a picture of my aforementioned book, Food for Love, which includes ...

~ The most 17 most convincing (at least to me) aphrodisiac foods 
~ Some background on each one
~ 46 recipes plus other delicious ideas of what to do with them 
~ A little bit about their nutritional benefits 
~ A brief mention of other, seemingly lesser, aphrodisiacs 
~ One or two possibly suggestive food photos 
~ Some rude comments and, of course, 
~ Double entendres.

This book is perfect for those who agree with Gael Greene who said ...

"Great food is like great sex.  The more you have the more you want."

OK - here they are!

1.   Almonds 
2.   Banana 
3.   Celery 
4.   Cheese 
5.   D.H. Lawrence – read the poem here 
6.   Horn shaped 
7.   Benjamin Franklin 
8.   6 inches 
9.   Stinky toe – more about this here 
10. Avocado 
11. Basil 
12. Garlic

How did you do?

Food Safety - get your facts right!

I recently joined a Facebook group, Feed Yourself for £1 a Day, on the recommendation of a friend – she thought I might be able to help, and I do try.

Whilst I think aiming to eat for so little per day is rather ambitious I certainly salute the idea.

Feed yourself well for pennies.

This is a very busy group, with so many people needing answers to their food questions and so many answering with tips, recipes and info about where bargains can be picked up. All very useful. 

Feed Yourself for £1 a Day has well over 100,000 members and climbing rapidly, so obviously there is a great need for information and it is such a good idea for people to get together and share their knowledge. 

There is a problem, however …

I know it is with the best intentions but some of the members are giving advice which is incorrect and on occasion dangerous and the poor enquirer, presumably, has no idea which is the right advice. A case in point, and one that has worried me, is a discussion on the group yesterday that was started by this question …

I cooked chicken breast pieces last night in the oven at 8 and out in a sealed container but forgot to put in fridge, safe to eat for lunch today? Or is it going in the dog?

He went on to say …

Went straight from the oven to the container and sealed, was too warm to put in the fridge straight away then forgot.
And …
It literally went straight from the oven to a sealed container.

This last point is particularly worrying see chart below.

Amongst 68 answers so far are the following …

~   Done that regularly and we're all fit and healthy. Don't waste it.
~   If it smells ok I would use it.
~   It’s not like the suns cooking it whilst its sitting out.
~   If the room wasn’t hot it will be fine.
~   Smell it and cut a bit off too taste, you will know before lunch if it's safe too eat.
~   I'd eat it. I've done that before and i was fine. Germs are on everything!
~   Eat it if it was covered. Don't eat it if it wasn't covered.

Etc. and many, many other comments saying it will be fine. 

I think the person looking for advice was absolutely right to ask and realise that the people answering are trying to help, with the best will in the world this sort of advice is dangerous. It is very likely that chicken treated like that will not be fine.

The facts of the matter are …

Most food poisoning bacteria do not cause food to look, smell or taste bad. Food that looks, smells and tastes fine can still make you very ill. Relevant to this post salmonella which chicken can be susceptible to, does not smell or taste any different from un-contaminated chicken.

Food bacteria love a warm environment and their favourite temperature range is 5ooC–63oC  (122o F-145oF). At this temperature they grow and frolic and spread easily. Below 5ooC/122oC they are very slow and sluggish which is why food kept in the fridge stay fresh longer. If you reheat food properly to a high temperature (over 82o C/180oF) right through, then the bacteria will actually be killed and the food safe to eat.

For this reason food that is to be eaten later should be cooled or allowed to cool as quickly as possible, so not kept in a cooling oven or a sealed bag or container. As the UK Government guidelines on food safety say ...

Cooling will always be a step that is critical to food safety. 

Here is a chart from the UK government on food temperature control.

Correct storage and serving food temperature chart.

What this Facebook group has brought home to me, however, is how very little people generally seem to know about food and cooking. I had heard it said before that my generation (aka quite old) were the last to learn to cook from their mothers (this is how my Mum taught me, unorthodox but oh how it worked!) but hadn’t seen the reality of it till now. 

So, on the one hand, thank God for communities like Feed Yourself for £1 a Day but on the other hand, please do be sure of your facts before posting and don’t believe everything you read!!! There is plenty of info out there if you do a simple search.

Sorry to be so serious but I think this is important information that people should be aware of.

In Other News …

Suzy Bowler Learn to Cook

I have seriously updated my website so please have a look here and see what you think of it. 

In fact, related to the above, although I’d love to make lots of money (but not be famous!) I mainly write my cookbooks in the hopes that I might help people cook real delicious food just as they like it for themselves and loved ones without spending loads of money. Maybe my new website will help.