Blog of Oonah V Joslin -- please visit my Parallel Oonahverse at WordPress

where I post stories and poems that have not been seen elsewhere - also recipes and various other stuff.

and see me At the Cumberland Arms 2011

Friday, 20 December 2013

Fat Free in New York 6 -- QUOTIDIEN yes MUNDANE no

There is a branch of  Le Pain Quotidien situated on the corner of 7th Ave with Central Park. It's got loads of rustic ambience and some lovely food but most of all Artisan breads. We went in for a coffee (well I had tea -- and they had a good choice of teas) :) and went back there after our carriage ride for lunch because the menu looked enticing.

Now the menu didn't exactly fit my perameters for a low fat lunch and the waitress didn't offer any suggestions -- BUT I opted for one of their vegan salads and asked them to bring the dressing on the side and they did that. Glad I didn't have that dressing. It was a lot of oil and seemingly mixed with butter! Anyway the salad was delicious and didn't need the dressing and the bread was seriously gorgeous.

We had one of their almond meringues between us as dessert. It was a huge thing and no cream :) so I was able to eat that fine.

Can't say it's the place to go for Fat free food but I managed and yes -- I would go back. I wouldn't have many choices but with meringues like that who needs 'em...

I was inspired by that to make a meringue cake last weekend when we had guests. I will tell you about that one in the next blog.

But in the meantime I found this wonderful FAT FREE FRUIT CAKE to buy in The Corbridge Larder, Morpeth the other day. I have baked a small cake for Christmas but I wonder whether mine will be as scrumptiously scrumptious as this... Check it out. For now I wish you a

Friday, 13 December 2013

Fat Free in New York 5 -- AU BON PAIN

Au Bon Pain is a chain BUT it's a solid gold chain if you need any kind of nutritional restrictions. They do salads to die for. Add your own dressing -- or not. Really good soups, pastas, sandwiches... All importantly there is information on everything. Nut Free, Gluten free, Low Cholesterol, Suitable for Diabetics -- you name it.

We ate at Au Bon Pain in the INTREPID -- I had a lovely chickpea mediteranean salad and Earl Grey there was so much choice there. Noel had a sandwich and of course a BIG apple.

My advice is if you are looking for a fat free or something-else-free lunch -- look for Au Bon Pain. Of course there's no such thing as a completely FREE lunch but it's good to be able to find what you need -- Stress Free.

On mange bien
Au Bon Pain

Friday, 6 December 2013

Fat-Free in New York 4

 The Bombay Palace 30W 52nd St New York is a find. Lovely decor. Good bar. Polite efficient service. Gorgeous food and relatively well priced for NYC, this was our choice for pre-opera eats. That meant we were a bit strapped for time since this place doesn't open 'til 5:30 but we got a taxi right outside and got to The Lincoln Centre on time.
We both had their delicious mulligatawny. I had chicken tikka and salad with tarka daal and chapatti. Noel had a korma.

We walked there from the hotel. It was farther than we thought... But 52nd st gets pretty gridlocked from about 4pm onwards so we were moving faster than the traffic! We had a drink at the bar while we waited for our table. We found out that the waiter who served us was from Sylhet :) So we got him to sign a takeout menu to bring back to The Tandoor Mahal as a postcard from New York. 

Next time we are going back to this lovely restaurant for a more leisurely meal! You can always trust Sylhet chefs to feed you well. 

The Bombay Palace -- a little bit of home from home

Friday, 29 November 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Low Fat Cornmeal Muffins

Preheat oven to 220C/425F and put muffin cases into tray or oil muffin tray (bun tin).

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbs Baking Pdr
half tsp salt
2 tbs caster sugar and one of a sweetner
a punnet of blueberries (frozen)
1 cup skimmed milk
2 eggs beaten (if you want to further reduce the fat leave one yolk out or use whites only)
1 tbs oil

Mix A thoroughly. Pour in B and mix thoroughly. Add a tbs to eat case and cook for 15 mins at 220 degrees.
Sprinkle with sugar while still hot.

This works out at less than the 3% per 100g of the original recipe and they are very nice muffins.

Try raspberries, blackberries or sultanas instead (soaked in rum)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Fat Free in New York 2

This was one I hadn't planned and we came across it as we walked back from The Metropolitan Musuem of Art.  Time was of the essence because our friends had a train to catch. Bad idea!

Nino's Tuscany Steak House
117 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019, United States

It wasn't the food so much as the attitude. I need a low fat option because of a medical condition but I was with friends who didn't..... I asked for a suggestion from the menu and rather dismissively the waiter said, 'Steamed chicken' (which is NOT on the menu) -- like what are you doing here if you can't eat!?
Then after explaining at length what I required, they brought my salad smothered in OLIVE OIL. 
I said, 'Erm this salad has oil on it,' at which point I expected the salad would be immediately replaced and without question -- maybe even an apology?? 
Instead the waiter said, 'But it's good oil -- olive oil.'


You know the bit about the customer being right? Where'd that go? Another Italian place we went to later in our trip could not have been more helpful.

I ended up eating the soup and the grilled steak but no salad or vegetables and no dessert. Maybe I could have been more insistant, but there seemed to be some part of 'no' and 'fat' that didn't translate well at this restaurant and I have to say the others in my party were not that impressed either! 


I recommend LATANZZI's instead! I explained what I needed and they provided a delicious bean soup, lean grilled steak and steamed vegetables which were perfectly done! And their selection of sorbets (I chose peach) made a perfect end to the meal. My husband had the mushroom ravioli which was wonderful (I tried a wee bit!) The wine was good, the pre-theatre service efficient and polite and the ambience just right. I even had an impromtu conversation with a lovely woman from New Jersey called Jeri :) -- who'd had gall stones! She tells me this is the restaurant they always go to for pre-theatre and it's always excellent. So don't just take my word for it!

It was Noel's 60th Birthday and a good place to celebrate it!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Fat Free in New York

Impossible they said!!! You're going to starve :) 

Easy they said!!! You can get anything in NYC.

Clearly I didn't starve.
So how did I fare?
Much as I expected, it proved crucial to do some research. I trawled through the web looking at Menus before we left and even booked a couple of places where I knew they would have something to suit me. But BREAKFAST comes first every day and had I known when we booked the hotel that I would have dietary restriction, we would not have chosen to pay in advance. 

The cafe at our hotel didn't have a buffet and a buffet would have suited me better. In addition they had a set menu if you paid in advance and that menu was very unsuited to my needs. Also the cafe is a franchise attached to the hotel and so the hotel really couldn't help -- it was up to the cafe manager and in fact the WAITRESSES -- because each morning we had a different server. On ONE morning, being a younger member of staff, she decided to ask the manager whether to charge extra since I was not taking the set option. The manager of course said yes! Well -- he would. None of the other waitresses asked him. They just brought me the porridge and the fruit salad I asked for with skimmed milk and that was that. 

The set breakfast if you could eat it was more than adequate and the bacon was crisply grilled and the eggs and potatoes  fried in low cholesterol oil -- but of course I couldn't risk that. For me there is no good oil!  But even Noel said he wouldn't pre-pay again because what you lost was choice. He had to pay an extra small charge every morning just to have a latte instead of an americano.

The fact is that if you are in NY there are lots of places to get breakfast but The Park Cafe on 7th is a good one. Good food at any time of day really. In fact we even ate there one evening -- after our walking tour we were so tired we just 'stayed home' ;) I had soup and chicken breast and vegetables. Noel enjoyed his meal too and they had a decent selection of wines.

So thanks to all the waitresses who got me my oatmeal and fruit without question and made it a good start to a hectic New York day. :) 

More NY eateries to follow in the next few weeks.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY

follow this link
and every day


has now been putting out a 

Poem a Day 




and I would like to thank and congratulate 
all our staff  
Past and Present 
for that magnificent achievement.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Food For Thought For Friday -- Low Fat Bread & noButter Pudding

Gall stones are not fun. In fact they are damned painful. And I have six of them. But as soon as I found out this fact – several weeks back -- I put myself on a very low fat diet because gall is produced as a response to fat and if you give the gall bladder nothing to do, you can be relatively – in my case entirely – pain free.

Now this entails cutting from the diet some things you might not expect – like most breads and lots of processed food especially processed meats such as sausages and corned beef. But there are some good alternatives. Weight Watchers do a low fat loaf and some French sticks are low fat. But if in doubt, look at the label and if it’s store baked I steer clear just in case. The crumb coating on fish fillets etc varies a lot too. I find some I can eat and others I can’t. Quorn sausages are low in fat and you can get trimmed lean bacon at M&S. Use a light spray oil whenever possible and invest in a good pan. A Slow cooker is a good way to cook as you can use cuts that do not have enough fat to roast, Skirt, Brisket, Shin of beef, Ham, Free range chicken etc.

Baked potatoes are good – just don’t add butter. Light cream cheese and chives, or beans, or tuna and parsley are good fillings and you can mash the flesh with just a little skimmed milk. I also find parmesan very useful because having such a strong flavour, you get a LOT of flavour for just a sprinkling of cheese – so I use that a lot these days with some black pepper and nutmeg on top and it’s great with low fat tomato based pasta sauces.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a treat you love though and so I have developed Bread and noButter Pudding. Whether you have gall stones or you’re just on a diet, here is the recipe.

Oonah’s Bread & noButter Low Fat Pudding
4 – 6 servings

6 slices Weight Watcher or low fat bread (cut into 4)

2 or 3 eating apples thinly sliced (I didn’t bother peeling)

A couple of handfuls of sultanas (or other dried fruit)

Ground cinnamon (I used it in each layer. Could be just on top…)

3 tbs sugar (I used brown)

3 eggs beaten

About half a pint skimmed milk (make the eggs up to 1 pint)

Use a deep casserole dish and rub a very little oil around it just to stop this from sticking. Place apple slices on the bottom and round the side then layer up: bread slices, sultanas, sugar, apple, cinnamon, bread slices sultanas, sugar, apple, cinnamon, bread slices.

Finish with sugar and cinnamon and then pour the eggy milk over and squash down with a fork making sure that all the bread is soaked. It should be quite soggy! Cover and leave to soak for an hour or two or overnight in a fridge.

Preheat oven to 160 and cook for 40 mins until risen and browned.

Serve with low fat icecream or cream or low fat crème fraiche.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Food for Thought For Friday -- Some arguments don't hold WATER

Sometimes I hate being right. But I was right in TRANSPARENCY and PURE RESEARCH and what is going on in the world today with regard to what is a basic human right -- WATER. Those who see water as a commodity are falling over themselves to corner the market in developing countires. Have these people no conscience at all?

Well those stories only were my imaginings based on some little research but look at what is really going on and be very afraid!

Unbelievable! They're giving the "Nobel Prize of Agriculture" to... Monsanto?? via

and take a look at these links & weep!

If we allow this to go unchallenged, if we do not stop them, we betray our own humanity. How would you like to be told you and your family have no right to WATER? Water should be free as the air we breathe -- but they pollute that too -- and collude in this. It's madness.

Good news this week is that I am going to have story (along with my friend John Ritchie :) ) in the next Anthology TWISTED TALES -- Yippee!
And my series of poems on natural instruments has begun in Bewildering Stories. (5 more to follow)
And my foreword for this issue of The Linnet's Wings is up now!


Saturday, 28 September 2013

In My Element


Friday, 27 September 2013

Thought for Friday -- He didn't have to

A couple of weeks ago we went to Leeds to see Leonard Cohen in Concert. That was our main reason for being there. The original date of this concert had to be changed because of Jewish New Year -- a little oversight by the planners. That cost us an extra night's stay but it was more difficult than than that for people who'd booked flights etc to be there, and I sympathised with them...

What to do... Leonard being Leonard offered a reimbursement so as not to "upset the family budget" as he put it, in Leeds.

I wouldn't take the money -- not from Leonard Cohen. Had it been any other other man, yes. Had it incurred more expense on our part, yes -- but somehow I just couldn't bring myself to complain about an extra night in a hotel and the price of a meal.

This afternoon the post arrived. Inside the envelope a signed programme 

To Oonah and Noel, Thanks for understanding.

I'm going to frame that.

There are things -- many many things -- in this world that are worth more than money and Leonard Cohen writing my name is one of those.

Thanks Leonard -- for being the person you are.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Thought for Friday -- This day last year.

 I love places where the road runs out
and little stores that sell everything;
the colours of autumn and the company of my friend Kath.

This was our last day of the Minnesota leg of our little tour of friends last September -- so Kath having taken us to South Dakota and close enough to see Iowa from Blue Mounds on the way back, decided we should see Wisconsin too :) and we did.  

I spent most of this day trying not to cry (unsuccessfully as usual) but a play in the evening made a very good job of distracting me. 
The next day we were off to Toronto to meet new friends and -- What an trip this was!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Thought for Friday 13th

I'm not superstitious about Friday 13th because I passed my driving test on a Friday 13th and I was never in the Knights Templar ;) so it's as good a day as any to get back to my Blog after Leeds and Leonard Cohan and all that.

If you've never been to Leed's Royal Armouries you're missing one of the best musuems in Britain. You see armour is not just a load of weaponry. There's armour from all over the world there, ancient stuff from China and Japan. Darth Vadarish things and wicked looking wicker, bejeweled bosses, acid etched cuirasses. And have you ever seen the inside of a shield -- fabulously decorated with tapestry and leather. The elephant armour -- that's HUGE.

Did you know they used to make armour for six year old boys so that they would grow able to bear the weight of the full armoured suit needed for jousting? Then there's the famous horned helmet of course. There are gattlin guns and swords and pikes... It's not that I like weapons -- far from it -- but when you see ingenious and beautiful sword sticks, umbrella guns, and jewel encrusted scabbards from Turkey, you just have to admire the craft.

Of course jousting was a sport and it is amazing how closely the design of modern protective gear follows the old craft of protecting with armour. If you've ever worn knee pads or a helmet you owe something to those men who designed armour.

This time they had a Hobbits Swords display, Anduril, Sting, Glamdring :) Wonderful workmanship from Weta. Of course John Howe LOTRs artist, is an armour expert!

They are talks and demos and video, falconry and lots of hands-on stuff to do and see there.

But our favourite display is a tableau depicting the Battle of Pavia 1525 -- when pike men and arquebussiers beat mounted men in full armour. It was the beginning of the end for Knights in Armour -- alas it was not the end of war.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Friday, 16 August 2013

How does my Garden Grow

My hollyhocks are coming along quite nicely.

In fact it's a bloomin' shame that I didn't plant any tomatoes this year -- would have had a good crop by now. But you can never rely on having any summer here in Northern Britain and this year it has been glorious! Who'd'a'thunkit?
Oh who needs tomatoes anyway :)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Hot Tips on Moving Day

I have moved house enough to develop a couple of TIPS I thought I would share.

and here's a story to go with them -- just in case you're not into pasta -- Moving Times

Our first meal in every house we've lived in has always been the same. Macaroni Tuna Bake. Why? Because it's quick, tasty and you can make it using a kettle and two saucepans OR a microwave oven.

Just cook the macaroni as per microwave instructions. Drain. Reconstitute the mushrooms and chop them. Flake the tuna into the pasta with some snipped rosemary (now you can stick the rest of the stalks in your new garden :) ) Make up the cheese sauce (pkt if necessary) and mix in. Sprinkle with parmesan and black pepper. 

Heat up some soup, open the wine, break out the biscuits and you have your first meal in your new house -- in minutes :) EASY!


1. Label all your boxes with couloured sticker dots and make a plan of the house that matches. Simply ask the removal people to place the box in the room or that colour. (Also use Main Bedroom etc in case of colour blindness but Pickfords congratualted me on this method.)

2. Pack a suitcase as if you were going on holiday for a week because you'll be too tired to start looking for things for a day or two.

3. The BIG DAY MOVING BOX that goes with you in the car should have: the kettle, two saucepans, casserole dish, jug, grater, tea pot, mugs, glasses, long life milk, bikkies (of course), tea bags, plates, bowls, knives forks spoons, butter, flour (or a pkt cheese sauce), parmesan, tinned tuna, dried mushrooms, macaroni, rosemary stalks picked from your old garden that morning, btl of wine, tea towels, washing up liquid. Tins of soup and beans, rice and meat for easy meals, the toaster and some bread. Salt, black pepper, a nutmeg.

(Oh and Loo Rolls)

4. Always take the microwave oven with you. Don't pack it. Not everything is always connected when you get there.

This week we have lived here for 10 years -- the longest time we have lived in any house. A cause for celebration :)

Rosemary roots easily, is a useful culinary herb and is supposed to keep evil from your door. It's got nice flowers too ;)

Friday, 2 August 2013

How does my garden grow? Well it can be a bit contrary to be honest.

Geraniums and trailing lobelia

White Clematis by the kitchen window

Contents of the BIG BOX

But I just can't get my pink pampas grass to flower. Everyone elses has big spikes and fronds -- mine? Nada! Just a fountain of greenery :( 4 years now and not ONE soddin' flower. Suggestions please.
Peeved of Pegswood.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Haunted by a Melody -- thank you James Rhodes.

I have been looking for this piece of music for so long I can't even remember how many years it has been. Always I would 'hum' it to a someone likely to know these these things; always they wouldn't know. I seemed to remember encoutering it in a film (probably Schumann's Love Song MGM 1947) Even Katharine Hepburn couldn't make that film memorable -- but the music was.

Then this week I watched James Rhodes' 'Notes from the Inside' on Channel 4. He was playing to patients he'd got to know in the country's largest mental hospital. Their stories -- and his own -- were very moving. 

The last piece he chose was 

Widmung -- Dedication; Schumann's love song to his wife, Clara;

and I immediately recognised the haunting melody I have been looking for since I was -- well -- a teenager!

Have a listen.
Float away on this expression of love!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Food for Thought for Friday: Belsay Hall -- Picture Poem

The cow parsley now is 7 feet high

Bella Donna ranges high from cracks in the quarry wall
rose scents the air like votive prayer
gunneras shade the margins of the toad's customary lair
no matter the weather, rock remains shady cool 
the overhang of trees dapples the paths

At every level there is life at the Hall
Toothwart to roses there is room for all

Friday, 12 July 2013

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Food for Thought for MY BIRTHDAY

Why do people moan about what age they are on their Birthday? I never understand that! Oh I'm 28, I'm 35, I'm 47...whatever...moan, moan, moan.

Today I am very happy to have completed a whacking great 59 years on this beautiful planet and next year I hope to have completed 60!

Last year on my birthday I was in York with Nathan and Jenesta and we went to the Hitchhiker's Guide Radio Show which was superb. I even got my programme signed and a birthday kiss from a member of the cast. It was lousy weather last year! Did that stop us? Bloody didn't! Though I have to admit I was tad downcast and the York Dungeons scared the be-jeysus outa me!  There's nothing like mirrors!

This year I have already had my celebrity kiss from Sir Tony Robinson so I will be spending the day quietly roaming Cragside and then have a meal with friends. The forecast is good too :)

Look at these lovely flowers at Wallington a few weeks ago. What could you want for more than that? Moaners -- Get a life! Get out and appreciate what's right under your nose. Enjoy you're life right to the last petal and fountain -- 'cos that's what it's about!

 Happy Birthday to ME 
and happy day to all of you!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Food for Thought for Friday --

I put all my links for June together in PARALLEL OONAHVERSE this week so please go and click on them and get your FREE DOWNLOAD of two stories of mine in Ether Books.

In addition I am also in The Quarterly Review at Bewildwering Stories.
and in Every Day Poets' Editor's View

This day last year was the super-cell storm in Newcastle-- a day that will last in the memory of all of us who were caught in it as we were with Nathan Rosen and Jenesta Matthews who visited Britain in the wettest summer for 100 years :( Look at that cloud! This was just before lightning struck the Tyne Bridge there.
So I wrote Art of the Storm

Thankfully today is calm, the sun is just coming out  and I am watching grey wagtails taking food to their chicks in a little hole in our hedge. :)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Food for Thought for Friday -- Generosity of spirit

and it's not always about the food. Sometimes it's about the company! My sister stayed for two weeks and it was a treat to introduce her to some of my friends like Amanda Baker here.
Ray made cup cakes with strawberries and flowers on and Ray is very good at cup cakes :)
We shared two meals with my friend Dorothy on Holy Island on our stay there. Holy Island for me is Dorothy's hospitality, generosity of spirit and intelligence -- It's always a treat to spend time with Dorothy.
We shared a meal with cousin Claire, her husband Andrew and his brother Tony in Newcastle. It was a treat to meet Tony too. There's nothing like extended family ties to make you feel you belong.

We happened across Prof. Prior and Tony Robinson on the Island too Time Teaming :) Mr Robinson has always struck me on TV as a generous human being and when I said (truthfully) that I watched anything presented by him on TV, I got a kiss on the cheek! Thank you Sir Tony! (Look out for that Time Team Special from Northumberland). I am glad that programme is continuing in some form. I can't get enough archaeology -- and I do miss my time treats!

There was a visual treat in store at Woodhorn Museum too in the form of unexpected access to the Oliver Kilbourn Collection which my sister loves -- well -- we both do! 
At Belsay costumes from Jane Austin films. The wedding dress Kate Winslet wore in Sense and Sensibility -- Imogen Stubbs' aubergine coloured hat and Billie Piper's riding habit -- such detail for often seconds on screen. That takes dedication and a lot of selflessness on the part of the costume makers. When you watch your next film -- stay for the titles and looks at the names. A film is a team effort.
While you're at it look at the Staff page at Every Day Poets too. My team give their time generously commenting on poems and working behind the scenes to bring you a poem a day. Thank you Team!

Esme also ejoyed Thimbleberry Jam sponge and Maple Syrup Pudding while she was here -- treats from the Upper Penninsula. Craster Kippers. Handi Lamb. Retro sweets. Oonah's marinated spiced lamb. But I wouldn't for the world tempt you with the menus and recipes. Suffice to say that's enough treats for a while :)

Then there was the abunbance of flowers almost everywhere we went. Nature is generous with her gifts too.
These in the greenhouse at Wallington
But the best treat of all was to spend time with my bestest sister! 

The Solstice is upon us and so I'll be picking some herbs for drying. If you have some raspberries or strawberries in the freezer, why not use them as ice cubes in your favourite drink? And however you spend the day, enjoy it with friends and the right spirit and you won't go wrong.