In Britain, on the Sunday closest to the 11th of November, at 11.00am, we hold a national 2 minutes silence to remember those who fight for our country. Evolving from Armistice Day – the end of the fighting in the First World War – across the country services are held in the street to remember the fallen. Poppies, because of the poppies that bloomed on Flanders battlefields, are worn on the day, as well as in the run up to Remembrance Day, as a mark of respect and to support the British Legion charity. Wreaths of poppies are laid in towns and cities, for all to see.
Lest we forget.
I don’t know how common this practice is across the world, having a day to honour your country’s fallen soldiers. I would guess it would be very common. This is how Britain honours this day. How do your countries?
When abroad, no matter how good the food is where I am, after a few weeks I always crave a few home comforts. This chicken pie is one such dish, if only because you can’t make it in a hostel kitchen! This is adapted from a Sam Stern recipe – if you’re ever looking for a student cookbook I can’t recommend his highly enough.
Feeds approx. 4 with big portions, 6 with small.
– chicken breasts, diced (4)
– onion, diced (1)
– lots of vegetables – diced potatoes, carrots, peas, broccoli – whatever’s around
– leeks, sliced (1 or 2)
– chicken stock, approx. 250ml
– milk, approx 75ml, plus extra for brushing
– mustard, teaspoon
– pastry, either homemade or pre-bought
Coat the diced chicken in flour with a bit of seasoning.
Stick the onions on to fry in oil in a large pan. When they start browning add the chicken.
When the chicken has cooked on the outside throw in the leeks, potatoes and any other vegetables, letting them soften slightly. Then slowly add in the stock.
Once all the stock has been added, pour in the milk. Simmer for 20-30 minutes on a low heat, covered.
While simmering, roll out the pastry on a floured surface to fit a suitable size dish.
After 30 minutes take the filling off the heat and stir in the mustard. Then pour it into the pie dish, and cover with pastry, roughly trimming the pastry to fit (remember that the pastry will shrink slightly) and pressing down at the edges.
Brush some milk onto the pastry, and then cut two airholes into the top to let out steam (or use a funnel if that’s your thing).
Cook for 15 minutes on 220ºC, and then reduce the heat to 180ºC and cook for another 15 minutes until the pastry’s browning and the filling is hot and bubbling.
I usually serve with Yorkshire puddings, vegetables and lots of gravy.
You may also have noticed in the background of some shots that there seems to be a chocolately dish being made next to the pie filling. This is Rocky Road, and I got the recipe from That Grace Girl. I didn’t use marshmallows – I was feeling too unhealthy as it was, all that golden syrup – instead using raisins. It turned out really well, very tasty.
If you decide to give these a go, or have your own recipes that you swear by, let me know!
There are some films that you watch and, while you may be completely involved in the story line and the lives – or lack thereof – of the characters, at some point you stop, look at the picture, and think, ‘Damn, I want to visit that place.’ (Or, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”)
These are a few of the films that fuelled the wanderlust inside of me. They cover a variety of films – and destinations. If you haven’t seen them, check them out (or not. It can be detrimental to your bank account).
1. Before Sunrise
The first in Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy’s trilogy of films is also the one that fuels the desire to travel inside of me the most. Even though Before Sunset, the second of the three movies, uses some of the more touristy elements of Paris, and frames the city beautifully, Before Sunrise captures a romantic quality of Vienna that the other two are missing. Or, while not missing, they are not necessarily interested in capturing a burgeoning romantic atmosphere. However, this romantic quality not only draws me to the characters, it makes me want to go to Vienna and experience the city (and maybe even the romance) for myself.
2. The Lord of the Rings series
Yes, I know that it is a fantasy series, and no, I don’t really think that Rivendale or Hobbiton are real (although I would visit the hell out of them if they were, and, anyway, there’s always http://www.hobbitontours.com/). These films make me itch to visit New Zealand (and with my brother flying out there today it’s safe to say I’m pretty jealous). Say what you will about the LOTR trilogy – I love the series, by the by – it is difficult to argue with how beautiful the landscape hugging the film is. With all the mountains and rivers as the backdrop for scene after scene, anyone who sees those films and then doesn’t want to visit New Zealand afterwards is plain crazy in my opinion.
The picture above is not from Mr Smith Goes to Washington, it’s from my recent trip to the city. I was so excited upon stepping towards Lincoln’s statue in the Lincoln Memorial when I was in DC. I felt like Senator Smith walking up those steps as he closed in on the monument he’d wanted to see for his entire life. This is the film that made me want to experience Washington DC for myself. Surrounded by corruption, James Stewart’s senator is straight as an arrow and naive, and his love and admiration for the city is the best tourist advert I have ever seen for America’s capital.
4. Pride and Prejudice
Unlike the book, where the setting is rather secondary to the story, once you enter Derbyshire in the film, the place takes a leading role. It may not be the most exciting nor the most glamourous place in the world to talk about visiting with your friends and family, but P&P makes Derbyshire look like one of the most beautiful places in Britain and definitely one where you should make the effort of visiting. With incredible trees (seriously, at one point they’re sitting under one good looking tree), stunning houses and Keira Knightly standing on the edge of a cliff, dress going crazy, it makes it look like a pretty appealing place to explore. Hertfordshire and Kent look pretty too, as does Matthew Macfadyen (hello, rain scene), but to quote Miss Bennet, “What are men compared to rocks and mountains?” Derbyshire here wins the beauty contest.
5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
I’m not sure if this film wants me to visit modern China, or the medieval perfection that is the setting in CTHD. Upon viewing this lovingly shot film I want to walk through a forest and see people fighting each other, balancing on leaves and the thinnest of branches that tower above me. I want to see people essentially flying around ancient cities, floating over beautiful little houses and across the roofs of palaces. The film creates an atmosphere that I would love to think China still possesses, and would hope to see if I travelled there.
When in Marrakech I was told that Casablanca was nothing special, but when I watch the film that shares this city’s name (and is of course set there), I don’t believe them. Much like Before Sunrise, it may be the romance of the story that makes the city seem so interesting and inviting, as Casablanca still seems like a pretty great place to visit, despite being over run by Nazis.
Honourable mention: I don’t even know where Howl’s Moving Castle is meant to be set, I just know I want to go there.