Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dream Diary 12

I'm not sure if this was a dream or not, but I woke up this morning with the idea for a superhero called Black Bustier - she busts gangs and upholds the law.

Get it?

Design your own costume.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cooking Update

Last weekend I boned[1] stuffed and trussed a chicken. One stage closer to the Coq au Trice! Boning is okay, if a bit of a pain[2], but I need to work on the tying up.


Dad was too lazy to go out into the garden to collect herbs while cooking earlier in the week. As I pointed out, he had the thyme, but not the inclination.


Finally and most importantly, after reading about Cooking for Blokes in the previous post, Jim bought a copy for 69p off Ebay. Do you have anything you'd like Jim to buy? I'll happily blog about it!

[1] Stop sniggering over there
[2] Especially when you have a three quarter boned and mostly inside out chicken doing things that ought to be impossible, or at least illegal

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

According to a mini-article in the paper, when questioned in a survey, half of 18-24 year olds and one third of the entire survey gave either the wrong answer or "I don't know" for how long to soft boil an egg. (One in 20 said 10 minutes apparently, but I'd think they got mixed up with hard boiling).

I wouldn't have had this problem, if only because my standby cookbook Cooking for Blokes has an entire page on boiling eggs, and I got this when I was 18 (or maybe 19 if it was a Christmas present, which I think it might have been). Did Delia do it too? Can't remember. Anyway, there's no excuse.

Talking about Cooking for Blokes as we were, I noticed that I still use half the tips in the "How to..." section. On the one hand it's slightly embarrassing to find that many of my basic cooking skills come from the equivalent of a Dummies book, but on the other basic skills and short-cuts are basic skills and short-cuts no matter the sauce. Still, I won't be mentioning it in public.

Prize of an omelette[1] or maybe a quiche of your choice for the first person to put the correct time for soft boiling an egg in comments. If you don't like eggs, I'll think up some other prize.

[1] To be mailed within 28 working days

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Secret of Soup

Jim was delayed by public transport on Saturday, so he missed the start of the soup-making. Here is the recipe:

Vegetable Soup

a couple of good glugs of olive oil
3 stalks of celery
2 medium carrots
1 large leek
1 large onion plus a bit of left over onion
1 chicken stock cube (the shame!)

Wash and chop up the vegetables and heat the oil in a large pan. Throw in all the vegetables and cook until softened. Boil a kettle of water. Add the chicken stock cube to the pan, then pour boiling water in until it covers the vegetables and a little more. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes (or more if you like or are waiting for something). Whiz it up with the hand blender. Check seasoning (stock cubes are salty so it probably won't need it). Serve with warm crusty bread.

If one day you decide you're too much of an ingredient-purist for stock cubes, you can make your own chicken or vegetable stock. Alternatively, put in more vegetables and reduce fiercely at the end for a real concentration of flavour. Finally you might take it down the herb route - a handful of rosemary or thyme at the beginning when you're frying will go down well. You could even add some garlic if you wanted.

Jim has the photos of the soup.


I spent Saturday Morning from 0800 to 1200 walking around town pulling out lightbulbs, catching Christmas trees that were being thrown off the church tower and occasionally stopping traffic[1]. It's an unusual hobby but I enjoy it.

Sandwich Christmas Lights can be seen again in December.

[1] It's surprising how long people are willing to wait if you step into the road confidently while wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gene Hunt

I got Life on Mars on DVD for Christmas, so can finally watch the episodes I missed the first, second and other times they were on various satellite channels while shouting "Don't move, you're surrounded by armed bastards!" I assume I'll be no better when Ashes to Ashes, the 80s sequel makes it onto the screen at an as-yet undisclosed date in the next few months.

Of course both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes take their titles from David Bowie songs. I can't help but think of other Gene Hunt series based on Bowie songs - Young Americans (Hunt is on an exchange across the Atlantic); China Girl (Hunt is out in Hong Kong); The Jean Genie (think The Sweenie meets I Dream of Jeannie); Modern Love (Gene Hunt comes out); Changes (Hunt gets gender-reassignment surgery) - this has an obvious sequel in Suffragette City. Basically all of Bowie's back catalogue is available, except for Let's Dance, which will be the stage musical, and of course Heroes. It's hard to see how anyone could go anywhere with a show named Heroes.

21st Century Solutions To Me Being Lazy

Some time ago I put out a challenge as to what music you'd play if you were flying into a jungle on an American Special Forces helicopter (presumably in a film). I still need to write this up, and only Dave has got his taking part prize, but this is the 21st Century, so I've put all the songs nominated onto a Youtube Playlist. Some of them contain adult language[1] so you may need to be logged in to Youtube to see them. Note that there's eleven videos so it's over half an hour (Update: 37.25 plus loading times) if you're going to sit down and see them all.

Agree, disagree, have a better song of your own or can't believe some of the songs on it? Want to know why you haven't got a prize? Just bored? See the comment button below? That's what it's for.

[1] Curiously mostly one and two syllable words, but one striking four syllable adjective.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Maps Update

I've caught up on my Strange Maps Blog reading and thought I'd share a few especially whimsical maps with you:

A fight broke out in the comments after people saw the map of percentage of light hair in Europe under a post title of "The Blond Map of Europe"; remember the title of the post is not the title of the map; Light Hair is not Blond Hair. But go see anyway.

Titled ambiguously (delibrately this time) is the "French Kissing Map" which, sadly, is a map of how many kisses on the cheek you give/receive when greeting someone in France, split by d├ępartement.

I can't remember if I've linked to this before, but "One Ring to Rule Them All, Mate"; a map of Australia Lord of the Rings style.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pop Lyric Pedantry

Every now and then I take issue with factual errors in pop songs. Here I have two for your education and amusement:

Was Not Was, Walk the Dinosaur. "It was a night like this 40,000,000 years ago...". Well, Dinosaurs became extinct 65,000,000 years ago except for some of the theropods in family Aves. Also some of those giant crocodiles and other megafauna associated with the Mesozoic period that popularly get lumped in with Dinosauria-proper probably had living descendants at the time. But. Nevertheless. I know they're suggesting that cavemen and dinosaurs coexisted, but could they at least pick a period with one or the other in rather than split the difference?

ABBA, Waterloo. "My, My. At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender....". No he didn't. He was beaten at Waterloo on 18 June, but didn't surrender until 15 July on board HMS Bellerophon. On the other hand the history of Sweden at that moment is pretty interesting, so maybe these events were skipped over a bit in Swedish History classes. But you'd hope that some of the Eurovision voters would have spotted this error and turned against them. It's not like there weren't some acceptable alternatives. (The Youtube search results for Eurovision 1974 linked here).

Things to do in 2008

So with the New Year come New Hair-Brained schemes. What did we come up with over the Christmas period?

1. To go out around the country looking for superb curry houses[1]. We know people in most of the great curry capitals of England (which are most of the big cities as it turns out) so we can get local guides. A complex scoring system filtered through a simple normalisation process will allow us to fairly compare curries taking into account Stan's prejudices everyone's preferences. Have now created a Facebook Group to avoid doing anything about this.

2. Watch more musicals. This despite the success of White Christmas at Christmas film night; Jim asks "Why don't we burst into song and dance as we go about our lives?"

3. Find out the recipe for cooking a fish in a dishwasher[2]. Unless your dishwasher is nearly full when you cook it it could be a bit wasteful. Or is it to poach a large fish to be eaten cold later, in which case you cook it when the dishwasher's full anyway? Well, these sorts of questions show why I need the recipe.

4. Go to Bletchley Park. Don't ask difficult questions about Alan Turing. As it turns out a friend is going this weekend anyway! Grr. She can ask them about Turing.

5. Deal with all the unfinished drafts I have for this blog.

[1] Jon suggests just going straight to the Brunel Raj Clifton, but that may miss the point.
[2] Or "fish-washer as it will be known afterwards.