Sunday, December 20, 2009

When The Snowman Brings The Snow

While waiting somewhere with internet access I put together a playlist of Christmas songs on Youtube. I'm not sure I reccomend it any further than that.

(Link, in case embeddable playlist player goes for a Burton).

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Plot: To Cook Food: Smoked Haddock Chowder

Over the Xmas period I will be teaming up with some friends to make a celebratory meal. These parameters:

- The meal will be for 10
- I'll be doing one, or maybe two courses
- I'll be in someone elses kitchen, in another town, during a time of year when shop opening hours (also travel times) are a bit chaotic

lead me to emphasising the KISS[1] principle; simple, foolproof recipes with common ingredients, that don't take up too much time or room in the kitchen. On the other hand:

- It is a celebratory meal
- Including several guests with particular dietry preferences
- And I'm me

Which makes me want to do something extravagant. Somewhere in the tension of these differing requirements is a perfect menu. Until I come up with it I'm thinking of Smoked Haddock Chowder:

I made up this chowder from vague memories of TV programs and recipe books.

Two onions, sliced
A couple of garlic cloves, sliced
Vegetable oil
Three large potatoes, peeled and roughly cut up
Some fish stock, or vegetable stock, or chicken stock, or maybe you could just throw in a stock cube and some water (SHOCK HORROR!)
Lots of sweetcorn, either fresh or out the tin
Quite a large piece of smoked haddock, skinned and flaked roughly
Some cream or full fat milk
Lots of pepper, and maybe some suitable herbs if any strike your fancy

Heat the veg oil in a big pot. Soften onions and garlic, then add potatoes and any herbs, stir, then cover with stock. Simmer for twenty minutes or half an hour. Add in the fish and sweetcorn, then finish off with milk or cream and pepper, and salt if needed. Actually is better if you let it stand for a few hours then heat up.

One final note: I do not have control of the guest list. Sorry.

[1] Keep It Simple, Stupid[2]
[2] Unless you're Stan, of course[3]
[3] In which case you use the STAN principle: Simple Techniques Are Nifty

Another Day, Another Conversation

Pupil M: I'm going to get pregnant at 17 and have a hundred children.
Me: Sounds brilliant.
Pupil M: You're supposed to tell me not to get pregnant.
Me: I'm all in favour of other people having children, just not me. Your hundred kids can look after me when I'm retired.
Pupil M: No.. Um...

Being, hmm, "Radically Supportive" maybe?, really throws them sometimes, especially the smokers.

("You've been told so many times that smoking makes you cough and stink and die, I can only assume you want lung cancer. So don't hide in the woods, stand out by the road where you can get some pollution from the cars!")

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Conversation of the Day

[Pupil T]: I can't work with boys around me.
Me: So that's why you're in the girl's corner.
[Pupil T]: yes
Me: ...surrounded by femininity.
[Pupil]: Now you make me sound like a lesbian.
Me: Do I?
[Pupil T]: Yes, surrounded by femi... feminy... by what you said.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Cook Food: Flatbread

I've been known to bake bread and it's pretty good if I say so myself. What makes it especially good is that when you make it yourself it's really, really fresh. But it is a bit of a pain to bake it, especially when you can pay through the nose at the baker or the french shop[1] and get really excellent bread.

On the other hand, people all over the world make flatbreads every single day, which can be as simple as camp bread[2], pita bread, tortillas or chapati. Hell, I've cooked this stuff over an open fire! So here's what I tried last night:

Mix 1 hugely over-filled tablespoon of flour with three tablespoons of water. Add a bit more flour until it's a proper dough, then knead for about a minute. Flatten it out and grill it[3] for about five minutes, then turn over and get it out just before it turns black. Ever so slightly doughy (flatter? cook longer at a lower temperature?) but good stuff.

[1] The official name of the french shop is No-Name Shop.
[2] Traditionally served with mince.
[3] Or stick it on a frying pan, or in the oven, or over an open fire on a grill, or a hot stone.