Monday, 10 November 2008

Menu For The Week

Now that things have calmed down at uni and I've settled into a (sort of) routine i can spend more time thinking about food and cooking. My number of recipes I've bookmarked and not cooked is starting to reach biblical proportions so while this week's cooking won't make much of a dint in it it's a good start.

- Tunisian Eggplant and Chickpea Stew minus the lamb. The recipe can be found here

Leek and Mustard Sausages no recipe just a mix as Tuesday will be extremely busy

Butternut squash, Peppers and Leek soup

Chorizo and Butternut Squash risotto - from here

Tom Yam Gui

Egg and Green Lentil Curry

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Why is it that in the UK a woman was asked to pay £6,086.56 plus £10,000 in damages for putting a game on a file sharing website , where as in the US a girl was originally asked to pay $750 per song as compensation for downloading music.

Seriously where is the logic in that? First of all gaming loses more money from piracy than music , simply because games have a much higher rate of not recouping production and development costs.
Secondly, in the first case she was the one putting the game on the file share , she was effectively creating the pirate copy, in the second she was merely downloading it. Before file sharing was around , surely those that created pirate copies received harsher punishments than those who merely bought them?

Personally I think this is slightly crazy but then what do I know.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Note to self replaced with nutella

Comfort Food strikes again

Posting this in the middle of summer may seem a little strange but if you saw the current weather here you'd understand. Cold , wet and miserable pretty much covers it , especially since it was only a couple of days ago I was sunning myself in 37 degree heat in sunny Spain. But i digress. This is my mum's recipe for stew, pretty similar to every other one out there but I still have to ask her for it every time so its here to help me more than anything.

2 large carrots
1 small swede or half a large one
1 onion
250g stewing steak
3 tablespoons flour
500ml boiling water
2 stock cubes

Chop the carrots and swede into large-ish chunks. Cut the onion into thick slices. Put into a stewing pot. Cube the meat and mix it with the flour with a touch of pepper. Heat a frying pan with some oil and add the meat in batches, browning and sealing it. When all the meat is done add it to the vegetables. Make up the stock using 2 stock cubes to 500ml of water. Add a teaspoon of flour and pour into the pot. Cook for 2 hours at 170 degrees and serve with either crusty bread , dumplings or if between 4 people some mashed potatoes.

Picture coming soon

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Chicken Soup for the Nose

Everyone has chicken soup when they're ill. Mine for various reasons is a spicy Thai soup rather than a cream of chicken soup. Firstly, I love chillies and they are great for clearing out your head and more importantly your nose. Secondly this is the closest I've got to a dish my stepmother made for me when I was younger and less interested in cooking. That, however wasn't a soup but noodles cooked in liquid hence the rather funny look my stepmother gave me when I got up for some bread to enjoy with it. The original recipe is from Nigel Slater's Real Food , but I've amended a couple of amounts and added noodles in an attempt to recreate that noodle non soup.

Tom Yam Gai

1 chicken breast
1 litre chicken stock
half a pack of glass noodles
4 spring onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped and crushed
3 small chillies chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
4 lime leaves
3 tablespoons nam pla
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon lime juice

1) Boil the chicken breast in the stock and then lower temperature to a simmer. Leave till the chicken is tender then remove and shred ( I cut mine into cubes as I like large pieces of chicken but make up your own mind).

2) Add spring onions, garlic lemongrass, chillies and lime leaves to the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. In a separate container add the nam pla, sugar and lime juice and shake to blend together.

3) Add the above to the stock as well as the chicken. Add the noodles and mix together to ensure all the chicken doesn't stay in one place.

4) When the noodles are cooked, remove and serve.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Honey Lamb and Mustard Potatoes

For the Glaze
4 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon marinade
6 lamb chops

For the Mustard Potatoes
500ml vegetable oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1. Put all the glaze ingredients except the lamb into a pan and heat gently till it comes to a simmer. Remove and put to one side.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan on a moderate heat. When its hot enough to fry a cube of bread add the potatoes and let them cook till brown (5-10 minutes). Remove and drain excess oil from them. This may need to be done in 2 batches.
3. Add mustard and mayonnaise to the potatoes and season. You could add herbs such as parsley or chives depending on your preference.
4. Turn on the grill and allow to heat up. When ready brush the chops with the glaze mixture on each side. Grill for 4 minutes then turn over. When the second side has been done remove the chops and brush the glaze on each side again. Repeat until the lamb is cooked.

This is from The lamb turned out fine but was something I probably wouldn't cook again , just because lamb chops aren't my favorite cut of meat. The potatoes were nice but I think either more mustard or something sharp was needed to cut through the creaminess. They might taste nice cold as a (very unhealthy) salad

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Meatballs with Spagetti and Fresh Tomato Sauce

Again this is another Delia recipe from How to Cook part 1. The meatballs were really tasty , lots of flavour and held together well but I switched the pork for beef. The tomato sauce unfortunately wasn't as good. I think next time I would add tomato puree to give it a bit more flavour and cook it on a higher heat. Using better quality tomatoes would probably also improve it as I think these were a bit too watery.
So overall while I would defiantly make the meatballs again I'm not entirely sure about the tomato sauce. I think a traditional bolognase sauce would work better.
While this is probably a standard dish for many this is the first time I've had meatballs let alone made them so how typical these are I don't know but they're defiantly tasty.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Reading's Not Just For Summer ,,,,, It's For Life

My exams are nearly finished and I have 4 whole months free from uni work. Unfortunately this means I'll be returning home which happens to be almost the middle of nowhere. I am a pretty prolific reader and I get through them very quickly. Since the BBC ran the big read in April 2003 I have been meaning to read some if not all of the ones on the list. Now is a good time to put up the list and keep track of my progress. The ones in italics are one's I've read already at some point.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Total 33
What's irritating is that there's probably another 10 there that I've started to read and never got round to finishing. This was partly because I went through a habit of just sitting in the library and also because I usually have multiple books on the go.
Currently I'm reading (among other things) Love in a time of Cholera. Unfortunately I think I should of saw the movie first as whenever I read the book and then see the movie I hate the movie. If its the other way round I tend to like both. It's a strange world

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Organic Overboard

First off before i get pelted with rotten (pesticide ridden) vegetables i do think organic is a great idea. So is buying local food.
However there are two predominant barriers to this. First of all organic food is expensive. I understand the economics of this , of course its going to take more money as it takes more time, however while theoretically its meant to taste better , in actual fact because its become gimmicky to a certain extent and there's a limited market the quality isn't as high as it could be. I'm not talking about aesthetics , i can handle odd shaped potatoes , i mean real taste. This is from a supermarket food point of view, I'm assuming food bought from a farmers market is much better.
Buying locally is something i see popping a lot on American blogs, i think this is wonderful in fact i wish i could do it myself. Unfortunately I live in the middle of a city and local food is hard to come by. While there is a farmers market , its twice a month and is predominantly cheese and meat. At home which is theoretically more in the countryside , there are farm food shops and the quality is usually pretty good as well as some of it being local. But again its a bit hit and miss for being local.
So while the ideal of eating locally and organically is a good one , realistically its not one i can achieve. But here's to tomorrow hopefully.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Start of a Phase

When I was about 14 or 15 I went through a phase of attempting to cook curries. Not Thai curries , which my stepmother could of helped with, oh no , I had to be difficult and went straight for Indian curries with their never ending list of spices. As my mum realized it was probably something I would grow out of she got me a few of the basic spices over time , Cumin ,Coriander ,Cardamon and Garam Masala etc. And I was happy.Even if each curry no matter what the fresh ingredients would end up tasting the same, I was learning and experimenting. Unfortunately my tolerance for spicy food is much higher than my mums so she had a few nights where she ate mostly rice , (Sorry!)after I over did it with the chili powder or chillies.
Now I'm a bit older and theoretically wiser , I've decided to give a range of Indian recipes a go, helped by the fact im not limited by cookbooks anymore. The first one is kind of a mix of the orginal recipe from here an adaptation from here and my sheer absentmindedness.

Serves 2 by itself or 4 with rice

1 can of cooked black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 small onion ( i used half a large onion)
4 cloves garlic
Half inch ginger
1 finger chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
Half tsp garam masala powder
Half tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil

Chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chili finely ( I grated my ginger) Heat the oil until its really hot then add the cumin. Once they start to sizzle or pop add the onion garlic ginger and chili and keep stirring till the onions turn brown. Add the beans and half fill the bean tin with hot water. Add water to the beans and leave to cook for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric and garam masala then serve.

Both recipes originally call for tomato and coriander powder but unfortunately I didn't have any. The chili was due to a mention of red chili powder and I like a bit of heat. I would defiantly cook this again but will also try the original recipes to see which I prefer. Picture up soon as my camera has run out of batteries.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Delia again

Sorry folks , between going to Amsterdam and (theoretically) revising for exams I haven't had much time or inclination to cook. However I did manage to roast my first chicken solo and it turned out delicious if I may say so. Also I cooked another Delia curry. Not the most photogenic of dishes it didn't warrant a picture but it looked pretty damn close to the one on the website. It's one that works well for veggies and students. Nice and easy and you can leave it alone to cook once everything's in the pan. One side note though it doesn't heat up very well as it tends to lose its taste on reheating. I didn't have any limes, lime pickle or chili but I think it tasted nice enough without it although I would recommend the chili if you like some kick. So on to the recipe.


2 large eggs
3 oz (75 g) green lentils
3 oz (75 g) creamed coconut
1 large onion
2 fat cloves garlic
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece root ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
1 level teaspoon fennel seeds
1 level dessertspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons groundnut or other flavourless oil
1 rounded teaspoon turmeric powder
To serve:

5 fl oz (150 ml) rice, cooked

First peel the onion, cut it in half and then into thin slices , peel and chop the garlic then peel and grate the ginger – you need a good heaped teaspoonful. The creamed coconut should be shredded with a sharp knife and placed in a heatproof measuring jug. At this stage put the kettle on to boil.

Now place the frying pan over a medium heat and, as soon as it gets hot, measure the whole spices (cardamom, cumin, fennel and coriander) straight into it. What they need to do now is dry-roast, and this will take 2-3 minutes. Shake the pan from time to time to toss them around a bit and, as soon as they start to jump, remove them from the heat and tip them straight into a mortar.

Now place the pan back over the heat, turn it up high and add the oil. As soon as it is really hot, add the onions and, keeping the heat highish, let them sizzle and brown and become quite dark at the edges, which will take about 5 minutes. After that, turn the heat back down to medium and add the ginger and garlic , along with the turmeric . Now crush the roasted spices finely with a pestle, add these to the pan as well, then stir everything together. See to the coconut next: all you need to do here is pour boiling water up to the 1 pint (570 ml) level in the jug containing the coconut, then whisk it all together.

Now stir the lentils in to join the rest of the ingredients, add the coconut liquid, stir again and, as soon as it reaches simmering point, turn the heat down. Put the lid on and let the mixture simmer as gently as possible for 45 minutes, stirring it now and then.

To see the original recipe go to here

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The perils of travelling with 20 overexcited students

I just got back from a 3 day trip to Amsterdam with my Uni's rock society. As you can imagine it was pretty chaotic but fun was had by all. I'd been to Amsterdam before , a couple of years ago on my month long trip round Europe but due to a combination of bad weather and homesickness hadn't seen as much of it as i wanted.
No doubt about it Amsterdam is beautiful. You just have to conjure up images of canals and tall houses to get a feeling for it. But despite its reputation of the red light district once you get outside there its a very sedate beauty , calm and quiet.Even adding in the complication of bikes there is no sense of disorder or discord.

And this is probably why i won't go back again.

I love my cities loud and boisterous and chaotic and full of energy. Places like Rome , Barcelona and Belgrade, where things may take a while and are done haphazardly , where you take your life in both hands crossing a road. Where people are quick to smile but equally quick to frown. It in turn gives me more energy, makes me appreciate life and want to enjoy it.

One thing Amsterdam is know for is its Indonesian food and i had a really nice meal while there. It was a tiny little place just around the corner from the Niewe Kirk but the food was delicious. The chicken just fell apart and I haven't had anything so flavourful in a while.

Monday, 3 March 2008

The trusty old standbys

As the last cooking I did is still sat on my camera ready to be written up I've decided to go with something foolproof. One of my most used cook books is How to Cook by Delia Smith. This is rather ironic as i used to absolutely hate her programs and the books and refused to even consider listening to them. However this book convinced me and I'm going to list my favourite 5 recipes from the first one.

1. Gratin of Eggs with Peppers and Chorizo.
This is perfect for temperamental student ovens as all you have to do is fry everything in a pan , take it out, put it in an ovenproof dish, break 2 eggs over it, add cheese and take it out when its melted. It tastes delicious and very simple. She suggests bread but it goes just as well with salad depending on how hungry you are.

2.Butterscotch and Banana Trifle with Madeira.
I cooked this for my Mum's 50th a couple of years ago and she loved it. Normally I'm not a big trifle person but even I liked this one. So while Mum's birthday dessert is Coffee and Hazelnut Cake it appears mine is this. The traditional custard also went a long way to converting me too.

3. Goats' Cheese, Onion and Potato Bread with Thyme.
When i first cooked this I was a bit dubious about adding potato for bread. It seemed a bit of a contradiction to me and i have visions of it turning into a rather compacted Rosti. Luckily it came out delicious and whenever i make it at home it never hangs around long.

4. Leek and Goats's Cheese Tart
This was the first recipe i cooked from this book. I adore leeks and goats cheese is one of my favourites so this for me was a perfect combination. I have had a couple of near disasters with this , where I've added too much cheese and its gone a bit mushy loosing any taste of the leeks but usually it turns out well.

5. Tiger Prawn Jambalya.
This is probably the recipe I follow the least strictly, using it merely as a suggestion rather than a list of steps , especially since I hate prawns. I've only ever made one mistake with it , and that was when I was cooking it for a friend. We were so busy catching up we completely forgot about it and the bottom became rather attached to the pan.

I realise I tend to focus more on the times its gone wrong rather than the times its gone right , this is just because i tend to remember the negative rather than the positive. Also these are the recipes i cook again and again. I am attempting to cook every recipe in the book and I'm sure that over the next few months you will see occasional Delia Smith recipes. i appologise for the lack of pictures but as i haven't done much cooking recently i haven't had a chance to take any pictures of these.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Proven Right or Wrong Depending on Your View

After my moan about cooking in a student kitchen I decided I was being a wimp and that I should try again. Walking past a veggie stall also helped to change my mind. I ended up making Potato and Leek Soup with Sweet Potato Rolls. Or at least that was what the recipes called them.
The sweet potato bread came out reasonably well, although I misread the instructions and didn't shape them correctly. I think the only thing I would change about this recipe is more salt and more potato as unfortunately to me they didn't taste of anything , not even bread.

On to the soup. Deep breath now. Half way through I discovered one key thing. I don't actually like potato based soups. Fine time to find that one out, I hear you say. In my defense i had no idea, having never tried one before. So all in all a bit of a disaster really. Not helped by the fact that I forgot to take out the rosemary before blitzing the soup, needless to say large parts of rosemary are not a good part of soup. Therefore this is probably not a recipe I will be trying again. I did take a picture but its too horrible to show.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

When is an aubergine not an aubergine?

When its in America! Yes I appologise for the bad pun but I couldn't resist. English has become the international language for the internet but what happens when the English is a mixture of American and British? Most of the food blogs I read happen to be American. Unfortunately this is yet another area where Brits are behind the US again although it looks like we're getting there gradually.

The real point of this post is the confusion I often get with American recipes. I'll be happy reading it until I reach: Eggplant or Zucchini or even more confusing Cilantro.(Aubergine , Courgette and Coriander) What on earth are they? and even worrying how much do I use? Cups are not the standard measurement here although it is easy enough to find them they're not the automatic assumption you come to.

Once that muddle is sorted out another alien word pops out: Broiling. My immediate association is London Broil and that's only because of South Beach. After much Googling I discover it means grilling. Which in turn creates more difficulties , as for Americans grilling is the UK equivalent of barbecue. Fine , you say to yourself I'll use an oven that'll be the same. Apparently not. UK and most of Europe use Celsius, America uses Fahrenheit. First time I saw a recipe that said to heat it up to 475, my first thought was i don't think my oven goes that high.

I know this confusion goes both ways , some of the more popular European blogs give measurements in cups to help. What we need is a glossary for American-British cooking terms and food names. If anyone knows of one, please send your answers on a postcard (or the comments section). On the other hand we could go back to the Latin names. (grin)

Maybe after all that I should stick to translating Spanish blogs instead. But instead the American blogs suck me back in with the sheer diversity. Now where did i put my American-British dictionary?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Cooking in a Student Flat or Why I have 197 recipes bookmarked on de.lic.ous.

I am a student. Fair enough you might say , whats your point? This makes cooking slightly tricky for several reasons.
Firstly , i have very basic cooking equipment and most of what i do have is missing/misplaced/used by the last person who cooked and didn't wash it. Therefore I have to be very tolerant and have to make sure that when the urge strikes to cook something requiring a recipe (as opposed to pasta, rice or spag bol. No pot noodles though , sorry to spoil your stereotype) that I'm willing to wade through mounds of washing up that isn't necessarily mine.

Secondly (and i don't see this improving afterwards so i appreciate its not just a student complaint) the kitchen is small. Postage stamp small. So much so it takes two steps to go from the fridge to the cupboard/work surface. Sideways. This is complicated by the fact that there's usually someone else cooking at the same time. So you can either dance around them and try not to bump into each other.... or come back at another time. Preferably at 3am.

Thirdly (and i promise this is the last one) the stove is temperamental. Both the hob and the oven have a will and a mind of their own. One takes forever to heat up but when its heated its searingly hot so you can burn something in under 10 seconds. The other will cook things at undefinable times. For example brownies which were supposed to take 35 minutes took 20. A baked potato destined to take an hour and a half actually took 2. Most irritating was an apple pie that was supposed to take 45 minutes and ended up almost black in 15. Yes, i am using the right temperature. I checked. Repeatedly. Incidentally it was probably for the best as I later found out id forgotten to peel the apples. Unfortunately this provides a good reason NOT to cook at 3 in the morning.

Therefore , in order to cook and cook well, I have to wait till I return home. Hello Mum , mind if i cause havoc in your kitchen? There's a recipe i want to try (or 200).

Monday, 18 February 2008

Skirts and Politics

I just looked at this and realised I hadn't posted for a week. Even though its only a record of projects there's no point developing yet another bad habit.
The skirt is in pieces. Everything is cut out and pinned together I just need to insert the zip , which is going to be tricky as it is an invisible one. Hmmm. The design has also changed , instead of a short-ish skirt with ruffles it has turned into a knee length a-line. I think its for the best.

In politics Kosovo has declared independence from Serbia. While I can see both the political and Serbian side indoctrination by the British media about the beauty of independence has made it slightly harder for that side to be covered. Which is pretty ironic considering all those colonies we oppressed. When the issue of all the other separatist movements comes up the standard answer is "well Kosovo is a special case , don't expect it to happen again" yet again showing that the threat of violence and being what America wants will remove all boundaries.

I really hate British and American foreign policy sometimes.

I appologise for the rant but after watching the UN discussion and listening to various excuses and disclaimers of well we would of preferred to of reached an agreement through diplomacy I am a little aggravated with the politics of this world.
And don't even get me started on Croatia's statement!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Books as Therapy

I just found this article mentioned on another website and I think its amazing.

The reading cure

It talks about how reading groups are being used to alleviate symptoms of depression , arthritis all manner of things. Its not just the social side of it but the books themselves, saying that its the immersion into the story.

It's great that the power of books is finally being recognised and being used to help people as a group. There is nothing like a book for taking you out of yourself and into a different world entirely. You can analysis behaviour of characters and in a sense be talking about yourself and your perception on the world without feeling exposed or vulnerable.

Roll on Books I say!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Plan

I am a tomboy. As strange as it may seem considering i like to cook , sew and knit, at heart I am a tomboy. When I was a child I climbed trees, fell in ponds , came home covered in mud or otherwise usually found attached to a Sega or as I got older, Playstation. This nature does not lend itself to the wearing of skirts. They're either a nuisance ( at best) or a down right embarrassment. The fact that I'm over 6ft doesn't help matters either. So when an urge for a skirt came over me not only was it rather shameful but it was rather problematic to solve.

Skirts are apparently the easiest thing to make without a pattern. Me being me decided to make it complicated. This is a close approximation of what i had in my head. It was sparked by a scarf I saw in a charity shop. Unfortunately while its wide for a scarf, as a skirt its a bit short , therefore I had the bright idea of adding ruffles or pleats conveniently forgetting i had no idea how to make either.

This is the scarf and this is the fabric i bought to go underneath.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

We interupt current schedualing for a news announcement ......... or rather a political rant

I was intending for this to be simply a place to catalog my experiments , all the lighter things I'm interested in. But unfortunately politics intruded and i feel the need to comment in the only place open to me.

"Work or Lose Home" says minister

The government is planning to link employment to state housing. Competition has finally gone mad and any possible shred of socialism in this government has disappeared without a trace.

This seems to follow the current trend of cutting off those who are worse off and leaving them to fend for themselves. Yes, the amount the government spends on welfare is high but it is needed. Yes, there will be people who are simply too lazy to get a job but for every one of those there are 3 that working either forces them even more into poverty or already struggle to find a job. Removing these people from a source of housing will make that even more difficult as nearly every job needs an address.

I understand that the government needs to find some way of reducing the amount of money spent on welfare especially when the current workers retire and providing pensions becomes an even greater problem but I don't believe this is the way. Providing ways for people currently on benefits to learn new skills is a step forward but providing more and more hoops for people to jump through to get assistance isn't.

Surely there's a better way than the so-called "Third Way". We may be competitive and we may stay competitive but i wouldn't say much for our quality of life if it continues.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

First Cooking Post or Bad Mood Brownies

I have always found brownies a tricky thing to master. The first time I tried to cook them I didn't know they were meant to be still gooey when you pull them out of the oven and left them in for far too long. Needless to say they were rather inedible not to mention writing off the baking dish. Every previous attempt has resembled something out of Goldilocks , too sticky , too stodgy and so on.
Apparently it takes a bad mood to produce the perfect brownie ,at least in my experience anyway.

Classic Chocolate Brownies (taken from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible by Catherine Atkinson)
amounts halved from original recipe makes 12

100g plain chocolate
110g butter
100g sugar
2 tbsp strong black coffee
2 eggs
35g flour
1tsp vanilla essence

Heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and/or line a 12cm x 21 cm dish. Break chocolate into small pieces and add to butter in a heatproof bowl. Heat over simmering water until the chocolate and butter are blended together and smooth with no lumps. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. In another bowl beat the eggs coffee and sugar together until smooth and them slowly add the chocolate. Add flour, salt and vanilla and mix again. Pour into dish and cook for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Leave to cool and cut.

These tasted much better after I let them cool overnight however I couldn't resist taking one (or two) before.The orginal recipe was for 24 and required 225g of butter sugar and chocolate and 75g of raising flour. It also mentioned adding walnuts (150g)