Sunday, March 31, 2013

Experimental Coolery 2013: Strawberry Ice Cream

Yes, I'm back. I know things have been a bit quiet on the blog front, with rumours of a fruit-related demise being circulated in some quarters. Fortunately, though, I've learned to communicate from the other side, and have finally managed to train our hamster to type. So, we're back in business!

Having finally managed to source some decent strawberries from Tesco, I was able to attempt a second recipe from those that came with our ice cream maker. And, as with the previous effort it was almost ridiculously simple - simply puree the strawberries, mix with the other ingredients, and then pour into the ice cream maker.

The resulting ice cream was excellent. However, my previous caveats apply - the ingredients are more expensive than even the 'good' ice creams on sale from the supermarket, and the quality is comparable. So, this is another thing we probably won't make again unless we happen to come by some strawberries and/or cream that we need to use up. Which isn't terribly likely.

Anyway, must dash - I have a kitchen to haunt.

#11: "Song of the Serpent", by Hugh Matthews (sadly, the weakest book of the year to date)
#12: "The Bromeliad", by Terry Pratchett
#13: "Pathfinder: the Shackled Hut", by Jim Groves

(Regarding my 'books' goal: it's already looking unlikely that I'll get through 60 books this year. Additionally, the '5 series' part of the goal has pretty much fallen by the wayside. But we'll see.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Orange Peel Incident

In a bid to hasten the return of The Doctor, and also due to general boredom, I elected to avoid my traditional and daily apple for this week. Instead, since Tesco had some nice-looking oranges, I elected to buy some of those instead. Today was the second day in which an orange made its presence felt in my lunch.

Now, for anyone whose only exposure to oranges has been in chocolate form, one of the key features of the fruit is the presence of a peel, which has a distinctive orange colour and which must be removed before consumption of the delicious fruit within can be contemplated.

It was this that highlighted the ultimate folly of my choice, for it transpired that my usual technique for removing the peel was just rubbish, both yesterday and today. It seems that some wag, probably part of a conspiracy by apple-growers, had taken to supergluing the peel to the oranges in Tesco. And so, the pierce-and-rip technique turned into an ordeal of picking, and stretching, and getting covered in orange juice. (And yes, I used the same technique twice. I assumed that yesterday was just a glitch in the Matrix, but it turned out not to be the case.)

Anyway, luckily, Google is your friend, and so a quick search for "how to peel an orange" later, and I am now armed with a new technique, one that I shall try tomorrow.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wolves Forecast

It's been a strange winter, weather-wise. See, it hasn't actually been at all bad, and yet we've been constantly bombarded with warnings. Particularly annoying are those roadside signs, declaring "Snow Forecast" - if they have a genuine concern for the environment then unless they have something worthwhile to communicate now they should be switching those off.

But it's not just those signs. We've been bombarded with weather warnings at the first hint of a breeze, and the forecasts have been positively apocalyptic. And all for... pretty much nothing.

Until last weekend, that is, when it actually snowed, and the snow actually lay where it fell. And, somehow, amazingly, the powers-that-be were somehow taken entirely by surprise, and so weren't ready to clear and then grit the roads. And so, despite the snow falling on and off on Sunday, traffic chaos ensued on Monday.

I was rather glad I had the day off. I picked that one well.

Anyway, the motorway signs are back to it - "Snow Forecast" once again wasted energy across the land. Huzzah!

I can't think why, but when I put together the near-apocalyptic forecasts, the general lack of bad weather, and the failed response when we actually had snow, somehow I'm reminded of the tale of the boy who cried "Wolf!" Maybe, just maybe, our councils recognised that the forecasters were routinely exaggerating, so that when there actually was a chance of snow, they just didn't believe them.

Maybe our weather forecasters could tone down their fervour for the end of the world just a tad, and just give us their best appraisal of what they expect to actually happen? And while they're at it, it would be quite good if our TV stations could perhaps stop treating the News and the Weather as entertainment, and instead go back to actually informing us? Or is that just a crazy thought?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Experimental Cookery 2013: Singapore-style Noodles

It's been a while since I did one of these on a Tuesday. However, I've been feeling rather uninspired of late, and so felt that it would be good to make the effort to cook something new, and so here is the result.

This one came from Ching-he Huang's "Chinese Food Made Easy", which is a book I rather enjoy, but one that I make relatively little use of. I find it quite hard to work from, as the food cooks so very fast that it's necessary to have everything ready before the first ingredient hits the wok. This also means that these meals have quite a long prep time that I never seem to account for properly.

The Singapore-style noodles are something that has been enticing me to try them for some time, but because of the prawns I have held off thus far. Still, the time had come, and so...

As with other receipes in this book, this one does indeed require quite a lot of preparation, and that must be done before starting on the cooking - once you start it's basically a race to the end. In particular, it is crucial that the chicken be cooked before you start, because there is no chance of doing so in the midst of the rest of it.

However, that warning aside, this was all quite easy to get through. Basically, once all the (easy) prep stages are done, it was just a matter of queuing up all the ingredients and then throwing them in, leaving about a minute between each stage. A few minutes later, and it's done.

And it was very nice indeed. Pretty much thermonuclear in taste, but very nice. I'm sure we'll be having that again.

#10: "The Snows of Summer", by Neil Spicer

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Mysteries of the Ages

Throughout history, there have always been great mysteries, puzzles to vex the greatest of minds. For centuries, mathematicians would attempt to prove Fermat's Last Theorem. Even today, now it has been proven, they search still, this time for an 'elegant' solution - Fermat could not possibly have come to the proof that was finally used, so does there exist an easier way, or was he just lucky?

There are other mysteries as well. Why is it that, no matter how carefully you check, there is always one item you forget to buy in the weekly shop? Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies? Why does "Question of Sport" go on forever, while "Firefly" didn't even get a full season? Was Morris truly so bad at dancing that the mockery is yet to desist?

But these all pale into insignificance next to the most important of all questions: why is it that the three flavours of Mars Planets are caramel, nougat, and crisp? Especially since the one that is by far the weakest is also the flavour not associated with the Mars bar?

Any ideas? The best suggestion will have the honour of being the best.

#9: "The Fortune of War" by Patrick O'Brian