All posts by rhys

Yesterday

I went to my first Stitch’n’Bitch knitting group, somewhere just off the South Bank, so I did my usual “go to Walkit, work out quiet route, follow quiet route.”

Regrettably, Walkit, whilst it is utterly brilliant, doesn’t take account of things like film premieres.

The quiet route took me through Leicester Square.

Leicester Square on the evening that Quantum of Solace premiered.

Ah.

Unfortunately, by the time I realised there was a problem, I was in too deep to extricate myself with dignity intact, so I threw myself on the mercy of a passing policeman and said “I need to get to Charing Cross, help.”

He said “so do I, follow me, Miss,” and started barrelling his way through the crowds. Now, if you’re at a film premiere, being escorted through crowds by a large policeman, people think you’re important, and the cameras start going off.

Hee hee. There are now, I assume, several people desperately trying to work out who I am in the film, although logic dictates that I can’t have been anyone terribly important, or I’d have arrived on the red carpet in a limo like everyone else.

oooooh

Happy Rosamundi.

“The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory cordially invite you to the Solemn High Mass of All Saints and the translation of remains from the grave of John Henry Cardinal Newman.”

Cardinal Newman wrote one of my favourite prayers:

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.

Then in your mercy,
grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest,
and peace at the last. Amen.

Ibe god a code id de dose

Splutter.

Anyway, have just cooked this up, possibly in the spirit of “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” A word of warning – I really do have a stinker of a cold. If you’re making this and don’t have a cold, you may want to crank the seasoning (especially the chillies) down a bit, as I’d hate to be responsible for blowing the top of your head off. Anyway, it’s full of vegetables and things with antiseptic properties and vitamins and good stuff. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice might be good at the end, as well.

Chicken Soup

Olive oil
4 chicken thighs
Some diced pancetta – having just checked, I used half a 200g pack
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 pepper, de-seeded and diced. I used a yellow one, but whatever.
Fresh ginger – um, a lump about the size of my thumb.
2 fat red chillies (you might want to only use one).
Garlic – I used about 4 cloves in the end
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 pints chicken stock
3 oz each frozen sweetcorn and peas (it was supposed to be 7oz frozen sweetcorn, but I only had 3 ounces. Ooops).

You’ll need a large pan – I half-filled my 5 litre one, and made enough for probably 4 bowls of soup. But it’s easier to wash a half-used pan than to clean boiled-over soup off the cooker, especially if you have a dishwasher. Have I mentioned I have a dishwasher, and how much I love it? I have? Good good.

Chop the chillies, garlic and ginger really finely. I cheated like a rotten, low-down cheaty thing and used a mini food processor.

Brown the chicken thighs and pancetta on both sides in the oil. About 20 minutes in total, I guess – make sure to brown both sides of the chicken thighs. Add the diced vegetables, garlic, ginger and chillies, and soften for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and season well with pepper and salt.

Turn the heat up, then add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, put a lid on and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 35-40 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Take the lid off, add the frozen sweetcorn and peas, and simmer for a further 3 minutes until the corn and peas are cooked. Strip the chicken meat from the bones and return it to the pan, stir well and serve.

Follow with a hot toddy.

Go to bed.

It’s not right, you know

I've needed a new handbag for ages. I put off looking for a new one for as long as possible, but sadly could no longer avoid the task, since my current one was no longer waterproof, shed red dye all over my copy of The Imitation of Christ, and the lining was coming adrift and kept snagging on the zip.

Normally, the Quest for a new handbag is long, and tedious, requiring much schlepping from shop to shop, for I have strict requirements for such things – it needs to be big enough to carry everything I need, but not so big that I can carry everything I want as well, because that way lies strained neck muscles and never being able to find anything.

It also needs to have copious pockets, because I refuse to become one of those people who gets to the ticket barriers at the Tube station and then has to go chasing through everything they're carrying, playing “hunt the tube ticket.” I need pockets for mobile, travel card, and work security pass. A leash of some sort for house keys is a bonus.

And it can't be too expensive. £200 Radley bags, whilst they are lovely, are not what I need to be lumping around with me, shutting in Tube doors, kicking round under my desk, and having my lunch leak all over.

Anyway, I sighed, deeply, and began my Quest.

And I purchased exactly what I wanted in the second shop I went into, 20 minutes after I started looking, and it was £4 cheaper than the tag said.

And it’s big enough for everything I need to carry with me (lunch, purse, book, travel card, diary), and the things I want to carry with me (mantilla, little camera).

This is not right. I should still be looking at Christmas.

Clearly, the Rapture’s imminent. If you get home tonight and the taps are running with blood, it’s all my fault, and I’m really sorry.

(Pink bananas? That is why God, in His infinite wisdom and bounty, gave us Photoshop).

Attack of the Killer Vegetables.

[Cue ominous music].

Some time ago (early September), I had cause to shop in Morrison's (despite my solemn vow never to shop there ever again after The Incident with the Mouse).

For obscure reasons best known to themselves, Morrison's feel it necessary to shrink-wrap their peppers (capsicums). Nobody else does it, but Morrison's apparently feel they have to wrap individual peppers in a close coating of plastic and whack a sticky label with a barcode on, when everyone else thinks that an oval sticker with a PLU number is perfectly adequate. The bloke on the market doesn't even do that, he just chucks them on the scales and then into a paper bag.

Anyway, I purchased a pepper, and then promptly forgot about it. I found it the other day, and it shows no discernible signs of going off, despite its best before date proclaiming “use by 5th September.” It's not even a little bit wrinkled, and I know from experience that normal peppers just do not last a month past their best before date without going really quite disgusting.

I am, to be honest, a little bit scared of it, and threw it away, unused. Shame on me.

Cake!

One of my colleagues is Jewish, and she made us traditional cakes for Rosh Hashanah. Being me, I stole the recipe. It is traditional for Jews to eat honey and apples at New Year.

Honey and Apples Cake

2.5 cups of flour (350g)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (240ml) – not olive oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1.5 cups apples (green apples, peeled and cut into cubes)
1 cup sugar (200g)
1 cup honey (320g)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of cloves
1 cup (240ml) hot apple cider (I’ve just used apple juice that I warmed)

Heat up the oven to 170*c.

Stir-fry the apples in a little bit of butter, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 spoon cinnamon, until the apples are soft. Cool.

Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in large bowl. In a separate bowl blend the eggs, oil, sugar, honey, ginger and cloves. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture. Mix until there are no lumps. Gently add the hot cider (or apple juice) to the mixture, and stir in the softened apples.

Pour the mixture into a greased cake tin or into lined cup-cake trays (this makes enough for 24 cupcakes).

Bake at 170*c for 20-25 minutes for cup cakes or 35-40 minutes for a large cake.

Office fun and games

There is a special corner of Hell reserved for people who use the last of the paper in the photocopier and then go stamping off to use another machine, making a huge flamin' dramarama out of the fact that the first machine is broken, and leaving it empty with a full box of paper sat next to it.

No, it’s not broken; you’re just too stupid to be allowed out unsupervised.

Photocopiers need paper in them in order to function. Paper is a finite resource; photocopiers do not come equipped with little paper-making fairies in the bottom of the paper trays, you actually have to open the boxes of paper, take the ream wrappers off, and put the paper in the machine yourself. I appreciate this is a terribly hard task for most men to manage, but I'm sure if you just bend your mind towards the mission, instead of talking loudly about football right by my ear when I'm on the phone to yet another supplier whose invoice you haven't approved, you'd be able to accomplish it.

Or, you know, just shout and carry on about the useless piece of rubbish equipment and storm off to use up all the paper in another machine.

Still, if he then has the nerve to complain about the carmine streaks on the paper, I shall just smile, smugly. Serves him right that I forgot to put top coat on when I painted my nails last night, and this particular colour (a deep red, almost maroon) transfers like nothing on earth.

Men and photocopiers.

It’s never a happy combination.

And it’s always men. Women tend to fix them when they jam, or put more paper in when they’re empty, or call the print room to report a fault they can’t fix/the toner cartridge running out. As a general rule, men just stand there shouting and kicking it.

*twitch*

Work have blocked access to flickr!

How utterly unreasonable of them, to block access to a non-work related site from work computers. Tch.

It does mean that if your blog contains images hosted on flickr, I can’t see them.