Friday, June 30, 2006

Clare & Ryans Wedding Part III: The Wedding

I awoke on Sunday morning with an almighty sore head relieved mostly by 2 tablets and a long stand in the shower - that hungover shower where you find yourself just standing there forgetting where you are for a split second and nearly falling over, thinking you're still in bed and you're coming out of a dream. So we gathered our things and I peeked into last nights pizza box - oh my. It looked like it had been deepfried. I tentatively picked up a leftover slice and bit into it.

After placing the slice back into the box, closing the lid, crushing the box in half and placing it in the bin my work was done. Let someone else find this monstrosity, I need proper food. So we checked out and made our way back onto Union Street to find a café. A bottle of coke and a delicious danish pastry later we made our way to the taxi rank and told the driver to take us to Maryculter.

The taxi-driver was a little weird and spoke in a very deep Aberdeen accent and I could hardly understand a word coming out of his mouth but that didn't stop the conversation. He talked about the EU wanting to change the name of kilts and the Scottish Parliament telling them where to go and how Scotland shoulsn't have to support England in the World Cup just because Scotland isn't in it and then he started pointing out some local landmarks but he went into complete mumble mode and I could only make out a few words.
"......spire........monks.......teaching........paedophiles." I didn't know what to say so I just announced a dramatic "oh" and then he fell silent for the next mile of the journey and that's when I noticed a torn sticker on the top left-hand side of the window informing everyone that this taxi was unfit for commercial use from 01/06/06. Luckily my anxiety was short-lived because we had arrived at our hotel.

We enquired with the propritor, who looked like Ms Marple and whose small hotel looked like something out of Last of the Summer Wine, as to the location of the wedding and she said a fair walk down the road. As our room was not ready for occupation, we took a walk down the road and gave up after 1/2 mile. Lou phoned her friend Susan and asked if they had passed our hotel on the way to their hotel which was where the wedding was bein held and they had. It was 2 miles down the road.

Luckily Susan picked us up and we arrived just in time. We were ushered outside to our seating and I was positioned at the end which meant I had to throw rose petals at the bride and grooms feet as they walked back up the aisle. The weather at this point was decidedly overcast and I was dubious as to whether it would rain. However, 10 minutes later the clouds vanished and the bride walked hand in hand with her father up the red carpet, her final steps as a single woman.

It was a beautiful ceremony which went without a hitch - bar the groom almost calling his wife-to-be Mary as he had to repest the location of where they were getting married, it being Maryculter. Near embarrassment aside, it was great and many photographs were taken as everyone enjoyed themselves as the sun disappated all the clouds leaving a fantastic afternoon
of clear blue skies, merriment and laughter.

By late afternoon we were ushered back into the dining area for speeches and our meal. Ryan's speech was especially good and the bestmans material might have to be pinched for my own ends should I have to give one. Toasts were given, champagne sipped and dinner was served. However before the first meal was set in front of us, Lou pulled off her special red-wine-manouvre and knocked a full glass all over the crisp white linen covering the butter and salt and pepper shakers. However, it was soon forgotten and we got on with having a great time. The meal was surprisingly good as most wedding food is pulp so kudos to the chef(s). The it was back outside while the dining area was cleared for Céile dancing.

I have to admit, I had never céile'd before so I was a little nervous but my intake of alcohol soon covered that and I was soon up doing a Canadian Barn Dance and several other dances. As the evening progressed, my movements took a nose dive and when I was strutting my stuff, the girls had to continually grab my arm and spin me around as I was all over the place.

Still, it was great craic and I'm looking forward to more of the same at our next Scottish wedding in July. I hope you enjoyed reading this account and have yourselves a fine weekend. See you on Monday folks!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vegetable Cutlets, Shalimar Indian Restaurant's Chicken Korma & Carrot Payasam

Last night Keith went all Indian on us and bammed up Vegetable Cutlets, Shalimar Indian Restaurant's Chicken Korma and Carrot Payasam for dessert. The cutlets are basically little patties which can be eaten with your fingers and served with tomato ketchup. They were a little spicy and delicious. The korma was nice and creamy but you may want to add a little spice to it for a little edge. The carrot payasam is extremely sweet but delicious and can be eaten by itlsef or perhaps drizzled over another cake-type dessert. A great effort all round. Here's the science!

Vegetable Cutlets

[Serves 4]


2 tablespoons oil
4 onions finely chopped
2 cups mixed vegetables (cauliflower, beans,carrots) chopped fine
½ cups green peas parboiled
2 big potatoes boiled and chopped fine
2 small beetroots boiled and chopped fine
salt to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
oil for shallow frying

Grind to a paste:

2 tablespoons grated coconut
4 green chillies finely chopped
1 small onions chopped
4 flakes garlics chopped
1 teaspoon ginger chopped
2 cloves
1 piece of cinnamon
2 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped
salt to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions on medium heat for about 3 minutes or till they become transparent. Add the ground paste and fry for about 2 minutes or till aromatic and the raw smell has gone.
2. Mix in the chopped mixed vegetables and green peas. Stir-fry on high heat briefly till the vegatables are well coated with the paste. Cover and cook on low heat whilst stirring at intervals for about 4 minutes or till they are half cooked.
3. Add the boiled potato and beetroot. Sprinkle salt to taste and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat whilst stirring for about 4 minutes. Let cool. Stir in the lemon juice and chopped fresh coriander leaves. Shape the mixture into patties.
4. Heat a griddle and grease it with oil. Place 4-5 patties on the griddle and fry on each side (drizzle some oil while flipping the patties) till both the sides are golden brown. Fry the remaining patties in the same way.

Shalimar Indian Restaurant's Chicken Korma

[Serves 4]


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1" inch-square piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 red chili pepper, minced
1 diced tomato
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


Fresh cilantro to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cashews
2 tablespoons raisins


1. Chop chicken breasts into several large, even-sized pieces. Set aside.
2. In a blender, purée ginger, garlic and 3 tablespoons water into a paste. Scoop out; set aside. (Rinse blender immediately or you will never, ever be able to make it clean again.)
3. Warm a large skillet a few minutes over medium-high heat. Add oil. When oil shimmers, add onion and cumin seeds. (Cumin seeds may explode like popcorn, so keep the pan lid handy.) When edges of onion brown, add chili powder, salt and turmeric powder. Stir in chili pepper, cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato and ginger paste. Cook until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Add chicken pieces and 1 cup water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove cover, stir in cream and cook until sauce thickens slightly and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Sauce will be rather thin, like a curry. If you like a thicker sauce, simmer the dish covered about 30 more minutes.
6. Garnish with cilantro, cashews and raisins. Shalimar serves this dish over a vegetable rice or with an Indian flat bread.

Carrot Payasam

[Serves 4]


250g Carrot
200g Sugar
1 litre Milk
8 Cardamom pods
50g Cashewnuts
50g Raisins
50g Ghee/Butter
1 tin coconut milk


1. Peel the carrots and clean them well and grate them.
2. Put the grated carrots in a mixer grinder and pulp.
3. Heat up a wok.
4. Put the beaten carrots and sugar into the wok. Stir well.
5 Add 2 spoons of ghee/melted butter to this mixture and continue stirring.
6. When it’s cooked, add some water and the milk.
7. Allow the milk to thicken.
8. Add powdered cardamom.
9. Fry the cashewnuts and raisins in the remaining ghee and add this into the payasam.
10. Finally, pour in the coconut milk into the payasam and simmer until it thickens which could take up to an hour to 90 minutes.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Clare & Ryans Wedding Part II: Saturday

A wedding is never without it's hitches and we certainly gathered a fair share lumped into the category of "travel and transportation". After getting up at 8am and making our way to Aldergrove, we made our way through the departure gates. It is only within the last year or so that I have set off the metal detector but it is happening every time now and I am subject to an obtrusive patting down by security. I'll certainly be happy when they introduce those machines from Total Recall and save everyone the embarrassment. Nevertheless, after boarding, the take-off and landing went A-OK and we arrived in Glasgow after a smooth flight and took the bus to Buchannan Street station to get a connecting bus to Aberdeen only to find that the stations computer system was down and they couldn't sell us any tickets, beside which, they told us that the 12.30pm bus was full and the next one wasn't departing until 3.30pm. After deliberating for a quarter of an hour and paying £6 to store our luggage in some lockers, we asked the bus driver out of sheer frustration if there was any possibility of getting on the bus. "No problem, that'll be such-and-such for a return, on you get." Sweet Jesus. So while Lou grabbed two seats, I ran the minute mile back to the lockers to retrieve our luggage and sprint back. Crisis over.

We arrived in Abderdeen around 4pm and checked into the Station Hotel which is, coincidentally, just across from the bus station. From the reception area, it looks old and rustic,
like a stately home. However, the receptionist was some whack-job with a bizarre take on humour and direction and sent us off on the wrong way to our room. After another bizarre conversation and second attempt, we found our room and it wasn't something to write home about. Location - 5/5, Decor, 1/5. I've stayed in better hostels. In Eastern Europe.

After resting ourselves and catching the first half of Germany vs Sweeden, we made our way to the Wynd bar off Union Street for pintage and sent off a message to hook up with a buddy from
school who was now living in Aberdeen. After watching Germany stick it to Sweeden and hooking up with Ian, we headed to a nice little bar/restaurant which is a converted church, for
dinner. I had a delicious crispy haddock which went down a treat and set me up for the rest of the night which involved playing some pool, of which I was truly awful, and ending up sitting outside a bar in the early morning having a final Guinness before eating the dodgiest pizza in human history and sneaking it back into the hotel with Lou which probably looked very obvious and hilarious.

Tune in tomorrow for my almighty hangover followed by hair of the dog and wedding extravaganza!

Clare & Ryans Wedding Part 1: The Pictures

Here's some of the pictures from the wedding on Sunday. The details will follow tomorrow!

Myself & Lou

Lou, Susan & Lesley

Ryan & Clare

Bridesmaids, Ryan & Clare

The men & their kilts

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gamespot #41


A throw back to classics such as Dig Dug, Motherload is a flash based game where you search the surface of Mars for the Motherload and porecious minerals. But beware, the ground is filled with hidden gas, earthquakes, and other unknowns. However, you can buy upgrades for your Machine to help you along the way.

I'll be away in Aberdeen, Scotland for the weekend for a wedding so I'll be back on Tuesday. Have a great weekend whatever you're up to!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Turkish Kofta burgers with Minted Yoghurt & Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad with Sweet Potato Gratin & Chocolate Pudding

Last night Don crafted a delectable meal of Turkish Kofta Burgers with Minted Yoghurt & Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad, Sweet Potato Gratin and a delicious more-ish Chocolate Pudding. It's certainly raised the bar for the rest of us. Here's the know-how!

Turkish Kofta Burgers with Minted Yoghurt & Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad

[Serves 4]


900g minced lamb
2 onions, finely grated
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
For the minted yoghurt
200g Greek natural yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped mint

For the carrot salad

2 large carrots, peeled and halved
2 kohlrabi, peeled
2 tbsp sunflower oil
4 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Put the minced lamb into a bowl with the onions, garlic, chilli flakes, parsley, one teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix together with your hands until bound together.
3. Divide the mixture into four and mould it into burger shapes.
4. For the minted yoghurt, mix the yoghurt with the mint, half a teaspoon of salt and some pepper and set aside.
5. For the salad, finely shred the carrots and kohlrabi, on a mandolin or on the coleslaw setting of your food processor so you get nice long, thin, crunchy strips.
6. Put these in a bowl with a large pinch of salt and mix together well.
7. Heat the sunflower oil in a small pan, add the cumin seeds and, as soon as they start to sizzle, add them to the vegetables with the lemon juice and toss together.
8. Brush the kofta generously with oil and turn occasionally, until browned all over and cooked through.
9. Spread the minted yoghurt over one large or four individual serving plates. lay the kofta on top, garnsih with the sliced tomatoes and serve with the salad.

Sweet Potato Gratin

[Serves 6]


1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
250ml single cream


1. In a large mixing bowl toss the sweet potato slices with the oil and all the other ingredients until the slices are well coated and the garlic and chilli well-distributed.
2. Transfer to a lightly oiled gratin dish, spreading out the slices with your fingertips, you do not have to layer the gratin piece by piece, but try to ensure that the slices are mostly lying flat.
3. Pour over any cream remaining in the bowl and trickle the remaining oil over the gratin.
4. Bake in a preheated, fairly hot oven (180C) for 40-50 minutes until the sweet potato is completely tender and the top is browned and crispy.
5. For extra crispness you can finish under the grill for 1-2 minutes.

Chocolate Pudding

[Serves 4]


125g plain flour
120g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder
250ml oz milk
85g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
185g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
250ml boiling water

To serve
thick double cream or crème fraîche

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and cocoa powder into a bowl.
2. Add the milk, butter, egg and vanilla extract and mix with an electric beater until combined. Pour into four 250ml greased pudding moulds.
3. To make the topping, stir the brown sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl to combine, then sprinkle it over the pudding batter.
4. Pour boiling water carefully over the puddings, then bake for 20-25 minutes.
5. Serve with thick cream.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Damson Busters

After repeatedly removing a thick mould every few weeks, straining the remains, adding this and that to it and leaving it for a good six months, it was finally ready for consumption. No, I'm not talking about French cheese, I'm talking about my brothers Damson and Plum wine.

He managed to get around 10 bottles of it from two demi-johns. [Incidentally the word demi-john comes from French dame-jeanne, literarily "Dame Jane", as a popular appellation circa 17th Century, the Americans bastardising this to jimmyjohn no doubt for the use in making their sippin' liquer]

With the skin of the damson being heavily acidic, it cannot be eaten out of hand. Therefore damsons are commercially grown for preparation in jellies and jams and of course for the private sector for the produce of wine.

It was his first proper attempt at it and I have to say, although a little sweet for some, it was entirely drinkable. The next talk is of making rhubarb or carrot wine which would be interesting to say the least.

So, cheers and to your good health!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is another comic book adaptation from Alan Moore whose previous works - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hellboy - were brought to the silver screen and, I have to say, sucked pretty hard. However, there was more hope for this movie because the screenplay was written by the Wachowski brothers and the director James McTeigue was the first assistant director on all three Matrix flicks indicating that there would be a happier working structure between what's on the page and what appears on celluloid. Nevertheless, controversy surrounded the movie due to the use of scenes of the bombings on the London Underground train network and Alan Moore publicly disassociating himself from the movie and cutting his remaining ties with DC Comics.

The film is set in a futuristic England that has become a fascist state akin to something straight from 1984 where the government controls all form of life and the public are told what the government want the people to believe. However, a lone figure makes an enterance onto the stage to refute the current state of being, opposing the government and fighting for the freedom from autocracy. Caught up in his plot to overthrow the current state, Evey, played by Natalie Portman, is seduced by V, played by a masked Hugo Weaving and becomes a target herself.

Over the course of the film, Evey discovers herself in an inplausible manner that I cannot divulge lest giving plot detail away, and becomes V's unofficial aide and ultamately plays a vital role in his crusade.

Whilst I found the movie to be highly watchable, it was also lacking in firm ground, and was as ficticiously futuristic as it was unbelievably unconvincing in terms of suspension of disbelief.
The acting all round was over the top but enertaining and despite its lacking, it is a decent action thriller worthy of renting for a Friday or Saturday evening.

I would give this movie 3.5 consonants out of 5


Monday, June 19, 2006

A Win-Win Situation

Friday couldn't have come quick enough and after slipping out of the working week, grabbing a cold one from the fridge, Brian came over to chill out and we watched Holland progress to the 2nd round beating the Ivory Coast 2-1. So with most of the 1st round over, all four of my betted teams: Argentina, Ecuador, Holland and Germany have progressed with 2 wins out of 2. Sweet.

On Saturday afternoon Lou and I raced around the supermarket and on our return we always seem to get stuck behind the worlds stupidest slow driver. Said drivers always seem to slow down when approaching a green light and then after cruising past them at 20mph continue at such a pace until the next set of lights which are now red.

After tidying up the flat, we had friends over for poker - Texas Holdem. After drinking casually in the afternoon I took it easy and even knocked back a cofee during the first few hands. I always drink a little too much at Poker games and two hours later, I get tired, bored and testy. But not tonight baby! It was full steam ahead, some great hands played and after being a couple of quid down at the end, I cleaned up in the final round and came out a few pounds in black. Lou creamed us all though and built a wall of chips like a fort. By this time it was something ridiculous like 2am and it was time to hit the sack.

Awoke on Sunday feeling A-OK. Totally knackered but no head mess. After a quick tidy up and cup of coffee, Lou and I headed with Keith and Jenny to Maggie Mays on Botanic for a fill. I took in the full fry while others settled on lesser but substantial post-drinking brunch. It certainly hit the spot and after saying our goodbyes, Lou and I hit the town to pick up some wedding clothes for next weekend [More details later in the week]. I managed to pick out a great shirt and tie but alas, dresses for weddings seem to be the hardest thing in the world to pick out. Sometimes, it's good to be a man. No hassle about what to wear and you can wear the same thing twice in a row because no man will ever look at you twice and remember what you were wearing unless you're dressed like Jon Snow.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Links #23

Monty Python: The Bishop


Classic comedy sketch from Monty Python

Wikipedia - Monty Python

SNL - Blue Oyster Cult

Classic Saturday Night Live sketch. Contains cowbell.

Wikipedia - Saturday Night Live

Wikipedia - Christopher Walken

Chris Van Den Durpel - World's Greatest Magician

Meet Chris Van Den Durpel and marvel at his feats of amazement.

Wikipedia - Magic Illusions

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Chicken, Mushroom & Asparagus Casserole

Last night the usual Wednesday dinner was postponed but that didn't stop me cooking up a delicous Chicken, Mushroom & Asparagus Casserole. Here's the science!


Sainsbury Supermarket


1. Walk or use a form of private or public transportation to your local Sainsbury's supermarket.

2. Peruse the aisles until you find the chilled ready meals section

3. Place Chicken, Mushroom & Asparagus Casserole packet in your shopping trolley or hand basket

4. Purchase any other items as required and make your way to the till

5. Using cash or any form of credit, purchase your goods making sure to check the receipt for any errors

6. Once home, turn your oven to 200C and allow to warm

7. Remove chilled meal from outer sleeve and pierce outer packaging

8. Place on a oven proof tray and set on middle shelf

9. Wait 30 minutes or until meal has cooked

10. Carefully place ready meal on a pre-warmed plate and serve.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

Lucky Number Slevin is one of those films that looks slick as snails but has a worse setup than a stunt in Jackass. In an effort to look and and feel cool, it negates that one thing that makes a cool film, which is a great plot line with some snazzy unforeseen twist(s) and witty dialogue. However, within the first twenty minutes, the plot and twist was obvious to anyone with half a brain, leaving the slickness of the film to pick up the slack but without one noteable line of speech by any of the great range of actors, by the time the "revelation" is revealed at the end of the film, you just want let out a sigh and wonder why Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsly, Bruce Willis and Lucy Liu have put their names to such trash.

I would give this movie 2 turkey twizzlers out of 5


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Friends, Films & Football

It would figure that the designated BBQ day nestled in amongst this heatwave would occur on the one day it decides to rain. It all looked decidely overcast but upbeat as we took the train to Bangor on Saturday afternoon. Still, as we took our seats outside, any possible rainclouds seemed too far away to reach us. But cue a strong wind and omninous drops and after a few false starts, it poured down. However, that did not stop us and we stood out under the eaves and made the most of it, working our way through ribs, wings, burgers, king prawns and kebabs before retiring inside to watch Argentina beat the Gold Coast 2-1.

After the match, the drink continued to flow and we played some Mafia [a game based on guess work and drink] and after a few games it was early morning and we jumped into a crazy taxi that probably broke a few speed limits getting us home.

On Sunday evening, Lou and I watched the British Lesbian Rom-Com of Imagine Me & You. Compared to other British Rom-Coms in the past, this one was easier on the senses, lacking the hoity-toity sensibilities of any film starring Hugh Grant. Nevertheless, the characters all came from upper-middle class backgrounds and not an ugly duckling between them. I'm figuring two good looking lesbian girls will probably swing a few male heterosexual bums on seats. Taking the plot with a pinch of salt is probably the best way to ingest this film and although enjoyable, it is largely forgettable and one to watch on TV for a quiet night in.
I would give this movie 2.5 flashly London districts out of 5.

So unless you've been on a remote island without telecommunication, you will realise that the World Cup has started. I have to say that generally, I've no interest in the sport but every 4 years, I get behind the behemoth and throw my support behind it. Of course it becomes more interesting when you place a little money on a few teams and stand to make a decent return. I have 3 £10 bets on Argentina, Germany and Holland that stand to make me around £75 each and a little £2 sweepstake in work which has given me the unlikely winners of Ecuador. I'm pleased to say that all four of my teams have won their opening matches giving them a good chance of progressing to the next round but since I know a lot of you are not footy fans, I intend to focus on other things for the next month to keep you interested!

Last night Lou and I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the first directed film by Tommy Lee Jones. The film is set in a small Texas town by the Mexican border where newly recruited patrolman Mike Norton monitors the strip for activity in the form of Mexican border jumpers trying to cross into America. His over-handed methods soon get him in hot water when he shoots a Mexican farmhand of Pete Perkins, played by Tommy Lee. After finding out the murderer, Perkins kidnaps Norton and takes him accross the border to give him a proper burial in Mexico after Nortons co-workers literally try and bury the crime and Perkins farmhand, Melquiades Estrada, in an attempt to cover up any wrong-doing.
The film is expertly directed by Tommy Lee and weaves an interesting tale which perhaps suffers only a little in over-extending itself but suceeds in delivering a cracking story of redemption and guilt. Well worth checking out.
I would give this film 4 mexican jumping beans out of 5.

Hope you all had a great weekend and see you tomorrow.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gamespot #41

Flash Craft Tower Defence

Cool flash version of WarCraft called Flash Craft Tower Defence.

Build up your defences, increase your ablities and crush your enemies!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Rhubarb and Ginger & Courgettes and Tomatoes au Gratin

Last night Colin served up an extremely mouth watering dish of the following delights:

Crisp Roast Duck with a Confit of Rhubarb and Ginger


4 breasts of duck
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

Rhubarb and ginger confit:

500g rhubarb cut into 2 cm lengths
500ml dry cider/150ml cider vinegar
125g golden caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger


1. To make the confit place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, stir well, then simmer

2. Turn the heat down to its lowest and let it simmer gently, without a lid, for 45-50 minutes. Don’t stir it at any stage as this will make the pieces of rhubarb mushy. It wil be ready when it's covered with a darkly glaze.

3. Season the breasts of duck and pan fry them until golden brown on the fat side and done on the meat side.

Courgettes and Tomatoes au Gratin


4 medium courgettes, sliced but not peeled
4 large tomatoes, skinned and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
110g Mozzarella cut into slices
4 level tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 level tablespoon fresh torn basil
salt and freshly milled black pepper


1. Heat the oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the courgettes in one layer (otherwise do them in two batches), add the crushed garlic and sauté the courgette slices to a nice golden colour on each side.

2.Aarrange layers of courgettes, cheese slices and sliced tomatoes in a heatproof gratin dish so that they overlap each other slightly like slates on a roof. Finally sprinkle on the grated Parmesan, basil and salt and freshly milled pepper. Then bake on a high shelf in the oven for 30 minutes.



Here's a cool optical illusion for you. Click here for instructions!

Wikipedia - Afterimages

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hot Stuff

It was a hot house of hotness in the office yesterday making it really uncomfortable to do pretty much anything. A few of us went to City Hall for lunch and the place was packed with lunch goers making it look like a festival than a snack break. We could only take half an hour in the sun before making our escape to the cool confines of Fibbers for a pint of Guinness. There was good news that afternoon, however, because finance said there room in the budget for an additional fan for reception which might actually make it bearable. So after struggling through the rest of the working day a few of us sat outside Skye and sank a couple of pints, a breeze gusting through town making it quite pleasant.

After getting back in time to eat dinner and watch The Omen [see review below] we popped along to the pub quiz at Bar Twelve. Since we were a little early, I was cajoled into attempting to beat my old beermat flipping record and Bert accomodated by procuring an entire rack of them from the bar. Slowly but surely I began the flipping process and I can gladly proclaim that I flipped the entire stack of 27 mats which is a new personal best so it's one to try again sometime.

The quiz kicked off around 10-ish and we called ourselves 'Sick of the Sixth of the Sixth' which the compere mispronounced the entire time. Nevertheless, after the first few rounds we were sitting in joint second place and feeling pretty good with ourselves expecting an enevitable decline in position relative to drink consumption and time. [Intelligence = Alcohol/Time]

As the rounds progressed the questions were of a higher calibre but we managed to keep up and much to our delight by the penultamite round, we were guaranteed a prize! It all came down to the final round and we gave it our best hoping to come away with a bottle of wine or something but surprise kicked in and we found ourselves in a tie-breaking for first place! It being Bert's birthday, we sent him up to face off against the opposition. The first to answer correctly would win and forfeit the game if it was wrong. The question was thus: How many colours made up the South African flag? The opposing team got their answer in first. His guess was five. We breathed a collective sigh. But the answer was six so we won! Huzzah!!!

WHoops and shouts of jubilation ensued and we retired home, exhausted winners.

The Omen

If you haven't seen the original Omen film it is well worth checking out as a benchmark of horror excellence. Unfortunately, as with most modern remakes, they fail to live up to expectation or quality control and The Omen, although better than most, is still an unwarranted and unesscessary updated version of a much loved classic.

In place of an atmospheric and chilling set-up, the remake relies on cheap horror tricks such as creepy dream sequences ending with a loud noise to make the audience jump which I find obtrusive and ill-fitting. The acting is also below par with Liev Schrieber cruising through the film unconvincing in his slow realisation that his son is devil incarnate and must be destroyed. Julia Stiles acting is also sub-standard and occasionally smirk-worthy especially in her confrontations with Damien but it is Damien himself that pulls in laughs when he should be portraying the exact opposite. When he glowers at those he is manipulating it looks more like a child who has just dropped his ice-cream and is silently demanding an immediate replacement before the crying and stamping of feet begins.

So, what is meant to be a serious horror becomes farcical tirade and the film is essentially a shot for shot remake of the original without passion or tenacity begging the question of why bother remaking it? The answer is of course money. So save yourself the price of a cinema ticket and rent the original if you haven't seen it or go and see something else.

I would give this film 2.5 nannies out of 5


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Summer finally seems to have hit and to celebrate here's some flowery pictures of the backgarden.

Today is to be 25C [the hottest day of the year by my reckoning] and as such I will be taking an extended lunch to lounge at City Hall and soak up some rays. Needless to say, working in an office without a window, it's already unbearably hot with the fan at maximum setting. Please send aid for me now. A Ballygowan water cooler will quench Phil's thirst for a day but a keg of beer will keep me going all week long. Enjoy the day whatever you're up and see you tomorrow for review of the new Omen film. Happy 06.06.06!

Monday, June 05, 2006

BBQ's & Birthdays

Such a relaxing weekend sitting in the sun. On Friday I left work a quarter hour early to meet Brian in town and picked up a 12 pack of beer on the way home and spent the time sitting on the flat roof of the house soaking up the late afternoon and evening rays playing catch-up. There's a small window on the 3rd floor you can climb out onto the bathroom roof giving you a seated position which no other roof in the street has so not only do you have a makeshift roof patio, it's a secret little patch where you can lie undisturbed save for the murmour of activity from the streets below.

After a lie-on on Saturday morning, Lou and I did a short and sweet shopping trip to pick up BBQ essentials and other nik-naks before heading up to the folks house to make use of the garden for outdoor lunch and reclining. So yet another beautiful time spend lounging in the sun. After a McGuyver effort at putting a music box together from an old walkman, speaker set and batteries from the remote control, Lou and I relaxed over some cold beer, magazines and Dave Brubeck's Take Five' wafting from our feet with the BBQ a few feet away sizzling ribs and burgers. A perfect afternoon in the sun in my opinion.

Early evening we made our way over to Bert and Jill's for a second BBQ to celebrate Bert's birthday. Much more cold beer was consumed alongside more meaty treats and a cracking game of patio football with unfortunate bystanders getting a ball to the face. Nevertheless, it was a great day and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. If only every weekend this summer was like this...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Links #23

Gopher Broke - A hungry gopher tries to grab a free meal from a passing truck but a free meal is no mean feat.

Ren & Stimpy - 20 Ren & Stimpy episodes. Happy happy happy, joy joy joy!!

Wikipedia - Ren & Stimpy

Ghost Karma - Been a naughty boy? Then karma ghost is gonna getcha!

Wikipedia - Ghosts

Wikipedia - Karma

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Onion Soup, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Gratin, Roast Vegetable & Sweet Potato Souffle

Last night Brian cooked up a meal that's probably banned in 10 countries for it calorie content. Here's the science!

Onion Soup

[Serves 1]


1 red onion, finely sliced
55g butter
½ tbsp brown sugar
1 beef stock cube
250ml water, boiling
2 slices bread
55g cheese
4 cherry tomatoes


1. Soften the onion in melted butter in a pan for 4 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, water and stock cube.
3. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes.
4. Toast the bread in a dry pan until golden.
5. Cut into pieces, sprinkle with cheese and put in a hot oven for 5 minutes.
6. Garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and chives.

Mushroom and Blue Cheese Gratin

[Serves 2]


30g unsalted butter
170g wild mushrooms, cut in half
1 garlic, finely sliced
Splash white wine
110ml oz double cream
110g blue cheese, crumbled
Small handful chives, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Gently melt the butter in a large pan.
3. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in the pan for a few minutes.
4. Add the wine and cream and reduce the heat. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5. Stir in the cheese and chives and heat for a further 2 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and pour into a medium sized ovenproof dish.
7. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until bubbling and golden.
8. Remove from the oven and serve.

Roast Vegetable & Sweet Potato Souffle

[Serves 2]


30g unsalted butter
½ onion, peeled and very finely chopped
½ sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
½ tsp medium curry powder
¼ red pepper, de-seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp double cream
3 eggs separated


1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Gently melt the butter in a sauté pan and fry the onion and sweet potato for 5-6 minutes or until soft.
3. Stir in the curry powder and red pepper and heat for a further minute.
4. Stir in the cream and egg yolks and mix to combine.
5. Meanwhile, place the egg whites into a large clean bowl and whisk to form stiff peaks.
6. Fold the whisked egg whites into the pan.
7. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the soufflé is golden and well risen.


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