Friday, September 29, 2006

Mulligatawny Soup & Cornish Pasties

Last night Keith bammed up a delicious Mulligatawny soup and very robust Cornish pasties. The soup was just a shy too heavy on the cloves but otherwise scrumptious and all dishes were emptied. The Cornish pasties were very filling and the fillnig itself could have benefited from perhaps quorn mince and finely chopped carrots [as it's a vegetarian pasty]. The meal was also served alongside a very creamy and heavenly champ. Here's the knorr-how:

Mulligatawny Soup


1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
6 whole cloves, finely crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ginger, ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4lbs chicken, cut into serving pieces
3 stalks celery, with leaves, thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced (white part only)
3 litres chicken stock
2/3 cup long grain rice
2 medium-size apples, peeled, cored and diced (tart)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
2/3 cup whipping cream, warmed
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
lightly toasted sliced almonds, to garnish
salt & pepper, freshly ground


1. Combine garlic and spices.
2. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned on all sides.
3. Transfer chicken and to stockpot. Drain all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add celery, onion, carrot, leek and spice mixture and blend well.
5. Add a small ladle of stock and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until vegetables are tender.
6. Add to chicken.
7. Stir in remaining stock and season with salt and pepper.
8. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
9. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and set aside. Add rice to soup and continue cooking 15 minutes.
10. Return chicken to soup and blend in apples and yogurt. Simmer 10 minutes.
12. Degrease soup if necessary.
13. Stir in lemon juice, then blend in cream.
14. Taste and adjust seasoning.
15. Pour into heated tureen and sprinkle with parsley and almonds.

Cornish Pasties


For the pastry

120g hard margarine straight from the fridge
225g + 25g plain white flour
1tsp salt
150ml very cold water

For the filling

200g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
½ medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
125g swede, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 rounded tsps light vegetable stock powder
50g canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
To taste pepper

1. Preheat oven to 190C. Grease a baking sheet, or line with baking paper (not greaseproof)

2. To make the filling: put all ingredients except the kidney beans into a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Turn into a bowl and stir in the kidney beans. Add plenty of pepper to taste.

3. To make the pastry: Grate margarine into 225g flour and the salt. Stir and cut through well with a large blunt knife to break up the fat and margarine a little.

4. Using the blunt knife to stir, gradually add enough water to make a soft dough. Do not make too sticky. Using a little of the remaining flour, gently roll out the pastry until about 1cm thick. Fold the pastry into thirds by bringing the bottom edge up to about two thirds, and the top edge down to cover. Then fold the sides in the same way.

5. To form the pasties: Roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick and cut into 4 rounds about the size of a large tea plate. Pile filling into the centre of each circle and top with a piece of the remaining margarine. For each pasty, dampen the edge of the pastry with a little water, then fold pastry over the filling to form and half circle. Try to stuff as much filling in as you possibly can.

6. To make the traditional edging, beginning at the right side, use the forefinger and thumb of your right hand to pinch the pastry together while using the forefinger and thumb of your left hand to fold over the section of pastry next to it. Move along to the next section of pastry, and repeat. Continue in this way along the edge of the pastry, making a rope-like join.

7. Place the pasties onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush each one with sweetened soya milk, and prick with a fork to let the steam escape.

8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve piping hot. The pasties should not split open, but if they do, it’s not a problem, they are merely called ‘laughing pasties’!



125g spring onions, chopped, or 40g/1½oz chives, chopped
300ml/10fl oz milk
6-8 potatoes
salt and pepper
75g butter


1. If using onions, simmer these in the milk until soft.
2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until just cooked, then mash.
3. Add the onions and their milk and the chives, if used, together with the milk which you have heated separately.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the butter melt over the finished dish.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gamespot #47


Gateway is a great little point and click mystery solving game ideally suited a long teabreak or lunchtime.

Move your robot around the rooms solving the puzzles as you go.

In case you need help with the game, here's a solution.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Autumn Has Arrived

A lack of sunlight, particularly during the winter months, can have a very negative impact on the health and well-being of certain individuals, namely me. As an animal I would bulk up for the summer and sleep for 5 months. Oh to be paid for that. Instead I light fires in the hearth and stock up on chocolate and red wine. With Autumn beginning, BBQ season has certainly passed us by although unlike last years idea that never turned to fruitition I am determined to have a winter BBQ on one of those clear sky days in December and invite everyone around so we can wrap ourselves up warm, huddle around the hot coals and contemplate hibernation.

My body clock has already started to feel the constriction. Usually I would go to sleep at midnight and now it's around 11 O'clock. Instead of 8 hours sleep I now need 9 and I am starting to sleep in on Saturday mornings now instead of getting up slightly later than my normal time and potter about - it's just too cold for that kind of thing.

One good thing I enjoy at this time of year is conkers and there is a tree in our backgarden that I have started to reap the harvest of following the tale end of a hurricane that hit us last weekend ripping a few branches from the tree and throwing the spiky green shells to the ground.

If you have an ideas on how you perk yourselves up over the winter months let me know and I'll try them out.

See you tomorrow folks.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth is, on paper, a possibly dry and dull subject to convey to the general public. However, when you have a orator who is passionate about the issues being dealt with through the means of a high-end power-point presentation and the issues themselves being possibly the most important ones to face mankind, then you will sit up and take notice.

The premise is that over Al Gore's generation, CO2 gases have been building up at an astounding rate due to the drastic increase in industry due to a surge in population and a demand for basic needs with old technology still being used over newer cleaner and more efficient technology. The most important by-product of which is global warming. This in turn changes the climates across all continents which turns once arable land into desert and floods low-lying areas due to polar ice-caps melting.

It is called An Inconvenient Truth because those in charge of changing the way industry operates to combat global warming do not want to jeoperdise their careers and vast money making businesses to prevent a global catastrophe which could occur in our lifetime. They have done this through media manipulation whereby newspaper articles spread disinformation and doubt even though 100% of scientific papers allude to global warming. I was thinking about this on my way into work this morning when I saw an advertisement for Pheonix Gas that said "Make Up Your Own Mind" and then told you to go to Are you trying to tell me something through your subtle advertising?

I found An Inconvenient Truth to be a fascinating documentary presented by Al Gore, almost President of the United States. He is a man dedicated to the subject and I hope that this documentary is seen by as many people as possible but mainly by those who can make a serious change although for reasons stipulated above I very much doubt anything will be done about it and this is a great shame for everyone.

If you're interested in finding out more click on this link.

I would give this documentary 9 out of 10 polar ice-caps.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Gambling On Courgettes

Friday night was spent sorting the house out. Everything is now where it should be although looking over the place last night I made some mental notes of further things that can go. I also found a few things I'm going to try selling on e-bay which include Ghost House - an old classic game from my childhood. I remember spending summers at the caravan in Portaferry playing this with my brother who was always slightly better at it than me. Then we got a Super Nintendo and this started gathering dust on the shelf. I'm surprised it isn't buried in a landfill site along with the rest of my childhood.

Saturday afternoon was spent shopping which I think I will always detest. You can do it on Sunday when it's calmer but you run the risk of there being nothing left or nothing worth spending money on like that last courgette that's bashed or has the protective film removed and a mysterious mark on it which then blows your dinner plans out of the water because it's an essential component of the meal. You can usually find everything on Saturday but you have to compete with screaming children, bored fathers and 'slow movers'. These people include old folk who don't know what they want, don't know where it is and can't get there fast enough or don't have the capacity to push past Mr or Mrs Indecision or 'that person who blocks the aisle' looking for raspberry jam - no not that rasperberry jam - that one with the label on the front with the frills and fancy writing. And there you stand with rage in your eyes boring a hole into the side of their head wanting them to turn around so you can give them that look telling them what a complete waste of space they are for blocking the way just so you can look for a replacement for courgettes and by the time they notice there's a three trolley back up and you just want to walk away from it all.

Or maybe that's just me. I've thought about shopping online but there's a drawback to this because we shop according to recipes. Each week we take turns coming up with recipes for whatever amount of days we need so if there is a missing courgette, another meal will have to be pulled from the magic hat. On the plus side we get to have a delcious home-made meal everynight and only rarely buy a ready-made meal which is invariably pizza on a Friday night which I think is just what pizza's were made for.

Saturday evening and early Sunday morning were spent playing Texas Hold-Em. From 9pm until 3.30am a hundred or more hands were dealt and my stock-pile slowly dwindled and then amounted until I eventually called it quits with 50% more than I started with. By this time I was wired on coffee and running on empty. It was time to go home.
Our taxi driver asked us what we had been up to and after explaining he told us that he used to play at the Cavendish Club that was raided by the police earlier in the year. Apparently there was £41,000 taken which has now been returned and because of the clubs private nature there is a loophole which excludes the supposed illegality of gambling which is a good thing. I am not a fan of the crack-down on gambling in this country because it is run rough-shod by religious zealots but that's for another post as is the question of whether poker is truly 'gambling' as it is not 100% risk because there is skill involved. Our taxi driver in question spoke about a "top-table" where you could go if you were good at the game or I suppose, had a lot of money. Unfortunately I don't qualify on either counts so for now I'll have to stick with what I've got which is no bad thing.

Trust you had a good weekend whatever you got up to. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Gamespot #46


This is a new design on an old style of game.

Move your mouse through the maze of moving objects without touching the sides.

It's harder than you think!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Unrequited Spam

I received an email yesterday from an organisation I contacted a few months ago regarding arranging a boat trip. My initial email was responded to quickly and politely with information and contact details should I wish to phone them and book anything. Yesterdays email, however, was of a different nature altogether. It was one of those chain emails where you tack your name on the bottom and send it to your friends who curse your name whilst sending it to the recycle bin. It concerned the rape of a 9 month old baby in Africa and how the men responsible were still walking the streets. Not to worry thought because I'm sure if we get a 100 names from a country they dont know exists they'll turn themselves in shame of what they've done.

Whilst I deplore the acts mentioned in these chain mails I fail to see the purpose of sending them. It is a waste of time and accomplishes nothing. In this particular case it's is unwarranted and unsolicited email from an organisation to a client and only serves to anger me and put me off using their services. It is really a form of spam email and not the only type of which that has been grinding my gears recently.

I use gmail as do a lot of friends of mine and advertisements along the top of the inbox reflect topics of conversation within the subject line of the emails that are received and sent. However, within the spam folder, because the name of the folder is spam, it continually places recipes for spam related meals:

Mmmm...spam skillet casserole, broiled until golden. Needless to say I've emailed them about this and after a few "we're looking into this" replies their final response has been slow coming back as their last email was sent on 21st August, a month ago today.

I'll be sending both organisations an email today. Watch this space.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Links #27

Hva faen, Speil?

Ever had this feeling before? No? OK.

Wikipedia - Psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants

Cobra Island Disco - 80's Cartoon Rave

Your favourite 80's cartoon characters try to get into a rave.

Wikipedia - He-Man

Wikipedia - Lion-O

Cockroach vs Weatherman

A weatherman freaks out on live TV when a cockroach crawls up his leg.

Wikipedia - Cockroaches

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Putting Your Best Foot Forward, In Stupidity

Article by KA

On Sunday night I was walking across the living room floor in my bare feet when I accidentally kicked a dumbbell. Now we're not talking a big strapping dumbbell you need to be Geoff Capes to lift - that would be much less embarrassing. I'm talking about a small, turquoise, 3lb women's dumbbell that your granny could lift.

As such I felt that there was no way I could have hurt myself badly. In fact I was even rubbing the toe (right foot, second smallest) in the hopes of avoiding a bruise - something that only served to make the pain worse and turn the nail a blue/green colour at the base!

Throughout the night I got no sleep as my toe grew more and more painful and, by the time my alarm went off at 6am the next day, I woke Jenny and asked her to drive me to the hospital where I found out I had a fractured bone. How, I thought, could a 3lb (just over 1kg) dumbbell do this to me? It's barely heavier than a bag of sugar!

Nevertheless, the doctor was causing me pain while checking out the injury, so I was prescribed two tablets of Co-codamol, the 500+8mg version. Apparently they are pretty much the strongest painkiller you can get on prescription without having a nurse or doctor feed/inject you with it in person.

Within a few minutes they had kicked in and I was feeling light-headed and a bit giggly. It did little for the pain but a lot for my stress levels! They seem to keep your mind constantly active but at the same time very unfocused. They make you drowsy and a bit confused, but you can't get to sleep cause of the constant activity of your mind.

Since fracturing my toe on Sunday evening I have had around several hours of poor sleep and it's really beginning to take it's toll (it is now Tuesday morning, 11am). I'm trying to work with tens of thousands of records in a database and have made little progress today. Even while writing this I have caught myself drifting off into unfocused thoughts, staring blankly at the monitor. It's a strange drug but by no means the worst for your mind - when I think of people who are on much stronger drugs for long periods of time I feel sorry for them. The confusion and lack of focus must really get to them after a while and I would hate to have to take even these for any longer than the week I have been prescribed.

Trying to do my everyday job, usually something that is no big deal, has become a great challenge. The doctor had told me to take the week off work, as the meds would make me unfocused and I should be staying off my foot. But daily TV is something I hate and I'm unable to focus on much else or go anywhere farther than the kitchen. Adverts for claim to win, insurance companies and debt consolidation have forced me to give work a chance today. It wasn't the best idea, but it's taken my mind off my foot and anything is better than daytime television!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ursula & Manus' Wedding

Considering the good weather has been lingering into September these last few years, we were not let down over the weekend and were in County Tyrone for our third wedding of 2006. It was pure blue sky as we made our way through the winding countryside to Glenullin, a hamlet a few kilometres from Garvagh for the church ceremony. The church itself was moderately decorated and still held the portrait of Pope John Paul II instead of Benedict XVI despite his election nearly 18 months ago - just like the Catholic church to be slow to change!

The ceremony went smoothly and I'm sure if the service required a few more kneels to pray, local parishes could release workout videos for out-of-shape sinners. Two hours later after exchanging rings and vows, Ursula and Manus left as ball and chain and we gathered by the doorway to wish them well and of course take some pictures.

After the wedding we left for Cookstown for the reception and enjoyed a three course meal some band music and everyone go to witness my incredible dancing skills aided by a few glasses of wine and bravado. Congratulations to the bride and groom!

Trust you all had a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, September 15, 2006

When Buildings Collapse

Article by KA

Woo hoo! Friday is here! And what better way to celebrate it than to hope the place you are working in collapses over the weekend to give you some well-earned R&R.

OK so it's not likely, but it is pretty cool to watch buildings being demolished in a controlled way. It's also fun to see them collapse in an uncontrolled way too :D

I remember going to see Churchill House being demolished in Belfast. That was a lot of fun and so accurately done - the Kitchen Bar was very close to the 19-storey building but escaped undamaged when its neighbour fell. Check out the video coverage of the event on the page - outstanding.

So how could you possibly beat a 19 storey building collapsing? Well, in America they build big and so, naturally, building demolitions are a spectacular thing...Blamo!

Red Onion Puff Pastries with Feta, Stuffed Pork fillet with Oven Roasted Potatoes

Last night Brian cooked up a tasty starter of red onion puff pastries with feta and a stuffed pork fillet with oven roasted potatoes and a side-salad for the main course. Here's the science:

Red Onion Puff Pastries with Feta

Ingredients [Per Puff Pastry]

Half a red onion
Olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Feta cheese, diced or crumbled
3” sq. piece of puff pastry


Preheat the oven to about 200C. Sauteé the red onion in olive oil until soft. Add a small amount of balsamic vinegar to caramelise them and heat until it’s soft.
Cut the puff pastry into squares, about 3” a side. Put a little of the caramelised onion and feta around the centre of each square and cook for about 20 minutes or until pastry is ready.

Stuffed Pork fillet with Oven Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves 6]

1 pork fillet [750g]
Mature cheddar [250g]
4 Tomatoes
Garlic butter


Lay the pork fillet out on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it. Season it, and rub some garlic butter on it. Place cut slices of cheese and tomato onto it and cover this with breadcrumbs coated in a little garlic butter. Wrap it all up and bake at about 160-180C for about an hour, checking occasionally until ready.
Serve with oven roasted potatoes and onion.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Taxing the Half-Sober

Article by LMcG

The main story on the news this morning focused on tackling the problem of increasing levels of binge drinking and misuse of drugs in the UK. A government advisory panel argues that tougher methods of teaching children about alcohol and tobacco are needed to combat the rise in consumption. So what are their proposals for achieving this? Yep that’s right, the best way to educate children on the dangers of alcohol is to raise the price of alcohol so that we’ll all learn a valuable lesson, while the government lines their pockets.

The report suggested a number of reasonable measures for reducing alcohol consumption including a ban on alcohol advertising on TV and at most cinemas and a ban on brewers sponsoring sports and music events. Fair enough. This may go some small way towards reducing the exposure and lure of alcohol to children. But raising excise duty on alcohol is not going to deter your casual drinker or regular drinker from buying alcohol. And why should responsible drinkers shoulder the cost for a pointless attempt to deter binge drinkers and heavy drinkers? The same strategy has been applied to petrol use and I don’t see any evidence of increased petrol prices significantly improving the state of the environment. The government knows that most people will always want to buy petrol and drinkers will want to buy alcohol. Increased prices are not going to stop people from buying these products. But what better way to rip people off than to do it in the guise of big brother looking out for our heath and happiness?

Further to this, proposals have been introduced in relation to legal alcohol limits while driving. The report suggests cutting the alcohol limit for drivers under 25 to reduce accidents. Great! But what about the rest of the drivers on the road? Is the government saying drink driving is not a problem with motorists over 25? True, evidence shows that young drivers are more likely to have accidents and are also failing breath tests more frequently than older drivers. But surely a reduction or complete ban for all would result in less accidents and act as a real deterrent for any driver considering that one pint or one glass of wine before hitting the road? The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have estimated that cutting the limit to 50mg for all motorists would save 65 lives and 230 serious injuries a year on British roads. But hey, there’s no money in this for the government so I guess a tokenistic gesture that requires half the effort will do just as well.

Hitler On Drugs

I was watching a google video yesterday on Robert Anton Wilson called The I In Triangle when he declared that Hitler used cocaine from 1936 until he shot himself at the end of WW2. I thought this was poppycock so I decided to do a little google research which proved intresting indeed.

Apparently the Nazi's researched the use of cocaine on inmates within concentration camps. In particular, prisoners at Sachsenhausen who were given the drug were forced to march in circles carrying 20kg packs and were able to march 55 miles without resting. Also despite Hitler being against such drugs, amphetamines were used on the front lines and were in every soliders first aid kit for use against exhaustion. Adolf himself allegedly received daily injections of methamphetamine from his personal physician from 1942. According to Wikipedia, Methamphetamine is highly psychologically addictive which results in strong feelings of euphoria, availability of undirected energy, sleeplessness, and depletion of available neurotransmitters including a strong come-down as the drug's effect wears off. According to another article it is suggested that Hitler suffered Parkinson's disease which was diagnosed in 1944. The symptoms? Slow reactions, trembling and insomnia. Could this have been the affect of methamphetamine and other drugs at work?

It's certainly an interesting topic and more information can be found here. I cannot find any articles substantiating Wilson's claim of cocaine use from 1936 but during the 1920s and 1930s in Germany, both cocaine and methamphetamine were routinely prescribed for many ailments so given further research I would not off-handedly doubt his claim considering the wealth of information regarding his other ailments and use of drugs.

Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Population 436

A film such as Population 436, like many in its genre, is a straight-to-DVD movie. Ocassionally such films make their way there because they are first-time directed low-budget flicks with no distribution company pushing behind it. Most films in this field however make it to the shelves because they are simply bad films and probably did not win over audiences in its screen test. Some are diamonds in the rough and some are so amazingly amateurish it's surprising that they were ever made. Most are just plain bad and unsurprisingly this is the category that Population 436 fits into.

It begins with a journey by a census-taker who is travelling to the small town of Rockwell Falls in order to find out why the population has remained at 436 since the 19th century. It's an original idea granted but I always find if a movie is based in a small town ending in 'Falls' you better hold on to the receipt as you are in posession of damaged goods. My trepidations increased due to the fact that Fred Durst aka Mr Limp Biscuit was acting in this film and on the whole, rock stars do not make for great actors. Interestingly enough his acting is actually one of the best features of the movie as an initial intriguing plot soon gets bogged down into the mundane and obvious horror plot.

As you might imagine, all is not well in Rockwell Falls and the census-taker is viewed with trepidation and treated with disdain. Can our intrepid main character find out the mystery behind the small town before he falls victim to their evil ways? By the end of the movie you probably wont care enough because if you're intelligent you'll see the ending coming a mile off besides numerous other plot points which borrow from the big box of horror plots. Sometimes I think writers use fridge magents to put these scripts together. Your oven deserves to get cleaned above your priority of watching formulaic nonsense like this and whilst I'm a sucker for trashy horror movies but this is certainly the dregs of the barrel that should be avoided.

I would give this film 1.5 Falls from grace out of 5


Monday, September 11, 2006

Betting On A BBQ

You may notice I've changed the layout of the blog a little so let me know what you think. Web design should probably not be done after 6 cans of cider at midnight on Friday but I think it's turned out well.

It was a long week and the weekend was welcome relief. The weather also promised to play nice and indeed we had what I hope isn't the last BBQ of the year. It's great to be able to sit outside at 8pm in September and soak up the last of the warm air before autumn comes sticking its nose where it's not welcome.

We had a few friends over for poker and my luck was certainly not it all night. I was plagued with hands of 2's and 3's and nothing to use on the flop. My pile of chips soon dwindled into nothing and I took up role of DJ until midnight rolled around and a few people left and I decided to rejoin. After throwing in £2 for chips, Lady Luck threw her magic on my cards and pairs followed full houses and straights and before long I had won my money back from before plus another couple of pounds on top. Yay. By this time it was somewhere between 2-3am and my eyelids were getting heavy. Time to hit the hay.

On Sunday evening we deicided to watch a film called Brick. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt who played Tommy in 3rd Rock From The Sun and his role could not be more different. He plays a high-school loner who works his way into the underworld of his school drugs ring to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. He plays one person off against the other in his attempt to meet the leader of the ring - The Pin.
At first the some of the language used by the characters makes this a somewhat difficult film to understand with the subtelty of the dialogue and also that it's setting is in a high-school which makes the characters themselves seemingly out of place within the context of the film. However, there is a sound story within the structure and slowly everything falls in place.
Brick is a good first film by director Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to making bold choices in his career into films. Let's hope both actor and director continue to create bigger and better movies.

I would give this film 3.5 rocks away from the sun

Trust you all had a good weekend. See you tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Orzo with Feta, Mint & Plum Tomatoes, Stout-braised Vegetables, Strawberry Yogurt Brulées

Last night I created an orzo dish with feta, mint & plum tomatoes served with stout-braised vegetables and strawberry yogurt brulées for dessert.

I think this is one of the first meals I have created, however, that I have been largely dissatisfied with which is mainly due to the clash of the main course. Feta pasta served alongside vegetables and gravy! What was I thinking? Also, in adjusting the recipe for 6 people, I used too much lemon juice for the Orzo dish so rather than make a subtle zing against the zang of the feta, it proved to be overwhelming. Still, at least the dessert was tasty and a lesson has been learnt.
Here's the recipe without readjustments!

Orzo with feta, mint & plm tomatoes [serves 4]


225g orzo pasta
50ml olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp of mint, finely chopped
200g feta cheese, diced
4 plum tomatoes, finely diced
100g black olives
sun-dried tomatoes to garnish


Cook the orzo in salted water until al dente, then drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again thoroughly.

Mix in the remaining ingredients, season well and serve garnished with mint and sun-dried tomatoes.

Stout-braised vegetables [serves 4]


2 tablespoons olive oil
350g small onions, blanched and peeled
4 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch batons
2 garlic cloves
175g young carrots, scraped
150ml stout
100ml tomato juice
200ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar


Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add onions and celery and fry until golden, around 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes then add the carrots. Add the stout, tomato juice, vegetable stock and sugar and bring to the boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Strawberry Yogurt Brulées [serves 6]


500g strawberries
juice of 1 orange
500g natural yogurt
100g caster sugar


Slice the strawberries and divide between 6 dishes. Sprinkle over the orange juice and spoon over the orange and chill in the fridge. Tip the sugar into a small pan with two tablespoons of water and heat gently until dissolved. Boil the mixture until it turns caramel in texture and remove from the heat and place the pan in a sink of cold water. When the bubbles subside pour over each dessert and leave for 10 minutes in the fridge before serving.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Northern Ireland 3-2 Spain

Olé Norn Iron!

Not expecting too much after Saturday's miserable 3-0 defeat to Iceland, I settled down to watch Northern Ireland take on Spain, an obviously greater challenge and not a country I expected us to do any better against.

Nevertheless the first 10 minutes passed scoreless and both teams settled into the game before a supposed groin injury forced Carroll, the Northern Irish keeper, off to be replaced by Taylor and then tradgedy struck a few minutes later when Spain put the ball into the back of the net.

However, our gritty determination did not allow this to set us back and following a defensive error resembling something from Saturday's game, Healy scored what was to be the first of three goals he would tuck behind his belt, levelling the game at one a piece.

By half-time Northern Ireland were clearly the better side and one did not want the whistle to blow because you could almost taste a goal coming from the side. Crucially tonights game was given a serious boost by the 12th player - the fans. I haven't heard them chant as loudly and passionately for quite some time and it was a significant factor in bolstering the teams determination.

Despite causing problems after half-time with a near miss from Gillispie, Spain went 2-1 ahead with some clever footwork and and easy finish. As many hearts sank, the crowds choruses soared and on the 64th minute Healy scored again from a thumping kick after a pass from Clingan in what was testament to practice come to reality on the field.

Tension was rife over the next quarter of an hour with Spain touching the woodwork and testing the Northern Irish defence as the game reached fever pitch. Then in the 80th minute came a long ball from Taylor and with the next touch of the ball Healy lobbed the ball ove the Spanish keeper to score his hatrick and the stadium errupted in cheers.

A fantastic game and one of the most enjoyable matches I've seen since a year ago today :)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crooked Rain

Got caught up in the weather this morning. BBC Breakfast weather gave the thumbs up for a dry morning, day and rest of the week. Half way to work the drizzle came down in grey sheets and I got quite the soaking. I know, I know, it's Northern Ireland and having looked at the grey skies leaving the house I should have read the warning signs but I put my trust in Rob McElwee - and you have lost that trust sir. After looking up the BBC weather online it told me it would be raining all day - so why the disparancy? AH well, it seems anybody can do his job:

Could anyone do your job?
Yes, anyone can do it but only a few fortunate people are given the opportunity. [from above link]


In other news the housework is coming along nicely and everything is nearly as we want it. I still have to go through a few things an everytime I look in a room I spy something else I could and probably should learn to live without. Last night I threw away the cases of some old cds and put them in a spindle and I have around 40 more to do as well as throw out spindles full of old cds I no longer listen to.

I love finding old compilations though as it not only reminds you of what tunes you used to love but jogs the memory of the time period in which it was made. As such it was a real heart breaker to have to get rid of a box full of old tapes recently with hand crafted front covers and inside track listings. At the time I meant to keep the tracklisting of a few mix tapes in order to find an mp3 of the song but alas I didn't have time and thus will probably never hear the song again.

I'm off to lament a lost musical catalogue. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How Safe Are Channel 4 Documentaries?

Renegging on promises to watch Andy Garcia's directorial debut The Lost City last night [watch out for a review soon though!] I decided to watch some popcorn TV on channel 4.

First up was a Dispatches episode called 'How Safe Is Heathrow?'. Using the usual tactics of John Carpenter music and deep concerned voice overs, it told the story of how the airport became a laughing stock in security in recent years culminating with a major robbery only months after the September 11 attacks. They interview security personnel and detectives as they explain the loopholes that gangster use to steal anything from golf clubs to microchips right from under the noses of Heathrow security.

As is usual with such programmes, it could easily be condensed to a half-hour show but as always, it is stretched out by covering the same ground by asking the same question to different people and my all time favourite which is interviewing using camera techniques to poorly disguise the interviewee. Last nights programme used the classic soft-focus zoom on sections of the face which is hilarious because if you wanted to piece together the face you could just grab screenshots and put it together like a jigsaw. Also the voice wasn't reworked either so it was probably obvious to anyone who cared who this guy was.

The conclusion to the programme was that Heathrow still has loopholes and if the slow motion recaps of previous video footage with gloomy orchestral music told you anything was that ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN AT ANY TIME! What's that behind you? Agghhh!!!

Next up was 'The Mircale of Stairwell B'. It told the story of how a group of fire-fighters, a police officer and an office worker survived the North Tower collapsing on top of them. Once again this is the type of story that could have been told in 30 minutes or actually benefitted from an hour long episode with greater detail on a non-emotional aspect such as how the buildings collapsed using schematics and dealing with wider issues of the day since the reason they survived could be told in 5 minutes without dramatics and what-ifs blow-by-blow accounts retold by the group of people who shared the same traumatic event and is thus identical.

Considering Channel 4 has had 5 years worth of material to piece together these documentaries, they smack of hack amateurism and fail to reap the benefits of what are essentially extremely interesting stories.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Good Food, Good Friends, Good Alcohol

Saturday afternoon was spent tidying up the house and running around various outlets looking for bedside cabinets to no avail. It's a real hassle to have to lean out of your bed in the morning to turn the alarm off or fumble around in the dark trying to find a glass of water. So that'll be on next weekends list of things to do.

For dinner I bammed up some sweet potato and lentil soup. Since it was the first meal in the new house I took the liberty of photographing it. Here's a quick recipe for it too:

100g lentils
1 onion
garlic clove
2tsp curry paste
450g potatoes, cubed
450g sweet potatoes, cubed
2 pints vegetable stock
2 tsp mint
142ml natural yogurt

Boil lentils for 15 minutes. Meanwhlile Cook onion with a knob of butter 5 minutes, stir in garlic, curry paste and the potatoes and heat for 5 minutes. Drain the lentils and add to the rest with the stock until the potatoes are cooked. Place everything in a belnder and whizz until smooth.
Return to the pan and heat through. Ladle into bowls and swirl in the yogurt and season with mint.

In the evening we had friends over for drinks and although things started off reasonably sedentry it got more awry by the end of the night.

You guessed it - general leching and dancing. I can't be sure but I think I got to bed around 3am and slept right through until 3pm. I was no good for anything on Sunday barring a general tidy up and lying in front of the TV.

I trust you all had a good weekend whatever you got up to. See you tomorrow for more.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Irony In Cleaning

After many trips back and forth over the last fortnight we finally moved house yesterday evening.
There's been much back-breaking labour getting our old flat cleaned and up to scratch to meet the expectation of the landlord in order to secure the deposit. It's ironic that the greatest effort in cleaning takes place in order to hand it over to someone else to enjoy.

However the work is not yet done because now there are boxes and bags everywhere waiting to be opened and their contents spread about the house like huge chunks of material dust. So that is what awaits me this weekend and I look forward to it with ambivilance. On the one hand it will be good to know where everything is. On the other hand I wonder how I have so much crap and I will now have to undertake the unwelcome task of reviewing each item to revalue its merits for staying and not being sold, thrown away or used at some point in the future.

Apologies for the short and slim postings this week but I will be returning to the fore on Monday with the weekend review and daily posts. Have a great weekend whatever you're up to and thanks for stopping by!

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