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Macaulay's alive! Dec. 21st, 2010 @ 07:08 pm
I keep discovering that people have died and not told me*. So someone suggested that I register the website poppyknowsyouredead.com. On here friends and family would make an entry for everyone who has died. I would hope, eventually, for an almost exhaustive list of dead people that I could browse and mourn.

Anyway, point of this post is to announce that Macaulay Culkin was wrongly accused of being dead earlier this year, so yey, he can be removed from the imaginary website. Well done Macaulay!

* OK, fair enough that *they* didn't tell me, but you would think someone would mention it at some stage, I mean, how unlikely does it seem that at no point in the last umpteen years, for example, did no one drop in passing, the fact that Dudley Moore is dead?

Eating aroused pigs in aftershave - the future of food? Nov. 29th, 2010 @ 01:04 pm
I've been getting into molecular gastronomy of late, *why* food works like it does, the flavours and the textures, the theory and the practise. This book is particularly interesting and has started me on my way. I am pretty good at knowing what goes together through trial and error, and all that, but I would like to learn more about the chemistry side. I will be saving up for this book soon

So, Heston Blumenthal.
Yes, he knows what he is talking about - he knows how to deconstruct then reconstruct a meal to surprise or delight. Why, then can't he just stick to doing that? What is with feeding his turkey pine needles to make it smell like a christmas tree? Or making it live in a shed decorated with santas all year round. Or making his sorbet taste of tobacco and leather, because it reminds him of his grandad. Harmless whimsy? Or is he leaving the whole field of molecular gastronomy open to mockery?

I'll leave you with some quotes about futurism from a most interesting blog that I found

The Futurist philosophy of alimentation involved reducing food to pure sensory experience... On the right of the guest there is a plate with black olives, fennel hearts and bitter chinotto pieces. On the left there is a ‘tactile’ square of sand-paper, velvet and silk. The pieces of food are then brought to the mouth with the right hand while the left hand runs gently over the tactile rectangle. Waiters spray carnation perfume on the eater’s nape and from the kitchen there comes the noise of aeroplane engines and Bachian dismusic.

Luckily though most Futurist dishes limited themselves to ruining the taste-buds: deep fried rose petals, fine vanilla ice-cream frozen with miniscule pieces of raw onion, ground almonds shaped into breast-like hemispheres with ‘nipples’ (strawberries) covered in chilli seeds and black pepper or a piece of salami – Aroused Pig – erect on the plate ‘dressed’ with eau de cologne and coffee.

These are all genuine suggested recipes, from an actual futurist book. Bleurgh. Be careful Heston, you really don't want to end up being *that* person.

Raspberry vinaigrette, revisited Nov. 9th, 2010 @ 01:39 pm
I am quite excited. I am making my cheese souffles with raspberry vinaigrette again tonight. Last person who tried the vinaigrette (which is just raspberries and balsamic vinegar blended) said that it was nice but needed a bit more 'brown'. I think I know what he meant but have no idea how to describe it. So, I made the vinaigrette last night and I tweaked with the recipe in a conscious effort to make it browner, a more mature complex flavour perhaps.

Firstly, I roasted the raspberries for 10 minutes, in a small amount of oil and with a little sprinkling of muscavado to bring out the flavour,  I added an extra splash of red wine vinegar to counter out the added sugar. Then oodles of lovely spanish balsamic vinegar. Also, for good luck I shoved in some mustard powder, thyme and pepper, for an extra complexity.

Now, this is where things got tricky - usually I blend this mixture, leave it for 24 hours for the flavours to mingle, strain out the seeds and I am left with a lovely gloopy red/chocolate coloured sauce. But my stick blender has broken, so I had to just squeeze it through the sieve which left a very runny mixture. I tried adding some cornflour to this and it thickened it a bit, but then... well, then I had an 11pm brainwave. Gelatine!
Yes, I have thickened and set the sauce in a thin layer and am cutting out pats to go on the plate using a little star shaped cutter to make them pretty.

So this evening I will be serving herby goats cheese souffles not with a dribble of sauce round the edge of the plate, but with firm little velvety dark brown-red stars sprinkled over the top. Hopefully with a more complex and 'browner' flavour that goes well with the cheese. And hopefully that will disguise the fact that my chorizo, bean and squash chili main course has salami instead of chorizo (thank you so very much asda) and is thus underwhelming.

Literal laughter Nov. 9th, 2010 @ 01:12 pm
[I went to write an entry and found this saved as a draft, so here you go]

Anyone noticed how people always say "I literally laughed out loud" nowadays? Presumably in the pre-lol days you would just say "I laughed out loud at that funny thing". But I can't remember now. It seems like an odd thing to say, almost tautological. I mean, unless someone specified "I had a quiet chuckle to myself" I would assume that their laughter would be outward and audible and so "I laughed" would be sufficient. But now I find myself saying I literally laughed out loud to highlight just how funny I found something.

Isn't it kind of annoying that despite me choosing to ignore all this text speak nonsense, it has still affected the way I speak anyway?

Sep. 16th, 2010 @ 12:54 pm
According to Mrs Beeton

Independently of its invigorating influence on the constitution, porter exerts a marked and specific effect on the secretion of milk; more powerful in exciting an abundant supply of that fluid than any other article within the range of the physician's art; and, in cases of deficient quantity, is the most certain, speedy, and the healthiest means that can be employed to insure a quick and abundant flow. . . . The quantity to be taken . . . should vary from one to two pints a day, never taking less than half a pint at a time, which should be repeated three or four times a day.

Now I don't particularly want or need milk, but it's better safe than sorry, right? Also, *never* take less than half a pint of porter at a time, who knows what terrible effects may occur...

That said, Mrs Beeton also claims that the shepherds of Egypt had a singular manner of cooking eggs without the aid of fire. They placed them in a sling, which they turned so rapidly that the friction of the air heated them to the exact point required for use. And I am not entirely sure if that is true.
Other entries
» Look, I'm not proud of myself, ok?
In none of what I am about to say do I come across as anything other than an insane person, but I'm going to say it anyway.

So a couple of nights ago, I rolled over in my sleep and my belly ring had somehow got stuck in the fur of Ronnie, the big noseless gorilla with whom I share my bed. It rather hurt. 

This morning I got an email with the subject line: Time for Teddy Bears at The All-In-One Company. And I would like to point out at this point that I am really not a weird teddy bear girl - I don't sign up for alerts for Teddy Bear time or anything, and Ronnie - my only stuffed toy - is usually only allowed in my bed in his capacity as extra pillow and sentimental artifact.  So obviously I thought bleurgh, why am I getting junk email about teddy bears? How sickeningly twee.

But *then* I read the email preview which posited the questions: Could your teddy bear be more snuggly and cuddly? Does your teddy bear wish they had an all−in−one suit of their very own? 
And I - momentarily - thought: Yes! *That* is the answer, That will ensure I don't get stuck to his fur again!

Obviously it was only very momentary. People, if I ever buy a teddy bear all in one romper suit
please euthanase me.
» (No Subject)
I have a huge and overwhelming lust to own this shirt. I think I am going to buy it. In fact, yes, I very probably will.

Great, thanks for talking that through with me.
» Fish figments
So, I got a free plate of chips and whitebait last night (god bless the good people at the Dev). I managed mostly to leave the whitebait for other hungry drinkers to eat, tho a couple did slip in, in chip disguises. 

Anyway, I don't think I have ever seen whitebait before and it is pretty weird isn't it? Like complete em-dashes of fish. A tiny minus sign from the sea. And the way they are nothing but a little bit of a line makes them so... featureless. Like a plate of nails (albeit battered). Which obviously made me think of my favourite Hardy quote. But oh, the intolerable antilogy of making figments feel.  We are like those fish. Lorry loads of millions of tiny identical anonymous fish. You can hardly bring yourself to imagine that they are or have been alive they are so pointlessly multitudinous*. To Hardy's Spirit of The Pities, you can understand that we must look to him as whitebait does to us. Little figments of iron filings being moved around by an invisble magnet. And then, when you see it like that how cruel it is to make them sentient.


Reason I am telling you this is really just - so yeah, I'm terribly clever even while drunk, you know.

*Ironically, of course, fish have no nervous system so they in fact don't feel in the strictest sense.
» Dilemma
So, I want to go to Philosophy this evening at the Blue, but I can't be bothered to get dressed and go all that way. Do you think watching the webcam and listening to random philosophy talks counts?!

Although the tag line:

The show that questions everything
- eeeexcept your intelligence

is rather annoying
» Feijoada and bobotie
Golly, I forgot to report on the final meals. They weren't terribly exciting relatively. For Brazil I made feijoada, their national dish. This is a rich filling stew of black beans boiled with dried salted beef, ribs and chorizo. The flavours come out into the water wonderfully and then you mash some of the beans up to make a thick sauce. I assumed that using jerky was ok for the salted beef as it was all I could find (incidentally I was originally going to make bolinhos de bacalhau (which is fish balls), but everything in Brazil appears to use salted meat, in this case you needed salted cod and I couldn't find any. I think just using normal cod would have made it rather unBrazilian. I wonder why they salt stuff so much). It was nice to eat, but I don't think I would bother again, I am not a big fan of pulse-heavy meals, the texture gets too much for me.

And then the last day was South Africa, so I obviously made bobotie, a cottage pie-esque dish with a sort of egg custard on top instead of mash. It is mildly spiced and has sweet ingredients in it, think raisins, apricot jam, that sort of thing. I've had this before and it was pretty nice. I did them in small portions and froze quite a few. Incidentally, the other day I was watching Masterchef (I was really bored) and someone made bobotie, I don't think the judges had heard of it before, they descibed the concept as sounding like a mixed muddle of confusing flavours. I think the south africans should take up arms.

All in all, it was a fun experiment, that introduced me to some lovely new dishes. I will definately be making the portugese soup, the brown flour soup, banana bread and ceviche again often. The cold North Korean soup will probably be given another go, and I think I owe it to kumala pie to decide whether it is less odd when I assign it to a particular course. Also, the chili toffee topped pineapple would make a delicious and light desert when entertaining. And when next I find myself with both vodka and chorizo, you'd better believe I'm going to light that bad boy.

Moyin moyin does not deserve a second chance tho.
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