26 February, 2007

Little baby no-name

I feel very guilty about not mentioning anything to do with the baby for a while. it has taken up considerable (though by no means regrettable) portions of our life already. I feel I should have shared some of this earlier, but I don't really have any news to post about.
Rosa is exhausted, she has always slept lightly as it is, but with being woken up every night at 3am, combined with some stress at work, she has been considerably out of energy for a few months now. She's doing pretty well at keeping it together and not loosing her rag at all, but I think these last few weeks until maternity leave begins are going to feel like an eternity to her.

Our big difficulty at the moment is the greatest challenge of what to name him. Of course once we see his face (ETA: May 10) all bets are off, but, until then, here's some of our favourites and some random others to give you some choice and save you from slagging off our favourites:

What shall we name our boy?
Junior Danger
pollcode.com free polls

Ginger Beer

As well as making my first beef stock, I'm trying out a recipe for Ginger Beer, from a book mum recommended I get, which someone on Freecycle was giving away.

I 'accidentally' put six times the recommended amount of ginger in, and then hastily added half again of water and lemons.
To summarise you chuck ginger and lemon rind into a bucket, boil water and put the remaining lemons in. Then mix that and sugar all together in the bucket. Now take the lemon halves out again. When it gets cool, throw in some yeast and cream of tartar.
Bucket o' beer

Quantities are something like:

  • 4.5 litres water
  • 25g ginger
  • 2 lemons
  • 500g sugar
  • some yeast (forget how much, but I just put the whole packet in)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar

I think I put in 150g ginger (inc. peel, so probably less).

the guy in Brewer's Droop (the best darned homebrew shop in the whole of God-belovin' Bristol) said something about yeast nutrient so I'll chuck a bit of that in in a second. Apparently this evening it should be ready to bottle up (in plastic bottles, as it's volatile and wont to explode if not drunk quickly).

Beef stock

Some throw-away comment from Rosa on Friday inspired me to ask in the butchers if they had any beef bones. They gave me a large plastic bag-full for free, so I spent Sunday stinking out the kitchen with a simmering pot of beef and scum.

Having never made beef stock before, the first thing I did was track down a recipe. All my classic cookbooks failed me. I found no mention of it in Mrs Beeton's Household Management. Edouard de Pomiane simply uses it, he has someone to make these things for him, probably in these new-fangled 'cubes'.

Getting a bit more contemporary, an excellent book mum gave me for christmas, Living and Eating by John Pawson and Annie Bell (which is a bit of a snob's bible to all you need to know) told me that there was a virtual PhD in stock-making available it could attain such artistry, and then proceeded to only give me a recipe (which I made with good results just after christmas) for chicken stock. Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall got me all excited by having a reference to it in the index of The River Cottage Cookbook, but it turned out only to refer to its existence as a recipe. Finally! Gary Rhodes came up with the goods in his New British Classics book. Here's his recipe in summary (from memory):

  • 5kg beef bones
  • 6.5-7 litres of cold water
  • 3 onions
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • salt

Roast the onions slowly for two hours or so. The Roast the beef bones at 200oC for half an hour. Ten minutes in, chuck the roughly chopped carrot and celery in with the bones. Put everything in a big pan. Bring it to the boil and keep it there for 8 hours, skimming the scum off the top every now and then.

I ballsed up the thyme and chucked in some dried stuff, that I then skimmed off twenty minutes later. I also ballsed up by not having a large enough pan to fit all that water in.
By about midnight last night it was ready, if a little too reduced, even. I strained off the lumps, and took the bones out of these. Then I pureed the remainder into a further stage opf soup, that made a grinding noise with the blender as the bits of gristle and bone whizzed round (I had to hack the some of the roasted bones in half with a butcher's cleaver - no simple task for a first-timer). Two minutes later, this final by-product was in the Council compost bin, which marks the territory of our doorstep like the piss of a randy old alcoholic fishmonger. Can't wait for summer!

By 1 am, I'd finished pouring it into various containers to cool, and sort the skimmed-off matter to get some second servings of stock, true blemished skimmings and purest beef lard (pure except for a bit of thyme and leek).
I'll let you know if it was worth the effort when I actually make something.

The chicken stock has made some really really nice stew with a recipe from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diary, which I got for christmas and am spending the year reading so that I can appreciate the food and get inspiration for seasonal cooking.

13 February, 2007

Truth revealed unto me from the great and glorious meatball

This beaticious creator has become known to me through the glorious Wikipedia and the words of Bobby Henderson, who is trying to insist that if creative design is to be taught in American schools so must his truth revealed unto him that the world was created by the flying spaghetti monster.

Other less surreal wandering son the internet have revealed that Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, is flying the Rangers football team to Israel.

And whilst I'm on the topic of meatballs, someone at work has been going to Subway every lunchtime for one of their £1.99 meatball sandwiches. It sounds really good. Could meatballs be the new Pie?

11 February, 2007

Rodent in the night

On the night before last I awoke to a krr-krr-krrr sound of something evil happening past the foot of the bed. I'd been to my mate Ray's birthday and got back late, so was relegated to the spare-room-for-alcoholics-and-insomniacs.
I sat up and looked around.
Nothing happened, so I curled back up in an exhausted ball and tried to sleep. Just as I was drifting off it started again, "What is this?", thought I. Sounds like a beast of somekind. I turned the light on and sat up. Suffice to say I couldn't see any thing.
This went on for a while. I eventually figured out it was some kind of invisible rodent intent on keeping me awake with it's ridiculous mindgames, "I'll out-fox 'e.", thinks I, figuring my fatigue would outweigh any rodent gnawing-noise. Just after 2am I stopped turning the light on and looking about whenever it happened, and sure enough I must have drifted off, because I woke up with something on the back of head. I screamed an incoherent frightened whimpering and waved my arms around a bit, whacked the light on, and thought I saw something sneak down the end of the bed and behind the chest of drawers.
At this point I admitted defeat and went and woke Rosa up to get comfort and a corner of the BIG bed to sleep on (she's filled it with pillows and cushion support for her pregnant-self).

Then Yesterday, whilst I was out shopping, Rosa made the bed and actually saw the little mouse when she lifted the duvet.
I borrowed a mousetrap off her parents.
Some good people came around for a poker night and I made them wear silly hats.

And then ... THEN. As I was tidying up, I armed the trap by trimming a piece of wire down to the right size and loading it with cheese:

I whipped off the duvet covers and this sweet little thing was sitting there. It shuffled off to the edge of the bed and pretended to hide about as pathetic as five year-old closing it's eyes so you can't see them.
What could I do? It was so cute.
I went to tell Rosa, who had had enough by now and told me to the, "Lay the treacherous death-machine, bitch, and get your pretty arse in here." (I'm somewhat paraphrasing, as anyone who knows Rosa will testify).
I got a plastic fruit carton, cut an airhole in the side, and plopped it over the mouse, slid the lid underneath and took a couple of photos.

I then popped it in the garden for the night in case it escaped and dropped a woolly jumper over the carton to keep it warm.

When I went to look at it the next morning it was dead. Aw.
No more mouse.

I named it Rupert and 'buried' it in the dustbin.

08 February, 2007

Farewell, Ian

Ian (left) is going to sea. He's going to be an officer on a ferry boat going from the US to S. America. For the next four months Bristol will be quiet and poker nights will be missing something.
Inevitably after pub closing hours, I was dragged out to the Prince of Wales with Toby, chucking rum all over the place. There was a powercut and the walk home in the snow would have been blissful if not for house alarms and a brief police questioning as they drove through St Andrews park.

03 February, 2007

Having a geek moment

I am KingPippin on del.ico.us

What am I talking about? Well, I've indulged my geeky side and set up an online bookmarking tool, which, frankly, bores the piss out of everyone I tell. So instead of boring my friends, family (and especially my lovelyspecialladyfriend), I though I'd bore the piss out of a load of trolls, spiders and lurkers on t'internet. Apologies if you know me.

This was supposed to be fancy javascript but blogger.com wouldn't accept it, so it's a screenshot.

I think it's fantastic, obviously. All of the above words are tags I've put on my bookmarks, so I can cross reference different themes (e.g. film and food tags http://del.icio.us/kingpippin/film+food gives you films about food; hopefully). [Edit: this would work embedded if Blogger .com accepted javascript in their pages, which they don't, as is the above is just a picture linked to my del.ico.us page]
This means I can just bookmark EVERYTHING I may ever want to se again. EVER. and I thinks it's great I do.

Thankyou for patronising me, do carry on reading now.