Monday, August 29, 2011


I've decided to retroactively call August a holiday month, and am committed to posting every day in September.  Except maybe on my birthday...

See you on Thursday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Absence

Hi!  The weather has been so depressing here lately that I haven't been motivated to do much other than cook and sew and crochet.  This is why last week's Links of the Week have come out today (and have last week's date on them).

I have finished my friend's birthday present scarf, and have to finish edging it, then block it, then send it.  The copies of my thesis that I had bound weeks ago are still sitting on the floor behind the couch waiting to be sent.  My gnome picture that was the stitch along at Feeling Stitchy LAST month, is still going (I even finished a whole flower yesterday), but I have realised that the beads we got at Spotlight last week are too big to use for everywhere I wanted to put a bead, so when Mum goes to the hospital for x rays (her doctor thinks she might have arthritis!) on Monday, I will tag along and pop into Spotlight again for some smaller beads.

I made a recipe from World of Cake that, if I had followed the instructions properly would never have worked (please people, check your quantities before recipe books go to the printer!) because it listed 1c of flour for about 3 or more cups of liquid, and assumed a bread-like dough would result.  Three extra cups of flour were, luckily, in the cupboard.  I made another recipe from that book and it turned out fabulously, so I stand by my claim that the book rocks.  I made this (delicious!), and also these (best chocolate chip/chunk biscuits ever!).

And today I am listening to hours of podcasts, broken up by listening to Bjork.  I will try to be better about posting more regularly again.  I was doing so well, too!  What are you up to?  Is anyone reading this enjoying the freezing weather here in NZ?  I'm sure we could amuse ourselves by asking everyone we talk to how many layers they're wearing (thermal singlet, t shirt, two jumpers, two pairs of pants, socks, thermal socks,...  does a wheat bag count as a layer?)!

Links of the Week: August 13

Animals:  Sand Kitten in Israeli Zoo at Zooborns
I would sincerely like to apply for permission to have one of these gorgeous cats sent to me for Christmas.  Does anyone know how I can do this?  I'm sure s/he would make a great friend for the lion cub I'm trying to convince my friend to bring back from Africa for me.

Music/Comedy:  Bohemian Rhapsody in 25 Annoying Voices at Youtube
This guy is amazing.  He is in New Zealand at the moment with his one-man play that takes characters from the Simpsons and uses them to play out Shakespeare's MacBeth.  Sounds awesome!

Cartoon:  Why They Cancelled Eureka at Nerd Approved
Eureka was becoming one of my favourite running tv shows, and will now be relegated to 'shows they cancelled too soon', along with Firefly, SG:A (and SG:U which I haven't seen yet), and seaQuest (among many many more, obviously).  I think this cartoon is quite funny, I bet this is how it really happens too.  My idea for the future of tv?  Networks produce many pilot episodes, as already happens, and the viewers pledge money to make more episodes happen (that they can then download and keep in return for their pledge).  If enough money is raised, the network produces the season.

History:  Important War Records Finally Found at Stuff NZ
Imagine, if you can, that you are a prisoner of war, watching men (and these days women) around you suffering and dying, or simply disappearing one day to the next.  This was reality for the man in this article, who thought past his own position to empathise with the families of the men he knew in the camp.  He kept records as meticulously as he was able to of the fate of these men.  These records were then given to the British military when he was rescued at the end of the war, and shortly after, they disappeared.  But they have finally been released.

Awesome:  Rukhsana Kauser at Bad Ass of the Week
Imagine a terrorist knocks on your door and he and his baddy buddies, armed with rifles, demand that you become a member of his harem.  Your Mum and Dad stand up for you and are beaten up in return.  What would you do?  This story is so awesome and told in a really awesome way.  Rukhsana Kauser is BADASS.

(this live video shows why I like this song:  they don't use a vocal manipulator!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are You A Vegetarian? No, I Just Like Veges!

My Mum is a pescetarian who sometimes eats chicken and turkey...  and bacon.  So we eat a lot of chicken and vegetables because fish can be expensive and a lot of the fresh stuff gives me a migraine or stomach cramps.  I don't mind, I have pork and beef now and then, but otherwise don't miss it.  Unlike most people I know, I love vegetables and quite often order vegetable dishes when at restaurants instead of meat.

I was perusing foodgawker earlier today when I stumbled across this gorgeous plate from The Stone Soup:

I loaded the page to get the recipe, but my attention was caught by this statement:
One of the biggest mistakes I made last year when I decided to go vegetarian for a month, was not doing enough research before I made the change.
Which meant I ended up struggling to have enough energy.

This sounds just like my Mum - she's always tired.  I joke that from the moment she gets out of bed, all she can think of is getting back in.  I wonder if this is her problem; well that and the sleep apnea I'm sure she has.  So I think I'll have a look around this site for some more vegetarian recipes for her (and me) to enjoy, and hopefully make her feel better.

But tonight we're going to have these with some small modifications for what we have at home):

I am trying to be less lazy and make dinner a bit more interesting.  We had got into a bit of a food rut, but the Sure To Rise Challenge seems to have kicked me in the proverbial, and I have been furiously catching up on food blogs and websites.

On Monday we had Kumara Coconut and Lentil Soup (which is similar, but not as time-consuming or as delicious as Kumara and Lentil Soup) which made enough for me to still be eating it for lunch today.  I was a little disappointed that it lacked a little flavour, but over the course of a bowl, it grew on me, and I changed my mind.

On Tuesday we had (an altered version of) Thai Prawn Curry.  I have no idea where to get massamancurry paste, and we had some green curry paste in the fridge that I wanted to use, so we swapped that out.  It was delicious, and we really enjoyed the texture and flavour of the potatoes.

And last night we had Spiced Turkey Burgers.  Last time we found turkey mince in the supermarket on special, I made meatballs, and they were a little disappointing - they lacked flavour.  But these were amazing.  I added some craisens (dried cranberries) to the patty mix, and they offered a nice little burst of flavour.  We also had some cranberry sauce on the burgers to really overdo the yum factor!

Well, I'm off now to finish sending The Wheeling Gourmet the results of the Sure To Rise Challenge and then bake some Belgian Buns from Krystina Castella's A World of Cake.  Mum is taking the day off tomorrow and we're going shopping (window, of course), so I'm taking lunch.  Colour me frugal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Disney Family Dvd Marathon

This week I've been sitting crocheting (this is why I haven't posted much in the last few weeks - nothing to post about, I'm just sitting, crafting, not finishing things), and to keep myself from going completely insane, I've been watching dvd after dvd.  It's a great opportunity to feel less guilty about watching some of my favourite movies for the first time in ages.

Yesterday I watched Swiss Family Robinson:
Stranded on a deserted island after an encounter with pirates, a storm, and then a rocky reef, the Robinson family settle in for what they think might be a long stay.  They build a fantastic tree house (it's worth watching the movie just for this!) with indoor plumbing and a cool box; tame animals as varied as zebras, elephants, ostriches, and even catch a tiger; and wonder what to do next.

So the two eldest boys set off in one of the boats salvaged from the shipwreck to circumnavigate the island.  On this journey they meet the pirates again, who have captured an admiral and a cabin boy to hold for ransom.  Saving the cabin boy enrages the pirates so much that they seek out the family to get the boy back and restore their honour.  However, they don't count on the initiative and resourcefulness of the family!

On Monday I watched Blackbeard's Ghost:
Blackbeard, the well-known and, in his time, universally-feared pirate is revered in the seaside university town of Godolphin and an Inn furnished with artefacts from his life, is run by his elderly descendents.  Steve, the new coach of the floundering Godolphin Track Team, arrives at the Inn to find they are holding a fund raising event to aid in the payment of their mortgage.  If this mortgage is not paid in time, the land will be sold to the local crooks who intend to open a casino there (based on an ambiguity as to which jurisdiction the land falls under).

Hoping to impress the head of the conservation committee, Steve buys an expensive bedwarmer, and taking it to his room promtly sits on it and breaks it.  Within the handle he finds the spell book of one of Blackbeard's wives, and brings Blackbeard back to life.  What follows is a very funny story about Steve's efforts to get Blackbeard off his back, save the Inn, and get the girl.  If you need more convincing, there's a great scene where Steve shoots the gangsters with his finger *pew pew*...  and it works!

Today I'm going to watch The Absent-Minded Professor:
Professor Brainard is brilliant, but completely unconnected to the real world.  The film opens with him missing his own wedding because he is so caught up in his scientific experiments, for what is obviously not the first time.  However, he has found something amazing - a substance that breaks the law of conservation of energy, which can be demonstrated by showing that a ball of the substance will bounce higher on its second bounce than its first.  The Professor uses what he calls Flubber to make his university's basketball team fly through the air, his car fly (into government controlled airspace, no less), and finally to win back the heart of his fiance.  It's a really sweet funny movie.

They don't make movies like this any more - ones that can appeal to children and parents because they are funny, full of action, and have great stories and characters.  The only place you do sometimes see this these days is in animated movies like Shrek, and some anime.  They don't talk down to children, but are still appropriate for them.  They're not afraid to have some slapstick and groan-worthy moments; they're silly.  "I like corny, I'm looking for corny in my life".  Do you have any favourite movies from when you were a kid that you still love watching?  Let me know!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blogging Fiction

Just a short post as I only want to pose a question.  Does anyone know anything about fiction blogs?  By that I mean a blog written by an author in the voice of a fictitious character about their fictitious world.  I've heard of them somewhere in my travels around the interwub, but my (albeit, pretty lazy attempts at) searching hasn't brought up a place to start.  I think this could be a really interesting way to present fiction, and may even consider writing one myself (though probably anonymously and/or set to private - I can't write fiction, but I enjoy trying) so I'm very keen on finding something good to follow.

Are there any interesting ways you enjoy fiction?  I listen to a whole heap of fiction podcasts (Escape Pod, The Drabblecast, PodCastle, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clone Pod [on hiatus], Starship Sofa, Variant Frequencies, Tor dot com Story Podcast, X Minus One...  yeah I know it's a lot, but I have them running in the background while I craft, and at most they come out once a week!), and subscribe to Daily Science Fiction by email (though I have got really slack at reading them!).  What about you?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Links of the Week - August 6

Craft:  A Boy's Best Friend...  at Feeling Stitchy
The moment I read the title of this post I thought of the song "A Boy's Best Friend" By the White Stripes, for which the last line is "A boy's best friend is his mother or whatever has become his pet".  That's not what this embroidery is about, but I'll have that song playing in my head whenever I think of Hitchcock for a while now, I'm sure.

Steampunk:  Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Geek Crafts
Usually steampunk is very...  punky.  But this is beautiful whether you're into steampunk or not.  And I am.  So it's extra beautiful.

Science:  Facial Recognition at Io9
Yes, I have sneakily popped two links into this one entry.  The first is all about how facial recognition software could allow facebook to invade your privacy even more (or allow people to use facebook to invade your privacy themselves) and the second is about a neat phenomena that means that we don't process oddities about faces when they're upside down.  Both are interesting to me, despite my having studied this stuff for my masters.

Recipe:  Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey at Smitten Kitchen
Does anyone need any convincing to go and check this out?  No?  Good, I will tell you a little* story instead then.  We had an amazing plum tree at our old house.  Every year about Christmastime we would have a glut of plums, they would be tart when not quite ripe, then sweet when ripe, then rich when a little overripe, but edible at all three stages.  When we moved, we thought it would be okay not to take a cutting or any plum stones because my uncle (the one with the puppies) had lots of little baby plum trees on his farm that we'd given him, and he'd just dig one up for us.  No luck - he lost them (it's a farm, it's big!).  But I bumped into our old neighbours recently and they say the plum tree is still there, and the new owner is lovely - she'd be happy to have me call to collect a few plums to grow a new tree from.  So there is hope!

Art/Webcomics:  The Final Episode of FREAKANGELS at
I can't read it.  I just can't.  It can't be over.  I hate Warren Ellis.  I love Warren Ellis.  Waaaaahh.

(Wait, what?  That's not right...)

*Since when have I ever told a little story?

Sure To Rise

I mentioned a while back that I had signed up for a cooking challenge based on the Edmond's Cook Book and its online 1914 editionThe Wheeling Gourmet asked that entrants cook something from the 1914 edition, and its modern (that is, 2000 or later) equivalent, and I chose scones.  Because the plain scones had lard in them (which I can't abide), I decided that the analog to the modern scones I make (from Edmond's Classics, 2005) were the Yorkshire Tea Scones (even though they have an egg in them).  I have just had a lovely little tea party with Mum and my singing friend and her family, and my two batches of scones.

The 2005 Version:

3 c flour
6 t baking powder
75 g butter
~1 c milk*

Butter is rubbed into flour and baking powder, then enough milk is added to get a sticky dough.

The 1914 Version:

3/4 lb (340g) flour
1 oz (28 g) butter
1 dessertspoon sugar
~1/2 c milk*
2 t baking powder
1 egg

Butter is melted, milk is added and warmed and then added to sugar.  Flour and baking powder are mixed and a well is made in the centre.  The egg and then butter milk liquid is poured in.

They both turned out to be delicious and the votes for favourite came out pretty even (I think it was 3:2 [with one abstaining] to the 1914s).  I preferred the 1914 scones for a few reasons; although denser in texture, they sat much lighter in the tummy, the recipe made fewer scones (better for a household of two), and I just generally preferred the texture.  One tea party goer commented that the 2005 scones were sweeter, despite the lack of sugar in the recipe.  I hypothesised (and felt very smart about it) that this was because I didn't use unsalted butter, and that there is more butter in the 2005 version.

In summary, I LOVED this experiment, and think I might do another comparison soon!

*I found that I needed extra milk today.  The amount of milk you need changes from batch to batch, we think depending on the brand of flour you use, the brand of milk, and the weather (I am not kidding).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Basic Dahl

While reading the feeds this morning, I came across this recipe for 'basic dahl' on SBS:
Heat the oil in a slow cooker over high heat.
Add the lentils, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, red chilli, onion, garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, until the onion softens.
Add the coriander, stock and chopped vegetables, and cook over low heat for at least 1 hour (the longer the better).
Stir in the parsley just before serving.
 Yikes!  That's a lot more than a basic dahl, in my opinion.  Look at all of those spices!  This would be a delicious dahl, but I know an even simpler recipe (more a method) that was taught to me by a resident at my old hall of residence in Australia.  He is from Pakistan, so I deem this recipe to be authentic!
Soak lentils (red are good) for a few hours (this makes them cook faster) before rinsing and checking for chaff.
Heat a little oil in a saucepan, add a chopped onion and cook over a low heat until softened.  Add a cut tomato, seeds, skin and all.
Add the soaked rinsed lentils, enough water to cover it all, and some hot paprika (not smoked, not sweet).
Stir, and cook until lentils are tender.  Add more water if needed.
And that's it.  Five ingredients, including the cooking oil.  Now that's basic, and it's a really yummy introduction to the loveliness that is dahl.  Recently, I have moved on from this recipe to something a lot more like the SBS one, and tried different types of lentils, but that's only because I have started using paprika for Spanish and Moroccan food and like its flavour better in that context.  Let me know if you try it!

PS:  I know I promised a book review, but I'm still working on my gnome canvas (see here for the link).  We'll be back to regularly scheduled posting when he's done.  He's turned out to be high maintenance, all my own fault, and has acquired a stumpwork beard.  Yeah, who knew you could so that?

Monday, August 1, 2011


I've just realised I've not posted anything since last week!  What have I been up to?  I made brioches, I started yet another canvas (this time it's actually for me!), found out a friend got engaged :-), found out I didn't get the library job I was interviewed for :-(, picked up the copies of my thesis from the bindery (see the photo below), went bowling for the first time in two years (and my score really showed it!), continued working on another crocheted scarf (a bright red one for a birthday present), emptied everything other than furniture out of my room in an attempt to eliminate all traces of dust, then cleaned the walls, and have started to put everything back in.  So not all that much really.

Oh, I also started writing a book review, which I haven't finished, and decided not to finish China Mieville's The City and The City (mostly because I don't like his writing style - the story on the other hand, was pretty ingenious).  Instead I'm reading Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth.  The last Verne I read was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, otherwise known as The Fish Directory due to its almost complete lack of plot and frequent ichthyological infodumps.  But hey, who can dislike a book where a giant cuttlefish tries to kill you?

This week, I am going to finish the new canvas, birthday crochet scarf, and mission bedroom-tidy-up.  And I think I will request Supernatural season two from the library.  And seeing as it's fine, I might just go for a walk.


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