28 December 2007


I meant to blog something longish and meaningful about this and that but I am now too full of plumpciousness to do so. I made cheats beef bourguignon aka beef casserole with added zing. It was lovely and worth the (not really that much) effort. My chief taster and bottle up washer, he who is blessed with an acute taste bud and healthy appetite agrees.

Beef Onna Spoon

The recipe

all amounts, techniques, timings and temperatures are approximate

braising steak ~ 600 gms trimmed of obvious fat and cubed
3 smallish onions roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves peeled
350 gms button mushrooms
4 or 5 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons of mustard powder (Dijon mustard would do just as well but we don't have any)

~ 1/3 of a bottle of red wine
~ a good slosh of brandy
1 squirt of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of corn flour dissolved in a glass of water
some olive oil
enough flour to toss the beef in
a plastic bag

pre heat the oven to gas mark 3 150 Centigrade. Put the flour into the plastic bag season with salt and pepper, toss the cubed beef in the flour ensuring it is covered.

In a frying pan heat some olive oil and when it is hot, brown the beef in batches, put the browned beef into the casserole pot when done. Once all the meat is browned put the onion in the pan to soften off and soak up any of the juices. Then put the softened onion in with the beef along with the wine, mushrooms, brandy, salt and pepper to taste, the mustard and the garlic, give this lot a good stir then put the lid on the pot and bung it in the oven for 3 to 4 hours at gas mark 3.

At about an hour before the end of cooking stir in the squirt of tomato paste and the cornflour mixture, these will thicken up the liquor a bit. About 10 minutes before serving remove from the oven it will remain warm enough in the pot but won't be so hot that it takes the roof of your mouth off.

Serve with whatever you want we had it with brown rice the more traditional way is to have it with mashed potatoes.

This dish is relatively easy as there isn't a lot of slaving over a hot stove and it's very tolerant of inexact timings and amounts. It will also keep and possibly tastes even better for being made the day before

27 December 2007


I don't like crowds, I don't like queuing and I don't like the argy bargy of the Sales at full pelt. I've politely declined a joint trip to Peterborough with my Mum to pick over the shops tomorrow on this basis, plus I don't get paid until Monday.

I did brave the out of town Next to get bits for Simon's Granddad's 80th birthday present, which was today, it was chaos in there, I was lucky because I was looking in the home furnishings department there was a lot less busyness to fight through. I had to park five minutes up the road and walk to the shops across the way at Halfords the car parks were not full but the road out was completely chocker not moving, not good for encouraging business.

I came home listening to Radio 4 giving its first reports on the assassination of Benazir
Bhutto. The news is shocking and worrying for Pakistan's immediate future, as her death leaves a gap at the head of her party and what ever happens in the Pakistan's near (before it gets postponed) general election, someone or other will be able to claim that it was an unfair election because of her death and it will the headcases the excuse they needed to go on the rampage. To be honest I don't have the foggiest what will happen next but I doubt it will be good.

Finally it's two months into being an old married, just so that we don't end on a completely depressing note.

26 December 2007

Boxing Day

I hope everyone had a lovely day yesterday and it wasn't too stressful, grim or tiring. We went to my in laws yesterday for a huge lump of beef and we went again today for lunch. Chicken with all the trimmings except crackers.

I don't know about you, but except for Dr Who and Shrek the Halls I've not been overly impressed with the Christmas offerings on telly this year. Yep there are some good films on but nowadays what with DVDs and the Sky Premiere Channel (which we don't subscribe to btw) the big Xmas film isn't anything special. I know that there is more to Christmas than the telly but there is only so long that you can read the "lav" books that you got as presents.

24 December 2007

Too Busy to post...

...much. I've got so many blogs to read, posts to prepare, Christmas and life to enjoy never mind, it is Christmas it doesn't have to be perfect just relax and let it all flow over you.

I'm going to go back to having fun, just let me leave you with the faintly unsettling sight of NORAD being whimsical. Santa Tracking.

21 December 2007

I feel their pain

xkcd - you know it makes sense

18 December 2007

The Endless Slog For Christmas Cheer

We are scarcedly organised, we've done the Christmas present shopping, we spent a fair chunk of Sunday wrapping presents, the cards have all been posted. Tree decorated and twinkling, a lot of you will have seen the wreath already. Tonight we tackled the lump of the food shopping with nothing but a sketchy idea of what we wanted and some sturdy bags. An hour later we drove out of Tesco's car park with a car that was sitting very low on its wheels, so I guess we can say that we broke the back of that too.

But what is it about the preparations for the holiday that makes them so joyless? Well I know what it is about that Tescos, harsh lighting, tired customers who look ill under the fluorescent lights - it's enough to make the Easter Bunny want to become a suicide bunny. It's knackering and has given me a dreadful headache. We did pick up the holiday booze though, I've never had Jack Daniels before, it's rather nice, smooth, tasty and although it hasn't relieved my headache it hasn't made it worse.

16 December 2007


The static blogroll. I know it's long, probably too long but I do read them, or at least have a look when Google Reader tells me that something new has appeared. The only exception to that is Becky's web because it's normally a little voice telling me "I've blogged". There is a reduced and dynamic list to the right with some highlights.

Becky's Web - Becky EnVérité

A Gentleman's C - The Angry Professor

A Hazy Day Today - Rockmother

Alicublog - Roy

The All New Adventures 0f Wyndham The Triffid - Wyndham appears to have stopped blogging

All That Comes With It - Dan

Bad Astronomy - Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer.

Bad Science - Ben Goldacre sticking one on the pseudoscientists

Betty's Utility Room - Betty

Blonde Moments - Hannah

Blurred Lines
- Lara Tyg

Boolblog - Boolbar

Cafe De Jenkster - Kris

Clarissa Explains Some Of It - Clarissa

Cosmic Variance - Daniel Holtz et al

The DraGnet - Miss K -back

Daily Mail Watch - Merk

Eggs Akimbo - Em

- Kisa

Flat Out Norwich - Flat Out - appears to have stopped blogging

The Gates of Ivory
- Isobel

Gatochy's Blog - Mariana

Glitter For Brains - Lee

Herstory - Emma

I Can Has Cheezburger

Idle Thoughts, Furious Musings - Penny M

One Man Blogs - Gordon

Joanna's Diary - Joanna

The Jogger Blogger - Jogger Blogger

Just Jessica - Jessica - retired

The Kaptain Kobold Blog - Kaptain Kobold

Lolcats Can Has Science

Lipstick Vogue - Kat

Luis Droppings - Luis

Midwest Rock Lobster - Chixulub

Mildly Diverting - Kim

NeuroLogica Blog - Steve Novella

¡Oye Billy!
- Billy

The Other Side Of The World - -appears to have stopped blogging

Palace Fan That's A New Dad - James

The Panda's Thumb

Pandora's Hideaway - Pandora

Pig Sty Avenue - Garry

Plutos the Blubberman - Sim

The Quackometer Blog - Le Canard Noir

Rantings Of The Lazy Iguana - Lazy Iguana

Razorblade of Life - Z

Respectful Insolence
- Orac

The Rogues Gallery - Evan Bernstein et al

Ross @ Dover - Ross - appears to have stopped blogging

Sad, Sweet Songs and Crazy Rhythms - Magpie

Selina's Universe - Selina Morse - appears to have stopped blogging

Smaller Than Life -

Solid Gone - Stegbeetle

Stephanie's Pillowbook - Stephanie

Steph's Ramblings - Steph

Stephen Fry's Blog - Stephen Fry

Stuff White People Like

Sugar Mountain Farm - Walter

- Ian Betteridge

Thaumata's Blog of ill repute - Thaumata

Thinking Is Dangerous - Dr* T

Tiny Frog - Tinyfrog

Tom's Astronomy Blog
- Tom

Trendy Discotheque - Valerie

Wilder By Far - John Wilder

World-O-Crap - Scott and SZ


You're a DJ, I'm the song - Tiffy

15 December 2007

We Put Up The Tree Today

Red And Gold and Tree


Following on from the list of podcast highlights I thought I would do the egotistical thing give the full gory breakdown of my podcast listening habits.

Astronomy Cast

The Bugle - As recommended by Dan. Very funny and as it comes from the Times it's England-centric.

Friday Night Comedy from Radio Four - it depends on which series is occupying the slot, but so far it's been The News Quiz and the Now Show.

In Our Time - Another Radio Four product, I learn something new with every podcast, even when I don't understand the half of it.

Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews
- Going straight to the heart of the periphery every time.

Science Talk: The Podcast Of Scientific American

SETI: Science and Skepticism - Because I'm bit of a geek.

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures - Because I'm a bit of a geek who loves astronomy.

- Good skeptical podcasting.

The Skeptics Guide To The Galaxy - the champs at skeptical podcasting.

14 December 2007

Christmas Meals

Top tips

1. don't hold them in bars that fancy themselves as a cross between a Harvester restaurant and Studio 54

2. Or anywhere that serves their drinks in plastic cups, all the time.

3. Where the other customers would require beer goggles of incredible thickness if you were inclined to go on the pull afterwards.

4. Where they can't recover from getting half the table's food order wrong.

Otherwise we had quite an enjoyable evening in a perverse sort of way.

09 December 2007

Cooking With Teh Internets

We had a curry tonight, Rogan Josh with Sag Aloo, healthy style which meant I cut down on the oil. Although I have many cook books they are mostly written by people who have many assistants and forgotten what it is like to cook a full meal without someone to do the chopping and washing up for you. This is where teh internets comes in. Google on any type of food and a plethora of recipes will come up, catering for all whims and requirements: vegan meat loaf - bloody pages of recipes I tell you!

I hit gold for my Rogan Josh with Route 79's recipe, it was delicious and very simple to do if you are not allergic to a bit of chopping of herbs and vegetables, I will be going back to try more of his recipes as they look lovely. Sag Aloo is thanks to a recipe website I found, I just looked of a version that I liked the look of and more importantly I had the ingredients too!

08 December 2007

06 December 2007

Going Backwards.

Pope Benny seems to be going backwards again. Abusing indulgences got the Catholic Church a bad name back in the 1500's and quite rightly too. Implying that pilgrimages to Lourdes will cut off time in Purgatory in order to up the visitor number can't be very good theology. As an ex Catholic I don't believe in Purgatory, the "miracle" at Lourdes etc now, actually I don't think I ever believed in them especially not Lourdes, even as a young un I was left pretty cold by the Marian apparitions and how they were spun to us at school. But, but the thing is - if you've "sinned" or felt you've done wrong either on an internal scale or to someone else the best way to make that good isn't to traipse off to France it's to make good to the person you've hurt.

05 December 2007

All Clued Up

We saw ISIHAC being recorded last night at the Peterborough Broadway Theatre.

We saw two shows recorded, each one took about an hour, an hour 10. A lot of material to edit down to 28 minutes. Humphrey Lyttleton seemed to be still suffering from a sore throat as he had in this Monday's recording (3/12/07) although he strode on stage with a vigour that belies his years. Andy Hamilton liberally made teddy bear jokes through out the recordings, I wonder how many of those will survive to the final broadcast? We got a round of all the main games over the two recordings, Mornington Crescent, One Tune to the Name of Another, Swanee Kazoo and Pick Up Sticks. Hamish and Dougal made an appearance but Tim Brook Taylor was on his way to the Galapagos Islands for a holiday so Jack Dee (or was it Andy Hamilton) stood in for him. The Laser Display Board was as amazing as I had imagined and the money spent on it was obvious.

Several persons have expressed jealousy that we were able to get tickets, I'll let you into a little secret it's because we are on the I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue mailing list and if you want to join it sent an email stating that you would like to join the list to imsorryihaventaclue "at" bbc "dot" co "dot" uk

03 December 2007

Laser Display Board

We are going to see I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue recorded tomorrow in Peterborough, I've been looking forward to this moment ever since I realised you could get tickets to see BBC comedies recorded. A very long time.

We are both enthusiastic fans of the 'Clue perhaps not to Magpie's lengths: we haven't knowingly stalked any members of the team yet.

Simon can't wait to see "the lovely Samantha," and I'm really looking forward to the high tech wonder that is the Laser Display Board, I've heard so many good things about it.

01 December 2007

The Presents Have Landed

This morning the gift lift stuff arrived, well most of it did there is still some on order; being made as you read this by underpaid Vietnamese boat people in the heart of darkest Derbyshire no doubt*. We actually didn't have too much difficulty fitting the new stuff into our wee house, there is a home for just about everything but the bread maker which will get opened when we are both a little thinner. The paella dish posed a bit of problem, I'm certain it wasn't that big in the shop, I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to cook rice in it or sail down the Ouse in it so that I can catch the ingredients. Our new plates and bowls are lovely it's the first time either of us have owned proper expensive crockery and there is a real difference in feel, heft and quality of finish.

We've tried out the coffee machine and the coffee bean grinder: several times in the case of some people. Simon was gently shaking his way down the length of one of the sofas earlier on but the elephant tranquilliser dart* has helped put a stop to that.

Must go now I think the effects of the dart are wearing off.

*Possibly, I may have exaggerated a little bit.