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Subject:Leaving Brighton drinks
Time:07:55 pm
Last time I posted I said that I didn't know what I was doing when my contract in Brighton ended.

Well, now I know. I have been offered a rather cool sounding job at the University of Lancaster, which will be starting in the second week of September.

I've found a house up there, and will be moving stuff in two weeks (just before the Discworld Convention... don't I plan well), having a couple of weeks up there around the convention, and then coming back to Brighton for my final week of work down here before moving permanently.

That being the case, i'm having some leaving drinks this Saturday night. In the absence of any better suggestion, this will be at around 8pm at The Bell in Hove, just off Blatchington Road (basically behind the big Tesco - cut through the car park).

Please feel free to let anyone know who you think might like to come.
comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

Subject:Gosh, an entry
Time:11:56 am
I kind of abandoned posting here. Not for any significant reason, more that once it was longer than a year, I felt that anything I wrote would be either an apology or seem not worth re-emerging for.

But i've been meeting various nice new people in the last few months, some of whom have LJs, and I got prodded. So, here's a post to say that I probably won't post again for several years. But i'm not dead, and I read all your entries, and occassionally even leave comments.

If you want to know what i'm up to on a day to day basis, I use twitter for that these days. Same username. I was never very good at sitting down to compose posts, so 140 characters sent from my mobile when the whim strikes suits me just fine.

A brief precis of my current situation - i'm living in Brighton at the moment back with shebit and moose_biscuit while working a maternity cover post at the University of Brighton. I have no idea currently what i'll be doing or where i'll be living once that contract ends in November. I'm also keeping myself busy being a member of the committee for the International Discworld Convention.

Want to know anything more specific? Leave me a comment and I'll probably reply. That goes for any time forward, not just the few days after this post is made.

Bye till next time!
comments: 7 Prods or Prod me

Subject:Oscars and travelling
Time:05:53 pm
Had some friends round last night for an 'Oscar party'. I made dinner (baked salmon and roasted vegetables and potato wedges), and then there were multitudinous snacks, namely nachos, and homeemade salsa, and crudites, and crisps, and houmous, and dip, and cake, and chocolates, and more cake. We ate to keep awake.

I wasn't particularly suprised by any of the award results (except perhaps that Nick Park didn't win) and the ceremony itself wasn't up to the usual standard, and a little dull. Hey ho. It was still a fun evening. I'd seen a good proportion of the films and while there were some nominated i'd have preferred to win, nothing seemed unfair.

I've now got a week off work, and will be heading down to London tomorrow to see my family. I've already made some arrangements in the evenings (birthday drinks for a friend, meal with extended family, and attendance at the regular pub quiz with hobnobs - it would be nice to see folks there if anyone was pondering going) but if anyone Southwards fancies meeting up during the day i'm quite happy to hop on a train or in the car and wander about and find people. Let me know if you're free and we'll try and sort something.

Next Sunday is my birthday. I have no idea what i'm doing yet, if anything. I'm not particularly bothered by this fact :)

comments: 1 Prod or Prod me

Subject:So, where were we?
Time:10:54 pm
Right. Looking back on my 'recent' entries, it seems that my last post to actually contain much content was in November. Shocking.

Obviously there's no way I can update on all the stuff that i've been busy with since then, and honestly it's probably not particularly interesting. So here's a potted summary. Yay lists!

  • My new job rocks. I love the laid back academic atmosphere, and the group i'm in does really cool stuff.

  • I'm working in the centre of Manchester. This involves commuting, about an hour door to door, which is not ideal but could be far worse and gives me time to read twitter and catch up on my magazine subscriptions.

  • Working in the centre means i'm able to be a lot more sociable with Manchester folks. My social calendar seems to be constantly full - in the last month or so there has seldom been a week where I have more than two 'evenings off' from being out and busy. This is good, but tiring.

  • Some of the time that I do have free, is dedicated to the business stuff. I've done several more Cook Clever courses, and they seemed well recieved. One recipient in fact is on here, I hope they had fun. I'm slowly winding down the Jamie Oliver stuff though I think, I just don't have time and the returns are not worth the effort it requires

  • Any *remaining* free time, i'm busy with my responsibilities for the Discworld Convention. Which, as per my previous post is almost full to capacity, eep! I'm really looking forward to it, should be a good 'un this year. I'm off down to Birmingham on Saturday for a meeting with the hotel to check everything is as it should be.

  • So now, a list of specific fun things that I have done in the past three months (in no particular order):

  • Been to the preliminary and first meetings of the Manchester Scifi Book Club, which meets at Madlab. The first book we read and discussed was The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. The one for next month (16th March) is The Drowned World by JG Ballard. The first discussion session was fab and i'm really looking forward to the next one.

  • There were those holiday things. Christmas, and New Year. Christmas involved my sister visiting, and lots of food. New Year's was a great party in London courtesy of bytepilot and thalinoviel. There was fire. Mmmm, burny.

  • Been watching the new series of Lost. Oooh, it's rather good.

  • Been watching Caprica. It's interesting so far.

  • We got Sky+HD installed! I'm not so fussed by the HD thing, my eye isn't discerning enough. But I *love* Sky+, I don't have to worry about missing episodes of things any more! I don't tend to turn the tv on unless there's something specific I want to watch, so if I am out or forget I easily lose track.

  • And finally, things that are happening soon that i'm looking forward to:

  • The 'Teawitter' twitter tea party on Sunday. I'm making homemade crumpets.

  • It's also Purim, so i'll be going to the synagogue saturday night, and also bringing homemade hamentaschen to the teawitter party. I did pre-prep on the dough this evening, it's a three day recipe (the pastry needs chilling overnight at two separate stages) so it's a good thing I only make it once a year!

  • The Oscars are on a week on Sunday, and i'm having a few folks round to stay up late and watch them with me. Oscar party, hurrah...

  • ...and I don't have to get up early the next day because i've booked a week off work. I shall at some point at the start of the week be heading down to London (until Friday), but i've got no particular plans there other than on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, so if anyone wants to meet up/hang out let me know and we'll try and sort something.

  • The week after that, it's my birthday! No real plans as yet, but it's a sunday so might go out for lunch or something.
  • comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Discworld con tickets, get 'em while they're.... available
    Time:09:36 pm
    So, tickets for the Discworld Convention are selling at a pretty rapid rate of knots. I suspect that most of my friends list either aren't interested or already have their membership sorted. But just in case, you might want to check this out.

    Yes yes, I know i'm due an actual update. I suppose i'll go and start writing that now..
    comments: 1 Prod or Prod me

    Subject:Anybody looking for a dining table?
    Time:09:41 pm
    Yes yes, I know I haven't updated for over a month. And for once it's not because i've not been doing much of note, but because i've actually been really really busy and not had much time to sit down and write about it all. I have been using google calendars a lot though (it's a lifesaver!) and using twitter as an aide to arranging things and occasionally comments on what i'm doing. So when I do have time to make a post I should be able to give a summary of my busyness!

    But for now... my parents have a big dining table that they have had for over 20 years, that wasn't new when they bought it. The wood is still good and strong but has quite a few scratches and marks in the varnish from lots of use. It seats 6-8 people, and has a leaf in the middle to extend the table so it seats 10-12. It has 6 (or possibly 8?) chairs that go with it which are upholstered but very shabby and worn. They did consider getting it restored and the chairs reupholstered, but were told it would cost more than a new dining set would, so they've decided to go with a new one. But it's a shame to take such a nice piece of furniture to the tip so they'd rather someone got some more use out of it. They don't want any money for it, but have said they don't really want strangers coming to the house to collect/look at it, so freecycle is out.

    Anyone interested? I've asked them to send me a photo.
    comments: Prod me

    Subject:Boxing day
    Time:01:50 pm
    Hmm, it appears that I may have to spend boxing day afternoon in Liverpool and be at a bit of a loose end from 3.30pm until at least 6pm.

    It's a long shot, but I don't suppose there's anyone up that way, that perhaps might be watching Hamlet, that I could pop by and visit? ;)
    comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Steak and Ale Pie: posted as a memory aid...
    Time:09:08 pm
    ...because that's definately being made again!

    Steak and Ale Pie (8 portions, more or less)

    1kg braising steak cut into large cubes
    4 large carrots cut into chunks
    1 *extremely* large and fat leek cut into slices
    2 large onions, roughly chopped
    half a bottle of old speckled hen
    some plain flour, salt and pepper, a bay leaf
    about 1.5 pints of beef stock (from a stock cube)
    1 packet pre-made puff pastry

    Made in a slightly odd order because I realised halfway through that my saucepan wasn't as big as i'd thought:

    Onions and carrots sauteed on a medium heat in a little olive oil. Taken out and put to one side. Heat turned up high, beef added in batches with about a tablespoon of flour sprinkled over per batch with salt and pepper (normally i'd toss the meat in flour before adding to the pan but I was being lazy because I didn't want to get another bowl dirty). Meat taken out and put to one side. About 3 tablespoons of beer poured into the pan, and used to scrape up all the browned flour to make a sort of beer roux. (this again was not how i'd usually do it, but it worked really well!). Thick goopy roux taken out and put in a jug, a little more oil added to the (now pretty mch clean) pan. Leeks sauteed on a medium heat until softened. Everything previously set aside except the roux added back into the pan and given a good stir. A pint of beef stock added, plus the rest of the beer, plus the roux. Stirred and brought to the boil, then left to simmer for about 2.5 hours. I added the remaining half a pint of stock after about an hour.

    Pie filling placed in a pie dish and cooled (I put it in the fridge overnight at this stage, because it turned out hobnobs wasn't going to be home in time for dinner. So I had leftovers from the previous night and the pie got postponed). Pastry rolled out thin enough to cover the entire dish, laid over the top with the edges overhanging slightly and pinched in to stick to the sides. Baked for about 40 minutes to an hour until the pastry was puffed and brown. Nommed with mash and boiled cabbage!
    comments: 1 Prod or Prod me

    Subject:Just a reminder
    Time:10:20 pm
    Last mention, I promise!

    If anyone else was interested in any of the Jamie Oliver cookware stuff, last day for orders is Wednesday. (They'll be delivered to you before xmas, with a free catalogue and recipe folder, delivery free with over £100 or a fiver otherwise. Er, UK only i'm afraid).

    You can see the catalogue here:

    comments: Prod me

    Subject:Jamie Oliver stuff
    Time:06:41 pm
    I mentioned a couple of posts ago that i've been doing cookware 'parties' selling Jamie Oliver stuff. As well as the gorgeous cookware, they've got a lot of nice christmas goodies at pretty reasonable prices (for example really good quality wrapping paper for £4 a roll, cards that contain a little pot of Norwiegan Spruce seeds, crackers with proper little cooking and gardening related gifts, cute fuzzy brush animal christmas tree decorations, etc etc), and since we're only a couple of weeks away from the last order date i've been sent a PDF of the catalogue and order forms.

    So if anyone fancies having a nosey, leave a (screened) comment with your email and i'll send it to you to have a look at. The order gets sent directly to you (postage is £5 or free if the order is over £100, at which point you also get a price discount) and you get a free magazine too.

    It would be doing me a favour, and might get some of your shopping out the way without having to brave the shops!
    comments: 9 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Google wave
    Time:01:36 pm
    I gave in and accepted an offer of a google wave invite, because it looks like it might be a useful thing to know how to use with regards to work.

    Feel free to find me, address is my first initial dot my surname at gmail. I haven't quite figured out how it all works yet.

    I also have 8 invitaions, but it looks like these are multiplying exponentially now so I doubt anyone needs one who can't get it elsewhere. Still, if you do ask.
    comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Mega Update 2 - of car journeys, food fairs and sushi
    Time:07:23 pm
    So, where was I? Oh yes, pizza!

    Dominoes being shut, we went instead to a local pizza place a couple of doors down that was extremely good value for money. We got a large selection of calzone, pizza and garlic bread (though their garlic bread was not nearly garlicky enough for my tastes) and munched our way through some of it back at the house but with plenty left over: mrs_crater I hope you managed to give some of it a good home the next day!

    Friday mostly involved being in cars. mrs_crater having departed for work, smescrater, sessifet25 and I headed first back to mine to pick up some stuff, and then onwards heading south. The plan was to drop sessifet25 in Birmingham to get the train to Cheltenham, following which smescrater and I would continue south to London, where I would drop him at the house of bytepilot and thalinoviel in time for him to head out and attend the London Jonathan Coulton gig. We managed to get the Birmingham ok, the journey going quickly with some very interesting conversation, though it took us slightly longer than intended to find somewhere to park near New Street Station, and there was quite a bit of 'that way! no, that way!' and at one point I believe we drove through a part of Birmingham that is only intended as a route for buses. But we made it in the end to a car park with a very stupid layout, and lots of spaces blocked by pipes on the wall. I found a non-pipe space but still managed to scrape the paintwork on the side of my car on a badly placed pillar. Argh. So i'll have to get that sorted at some point.

    Once the car was deposited (mostly) safely, it was time for our next quest! A recommendation had been obtained for a good place to have lunch, so on the basis of google maps and some vague directions we wandered around the bull ring shopping centre for slightly too long before realising that we had to go back outside again. We eventually found the place, and realised that it was a few dozen yards from where we'd started out. Oops. Still, tasty food was obtained - the place was called Urban Pie and did a wide selection of Things Enclosed in Pastry. However most of them included meat and I didn't fancy either of the two veggie pie options, so I decided to just have some mash. This turned out to be an excellent decision, since I was served three huge scoops of perfect mashed potato, doused in liberal amounts of (vegetarian) onion gravy and topped with grated cheese and crispy onions. Mmmm. I managed to eat two of the scoops before giving up and donating the rest to the other two for tasting. It disappeared rather swiftly.

    Happily fed, farewells were said to sessifet25, and smescrater and I departed for London. Now, here I should point out that this is normally a 2 hour or so journey. We left at just after 3pm. So you'll be surprised to hear that at 5.30pm we were still on the road, and in fact still on the M6. It turns out that the final junction of the M6 where it meets the M1 (and where we were meant to be exiting the motorway) was closed. I'm not sure why, I suspect an accident. So we had to reroute via Hinckley, following diversion signs. Yet another quest! Finally at about 6pm we made it onto the M1 and back into traffic that was actually moving faster than a crawl. Happily smescrater and I had gotten deep into conversation, covering many diverse topics, and so the length of the journey was actually barely noticeable. I'm glad I had such good company, a trip which might have been unbearable actually became extremely enjoyable.

    Finally, at about 7pm, we reached north London. Several phonecalls has been made, and instead of dropping smescrater at the house it was decided that due to the delays it would make more sense for him to go directly to the gig. So I dropped him at Edgware station and then headed to my parents house where I got fed dinner, hurrah! I also got to meet a Romanian colleague of my parents who was staying with them for the weekend. I'm afraid she was rather tired having been traveling since 5am, and I was babbling somewhat having spent all day in rambling conversation, so i'm not sure what her impression of me was. But she seemed very nice and it was a pleasant evening.

    The next day, after a fairly laid back morning with my parents, I pootled over to Edgware and the abode of bytepilot and thalinoviel, the latter of whom I hadn't previously met. In the last few weeks I seem to have been making a habit of meeting new people with whom I instantly feel comfortable and end up chatting for ages. It's nice, I am by no means complaining. So we had a nice few hours chilling and talking, and I was sat on by a cat. Then thalinoviel, smescrater and I headed out to the BBC Good Food Festival at Kensington Olympia, to which i'd been promised a couple of complimentary tickets because I was due to meet someone there to discuss doing a cooking demonstration at some point in Macclesfield. It was a huge event, with literally hundreds of stalls offering tasting samples of their wares. I hummed and hahed over the various alcoholic beverages being pressed on me (my car being parked back at the house) until I was kindly offered their futon to sleep on that night, which meant I didn't have to drive back until the next day. This turned out to be an excellent decision, not only because of the various drinks I tried (there was an absolutely gorgeous hazelnut liqueur) but for reasons that will become clear later in the post.

    My purchases at the event: some '100% pain' hot sauce, a subscription to BBC Good Food magazine which came with a free pan, some dashi (japanese bonito stock) and sparkly purple edible glitter. I have no idea what I will do with the latter, but it was just so shiny I couldn't resist.

    By the time our tastebuds and feet were exhausted, it was almost the end of the event. We successfully met up with the chap I was meeting, and sat at a table outside a Persian restaurant and drank some rather delicious Persian tea. Sort of lemony and sweet. The meeting went ok and some stuff was decided, and then it was back on to the tube to head onwards to the evening plans: Sushi!

    We journeyed to Chalk Farm, where bytepilot was waiting for us at the Sushi restaurant, called Ikura. I've eaten a fair bit of Japanese food in my time, and even cook it occasionally. But it's been a good long while, if ever, that i've had such a wonderful meal as I did at this place. I heartily recommend it to anyone in the vicinity, or even who happens to be passing through. The decision was made to order sake, and I requested that we go for the cold sake, since in the past i've tried both warm and cold and generally preferred the latter. I've never had any quite as nice as that we were served that night though, in a beautiful blown glass jug with a cavity in the centre that held ice to keep it chilled. I was blown away by the first sip, and then shocked to learn that this was the *cheaper* option on the menu... blimey. So yes, I was quite happy to be staying over and not having to drive.

    We ordered our food, and before it arrived were served an amuse bouche of tuna that seemed to have been marinated in some kind of spice mix, and cooked... i'm not sure how but it was meltingly tender and delicious. I then munched my way through most of a large pile of edamame as a starter, and ate more than my fair share of the marinated baked aubergine that thalinoviel had ordered. Then there was a selection of delicious sushi, including the most gorgeous tuna nigiri. Mmm. I also nabbed a bit of seared mackerel that was a revelation, and had delicious crispy salmon skin rolls. Having no particular dietary requirements, the boys asked the restaurant to 'bring whatever is good' and were thus served bounteous sushi... on a wooden ship platter! Finally, when pretty much all of the food had vanished, we were treated to a platter of sliced fruit. I unfortunately, having been nibbling samples at the food festival all afternoon, was pretty much defeated. But it looked lovely. And, I might add, all of this was for an extremely reasonable price, especially for London! Great food, great company, it was a wonderful evening.

    And there I think I will have to leave it again, because I suspect I have been rambling on for far too long and nobody is going to read this far. I may write some more tomorrow about the Sunday, the journey back up including lunch stop, Doctor Who, and borrowing Twilight to read (just so I could make a considered statement, you understand.. and now I have read it, and I can, and have been quite vociferously for the past day or two). Or I might spare you all further blather. We'll see.
    comments: 8 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Mega Update 1 - the world of work, fireworks and Jonathan Coulton
    Time:12:36 am
    Ok, so it's not quite the 'tomorrow' that I promised, but looking back at my 'recent' entries it seems that i'm averaging about once a month lately so at least it's better than that!

    It's been rather hectic round here lately. Where to start with the update?

    Well, the business has been going really well and keeping me busy. I spent three days at the Tatton Park Food Festival (standing up smiling at people for 8 hours for 3 days is *tiring*) and handed out about 1500 leaflets. A few of those led to people emailing me about courses, so that was good. I've done a couple of other ones too including a full day course yesterday which seemed to go really well.

    I also added another aspect to my business by signing up to a franchise organisation of cookware parties, selling products endorsed by Jamie Oliver. It's rather nice stuff that I don't mind bringing to show people* and talking about because I basically want it all myself. So since I joined up about a month ago i've been doing a few parties (for friends so far) and have booked to do some local christmas fairs.

    This has all been very exciting and just starting to properly get going. So obviously this is the point at which I get two job interviews... one of which I didn't actually end up going to because I attended the first one and got offered the job on the same day! This was last Thursday. They pretty much wanted me to start immediately, but I asked for a week to get things sorted so I start on Monday. I try not to write things in here that are too specific with regards to work and personal matters, but it sounds very exciting and really interesting so I may tell you all a bit about it once i've started and settled in a little bit.

    So yes, Thursday afternoon was the interview, and two hours later I had a phonecall to tell me they were offering me the position. So it was very fortuitous that I had previously made plans that evening to go and see Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm! sessifet25 had arrived at our house earlier while I was out (having had her own rather interesting day that she chronicled elsewhere) and the two of us set out to the house of smescrater and mrs_crater who had kindly offered to put us up for the evening, living nearer to the venue than we do.

    Which reminds me that I also haven't written about the fireworks party that hobnobs and I attended at said house, which was lots of fun and involved FIRE! and geeky discussions and several people ducking nervously from fireworks that were possibly slightly too ambitious for the size of gardeny they were being lit in. hobnobs also liberally distributed perry from the 35 pint box which he purchased at the AFPCamp and opened a few days before the party. There's still a fair bit left too!

    Anyway, the four of us trouped into Manchester to the gig, stood in a queueueue for a while getting slightly confused by all the giggling teenagers, until we realised there were two gigs at the same venue and one combined queue, and they were there for the other one. Mr Hanson or something like that? I have no idea. Eventually they let us in, but there was still quite a while before the gig started. So we wandered into the student bar for some beer and a hit of student nostalgia, and ended up getting distracted by conversation long enough that we missed the start of Paul and Storm. Oops.

    We made it upstairs in time for the pirate song though (AAAAAHHRRR!) so that was ok. They were great and so was JoCo, I haven't laughed so much in a while. There was lots of audience interaction, mostly good, despite a few chaps standing at the back near us who I think unfortunately had gotten a little too enthusiastic with the beer and persisted in talking to eachother loudly over the songs and banter.

    After the gig we were all rather hungry, so there was an expedition in search of Pizza! This was the first of several quests over the weekend, but I think I shall continue to write about that in another post tomorrow or sunday, since this post is getting quite long and it's getting quite late. I suspect that if I keep typing it's going to stray into the territory of being too long to bother reading to the end.

    Until tomorrow!

    *I am seriously impressed by the carving set for example, it's a properly sharp, Japanese steel, perfectly balanced knife! Plus a fork and steel! For a reasonable price!
    comments: Prod me

    Subject:Before I depart to bed...
    Time:11:44 pm
    Had a very exciting week and a marvelous (long) weekend.

    Will update tomorrow with details of Things That Go Whoosh and Bang, various business/job related things, Jonathan Coulton, meeting new Shiny people, foody things, spectacular sushi, and Doctor Who.

    But now sleep is calling.
    comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Convalescence foods
    Time:11:19 pm
    This week, I have mostly been ill.

    Some unspecified lurgy, which is different to the normal lurgy that I occasionally get and can cope with (hacking cough, gunge, runny nose, etc etc). No, I had all the joys of feverishness and shivers, oversensitive skin, sore neck and general lack of go.

    And, oh yes. Loss of appetite.

    This makes me definitely know that I am ill.

    On Tuesday night, just as I started getting Ill, sessifet25 came round and we cooked together. Luckily I was still mostly ok and ate the food more or less happily (though not as abundantly as I normally would have) and it was num. Sessifet brought her delicious 3 squash soup, and then we constructed a lasagne based on vague ideas of how to use stuff I had in my fridge, plus a few extras picked up en route. This was the result:

    • A full colander worth of fresh spinach, wilted down in a frying pan with some butter and two cloves of sliced garlic

    • Two salmon steaks, sliced thinly and cut into sections and lightly fried on both sides in the pan the spinach was done in, and set aside

    • Half a small log (150g) of very nice goat's cheese, rind removed, cut into small cubes. Popped into the above frying pan with

    • 3 good tablespoonfulls of creme fraiche, and reduced to a sauce.

    • 4 sheets of fresh egg lasagne, layered in two small oven dishes with the above

    It turned out *really* nicely. I mean, damn that was good. Very rich though, so I was only slightly suspicious that I was quite happily satisfied after eating only half the contents of one of the dishes. I hear the other dish got a good home. Then we had pancakes with chocolate sauce and a bit more creme fraiche for pudding. Yum.

    Anyway, so the next day I struggled out of bed for an appointment at 10am, and straight after said appointment returned to bed feeling quite sorry for myself, canceling all other appointments for the day. I took receipt of a mercy delivery of lucozade (thank you muchly those concerned!), which was all I consumed until about 8pm. I felt a little bit better in the evening, and managed to put a 'snack size' pizza from the freezer in the oven. I struggled to finish it.

    Roll on Thursday. And here's where I started getting creative with things in the fridge that needed using up. 'lunch' was half of a half portion of porridge. I decided in the evening that I really should try and have some dinner. I had some leftover rice that I didn't trust keeping another day, so using all my available Go I put the rice in a baking dish, put some tinned tomatoes on top, put some spinach leaves on top and put a (frozen but previously bought from the butcher) minty lamb burger on top. 45 minutes later it was hot and the lamb was mostly cooked so I broke it up with a spoon and smooshed it all around to be mixed in evenly. Then I put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes, and after that tentatively dished myself up a quarter of what i'd made. It was absolutely delicious! And you know what? I struggled to finish that quarter portion...

    So onto today. For lunch I had a bit more of the ricey tomatoey lamby thing, but still had to throw some away (being leftovers to start with it wouldn't really withstand another reheating). And then this evening for dinner another experiment. I had a small squash that i'd roasted half of a few nights ago in expectation of doing *something* with. So I took one of the leftover lasagne sheets, cut it into strips, boiled it then added it with a bit of the resulting water to some smooshed up squash and a dab of butter with some seasoning. Again, amazingly delicious! And yet again, I couldn't finish the meagre portion i'd allotted myself...

    So, the moral of the story? I seem to be very good at creating yummy food which requires almost no preparation out of leftover bits and bobs. But when i'm unwell and have no appetite that fact is almost depressing because I don't eat the results! Ah well. Hopefully i'll be better soon. At least my waistline might be appreciating it!

    At some point I might do a catch up post, not involving cooking. But to sum up: Doing Business stuff. Going well. Doing job applications. Going slowly. Doing fun stuff, intermittently. Doing some Jewish festivals, overeating involved!
    comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:And lo, there was camping
    Time:11:44 am
    So, the bank holiday weekend. We came, (to possibly-Wales*) we drank, we took over the pub. Well, not quite. But the lovely woman who ran the bar and campsite was a little overwhelmed by numbers, and had several staff not show up, so being AFP we offered to help out and ended up with several of our members gleefully running the barbecue, bar, and doing front of house service for the buffet. I'd worry that people ended up working at the event I helped organise, but they all seemed to enjoy it so much.

    There was some rain, but also some sunshine, and overall it seems that everyone had a lovely time. I certainly did! Roll on two years time. Though before that there's a certain convention to attend...

    Otherwise things have been fairly busy here. I'm continuing to promote Cook Clever**, and have been to several networking events and suchlike. Unfortunately I also managed to drive into the back of someone who slammed their brakes on too quickly, and wrote off my poor little micra. Yes, I was fine, other than a bruised inner lip (where the airbag hit my chin) and minor whiplash that lasted a day or two. They're going to give me a decent amount of money for it considering the age of the car, but now I have the hassle of finding a new car, and deciding whether I want to stick with a micra or try something new. Ho hum. Luckily i've also got a hire car for the moment, which let me get to Hay.

    I have also been looking for a 'day job' to pay the bills while the business gets going. I had an interview last week for a job similar to the one i'd just left, but they didn't think i'd 'fit with the team'. I'm not too offended, seeing as I got a similar vibe from the interview and probably wouldn't have been happy there. Another interview this afternoon for something Totally Different. I'll give more details later, probably, depending on outcome.

    *Apparently the border shifts every so often and Hay-on-Wye ends up randomly on either side of it.

    **Follow @cookclever on twitter for cooking hints and tips!
    comments: 2 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Not-so-secret project
    Time:03:16 pm
    So, i'm officially launching my new business, and so you lot all get to know about it!

    I am proud to introduce Cook Clever, at http://www.cookclever.co.uk

    I'll be giving courses in 'kitchen management' and cooking skills - how to make tasty, healthy, simple meals out of low cost ingredients, and a technique to teach people how to make up their own meals based on the ingredients they have in the cupboard or fridge.

    It'll include things like using leftovers to avoid throwing food away, and what kind of things you should keep in your cupboards to ensure you always have options of what to make.

    I'll be going to people's houses to give the courses, so at the moment it will only be local to where I am (the North West). However i'm willing to travel a bit further for folks I know, so if you're somewhere else and interested in the course let me know and i'll see if we can arrange something. UK only though i'm afraid ;)

    Also, since i've only been going a short while and am still looking for feedback on the courses, anyone who is willing to be a customer in the next 2 weeks will get a severely discounted rate (or even possibly free if you're local).

    Wish me luck!
    comments: 14 Prods or Prod me

    Time:11:21 pm
    I have achieved cake!

    Victoria Sponge

    Mmmm cake
    comments: 20 Prods or Prod me

    Subject:Exploring new territory
    Time:09:06 pm
    Currently I have two sponge cakes in the oven, to be theoretically assembled into a victoria sponge. This is cause for trepidation. Despite the fact I bake fairly often (there are still some chocolate beetroot cupcakes left, despite best efforts to scoff them all) I have never yet successfully made a sponge. I don't know what it is, but they seem to be my downfall - they always end up flat as pancakes or dense as bricks or both.

    It's been a while since my last attempt though, and a lot more baking experience, and I did everything by the book (trying to keep lots of air in the batter) so we shall see what happens. It will be good if I can get the hang of it because they make excellent birthday cakes, and hobnobs is very fond of victoria sandwich cake.

    Otherwise it's been fairly quiet here. Work is progressing on the Secret Business Project, which will be less secret very shortly. The website is now live but i'm not going to point people at it until i'm all ready to go. Yes, i'm being slightly superstitious/paranoid but I feel better about doing things all in the right order and not starting the 'marketing campaign' until everything else is set! Actually I was hoping to be all done by this week, and i'm nearly there, just waiting on a couple of trial runs of the material. You'll be the first to know when it's there ;)
    comments: 3 Prods or Prod me

    Time:10:17 pm
    Final reminder! If you want to come camping with a bunch of afpers in Hay-on-Wye over the August Bank Holiday weekend, post a comment here:

    comments: Prod me

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