sushidog: (Default)
Honestly, DW, I go away for one day, and the bloody PM sets fire to some more things as a distraction from the other things that are on fire. I really just can't even any more, not even slightly.

So I am distracting myself by focusing on other things. Expect frivolity, it's a coping mechanism.
So, Easter weekend!
I had a brilliant plan to make hot cross buns on Friday. The thing is, every time I make hot cross buns, the dough acts all recalcitrant and then rises on the third day. So I planned ahead, and made my dough on Wednesday evening, only to have it spring immediately into life, forcing me to stay up until very late to make the buns there and then because I was worried it would over-stretch itself and fall flat if I waited. Still, that meant I had HCBs for breakfast on Thursday and Friday. But then on Friday I decided that they were all very well, but I wanted cranberry and dark chocolate HCBs instead/as well, so I made those too. They also rose nice and quickly, and I was in less of a rush to get them done, so they turned out really really well.
Other than that, Friday was mostly a really lazy day, which was lovely.
Saturday was also fairly lazy; I silk-dyed an egg, just to see what happened. It worked, mostly, but was a bit patchy; if I do it again, I think I'll cut the silk into pieces and wrap them around the egg, to get more contact; and then maybe use a bit of a pair of tights to wrap it; easier than wrapping it in a flat piece of cotton. Mind you, you can't really eat the egg once it's done, and I'm not really one for things that are purely decorative, so maybe I won't do it again anyway.
In the evening I headed over to Birmingham to meet up with a friend for a quick drink. But the last train is at 11.14, so I didn't stay late. Still, nice to catch up.
On Sunday I drove to Cambridge for Easter lunch with my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law and nephew. We had roast lamb, and there were Easter eggs, so that was good.
Then on Monday I headed down to the Cotswolds for a little solo mini-break. It was really nice to have a couple of days set aside, with an approximate plan but no rush, no deadlines. I stopped off in a couple of villages on the way, to avoid the worst of the traffic and to potter about and have lunch and generally chill out. I stayed at the Duke of Wellington in Bourton-on-the-Water, which is a bit basic and a bit shambolic (there was a whole big to-do when I checked in, as apparently they hadn't quite managed to write my online booking in their day-book, so they weren't entirely expecting me; they reassured me, several times, that they _could_ accommodate me, but it obviously threw them a bit!) but friendly and cosy, and inexpensive. I had a wander round the village, and a scone, and found "my" window in the model Duke of Wellington in the model village, and had a nap (which I never do, normally), and got dinner in the pub, and just generally relaxed. On Tuesday, I went and did the Dragonfly Maze (and solved it, although I was wearing the wrong shoes, which got in the way a bit), and bought what I think is a 1930s clock (it could be 50s; either way, I like it) in a charity shop, and then went on a bit of a pilgrimage. When I had mentioned to my parents that I was going to Bourton, my mum said "Oh, I was born near there, I think, in Wyck Rissington, that's near Bourton, isn't it?" Well, it is, so I went there. It's an absolutely _gorgeous_ village, and I saw it at its best, with the sun shining and the Spring flowers blooming; really lovely. There's not much of it, but I found the Rectory (now a private house, so I couldn't go in) and the church where my grandfather was, briefly, the vicar after WWII. The church, sadly, doesn't have a list of past vicars, as I had hoped, but Ancestry.co.uk has furnished me with the relevant page from the local phone book showing that in 1946, my grandfather was registered at the Rectory in Wyck Rissington. So I have seen the house where my mother was born, which is rather nice.
From there I went to Cirencester for a wander, and then on to Cheltenham, where I trawled the charity shops, but turned up precisely no vintage clothes; I am now worried that I've lost my touch and will never find anything good ever again; ruined!
Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. And Cirencester in particular is very pretty, I shall visit again!
I started to head home, but got hungry, so I stopped for dinner at a convenient pub, the Teddington Hands. And it just so happens that, after Wyck Rissington, my grandfather was the vicar of Teddington, so I swung by the village there too. The church was locked up, unfortunately, so I couldn't go in, but still, retracing my mum's early life was kind of fun.

And then home to Coventry, and back to work today. I'm ignoring politics because, ugh. But I have just had the survey report on the house, and everything seems pretty satisfactory; they're saying the gutters need a bit of maintenance and there's a bit of repointing that could be done on the outside, but basically nothing major, so that's good. Might ask the vendors to take care of that stuff before the exchange; is that what one does?

Over the last couple of weeks there have, of course, been lots of discussions about whether Easter comes from Ishtar, and whether it's actually all about Pagans. One thing that strikes me about those discussions is that there always seems to be an assumption that throughout the entire history of Christianity, Christians have been completely oblivious to the natural world around them; that any reference to seasons or the phases of the moon or the solar calendar or animals or plants must necessarily come from some other religion and not from, just, y'know, the actual world. Like, Christians can't possibly have noticed for themselves that in Spring, there are eggs and bunnies (although I personally have seen several rabbits in the last few days, some up pretty close, and there are pretty light blue eggshells shattered under trees; I have not needed to refer to any religion to notice these things), they must have adopted them from Pagans because those things are Pagan. That's a weird assumption, isn't it? I mean, I know that we, here and now, can be quite detached from nature, but Christianity goes back almost two thousand years, and for much of its history, most Christians were agrarian in some form or another; so of course they're going to live their lives by the seasons, and of course that's going to impact their traditions, whether they pay attention to other people's (or indeed import ideas from their previous religion into their newly-adopted religion) or not.
So, yeah, the idea that bunnies and eggs can't possibly be Christian and therefore must be Babylonian (FFS) falls down in so many ways...

Anyway, how are you? How was your Easter and/or Passover and/or long weekend?
sushidog: (Default)
Sadly, I've had to make this journal friends-only. If you'd like to be added, drop me a line, although I'm quite likely only to add you if I know you in person, I'm afraid, for much the same reasons as those for which I've locked the entire thing.

(I'm screening comments, for discretion's sake!)
sushidog: (Starlet)
Hello people!
Yesterday, I listened to a dalek singing a lullaby. It was a thing of beauty, and it counts as work. Best job in the world? I think so.
Anyway, it is Valentine's day, a day for confessions of secret crushes. And Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday, a day for confession (and pancakes).

So open your hearts, LJ; tell me a secret. I'm screening all comments, and will only unscreen if you say I can, and I shall enable anon comments too (and tiresome ones won't get unscreened).
sushidog: (Nigella)
A few people have asked me about the home-made crunchie bars (which, as it turns out, taste just like home-made crunchie bars, but chunkier, and slightly chewier), so here's how I made 'em.

120g (ish; I was very approximate) granulated sugar
2 heaped dessertspoonfuls golden syrup
1 heaped teaspoon bicarb (NOT baking powder!)

A bar and a half of cooking chocolate; I used a bar of milk and just over half a bar of plain, but use whichever you like best.

Use a decent saucepan which is considerably bigger than you think you need. Thoroughly oil an 8-inch baking tin or other ovenproof dish, or line with with baking parchment/silicon paper. I used a disposable tin foil oven dish, and brushed it with flavourless vegetable oil, which worked well.
Mix together the sugar and syrup in the pan, and heat over a medium-ish heat. Once it has melted, don't stir it, just let it come to the boil and cook happily. The syrup should stop it from forming crystals, so you really can just let it alone, but keep an eye on it. If you have a sugar thermometer, you want it to get to 145oc. If you don't, you want to get it to between hard ball and hard crack point. Have a cup of cold water next to the stove, and when it is boiling properly, drop a little bit into the water. It should form a ball. Fish the ball out, and squeeze it between your fingers. If it's soft, the sugar needs more cooking. If it's hard, bite it. If it's chewy (like hard toffee), keep going, it's not there yet. If it cracks and shatters between your teeth like a boiled sweet rather than a toffee, you're at hard ball, and you can move to the next stage. If the ball cracks on contact with the water, it's at hard crack stage and you need to move on the next stage right now! When it has got there, add the bicarb, and quickly stir through. It will expand _massively_ (hence the need for a bigger pan than you think), and it's still very hot, so be careful! As soon as the bicarb has been stirred in, pour the whole lot into the prepared heatproof dish and leave (on a heatproof surface; it will take the varnish off your table so use a potstand or something!) somewhere cool and dry for at least a couple of hours to cool completely.
When it is completely cool, you can break it into pieces (mine turned out craggy and uneven, but I like it that way. You could probably score it into neater chunks with a serrated knife if you really wanted to) and coat it in melted chocolate. Or you could eat it as it is. Or crush it up a bit and use it in or over ice cream.

Mine didn't quite get to 145oc, which is why it's very slightly chewy; again, I like it that way, but if you want all crunch and no chew, you need to get it all the way to hard crack rather than stopping at hard ball.

I'm definitely making this stuff again; it's dead easy but looks incredibly impressive and tastes gorgeous! Plus it involves Science, which is awesome.
sushidog: (Default)
I'm bored.

Tell me something interesting. Do it anonymously if you wish; I'm screening comments but will unscreen if you tell me to. Or if you're nasty and I think it'll be funny to unscreen.
sushidog: (Sleeping Venus)
Gruh and argh.

Lots of people seem to be sleeping badly at the moment; I may count myself very firmly in their number. I woke up last night, heart pounding and sweaty, having heard, or dreamt, a noise that may or may not have been a mouse. Then I lay awake with the blood pounding in my ears for a while, alternating between kicking the bedcovers off because I was too hot and huddling them around me because I was sweating myself cold.

And then, just to complete my night, I had a series of dreams about not being able to sleep, complete with various explanations not just for my insomnia but in some cases, other people's; one involved a snake which managed to open my back door (my unpleasant dreams the night before involved people getting in through my back door too; I'm pretty sure this is "OMG I'm moving house in three weeks" angst), while another involved the very pretty and spectacular electrical meltdown of a nearby power station, all neon pink and blue spark showers and ground trembling.

This morning I am sleepy, but I have to be up in decent time as I have someone coming round to eye up my worldly possessions and give me a quote for moving them to Plymouth. I'm currently worrying that they're not all going to fit in the new flat but frankly I'm too tired to think straight at the moment. I think I shall have a nap this afternoon.

Busy week this week; povvo cinema tonight, good company for dinner tomorrow, a trip to Sheffield with lovely officemate on Wednesday to househunt (she's seen one flat which is in a converted castle; I want her to get that one, because, well, it's in a castle), curry night on Thursday, and on Friday, oh, the joy, I get to pick up exam resits and spend the weekend marking them. Lucky me.

Ah well. My weekend was mellow; I did a bit of mild domestic stuff, incuding making chinois (rolled briche filled with creme patissiere), and spent a very chilled out evening yesterday with lovely officemate, stuffing her full of nice soft food (she's had wisdom tooth problems this week, so I made butternuit squash risotto and provided soft ice cream with no bits in, and home-made chocolate sauce, although she was sufficiently recovered to try the chinois as well, and declare it the filthiest thing I've ever baked) and drinking to my flat and her job in fizz which was possibly contrindicated by the antibiotics she was on.

Still, she made it home OK, and I'm taking the remaining chinois in to work later.

How are you doing? What are you up to this week?
sushidog: (Default)
Can anyone recommend me a decent letting agent in Plymouth? I need to start looking for a place to live.

It's all starting to sink in a bit, which is exciting, and a bit scary.
sushidog: (Default)
Just had a wee bit of a cull; no drama, nothing personal, I'm just trying to cut back on my f-list a bit!
sushidog: (Default)
Just especially for [livejournal.com profile] tga (and because I'm bored...), here is an unlocked post on which anonymous comments are not only allowed but encouraged; anon comments on, IP logging off. Share a secret, make a confession, pay someone a compliment (or otherwise); whatever. G'wan. You know you want to.
sushidog: (Smeary)
Some time ago, I wrote about some parts of me. I was going through a rather confusing and difficult time at that point, and was seeing a counsellor to try and get my head straightened out, and learning about the different aspects of me helped me a lot; actually, writing that entry was rather good for me too. What I didn't realise at that time (for various reasons which may or may not b e perfectly obvious) was that I missed out a part of me. And since writing about the first three helped, I figured I'd set the fourth down on virtual paper. This is of course self-indulgent navel-gazing; please don't feel obliged to read it! )

Can you identify and personify the parts which, summed, go towards your whole (as it were)? Or is this something odd that only I do?

I do wonder if I'm going to keep on identifying different parts of myself every so often, until I have a whole crowd of mes (that looks as though it needs an apostrophe, but it can't have one), or have I nailed them all now, or is it just impossible to express one's whole self, no matter how many parts one personifies? Perhaps the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps social psychologists should start looking at the group dynamics of the individual...
sushidog: (*Scone*)
As requested, my muffin recipe, as given to me by my office-mate.
This is a great basic recipe, which can be altered in various different ways.

Preheat oven to 200oc (400of). Place muffin cases in a muffin tray.

In a large bowl, place 8oz (225g) plain/all-purpose flour1
4oz (100g) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Good pinch salt

In a separate bowl or jug, mix 8 fl oz (225 ml) milk
2 fl oz (50 ml) vegetable oil (I use sunflower)
1 large egg, beaten.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and add about 4 or 5 oz blackberries, blueberries, or other fruit (I use frozen blackberries and peeled, cored, diced apple; I usually add a teaspoon or so of cinnamon to the mixture too).

Stir in, spoon into the muffin cases, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until risen and light golden on top.

For chocolate muffins, replace the fruit with 3-4 oz chocolate chips, use slightly less flour and add an oz or so of cocoa powder, and be slightly generous with the milk and oil; the mixture may look quite thin, but it should still work!

1Or 6 oz flour and 2 oz ground almonds; this doesn't much affect the taste, but mades for moister muffins. Which sounds utterly obscene.
sushidog: (Default)
Morning all!
I have the day off today, and shall be spending it baking.

Recently, in another place, there has been much discussion of feminism. I know a lot of people who dismiss feminism, saying "The feminists have done their thing, and now it's not needed any more". I know others who accuse feminists of being man-haters, of wanting special treatment. It seems to me that feminism means different things to different people, and in the course of a discussion on the subject, someone asked "Why are you a feminist"; I'm nicking my own answer and posting it here, as much for my own future reference as for anyone else.

I'm a feminist because I believe in equality, and in choices, and because we don't yet _have_ equality or freedom of choice. I'm a feminist because on average, women get paid less than men do, and are less likely to be promoted, or hired at higher-level jobs. I'm a feminist because I personally don't want to get married and have babies, and I am frustrated by the expectations of other people that I should do exactly that, while those same people didn't have the same expectations of my brother. I'm a feminist because the huge majority of women who are physically assaulted or murdered are attacked by their husband or partner. I'm a feminist because something like 10% of rapes are reported, and something like 30% of reported rapes go to court, and something like 10% of rape trials end in a conviction. I'm a feminist because women get charged more by garages than men do. I'm a feminist because in most jobs, men can only take a couple of weeks of paternity leave. I'm a feminist because social expectations and the discrepancy in pay make it really difficult for men to be stay-at-home fathers. I'm a feminist because those same issues make it difficult for women to have children _and_ a really good career. I'm a feminist because if I dare to voice my opinions, I get accused of being a bitch, a ball-breaker, a nag, of being "shrill" or "hysterical". I'm a feminist because when I tell people I'm single (and happily so), they say "Aw, well, don't worry, I'm sure you'll meet the right guy one day". I'm a feminist because if I tell people I have no kids, they say "Well, clock's ticking", and if I tell them I don't want children, they say "You'll change your mind." I'm a feminist because I know full well that I'm as smart as anyone else, male or female, and that I can do any damned thing I put my mind to, regardless of stereotypes. I'm a feminist because I love baking and crochet, and power tools and logic. I'm a feminist because I wear DMs for comfort, and fabulous but crippling heels for glamour. I'm a feminist because I like to wear makeup and perfume when I feel like it, but sometimes I don't feel like it. I'm a feminist because sometimes a pink cocktail hits the spot, and sometimes I'd rather have a pint of guinness. I'm a feminist because I like children, but largely because I want to unravel their brains. I'm a feminist because in my subject, psychology, the _vast_ majority of students are female, and the _vast_ majority of senior academics are male. I'm a feminist because sometimes I want to wear a skirt, but I still don't appreciate being told I _have_ to wear a skirt. I'm a feminist because I want to be able to choose who I sleep with, and I want to be able to protect myself against disease and pregnancy when I exercise that choice. I'm a feminist because when I know there is something wrong with my body, I expect, no, I _demand_ that my doctor takes me seriously and does not dismiss my problem as "women's trouble". I'm a feminist because I can be maternal if I want to be, but I refuse to be anybody's mother. I'm a feminist because I believe that each individual has the right to carve their own path, and not simply follow in the footsteps of everyone who has gone before; otherwise, how are we to discover new ground? I'm a feminist because no-one has the right to touch me unless I grant them that right, and I can take it back at any time I choose. I'm a feminist because I have things to say, and I want to be heard.

That's why I'm a feminist.
sushidog: (*Scone*)
At [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl's request, here is the recipe (well, approximately) for Martian Sluts, also known as little green tarts;

(Makes 12)
For the pastry;
Mix together 2oz of wholewheat flour with 2oz self-raising flour, plus a good pinch of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of dry mustard powder (or ready-made mustard, if that's what you have), and maybe a pinch of cayenne if you fancy it. Into this, rub (or food-process) 2oz marge or butter, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in 1 1/2 oz (or thereabouts) of grated parmesan or other strong hard cheese. Add just enough cold water to bring it together cleanly. Let the pastry dough rest for half an hour or so if possible.
Roll out fairly thinly, cut out circles with a pasty cutter thingy, and use to line a mince pie tray, greased. stab holes in the tart cases with a fork. Bake at GM 4, 180oc, for about 8-10 minutes or until golden.

For the filling:
(This is where it all gets a bit approximate!)
In a bowl, crumble/mash about half a block (100g) of feta. Grind or chop a dessert-spoon or so each of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Add to the cheese with about 3 teaspoonfuls of ready-made pesto (The La Sacla stuff is good!). Mix thoroughly, trying to get rid of any big lumps of cheese. Taste a bit, to see if the balance of cheese, seeds, and pesto seems right, and adjust according to taste.

Put a heaped teaspoon of the cheese/pesto mix into each pasty case, and top with a couple of pine nuts. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, at GM 4 or 5.

If you wanted to make the filling go further, for example to make a single big tart rather than lots of little ones, you could add a beaten egg or two and a splash of cream, to make a more quiche-like filling, or you could cut the mixture with fromage frais or similar. You can also add roasted cherry tomatoes (half them, drizzle with olive oil in a roasting dish, bung them in a low-ish oven for an hour, maybe with some fresh basil leaves if you like).

The other tarts I did were filled with sherry-cooked onions (thinly slice some onions, start frying gently in a splash of olive oil; when they start to look a bit dry, add a splash of sherry and stir. Carry on cooking gently and stirring periodically so they don't catch. Add another splash of sherry every time they start looking dry. Carry on cooking for 40 minutes or so, or until they go a nice brown colour and are all nice and soft and sweet and yummy), roasted cherry tomatoes, and goat's cheese, also baked for 10 minutes or so.
sushidog: (*Scone*)
For [livejournal.com profile] rosenkavalier, and indeed anyone else who wants it, here is the recipe for my lemon drizzle cake; it's dead easy!

Cake... or death! )
sushidog: (Eye)
So, I've been thinking about the parts of ourselves, prompted in part by [livejournal.com profile] jhaelan's exploration of himself, and partly by some thinking I've been doing about who and what I am, and I found something interesting. Well, OK, _I_ found it interesting.
It's not great surprise, I think, that many people feel that they are made up of several different selves, or aspects of self; Jhaelan refers to them as masks. In some extreme cases, they may even manifest as completely seperate personalities (although the jury is still out on that one). Sometimes they live happily side by side, and sometimes, often perhaps, they cause internal conflict, and then they need to be explored and reconciled.
My way of exploring my aspects has been to visualise and personify them, so I thought I'd introduce you all to them.

Please allow me to introduce myself )
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