Sand, Morocco, Distressed Cat and 2 Cellos

A soothing week for sure. With a thumping rock ending.

I managed to catch two nice sunny days down the coast past Nowra. I walked about 25km along the waves listening to my podcasts; I got some weird looks, and I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t just focusing on the rushing waves. But I had a 5 hour episode about the first world war to listen to, so clearly… something.

It amazes me how relaxing I can find being away from my internets (within reason).

I have also noticed a very interesting difference in how this holiday feels. There a fundamental difference between a holiday after which I have to return to the to-do list of work items that are still on my plate, and this holiday that is more like a full reset in that regard. Even a week in I already felt completely unburdened of thinking about work, where earlier holidays I’d still have that partition in the back of my head keeping track of the things I had to get back to and how much longer I could afford not to think about them. It’s a bit like trying not to think about a pink elephant.

On Friday Abbey and I did something very different on our holiday down the coast. We went to a Moroccan cooking class. Due to some stroke of fate I got “stuck” with making the ice cream for our 3 course meal. I almost said something, but I decided to just roll with it and politely nod to all the ice-cream-making instructions. I also learned to make a few other interesting bits and pieces as well, so it wasn’t just ice cream all the time.

And tonight we came back to one very distressed cat.

Amber had managed to get locked in the top-side of the house where there was no food or water; I cannot even recall us closing the in-between door, so maybe she got in a fight with Obie and he closed the door on her? Luckily it was only for a few days, but she was still very sad/upset/glad-to-see-us … some extra water and nutrition and she’s back to herself already. Now there is just the little matter of her improvised litter-tray to deal with :/

And tonight the week got topped off with 2 Cellos … it is both exactly what it says on the tin, and completely different from what you might expect. Try YouTube. Imagine Cellos getting abused in different ways and then add-on thumping drum beats. It felt like they were trying to pre-emptively re-start my heart. Great fun.

Definitely a full week, so now for a little quiet back home.

The Most Busiest Time of The Year

Relaxing is good.
The last four days I have done so excessively little.

But now I get to pay for it.

Tomorrow is Christmas and there are a bunch of last minute things to finish up before the day itself. I didn’t help myself by going back to Body Attack class for the first time in two years (OW), but I now realise how much I’ve missed it, so time to get back into that too. It means my legs don’t really want to do anything intense like… running… or walking… or standing.

I’ve started my last-minute cookery as well; I have decided to do a Gelato experiment using Port. I will report back how that worked out… [note to self: port boiling over = fireworks].

I also realised at the last minute that I was supposed to make my potato salads. I almost forgot, so I had to dash by the shops last-minute as well. But I think I am all set now for a sweltering afternoon in the kitchen For The Good Of All Mankind.

I think I can smell the evaporated port on the skin of my face.
Not sure how I feel about this.

Day 345 – Cooking with Gas

21 – GT 2014 Restaurant Guide: The Top 100

In life, our minds seem predominantly pre-occupied with two things.
Both deal with survival at a fundamental level; that’s perhaps a reason.

In the case of food, this might explain why there is a never-ending parade of new cooking shows on the television. Perhaps this also explains why we take so many Instagrams of our food. Perhaps this explains why despite not really thinking about my food a great deal, I still feel a deep-seated longing to do something more with food.
Continue reading Day 345 – Cooking with Gas

Day 315 – Who Needs a Kitchen Anyway?

51 – 100 Kitchen Designs

…speaking of kitchen renovations…

100 décor / design ideas and not a single one really jumps out and grabs me. Not that I’ll let that stop me from a renovation; it just means I’ll have to make it all up as I go along instead.
Continue reading Day 315 – Who Needs a Kitchen Anyway?

Day 306 – Now We’re Cooking

60 – The 100 Best Cookbooks

Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of cookbooks. I know how to make a thing or two; my ice cream is a well-established tradition, as are my potato salads. And by request I do pizza-from-scratch at times.

There is however one cookbook that I must own someday. The One Book To Rule Them All. At 24kg and 2438 pages it is the kind of book that needs a lectern when used. And it is a glorious piece of art in its own right, even if I have some fundamental problems with the author’s other Ventures, so to speak.
Continue reading Day 306 – Now We’re Cooking

Day 198 – Potato Salad

Two summer recipes.

Sizing of ingredients can be varied to taste.

I challenge you to have left-overs for more than a day.

I refer to these as salads, but it’s probably not quite the right word. If you have a better suggestion after trying this, pleas let me know.

Chicken

  • Cook potatoes till crumbly; the chosen quantity will be about 1/3 of total volume of desired salad.
    Let cool, and then roughly mash with a fork into bowl that will be the final resting place of your creation.
  • Cut chicken breasts into cubes (about 1cm) to another 1/3 of total volume.
    Apply copious curry powder… trust me, don’t be stingy.
    Then add some more, really!
    Knead/rub so curry powder mostly covers all the cubes.
    Fry in pan until the outsides start showing crunchy orange patches and cooked well through.
    Let cool.
    Then shred cubes into small pieces into the salad bowl.
  • Add equal amounts of the following to the final 1/3 volume:
    Pineapple pieces shredded into small pieces like the chicken.
    Sweet corn kernels (drained).
    Walnuts, crushed to small pieces.
    Tasty/bitey cheese, cubed to about 4-5mm square (or so).
  • Add equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup to bind ingredients.
  • Mix ingredients till cohesive and evenly distributed.

Leave the finished salad in the fridge overnight to cool, then serve with bread (preferably crusty) and butter. Or anything else you feel like, really.

Tuna

  • Prepare potato as per chicken recipe, to 1/3 total volume.
  • Add drained tuna from a tin to about 1/4 total volume.
  • Add equal amounts of the following to the final 5/12 volume:
    An equal mix of cocktail onions and small gherkins cut into small pieces.
    Small crunchy apple pieces.
    Tasty/bitey cheese, cubed to about 4-5mm square (or so).
  • Add equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup to bind ingredients.
  • Mix ingredients till cohesive and evenly distributed.

Enjoy in similar fashion to the chicken recipe, in the understanding that this will not in fact taste like chicken, but rather like tuna.

Day 134 – Isn’t It Ironic?

It is looking ever more likely that there will at some point be a YouTube show featuring myself, a kitchen and some seriously outlandish cookery.

Tonight’s Wednesday didn’t involve a lot of board games. Instead Sin, Abbey and Ken got really into brain-storming with me. As a matter of fact, I’m going to have to be careful that my show doesn’t get co-opted by Sin and Abbey altogether.

I briefly stepped away to go to the toilet, and by the time I came back apparently I had gained a ring-master moustache; presumably for the purposes of opening credits only. And not that much later Sin and Abbey were standing in the kitchen gesturing directions for where ceiling-mounted rails will have to go to serve as camera fixtures.

I’m kinda hoping that I can manage a private trial and if that works maybe some episodes without making any serious alterations to my kitchen, tools or wardrobe.

The idea is a lot of fun though.

So far, I know:

  • “The Ironic Chef” is sadly taken… but I have other suggestions
  • There will be an over-the-top opening-credit sequence of some sort
  • There will be a secret ingredient
  • I’m ready for a challenge
  • Friends will come to eat/critique the results
  • We will needlessly dub the critique for comedic effect

Day 127 – Tell Me How To Cook

The YouTube idea from Day 125 has rattled around in my brain on-and-off since I wrote it. I have no idea if I’ll actually end up making it, but I want to do the groundwork regardless, Because Awesome.

So far, I need to…

Design an Intro Sequence

I don’t want to do a scene-for-scene copy of the Iron Chef intro, but I’d want something that very strongly evokes the odd and cheesy feel of it.

If you’ve never seen Iron Chef, you haven’t lived!

Research Recording Options

I already had a look around, and so far it seems like Logitech C920 is a strong candidate, but also the GoPro cameras seem like an ideal candidate, with the added benefit that they would lend themselves for all kinds of other out-and-about recordings as well.

But first I may have a try with the trusty Canon 6D to see what its HD looks like.

Maybe a trial run will prove that it really needs two cameras, in which case the 6D might be an ideal fixed-angle camera option, with a GoPro for a more flexible add-on.

I’m going to take this idea as an excuse to watch some Iron Chef episodes over the coming weeks and perhaps some other cooking shows to get an idea of what shots are important to get right.

Build a Secret Ingredient Wheel

I cannot surprise myself with a secret ingredient, so I’m going to have to write an app of some sort to randomly generate challenges. As well as the name for the dish(es) as per my original post.

I think the set-up I want consists of the following parts:

  • A random-ingredient picker, which I might be able to populate from an online database somewhere… I’ll have to see what I can do to avoid the unfortunate possibility of cat food as the secret ingredient before we run with it
  • A dish name generator… I could build something Eliza-bot/markov-chain based to generate truly random names, but I’m more inclined to see if I can build a list of structural options from existing dish names and then fill in the blanks with random food-appropriate nouns and adjectives

How do we feel about “Wobbly Friand au Gratin” with the secret ingredient of “Banana“? (I have no idea either…)

Do a Private Trial Run

Finally I’ll need to do a private trial recording end-to-end, to iron out the gotcha’s. You never know all the things you should do, until you try, and fail.

  • How to set up shots so that I can hide the fact I don’t have a million-dollar-kitchen at my disposal
  • What shots I need to catch everything that I need when editing it together
  • How much time it takes to get from random challenge to finished product
  • How to trick my friends into sitting down to eat whatever comes out of this

Even if nothing more comes from this, I think it’ll be fun to do a trial run with the hardware already at my disposal. I’ve never tried to make anything that is YouTube-able.

Naming

The hardest part of all.

I’ll happily take suggestions.

What should it be called?!