Archive for May, 2013

Egg fried rice

May 27, 2013

Today I awake feeling a tad glum. It is a Bank Holiday, and so I don’t want to set foot outside the house; hate celebratory-happy-happy crowds. Decided to fell a small ash tree that a neighbour has been whingeing about. Grab my bow saw and it is down in a couple of minutes. Saw up the trunk which, by now, had grown to about three metres. Stuff the remains into the garden recyling bin and then grump back indoors. I work out my songlist for this evenings SL gig and am conscientious enough to practice’We’re all alone‘ on my Mick McConway electro-acoustic; ‘Careless love‘ on my Washburn tuned to D for slide guitar; and ‘Only you‘ on mandolin (Art, one of my fans from Germany, had requested that I play some mandolin, since I have been neglecting it of late). I will try to run through my ‘1953’ song on piano later this afternoon.

Next, I turn my attention to making egg and shitake mushroom fried rice with tobasco for lunch. I shake out some dried shitake mushrooms and find I have to read the instructions for re-constitution twice. I put them in a bowl of boiling water and leave them to plump up. This takes about 40 minutes, so I dip into another chapter of the Nicci French novel I am reading. I am about 100 pages into the total of 400+ and already there have been two child abductions; not exactly cheerful Bank Holiday stuff. I wander back to the kitchen and rinse out some bismati rice; put it in a big pan to simmer. Next I fry a couple of lightly beaten eggs in the wok, using some groundnut oil, and park it in a dish when it is done. Oh, by the way, I am doing nothing original here – just following another Ching-He Huang recipe. I go on to fry some sliced mushrooms with a few frozen green peas, drain the rice and fry that too. I hoy in the soy sauce and sesame seed oil and integrate the scrambled egg back into the mix. Finally I serve up. It is very tasty, thank you Ching! It is not until I have more or less finished eating that I realise I forgot to put in any tobasco; oh, well, next time maybe.

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I’m all squared up in the kitchen now. I think it might be time to lie on the bed and read another chapter of Nicci French. Hopefully, this episode will seemlessly transcend into an afternoon nap. Now, that is definitely the sort of thing to be having on a Bank Holiday Monday. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

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White bread plait

May 25, 2013

Today I made a white bread plait. I worked from a Paul Hollywood recipe for a plait with eight strands. Although he recommends working with dough that is fairly wet and sticky, I think mine ended up going a little too far in that direction. Still, I am reasonably pleased with the outcome, and it tastes very good.
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I seem to have been in the kitchen rather a lot just lately; yesterday I made Ching-He Huang’s Chinese chicken and cashew nut stir-fry. That worked well and it would have been good to have had some of the bread on the side, even though I had served jasmin white rice with the chicken dish. Well, the weather is good today, so I think I shall go and catch some sun.

Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.

Big drive – big birthday

May 20, 2013

This weekend I drove approximately 350 miles (I think that is about 600 Km) to a milestone birthday party of an old friend of mine. I did wonder about the sanity of doing this in one day, only to return on the next. Still, I woke up early, threw some stuff into the boot (trunk) of the car and pottered off around 7.45 a.m. The party was to start at 3.30 p.m. since families were involved and there were to be several children present. I felt rather proud of myself, since I arrived at approximately 3.20 p.m. and I thought that was good timing, given the distance I had to travel.

Of course, once I left the motorway, and dived into lushness of the Somerset countryside, I did get lost. At one point I stopped and asked directions from a man who appeared to be mending his chicken run. The sun was shining and we had a great little chat. There was no traffic noise; the air was still and the sky was blue. Eventually, he pointed me in the right direction, and off I went.

The party was held in a garden that ran adjacent to a splendid medieval church, probably dating from the 13th century. Here is a photograph that I took late in the afternoon.

Medieval church
 

The villages in this area originally came to prominence in the days of the Somerset wool trade (Shepton is, for example, the Saxon name for a sheep settlement). In modern times, the villages lie at the heart of the cider country. Regrettably, I sampled no cider nor any other alcoholic beveridge, since I had a long drive home the next day and I could not face doing that on an apple-pressed hangover.

I had a wonderful time and very much enjoyed talking to my friends Mike and Christine. I met their friends and family and also met up with another old friend, Tim, who I had not seen since 1976. They very kindly gave me a bed for the night. It had been quite a day, and I slept like the proverbial log. I awoke to the dawn chorus and slipped out of the house at around 06.30. Once again, I got lost exiting from rural Somerset. At one point I could swear I saw the Eiffel Tower although there was no basis in reality for this bizarre hallucination. It did prompt the exclamation ‘Merde’ as I accelerated down yet another wrong turning.

The return journey differed from the outward journey in several respects. When I set out from home I was filled with a sense of adventure. Coming back (once I had extricated myself from the web of Somerset lanes and byways) was more predictable and no significant event awaited me at the end. Subjectively, I felt more confident  because I knew I could do it (indeed I had done so the previous day, in reverse). I was also less  concerned about time and on the return leg I pulled into a service station car park and had a substantial nap.

Generally speaking, I dislike travel and I am not keen on being away from home. I am, however, trying to work on this attitude and the birthday party trip counts as a significan step forward in this regard. I did take a sketch book with me but it remained firmly closed in my shoulder bag for the whole duration of the trip. I therefore made zero progress in terms of conquering my fear of drawing in public . I accept that this has some of the hallmarks of a phobia. I am not sure if I ever will overcome my anxieties in this regard. However, during one of my motorway fuel stops I noticed that they were selling a portable stool, together with a shoulder strap for carrying; I bought one! Will I ever sit on it by an idyllic river scene, sketch book on my knee, pencil at the ready? I doubt it, but I can dream. Speak to you later, my dear blogophiles.