Friday, 21 May 2010

Avatar

After all the hype, I thought I ought to watch this - I wrote my dissertation on the history of SF and still insanely feel I ought to keep up with it. In brief, if you have a sense of wonder and love beautiful things watch it. If you get ticked off by bad science and not very shining dialogue, don't.

Because of the latter, commented on by many reviewers, (and true), I hadn't watched the film. So I wasn't prepared for the fact that it was both wonderful and beautiful. Whoever was responsible for it did a brilliant job of the art direction. Being old and cynical it takes a lot for me to suspend disbelief, but the sheer gorgeousness of the colours, the wonder of the ideas, drew me in and I really, really enjoyed it.

But as I say, if you want your plot realistic, your science sensible, then beware! Because although portrayed as SF, the fact is that it is fantasy; the mechanisms of science fiction are there, but the science does not hold up! Don't let it spoil your enjoyment, though, it didn't spoil mine!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cats

No, not the musical. Every so often I have a problem in that one or two of the hordes of cats (7 in the houses of just the immediate neighbours and a further 6 within 15 yards) has taken to doing its daily dump on my paving. Now I like cats, a lot (I also like dogs, as well), but there is a problem here in that the normal discouragement method I use in the garden involves removing the labels from litre bottles of tonic and filling them with water - for some reason it makes our feline friends uncomfortable. However, I can hardly use that method where I park a car!

But so far I have tried chili powder across the paving - which works until it rains, whereupon the little blighter is at it again. And I'm still struggling to solve the problem via non-lethal methods... sigh.

What I don't understand is why this is happening; why the normal cat tray training has broken down and the thing has taken to shitting all over my parking space. I wouldn't mind so much if it kept to one spot, but it moves around and if I get in after dark, there's a chance I'll step in it and nothing, nothing smells worse. At one time it used to use the patch of ground which I grow my bluebells and poppies in, which wasn't too bad, but I suppose the abundant bluebells have displaced it. Time to search t'internet - I'll try and remember to let you know if I solve the problem.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Thyme for pork and cider stew

I made this yesterday and for once, came back for seconds. Normally when I cook, by the time I've finished, I am not that hungry... however, the long slow cook at the end really helps. I just happened to buy a vacuum sealer and a mass of pork which I'd cubed, then sealed and frozen. I found a similar recipe with things like honey in, which I am not keen on. I also wanted more of a bite and had bought some Cannellini beans some time back which needed using. Beware though, even with the extractor full on, the smell of this cooking in the oven (especially the heavenly Thyme) is phenomenal!

Serves 3 to 4-ish

  • 600ml (1 pint) Chicken Stock
  • 250g Lean Pork, cubed (I used loin steaks)
  • 300ml (½ pint ish) Cider
  • 1 x 4 oz can Cannellini beans
  • 1 x 4 oz can of Kidney Beans (both drained)
  • 2 Medium Carrots, sliced
  • 3 Leeks, sliced
  • 2 Sticks Celery, sliced
  • 1 Medium Onion, stuck with a few whole cloves
  • 1 Bouquet Garni
  • 16 good splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Chilli (not birds eye), finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp of Thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Place the pork into a le creuset or similar cast iron casserole into the heated olive oil and fry until the fat runs.
  2. Drain the beans and add to the pork.
  3. Add the cider, onion, bouquet garni, carrots, leeks, celery, Worcestershire sauce and chilli. Top up with the stock (I use a knorr stock cube for this)
  4. Gently bring to the boil, cover and put in the oven for about an hour on GM3, taste, adjust the seasoning and then reduce to GM1 and cook for a further hour (or whatever!)
  5. Remove the bouquet garni and serve when ready.
  6. Prepare some new potatoes by removing any gnarly bits or really dirty bits and eyes. Cut into equivalent sized bits and put into saucepan, pour remainder of the stock in and top up with salted water.
  7. Serve with peas and the potatoes.

I made this lot with the intention of freezing some of it, but plans change and I am soooo going to eat the rest tonight!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spring at last


Well, I can at last report that, 6 weeks late, my bluebells have made their appearance...

Sadly, just as I got organised on Friday to get the shot done, the Sun disappeared behind clouds and it's still hiding. So, rather than wait and miss the short flowering...

The big leaved monster in the middle is the poppy, which was cut right back before the Winter.

In the back garden there's a weird flowering shrub that will not stop flowering; it flowered until about the end of December and in February, with snow on the ground, there are still flowers on the insane bush. It is pretty much sheltered from the elements in the angle of a wall and the shed.