Psalm 4

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Moroccan paella

It sounds so wrong but it really worked. Most of my best recipes come from the kitchen accidents that come from not properly checking the cupboards before going to the shop or misreading a recipe. This one came from my plan to make Moroccan couscous without checking I actually had couscous. I did however have some short grained rice…

Serves 2
I red onion (thinly sliced)
Ground ginger (2 tsp)
1 small chicken breast/quorn/sweet potato
1 tbsp Harissa paste
Small handful of dried apricots and blanched almonds
1 tomato
500ml stock
1/2 tsp chopped chilli
Few chunks of chorizo/ 1tsp smoked paprika
Handful of paella/risotto rice
2tbsp natural yoghurt

Gently cook the red onion and chilli in a pan. After a few minutes add the ginger and then the chicken (or substitute)
Cook about 10 minutes then add the Harissa, rice, almonds and apricots. Stir fry a minute or so then add stock
Add the chorizo or smoked paprika and the tomatoes about halfway through simmering the rice
Make a sauce with natural yoghurt and a little Harissa. Add sugar if too bitter
Serve when rice is cooked through and the liquid has cooked down. Drizzle yoghurt sauce over the top!

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Bucket List

I am coming to the end of the obvious next steps phases of my life so far. I did the whole university thing, then the masters thing, and am now in the inevitable unemployed/winding up dissertation thing that feels like the inevitable conclusion to that part of my life. In what is perhaps one of those 20 something ‘quarter-life’ crises that one reads about I feel a little lost and in desperate need of a purpose once more. Yes there are the usual drives to get a job and move on, but I fear simply substituting one life dominating purpose for another. I want there to be more to me than a 9-5 or the stigma of unemployment. I’m no artist (although I like to dabble!). I guess I want to be an adventurer. So I’ve written down some of the things I would like to do – a bucket list if you will. Some are cheap and easy, others less so, and will probably be more or less likely to get done accordingly.

– Watch/read Asterix and Obelix (start small I guess!)

– Cycle round Orkney’s world heritage site

– Visit Tara and Newgrange

– (re)learn French and Latin

– Go hiking in the Tatras mountains

– Go on a train journey through the Alps

– Ride the Orient Express

– Make physical albums of all my Flickr photos

– Get good at portrait photography

– Go on a pilgrimage

– Run a marathon

– Travel round northern Italy and southern France with my camera (not necessarily at the same time!)

– Do a major walk (Coast to Coast, West Highland etc)

– Do the Kyle of Localsh train journey

 

That will probably do for now…! What about you? What would you like to do?

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Sweet Saag Aloo

Made a really lovely dinner tonight. I’ve made various forms of saag aloo before, but this I made up based on what I had, and it was really really yummy so here’s the recipe:

1 onion diced

3 Sweet potatoes diced

4 cloves garlic

Ginger (I used a pureed form, but fresh would be good I imagine)

Vegetable oil

1/2 bag of spinach

1/2 tsp each of cayenne chilli pepper, ground cumin, ground corriander and garam masala.

Dollop of sweet chilli sauce

I sauteed the onion, garlic and ginger till soft, then added the potato and cooked about 10 mins in vegatable oil. I then added the spices, mixed in a little water to mix it in without sticking, and added a little salt. Cooked until the potato was beginning to break down and the onions were nice and caramelised. Added the sweet chilli and then mixed in the spinach, roughly chopped about a handful at a time until it looked green enough. Served with pitta bread. Mmmmm

 

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Lincolnshire

I’m at home in Lincolnshire at the moment. One of my favourite thing about returning is the quality of rural journalism. Past jems have been the front page news of a christmas tree thief, who stole 15 christmas trees growing in a Boston home’s back garden from under their noses; police warning locals to be on the lookout for trees being sold out of the back of a van. This week’s paper was no disappointment. The wedding announcements appeared to give credence to the belief that incest is rife in the area, as the nuptials of Keith and Julia Drury was announced. While all other couples appeared to have had different names before the marriage this couple apparently shared a surname. This was followed by the advert, in the pets section, of the sale of ‘Ducking’s, cross breed, £6 each’. The advert failed to reveal what they were a cross of… But my absolute favourite was the following, which I will reproduce in full due to its magnificence:

CHAFFEUR/HANDYPERSON/HOUSEKEEPER/CARER

The above staff are required to assist an elderly lady of high standards, in maintaining her independence and dignity. This lady enjoys an active social life, her extended family, many friends, two dogs, country pursuits and a cultured lifestyle.

The residence is set in a charming, very rural setting, midway between Market Rasen and Grimsby.

Ideally a couple would be suitable for these positions, living in a cottage within the grounds of the main residence, but other quality applicants will be considered.

Other caring staff and gardener are employed and it is essential everyone works together in a spirit of happy teamwork.

Applicants must be prepared to perform their duties to a high standard of efficiency, compassion and flexibility. The employer would expect to show the same qualities in a spirit of happy coexistence with her staff.

Please apply by letter, clearly stating which position, as a couple or singualr you are applying for. Please give as much information about yourself as possible, your past and present employment, and notice you are required to give. The previous couple happily stayed for fourteen years until their retirement, and a short term couple filled the vacancy, until permanent long term arrangement could be made.

Etc etc

I really feel like driving around between Market Rasen and Grimbsy in an attempt to find the ‘residence’ just to satisfy my curiosity!

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The election

Plane crashes, people not allowed to vote, bomb scares, a rather irritated Dimble, and too many innuendoes to count were just the start of my election night! Here are my favourite moments:

–         The ‘Cleg surge’, could we have a ‘seriously hung’ parliament, and Paxman asking the immortal question – “would you get into bed with Peter Mandleson?” Oh and who could forget “David Cameron heads off into the night to his count”

–         Some fabulous names – Charles Andrew Alexander Wood (Conservative), Leopold Dominic Barraclough, attempting to hide it by calling himself Leo, (Labour!!) and MacClaren of MacClaren (Independent)

–         “The Queen is like Heineken lager; there are places only she can reach… and the queen is only activated in certain situations”

–         Peter Robinson losing his seat to the Alliance party

–         Dimble’s tie matched his background

–         David blanket telling the truth – proclaiming a Labour loss at 1.25am. I paraphrase ‘Labour have lost – lets deal with figuring out opposition’

–         The Tooting announcement – a proper stroppy returning officer putting off her best teacher voice “Can I finish please” and the best beard of the evening on the face of the Christian party dude.

–         “The Queen says she won’t see anyone till 1pm” – and neither will I having been up all night watching the election.

– “X – none of the above”  –  a rather funny returning officer listing spoiled ballots

– Oooh recounts – how exciting!

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A present from…

http://www.flyintheface.com/a%20present%20from….html

Art as activism – have a look

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