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2005-04-29 15:22

Apologies

We've been having a phone installed, in the "morning", which starts, apparently, at noon and lasts three (3) hours will the other bloke has to come out and do inexplicable somethings with the cable.

And we're slightly behind at work, now, too, so it may be a bit quiet on the bladetting front. Have excellent Walpurgisnings, or whatever it is they have where you are, Varied Reader, and we'll be back Tuesday at the latest.

2005-04-28 16:09

Perfidy, perfidy, they've all got it...

Oh, no, wait, that's infamy.

But dragging ourselves through parts of Aftonbladet's dejtningschool, we learn to our horror that the top uppchattning tip of Oskar Olofsson - for it is he! - is:

Lyssna! 70 procent av en lyckad konversation ska handla om kvinnan, 30 om dig.

Listen! 70% of a successful conversation should be about the wimmin, 30% about you.

That surely can't apply to our gloriously Imperial self, cannit?

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2005-04-28 11:42

Monday review of stuff

It is Irish Stew! But first a Canonical Old Joke:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Irish stew!
Irish stew who?
Irish stew in the name of the law!

(Do Engleesh "knock-knock" jokes enjoy universal currency, Forreners?)

Anyway, our Combined Slowcooker Irish Stew recipe is, from bottom up:

  • Thinly - thinly! - sliced onions
  • Thinly - thinly! - sliced potatoes
  • Roughly chopped stewing lamb
  • Chicken stock, to cover the above ("below")

Cook on "low" for a long time. (Ours was in about 12 hours, and it was by no means overdone. We like slowcookning!)

We had, we admit, doubts about this: all the ingredients go in raw at breakfast time (and we neglect to eat breakfast) and there is no seasoning to speak of (although we grated a little pepper at it).

We were, we concede, wrong to doubt it: it is fabulous. The clever bit is the stewing lamb, which is just delicious. It tastes more like dner kebap ("doner kebab") meat than a roast leg of lamb, but it is clean and rich and nice and generally lambtastic. We are so impressed we've left the leftovers in the slowcooker, and we'll just turn it back on tomorrow morning.

(The main downside of slowcookning is, of course, portion control. We cook for between two and four, and our tummy bulges with dinner and our fridge bulges also with leftovers. We have the last of the yummy bunnywabbit to eat up, and one and a half pre-pot-roasted spring chickens - which we think will be nice in a white wine sorse with pasta - and some stewing beef we haven't even got round to bourguinionising yet. We're thinking boeuf bourguinion might go well with dumplings. This may very breach several fundamental tenets of French cookning, but we think we can probably live with that. We peeked at the Larousse recipe in Borders in passing, just to see, and it said you mostly want a kilo of beef, half a kilo of pork belly, some onions and shallots, half a litre of red wine, and you may or may not want to pour in half a glass of brandy and set it on fire at some point. It is, you get the impression, not especially important culinarily, but it is - quite lit'rally - flamboyant. We'll see if we can get a small bockle of cheapish brandy before committing ourselves.

Plus we've got the last of the Toulouse sossages, and a bunch of bacon - ordin'ry sliced, as well as bacon chops we were planning to use in the rtsoppa we're postponing again. Despite all of which, we are spending far less on food than had previously our custom. Pre-packaged Supermarkt meals and pizzas and grillable cowlumps are probably cheaper in real terms now than ever before, but you can get an awful lot of yummy stew for that price. Our new challenge, accordingly, is low-maintenance luxury cheapskate food, which appears to be underrepresented in the literature: we want things that

  • can cook all day in a slow cooker unattended after minimal preparation - our time is expensive and we hoard our private stock of it jealously;
  • use tasty but inexpensive lumps of animal;
  • are entitled to assume a luxuriously stocked larder of non-perishables, at least in so far as we can source them; and
  • keep (or freeze) well, if made in bulk.

Maybe we should write a cookbook when and if we get all this sorted out to our satisfaction. Quick and Cheap Luxury Slow-Cookning: Wholesome Treats For All The Family (Of One (Or More)). If you, Varied Reader, have an identity position that involves a preoccupation with shoes, cake, chocklate, dietary fads and (especially) dessert, and are interested in a role of caring about desserts in this context, do please let us know: this is a demographic we would otherwise struggle to reach.

Amongst other things, we would dearly love to be the recognised culinary expert on slowcooked steamed suet puddings for one. We love savoury suet puddings so very much, even if we never acquired a taste for the Steak-on-Kiddley variety, but all our slowcookbooks are preoccupied with recipes for four (4) or six (6) persons, of which there routinely aren't of us. We can, as a hangover from the days when our metabolisme was turned up to 11, cheerfully eat for two (2) persons, but four (4) is a non-starter and we do not feel so rich - although not for lack of money - that we would feel comfortable ignoring the waste of throwing even half away.

Which reminds us: having been, as we are of course no longer, vegetarian, we do not neglect that meat is made from animals, and that the particular kind it is made from is the dead kind, and the deadness is, for humanly consumable meat, required to be something that is thrust upon them. Which, to our mind, implies that if you are - as we are - in the habit of feasting on the flesh of animals, it is only polite to eat as much of them as is edible. So cheapcuts and offals and sossages are practically a Moral Duty, unless you wish to rely on the petfood market to deal with the Icky Stuff. If you are willing to eat a Rumpsteak, which is to say, there is a side order of tripe going begging, and shunning it is in no way reducing the prevailing level of cowslaughter.)

Next time we'll be looking for some lower-hassle lamb, though.

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2005-04-28 09:22

The Quotidien Quotation

(This will appear once in a blue moon, of course.)

I'm often struck, when I read the late Scholastics, by the resemblances between Scholasticism and analytic philosophy (once their heroic periods ended - for Scholasticism, this was about a century or so after the first great commentaries by Albert and Thomas).

[...]

Like the School philosophy, analytic philosophy is a philosophy of the classroom. Its practitioners' publications serve to advance their authors' standing within the profession. With some exceptions, they are little read by the profane, and are instead addressed primarily to an audience of fellow experts.

This is an eccentric spelling of "decadent inbred junk fit only for the rubbish bin of history", of course, but close enough for rock 'n' roll.

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2005-04-27 15:20

Geography lesson

It is the BBC's Krzysztof Dzieciolowski on economic migrants to Blighty!

Thousands of eastern Europeans headed to the UK last year by plane and coach, seeking a better future since their countries joined the European Union on 1 May. A year on, we find out whether their hopes have been fulfilled.

Typical know-nothing British blinkered prejudice! Polandland (whence many of the arrivistes started) isn't Eastern Yoorp, it's Central Yoorp!

Bad Krzysztof "Little Englander" Dzieciolowski, no biscuit!

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2005-04-27 12:03

Bad Pope, No Biscuit

It's going to run and run, this one, we think.

Lors de sa premire audience gnrale place Saint-Pierre devant plus de 15 000 personnes, Benot XVI a voqu saint Benot, le saint patron de l'Europe, dont il a pris le nom, "trs vnr en Allemagne et en particulier en Bavire, ma terre d'origine", qui "reprsente un point de repre fondamental pour l'unit de l'Europe et un rappel fort aux racines chrtiennes de sa culture et de sa civilisation, auxquelles on ne saurait renoncer".

On the occasion of his first public address in St Peter's square in front of more than 15,000 persons, Benedict XVI evoked Saint Benedict, the [Catholic] patron saint of Europe, whose name he has taken, "very respected in Germany and especially Bavaria, my heimat", who "represents a fundamental repre for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the Christian origins of its roots, culture and civilisation, which cannot be renounced."

Are there persons who speak of "roots" but are yet not contemptible, incidentally? We yearn to hear of such counter-examples to our general theory.

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2005-04-27 10:01

Monday Review of Stuff

It is the Labour election manifesto!

It is long and boring and self-congratulatory and earnest, and on topics where you know more than nothing you can see the mask slip: when they smoothly talk of "simplifying" fraud trials it is code for limiting the right to trial by jury (a longstanding pre-occupation of the Blair administration).

And ID cards - which continue and will always continue to be vital, even as for what shifts with the winds of fashion - are currently vital to thwart illegal immigrants. A bit of a come-down from Ending Terrorisme, but you'll have them and like them or else.

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2005-04-26 15:47

Things that suck, part MMCCXCII

Matlab, it sucks.

How, and in which way or manner, does it suck, you ask or enquire? It sucks in the way or manner of a Very High Level Langwidge designed by and for persons who previously only knew FORTRAN.

In our world the sin of not knowing better, when there is so very much better to be known, is not a minor one.

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2005-04-26 11:48

Prinsessupproundning

1. For shame, Danmark!

Is it the thronefollowergenderbug, you ask or enquire? It is, it is:

Om Danmarks kronprinsessa Mary fr en dotter i hst s kommer det troligen att leda till en ndring av den danska grundlagen.

If Danmark's Kronprinsessmary has a prinsess in the autumn it will probably lead to a change in the Danish constitution.

And for especially shame Dansk folkeparti ("The Danish Slavering Slimebagparti"):

Hela det danska folketinget, med undantag fr Dansk folkeparti, vill ndra grundlagen s att den frstfdda rver tronen oavsett om det r en prins eller en prinsessa, skriver tidningen Politiken p tisdagen.

The whole of the Danish parliament, with the exception of the Slimebagparti, wants to change the constitution so that the firstborn is heir to the throne regardless of whether it is a prins or prinsess, the 'bladet Politiken wrote on Tuesday.

2. Nuptual nuances

It is very sad! Prinsess Madeleine of Sweden allegedly wishes to become engaged, but she cannot do so! Why not, you ask or enquire? Well, Expressen quotes "a source":

- Anledningen r s enkel att Madeleine p grund av de kungliga reglerna inte kan frlova sig fre sin storasyster Victoria.

"It is so very simple that the reason is: the Royal Rules say she can't get engaged before her bigsister Victoria"

Had her bigsister been a Margaret or an Agnetha, it would of been fine, but with a Victoria it is a non-starter. Kunglig protocol is complex, and it is also severe.

3. No pressure, mind...

The lovely Danish Kronprinsessmary is with child. The lovely Norwegish kronprinsess Mette-Marit is with child.

But what of the lovely Swedish kronprinsess Victoria, you ask or enquire: is she with, or is she without, child?

She is without child, sillyheads! She isn't even married!

Frst mste hon frlova sig med pojkvnnen Daniel Westling, 31, och det kommer att drja.

First she has to get engaged to her boyfriend Daniel Westling, 31, and that could take a while.

There is a sense in which making babies does not technically require a preceding engagement to be married, of course, but the rules are different for prinsesses, one of whom or which it isn't easy to be!

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2005-04-26 11:05

On Markning

In Blighty, universities grade things in classes of First, Upper Second, Lower Second and Third (except for Oxbridge, of course, which does it in Latin), and typically the threshold for first class is seventy percent (70%), and third class (a bare pass) tends to be around forty (40).

At the University of Openness, where I study, first classness (which they mostly call "Pass 1") is pegged at 85%, instead. Which is a lot. Presumably they mark accordingly, but it still feels like there's a shortage of slack.

It's irrelevant on my level one course, anyway, since level one courses are marked pass/fail only, but I am after all going to be going on (and on) with all this, and I need to get myself callibrated. So while I was slightly pleased to get 86% first time out, I am by no means thrilled to have gone only up to 87% at the second attempt: under the prevailing conditions, and to provide a safety margin, I need to be able to get in the 90s, and I still haven't found out how.

If I get 88% next time out, there'll be trouble, for sure.

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2005-04-25 16:16

Smrgspost

1. Proofreadning, now with actual proofs

For once, in .pdf, hoorah!

2. "Organic" food

It's still made from chemicals, silly hippies!

3. Educate me harder!

Tonight's tutorial has been relocated to the pub. Hoorah for higher education, and hurrah especially for the social sciences, where alcohol is by no means an impairment for the relevant faculties!

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2005-04-25 11:57

Heir Apparent

It is Kronprinsessmary!

Deres Kongelige Hjheder Kronprinsen og Kronprinsessen har den glde at meddele, at Kronprinsessen venter barn.

Their Royal Royalnesses the Kronprinsess and her bloke have the pleasure to inform that the Kronprinsessmary is expecting a children.

(Kronprinsesses pretty much earn their keep from the state by making babies, of course, but for some reason they are honoured for it to an extent that Somalian refugees are typically not.)

We are especially looking forward to the maternity frocks!

(We learn this from Expressenbladet.)

Update: Mette-Marit as well! What a 'strawdinry day for Kronprinsessor! (via Simon, tack!)

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2005-04-25 09:19

Weekendnings

Now that we are an initiate of slowcookning, we find that the meatstockning practices of Supermarkts are no longer as to our taste as once they were. We want cheap, tough stewing cuts of yummy sheeps and cows et al - we hold, sadly, out little hope of getting yummy seal or yummy whale in dear old Blighty - but they often prefer to sell nice steaks and chops and roasting joints.

Also, as we have moaned often and at length, silly Engleesh sossages are very far from being to our taste: we wish for our sossages to be made out of animal to a percentage of ninety (90%) or thereabouts, and we see no urgent reason to reduce it in favour of bread, as is done with even many "quality" Engleesh sossages.

The solution is, of course, obvious: we need a proper butcher. Since, however, it was raining during our shoppning today (VI, or "Saturday"), and we had burdened ourselves extensively with Supermarkt produce - including the first potatoes we have bought for years, and our aching bag-carrying fingers are keen to remind us why - we were not in the mood for the trek up to the Posh Butchers, and contented ourselves with the one on the way home. Even in Blighty prices for loose foods have to be quoted in proper ("metric") units, these days, and the nice butcher didn't flinch when we ordered in kilograms, and he wrote down the individual prices of our orders in pen and added up the total by hand with proper carrying, which we liked.

But it isn't otherwise a great butcher, in our considered. The Toulouse-style sossages are vair nice, we'll grant, but the stewing lamb has proved to be at least as much anatomy lesson as food: we bought a kilo, and got at least one rib, one ball-and-socket shoulder joint and a plethora of neck vertebrae. The meat we could detach amounts to a little over 500g, although we now think that a knife other than a serated vegetable knife might be a worthwhile investment and we have the makings of an excellent lamb broth left over.

And the most underwhelming thing was the extent of the stock on show, which was by no means large. We admit that Barcelona's astonishing covered market (La Boqueria) has warped, skewed and generally disrupted our thinking on such matters - we had never seen anything like it. We grew up in London as the son of a catering manager, and have certainly seen some markets in our time, but La Boqueria is something else again and then some: the astonishing range of gleaming bright-eyed and barely dead fishies and boggling diversity of carcasses of piggywig and yummy cow and goat and rabbit. The rabbits, in particular, were cheerfully displayed whole, but peeled, and very odd they looked too.

We have noticed elsewhere in Yoorp a tendency not to conceal that meat is made from animals which have been caused to be dead for the purpose of savouring their yumminess - Blightian meat-selling protocol, especially in Supermarkts, goes out of its way to avoid acknowledging such a state of affairs. (If we were a linguabloggeur, which we are sometimes accused of being, and an idiot, which we are not, we might feel obliged to speculate inanely on the relevance to this of the Norman-induced split in English vocabulary that means that "cows" hang around in fields chewing the cud, while "beef" is delicious served roasted with Yorkshire puddings and hossradish. Frankly, this strikes us as witless linguistique determinisme such as would embarrass even Benjy "Warp-speed" Whorf, but that may just be us.)

"Our" butcher was not only nothing like La Boqueria, which is only to be expected, it was fairly underwhelming even on Blightian terms. We are, which is to say, still looking for a butcher suitable for By Appointmentning to our Imperial household. We have taken to peeking at, if not necessarily buying, cookbooks and we have noticed a willingness on their part to make extensive and elaborate demands, by proxy, of the reader's butcher. This, of course, simply encourages our existing suspicion that (approximately) no one actually uses cookbooks to cook from. (In real life, people shop for food almost exclusively at Supermarkts. It is thus, and it is not otherwise, and leafing through opulently illustrated cookbooks by no means makes it otherwise.)

But since we are, amongst other things, a cheerful capitaliste at heart, it strikes us that the market has a gap for boutique butchers, specialising in free-range, well-hung meats and poultries, and doing cheerfully all the things that cookbooks (falsely) claim that butchers will cheerfully do. Some such somethings certainly exist, of course, but our vision cannot be said to have been realised ("come true") until such butcheries have taken their place on bourgeois high streets along with the delicatessens and the many overpriced coffeeshops.

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