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What is this deviltry?

We had to do an errand in the big city today. First time we’ve had Mickey D’s in at least four years.

They already had the touch-screen ordering kiosks when we visited last, but the McDonald’s app? That’s new. Imagine being a registered McDonald’s customer.

Free food, I guess.

I ate a Big Mac, fries and a Coke every school day for a whole year once. I think it was 1975. I don’t believe they called it a meal deal in those days, but I do remember it was under a buck.

I also remember a Big Mac was a much bigger sammich. And Brits are really stingy with secret sauce.

I’m not going anywhere interesting with this, just sharing.

Oh, look at that – 1975 was the year they invented the Big Mac. That probably explains it.

February 1, 2023 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 9

I did a middle class thing…

I bought myself a coffee subscription. Every six weeks, they’ll send me two bags of fancy coffee from two different artisanal roasters. It costs stupid money for what it is, but hey – surprise treat in the mail from time to time.

Look at that, the coffee even comes with baseball cards.

Why Waaqa? Oh, that’s the Ethiopian sky god, naturally. The Oromo tribes of Ethiopia believe coffee plants must be nourished by the tears of Waaqa.

Really. That’s the kind of pretentious wankers I’m dealing with here.

I have to say, though, following their instructions I made some of the best coffee ever. Turns out, I was cooking it too hot for too long (though, to be honest, there’s a part of me that likes it nasty bitter, especially first thing in the morning).

Bring the water to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or so to cool down. Grind the beans while waiting – coarse for a cafetière – 13g to 18g per 250ml cup (my usual scoop is 16g. Yes, I weighed it). Pour a little water on the grounds and let it soak for 30 seconds, then pour in the rest of the water for four to five minutes.

At first I thought, “pff! So it’s coffee.” But the more I drank, the more I realized it was milder and sweeter than my usual. Almost chocolatey.

Very nice. Still not worth stupid money, though.

January 31, 2023 — 6:57 pm
Comments: 15

It’s just ham, y’all

We are having gammon for Thanksgiving this year. I think this might be the first time ever I’m not having turkey on Turkey Day, but Uncle B was the first to point out that we have two turkey holidays a month apart and then don’t eat it again for a whole year.

Looked at that way, it diminishes the specialness of…one or the other holiday, somehow.

I have been puzzled over the exact meaning of “gammon” ever since I moved here – especially when I learned it’s also called boiled bacon. Delicious!

It’s just ham, though. Upper leg of pig (nowhere near bacon, but whatever). We’re going to pressure cook it.

Pic nicked from Wikimedia, with proper attribution.

With it, we’re having homemade dinner rolls and the traditional pease pudding – an unremarkable starchy side dish that does well with pork (do follow the link if you’d like to take a peep at pease pudding and faggot).

Speaking of Christmas turkey, I ordered mine yesterday. I know your turkeys have gone through the roof this year, but you can console yourself they’re still substantially more expensive in Jollye Olde.

November 23, 2022 — 7:37 pm
Comments: 14

Air fryer pizza!

You may recall that among my many accomplishments, I once made pizza for a living. Specifically, Sicilian deep dish pizza. Now I have mastered the art of homemade za in the air fryer, using this ONE WEIRD TRICK.

Can’t be clickbait, you’re here already.

If you can get it where you are, buy a pound of raw white bread dough (don’t sell it here, so I do the pizza program on the breadmaker). That will make three 9″ pies, or two if you like a lot of crust. It freezes wonderfully.

Dough works better if it’s a little warm; I usually give it twenty seconds in the nuker. Roll it out with a rolling pin and then place it in the bottom of the food basket, with the grill removed, and press it around the sides. Unless you’re some kind of crazy cleanaholic, the basket is probably just oily enough that the dough will come out easily when it’s done.

Give it five minutes or so, until the dough holds its shape and has a little strength. Then – here’s the important thing I learned! – flip it over and give it about seven minutes upside down, until it’s just starting to brown. If you don’t do this, the pie will be gluey and underdone on the bottom.

Flip it back over and add sauce (I used storebought spaghetti sauce with a little added olive oil and cracked black pepper because I’m lazy like that). That poor little bent spoon is perfect for spreading the sauce around – and hooking under the edge of the dough to lift it out whenever necessary.

The pie I was taught to make has the ingredients under a solid layer of cheese, and that’s my preference. This one is bell pepper, onion, mushroom and pepperoni. I cook that part for a few minutes in its own before adding cheese. The house mixture was 50/50 cheddar and mozzarella.

Cook until desired doneness (I like the cheese a little browned), hook it out with your ickle spoon, and viola!

Since all food looks gross in black and white, here’s the final product in color.

Or you can buy a 9″ supermarket frozen pizza and give it ten minutes. That’s good, too.

November 16, 2022 — 5:01 pm
Comments: 9

My lunch had a good life

Oh, Waitrose. I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me. Did he have a winsome smile? A mellifluous squeal? Did he have a crush on the sow in the airy barn next door? At night, did he look up at the stars and…

Nah, screw it. There’s only so much I need to know about my lunch.

October 25, 2022 — 7:37 pm
Comments: 5


The question mark is because I ain’t so sure. It has a lovely flavor and a beautiful color, but I don’t think it’s going to set. Quinces have lots of pectin and usually don’t have any problem setting firm, but I think I cooked it in too much water. As I boiled it, it just didn’t thicken properly

The internet helpfully suggests I use it for sugar syrup. If I don’t want to boil it again. And I don’t.

Yes, you can see it in color.

October 5, 2022 — 6:52 pm
Comments: 5


One year, the quince tree at work was dropping so much fruit from on high, we seriously feared a quince would bean a visitor to death. We had it savagely cut back and it sulked for three years. This is the first year it’s fruited since.

Oddly enough, there was no low-hanging fruit *thinking face emoji*

I had to wait for some of the higher fruit to overripen and fall. That’s why it’s so spotty. I’ll cut out the worst buts and it’ll be fine for quince jelly.

I love quince jelly, but making it is such a pain in the ass, I go several years between batches.

Storm’s a-coming tonight, everyone. It is upon us. Logging off to hunker down. Have a good weekend!

September 30, 2022 — 6:01 pm
Comments: 11

Glut of tomatoes?

Homemade V8! Makes a kickass bloody mary.

Preboil celery and carrots in a little water until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook another 20 minutes with the lid off. Put in a blender or zizz with a mixer. You’re supposed to strain it through muslin then, but that makes it too thin for my taste. I just trawl trough it for chunks (celery is the usual culprit).

According to campbells.com, the proper article is tomato puree plus carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach. But the as long as you have tomatoes and Tabasco, you’re good.

Sorry about yesterday. It was the database on my server. I didn’t even bother to file a ticket. I knew they were working on it and I wasn’t too fussed. I had bloody marys!

Any hardline computer geeks online?

I’m having a mystery problem with my fancy computer. It’s three years old and it’s the absolute highest spec I could afford.

While it was still fairly new, I noticed the USB ports in the front were a little flaky – sometimes cutting out briefly. I assumed that bank of ports wasn’t fully plugged into the motherboard.

Then the ones in the back got a little flaky. Then all of them got pretty flaky. Then all of them got intolerably flaky, stuttering in and out constantly.

So I broke down and bought a PCI card with four USB ports. Which worked a treat. For about a week.

What could make all my USB ports unreliable, even freshly added ones. Would that be (please no) a motherboard issue? Could it be the power supply?

September 22, 2022 — 5:19 pm
Comments: 15


Oof! I’ve been in a Zoom meeting this evening, so please enjoy this photograph of muddy carrots.

Yes, it’s that time of year again – the end of the cottage garden when the last of the ragtag bunches of vegetables that come out of the ground. My remaining spring onions are now the size of golfballs.

I say ‘my’ spring onions – the garden is entirely the province of Uncle B. My only contribution is keeping the chickens off it (I don’t always succeed). Oh, and eating the vegetables. It is glut time.

My specialty is a little number I like to call Cream of Shit-from-the-garden Soup. Throw whatever I’ve got in a pot, boil it with chicken broth, zizz it with a hand mixer and add cream. It’s different every time, but always delicious.

I have been forbidden from fermenting vegetables since the Brussel Sprout Incident. Damn near asphyxiated everyone.

September 13, 2022 — 7:35 pm
Comments: 5

The Return of the Village Fete

The judgin’ o’ the veggies. Yes, they really do this and yes, they take it very seriously.

One particularly hilarious category was swiss rolls, where some judge or judges wrote detailed critiques on index cards for each entry, explaining why they voted the way they did, what issues that particular swiss roll had and how to make it better next year.

BTW, red ribbon is first place here and blue is second. Make brain hurt.

There was a point I was sure the village fete would never return. So many of them were teetering on the edge even before the lockdown, and I thought the lockdown might’ve broken some people forever.

I still think there are some permanently damaged people out there (they all seem to hang out in Twitterland), but we went to two village fetes this weekend alone, and they were *packed*.

No masks, no distancing, no elbow-bumping, no fear. It was absolutely, 100% the old normal. But busier.

These were the middle classes, they who listen to the BBC, trust the government and no doubt had every recommended shot at its appointed time. They weren’t being defiant. They weren’t even thinking about covid. They were just done.

I wonder if that’s how Klaus Schwab saw this going at this point in his project.

August 3, 2022 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 14