From the West Wing: like a cat in a tumbledryer

We’d known it was coming for a year, but moving out of Meadow Towers was a strange experience.  A friend of mine likened it to a divorce, and in many respects it was (a happy “we’re still friends” divorce though, not an acrimonious “if I ever see you again I’m going to rip your head off and feed it to the dog” divorce).  It took time to disentangle our possessions (Moose – “Is this casserole dish yours or mine?”, Cas – “I own a casserole dish?”).  We took bags and bags of things to the local charity shops.  We spent days packing boxes and moving.  And at the end was a very clean, very empty flat.

And so we’ve moved on.  What an adventure a new home is!  There’s working out how you get hot water in your shower.  Trying to guess what’s the strange tapping noise in the bathroom.  Pondering the great mystery of why you can only get the ITV and Channel 4 channels on Freeview on a Friday night.  Meeting the neighbours.  Trying to explain to said neighbours that the reason the recycling hasn’t been collected for 3 weeks is because they keep putting plastic bags in it.  I could go on and on.

I’m off to prepare for a royal visit.  The grand-parental unit is coming for an inspection of the new place, got to make sure it’s looking spic and span or she’ll disown me.

Sunday Roast: Ouch town, population you bro!

Cas is taking a short break so it’s a Moose flavoured roast this week. Let me reassure everyone (parental units especially) that she is fine, She’s eating healthily – roasted vegetables for dinner, yuk! – she’s up and about not mopeing in her room. As I write she is busy sorting out her room. She just didn’t feel like roasting this week.

I shall start with a little news item from today’s Observer.

“Olympian, 80, warned over exercising on escalators – Former Olympic hurdler Peter Hildreth, aged 80, who represented Great Britain in the Games of 1952, 1956 and 1960, has been baned from running the wrong way up the escalators in a shop inb Farnham, Surrey. Hildreth said he wanted to prove his fitness.”

A recent study from the University of Portsmouth has apprently discovered that the wrong bra can ruin your breasts. Tell us something we don’t know. How many more studies like this are they going to do? What we really need is proper training for shop staff so they can help us find the right bras.

A report that finds there is no gender gap when it comes to maths is no surprise to me. But I am surprised that other people are surprised. Back when I was in high school (more than a decade ago now) there were equal numbers of girls and boys in top set maths, and almost as many girls as boys took A Level maths. I knew a lot of girls who took A Level sciences. One of my female friends has a PhD in biology. A few years ago I worked for someone whose daughter was just going to university to study engineering. No-one in the predominantly male office we worked in thought this was strange. The gender stereotypes have been slowing erroding for years. The only ones who apparently haven’t noticed are the ones studying gender stereotypes!

I love watching tennis, but as it’s rarely shown on British tv this means I gorge myself during Wimbledon. I’m particularly loving the BBC interactive service which means I don’t have to watch the plucky Brit losing (they are always plucky, and they always lose), and can watch more interesting matches with a hit of the old red button. This year Cas got dragged into my incessant viewing and became something of a Rafa fan (I think it was the rippling muscles that did it), which is why she was so gleeful this morning when she told me that he’d trounced Murray yesterday, again.

We may be coming up the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, but this is perhaps still too soon!

A Guardian blogger has been testing out the theory of a Canadian academic, who claims that if you want to know whether you’ll like a book try reading page 69. I’ve tried it on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and in the edition I have it was a particularly exciting page where someone was hiding behind a door with an axe, ready to kill anyone that came through. It has definitely made me more inclined to read it.

The model for next week’s Sunday Roast?

Not many trailers this week. Apple didn’t have anything worth linking to at all.

There’s this slightly blurry teaser for Yes Man. Very loosely based on a book by British comedian Danny Wallace. The book was hilarious, but I’m not sure about the film.

How to lose friends and alientate people. One scene in this had me howling with laughter, enough to bring a perplexed Cas in from the other room to find out what was happening.

Terminator Salavation teaser. Brad Fiedel’s theme still sends shivers up my spine.

Bright Meadow in the Guardian Pie

Bright Meadow in the Guardian Pie We were watching the film Waitress the other week and both had an overwhelming urge to make pie. And to keep saying the word “pie”. Go on, say it. “Pie”. It is just such a lovely, round, tasty sounding word.

While Cas is busy saying the word “pie” over and over with a dreamy look on her face, I shall take over and tell you how I made the pie (this is Moose talking in case you’re worried Cas has suddenly developed a split personality along with everything else). The pie was made in celebration of Bright Meadow getting in the Guardian, hence the name of the pie. *

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pack chocolate Hob Nobs
  • a generous tbsp of soya spread
  • a tsp of golden syrup
  • 40g 70% cocoa chocolate
  • 75g frozen raspberries
  • 75g frozen blackberries
  • a generous tsp ground ginger
  • a tbsp sugar
  • a tbsp cornflour
  • enough custard to cover the top of the pie

Method

  1. Crush the chocolate Hob Nobs
  2. Melt the soya spread, golden syrup and chocolate over a low heat and mix into the crushed Hob Nobs
  3. Pour into a round pie tin and press firmly to form a base and sides
  4. Leave in the fridge to cool and set
  5. Put the raspberries, blackberries, ginger, sugar and cornflour in a saucepan and heat gently until the fruit has softened
  6. Strain the fruit into a separate dish and return the juice back to the pan
  7. Add a little more sugar and reduce over a high heat until you have a thick sauce
  8. Put the fruit into the prepared crust and pour the sauce over
  9. Top with custard
  10. Place in a preheated over at 190C/375F/Gas 5 for approx 20 minutes or until it looks and smells cooked

Tips & Notes

  • Hob Nobs are an oaty biscuit – I can’t think of a direct comparison for our American readers, but a firm, crunchy, oaty cookie with a chocolate coating or chips would work just as well
  • This isn’t a British “pie” – don’t get either of us started on the stupidity of some of the things referred to as “pie” in the film. It’s just tasty, let’s leave it at that
  • You could use something other than soya spread if you so desired, like normal margarine
  • This is delicious hot or cold. The custard doesn’t really set when it’s cooked, so if you do eat it straight from the oven as we did, be prepared for the top of your pie to run away. Once it is chilled, the custard does set

* OK, so you caught me. I made the pie because I wanted to make pie. Cas getting mentioned in the Guardian was just a good excuse.

Sunday Roast: Mutant Ninja Walrus

This week we have a Moose flavoured roast for your delight. The reason? Cas felt like taking a break so last week she asked me to take over for a couple of weeks. She then tried to take it back, but I refused. The roast is mine, all mine! Mwah, ha, ha, ha! Anyhoo, I’ve been a busy little beaver all week collecting titbits for your amusement. You’ll notice a distinct difference – I don’t do tech stuff. Twitter is something little birdies do as far as I am concerned. You’ll also notice that most of my stories come from the BBC. I know I should try and get a more varied view on life, but meh.

In a couple of months time it will be one of my favourite events of the year – the Eurovision Song Contest. A time when we get to mock our European cousins for their taste in music and fashion, as they mock us for ours. Apparently, the Irish have chosen a puppet called Dustin the Turkey for their entry this year.

The Vatican is going to make it harder to become a saint. I’m curious, if the criteria changes what happens to all the current saints? Do they become saintlets?

British and American scientists have uncovered the fossil of a giant frog in Madagascar. They have named it the frog from hell, which I personally feel is a bit mean. How do they know it was a nasty frog? Just because it shares some similarities with the modern day horned toad, doesn’t mean it acted like one. It might have been a gentle giant. I think they may be jumping to conclusions based on it’s size, which is discrimination. I’d report this to the Commission for Froggy Rights (CFR), if we had one.

But while we don’t have a CFR, we do have a British Toilet Association. Is any other country in the world as obsessed with public toilets as we are? The government is currently proposing a scheme where businesses allow non-customers to use their toilets, to help with the shortfall of public facilities. There’s no real point to linking to this story, I just like that we have a British Toilet Association, and that the scheme in Westminster is called ‘SatLav’.

A little game to test your geography. This has had me enthralled for the past week. I can find most of the European ones, don’t do too badly on the Americas (except for the Caribbean), need a bit of work on Asia, but am completely useless when it comes to Africa.

Tate & Lyle, a major British company, is switching all it’s sugar production to Fairtrade over the next few years.

David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party in the UK, has made a bit of a booboo. He referred to the UK government sponsoring students to go to Auschwitz on educational trips as a gimmick. Silly boy. Such a rookie mistake. Everyone knows that you can’t criticise something to do with the learning about the Holocaust without major (justified) backlash.

Argentinian teenager gives brith to triplets, again
. She’s 16 years old and now has 7 children in total. Wow.

Especially for Abi, as many trailers as I could find.
Indy IV – I can’t believe Cas didn’t link to this last week!
CJ7 – like Flubber with hair.
The Happening – the lastest from M. Night whatisface. Looks good, as his trailers usually do. Warning for Firefox users, this kept crashing my browser. Could just be me, but I can only view it in IE.
Smart People – oh those crazy messed up academics, eh.
Redbelt – not something I would normally go for, but it does have Chiwetel Ejiofor who is a very good actor, and not bad eye candy either.
Street Kings - one word, Keanu.

And finally, a plea to the Great British public – please, please stop voting for Greg and Linda on Dancing on Ice! They are not up to the standard and shouldn’t be in the competition any more. Thank you.

Saturday Snack – Just call me Switzerland!

Yes, it’s Moose again. Cas is off bear hunting this weekend in the wilds of Bedfordshire; I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it when she gets back. This has left me in charge of the meadow for a couple of days (the power, the power!). As she might not be back in time to dish up a roast tomorrow I thought I’d treat you to a little snack.

Boy survives two hour flight to Moscow hanging on to plane wing. It may be a cheap way to fly, but you’ve got to be pretty desparate to try it.

In London this week burning chillis sparked a terrorist alert. Is it comforting that people are so aware of terrorism that they are alert, or worrying that we live in such a climate of fear that people panic when they smell something they don’t recognise?

Spoiler alert – Don’t click on this link unless you’ve seen the film Serenity. There’s a rumour that there might be a Serenity sequel.

And finally, especially for Abi, some trailers that have caught my eye this week.
Sweeney Todd – Mmmmm, Johnny Depp. (though I was having a few technical difficulties getting it to play – not sure if that was the site or my pc)
Southland Tales – starts off normal then quickly moves into ‘what the…?’ territory.
Youth Without Youth – no, I don’t understand it either, but I’m intrigued.
Be Kind Rewind – Jack Black and Mos Def making their own versions of popular films.
No Country for Old Men – the Coen brothers. Nothing more to say.

Oh, and the title? Apparently that’s my role in the office.

For Illyna, from moose

As Cas mentioned, we hosted a little dinner party on Saturday. Since then Illyna has been pestering me (well she asked twice anyway) for the recipe for the soup. A friend of mine gave me this recipe while she was living in Japan. She claimed it had no proper name and called it soba soup. We also nicknamed it ‘murder by mochi’ as apparently it causes several deaths each year, when elderly people get large chunks of mochi stuck in their throats.

Soba soup
portion of soba noodles per person
5-7 parts dashi stock
2 parts soy sauce
1 part mirin
pinch of red pepper spice
toppings (chopped) – spring onions, boiled egg, spinach
mochi

1. Boil the soba as per packet instructions. If using egg as a topping the eggs can be boiled in the same saucepan with the soba.
2. Drain the soba and plunge into a bowl of cold water.
3. Fry the mochi in medium size pieces until brown on both sides.
4. Make the dashi stock.
5. Mix the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and red pepper spice together and bring to the boil.
6. Drain and add the soba, bring back to the boil.
7. Chop the toppings.
8. Divide the soba and mochi between individual bowls, pour over stock and add one or more toppings.

Dashi – seafood stock, can sometimes find it in asian supermarkets. If you can’t find it use vegetable or chicken stock and add a dash or two of Thai fish sauce (nam pla).
Mirin – sweet rice wine, can get it in Waitrose or asian supermarkets.
Red pepper spice – I’m not entirely sure what this is as my friend brought it with her. It adds a little extra heat and spiceyness to the soup, so I’m pretty sure you’ll get the same effect with a pinch of crushed chilli flakes.
Mochi – odd, glutinous Japanese rice cake that’s very sticky and difficult to chew. Cas liked it, but I’m not a fan. It can be found in asian supermarkets.

Okay, that’s the basic recipe. I usually leave out the mochi as I can’t always find it here, and as I said, I’m not a fan. It works just as well without. You may need to replace some of the ingredients with British versions and some of the amounts are a little vague, but it’s the kind of recipe where that really doesn’t matter.

Is it a genuine Japanese recipe? Who knows. Tastey though.

Sunday Roast: Authentic replica

And so the baton has been handed over to me. Yes, it’s Moose here. I’ve been lurking in the background for the past few days, making sure no-one has been caught in moderation, deleting spam etc. But it’s Sunday, so time for a roast.

I’m a big film fan and something that has always irritated me is the Hollywood tendancy to overlook everyone outisde the US when it comes to film websites. Most (not all, but most) film websites are geared towards the US audience, which means US release dates, US only competitions, US restricted access even on some sites. I was glad to read this week that I’m not the only person who thinks that when you put something on the internet it’s unfair to restrict it to one country.

Last week was the inaugural Slavery Memorial Day, prompting a tearful apology from London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Teaxs has just executed its 400th person since the death penalty was re-introduced in 1976.

It was GCSE time this week. (national exams everyone takes at the age of 16 for any non-Brits reading). Once again the media knew the results before the students did, leading to stories like this one being posted the night before the results were due. I always think this is unfair on the kids that tried their best but didn’t do that well. Not everyone is academic; that doesn’t make them stupid, but the media going on and on about how easy the exams are probably does.

One of the scariest road junctions in the UK has been voted the top roadside attraction/distraction in a poll by the RAC. Spagetti Junction in Birmingham is a pretty impressive site from the air. Not sure I’d actually want to drive through it though.

If this keeps up, one day monkeys could take over the world. Better go warn Charlton Heston.

And finally, film trailers that have caught my eye this week:
Alvin and the Chipmunks – for 2 reasons: 1, my brother used to have an Alvin and Chipmunks record when we were little, and 2, what has happened to Jason Lee’s career?
Rendition – it’s interesting to see how quickly Hollywood is picking up on political/war stories these days.
The Last Legion – because ‘fantasy action adventure’ and ‘Colin Firth’ are not words that normally go together.
Enchanted – because it made me laugh, particularly James Marsden and the bicycles (near the end of the trailer)
The Nines – because I have no idea what’s going on here, but it still made me want to see it.