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Quail and root vegetable soup

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

This recipe was based on ingredients we had in the freezer. It took a bit of time to prepare. The first stage was making the stock, which was based on a chicken stock:

  • 2 chicken legs

  • 3 quail

  • 1 leek

  • parsley

  • garlic

Everything was simmered in a pan of water for about an hour, then the stock was strained and the meat was separated from the bones.

The following day involved making the soup itself. We had 2 bags of vegetables in the freezer which contained onion, leek, potato, carrot and swede. This was added to the stock, along with some more herbs and garlic. The veg were simmered for about an hour then everything was liquidised.

The liquidised soup was very thick so to serve it we diluted it down with water and a teaspoon of powdered stock. We added the shredded meat from the chicken and quail.

Glitter mystery solved

Story location: Home / Blog /

Every now and again I would find small pieces of glitter on my hands or face. Most of the time I hadn't gone near any glitter so couldn't work out where they came from.

The mystery was finally solved today when Emma noticed that the metal plating was flaking off one of the car keys. The tiny flakes of metal would look just like a piece of glitter.

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Tuscan Beans

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A couple of weeks ago we tried the Tuscan Bean Stew made by Innocent (who are better known for their fruit smoothies). We liked it and decided to try to make it ourselves.

I followed a recipe in one of the Covent Garden books. The ingredients weren't the same but the end result was reasonably similar. I made a few minor substitutions (dried mixed herbs instead of dried oregano, and a teaspoon of powdered stock instead of salt and pepper) but apart from that I followed the recipe faithfully. I waited until we had some fresh parsley because I think dried parsley is a tasteless waste of space. Some herbs work ok dried but parsley really needs to be used fresh.

Waiting In

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I'm not used to spending time at home during the week and didn't realise how many annoying useless phone calls we receive. My car was being serviced so I was waiting for the garage to call to say it was ready to collect. Within a couple of hours I had call trying to sell me replacement doors and other home improvements, and a call from BT trying to sell me their broadband package.

I try not to be rude to phone salespeople but I wanted them off the phone as quickly as possible to keep the line clear for the garage to call. Eventually it was ready and I went to collect it.

On the drive to work I encountered a windscreen washing bloke at some traffic lights. Whenever the traffic stopped he would walk out and start cleaning a windscreen, completely uninvited. The lights turned green while he was still faffing about. I couldn't easily get to my wallet so I drove off. He must be used to that kind of thing, but if I wanted to wash my windscreen, I would use the windscreen wipers which have been standard issue on cars since at least the 1930s.

Circus of Horrors

Story location: Home / Blog / theatre /

We went to see the Circus of Horrors at the Belgrade Theatre tonight. I'd seen it advertised regularly in the Fortean Times but their recent tours hadn't come to Coventry until now.

I didn't really know what to expect - it just sounded like it would be a good show. We weren't disappointed. It was like a cross between a circus and a rock opera. There were the usual acrobats, contortionists, sword swallowers and fire eaters. Some acts also involved fake blood and pretend limbs being cut off, a dwarf with a vacuum cleaner attached to his penis or with a firework up his arse.

It was an unusual and entertaining night out.


Story location: Home / Blog / tv /

We were watching an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and they were in the gym in school playing dodgeball. I can't believe that people actually played dodgeball in schools - that schools encouraged games where the aim was to hit people with objects.

Dodgeball seems only one step above Deathsquare, which was a game from my youth. This was never an official game but one played on the school field during break time. The play area was roughly 5 yards square. The aim was to kick a tennis ball from one person to the next. If you kicked the ball out of the square, or the ball went between your legs, you had to get out of the square as fast as possible. Anyone could kick you until you left the square. As soon as you'd left the square, it was safe to return and the game would continue.

As far as I know, no-one has made a film about Deathsquare. I don't even know whether it's still played in schools any more.

Wheely bin full of plastic

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

Coventry doesn't offer plastic recycling, so all of our plastic bottles used to go into the wheely bin. It is possible to recycle it in Warwickshire so we started saving bottles and taking them to a recycling point whenever we were in the area.

The plastic bins haven't been emptied since Christmas. Our bags of recycling have been steadily filling up until this morning when I finally got fed up with them cluttering up the kitchen and dumped everything in the wheely bin.

I hope the local paper recycling bins have been emptied because we've got a box full of paper and card waiting to go. We used to leave the paper and card recycling outside the house until some wanker stole our recycling box.

Houghton House

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Some photos taken at Houghton House, near Ampthill in Bedfordshire.

Houghton House

Houghton House

Houghton House
The first photo converted into Black and White.


Story location: Home / Blog / animals /

Photograph taken at a wildcat rescue centre in Hertfordshire.

Handy Nasty

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

The title isn't strictly accurate. The Han Dynasty in the city centre is handy but certainly not nasty. The buffet might be a bit more expensive than last year (now £5.99) but there is a decent choice of food and what I had was consistently tasty.

The buffet foods were a mixture of things either deep fried or stir fried. My first plate had prawn toast, spring rolls, stir fried cauliflower & broccoli, noodles, mushrooms (stir fried and deep fried). The second plate was a selection of stir fried and curried meat dishes.

The restaurant interior is a bit more basic than China Red but the food was of a similar quality.

The American Sweets Stall

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

This morning we discovered a stall in Coventry Market which was selling American sweets and snacks. We're not sure how long it's been there because it's been quite a few weeks since we last went to the market. It was a welcome discovery - they sell the same kind of things as Cybercandy in London, but without the hassle of going to London or the expense of paying for postage.

We didn't go mad and buy lots of stuff. We only came away with few cans of Mountain Dew - one of each flavour apart from 'regular'. Let's hope the place does well. It's good to have that sort of thing available locally.

Return of the Jedi

Story location: Home / Blog / films /

It may come as a bit of a surprise but I'd never seen this film before. We taped it when it was on TV a few weeks ago and finally got around to watching it today. I tried to watch it once before, many years ago. I rented it from a video library and started watching it. I found the opening few minutes to be excruciatingly boring and decided that I would rather be outside on such a sunny day instead. The video went back to the shop unwatched.

Since today was cold and wintry, I had no such distractions. I still found the start to be very slow and boring. The rest of the film was more like a second rate kids fantasy film, rather than a sequel to the first two films. The alien costumes looked more like something from a low budget TV series. The acting was very poor as were most of the special effects. One the whole I found the film to be very disappointing.

How To Burn Beans

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

Last night we put some dried beans to soak, so they could go in a soup today. The main part of the soup was made by boiling some veg (potato, carrot, onion, garlic, butternut squash, herbs) in chicken stock. When the veg had gone soft, everything was put in a liquidiser.

I started cooking the beans by boiling them for 10 or so minutes in water. They then needed an hour or so of slow simmering so I decided it would be easier to do that in the soup rather than in another pan of water. Unfortunately our pans didn't seem to be up to the job. They aren't cheap rubbish pans - they are stainless steel with copper bottoms, so the heat should distribute evenly and prevent localised burning. The trouble is the pans aren't non stick. The beans would sink to the bottom of the soup mixture and just sit there, eventually sticking to the bottom of the pan. I needed to get up and stir every few minutes to stop everything from sticking and burning.

Next time I think I'll simmer the beans in water or stock, rather than a thick soup. Or cheat and open a tin of mixed beans instead.

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year everyone.

After watching the New Year begin on TV, we walked down our street wishing Happy New Year to any neighbours who happened to be out. The street was pretty well deserted and we only saw a few people. We had some sparklers left over from last years bonfire night so we lit those and waved them about while we walked down the road.

When we got to the end of the road, we decided to walk a bit further and see if the take-aways were open so we could get a bit of supper. So the new year didn't exactly start healthily, with a serving of garlic bread and a southern fried chicken. There's plenty of time for healthy eating later in the year.

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