We went to the Good Food Show at the NEC today. The ticket included entry to the Saturday Kitchen, a live version of the BBC TV show hosted by James Martin. It featured a lot of the usual items from TV, including the Omelette Challenge (with guest chef Lawrence Keogh) and wine tips from Olly Smith. The celebrity guest today was 80s singer Paul Young (who has started to look a lot like Gary Glitter as he's got older). The chefs cooked a spiced breaded chicken for him (a bit like home-made KFC).
Back to the show, we noticed garlic and chillies seemed to feature prominently. There were a few stalls selling garlic bulbs, including some Elephant Garlic where the individual cloves were bigger then normal garlic bulbs. We tried quite a lot of chilli based foods, including chilli sauces, cheeses, chilli vodkas and liqueurs.
Each year I normally manage to eat something new and different. This year it was a scorpion. One of the vodka stalls had a jar filled with scorpions and the bloke there dared me to try one. It tasted of vodka but it wasn't a very pleasant experience. I had to chew it a lot before I could summon the courage to swallow. The texture wasn't very nice and I'm sure I could feel all the legs as I chewed.
I also 'ate' some gold flakes, but that was much more pleasant. The first bit of gold was from an sample of Goldschlager. I'd never tried it before - I first heard of it several years ago in Wetherspoons. Someone in the queue ahead of me tried to order it and the bartender mis-heard and thought they wanted a Grolsch Lager. The second bit of gold was a sample of a sparkling wine which contained gold flakes.
The recipe was based on a Vegetable and Quinoa Laksa recipe from the BBC Good Food website. We sliced and fried an onion, a pepper, some leek and courgette. We added some chicken too. The curry paste, milk and quinoa followed according to the recipe.
We now have 2 recipes using quinoa, both of which are worth trying again.
The Coventry Christmas Lights were switched on this evening. The entertainment started mid-afternoon but we got there around 5pm, in time to watch the lights being switched on and to catch the headline act, The Hoosiers. They played about 6 songs, including favourites from their first album (including Goodbye Mr A), and a few songs from their new album.
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I was backing up my laptop to the remote server in work this morning when I noticed the abbreviated directory names...
When a backup drive is shared between people, the Time Machine/Time Capsule backup system uses what's known as a 'Sparse Bundle' to simulate individual drives for each person. Unfortunate choice of name when the directory window isn't wide enough to display the full filenames.
It must be the start of winter now. The weather has been getting a lot colder, we've had to have the central heating coming on earlier, and there has been a lot more frost in the mornings. Yesterday there was a very thick layer of frost on the car windscreen. It took two sprays and scrapes using the de-icer spray, and the ice was so stubborn it broke the windscreen scraper.
It was a very slow drive home last night, possibly not weather related though. There was a burnt out car on the side of the road which must only just have been extinguished because it was still steaming.
It was very foggy this morning but luckily the windscreen wasn't frozen over again.
We went to the cinema to see Let Me In. It was a good film, a bit different to most vampire films because it didn't have the usual 'Vampires vs. Humans' approach.
After that we went to Tesco. We needed some antibacterial hand soap and thought we'd get a refill instead of a whole new soap dispenser. The own brand refills were more expensive than the bottles which came with the pump dispensers. If Tesco are selling the refills as an environmentally friendly gesture, they are going about it in the wrong way. If they really care about the environment they would try to avoid doing this kind of thing and sell refills for less. If they are just pretending to care, at least they could do it properly rather than their current half-arsed attempt.
We did get some bargains while we were in the shop though. Some jars of chillies were reduced from 99p to 24p so we put a few in the trolley. When they scanned at 1p at the checkout, I raced back to the shelves to grab more of them. It will be a while before we run out of chillies again.
We like sushi but had never made it ourselves until now. The strips of seaweed came from Japan but all the other ingredients were bought from a local supermarket.
To make sushi for 2, boil 150g of sushi rice until it becomes soft, then strain and rinse with cold water. When the rice has cooled, dissolve some sugar and a little salt in rice vinegar and mix into the rice. For the rolls we put a sheet of seaweed on some foil, put a thin layer of rice on the seaweed followed by a few strips of tuna, chicken, omelette or vegetable. We used the foil to help roll the seaweed.
Serve with soy sauce, wasabi or picked ginger.
We don't have access to guaranteed fresh tuna to make sashimi-style sushi so we sliced and fried it first. Obviously the chicken was also cooked too. Different rolls had various combinations of vegetables, which included cucumber, yellow pepper and pickled chilli.
We bought some gram flour with the intention of trying some onion bhajis. We actually made gram flour pancakes first, basing it on a normal pancake batter recipe. We made a chicken korma filling by finely dicing and frying some vegetables then adding a packet of ready made curry (I know that's cheating but we usually buy that sort of thing if we see it cheap in the supermarket. They're handy to have in when you need to make something in a hurry).
We made the Onion Bhajis tonight. The batter was made using 2oz of gram flour, 2fl oz of water, a pinch of salt, a pinch of crushed chillies, a pinch of ground ginger, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, and a heaped teaspoon of curry powder. I chopped 2 small-ish onions, mixed them in the batter and shallow fried them, turning them over when they started to look cooked on one side.
On tuesday, someone in work gave me a spare pumpkin which was leftover from Halloween so this week I'll be trying various different pumpkin recipes.
Tuesday: Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Mash
Take equal weights of pumpkin and sweet potato. Dice and cook until soft (roast, boil or microwave). Mash and add seasoning (I added a few splashes of chilli sauce). We served it with Chicken and Chickpea Burgers, made using a similar recipe to the Turkey and Chickpea Burgers but without the herbs or cheese.
Thursday: Pumpkin and apple chutney
I followed the recipe from the BBC website, the only changes I made were to scale the quantities down slightly and to use a mixture of red and green tomatoes. The pumpkin I had was quite large and tough so it needed longer than the 45 minutes simmering time. I didn't get chance to bottle it tonight so I left the pan (lid on) overnight.
Friday: I brought the chutney back to the boil and bottled it. I was about to dice and freeze the remaining pumpkin but it had gone soft and mushy, which was a shame. I had used less than half of it.
We planted sweetcorn in the garden again this year but it was very late ripening. I only harvested it this week after the plants had started to die off. When I opened the cobs none of them were fully ripe, so I hung them up to dry. I'll have a go at making popcorn with them at a later date.
I can't remember where I first heard about cornsilk tea but I decided to give it a go tonight. I separated the long strands of silk from the cobs and cut off the brown dried ends. I put a handful in a jug and poured boiling water over. After about 5 minutes or so I strained it into a cup. The drink was a strange yellow green colour and smelt of tinned corn. It wasn't a very appetising smell and the drink didn't taste very nice. I only managed a couple of sips before I decided to pour it away and make a proper cup of tea.
I think I will stick to 'normal' tea from good old Camellia sinensis. I don't mind whether it's green, black, white or oolong. Although I will also drink Rooibos or Lemon Verbena too.