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Yeah so something I forgot to mention about going to the dentist was that just as I was flat on my back and he was reaching in with his tools, I started to hear Morrissey sing "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now". It turned out he had Radio 2 on, but for a split second I wondered if this was some cruel playlist that all dentists shared.

Anyway, here is some music:

It is a rearrangement of the Final Fantasy Main Theme in the style of "To Zanarkand" from Final Fantasy X. I would appreciate feedback on this first pass as I intend to submit it for the 30th anniversary fan competition.
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So my tooth was PULLED OUT. Things you don't want to hear a dentist say: "do we have any other pliers?" Things you don't want to see a dentist do: shake his head and suck his teeth like he's a plumber looking at a boiler installed by cowboys. Turned out that what I thought was a loose bit of filling was actually a THIRD OF THE TOOTH that had split all the way down to past the gum line. How come I was in no pain I don't know. Anyway the dentist took out the loose bit (in five seconds) and the unloose bit (in the next half an hour of insane Marathon Man escapades, as well as THREE nerves. What business does a tooth have with THREE nerves? Excessive. It's a bit of rock for mashing up food, not a clitoris.

Anyway he told me horror stories about how much pain I would be in, but I have had only very mild soreness since. In fact a selection of flea bites acquired the same day had given me much greater physical unhappiness.

I got more Gousto stuff. One day I will stop boring you with my cooking adventures but remember that before this year I could cook like two recipes and one of those was a bit rubbish.

Easy Lamb Biryani

They're not lying; this is almost supernaturally easy to make. I am a big fan of dishes where rice is mixed in rather than a side thing so I don't know why it took me so long to try something like this. It was tasty, a dollop of natural yogurt gave it a somewhat Stroganoffy vibe. I will probably make it on the reg.

Moroccan Chicken with Lemony Couscous

Ah, ras el hanout, that magical wondrous powder that turns a fairly basic chicken stew into the most delicious thing you can possibly imagine. This is utterly lovely and adding lemon zest to the couscous rounds off the overall spiciness nicely.

Speedy Spaghetti Bolognese

I must admit, I got annoyed with this one. Some of the time-saving ideas are silly - grating directly over a pan just means more mess to clear up later and saves a matter of seconds. Portions were huge (a perennial issue) and I prefer to drain fat off mince to stop it being too greasy but that wasn't possible as the mince was added too late in the recipe. I am still on the lookout for the perfect spagbol recipe. Yes, I know it is the one thing that everyone can make but I've never found a recipe that quite hits the bullseye.

Fish Nuggets With Asian Dipping Sauce

This was the wildcard one this time; I'm not a big fan of sugar snap peas which do not live up to the promise of any of their three words, but it was satisfying to blacken their skins in a hot pan. Take that, nutritious object! The blandness of basa was helped by breadcrumb coating and a spicy, oily dip. Also I made the three most perfect rice mounds you've ever seen first time, using an old china teacup that was probably a parental wedding present. Photo (which was taken for a Gousto win-a-box competition) attached.

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At present I can only chew on one side of my human face because I lost a filling and have had little luck with dentists. I went on the MyDentist site and searched for one that was accepting patients and made an appointment, for which I had to wait several weeks. When the time came, I turned up ONLY TO BE TOLD that the appointment had been cancelled by textual message, since they are not accepting new patients until DECEMBER. I pointed out that I had had no such text message but this held little sway. Perhaps the should update the website so that people are not misled, perhaps also they should actually send out important text messages WHO CAN SAY.

Anyway the receptionist lady suggested I go along to this drop-in clinic which is dental students and is on a first-come, first-get-filled basis. This seemed like a good idea until I discovered that it only operates during Leeds University term dates, which doesn't start for another few weeks! All this time I must continue to be an asymmetrical eater.

So I looked at private dentists and Bupa have one. But their earliest appointment was also for a couple of weeks hence, and was reet early in the morning, too. Anyway it was my best bet so I made an appointment and it was also been confirmed that I ACTUALLY HAVE AN APPOINTMENT, so that is nice.

Despite my lopsided chewage I decided to treat myself to another couple of Gousto boxes due to the comparitive flushness of cash mentioned last entry. Here are my musings upon them:

Jerk chicken pineapple and lime mayo ciabatta

They like their ciabatta. So do I although I forgot to put it in the oven. The mayo is enhanced with the zest of a lime and the chicken is jerked by adding smoked paprika, cayenne and allspice. This was very nice though I do not care for the fad of piling a burger-style thing very high and then sticking a skewer in it. I would rather have swapped the ciabatta for something else and just had a jerk platter.

Warm goats' cheese, lentil and roast tomato salad

The goats' cheese is coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried, and cherry tomatoes are halved and slow roasted. This was lovely although I don't really like lentils. I might make it again but with giant couscous perhaps.

Freekeh, feta and roast grape salad

Freekeh is like a breakfast cereal pretending to be food. This was nice enough. According to one half of my taste buds, anyhow.

Annabel's hidden veg bolognese

I ordered this too quickly and though it was vegetarian but actually it has meat in, but the veg is "hidden" so that children can be fooled into consuming leek and carrot and celery, etc. You are supposed to blend it but I couldn't be bothered seeing if I have a blender that works so I mashed it with a potato masher. Probably I prefer that anyway, I like to retain to the texture of individual ingredients. And anyway, the jig was up regarding the hiddenness of the veg once I had read the recipe. This made too much, I had it for three consecutive meals so now I am temporarily sick of bolognese that tastes suspiciously of leek and celery.

Speedy Chinese pork and baby gem boats

I had this once before but liked it and ordered it again. At least I thought it was the same, but the previous time it was called "Mu shu" pork. I wonder why they dropped that name. Perhaps they were afraid of being accused of cultural appropriation, idk. Perhaps eating it at all is cultural appropriation. If so I am sorry to offend Chinese people but it is too lovely.
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I made more food meals.

Crispy Chilli Beef and Coriander Noodles

This wasn't really crispy, but it was nice. I have decided I'm not a big fan of coriander, though.

Tuna Mac n' Cheese

Tuna pasta bake was always something I liked growing up and this is a decent version of it. Using mozzarella gives it an interesting texture but leads to the whole thing being a little bland. Perhaps next time I will borrow an idea from an earlier recipeh and add in some dijon mustard to the bechamel sauce. Again portions were large. This would feed three easily, four at a squeeze.

Tamarind Chicken Pad Thai-style Noodles

I went for two slightly too similar meals this time, but this is also very nice. There was a new way (to me) to cook diced chicken boobs - dunking them in a mixture of whisked egg and cornflour and then frying them briefly.

Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

I was worried this might suffer in comparison to Waldorf Salad, but the blue-cheese sauce gave it a unique kick. The use of baby plum tomatoes made it overall more Mediterranean in feel. I ate a bowl of it for lunch under the blazing sun on my patio and fancied that I was in Tuscany. Then it became cloudy and I noticed all the ants and weeds.
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Golden Mozzarella and Veggie Couscous

This is a bit of a weird one - a combination of salad dressing, giant couscous, roast vegetables and a shallow fried burger made from a slice of mozzarella coated in breadcrumbs. It was very nice, though. I would make it again, though probably without aubergines because they are Satan's own vegetable.

Asian hoisin meatballs, sesame cabbage

This was nice enough, if unspectacular. Beef meatballs cooked and coated in hoisin sauce, served with basmati rice and some lightly cooked "chinese leaf" which I thought was a lettuce but is maybe a cabbage, or perhaps lettuce and cabbage are the same thing I don't know.

Chicken and chimichurri quesadillas

I ought to be all over this given that apparently quesadilla basically translates as "cheese sandwich". They were fine but again I wasn't wowed. Possibly because they are a bit messy to eat and I don't like stuff that is a bit messy to eat.

So the clear winner this week was WALDORF SALAD.

Also I watched Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a companion movie to YOU GUESSED IT Final Fantasy XV. I was pleasantly surprised that it was mostly coherent both structurally and visually, and thus a step up from either Spirits Within or that VII one they did. The ol' uncanny valley effect came and went - sometimes the CGI was so realistic you forget it is CGI, other times it just felt like a game cutscene. The final fight scenes go on way too long but otherwise it held my interest, which isn't bad to say I found the game to be the weakest for a very long time. I have also been replaying XIII-2 and Lightning Returns which means my head is pretty much just chocobos at the moment. The remaster of XII comes out next week sometime. XII is probably my favourite so I am quite ready for that. DON'T BELIEVE ONDORE'S LIES.
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Firstly, today I made Waldorf Salad, the first of my latest Gousto box. It was absolutely gorgeous. Yes, I only ordered it because of Fawlty Towers, but still. Fruity, crunchy, with lemon juice to take the edge off the sweetness. I regret that I have but the one stomach.

Doctor Who series ten finished today:

Read more... )

Dr Who

Jun. 24th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Doctor Who has been mostly too boring for words this year to write extensively about, but this episode was OK so here are some thoughts upon it:

Thoughtiness )

ETA: I was right about the AI, highest since two seasons ago
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I watched Orange is the New Black, I enjoyed it more than seasons three or four, there was no pantie business, toast Norma, baby mouse eating or Poussey death, that is why.

I ate FOUR meals. For once, the portions of all four were more or less bang on:

Pepper, Tomato and Goat's Cheese Risotto

This was super tasty, the cherry toms and bell pepper are slow roasted then added in at the end so they retain their fruitiness, and the goat's cheese contrasts nicely. I think this is the best risotto I've ever had.

Fennel, Sausage and Baby Kale Pizza

I don't know why I ordered this one since I despise kale, even kale babies. However it wilted like spinach and did not ruin the overall thing. It was hard to keep the sausage meat blobs stuck to the pizza but overall it was fine. The base was naaaaaan bread which worked pretty well but is perhaps a bit too chewy to be ideal for pizza. I would also have doubled the amount of mozzarella but that is because I am a cheese fiend. I half expect when I phone up to get my blood test results tomorrow they will say "TOO MUCH CHEESE IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM" and I will cry.

Crusty Chicken Ciabatta Burger

The bread choice here, on the other hand, was perfect because its moist fluffiness stopped the chicken from tasting too dry which happened the last time I made a chicken burger. I could eat this forever, also it is perhaps the first time I've ever made a meal that actually looked pretty and I wanted to take a photo of it but then I didn't. Maybe next time. Had I been served this in a restaurant I would have been very happy and gladly paid a ridiculous bill even if they served it on top of a spade or a mouse mat or whatever else they do these days. OK, not the mouse mat.

Fast Mu Shu Pork Lettuce Boats

OH MAAAN. This is another I could eat for days. You have to grate carrot and courgette then cook it in a pan for a couple of minutes until you have a greeny-orange slush, then you stuff little gem leaves with it (and pig mince and some rice). I suppose this makes it more of a starter / finger food / tapas type thing than a regular main course. It may not sound very promising but it was delicious, the crunchiness of the lettuce and the warm mush of the filling contrasting beautifully. There was something called harissa paste in it.

So overall I think this was my most successful box so far. They are starting to get a bit repetitive though so I might stop getting them soon and just use the recipes in future.
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Here is me playing the piano, specifically a bit of improvisation around the Doctor Who theme:

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I did another four Gousto meals:

Chinese Chicken Chow Mein

This is your bog standard stir-fry really, but it was nice enough. It was quite relaxing after previous meals to not have to do anything too weird. For some reason it is listed as a British dish, perhaps it is one of those like Tikka Masala that was first made over here by immigrants. COMING OVER HERE, MAKING TASTY FOOD

Barbecue Pork Steaks

I'm not a huge fan of pork-chop type cuts and this hasn't really converted me, though it was fine. Adding oven baked potato slices and salad to the pork meant that the whole thing was a bit dry and needed some kind of gravy style juice. I probably wouldn't make it again but might adapt the potato idea for something else.

Cheesy Pasta and Ragu Pie

This is AS GODS. Eating was invented for this meal. It is like a fake lasagna that's pretending to be a cottage pie. I could eat it every meal, which was handy because as usual potion sizes were crazy - this recipe for two could have fed three easily, four at a pinch. I particularly liked the addition of dijon mustard to the bechamel sauce which gave it that extra boost. This is perhaps the only Gousto meal I have made that I will DEFINITELY make again. I do have a complaint, though, that it required a larger than average quantity of "store-cupboard" style ingredients including all the milk I had in the house. Also the recipe tells you to preheat the oven a good fifteen - twenty minutes before it's needed which I find a bit wasteful. Otherwise, though, AS GODS.

Miso and Sesame Ramen

Portions were also crazy here too, though this is easily solved by omitting the aubergine (bleeugh) and the Portillo mushrooms (less bleeugh, but unfortunately a day or so past their best), which would be easy as they are cooked separately and added at the end. Everything else was fine, and I like Pak choi which I have never used before. I also put something called a "whole star anise" in, which is either an ingredient or a missing Tori Amos album.


May. 17th, 2017 06:37 pm
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Three more meals physically constructed and eaten:

Chicken Katsu Curry

This was not, unsurprisingly, exactly the same as the Fuji Hiro version, but it was nice. The crispness of the fried chicken contrasted nicely with the curry, and I have learnt a poncey way of doing carrots.

My Big Fat Warm Greek Salad

A bit odd, this one. You heat up some feta and tommytoes in the oven and saute some courgette and onion. You break up some crispy tortilla wraps and mix it in. The result is neither hot nor cold. With olives, caper buds, dill and something called sumac, there are lots of tastes and they just about manage to blend together. I would make it again.

Fennel Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I now know that pork tenderloin tastes more like cow steak than ham. The meat was a little tough but otherwise it was fine.



May. 14th, 2017 04:55 pm
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I finished Mayte's book. It's very sad, though it has its humourous moments, particularly when addressing the whole Jehovah's Witnesses thing (I thought "DAMN GUUUUURL" several times at some of her more sharp remarks). I can't say I learned much that I didn't know: Manuela was an opportunist, Larry Graham a zealot, Carmen Electra a useful idiot; but I have to say I was amused that Diamond and Pearl turned out to be complete bitches. Imagine that, Jenny Calendar From Buffy was a high school Mean Girl! Mayte implies that the opioid dependency began much earlier than previously suspected but that Prince was very good at hiding it from everyone including herself, and it's only with hindsight she can put two and two together. I'll tell you what though: someone knew about it, and since it doesn't seem like Larry Graham's gig, that would suggest Kirk Johnson or Morris Hayes. I don't want to think bad things about either of them, and neither apparently does Mayte, but you can almost feel the big question mark hovering over them towards the end.

Confused things are cleared up: the timing of the whole baby birth / death / Emancipation release / Oprah interview is laid out cleanly and comprehensibly. Just how early Mani arrived on the scene is also clear (and Mayte relishes laying out the choreography of that period - she has a storyteller's gift for rhythm). The big bang moment of meeting Larry Graham and how things began to spiral from that point is presented unsentimentally. The biggest previous cloud - the whole annulment / divorce / settlement / whatever thing is also very cleanly put forward in a way that rings true. The whole book plays out like a classical tragedy: the seeds of future misery are present at the start and just as crucial to the formation of early joy as to later heartbreak. As in a classical tragedy, fate is an imperious, implacable force for good or ill.

The best bit:

I looked out at the sea from my house in Spain with the same heart full of longing. And at some point in my waiting and longing and wondering, it occurred to me that I'd forgotten a lesson I learned my very first year at Paisley Park: the girl in Minneapolis is the girl on her way in. The girl who leaves Minneapolis is the girl on her way out.

I guess I shouldn't have taken it so hard. Carmen Electra was replaced by a sixteen-year-old belly dancer. It took God Almighty to get me out of Minnesota.

So yes, this comes highly recommended, not just to Prince fans who are obviously the most natural audience, but anyone who would like to read a really well-crafted memoir.
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I did a Gousto. It was the cheesy meatball one. It was good, it wasn't hard and there weren't too many weird ingredients. However I didn't make the meatballs very well and one broke apart and spilled its cheddary innards into the main soup. Also again the portions were a bit crazy: I filled three big bowls full and there was still half a bowl left over. I could have reduced the brothy part down a bit more, I suppose, but I don't think that would have made much of a difference. ANYWAY this time the Gousto people included a small binder in the pack so I can put the recipes in it. That was kind of them.

I am reading Mayte Garcia's memoir. I just got to the bit where she meets Prince. It is bittersweet, obviously, but very well written. Since there doesn't appear to be a co-writer she seems to have a gift for putting you in the scene and seeing it from different perspectives. I hope she writes more. Anyway so far I have learnt that she was an international professional bellydancer before she was sixteen. And that Prince had no idea how to pronounce her name and had to ask. WE CAN ALL RELATE.

Doctor Who on in a bit. It is by the guy who did the Mummy and the Flatline ones so it could be the best so far this season, not that that would be a particularly high bar.
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I did more playing yay. I found that I can still just about stumble through some of my Grade 8 era pieces, which I wasn't expecting to. They are still blimmin hard, of course. I played a bit of Mozart and a bit of Beverley Craven. She is not a Grade 8 piece. But she has some great chords. I accidentally keep turning Mozart into the blues by doing flattened fifths when I'm not meaning to which sounds wicked amaze, he would approve no doubt. I played what I could remember of the Romeo and Juliet score I wrote for sixth form which is not a lot but luckily I have it all on MIDI somewhere.

The sustain pedal simulates a proper grand "analogue" one where you get more sustain the more you press it, whereas I think on a typical upright it's more of a binary on-off thing. This means I can now use the pedal with Mozart which before just sounded messy and horrid. So that is great. I played a bit of Sonata 12 in F and did sound kinda like Mitsuko Uchida, no really I did.


May. 8th, 2017 05:07 pm
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I bought a piano. I am exhausted. It was hard to handle. However it is now done, as proof here is me, tickling the synthetic ivory substitute:

I fucked up a bit but to say I haven't touched a piano for several years I thought I did OK. Shortly will follow a tune recorded internally so you can here the sound quality LOLOLOLOL


That is called "Hey!". The first one is called "Funky Tune". Yes, I title my song excellently. By the way, Hey! once had lyrics but that are lost and gone forever.

Anyway, I like the quality of the rendering to 16-bit WAV, there is no distortion of any of that cheap stuff. I am happy. Now to order take away, because I can't get in my kitchen because of all the packaging.
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So it's been a long time coming, but was Sense8 season two worth it?

NO. (Spoilers galore!) )

Final thought: now that we've seen it, why did Aml Ameen leave? It was rumoured that he was asked to do something in Capheus's storyline that he objected to, but it's hard to see what it could be, unless it was the clusterfuck in the Christmas special. New Capheus is fine, but I preferred Aml, his optimism came more naturally. And he didn't have freakishly tiny ears. I know, I know, that doesn't matter. But they are very distracting.
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Henderson's Relish has always been known, by Sheffielders, as "'Endersons", or simply as "Relish". However, in recent years, it has been claimed that it is also known as "Hendo's" in the city. However, the addition of an 'o' to words in this way is something more commonly associated with speech patterns in the North-West of England, rather than Yorkshire, and "Hendo's" is not a traditional name for Henderson's Relish. The issue has been much discussed on local websites.

That is an actual quote from the wikipee website, about HENDERSON'S RELISH, which I just put in my final Gousto meal of this batch, which is a sort of vegan bolognese. It was fine. It perhaps needed more tomatoes or something.

I am getting another box in a couple of weeks, I have already chosen my meals one of which is a giant meatball with cheese inside, and another of which is CHICKEN KATSU CURRY, the greatest meal of all time. So look forward to that.

I put up my fourth Venetian blind of the year and fifth overall today. It wasn't hard except just how much plaster do people put on walls? I expected to drill through about half a cm of plaster and then go through masonry, but four out of my six screw holes were about two - three cm of plaster. It appears I do not really understand plaster. Anyway, it should stay up as I won't be messing with it much, it isn't a window I routinely use for external vision.


May. 1st, 2017 06:05 pm
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Today's Gousto was French CHICKEN, BACON and MUSHROOM stew. It was the one of this batch I was least looking forward to but it was DELICIOUS. And unlike most of the others it has only one WEIRD INGREDIENT, SHAOXING WINE, but that could probably be replaced with STANDARD WINE. According to the leaflet this would make it into COQ AU VIN, about which the only thing I know is that it is a COCK that has been run over by a VAN. It is also flexible time wise cos you could just leave it stewing for a while and it would only get FLAVOURLIER. My only quibble is that they said add little mushrooms to it but at no point did they say "get all the soil and crap off the mushrooms now" so I had a mad dash to do that.

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Today's Gousto food thingy was CRAB CURRY! It was fine, though the crab meat was rather overpowered by the curry. Aside from the crab part it tasted very similar to katsu curry so if I ever fancied making that from scratch I could adapt the recipe. It was a little fiddly to make, but that is partly because it told me to remove the stems from some coriander and I THOUGHT it meant throw away the stems but NO, so I had to fish them back out of the pile of shallot and garlic skin. Other than that it was HITCHLESS. I had to add Nigella seeds to the salad which was useful because I always wondered how she reproduced.

DOCTOR WHO was slow and generic and its multi-culti Benetton ad of urchins was very silly. Also they set it during the Regency period (presumably when the last frost fair was?) but everything about it was Victorian. And there was this very awkward bit where they suddenly went HERE IS TEN SECONDS OF HISTORICALLY-ACCURATE RACISM, STOP COMPLAINING OK. I am not feeling this season. Three duds in a row for me.

Sense8 is back next week wooo! Early reviews seem positive but I don't even care I just want FREEMA and JAMIECLAYTZ and THE SPANISH ONE and TUPPENCE and THE OTHER ONES. Also Sylvester is in this season, he is the OLD MAN OF HOY I think. I should rewatch the crimbly spesh before it starts, all I remember is they all shagged again, which is hardly going out on a limb memory wise. It was two hours long, they must have done more than bone on the astral plane. Oh wait, Lito came out to his mum and Will did tons of heroin. Yeah.
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