Monday, 31 May 2010

Today's Recipe - Mushroom Bruschetta

Following my recent move, and the replacement of an hour-plus commute with a half hour stroll into town, I've finally started to cook a bit more often which has been really enjoyable.

Recent highlights have been a version of a Nigel Slater recipe for Lamb Chops with Bacon Pieces (e-mail me if you'd like more info on this - sounds odd, tastes gorgeous) and a Chicken Carbonara using Aunty Delia's version as its starting point.

Today I had leftover mushrooms to use up and some thyme freshly planted in the garden, so I made use of both to make a simple Mushroom Bruschetta (OK, it was served on toast, but that's splitting hairs!) Here's my method:

In a pan heat some olive oil with a knob of butter. When hot, add the mushrooms and saute, reducing the heat slightly. Once they are almost ready to serve add some fresh thyme, black pepper and a splash of lemon juice.

Meanwhile drizzle slices of french bread or ciabatta with olive oil and toast both sides. Serve on a warm plate with the mushroom mixture heaped on top.

Of course, you could use different herbs, add garlic, use ordinary bread (as I did), add soy sauce or any one of a number of things to either jazz this up or adapt it to what you have available. Recipes should always be your starting point not a cut and dried route map - I just hope I've whetted your appetite.


Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Power of Fopp

Everyday I pass a branch of Fopp and do not go in, with very good reason: it is far too easy to spend money there.

Yesterday, however, I had some time to kill, so I went in... and, quelle surprise, I spent money! Now, the thing with Fopp is that there are so many bargains it can get easy to get carried away. A bit like when you're at IKEA and you keep adding little things to your yellow bag because they're only a couple of pounds.

In the past (before they were rescued from administration by HMV) it was the cheap art books that were my biggest weakness. Now it can be almost anything! I've previously mentioned Paolo Nutini on this blog - his album Sunny Side Up only cost me £5.

Yesterday I succumbed to purchasing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which has been on my reading list for ages. It's 1000 pages long, and cost me a whole £2!!

Not content with that, I then found Annie Lennox's Songs of Mass Destruction which is her only solo album I didn't yet own - £3 and it was mine!

Now £5 may not be a lot, but I could have spent a lot more - there were a series of re-issued Eurythemics albums with bonus tracks at £3 each, for example - and I could easily spend that and more everyday if I didn't have the willpower to walk past.

So, I look forward to reading my book in due course and reviewing it here, and I'm sure Annie will get another mention too!


Monday, 24 May 2010

Iconic Images 5

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is one of the few books I've preferred in other mediums, both the play, which is incredibly powerful theatre and the film, which is a fantastic adaption, with brilliant direction, a fantastic soundtrack and great acting.

The poster of an emaciated Ewan McGregor with it's stark orange border was one of the most striking images of 1996. Another poster, featuring Renton's monologue from the film, graced the walls of many a student:


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Summer is here...

...and for the moment it's probably best not to ask for how long. Instead, here's a couple of tunes to match the weather:

And the one I thought of first, but which has disabled embedding, can be found here.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Followers of my Facebook status will know that this morning I went on a balloon flight. Here are some photos:
And one by a colleague who wasn't there, but saw our balloon accross the city:


Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Liberal Conservative Coalition

A lot has happened in my absence, some of which I may never now comment on. The main thing, however, has been the election and the brave new world that is Coalition Government.

As a Scot who lived through the Thatcher years, someone who has always been instinctively left of centre, and a lifelong Liberal Democrat, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I would not be in favour of a deal with the Conservatives.

You'd be wrong.

Much has been written about the making of the deal and the deal itself and I don't want to retread those arguments. Instead I want to applaud the fact that we have arrived a pragmatic solution in a situation which could have resulted in either an unstable minority Tory government or an unstable and politically disastrous minority Lib-Lab coalition.

While the idea of a re-alignment of the left is attractive, seeking to achieve this in these circumstances would have been electoral suicide, in England at least, for the Lib Dems. It would also have been damaging to Labour who would, I believe, have been seriously punished in future elections.

A Liberal Conservative government was, therefore, the only serious contender once it became clear David Cameron was serious about negotiations. The concessions he made went much further than a minority coalition partner could have reasonably expected. The Lib Dems have got more than they could ever have imagined. While voting reform may not have been promised, it is striking how many actual Lib Dem polices have been adopted by the new government.

And government is where the challenge now lies - proving that Lib Dem policies can make a difference and improve people's lives. That Lib Dem ministers can be effective, promoting the ideals and principles of Liberal Democracy through actions rather than rhetoric.

Entering coalition is not a sacrifice or surrender - it's a grown up acknowledgment of the need for strong government when the parliamentary arithmetic did not support one party. It is not about abandoning long held principles but rather about pragmatic comprise within those principles.

Most parties are, in any case, coalitions of differing factions. Most people do not get 100% of the policies they personally would choose or vote for. We may be entering a Brave New World but we may well find it's not as new as we think!


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

It's been a while...

...but I'm back.

As previously mentioned, I've recently moved house. As such, there was an enforced break in my blogging while I was busy with the move and didn't have internet access.

However, I've now had wireless for almost a week and half - a period for which I have no excuse. So why no blogs, ladies and gents? Well, the truth is that, while enjoyable, blogging takes work. I've been struck down with an inertia whenever I've thought about getting back in the saddle.

But here I am. Apologies for the prolonged absence...

The blog mix will be much the same as before, with perhaps some added culture and news from my new home - Bristol!

So here's to new starts - charge your glasses and be upstanding. Sláinte.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Your call cannot be answered at the moment...

Due to recently moving house, I have been (and still am) without home internet. I have therefore been unable to post. Internet is due again shortly, but in the meantime please visit Stephen's blog instead and participate in his monthly 5 on the 5th!.