Monday, August 17, 2015

A not terribly successful day's cooking

Ever have one of those days where nothing turns out quite right? No huge disasters but just one not quite right after another? That was yesterday. And I'd been feeling so positive about it all. I was making bread for goodness' sake! So, here are some notes for myself for next time.

I do love my green pot

In my oven it needs longer than 30 minutes plus 15 without a lid. I should probably get my hands on a thermometer at some stage to figure out how close the dial is to the reality of what happens in there. At any rate, the bread sounded fairly hollow when tapped on the bottom but apparently it needs to sound really hollow because when I cut it open, it was, well, not really doughy but just the wrong side of gooey. I could only cut a very thick slice and I toasted that - twice through the toaster fixed it up fine. Looks good though and it did taste nice so one to try again for sure. And my 20cm, 3 litre pot was the perfect size for it.

Spiced cabbage
I made this before using sweetheart cabbage and scoffed basically a half a cabbage in one evening. Turns out, this recipe doesn't work quite so well with savoy cabbage. I think it'd be good with white cabbage, might even work with red cabbage and napa cabbage would also be okay. But the darker, looser leave cabbages probably not so much. So disappointed.

Red pork
I can tell what my sister meant when she says it tastes exactly like the takeaway version but it's not for me. It's nice enough but, I just felt like there are way tastier things to do with meat and kind of wished I'd followed by first instinct and just cooked half of the pork this way.

Pastryless quiche
Still need to grease the pan before adding all the ingredients. Looks like I will be eating this quiche with a spoon to scrape it out of the dish rather than cutting nice slices.

Remember to put enough milk into the container with the muesli. Was in a rush this morning so didn't quite pay enough attention and ended up having a snack of muesli that had absorbed almost all of the milk - not my favourite thing.

Oh well. All very first world problems I know. Here's hoping this wasn't the start of crappy cooking streak. I do have them sometimes but things have been going well lately and it definitely makes the whole cooking at home and eating healthily much easier when there are more successes than "meh" moments.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

No-knead bread and red pork

I was supposed to meet a friend to go for a walk this morning but as it was lashing rain we cancelled and instead I sat down to read another couple of posts from the mortgagefreeinthree blog. I'm nearly finished and honestly kind of glad because I'm starting to feel a bit stalker-ish! Great blog though and I've already tried loads of things from it - good little easy enough and don't take too long projects. I'll work up to the other stuff.

2.5 kg bread flour fits perfectly
into my Tupperware
500g instant yeast
opened and promptly decanted
Tupperware containers
and into the freezer.

Anyway, today's first post was for a no-knead crusty loaf and since I bought flour and yeast online (convinced by Elaine's recipe for 30-minute rolls that I could possibly get back into bread baking after all without too much effort) at the beginning of the month, I decided what the hell and headed into the kitchen to whip up a quick loaf. I've been reading about no-knead bread ever since the now famous NYT article, have watched youtube videos and even got myself a cast iron saucepan a while back so it was time to just take the plunge.

And you know what? This really is one of those it took me longer to find the scissors to open the yeast packet than it did to make the dough kind of recipes. Everything dumped into a mixing bowl and mixed together to a sticky dough. I used a trick I learned from the Mary Berry book that has the only yeast bread I've made up until now (Book People bargain years and years ago) - to get warm water of the correct temperature mix half boiling and half cold water together. The resulting water is the perfect tepid temperature to activate but not kill the yeast.

Now she does this as an overnight rise, bake in the morning kind of a loaf so I reckoned if I put it to rise at about ten o'clock in the morning then I'd have something lovely to bake this evening.

That's a Tupperware "Peng" bowl, don't know what it's called in
English, maybe a "ping" bowl? Note the flat lid.

No-knead bread costs
400g bread flour = 45c
Half-teaspoon yeast (internet tells me a teaspoon is just short of 3g, so 1.5g) = 1c
300ml warm water (not digging out annual bill to figure this one out!)
1 tsp. sea salt (it's so long ago since I bought salt I have no idea anymore what it cost)

I bought that particular Tupperware mixing bowl a while back on a special offer - the idea of making yeast bread has been ruminating for a very long time!

The flour I bought was from a website called - I'm still not sure what led me to it or even to ordering stuff online but I just had a day a few weeks ago where I thought I needed to stop messing around and just get to actually doing stuff. At any rate, I got 2.5kg bread flour, 2.5kg wheat berries, 1kg milk powder, 500g instant yeast and 4 different spices (smoked paprika (sweet), smoked paprika (spicy), juniper berries and a chili spice mix (habanero, jalapeno chipotle, smoked paprika). I used that spice mix last night for dinner actually and boy, is it spicy. I had a smallish celeriac and half a large kohrabi so chopped both into chip sized pieces, blanched the celeriac and then cooked them both in the oven, along with the turkey pieces I bought yesterday. But before it went into the oven I mixed a good glug of olive oil with a generous teaspoon of the spice. I think I'll be trying to remember to keep to using it in increments of half-teaspoons in future. Just on the edge of my tolerance and that was after I added some quark to the edge of my plate to use as a dip to take the heat off. But, it's really delicious so I'm glad I bought it. And I've found a way to eat celeriac that I don't mind, so it's all good.

For dinner this evening I'm doing spiced cabbage and some of the pork belly I bought yesterday. My sister sent me this seasoning mix for red pork so I mixed up one packet of that with water as per the instructions, chopped up the pork into several strips, added a teaspoon of honey and some sliced fresh ginger to the marinade (just because - also discovered I have no soy sauce so have added that to my list to restock) and now the whole lot is sitting in the fridge for a few hours to marinate. And it looks, well, it looks kind of gross to be honest but I'm assured it will taste great. Marinading meat is never really the prettiest thing to look at. At least the colouring is natural (beetroot powder).

Anyway, back to the bread and now you'll see the special thing (or at least the special advertising point LOL) of my "Peng" bowl. With the lid on it is sealed up tightly and I like that as it means no need to use cling film or shower cap or any other kind of eventually disposable plastic. But it's not so tight that it won't come off and as the dough proves and rises the lid does, too, and eventually it will "ping" open. Here it is after three hours and not long before it popped open:
Slightly different angle than the photo above but I hope you can see how the lid has "risen" along with the bread
Since it's a no-knead, long rise loaf of bread, I've closed up the lid properly again and I'll leave it now for another few hours. But this evening, not including fuel costs (and I'll be doubling up in the oven later as I'll have the quiche to go in at the same time) my loaf of bread will be costing me say about 50c and about four minutes of my time so far. That's pretty impressive. Although, I just remembered that there was a €3.90 delivery charge - I bought eight items from backstars and it was a standard charge so just less than 50c per item if I wanted to divide it like that. Even if I allocated the entire 50c for the flour to this one loaf of bread I'm still not over €1 for the whole thing and that is a third of what I'd pay in any of my local bakeries. Really hope this is as tasty as I'm anticipating it to be!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday shopping

I spent a lot of money today. Most of it in the form of lunch vouchers. This is one of the perks I get in work which I will really miss when I leave. Every day that I spend at least an hour in the office, I get one voucher. Since the value of these vouchers went up a couple of months ago from 3.07 to 4.50 each, it's a sizable chunk of change, especially for those months where I have no holidays. Normally I use these vouchers for going out to lunch or buying unplanned for stuff at the supermarket. Most supermarkets take them, some of the bakeries near work, most of the restaurants near work and so on. Yesterday, I remembered that one of the butchers on my road also takes them and since I had seen a sign outside there yesterday for a special offer on pork belly and my sister sent me a packet mix of spices to make Chinese red pork something or other last week, I decided adding a bit of meat into one or two of my meals this week might be nice. And since my vouchers had arrived last week it really felt a bit like the pressure was off and I went into Edeka and stocked up on some rubbish, too.

It was a bit of a running hither and thither afternoon though. I had hoovered and tidied up a bit before leaving the house so that was something. And I had a shower and washed my hair, even though we're having the kind of weather again that makes it feel like it's a waste of time, since two minutes after getting out of the shower you start sweating again. Still, at least it's not raining, I suppose.

First off I popped across the road to throw a bottle into the recycling and then I went into Rossmann to print out some passport size photos. Since I was there I also got a packet of washing soda. Then it was into the butcher to get some pork belly and chicken pieces and I threw in a couple of the nice spicy dried sausages they have, too. Round the corner to hop onto the scales in the chemist (5.5 kg down in the four weeks I've been properly back to doing the 5:2 fast diet) and then I jumped onto the tram to head to the other end of my street as I had a package I needed to drop off at the Hermes shop (sending my broken Kindle back - I miss my old Kindle, but that's for another post). Once that was done I stopped into the small shop with lovely meats and cheese and treated myself to 50g of a French salami with hazelnuts. And then finally it was off to Aldi and Edeka, stopping only on the way to bring two letters to the post office. One a form for my health insurance place informing them that I'll be finishing work at the end of October and so my status will change to "voluntarily" insured rather than "employed". And the other my application to join the German Association of Interpreters and Translators (which was what I needed a passport photo for). So that's two big things ticked off the list. Oh, I also found time to stop into the opticians to get my glasses adjusted, they weren't sitting quite right and it was just enough off to be a bit annoying. So it took all afternoon but I feel like I got a good bit done. And now for the food - I squished everything in but I think most of it is visible, although the buttermilk seems to have been covered by the crackers. Oh well.

Rossmann (€2.94 cash)
8 passport photos - €1.95
Washing soda - 99c

Brosi (€9 vouchers and €1.25 cash)
Pork belly (598g @ €7.50/kg) - €4.49
Turkey pieces (218g @ €13.90/kg) - €3.03
2 spicy sausages (124g @ €22.00/kg) - €2.73

Tischdame (€2.10 cash)
Salami with hazelnuts (50g @ €42.00/kg) - €2.10

Aldi (€15.40 cash via debit card)
1 lt. milk - 99c
1 kg museli - €1.49 (looking back I bought this on 25th July so looks like a kilo lasts me three weeks)
500g organic lentils - €1.55 (special offer this week is a whole load of organic stuff - not sure Aldi normally sell lentils so good to get them)
500g organic white beans - €1.55 (same special offer)
Yoghurt - 45c
Labello - 99c (near cash register - I know I'll need one soon so grabbed it)
6 fair trade organic bananas - €1.31 (you can just see one at the top of the photo - very green bananas but in the heat at the moment, these should be just nice by Monday)
1 tin tuna - 99c
1 tin tomatoes - 39c
Organic mozzarella - 89c (after taste testing both the organic and non-organic I prefer this one. The other is a bit creamier, which is nice, but this one just has more flavour, even if it is a bit firmer)
Quark - 45c
1 A4 folder - 99c
2 packets 8 wraps - 99c each (these were a special offer a few weeks ago and only seem to be selling very slowly but since they're delicious and in date until December, I grabbed another couple of packets)
2 x feta - 69c each

Post office (23c cash)
23c (one of the letters I was sending was over the standard weight so I had to add to the stamp I already had)

Edeka (€13.50 vouchers and €4.48 cash - annoyingly she wouldn't just take another voucher and keep the 2c - the till wasn't programmed to allow her to do that and if the till won't allow it there's no flexibility. I would have put stuff back but there was already a long queue behind me so I just paid the cash for the rest and moved on - no point in annoying everyone else just 'cos I was hot and bothered.)
1 lt. cider vinegar (for hair) - €1.69
1 large tin coconut milk - €1.29
Washing-up liquid - €1.49
1 lt. white vinegar (for cleaning) - 39c
1kg frozen green beans - €1.69
Buttermilk - 39c (special offer - so I think there's some soda bread on the menu for next week)
1 large packet maltesers - €2.79
Riffels crisps - €1.99
Sensations crisps - €1.69
Chips crackers - 99c
Dark chocolate - €1.09
Spray bottle - €2.49 (want to make my own cleaners to spray on tiles and so on so will be stocking up on a couple more of these over the next while)

So all told, I make that €45.31, which is a lot of money. I've gotten quite a few things for the store cupboard and enough rubbish to easily see me through two weeks, I think. Next week I should only need milk and yoghurt. In fact, I think I'm going to give myself a little challenge to not spend anything more than one €4.50 voucher next weekend. It means buying slightly more expensive milk and yoghurt (Aldi don't take the vouchers) but I have more than enough otherwise to get good food on the table every day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Re-visiting old lists - January Cure Assignment 2

Back at the beginning of January I started the Apartment Therapy January Cure. I didn't get much further than this assignment I think but since I was reminded of it while searching for something else I decided it would be a good place to start doing something I've been thinking of doing for a while anyway - revisiting some of the lists I have posted over the years and seeing what, if anything, has changed. So here we go, my original list and updates/comments, if I have any, in red.

  • Clear workroom half of bedroom (so that it can actually become, you know, my workroom)
    • Paint
  • Clear sleeping half of bedroom
    • Clear pile beside blanket box - done (and no new pile has accumulated)
    • Clear pile in front of cupboard unit - done (and no new pile)
    • Clear telephone table - took me a minute to even figure out what this is. Not completely done but I have moved this table to the other end of the bedroom so at least it's gone from the sleeping half.
    • Clear out locker 
    • Glue locker drawers properly
    • Sand down locker and paint?
    • Clear shelves of cupboard unit
    • Paint
    • Patch duvet cover
    • Check blanket box for potential bedclothes for dying - not really but I did pull out one or two things that I'm just going to get rid of
  • Finish emptying box (which the Table of Doom contents got transferred into last week when I had guests coming)
  • Find good way to store magazines
  • Go through loose recipes, get rid of what I'm never going to use and file others properly
  • Hang Van Gogh postcards - have hung three of these, need to figure out where I want to put the rest.
  • Wash rug - not yet but I did fold it up and put it to one side, don't really need it until weather gets cold anyway.
  • Clean couch
  • Clear out crafting cupboard so that two bags on top of it can go in it
  • Sand and paint crafting cupboard
  • Sand and paint tallboy
  • Sand and paint bookshelves
  • Re-paper end wall
    • Move bookshelves
    • Strip old paper
    • Hang new paper
  • Clean all doorknobs and window handles - did windows in sitting room but that's all so far
  • Set up wifi
  • Hang keep calm poster I got for my birthday - got frame and put it into frame so just need to get nails up and actually hang it
  • Paint hallway
  • Clear built-in cupboards in hallway
  • Put black backing paper in picture frames of Strasbourg pictures
  • Finish stripping paper in bathroom
  • Re-paper and paint bathroom
  • Hang pictures in bathroom - despite not having done the rest I have hung one picture
  • Get and hang new bathroom cabinet
  • Clear top of fridge
  • Put up shelves in kitchen
  • Strip paper in kitchen
  • Re-paper kitchen
  • Clear filter on washing machine
  • Deep clean cooker
  • Pot up aloe vera plants

So, not a huge amount done but I'm really glad I "found" this list again as a number of these things are small and easy fixes so I'll try and fit them in soon.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trying to get ahead of myself

It has been a warmer than expected day today, with temperatures heading to 30 degrees and a bit beyond. I'm trying hard to just appreciate the last month or so of summer but have sweat buckets the last couple of days so it's a bit of a struggle. At least it hasn't rained - it didn't stop for even a second on Tuesday. More thunderstorms and rain are expected overnight. Hopefully they'll have cleared up by morning.

Despite the heat I got up about an hour after getting home this evening and headed into the kitchen to heat up my leftover spiced cauliflower and potatoes for dinner and cook up the two tomatoes leftover from last week together with a courgette I bought yesterday with just about the last of my money (46c still left in my purse). I ordered onions and tomatoes as extras in my vegetable box today so I chopped up one of the smaller onions and threw that in the pan with some garlic, too. The courgette was big so really I've got a very large portion for the freezer which will do two pasta dinners come winter.
More photos taken in terrible lighting but it's mostly to serve as a reminder to me so it'll do. Broccoli on the left and courgette with tomatoes and onion on the right.
Otherwise I was just going to put the rest of the veg into the fridge but since I was waiting for dinner to be ready anyway I thought I'd just wash the Tupperware stuff from lunchtime and the container my dinner had been in. Got that done and then thought about how I would have a much better time in the morning if I just washed some salad now and had it ready to go. So I did that. The rest of the lettuce went into the salad spinner and into the fridge (the Tupperware salad spinner comes with a separate lid so that you can store the lettuce in it - very handy). Then I decided that since I was doing that I might as well chop a tomato and scallion and prepare the dressing. So that's all done and ready to go.

The divided box was the free gift at a Tupperware party last year and it is the business. So I've got a tomato with a little bit of olive oil and basil leaves in the bigger section, a chopped scallion on one side of the smaller sections and a simple vinaigrette dressing in the other. Since it's all going to go into the salad at lunchtime tomorrow it doesn't really matter if it turns upside down in my bag and the dressing mixes in with the rest of the stuff. But for now, it's all separated and nothing's getting soggy.
Then I set to, putting the carrots into a suitable container, ditto the cauliflower, the tomatoes went into their bowl, the onions into their container, the apples into the fruit bowl and the broccoli...well, the broccoli, to be completely honest, didn't look like it was going to survive very long. I want to use it to make a broccoli and feta quiche at the weekend so decided that it'd be easier to just cook it now. So I did that. And, for the first time ('cos I didn't really realise it was a thing you could do before), I actually chopped up the entire stem into small bits and cooked that, too. I'll get good at this frugality thing one day and not miss a trick but for now I'm happy to have learned yet another one. That definitely made a big difference to the amount of broccoli that I cooked.

So, for just over an hour's effort (it was very hot so I was taking my time about things and kept having to stop to wipe the sweat from my glasses when it dropped down - I may need to find myself a sweatband, channel my inner John McEnroe, like) I feel like I am way ahead of myself foodwise for the coming week. I printed out the list of veg I was getting yesterday and spent ten minutes of my lunchtime going through that, adding what I still had in the fridge and making a meal plan for next week. Taking into account the various activities I have on and fast days and so on. From that, I wrote my shopping list and I'll be off to Aldi first thing on Saturday morning to stock up on what will be, it turns out, mostly dairy products.
Rough and ready but it works for me - I've given up on trying to keep a fancy notebook or anything like that for my meal plans and shopping lists. Most of the results of this work will get saved into a memo on my phone so that I can check on it any time.

It's very sobering to realise how far food can really go when you're paying attention. Or at least, the sobering thought is how little attention I've been paying for so long. However, those thoughts come with a determination not to ever fall back into those ways again. Mindless behaviour rarely leads to happiness - I know that, now I just need to start living it better.

Hooray, it's another book list

This time apparently a whole bunch of teachers were asked to vote on the 100 novels they think every child should read before leaving school. Wonder how many of them I've read (and I left school 23! yikes! years ago). I've bolded those books that I have read. Only 35 - although I do have to admit that the majority of those I did read for the first time when I was still in school. Quite surprised at some of the titles on this list - education has obviously come on a lot since I was in the classroom.

1. 1984 by George Orwell
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
6. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
7. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
8. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
11. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
12. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
14. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
17. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18. A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines
19. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien
20. Danny, Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
21. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
22. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
24. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
25. A Passage to India by EM Forster
26. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
27. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
28. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
29. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
30. Holes by Louis Sachar
31. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
32. The Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman
33. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
34. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
35. Atonement by Ian McEwan
36. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
37. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
38. Dracula by Bram Stoker
39. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
40. A Room With a View by EM Forster
41. Beloved by Toni Morrison
42. Wonder by RJ Palacio
43. Emma by Jane Austen
44. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
45. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngoxi Adichie
46. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
47. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
48. The Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
49. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
50. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
51. Anita and Me by Meera Syal
52. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
53. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
54. Skellig by David Almond
55. Life of Pi by Yann Marte
l56. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
57. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer (well, I've read the first one anyway)
58. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
59. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
60. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
61. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
62. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
63. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
64. Dubliners by James Joyce
65. Face by Benjamin Zephaniah
66. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
67. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
68. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
69. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
70. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
71. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
72. I am David by Anne Holm
73. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
74. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
75. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
76. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
77. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin
78. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
79. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
80. Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
81. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
82. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
83. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
84. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
85. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
86. A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
87. Heroes by Robert Cormier
88. Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
89. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
90. Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally
91. Forever by Judy Blume
92. Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin
93. Stone Cold by Robert Swindells
94. A Time to Dance by Bernard MacLaverty
95. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
96. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
97. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells
98. The Tracy Beaker series by Jacqueline Wilson
99. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
100. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, August 10, 2015

This is what had me running late this morning

I decided to make the curry in a hurry paste from mortgagefreeinthree (I feel like I'm mentioning MFin3 a lot but I've been reading through the archives and there's such a lot of good stuff there) but after a barbeque in the park on Saturday afternoon I think I had a touch of heat exhaustion and so Saturday evening and then Sunday were a bit of a wash. However, the coriander I got on Thursday wasn't going to hold out much longer so I got up a bit earlier today to just get it done.

The idea is making a concentrated sauce that can be frozen in portions and then used as the base for lots and lots of different Indian curries. Browning the onions took much longer than I thought it would though and then I decided to just get the washing-up done and, well, fifteen minutes can fritter away very quickly in the morning.

This curry in a hurry is a bit brown and murky looking but the smell was absolutely fabulous. I was so excited to get my onions to finally achieve that brown from the "hard fry in the Indian style" but for once I seem to have gotten in right and had no burnt onions, just lovely dark brown meltingly gorgeous ones. Once all the ingredients were added I even managed to get the heat for the simmering just right and so I left it to do it's thing and headed up to quickly iron something to wear and have a shower.

Since I had to get to work I simply transferred it into a large Tupperware container and left it in the fridge so after getting home from pilates this evening I got stuck in (the smell when I came in the door was really good but if you don't like that then this is a recipe that you'll want to make with the kitchen door firmly closed) and transferred some of the sauce into a silicon tray and got that into the freezer. The one I used is more a bun tray than a muffin one so the portions might be a bit smaller than they should be. I used a well-heaped tablespoon for each "bun" and just left one or two with slightly less heaped spoonfuls - want to see how it looks when they're frozen. 
Look at the difference in the light that 12 hours makes!
I reckon I'll have at least two or three batches of freezing to do to get it all done. So I need to really use up a couple of things from the freezer as otherwise I won't have room to keep all of my curry discs. Which means I'm hoping I'll have the energy tomorrow evening to make some banana bread (or muffins) 'cos I know there are bananas taking up space in there.

Edited to add: These froze beautifully and there wasn't as much left in the bowl as I thought so I got nine more portions out of it (21 altogether, more or less what it says in the recipe). And I've had a very healthy smoothie for breakfast which removed a small container of strawberries from the freezer, leaving me room for a ziplock bag with the already frozen ones. 

It's Monday, it's raining

Look at that radar? I knew it was supposed to rain a lot today but since I was running late and it had stopped this morning I decided to cycle anyway.

It started to rain again about lunchtime and has not stopped for even a second. That cloud is moving south to north by the way, so we have it for a good few hours yet. I think I'll get the train home and just leave the bike standing overnight. I know the water is necessary and love that the weather has broken properly so that the muggy heat has gone. But it is miserable - feel like I'm in the middle of an Irish summer!
posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Got the exam, now let's do something with it

And considering I got the exam (the chamber of commerce official translator exam, that is), it really is time that I do something with it. Other than talk about the fact that I'm going to start doing translation on the side, that is.

I've been holding back for a number of really quite ridiculous reasons. Wanting to first check with the revenue office what I need to do (when I know that it could take years for me to increase earnings to the point where I need to worry about VAT and the other stuff is pretty straightforward), thinking I should really get a website set up, thinking I should come up with a catchy name for that website, one that would encompass translations and proofreading but would allow room to expand if I wanted to branch out (doing Tupperware parties again, knitting, cleaning, who knows what). And on and on, plenty of procrastination without really doing much. I haven't even followed up with the guy I did a proofreading job for a couple of months back and he's supposed to be giving me at least three more papers to do. And actually wanted to get invoiced at the end of each paper and not just put it off until the whole project was finished.

So today I sent an email to someone I know who runs a translation agency and let him know that I'm available for work. We should probably see each other at the weekend and he responded almost immediately to say we could chat then. I don't know if I'll get any work out of it but I'll at least get some advice. And even if the rates are rubbish (I've never heard good things about agency work pay), it'd be a start, more than nothing and every ounce of experience and building a reputation for myself would be well worth it. A baby step, but it's a start.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Quick catch-up in photos

Running out of time and haven't had much to blog this week at all so thought I'd at least just post a few photos that I have taken during the week. I had a good week and have still been feeling bad. Unfortunately I seem to have picked up a stomach bug or else I ate something bad at the barbeque I was at yesterday so I spent a goodly portion of the night draped over the toilet and, well, although I did make it out to go walking with friends this morning, let's just say that fasting today was not at all difficult to do. Even though it wasn't actually a planned fast day. But c'est la vie.

A lot of my time this week was taken up with knitting a present for a friend. Short notice invite to a party after contacting a friend to say happy 40th even though we've lost touch over the last five years or so. At any rate, I had been wanting to try out this stormy weather shawl pattern that I saw on mortgagefreeinthree (I've been working my way through the archives over the last while and it's just one of those blogs that makes everything seem so simple even I can give it a go).
I had the blue and the half ball of green already in my stash and used a voucher to pay for most of the three new balls. I also had another slightly less bright ball of blue, which is the one I ended up using. The colours aren't quite right in this picture but you get the idea.
My other crafty activity this week was making a paper chain. Each ring on this chain represents twenty euro and the whole lot is how much I will need to enable me to take a month off work in November. So, now I'll have a visual reminder hanging in my living room every day. And the satisfaction of seeing it get shorter and shorter.

I started the shawl on Wednesday evening and spent perhaps three hours on it. Then the same again on Thursday and up early on Friday to spend an hour on it before work. Another couple of hours on Friday evening before I literally ran out of time. And also wool. Although it wasn't perfect, it came out pretty well. I did my best to block it although probably could have done with another day to block it again, stretching it out a bit more. 
I don't really know how to crochet properly so didn't do the fancy scallop edge from the pattern and just finished it with another line of plain in the last of the yellow. The sharp-eyed among you might notice that I actually ended up using the yellow to finish off the last of the last line of blue - that block is an entire 100g of wool. 
I made a tomato tart to bring to the party with me, as well. Shortcrust pastry spread with mustard, topped with grated cheese, sliced, seeded tomatoes and topped with slices of mozzarella (since it was a special occasion) and plenty of oregano. 
Just for my own information this one. Smaller shop this week but included a couple of tins for the storecupboard, too. 11.75 this time.
At various points in the forest I went for a walk in today, there are signs showing various exercises to do or things like this to do exercises on. These are bars to use to do push-ups on. I can't even do one fake girly push-up but I gave it a go anyway. Using the higher one I did five - but barely managed to move down or up more than about an inch. So, something to work on there. There was also a pile of logs at this station, which you put on your shoulders to swing from side to side (you can see the shadow of my friend doing that in the back left of the photo.
So that's that. And now I'm off to bed. Hoping that by tomorrow morning I'll be feeling much more like a real, live, human being. :)