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megpie71

September 2017

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megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 09:18 am
Well, I've finished classes for the first semester, I just have to finish editing the short story (which is due on Thursday coming up), which mostly comprises minor tweaks to try and make it a little less "stations of the canon" and "cast of thousands", and then I'm done. I have completed a semester at university (again). I've come out of this one feeling a lot more positive about things than I have in a while - I genuinely feel I could keep up study with this level of support and assistance, and I do think it's helpful having the Access Plan in the background, so I know if everything comes collapsing down at once, I just have to wave that and I can get the help I need. Having my specialist support group mentor to talk with as well was a great help - just knowing I have someone else I can vent to about things if necessary was a great relief. Means if I get to the point where my brain is tying itself into knots and trying to do Weird Shit with my executive function, I at least have someone I can reach out to and say "okay, help!" and I know they'll do that, to the best of their ability. It's such a reassurance.

The rental inspection passed without a hitch - our property manager is familiar with the place and with us, and knows we're not likely to try and knock the place down without provocation. She was okay with the idea of us requesting another twelve months in the property (she asked us to send her an email about it, so she had a record - so I did that), and hopefully some time in the next few weeks, we'll start dealing with all the paperwork needed to ensure the renewal goes forward. If we're really lucky, we won't see an increase in the rent, either - we're in a declining rental market, so I doubt the rent will increase by much (if at all). Also we have the owner coming around on Wednesday morning to measure up the kitchen for Ikea cabinets (the ones from the carpenter apparently cost too much or something). So, we may be getting a better kitchen out of all of this ... or not.

Eating and food related stuff below the fold )

What else has been happening? Oh yeah, I've been writing up a chapter by chapter summary of a particularly long story for another author - something to use as a writer's reference for what happened when, who appeared at what time, etc. Oh, and the weather continues wintery - cold and clear, rather than wet and miserable. Although we are in with about a 40% chance of wet and miserable today. But other than that? We're all fine here. How are you?
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Thursday, November 6th, 2014 12:22 pm
The name is something of a misnomer, as fried rice is definitely easy in all its incarnations. This is the version I make when I have a bit of leftover rice as a result of overdoing the cooking in the week previous.

I tend to start with steamed rice, and if I have two takeaway food containers worth (or about four serves, in other words) then I have enough for frying up.

My usual ingredients for fried rice:

2 - 3 eggs, made up into a bit of an omelette (slice the omelette thinly once it's had a few minutes to cool - I'll generally make it first out of everything).
250g bacon rashers, rind removed and chopped up.
1 onion, diced finely
1 - 2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
1 tablespoon or so crushed ginger (as in, the stuff you get in a jar)
2 cups frozen peas, corn and carrot mix
approx 1/4 cup soy sauce
approx 4 cups chilled steamed rice

Optional extra ingredients:

* Tinned champignon mushrooms (either whole or sliced)
* Chopped cooked chicken, beef, lamb, pork etc
* 1 tablespoon or so crushed/chopped lemon grass (the stuff you get in a tube)
* 3 spring onions (green onions), sliced
* Chopped chives
* Chopped coriander (cilantro, for our American friends)
* 1 - 3 tablespoons lime juice

Start by making up your omelette - break the eggs into a bowl, mix them up together and add about 1 tablespoon or so of water per egg. Mix together a bit more, then pour into the bottom of a greased frypan or wok (I don't own a wok, so I use a frypan) over a low heat. Slosh the egg around so it covers as much of the surface as possible, then scrape the cooked bits into the middle until you run out of runny egg (tilt the frypan to ensure the runny stuff doesn't clump into the middle of the omelette). Let it sit until the top looks mostly solid, then flip and cook the other side. Don't worry if your omelette breaks up at this stage, because it's only going to get chopped up anyway. Flip all the bits over, cook for about 1 minute on the other side, or until you're pretty sure it's cooked through, then pull it out of the frypan and put it into a spare bowl to cool.

Now, put the chopped up bacon into the frypan, and cook over low heat until it's starting to render up its fat. This is a good way of using up cheap, fatty bacon, because the grease gets used to cook everything else, and the meat just melds into things nicely.

Next, add the onion. If you're doing this like me, and prepping things as you go, you'll be chopping the onion as the bacon is rendering, and lo and behold, just as you've got the first half of the onion chopped, the bacon will have yielded enough grease to ensure the onion doesn't stick to the pan! If you're prepping things first, cook the onion until it's starting to turn transparent before adding the next ingredient.

Next up is the celery. Again, if you're prepping as you go, the onion will be just starting to get transparent as you add it. You want this to cook until it's just starting to soften a bit, so about 3 minutes.

Next, add the garlic and the ginger together. If you're adding lemon grass and/or meat, now is the time to put them in as well. Stir well to make sure everything is blended together.

Next, stir in the frozen vegetables. If you're adding champignon mushrooms, make sure you quarter the whole ones, and throw the liquid in as well. This stage is going to take about 5 minutes, because you're wanting to make certain the vegetables are all cooked (as well as breaking up any frozen lumps of them that have slipped in).

While the veges are cooking, start looking at the rice. If, like me, you don't rinse your rice before cooking it by the absorption method, what you'll have is a bunch of solid lumps of starchy rice sitting in your containers. The easiest way to deal with this, and get the grains separated is to rinse the whole lot under HOT running water in a sieve, breaking up the lumps by hand if necessary (just squeeze gently under the water and they'll fall apart). Also, take a few seconds to slice your omelette (thought we'd forgotten that, hadn't you?) reasonably thinly. Basically, you're looking at bits of egg about the size of everything else.

Add the soy sauce to the frypan now, and stir well. Yes, it looks like a lot of soy sauce, but don't worry, the rice will soak it all up.

Speaking of which, now is the time to dump in the rice. If you want to be careful, add it in spoonful by spoonful. If you don't mind wiping down the stove later (who am I fooling? You'll be wiping down the stove even if you are careful), just dump it all in at once. Stir well to combine and heat through. You'll notice the rice goes a nice brown colour, which it's supposed to.

This is the point where you add the omelette (as well as the sliced green onions, the chives, the coriander and the lime juice if you're using those). Stir briefly to combine and heat everything through, then turn off the heat and serve. The recipe I've listed makes about four to six servings, and keeps well in the fridge overnight if you want some for lunch tomorrow. (I've no idea whether it lasts longer than that, because it usually doesn't in our household!).

The frypan you use for this recipe needs to be BIG, and even with a large frypan, you'll still probably wind up wiping rice off the stove and its surroundings - this is a recipe which gets everywhere. But it's fun to make, and it's a useful way of using up leftovers. (Incidentally, my other favourite for using up leftover rice is kedgeree, but it requires me to have some smoked cod on hand in the freezer, and also Steve doesn't particularly like it. Fried rice he likes).
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 10:40 am
(Because I like this one and want to share it with people).

Take a mug, and put in two generous teaspoons of Nutella or equivalent choc-hazelnut spread. Add milk (I use full cream milk, because if I'm going to have an indulgence, it's going to be an indulgence, godsdamnit!) to the point where it just covers the spread at the bottom of the mug (so your mug is going to be at most 1/4 full).

Stir until smooth. Add more cold milk to the halfway mark. Stir again until combined. Now fill the mug to the top and stir again. You'll probably have small lumps of chocolate-hazelnut spread here and there, and you'll almost certainly have some smears of it along the edges of the mug as well as all the stuff which was on the spoon which hasn't combined into things. Don't worry.

Put the mug into the microwave, and heat on high for 1 minute. Take it out and stir again - this time, stir until all the chocolate hazelnut spread on the spoon melts and dissolves into the milk.

Put the mug back into the microwave and heat on high for another minute. Stir again to combine, and drink. If you're really feeling indulgent, and have the appropriate bits and pieces, you can top it with whipped cream and maybe some drinking chocolate dusted on top, but it's lovely just the way it is now. Enjoy.

(If you don't have a microwave, you can probably make it on the stovetop, but you'll need to watch it like a hawk - milk tends to scorch easily.)
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "Heee!" (Ha ha only serious)
Thursday, October 9th, 2014 07:45 am
(I'm having one of my periodic fits of "I should try and post something every day to get into the habit again". So this is something I've had sitting around on the hard drive for a while now. Enjoy).

Take a mug. Into it put 2 teaspoons of drinking chocolate powder. Add 1 teaspoon of Moccona Hazelnut flavoured instant coffee, 1 teaspoon of Moccona Classic medium roast instant coffee, and 2 teaspoons of coffee crystals (large crystal form raw sugar - you could substitute raw or brown sugar to taste, but white sugar doesn't quite taste right[2]). Add about 2 tablespoons boiling water - enough to basically cover the bottom 1/5 of the mug, in other words. Stir until everything is pretty much dissolved (it won't be, and you'll find this out later, but it'll all look dissolved anyway).

Now top it up with milk. Whole milk, for preference (I figure if I'm going to have myself an indulgence, it's going to be a proper indulgence, thank you very much). If you have one of those fancy coffee makers which can froth the milk, top with hot milk[3]. For the rest of us, use cold milk. This is the point where you'll discover your components haven't properly dissolved. Stir well, until things are pretty well combined, anyway.

If you've used cold milk, you now turn to the miracle of modern engineering which is the microwave. Put the mug in there for one minute at standard temperature. Take it out. Stir some more. Put it back in for another minute. Stir again. By this time, the coffee is hot, smells wonderful, and tastes great when you drink it. If it isn't hot enough, you probably need maybe another thirty seconds or more in the microwave. Stir after each cooking period.

Drink, and enjoy. Limit yourself to one per day, lest the caffiend visit his hallmark of the withdrawal headache on you the following morning (also, it's hard to get people to take you seriously when you're bouncing off the walls).

(The big secret here is making the coffee with milk rather than water. The milk smooths out a lot of the bitterness, and it adds a bit of extra sugar of its own. This is another reason for using whole milk. This is also at least part of why the coffee you get from a coffee shop tastes better than the stuff you make at home - watch the baristas sometime, and you'll see they tend to be making the coffees mostly with milk rather than water).

[1] In my opinion, anyway.
[2] Coffee tastes better with the touch of molasses in either raw or brown sugar - it seems to smooth out a bit of the bitterness. White sugar adds sweetness without the smoothing effect of the molasses.
[3] Although, if you have one of those fancy coffee makers which can froth the milk, you're probably not going to be faffing around with instant coffee in the first place. In which case, mine's a hazelnut mocha with two sugars.
megpie71: a phone, ringing. (hard at work)
Saturday, June 11th, 2011 10:22 am
Meds: 7/7

Another week of full compliance for the thyroid medication. I suspect at least part of the problem with taking things in conjunction with the psych meds was due to the psych meds themselves. This could prove to be interesting.

Knitting: 5/7 (but I haven't done today's allotment yet)

Current length is 90.5cm, which is about half the length of the dining table. The original plan called for casting off when it reached 2m even, but I think I'll just run it to the point where it reaches the end of the table instead, if only because the weight of the knitting is starting to get ridiculous these days.

Jobsearch: 0/8

It was a short week today (Foundation Day public holiday was on Monday) but come Tuesday I just couldn't be bothered with trying to look for work. I heard back about the job I was interviewed for - I didn't get it. Their reason was that I didn't have access to a car. Given I'm able to see the bus stop I'd've been getting off at from the front door of their office, the job I was applying for was an in-office clerical job, and the nearest post office is also clearly visible from the front door of their office (and about the same walking distance away as the bus stop) I've no idea why having access to a car was such a necessity. My guess is the lack of car is very much about "we don't want to have to mention anything which might sound discriminatory".

Other minor achievements: cooked up a melt-and-mix fruit cake (which turned out quite moist, very full of fruit), although our oven being what it is, the cake wound up scorched on the bottom and around one edge. However, I'll try out the recipe again, and see whether I can lower the temperature to the point where the cake will cook without scorching. I also made up some vegetable soup yesterday in the slow cooker.

The basic recipe consisted of three litres of vegetable liquid stock (from the pantry, one of which was low-salt, all of which were past their "best by" date), two diced onions, two finely diced cloves of garlic, four sticks of celery, four small spuds, three large-ish carrots, 1/4 of a large turnip, 1 parsnip, half a small savoy cabbage, 2 440g tins of tomatoes, a handful of green beans cut into 1.5 - 2cm lengths, a lidful of pearl barley, a lidful of red lentils, and a half-cup of macaroni. The onions, garlic and celery were turned into a bit of a sofrito (basically by chucking them into the slow cooker with the lid on while I chopped up everything else) and then I added the next batch of ingredients (stock, root veges, grains and lentils) once they'd softened up enough to be fragrant. Then simmer for an hour, then add the next batch of veges (cabbage and beans) then simmer for another couple of hours, then add the macaroni, simmer for another hour and serve. Turns out rather like minestrone, thick enough to require a spoon when taken from a mug, and very tasty. It's currently being brought up to boiling point again in the slow cooker, and then I'll just leave it simmering for the rest of the day.

Winter is soup time, as far as I'm concerned.
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Saturday, June 4th, 2011 10:14 am
Okay, managed to take my meds seven of seven this week (even if yesterday's timing was massively off - didn't wind up taking the medication I'm supposed to swallow first thing in the morning until about dusk). But it's one week of full compliance, and that's a Good Thing, given what's preceded it.

So, achievement one: 7/7 for the meds.

Searching for work - well, yesterday was a weird one, because I wound up feeling bleargh when I woke up (delayed reaction to Tuesday, I think) and as a result I didn't wind up actually looking for anything myself. However, I did get a call from an employer regarding an interview for a position the Disability Employment Services people put me up for, so I counted that. Other than that mess, I've managed my two job search efforts per day for the rest of the week.

Achievement two: 9/10 for jobsearch.

The knitting now measures 75.5cm (which means I'm about a third of the way through it). I only missed the five rows per day yesterday, and that was mainly because, as mentioned previously, I was feeling bleargh and was putting everything off until later. I got quite a lot accomplished on Thursday (mainly because when I went to visit the Disability Employment Services people, I wound up having to wait nearly an hour for my appointment), and I didn't take it with me to the interview yesterday because I thought it would give the wrong impression.

Achievement three: 6/7 for knitting.

In other minor triumphs, I cooked up some macaroni cheese from scratch (and macaroni and cheese) last night, because I was feeling the need for some comfort food. Turned out quite good - I added all the trimmings, which for me means I chopped up some spring onions and threw them into the dish with the hot pasta, and I added some chopped bacon to the sauce mix along with the standard ingredients (which included seeded mustard). Turned out very nice, although I may have under-estimated the size of the dish required, because there was a certain amount of overflow which will need to be cleaned off the oven before I use it again.
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Tifa you have weird friends)
Thursday, May 26th, 2011 10:36 am
This is my adaptation of the method for the Patak's Oven Bake Biriyani sauce. I love biriyani in general because it's a one-pot meal which doesn't require me to be constantly watching over it, or fussing about it, plus it comes in a hot and spicy variant, and is therefore my kind of curry. I adapted the recipe for the stovetop because it cuts the amount of washing up I have to do by at least two items (casserole dish and lid).

What you'll need:

* A large saucepan, preferably heavy-based, with a tight fitting lid.
* At least two burners free on the stove (particularly if you're using an electric stove).
* 1 jar Pataks Oven Bake Biriyani curry sauce (look in the "Indian foods" section of the supermarket)
* 3/4 - 1 cup basmati rice
* Water as per instructions on the jar
* Meat of your choice sliced thinly.

Optional extras:

* 1 coarsely chopped onion
* Veges to taste or preference, chopped (there are two broad groupings here to consider. The first is the vegetables which can be chopped up and fried up with the onion; the second is green leafy vegetables which don't require long cooking and can be added in later. I've not tried adding root vegetables, mostly because I don't know whether they'd work properly)
* 2 teaspoons sambal olek (I add this because I prefer my curries very hot - even the "hot and spicy" recipe can be a bit mild for me).
* Extra water, if necessary (if you're adding extra rice compared to the recipe, you'll need extra water).
* 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro, for folks in the US) - this is *very* optional, and can easily be left out. However, I've found it does work well with the flavour of the biriyani sauce.

How to do it:

* In your large saucepan, fry up your onion and fry-able vegetables (if you're using them) along with the meat, until the meat is sealed. This takes about five minutes maximum, at a high heat.
* Add in the rice, the Biriyani sauce, and the water (I use the water to rinse out the inside of the jar of biriyani sauce). If you're adding extra spices, such as sambal olek, add them now.
* Stir to combine.
* Bring to the boil and boil for approximately 1 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The aim is to get the process of cooking the rice off to a very strong start.
* Now, put on the lid, reduce the heat to the absolute bare minimum, and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes. You're cooking using the absorption method here - the lid needs to stay on, and the heat needs to be as low as you can get it without turning the stove off. I actually change burners on my (gas) stove, doing the initial cooking up on a fairly large burner, and then moving to the smallest burner of the four at the lowest heat it can manage for the rest of the cooking.
* After 20 minutes, turn the heat off, remove the lid, and stir your biriyani. Try to get the stuff which has stuck to the bottom of the pan off the bottom of the pan, but don't be too worried about it if you can't. Now is the time to add green leafy vegetables, and the coriander, if you're using it.
* Put the lid back on, leave the pan off the heat, and stand for another 10 minutes.
* Stir once more, serve and enjoy.

Notes:

* As far as the meat goes, I've tried this using beef, chicken, seafood salad extender (the sort of red and white mock crab stuff you can buy frozen at supermarkets), and pork rashers. The key is that the meat needs to be able to be fried up quickly, and then able to handle the long cooking time of the rice without falling to bits.
* The oven-bake version is pretty consistent with this, except that once you've boiled everything up, you transfer it all to a casserole (with a tight-fitting lid) and bake it in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes before stirring, adding any leafy green ingredients, and leaving to sit for 10 minutes.
* The curry sauce itself comes in three different variants, depending on what sort of curry you prefer - there's mild and fruity, hot and spicy, and a medium variant. I love the hot and spicy, and I haven't really tried any of the others.
* If you're finding the flavours to be too bland, add a bit of salt with the rice and sauce.
megpie71: Simplified Bishie Sephiroth says "Neat!" (Enthuse)
Friday, December 18th, 2009 01:33 pm
So today I read something on Charles Stross' blog (pointed there from Making Light) for the first time in months. Then I started reading back through the prior list of posts on the front page, until I got to Designing Society for Posterity, an ideas post about the nature of society which would need to be created in order to handle Generation Ships (extremely long distance - interstellar - colonisation). Which sucked me in massively (not just the post itself, but at least the first eighty of the three-hundred something comments which followed). So, after pulling myself away from that for long enough to get the next batch of truffle mix into the fridge and chilling (prior to rolling things into balls and chilling again, then choc-dipping), I switched over to Shakesville - and promptly got pulled into another enthralling comments thread.

This has not been a good day for the housework. It's losing out in a major way to the distractions of teh intarwebs.

So today my readers get to have a mini-linkspam, along with reflections of my own.

First up - social engineering won't really be possible until we really have the tools to do the equivalent of performing maintenance on a social system while it's still running in such a way that the participants don't find such maintenance obtrusive or intrusive. At the moment, the only tools we have are fairly blunt ones, such as advertising, war, legislation and suchlike. They all have an effect, but often all they do is pass the problem on down the line for future generations to handle (to get an idea of how effective this isn't, consider that we're still dealing with fallout from a war which happened in Palestine in 69AD, and another which hit Afghanistan in roughly 325BC). So first we need to be able to fix potential problems fairly early on, before they expand outward with chaotic effects.

Second up - The issue of "who is a good guy" is one which highlights some of the current problems in our society - particularly our love of simplification and easy binaries. Humans are always going to be more complex than a mere binary axis can pinpoint, and so are human problems. This is why I always tend toward the notions of multiple solutions to a single identified problem, simply because there are always going to be underlying factors in every problem which aren't considered in an easy fix. For example, imprisoning people is the "easy" fix to the problem of crime - but it brings with it a range of different issues (such as the cost to the state as a whole of maintaining prisons and a justice system, dealing with the simple logistical issues of keeping them functional, and also coping with a society where prison culture is starting to shape a significant fraction of your population over time).

Third up - Every single time I see anything about the US political systems I wind up having at least one massive "WTF?" moment. The issue spoken about in the link is one which would be far more difficult to achieve here in Australia - mainly because the average Aussie tends to trust political parties about as far as they could heave the collected membership thereof, and therefore hasn't left anything significant in their hands. Voter data here belongs to the Commonwealth and State Governments (or in other words, to the Commonwealth and State public service) and there are some very strict rules about what can be collected, what can't be collected, what can be done with the data, who has access to it, who they can give the data to, how it can and can't be stored, and what's allowed to be done with it in the meantime.

Fourth up - Currency, cash flow and crime and the relations between all of these. One of the most basic things about money is that it devalues - this is a universal. It doesn't matter how solid the currency is, it will wind up devaluing in one way or another. To put it another way, all money is ultimately inflationary, whether legitimately acquired or illegitimately acquired. The process of resetting the value of $CURRENCY is generally nasty, since it gets started at the top of the tree, and winds up hurting everyone all the way down - those at the bottom of the heap get the worst of it. One other small reflection: I started to think the US economy had effectively gone down the tubes when Australian dollars were very near parity point with the US dollar - given the Australian economy is approximately 1/15th the size of the US economy, it's probably a pretty good indicator.

Finally - Girl Genius is still my favourite web comic. Endless fun, drama, suspense, thrills, action and, of course, Mad Science!!!
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Thursday, December 17th, 2009 06:05 pm
So, we're on the dole, paying about $300 a week (or $300 each per fortnight, out of about a $400 fortnightly payment) in rent, and trying to figure out how we're going to cover the cost of Christmas. Fortunately for me, I've been feeling full of energy since we moved into the new place (I think it's a combination of the other shoe finally dropping - we had to give up our old place after a couple of years of not knowing if or when that would happen - and the cheerful realisation that being woken up at oh-good-grief in the morning by the day breaking through the window seems to set up my biological clock for a good day) so I decided to give our immediate families (my parents and younger brother; Himself's parents) something home-made as a way of dealing with the whole "gifts" issue. So yesterday we did a big shop, and bought ingredients for about six different types of chocolate truffle (and I collected the extra bits needed for a seventh today) and I'm making them at approximately one recipe per day until Chrimble finally hits.

This involves a lot of melting of chocolate, and making small balls of various things, coating them in other things, and chilling them in the refrigerator until they're "done". So it's all heaps of fun right up to the point where I have to do the ball making, because despite having extremely poor peripheral circulation (to the point where my hands get cold walking through a supermarket freezer section in the height of an Aussie summer, and stay cold for a good hour or two afterwards) my hands don't get cold enough to roll balls of truffle mixture without getting extremely sticky. I also can't roll balls of choc-dipped truffle mixture between my palms without getting chocolate practically *everywhere*. Definitely something to get my younger niece involved with, I think - the messiness of it might appeal to her. On the positive side, I've just completed the second batch, which are chilling down in the fridge as I type this (all I have to do now is finish tidying up... ergh). Only another five to go. Then I get to make up the gift boxes I bought, find out whether we have any cards hidden somewhere near the surface, and do fancy tags for each one (it's amazing how useful my stationery craze can be at times - I have enough fancy-schmancy pens to sink a small aircraft carrier).

Oh, handy tip for those in the extreme southern metro region in Perth, WA (eg Kwinana/Rockingham/Mandurah) - The Spud Shed, on Kerosene Lane in Baldivis is a brilliant place to shop. They do fruit and veg, plus wholesale priced meat and fish, and a fairly good range of groceries too, and it's all at nice low prices. It's not absolutely brilliant quality - the fruit and veg is definitely the stuff Coles and Woolies reject (slight blemishes and marks on the fruit, veg is a bit smaller than average) but it's certainly edible, and for the price, it's well worth the trip.

Now, on to the dishes.