Monday, December 08, 2008

Recipe: Slacker Chicken Soup

I don't really do recipes, but I often make this very easy soup on a Monday morning, the day after we've had a roast chicken meal. It's thick, juicy and spicy.

- remains of a roast chicken
- a large onion
- two large potatoes
- frozen sweetcorn
- cumin, ginger, chilli powder, pepper and salt

Dismantle the chicken. Tip the juice from the chicken's roasting dish into a pot, take all the remaining meat off the chicken, and boil the bones and skin in a couple of pints of water.

This is the one bit where it pays not to be lazy. The meat comes off best when it's still warm, so do it right after the meal, before you wash up. Put a bay leaf in the pan if you've got one, put a lid on the saucepan, shut the kitchen door and simmer for maybe an hour. don't overdo it or the whole house will smell of chicken stock.

Leave the chicken meat and the pot of juice in the fridge. Drain the stock through a seive and bin the bones. Do this before you go to bed, if you remember. Again, it works best while the stock is warm, otherwise it sets and seiving it is messy.

Next day, you have all the components of a soup. They are on the counter next to the cooker in the photo.

The juice you poured off has turned into jelly, with fat on top. Free range chickens have better jelly and a lot less fat. Chop the onion up small, and sweat it in some of this fat.

Scoop off the rest of the fat, and save it for other jobs. I'm told chicken fat makes a good skin moisturiser, but I think it smells a bit odd for that.

While the onion is starting to cook, chop up the potatoes into little cubes. Add them to the saucepan, and when they have cooked a bit, add spice. I use a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of ginger, and a quarter of a teaspoon of chili. Use more, or less, as you like.

Then add the chicken. Chop it up into smallish bits. I save the best bits of chicken for people in the family who don't like soup, to have in sandwiches.

Pour the stock in, and add the jelly. Turn the gas up till it boils, then turn down, and simmer. You've now got enough time to do today's washing up, have a coffee and put a loaf in the bread-machine.

When the potatoes are cooked, turn the gas off and pour in a good big handful of frozen sweet corn. The hot soup will thaw it out, and it won't overcook when you heat the soup up later. Add pepper and salt as needed.

Playing (Jenga) with my food

After three days in China, my chopstick skills were good enough to take part in a game of Turnip Jenga.

It came to the table in a stack that was so suggestive of the game, it was the only thing we could do, really.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The big rubber band ball

It's approaching 4lb in weight, and contains more than 4000 ordinary post office rubber bands.

We've been collecting for a few weeks, including some donated by a postman (yes, even above the ones they drop, they gather some up and re-use them) and some from Freecycle (thanks Krissy, Sara Jane, Barbara and anyone else).

This is an obviously pointless exercise. It's not even heroically pointless, as there are bigger and more destructive rubber band balls out there. '

But I believe that bending down to pick them up is good exercise, and twanging them on the ball keeps the fingers supple. I'm moderately interested to see how many bands can be got on one ball, before it's too large to stretch them on. It's already taken more bands than I would have expected, and we've reached a stage where it takes a lot of thinly stretched bands to increase the dimensions of the ball even slightly.

Some people are outraged at the number of these bands dropped on the streets - particularly since the Post Office changed to red ones, supposedly to help the posties see them and pick them up, but actually making the number more obvious.

I can't muster outrage. In my sad little way, I'm enjoying picking them, and the feeling of weight and energy in the ball. I'm toying with the idea of getting more creative: why not make rubber people, or rubber octopi, or rubber dogs to befriend the postmen?

The Post Office won't discuss how much it spends on them, but two years ago owned up to buying 342 million a year, and "re-using the vast majority".

The Post Office has also suggested that the bands might be bio-degradable, which is a pointless thought. The bands are organic, so I guess they must eventually decompose, but I can't see it happening very quickly. And would it help? Dog droppings and chewing gum are also biodegradable, but we don't like to have them biodegrading on the pavement.

There are also a couple of older pictures here (though none of these are as old as my faulty camera date suggests). And a cat for scale...

(the date on the camera has gone wrong BTW)

Summer Holiday

It was a bit blowy in Mullion this August, but we enjoyed it.

For anyone still looking at this blog, I'm not putting much here. I get paid to blog on open source at ZDNet, and on wireless at Techworld.

I'm also putting stuff on the London Pride blog.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Angel shook my hand...

This chap grabbed me by the hand, near Tower Bridge last week.

I was in Morris gear, bells and ribbons and all, waiting by the pier for some people I was supposed to be dancing with. I had to walk past a film crew who were setting up their lights, mics and so forth - and as I walked past, this guy beamed at me and said "Hey, you're a Morris dancer!" and shook me by the hand.

Afterwards I thought - he was the only one in a suit, he must be an actor. I asked the crew what was filming, and they said Bones.

Any one of my Buffy-crazed family would have recognised him instantly as David Boreanaz (or Angel), and I'm pretty embarassed not to have recognised him myslf.

Still, at least they way it went I didn't make a fool of myself. Apart from the whole Morris dancer thing, of course.

And I'm pleased to say he's a charming man who spontaneously talks to eccentric British people. And no, he didn't seem the least bit worried by the wooden stick I was carrying...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

My first-class cricketing namesake

How have I been unaware that among the handful of Peter Judges in the world., there has been one with a career in first-class cricket? Born in Cricklewood in 1916, he played for Middlesex, and recorded the fastest "pair" in cricketing history. This means, according to Wikipedia, he was dismissed by two consecutive balls in the space of a minute, against a visiting Indian team in 1946.

I was looking myself up in Wikipedia, because PR man Andrew Smith mentioned a couple of other journalists' Wikipedia entries in a post about researching journalist backgrounders.

I don't have a Wikipedia entry, and really, I don't think I have any achievements worthy to stand against my illustrious namesake. And I hope all PR profiles of me mention the highly-relevant fact that someone with my name - along with plenty of better cricketing performances - once got two ducks in a minute.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

That was cold!

The Saturday before Christmas, I went for a swim in the Brockwell Lido. I think that makes me officially, one of the Brockwell Icicles.

It was cold. Expect more of this in 2008 - I just joined the Outdoor Swimming Society.

Image by James Purssell

Best ever local paper headline?

I saw this placard for the Helston Packet, in Mullion.

I think it's the "20 MPH" that turns it from a good local paper headline into a great one.

Other places people break 60 MPH or 30 MPH limits. Only in Cornwall is it news when they break a 20 MPH limit. And not just news, but headline, out-on-a-placard-on-the-street news.

In London, things are faster and more dangerous. The best I've seen here is "POLICE PIG BITES BOY"

Sorry for the poor angle on the photo. I was carrying presents from the car, and couldn't crouch to get it lined up better....

Happy New Year to you all, anyway!