Why I’m not on Facebook any more

Dearest friends of mine,

You may have noticed I’ve dropped off the Facebook radar. Apart from finding it to be a gigantic time-waster, their increasing evilness with private data is a concern, as this link shows:
http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/

I urge you all to boycott it as well. You can rescue your friends’ email addresses into Yahoo Hotmail or GMail before you leave, as explained here:
http://www.labnol.org/internet/export-email-addresses-from-facebook/12970/

Testing steaks

How do you know when your steaks are done? Here’s a handy rule of thumb.

My cousin’s a bit of a chef. Poke the steak with the index finger of your right hand. Now touch the thumb and index finger of your left hand together, and poke the fleshy bit of your palm at the base of your left thumb. That’s rare. Now touch the thumb and middle finger together, and poke the same bit again. That’s medium rare. Thumb and ring finger, that’s medium, and thumb and little finger for well done. (photo to follow)

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 2, Preparation time 30 mins max.
If you’ve got some mushrooms lying around that need eating, this one’s perfect. Even though the earliest Stroganoff recipes didn’t have them, so what? Here’s a hark back to the original, but with mushrooms, otherwise it’s just wrong.

Beef Stroganoff on potatoes and spinach
Beef Stroganoff on potatoes and spinach
  • 2-3 large brown field mushrooms
  • oil or lard for frying
  • 12 oz (400 g) beef, sirloin, topside or similar
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds (or 2 tsp mustard powder)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 glass of red wine (and one for the cook)
  • crême fraiche or sour cream (yoghurt if slimming)

Accompaniment:

  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 8 oz (250 g) spinach
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and diced as a garnish.

Cut the mushrooms into strips and fry in a casserole with a little oil. Cover to sweat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, Cut up the beef into thin strips. Grind up the mustard seeds (or use mustard powder) and combine with the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl, and toss the beef strips in it to coat with the mustard mixture. Fry the beef in a skillet until browned, then add to the casserole. Add the wine to the skillet and stir to pick up the flavours, and pour into the casserole. Add the crême fraiche and stir. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

This should be enough time to slice the potatoes thinly and sauté in the skillet for a few minutes. Add the spinach, cover and sweat until the spinach is done.

Mound the potato mixture in the centre of the plate as a base, and pile the Stroganoff on top. Drizzle the gravy over with a spoon, and garnish with deseeded diced tomato.

Professional!

NZ Brass Band Championships 2009

Went to NZ Brass Band Champs in Napier at the weekend with Hutt City Brass. A good time had by all, and caught up with lots of folks. The marching was a particular highlight.

I always approach marching with raw dedication and enthusiasm.
I always approach marching with raw dedication and enthusiasm. Photo: Adrian Raven

Stupid Section 92 Amendments

Here in New Zealand we have to suffer a stupid Copyright Amendment Bill that makes changes to Copyright law that, conveniently for rights holders, removes a couple of hundred years’ worth of progress in the judicial system from an accusation of copyright infringement. Now, we are expected to believe, an accusation is enough, and an ISP will be liable if they don’t yank your internet connection, just in case. To top it off, there is no recourse whatsoever in the case of a mistaken accusation.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Refried beans are awesome with salsa and yoghurt.

  • olive oil
  • 2-3 rashers of bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder or paprika (to taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 dollops of Frijoles Negros (see recipe)

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the chopped bacon, garlic, and spices and fry for a couple of minutes. Ladle in some beans from the pot and mash with a potato masher. Continue to fry and stir for a good 10 minutes, or until the beans begin to brown and stick to the pan.

Serve in tortilla with yoghurt and a good fresh salsa made from diced deseeded tomato, red pepper, chili, garlic, spring onion and lemon juice.

YUM

Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

Here’s the recipe I’ve been using lately to make Frijoles Negros – black beans, Mexican-styles. The Flying Burrito Brothers can go take a leap. This is also surely one of the easiest things to make.

  • 450 g (1 lb) dried black or turtle beans
  • 900 g (2 lb, two tins) tomatoes
  • 750 ml (3 cups, two tomato tins-ful) water, or stock
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • chili (to taste), seeded and diced
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • olive oil

Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with plenty of extra water to allow them to swell up.

Strain and discard the water from the beans and put them in a large casserole pot with the chopped tomatoes, water, onions, garlic, chili, bay leaves and wine. Bring to the boil gently and simmer for 2-3 hours or until the beans are al dente.

Crush the cumin seed, coriander seed and pepper together in a mortar and pestle. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and toast the spices until aromatic. pour into the beans and stir.

Wide Aperture Photography

I’ve been trying out taking photos with the aperture set very wide. In full sun the shutter speed ends up at something like 1/2000th and I had to bump the ISO to 1600. Still, even with an unwilling subject I got some nice results.

Lucy Portrait 1


Lucy Portrait 1