Sunday, 25 July 2010

What o.s. does it use? Windows Vista. WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

I suspected, but never thought there would be a day a software joke on telly would be so funny. Even years from now, Vista will never recover even the shred of dignity it may have had in the UK after this bit of comedy gold. Nearly burst a gut watching the scene with the bomb disposal unit and the super geek Moss discussing technical support in the middle of a crime scene. The IT crowd continues to please now well into it's 5th series. It may not be for those who view computers with deep distrust and trepidation, but even if you don't know your ram from your rom, you will at some point find the programme funny. But if you are a plastic pocket protecting accessorized person wearing soda bottle bottoms for specs in your heart of hearts, I dare say there isn't an ep from series1 part 1 to the latest , where you won't get sucked into the latest bizarre discussion or dilemma  these tech trolls come up with. Katherine Parkinson ( Jen), who shines in Doc Martin, and here, does the brilliant innocent  who manages to keep a job in IT and a computer riddled with viruses both going. It also doesn't hurt she's not ugly, a pretty ginge, who knew? While I'm far from versed in the dark arts like Roy and Moss, I have a network of friends who would not be unwelcome in that small world and my own skill keeps our laptops from crashing from all but the worst of updates. What I do enjoy is the notion any of this can be funny. A propos of nothing, the lappies are going Windows 7 on Monday, the Acer as XP will no longer be supported and the Sony because it's got the dreaded Vista. God forbid I should be at a bomb site and asked to control a robot with a Vista addled comp!!!

Last week I was praising some of the efforts I had missed during the world cup. I sadly have some minor criticism for Mongrels. The latest ep featured a visiting French character, what a disappointment  it was to see the hash made of this poor french cousin. He spent the entire episode saying "merde" loudly over and over again. Completely unbelievable, his shtick wore thin within seconds and the story became a massive 15 minute hole around which the deranged pigeon attempted to create new species of evil fox bird. Even the weekly song got interrupted seconds in. Seems to me somebody wasn't able to finish the script in time and just shot it as is. I hope it's not the first sign of fatal weakness in an otherwise excellent run so far. Looking forward to the next installment, fingers crossed this last one was just a temporary aberration.

Celebrity Masterchef, the closest thing I'll get to food porn for now, is back at it. Celebrity cookery telly was never interestinger than this , and finding celebrities was never tougher than this.  If you're watching , you'll already know. If you're not, it's a series of B and C listers last seen telling Digital Spy just how much they love Coronation Street or Doctor Who and how they'd be ever so chuffed to be on.  Me and all.  And just how hard has is it been  to find contestants? Being a massive fan of Masterchef all I can say is the current crop of celebs , most of whom I struggled to remember or care about, mostly acquitted themselves pretty well in the challenges so far. One served raw chicken and uncooked veg, the other lightly grilled liver long enough to brown  but otherwise remain incredibly fresh from the pack. Neil Stuke is the only contestant who seems capable so far of going all the way. His work has been of a standard worthy of regular Masterchef and the WI test proved from the comments, that this edition is a bit weak on cookery. I myself if forced to make something, would have a tough time throwing something together that wouldn't need tweaking. My own recipes I do with my eyes closed or hands tied behind my back would taste better if I did indeed see the ingredients or could handle them, that said, properly put together, they are very tasty. Are they good enough for Masterchef? I know my risotto is highly praised as are my sauces, but my presentation would definitively be lacking. I don't heap my fish on top of some shredded veg, I don't make poncy "jus" to drop on the side artistically. I will never ever be a telly chef. But I can promise you this, you will like my cooking if you like Polish, British and Mediterranean cooking. If I'm ever asked to go on, I would gladly go on and not be too ashamed of the effort.  Is Celebrity Masterchef  classic cookery porn? No It's more like the To Gear eps where the star in car is some radio 6 dj who cycles to work and hates meat eaters. I'll watch as it's the only thing on at the minute, and it's not ready steady twat.

Earlier this week on BBC Radio Newcastle a lady in her role of some sort of social maven came on and talked about the 5 most useless kitchen gadgets. While I cannot and will not presume to live her life and have her preferences, for her to say the pasta making machine is useless, is going to far. We used it weekly, everything from ravioli to regular pasta noodles come out if it and get cooked in under 3 minutes instead of the the usual 12 minutes.  The pasta tastes better and is by a country mile superior to anything we have made with just a rolling pin and a knife. If you cook at home, really cook, you will come to love this device. Don't be put off by these weekend gourmets who are afraid of little bit of effort.

For the record, here are my top ten kitchen utensils.......

1- My extra large Jamie Oliver T fal "yes you can use metal on it" frying pan: We got this as a wedding present. When I say WE I mean me.  I do the bulk of the cooking in the house and so it falls to me to figure out what's for supper most days. This frying pan  has made more risotto and various forms of eggs than you can imagine. A day hasn't gone by when it hasn't been in use. It's done fish, it's toasted garam masala, it's sauted mushrooms, made bubble and squeak and even given birth to marinara sauce.  If I could be accused of having an extra marital affair with anything, it's that frying pan.

2- The mortar and pestle: From dry to wet , that thing gets a work out every other day. Herbs and spices are crushed and blended. Pastes from olives and other things have come out of it, and incredibly, after years of constant use, I have yet to tire of bashing things in it.  Some days I even take an extra minute to get a really good crush or pound out of it. You may ask me where the bodies are? They're in the mortar and pestle. Try it next time your neighbor, boss, person in authority etc... sends you over the edge. Saves you loads of time with a therapists.

3- The Cleaver: I learned to love the cleaver from now deceased ex father in law. He was a Chinese chef who used the cleaver like the all purpose device it is. He cut, he chopped, he cubed, he gathered and dropped things with it. He bashed garlic and gently but expertly cut chives and  onions. Chickens were de-boned, fat was trimmed and lamb separated into all sorts of useful cuts. I learned that to make sure it stayed sharp you needed to do two things, keep it sharpened often and dry it after washing right away. I never did inherit his cleaver, that went to somebody else. But I learned to appreciate one of the best tools ever made for the kitchen.

4- My fry cook spatula: The long thing that you can press with, pick up things and push them aside . Not quite as versatile as the cleaver, it does however reach into pans and small ovens to gather up large amounts of things. I also use it to smash garlic when I don't use the cleaver in preparation.

5- Wooden spoons: All sizes all sorts.... they don't conduct heat!!!!!! Have yet to be burned off one. They don't melt and they don't above all else get used for anything else but cooking.

6- The assorted sized ladles: Handy to serve or to transfer things without tipping over the entire pot, they are metal, easy to wash and won't melt if  I accidentally leave on the stove top.

7- The Pasta maker: This device has allowed us to make decent spaghetti, ravioli , lasagna and other types of noodles quickly and kept us busy working together. Pasta making can be a one person job, but it needn't be, When you do it with somebody you care for it's an opportunity for both of you to appreciate the food you make and have some pride in the end product. Like I said higher up, home made pasta cooks in three minutes not 12 .

8- My set of three massive cooking cauldrons: I got mine off various grans and aunts who've passed on or no longer cook in such quantities. They are useful for soups, cabbage rolls, sauces and blanching things en masse.

9- Our dough cutter: I say our, as my wife uses it in baking and I use it for everything else. It scrapes shmutz off the cutting board, clears grease and liquids quickly and of course cuts dough into the size balls you need.

10- Oh aye, my cutting boards.... have two, one for general work and a meat chopping block. Saves on table tops and shattered nerves. Wood only and clean them with a bit of lemon juice once in a while.

11- My wood cooking tongs: don't conduct heat and if you clean often, don't transfer flavours.

Clearly there's more, but where's the magimix you ask? I can tell you that no problem. It's in the closet collecting dust. Comes out for potato pancakes, that's it....... We also have a food mill and three hand operated meat grinders. Too much effort I hear you say? No, same effort, less noise, better food.

We love to cook and bake and it shows, instead of watching rubbish on telly, take an hour with your better half and cook or bake.  Amazing what you'll discover what you can do.

Next time .... the baking top ten list ......

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