27 April, 2011

It’s already finished, I think, but I’ve not watched it yet… So I can’t search for a picture because I’m afraid that it would show me who has won.

Tim–the American–has seemed to me from the earliest rounds to be a truly exceptional cook, amongst a group of people who are themselves all all outstanding in the context of those who normally compete in Masterchef.

Who’d have thought that I’ve ever have found myself supporting an American to win Masterchef!? He who cooks best deservest to win, though: and therefore my vote is all for Tim tonight. I just hope nothing horrible happens with anything unusual he decides to present! Thank goodness Thingy Torrode has managed to overcome Whassisname Grocer Greg’s opposition to anything that doesn’t conform to the tastes/combinations/cliches that have come before!

Fingers crossed for Tim ♥ ♥ ♥


Mini potato rant

8 April, 2011

Perhaps this is just me, but I find it incredibly annoying to find bags full of tiny spuds at the supermarket when I want to buy potatoes for mashing or roasting. All the big ones have been removed, so that they can be sold seperately as baking potatoes. Or at least that’s my theory.

It’s extremely annoying! The tiny ones are too small to make decent roasties, and by the time they’ve been peeled they’re so small that they disintegrate into mush if I try to cook them for mashed potatoes. I tried to get some decent King Edward’s or Maris Piper this morning, but all the bags contained one or two medium sized spuds and a collection of tiddlers. I had to buy some okay-sized nameless ‘white potatoes’ in the end, which is something I swore I’d never do.

Grrrrr! Roll on the day when I can grow my own…

Whooohoooo! The best cook won :)

3 November, 2010

Claire Lara wins Professional Masterchef, 2010

Whoohooo! Congratulations to the amazing Claire Lara on winning Professional Masterchef this evening.

Right from the first round she was in a class of her own, and it was an absolute thrill to see her win the competition tonight. The other two were brilliant as well, but Claire was extra special.


Another year to wait, then, for the next round of my favourite cookery competition. I’m already looking forward to it 🙂

Kudos to Trekmates, and good luck to Claire

2 November, 2010

Great kudos to Trekmates! Yesterday I stumbled across a fantastic offer on their website: their Amphibian Gore-Tex Shell Socks (only available in small) reduced from £29.99 to £9.99 per pair. They’ve been discontinued, apparently, but since I’m not very fond of Sealskinz (they’re bulky, they seem to spring leaks quickly and I find it virtually impossible to dry them in the tent) I decided to give the Amphibians a try.

I ordered two pairs yesterday afternoon at about 1.45pm, and they arrived this morning with the postman! When I asked, on ringing yesterday afternoon to check that the socks were in stock, how long they were likely to take to arrive, I was told that they’d probably come this morning if the dispatch man was as quick as he usually is, so it sounds as though this level of service may be typical for them. I’ve not bought from Trekmates before, but I’d be very happy to do so again.

Incidentally, Trekmates describe ‘small’ as being sizes 6-7. I have size 7 feet in most walking shoes, and I found the socks slightly large, so anyone out there with size 8s who may be wondering whether or not to give them a go may just be in luck. I plan to use them with my trail shoes on wet days.

Tonight’s the final of Professional Masterchef, so fingers crossed all round for Claire, please. She’s been hugely impressive throughout on every front, and it brings me real joy to see her do so well despite the disadvantages she faces as (i) a woman (ii) a scouser and (iii) a portly sort of person. If there’s any justice in the world then she’ll be lifting the cup tonight 🙂

Cookery programmes, music and stuff

28 October, 2010

Well, here I am typing from my real keyboard at my desktop computer for the first time since… lemme see… mid July, I think! The screen looks absolutely HUGE, I have finally have music again ♥ and the spacebar doesn’t stick 🙂

I’ve been keeping a close eye on various cookery programmes, as usual, and having endured enjoyed a whole 4 months (!) of the first series of Australian Masterchef I’m now well into the second series. This series seems to be shorter, which is a bit of a relief. Much as I enjoyed all but the preliminary stages of the first one, I did feel as the final episodes approached as though I was nearing the end of some sort of gruelling mountain marathon of the mind…

I’m also delighted to see what I think must be the third series of Masterchef: The Professionals well underway. My money’s been on Claire the Scouser from the start, and I wiped away a small tear of joy and relief to see her win her place in the Finals, which start next week. I was sorry to see young Alice go–a closely fought battle, and I felt she was a bit unlucky to lose it–but I’m sure she’ll do well, whatever she does next.

Piglet continues to thrive, along with Puss-Puss. I’ve promised her a run in the woods a little later, but I suppose we’d better get a move on if we’re not going to be stuck out in the dark again, as we were a couple of days ago. It’s hard enough to keep track of Piglet’s rabbit-chasing antics in daylight, and virtually impossible after about 6pm, now that the days have begun to close in.

Here’s something I’ve not listened to for ages. I used to do a lot of running to this song, and listening to it now brings back an echo of pre-race tummy butterflies.

For the person who emailed requesting the stew recipe… apologies!

27 October, 2010

Apologies to the person who emailed me about a month ago asking for the recipe for the dehydrated scrummy stew I consumed with so much pleasure on the Challenge this year. I’ve scoured my inbox but have been unable to locate the email in question, but I do remember that it arrived.

I’d love to be able to take the credit for what was one of the yummiest dehydrated meals I’ve ever eaten, but the credit must go to Andy Howell, whose recipe it was. You can read all about it on his page here.

It’s worth mentioning in passing that (a week ago, at least) Tesco had a 2 packets for £5 offer on their organic minced beef, which brought it down to the same price as their standard mince (from less happy cows). I used the organic mince last year, and I’m about to make another batch. Yum!

Edinburgh: a scrummy place for lunch, and somewhere not to go for coffee…

5 September, 2010

Piggly, GF and I spent a happy half day in Edinburgh a few days ago.

The 3 of us are currently whiling away a couple of weeks in Ye Olde Scottish Borders, dog and house-sitting for pals, but by Thursday the truly dreadful and depressing Horribleness that was the result of my last hair cut had finally become Absolutely Unbearable, and so we nipped North along the A1 so that I could, if necessary, have my head shaved (believe me… even that would have been an improvement) whilst GF and Piggly stretched their paws and took in the interesting sights, smells and sounds of the big city.

As things turned out, the hairdressery place was right next door to the famous Valvona and Crollas Italian deli and coffee shop, and I barely managed to suppress a squeal of excitement at the prospect of getting my crubeens on all that lovely food after the haircutting had taken place. So, we sat happily down outside at a table in the sun and ordered two coffees, to pass the remaining 15 minutes until my hair cut was due.

Not a wise choice for coffee after all

It was a pity that the coffees didn’t arrive until approximately 20 micro-seconds before I was due at the hairdressers, but I assumed the delay had been the result of some unfortunate random hitch in the kitchen, swigged down the coffee (good job it wasn’t hot, then…) and trotted happily away to be sheared, promising to text Piggly and GF when the process was complete.

When I emerged an hour later, though, I found P and GF still seated where I had left them. Apparently it had taken almost that long for Alan to order a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of red wine. He’d progressed through Mild Irritation to Monstrous Indignation, and had been well on the way to developing Incandescent Rage before he’d noticed that customers all around him were apparently experiencing similar difficulties. At that stage he’d settled back to watch, and the service had been so comprehensively awful that, by the time I returned, a large helping of schadenfreude had restored him to his more usual good humour.

Not having an other hour to spare, we decided against risking another drink at V&C’s, and so set off to find lunch elsewhere. We weren’t sure where to go, but George Street was in bright sunshine and so we turned in. A little way along we came across a spare table outside the Tempus Bar & Restaurant. It didn’t look particularly flash, but what a revelation it turned out to be!

Tempus in George Street - Brilliant!

A friendly, efficient waiter arrived quickly to take our order, and in less than 30 seconds he had us sorted with the promise of a bottle of red wine, lunch menus and a bowl of water for Piggly. The wine soon followed, accompanied by two large glasses of iced water for us (bonus points from Alan, for no lemon) and a China bowl of water for the wee monster. The menu was scrummy too. Alan had a delicious-looking Crombie beef-burger with maple-smoked bacon, local cheese, pickle and real chips…

Alan's scrummy Crombie burger

…and I had mussels in white wine, shallot and parsley cream, with plenty of crusty bread to mop up all the best bits (at only £6.75, the mussels were great value for a really delicious and filling lunch, I reckon).

Mussels in white wine, shallot and parsley cream. Yum!

Piggly is on a bit of a diet, and stuck bravely to a few mussels, a bit of lettuce and a small piece of sauce-soaked bread.

We spent a happy hour, chatting and guzzling in the sun. Our waiter told us we were welcome to stay as long as we liked, but eventually we had to make tracks in order to take all three terrorists out for a good walk.

Next time I’m in Edinburgh I’ll definitely be making my way back to Tempus for lunch, coffee or dinner. I think I’ll be giving Valvona and Crolla a miss, though.