Almost Cumberland Hotpot

So, all you have to do to create this masterpiece, is:

1. Boil up a couple of handfuls of barley with celery, onion, bits of leek, carrot, whatever (just not cabbage), some salt, a bay leaf, garlic and any other flavours you fancy. Think there were some chillies in mine. Keep simmering, adding water, (keep covered) and try not to burn the barley on the bottom *sigh*. Strain when you’ve done this for a few hours.

2. Roast a breast of lamb (a very cheap, fatty cut of lamb) till nicely cooked. Strip all the meat away from the fat and bone. There isn’t much, but it’s full of flavour.

3. Saute some chopped carrot, onion, celery, and then pour in the strained stock. I put potatoes, chipped (not chips, I mean chipped off the potato) in to boost the quantities a bit.

4. Add in the meat when the veg is nearly cooked and then put the whole lot in a casserole dish. Turn on the oven to about 190 deg C.

5. Using a potato peeler, peel super thin slices from two or three tats, until you have enough to cover the dish about three times. Sluice the slices in cold water to wash away the starch, and lay them over the top. A quick glug of oil and a liberal salting and into the oven with thee!

6. At least 1 hour. There’s nothing worse than slighly uncooked potato.

Those Pesky Elementals

I think my house has elementals. Etheric beings with mischievous urges.

The other night I noticed I was dropping items on the kitchen floor. I realised at about 8 times. Every time I bent down, I noticed how bad the floor was, and then I would pick up the item and continue preparing food.

At about 20 times, it occurred to me that the house wanted the kitchen floor sweeping, so I did so a few minutes later. I haven’t dropped another thing since.

Redleg is Dead

Redleg and Friends

My favourite goose popped her clogs this morning. No obvious reason. She just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. She’s the thoughtful looking goose at the very bottom of the photo.

When she was a gosling (she was one of the first 20 we ever got), she started tearing the feathers out of her flockmates each night. She actually killed one of them (it died a few days later from its injuries we think). When we realised what she was doing, we gave the injured goose a ‘luxury apartment’ at the end of the trailer where they all lived, and built a basic bedsit for Redleg so that she could unlearn her bad ways. It worked, but we didn’t initially trust her fully, so we gave her a red ring on her leg to identify her.

I figure she was bored. She was the cleverest goose. While the others were pointlessly bashing their heads on the fence, trying to get through, she would always work her way to the exit and walk through there instead.

She never gained a lot of weight, even at Christmas, but there must have been something attractive about her as she was officially the Most Shagged Goose at egg-laying time.

Miss you already, clever Redleg. x

Guns and Chums; an ideal world

I admit it. I recently stuck up a post on facebook which was designed to be provocative. Facebook is so much a putrified mess of sycophancy mixed with mud slinging, I wanted to invite an actual debate involving both sides of the Atlantic. I get a lot of American political debate through the Stateside crowd, but Brits rarely have enough interest to comment.

If there’s one thing that riles us all and thoroughly divides us, it’s comment on gun laws.

Being a bleeding heart Liberal *sigh*, I take the view that guns are bad. The deaths of the two policewomen in Greater Manchester this week has enabled the endless media debates about whether or not we should routinely arm our police to begin again, but to be honest, I was relieved when it didn’t take over in the usual way. (Remember I don’t have TV; it’s possible I’ve missed the re-run of that discussion).

I just couldn’t resist.

‘Guns solve nothing.’

My friends were incensed and all who commented (especially me) were stubborn in their views (some more loudly than others).

Tammy Maas is a fellow author at Rainstorm. She’s grown up in a gun-toting world, and passionately argues for the possession and carrying of guns. Normally I would argue till the sun blew up, but over the last year, through her blog, Tammy has taught me one really big thing:

Everyone has the right to their views. If they are following the rules, not discriminating against others because of their differences in opinion, they should be allowed to speak their minds without fear of retribution.

That’s what ‘democracy’ was supposed to bequeath us. I’m with Tammy.

Autotherapy Launches!

Never listen to anyone! Everyone loves a party, right?!

Autotherapy’s launch party was done proud by many of my long suffering friends, family, ex-colleagues, former bosses, and general lovely riff-raff. It was such an explosion of people, old and new. Totally blew me away.

Thank you all so much.

I got chocolates, flowers, and fabulous chutney, and the chance to graffiti my book lots of times!

Lessons Learned:
1. If you’re going to stand, learn to stand up straight and tall. Otherwise fat photos are all you’re gonna get.

2. There is NO more satisfying feeling than seeing a battered copy of your book, knowing it’s been read. Nothing comes close.

3. Can’t do witty comments on purpose.

Disasters Averted
Burst out of dress just as people were starting to arrive. Bloody strap broke. Could only happen to Sakina. Not a problem. Crippling indecision had sent me to the pub with two outfits. The ‘Diva in Hot Pink’ was my first choice anyway, it’s just a tad loud for a book launch. I stood out like a belisha beacon!
And no, I’m never usually that organised. Must have been sixth sense.

Pen ran out on the first signature, so someone kindly donated a pen. Hooray for the British Red Cross canvassers and their free pens!

Person I’m Most Afraid of
My dad. Retired copper, has read it once but refused last night to speak his mind, saying he would read it again before discussing it with me. While I was writing it, I talked over bits of the story with him , and he got me in touch with a real life CSI to ask questions about processes.

But I’m terrified I might have got bits of police process wrong or made some of the characters too annoying or not real enough for him. Reportedly he was surprised that his daughter had come up with such imaginings. ‘Appalled’ was the actual word used, but the reporter is given to bandying that word around …

I am not sitting in the pub by myself. Someone else took the picture, right?!

(Image c/o Rebecca Crossley)