mtbc: maze B (white-black)
July 4th started out fairly gray and damp. It was still cool and overcast later on but was at least dry after I got home from work so I was able to barbecue steaks and hot dogs; afterward the children toasted marshmallows. It was a good rehearsal for doing likewise with [personal profile] mst3kmoxie's mother who is presently en route from the Midwest to visit us here in Scotland.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I have Thermos® desk mugs and find them to be a most welcome boon. An exception to that praise: while green tea seems fine, I find that black tea tastes odd from them even though I would not have expected a reaction with the stainless steel. For variety I thus have to hand bags for making various infusions such as rooibos and peppermint.

There are some advantages to having insulated mugs to hand. One is that I can make two cups of tea for myself in one bout of effort. I make one cup in a normal ceramic mug, the other in an insulated mug, take the bags out and bring the mugs to my place of work or repose, then I have one ready to drink and another still quite warm later when I want another. Of course, the ceramic mug gets the black tea.

Another advantage is that I can have a cup of tea waiting for me after a meeting. I make it in the insulated mug a few minutes before I go to the conference room then it is ready to be picked up on the way back to my desk and drunk.

An insulated mug also helps to cause me to take more brief breaks from being seated at the computer. For some drinks where the bag can simply stay in the mug for a long time I get to take two walks from my desk: one to add the bag to the hot water when I anticipate wanting a drink, the other to retrieve my mug and dispose of the bag when the time of my want arrives.

Finally, my work comes with many distracting interruptions: if I forget about my tea halfway through drinking it then in the insulated mug it is less likely to be cold by the time I remember and finish it. This works best if on being called away from my desk I replace the mug's lid.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Last weekend I enjoyed a lamb shish kebab from takeout in Perth. This weekend I enjoy döner chicken pizza: neither of the kids seems to like it so all the more for me. I am coming to wonder if I ought to learn more about the herbs and spices that are used. After suspecting that in liking sage and onion stuffing what I actually like is simply the sage, similarly perhaps there is some element of kebab seasoning that is particularly why I enjoy the döner kebab meat.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I have mixed feelings about alcohol. Now that our population has access to potable water one imagines that on health and safety grounds alcoholic drinks would not be publicly available at all were they not so easily made. However, I do quite enjoy some drinks and they have a long tradition of social acceptance.

I am intrigued to find that in later life I drink less than I once did. Twenty years ago I might have been happy to drink over half a bottle of wine or a few beers over the course of an evening. Drinking was pleasant enough that I would go for the occasional week teetotal just to make sure that I still could.

These days, mostly I don't drink at all and, on those evenings that I do, it feels quite sufficient to have a bottle of beer, a quarter-bottle of wine or a double of whisky. I still rather enjoy the taste of many alcoholic drinks, I just stop sooner. This habitual moderation is not out of any pursuit of virtue, my tastes have simply changed. I do not know why I now drink less but it certainly was not planned.

I can still drink plenty if people kindly ply me with free drinks or there are open bottles of good wine that would otherwise go to waste but those happen rarely and that is just fine. In a big difference arising from moving back from US workplaces to UK workplaces there is often free alcohol available at work but I rarely have any because I could not then drive home. Additionally, British coworkers are more likely to drink together in the pub outside work but I avoid that also for cost reasons.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I noticed that in household conversations we give odd names to some of our foods. For instance, today I bought butter. Our butter dish has the outward appearance of a ceramic hedgehog. So, to refer to butter from the block in the dish we speak of hedgehog butter. Or, the connection may be looser: for example, we eat Star Wars cheese: comparevisual styles. ) In their attempts at specificity I wonder what names other families come up with. In that latter case, perhaps the same as we have.
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
I mentioned toward the end of last month that the drive belt snapped in our small electric lawnmower. Our large gasoline-fueled mower in Ohio had a mighty belt that wound around various things. This one has just a small belt with grooves on one side.

In Ohio I had many tools and space to work but here I have little of either. I am also not the most practical person but I can learn and experiment. For our incapacitated mower here I obtained a replacement drive belt and was then stymied because it appeared that to gain access to the pulleys I had to remove the mower blade which our adjustable wrenches weren't loosening.

Today I now have decent offset ring wrenches in hand. It took some effort but I did finally loosen the blade. (I believe that it is meant to be tightened to 25Nm. I find it weird that torque is in units of energy.) I gained access to the pulleys but a further challenge was in getting the replacement belt on: some sideways pushing while firmly holding the belt and turning the pulleys worked in the end.

I reassembled the mower and mowed the front lawn as a dark cloud passed overhead and did not rain on me. Afterward I checked the blade and I think it may have loosened slightly so I retightened it and will keep an eye on it.

I let the supplier of the non-OEM replacement drive belt know that it fit my mower fine and they have kindly replied with a discount code for me to use on a subsequent purchase.

In celebration I baked myself tortilla chips with fresh tomato and grated cheese on them and for dessert I have plain yogurt mixed with frozen berries.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
For me a pleasant easy dessert is canned fruit. I do not have much of a sweet tooth so I prefer the fruit to be in juice rather than syrup. Asda sell some canned fruit cheaply but the labeling of their own-brand cans is annoying: they tend to give nutrition information only for the drained contents. I do not know why I would be expected to buy the fruit in juice then pour the juice away down the sink. Is that what people normally do or is it just a cheap tactic to make the numbers smaller? I submitted a comment through their website about this and heard nothing back.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
The weather today is not quite inviting enough to have me out on the deck barbecuing burgers. Still, in minor celebration of Memorial Day starting summer, we baked the burgers in the oven instead. They turned out well.

Part of what worked for me was trying salad cream as a condiment on the accompanying bun. It has been popular in the UK for many decades, a bit like mayonnaise but with a sharper taste. I am unconvinced by Miracle Whip but I hear that proper salad cream has been becoming available in the US in recent years.

[personal profile] mst3kmoxie is minded to now try using the oven to also make s'mores. We do not have graham crackers but we do have chocolate digestives and marshmallow.

So, different countries, similar foods.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I mentioned craving chips (in the British sense) with sliced melted Cheddar (again, in the British sense) atop them, perhaps with some beef gravy in which to dip them. I made some today and the children and I found them to be a pleasant experience. We happened to have some good local steak and pork sausages that went with the instant onion gravy. Of course, for calorie counting I had to separate my oven chips and my own cheese for grilling so that I could measure the weight of each. For taking the cheese from the block I used my Rollschnitt hand-held slicer which works nicely.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I occasionally mention simple food that I enjoy. This evening I had crispy bacon with mashed avocado and a slice of tomato on brown buns and they were most pleasing. On the side I had a chunk of Double Gloucester cheese.

Today I have an easier time eating a high fraction of my permitted calories: I ate some girl scout cookies after lunch and this evening I eat some macarons made by [personal profile] mst3kmoxie who also this morning bought us fudge donuts from Fisher & Donaldson, a local baker.

Update: In the end I needed plenty of time and a couple of cups of tea before I could make it through the second half of the donut.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I have mentioned being rather partial to hot buttered toast; I sometimes more specifically desire a couple of fried eggs or somesuch on toast. On my walk through Dundee yesterday I noted that a butcher near work sells duck eggs and it occurs to me that just one of those would agreeably suffice on a slice of toast. Recently I grilled myself some sliced Cheddar cheese atop sliced tomato on toast, which worked well. Lately I have craved chips (in the British sense) with sliced melted Cheddar (again, in the British sense) atop them, perhaps with some beef gravy in which to dip them. Also, appropriately for life in Scotland, I have desired oat porridge: tonight I made myself some, for the first time in perhaps years. It turned out well considering that I guessed rather about proportions and cooking time. We have some light syrup to hand so I added a hearty drop of that as a pleasant flavoring.
mtbc: maze M (white-blue)
I was shepherding a child to Dundee's Central Library so, while there anyway, I asked an librarian about a book. I was amused to find that she checked Amazon before their own catalog but I guess it makes sense if she was not sure that the library's system would even know of the book at all. I also made the mistake of glancing at the science fiction: I came away with Baxter & Reynolds' The Medusa Chronicles and Bester's The Demolished Man before noticing that if I'd gotten barely past the B's and already grabbed two novels then I had better stop there.

On wandering along Murraygate there were predating I-think-Mormons. When I am taking things easy I may stop to chat with them a little, not sure if that is a rare relief for them, but it also seems a bit of a waste of their time if I am unlikely to be converted. Still, I got to wondering about some of my friends who have directly experienced God and become Christians. One thing I noted is that it has been a while since I prayed and invited God to change my mind too. Another is that I wondered if these revelations to friends have generally been a vaguer inspiration, perhaps involving Jesus' love and using the power of God to have the strength to help others and whatnot, or if there has been any detail specific enough, doctrinally or otherwise, in these divine communications to assist choice of church or denomination.

As I walked in the pedestrianized retail area I found a selection of socialists and communists and whatnot under the banner of Dundee's Trades Union Congress. They seemed to be wrapping up so I did not get to hear what they had been feeling exercised about lately. I have doubted that it makes much sense for me to join a union given that I am salaried and not interacting with students: my contract is that I am to work whatever it takes to get the job done so if I go on strike then I am just inconveniencing myself. However, today it occurred to me that I suppose I would be indirectly supporting other strikers if my union subscriptions were somehow making it more possible for them to strike, e.g., with hardship payments.

I noticed a couple of what seemed like Mexican fast food places: there was somebody advertising a local Mexican Grill and on Nethergate I noticed a new-to-me Wee Mexico. As Nisa is now closed I stopped in at Tesco Extra to buy some whole milk and in interacting with the self-checkout machine I repeatedly failed to properly place the milk. If anybody becomes aware of a store whose machines do not care one jot what items are placed where around the bagging area, or that at least give me an extra shelf on which to put my hat and whatnot, then I would gladly preferentially shop there even more strongly than I avoid those who routinely give discounts to loyalty card holders so for privacy I have to keep swapping the cards with others.

Then, my mother telephoned, so after putting the milk in the trunk of the car I continued to chat to her for a while, sitting on a bench at the university. I have a campus parking permit so on visits to Dundee it makes sense to use it. My mother mentioned that The Red Flag, which I suppose we now associate with Jeremy Corbyn's wing of the Labour Party, is sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Bodmin Moor is somewhat familiar to me. Though, it is to the northeast of the long-established town of Bodmin, on the way to Launceston, and I am more familiar with the town's southwest, including Goss Moor. In crossing Bodmin Moor tourists may notice Jamaica Inn, where Daphne du Maurier set her novel, though in recent weeks they are more likely to have noticed the construction as the A30 is widened to a divided highway. Anyhow, the moor has the Goen Brenn Winery, the name being a rendering of the Cornish for Bodmin Moor, and I have a now-mostly-empty bottle of their mead in a kitchen cabinet.

It is oddly difficult to find mead in stores here. I am curious about its lack of popularity. It is but a simply made drink of ancient heritage; it is hardly exotic or offensive. Perhaps I ought to look into making it myself as I hardly want to order whole cases of it online. In counting it for my diet I take it as a generic dessert wine: nutritional labeling of alcoholic drinks is quite poor in the UK.

As an aside, I note that Bodmin had a couple of communities of monks in medieval times; one sometimes associates mead with monasteries. I am not aware of any significant present-day ecclesiastical community there though; when I think of town institutions I am more likely to remember the old mental hospital there, or the historic jail that I think they are partially turning into a hotel.

I have been trying to include a little more milk and honey in my diet. The Torah strongly suggests that they are rather desirable foods. If people who are living in a good situation get plenty of them then maybe I should try to have some too. Admittedly, I am not eating syrup made from dates, but I figure that regular honey sufficiently substitutes.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
I am most partial to the Simnel cake manufactured by The Cake Academy; it is their product I had in hand when mentioning it last Easter. Alack, though they do still make and supply it, it has failed to turn up on local grocery store shelves. Ah well, perhaps next year or, if not, I could always switch tradition and make some charoset.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Tonight's cheese was Dragon-brand mature Welsh Cheddar (if that's not an oxymoron*) which I found to be very pleasant. I picked it up in a Tesco Express when in South Wales; not much else is open late on a Sunday afternoon there. I rather liked it: not only was it creamy but it pleasantly surprised me with a hint of spice in the flavor.

I also read that Lancashire cheese melts well so I plan to try it on toast when I can next get some. Unfortunately, the regular grocery store version is significantly inferior to buying it at a proper cheese counter in that part of England so I shall have to wait.

*Cheddar is in Somerset, not Wales, though it's not as if this week's Shropshire Blue is likely to have had any connection with Shropshire.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Tonight I sampled some Shropshire Blue; it was agreeable enough. I appreciate the variety. I have already mentioned enjoying cheese and I still feel that some element of flavor must be key.

On the topic of appealing flavors, I have been having suspicions about sage. I am rather partial to sage and onion stuffing. Individually, onion and soft breadcrumbs are hardly special, so I am entertaining the hypothesis that I am partial specifically to the sage, that the onion and the bread are somewhat incidental. I thus plan to try making some generously saged chicken or somesuch to determine how tasty I find it.

Having mentioned Jonathan Meades in my previous entry, I probably ought to add that he has authored a cookbook that is written in his typical confident, direct manner: The Plagiarist in the Kitchen, so named because he is firmly of the opinion that good recipes are far more likely to arise from tweaking others' known-good ones than by de novo invention. Again, I suspect him of being mostly correct.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
In driving around Cardiff we stumbled upon an excellent small diner, Luvly Grub. Their fare may be basic but the staff are nice and the menu offers a good range of freshly made food in decent portions and at low prices. I wish there were more eateries like this.

In navigating South Wales I have enjoyed hearing [personal profile] mst3kmoxie's English-voiced Google Maps app butcher Welsh place names so badly that even my American-voiced maps lady does a better job but I might have hoped that some metadata with the names would have caused alternative pronunciation rules to be applied; now I wonder how it copes with Spanish place names in the US.

In conversation the question was raised of why no banknotes are issued by a Welsh bank and I imagined that the Welsh think that quite a fair question. Perhaps it is simply that they have been less resistant to annexation.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Although I generally try to limit my carbs, I do seem to favor buttered toast. Tonight I had a couple of fried eggs on a piece of toast. I don't get many specific cravings but eggs are an occasional one. Milk, too: not usually, but just sometimes.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
Last night before bed I was peckish and still had calories left in my budget. It turned out that for comfortably under 300kcal I can have a hearty slice of goat cheese on generously buttered toast. I may yet have the same tonight. I find it pleasing that such cheap and simple foods can seem so tasty to me.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
The end of Shrovetide is upon us and [personal profile] mst3kmoxie kindly made us pancakes: the usual British kind like French crêpes rather than American pancakes. These simple items are a culinary highlight of my year. I especially like to combine them with lemon and sugar and this evening I used also some golden syrup and sliced banana.

Traditionally this is a time for reflecting upon one's sinful ways to prepare for Lent and its fasting and similar. I wonder about Yom Kippur with its similar reflection and fasting and if there is some relatively luxurious food customarily eaten before or after those Jewish days of repentance. Perhaps not: after all, while Diwali may often come with nice food, I am not aware of any broad tradition of that involving specific foods.


mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
Mark T. B. Carroll

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