26 January 2009
Which is what you do to a bullock to turn it into an ox.
The Year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar kicks off today and - while we're on the subject of cutting off appendages - here's the best way of making oxtail stew, courtesy of Roald Dahl:
"Despite the fact that I am a very ordinary cook indeed, my oxtail stew, every time I make it, is greeted with exclamations of relish and sometimes even loud applause. By some fluke rather than by any real skill it always seems to come out right"
Here's what you do.
While you're castrating your bull, chop off its tall as well.
Or buy an oxtail from your butcher. If you ask him nicely, he might even chop it up for you.
Allow 1 oxtail for 3 people.
Trim off any fat or gristle (Don't bother browning them in fat before boiling - doesn't make a blind bit of difference.)
Layer the bottom of a big saucepan with the oxtail segments, cover with water, season with salt and peeper, sling in some stock cubes and fresh bay leaves, sage, thyme and rosemary, bring to the boil and simmer for about 4 hours until the meat's almost falling off the bone. Keep topped up with water.
Let it cool over night and next day de-fat the surface.
Boil some carrots and purée them. This is your thickener - no flour, no Mondamin, just puréed carrots
Bring the stew back to the boil, sling in (chopped) whichever vegetables are seasonal - last week, it was leek, echalottes, parsnip, carrots, swede and celeriac - and simmer until they're cooked
Just before serving, mix in the carrot purée.
Serve with dumplings, gnocci, polenta or crusty bread. Baguette or ciabatta are excellent.
Red wine is a must.
Have a bowl on the table for the bones
25 January 2009
"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."
"What sort of trouble?"
"Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away."
"hmmm. So what does your screen look like now?"
"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."
"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"
"How do I tell?"
"Can you see the C:\ prompt on the screen?"
"What's the sea-prompt?"
"Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?"
"There isn't any cursor; I told you, it won't accept anything I type."
"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"
"What's a monitor?"
"It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it has a little light that tells you when it's on?"
"I don't know."
"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"
....."Yes, I think so."
"Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged
into the wall."
....."Yes, it is."
"When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"
"Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."
....."Okay, here it is."
"Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."
"I can't reach."
"Uh Huh. Well can you see if it is?"
"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"
"Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle; it's because it's dark."
"Yes-the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window."
"Well, turn on the office light then."
"No? Why not?"
"Because there's a power outage."
"A power...A power outage? Aha! Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"
"Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."
"Good! Go get them and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."
"Really? Is it that bad?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it is."
"Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"
"Tell them you're too stupid to own a computer."
One in seven jobs in Germany is some way - directly or indirectly - linked to the car industry.
As they say: If BMW gets a sniffle, Bavaria gets the flu".
The German government - as part of a fairly chunky economic stimulus programme - came up with the idea of pitching in with €2500 if you junk your (more than 9 year old) car and buy a new (low emission, Euro Cat 4) one.
I looked at the numbers (as did a few of the serious newspapers) and figured (along with them) that it was a non-goer.
If you do the math over a 5 year period (capex, factoring in depreciation, repairs etc) you're way better off keeping your old clunker and running it into the ground.
And I also figured that folks who are driving around in a car that's worth less than €2500 wouldn't necessarily be in the core new-car-buyer segment in the first place.
How wrong we all were.
Queues in front of car dealerships didn't QUITE reach around the block, but not far off and some very happy-looking sales people popped up on the box. Especially if you're selling Dacias (especially Dacias - €7500 after the rebate...) and anything from Italy, France, Spain or Korea.
This chart pretty much explains it.
If the national household savings rate has averaged 10% over the last 10 years, a lot of folks will have an annual salary tucked away somewhere, just waiting for a rainy day. (And if you think that the USA looks badly off, you haven't seen the values for the UK. Or Australia)
Now, it's not actually pouring (yet), but when the Tipping Point kicks in, things take off.
Unless of course you're trying to sell BMWs, Audis or Mercedes.
Most of their production goes overseas to places like the USA, the UK and Australia.
Where folks don't appear to have saved even 2 cents to rub together.
24 January 2009
MIRRORCILLIN - A 5cc dose enables a woman to walk past mirrors for up to
four hours without pausing once.
STOPPANAGGIN - Gives women a vague feeling of contentment towards their
COSMOPOLIRA - Doubles female intelligence, allowing "facts" in trash
lifestyle magazines to be disputed.
LOGICON - Trials showed that females taking this were able to follow a
proposition through to its logical conclusion, and argue effectively
without being diverted into non-relevant postulates such as "you don't
love me any more".
PARKATRON - 72% of women taking this were able to safely reverse park a
Ford Fiesta into a space only 12 metres long; 54% achieved this in under
MAGNATACK - Uniquely distorts the cornea, making certain shapes appear
much larger than in reality - no practical use for this drug has yet been
WARDROBIA - Clinical trials show that almost 23% of women taking this drug
can safely walk past a sale notice, and an amazing 42% stayed within their
BEERINTULIN - Engenders a female desire to bring her spouse/boyfriend
alcoholic beverages and snacks during televised sports.
23 January 2009
20 January 2009
15 January 2009
To ta auton prattein kai me polypragmonein dikaiosyne (Plato wasn't particularly succinct...)
Chacun à son goût.
Jedem das seine.
From all this, you can gather that the saying's been around for about 2500 years.
And quite a useful saying it is, too.
Unless, of course, you're a German advertising agency.
Nokia's ad people used it back in 1998 and got thoroughly bollocked.
Rewe, a supermarket chain, shortly afterwards.
And Esso and Tchibo, a coffee retailer, are currently on the spot, a fate of being hung, drawn and quartered surely just around the corner.
This is the gate to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
And this is why - if you listen to one segment of the global community - you can't use the phrase.
I don't quite see it like that.
This is guilt by association.
The abuse of a phrase, an object, a concept by an evil regime can't exclude its future valid use. The corollary in fact applies: a colloquial and established phrase that's remote from its abused purpose is immune to abuse.
The fact that this phrase is culturally embedded in most modern languages lends it a high degree of legitimacy.
On the other hand (and there's always another hand...) just what WERE those advertising people thinking....?
12 January 2009
05 January 2009
A fondue set exploded in a man's face after he used methylated spirits to try to light it.
Pukehina Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Errol Watts said it was a timely reminder not to use accelerants in such circumstances.
The man, aged in his 40s, was with family at a house on Pukehina Parade on Saturday when they decided to have fondue.
Mr Watts said they had trouble lighting it so decided to pour on meths.
"But it blew up in his face," Mr Watts said. "He had burns to his face, head and hands.
"I wouldn't advise using meths to start a fire."
Actually, I'm still trying to work out how one would operate a fondue without a methylated spirits-powered rechaud.
A bonfire underneath, perhaps?
In that case, I definitely wouldn't use meths to start the fire.
Petrol's a lot more effective.....
Disclaimer: I AM NOT RECOMMENDING USING PETROL AS A FIRE ACCELERANT. (Can't be too careful...)