Thursday, January 26, 2006

Braised Baby Onions

Just found a great food blog whilst reviewing the 2006 blogs of the year.

Here is a recipe I tried last weekend when I had some vegetarian friends over for lunch.

Prep time: about 10 min

Braising: ~45 min.

Ingredients (serves 2)

12 red baby onions
2 tsp oregano, dried
2-3 tbsp olive oil
8-10 black olives
fresh oregano leaves (to taste)
100-150g feta cheese, crumbled
season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Peel onions and place them in a fireproof casserole dish or alternatively on a baking tray. Sprinkle with half of the olive oil, the dried oregano and season well with salt and pepper - don’t be shy. For the first 40 minutes cover up with either a lid or some aluminium foil.

2 For the last 5 minutes, uncover, add the olives and a few fresh oregano leaves and drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the onions.

3 Serve with the feta cheese crumbles and a few more fresh oregano leaves for decoration.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Don't push... I mean it!!

Phew, I am glad this week has come to an end.

Working on a
Local Area Agreement on behalf of the Local Council to get all public services working together is extremely rewarding.

I have posted up a couple of reports that I am working on at this time in the Links section. One on Equalities and the other on voluntary and community Involvement.

Some partners appear not to want to work together. At these times I just want to scream or hit something. Good job I attended that ANGER management course

So before I fall off the edge into a pit of doom, I made time to visit a fun website a friend recommended this afternoon.

But be warned... You may wish you had not pushed this.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is coffee poison?

At Christmas we purchased a fantastic little Espresso machine and have been knocking the black liquid in quick shots for a couple of weeks now. I don’t so much walk to the office anymore, as “fly” – I am high as a kite.

I have been worried of late that I get more headaches than I used to… Am I poisoning myself with too much coffee?

I also just read a blog from someone in Boston – home of the Mad Tea Party who is anxious he is consuming too much coffee and it got me thinking some more.

There was a scare story in the UK Sunday Times last week. And I quote:

COFFEE is responsible for as much as a third of daily consumption of the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide, research by the United Nations has found.

The story goes on to say that drinking dark-roast coffee is better than medium or light… it is the process of roasting that creates acrylamide.

So as for giving up… I don’t think I will bother, just raise a cup of the strong stuff!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Brokeback Mountain gets four Golden Globes

Three Cheers… Brokeback Mountain has won four Golden Globe Awards… it’s the Oscars next!

“Real-life couple Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams were both nominated for their performances in Brokeback Mountain: he for best actor for his turn as Ennis Del Mar, and she for best supporting actress for playing his long-suffering wife Alma”

Jos̩ and I went to Bath (a city about 40 miles from Swindon) to see the film last Sunday. Despite our key home town of 180 residents and two Multi-screen cinemas with ten screens each Рneither being prepared to show this film, we had to travel to watch the movie.

Based around two cowboys (actually sheep-herders) who find their daily routine a tad boring they discover each other, unexpected love and enduring friendship that lasts a couple of decades. But living in the conservative American West in the early 1960’s is no place for men to live together so they do what most closet gays do and marry women and raise families.

These poor women are put through the most unkind torture of being married to principally gay men and living lives of misery.

The cowboys live out their relationship through annual meet-ups – but it’s not a comfortable life for either of them.

I read this wonderful novel by Annie Proulx on the beach in Portugal in the summer of 2003.

So I knew what was coming in the movie, but have to hand it to Heath Ledger for superb acting. The scene in the trailer when he hugs his lover’s shirt is to DIE for?

It certainly is a modern-day love story which I would recommend anyone go read the book and see the movie.

Feel real pleased that we got to see the film. I have been a bit emotional since the movie... José just rolls his eyes towards heaven and thinks me rather silly. He says I am like a lost puppy that needs to be cared for.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hurricane Katrina struck dolphins are safe, meanwhile human misery continues

Sixteen dolphins from a marine park that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina -- including several that were swept out to the Gulf of Mexico and later rescued -- have been moved to a resort in the Bahamas.

The dolphins, which have been housed at temporary locations around the country, were transported to Mobile, Alabama, and loaded onto an airplane for the final stage of their trip, officials said.

The mammals lived at Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport, doing jumps and other tricks in programs for tourists, before it was severely damaged by Katrina on August 29.

Some of the younger dolphins had been moved inland to hotel swimming pools ahead of the storm. Eight others were pulled out to sea during the storm when their Oceanarium tank was destroyed.
Biologists located and rescued them on 10th September through aerial surveys.

The dolphins will be reunited and live in seven interconnected resident pools at Atlantis, a resort on Paradise Island.

The resort will also take on 24 sea lions and 22 exotic birds from Marine Life.

The dolphins have been at the center of a legal battle between the two owners of Marine Animal Productions, the company that owns the dolphins.

One of the two, Dr. Moby Solangi, had opposed moving the dolphins out of the United States.

Meanwhile the human misery continues for
Hardy Jackson, who is still searching for his wife Tonette. Her body was washed away on the day Hurricane Katrina struck.

For a moving video, see the BBC search facility.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Charles, your colleagues are bastards!

All those miserable years of Tories selecting ridiculous party leaders, then watching those same Conservative MPs destroy their leaders, has been a joy to watch over the past decade.

But now that Liberal Democrat MPs are doing it to Charles Kennedy, I am feeling quite sickened.

In a personal statement at the party's London headquarters on Thursday night,
the Lib Dem leader insisted he wanted to carry on at the head of the party.

But after disclosing details of his drink problem, he said it was
only fair' to allow the party a chance to replace him.

In the early 1990’s I served my village as a Lib Dem councilor and then from 1999 to 2005 I worked for the party as a political advisor.

Through all this time I have found the leadership of Charles Kennedy inspiring, refreshing and regularly entertaining. But now it seems the parliamentary party is having a joyful time ripping the leader to shreds.

The actions of some parliamentarians have been reckless, shameless and aggressive. Some (25 MPs at the last count) say they will resign on Monday if Charles does not.

No longer are we the nice party it seems.

It’s all quite sickening and treacherous.

But that is politics. At least we can stop lying that we are not as bad as the Tories when they decide a Leader has to go. Our MPs have been more vociferous in their words and deeds than any Tory wanting to get rid of Major, Hague or that Duncan-Smith bloke.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

You can’t win it… if you don’t claim it.

I really feel sorry for the poor soul who failed to claim their £9.4 million Lotto jackpot today. The ticket was purchased in Doncaster in July of 2005. You have 180 days to claim a win or the money is lost.

I think the month of July is a cursed month for gambling!

In July 2004 a
£20.1 million winning ticket was unclaimed, so the money was re-invested into the “Good Causes” pot.

In the
summer of 2002 a smaller figure of £7.5 million went unclaimed.

The up-side is that since the Lotto was launched in the UK in 1994, £17 billion pounds has been distributed through the Good Causes pot.

What makes me laugh about my fellow Englishmen is their capacity to enjoy seeing others suffer for their downfall. Who can forget the young May and Martyn Tott from Watford who say their lives were “ruined” because their forgot to collect their £3 million winnings? A public opinion poll at the time registered overwhelming support that the couple should not be paid the winnings as they missed the claims deadline.

Of course the trouble with the public who win the Lotto… can they be trusted to spend it correctly? I was in the queue at Tesco last Saturday morning to collect my £1 weekly ticket when the lady in front of me presented her winning ticket from the previous week. She won £60 with four numbers – and threw the whole amount back on 20 more lotto numbers and 40 scratch cards.

I stared at her incredulously and raised my eyebrows at the bloke selling the tickets “What a stupid moo!” he said. I think I agree.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My cousin had a Quad Bike for Christmas

A great Christmas was had by all the family this year. My sister cooked the most wonderful Turkey ever (Marks & Spencer may have provided the bird, but it was my sister who cooked it!).

Boxing Day and all the family descended on my parents for party games - no television. It was wonderful to sit, talk and laugh with out the depressing BBC Eastenders bleeding its heart out in the corner of the room.

I often wonder if most families are really as miserable as portrayed on TV? Maybe a happy family sit-com would never sell?

My cousin received a Quad Bike for Christmas, so we all traveled down to the Swindon Park next to Pinehurst for a half hour of scrambling. Great fun... some of the adventure is captured on video, but try as I may, I cannot load this to my blog.