Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ah, pets...

First thing I would learn to say in Cat: Dammit, I'm on the toilet. Stop watching me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Orange soup!

The colour that is, not the flavour.

So. Here's how to make excellent chicken-pumpkin soup.

First off, make your own stock, it's seriously easy and tastes amazing. Did I mention seriously easy? If you have a slow-cooker it's even easier, but if you don't all you need is a big pot and your stovetop. Man, I wish I had a slow-cooker...

So. Go buy a chicken frame (what chicken carcasses are usually called in butchers / supermarkets). Here they're about $3 a kilo, and a kilo of chicken frames will make you lots and lots of stock. You can also just use a pile of raw chicken bones, but frames usually have a reasonable amount of meat left on them anyway, which makes good tasty stock.

Did I mention simple? All you've gotta do is stick the chicken in a big pot & cover it with water & simmer the hell out of it & whatever you want to use for extra flavour. I usually peel an onion & quite a lot of garlic and throw that in. it doesn't matter if they get all bits-y and mushy, 'cause later you'll strain the weird stuff out of it anyway. If you get scum floating on the stock as it cooks, you can scoop it off with a spoon, but straining later on will take care of this anyway, so I usually don't bother. I also use a bouquet garni for flavour. (Generally I'd suggest about 3L of water to a frame.)

Let it all simmer gently for a few hours (this is where a slow-cooker is awesome - you can put it all in, set it to low and head off to work or whatever.), then let it cool. Once it's cool, stick it in the fridge (I leave it in the pot for this, but decanting is fine if the pot won't fit) and chill it. This will make the fat coagulate on the surface, and you can skim it off (now you've got flavour without grease). Once you've removed the fat, strain the liquid through a sieve. You'll get a bunch of grit & stuff out of it - just throw that away. Pull any meat still on the bones off, and return it to the stock.

You can use stock like this for risotto, soups, stews... whatever you want, really. It'll keep for 5 days or so in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months. When you're using it, you can dilute it a little more if you want - it really depends on what you want it for, and the original strength you made it at. Another tip - if you don't have much freezer space, simmer the liquid to reduce it down, and you can freeze it as icecubes.

Anyway, getting on to the soup part. I didn't have much stock left, so the soup base was 1/2 stock, 1/2 water.

1 butternut pumpkin
1 large sweet potato
several garlic cloves (I use about 6-8, to make 3L of soup)
chicken bits
1 onion
seasoning to taste
carrots, or any other hard vegetables you feel like using - can be chopped or grated...

Steam the pumpkin and sweet potato with several peeled garlic cloves. When cooked, mash (put the steaming water in, too). Put the stock & water, onion, & mash on to cook; when it's bubbling, add the chicken pieces and chopped veggies. Add salt, pepper, and whatever herbs / spices float your boat until it tastes right, and when the chicken & veggies are cooked, you have a meal!

Should keep for several days in the fridge, and freezes well, although the texture of carrots can get a bit funky once they've been frozen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Vacuum cleaners are scary.

Glock the boykitten had his second adventure outside the house today. He confirmed that dirt is, indeed fun, and that crunchy leaves are even better. The really awesome discovery of the afternoon, though, was that our worm farm (I built it out of a big plastic tray we had, and pizza-box lids keep the weather off the worms) had started sprouting pumpkins and potatoes. Said sprouts have now been transplanted into pots of their own, and all this accidental growth is making me feel all inspired and potentially productive (there are also a bunch of green leafy veggie-things in pots around the place), and I might just have to build myself a garden bed. We'll see.

Making the bed: boykitten says NO!

He also says no to productivity, and any procrastination that involves paying attention to something other than him. Go figure.

But it's hard to stay mad at something this cute (just as well, 'cause he's the only subject that survived this photo), even if he does dig in the potplants. 'Specially since he's still confused by his reflection.

Monday, March 22, 2010

And now, for something completely different!

I present: A boob joke that's actually funny. Many thanks to Kate Harding for being an awesome writer, amazing person, and sharing the news about this one. Anything that gives me an excuse to watch Marion Cotillard while making a point about misogyny is a win in my book.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Things we say...part 21

L: Tiramasu is more important than huggles.
I want it on the record that she said that!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's a public holiday, dumbo.

Which is why the doctor's surgery isn't answering the phone. Here was me thinking they'd just forgotten to turn the call divert off, which had me giggling about the time(s) receptionist L did exactly that. Professionalism, I has it.

These two only seem to care that I'm professional about feeding them. And changing litter. And playing. And giving up my computer chair when they want to sleep on it. And... well, we adopted cats. You get the picture.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Random Cute

This is Glock. Apparently he finds Guild Wars as entertaining as the rest of us. Go figure, I think we've adopted the right kitteh.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Away down the rabbit hole...

Generally, I don't pay much attention to film reviews - I've found that critics' opinions don't necessarily correlate all that much with which films I will or won't enjoy. I'm of the 'defend your right to your opinion' school of thought, but I have to say, I do have a problem with opinions expressed in a completely distasteful manner. Now, I know News of the World isn't exactly a top publication, but it's still disappointing to see crap like this peddled as a 'review' rather than being torched. I've no idea what kind of crack Robbie Collin is on (or why he seems to spend his time perusing the ads in London phone boxes), but any decent writer should be able to disparage a performance without accusing the actress of looking like she's on heroin, never mind making allusions to prostitution (see what I did there?).