Archive for March, 2006

Four hours later and £140 lighter, it’s as good as new!

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Audi repair

Audi repair

The man from ChipsAway is here, working hard. He’s got my car all covered up and ready for surgery. I thought I’d attach a few pictures of the work-in-progress!

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As most of you know, I love to cook. I don’t often feature the results on my blog, because I’m by no means a qualified food photographer, and most of what I photograph comes out looking like the left-overs from an airline tray. But I bought a beautiful saddle of lamb today. It was such a nice piece of meat, I thought I would showcase it here.

Saddle of lamb

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, maybe a vision of the end product will. I’m trying a new, slow-cook recipe, cooked simply with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. I’ll finish it with a red-currant glaze.

The recipe, and the slow-cooking theory, can be found on The Guardian’s food pages: Love Me Tender.

Here’s the recipe:

Saddle of lamb

You will need to visit your butcher, as this cut of meat is not obtainable from supermarkets. Ask your butcher to trim the saddle so that it looks like a T-bone in cross section, with the fat still across the top and the chine bone trimmed off so that the base will sit as flat as possible in the pan. This should produce a symmetrical piece of meat, protected in fat on one side and bone on the other.

Serves four to six.

1 saddle of lamb

If you have the time, you can marinade the lamb for 24 hours in the following:

Olive oil
Several bunches rosemary and thyme
3 cloves garlic

Take a pan big enough to hold the saddle and pour in enough olive oil to ensure that there are no air gaps between the surface of the oil and the meat when the lamb is put in the pan. The oil conducts the heat from the pan more gently than air.

Put the pan on the lowest heat and cook the lamb, turning one-eighth of a turn every two to four minutes. This regulates the temperature and prevents the meat from getting too hot; if the oil in the pan sizzles, it is too hot.

Keep turning the meat as it gradually reaches an internal temperature of 56C, as measured on your meat probe. This will take up to one and a half hours. It seems like a lot of work, but if you’re in the kitchen anyway, you might as well be doing something useful. When the meat has reached this temperature, it is ready to serve. The meat does not need resting.

Bon Appetit!

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New House in Canterbury

Well, it’s been a successful day. After a frustrating weekend last weekend looking for a suitable new place, a little creative sleuthing with Google has turned up an ideal place for Aude and me. It couldn’t be a more perfect compromise — it’s on the same road where we both live currently, almost exactly in the middle!

Just opposite the farmer’s market, it’s a lovely little four-bedroom house with a big kitchen, dining room, and lounge on the ground floor, with French doors opening onto a small patio and yard. There’s even a garage, big enough for the Corvette…

Moving day is hopefully sometime in May. The carpets are a little tired — we’ve asked the landlord to consider recarpeting, and we’re waiting to hear his decision. We’re also waiting to hear whether my two little cats will cause any trouble (as the property was advertised as “no pets”) but the agent thinks that we’ll be alright if we put a cleaning clause in the contract.

Fingers crossed….

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Well, my luck seems to be changing. I’m not sure whether I can say that I’m blessed with good luck, but at least I no longer appear to be cursed with bad luck.

Four new tyres arrived this morning. I figured I’d have to buy them sooner or later; the flat tyre last week just forced the issue. They’re on the car and seem to be fine, so that’s one worry off my mind.

I had ChipsAway come to give me an estimate on the car. They’ve got a pretty unique service — they come to you, do all the repair-work on site, and finish within a day. They’ve told me that the damage (no pun intended) would come in at around £140. Or about $200 in “real” money, for those Americans following along… They’re coming back tomorrow to do the work, so by tomorrow evening my car should be back in fighting form.

Most importantly, I’ve finally managed to get my vacation booked. We’re off to Thailand for just over two weeks at the beginning of April.

(Note to criminals reading blog: I’ve left my two attack-cats on watch in my absence. Note to American criminals: Canterbury is a long way from you.)

Yes, we’re off to Bangkok for 4 days, then to Phuket for another 10 days. We’ll arrive in Phuket just in time for the annual Water Festival, which celebrates the Thai New Year. In addition to a number of ceremonial rituals, the celebrations also include three days of drenching anyone who passes with a water pistol, bucket, hose, or whatever else you have to hand. See, my website is both entertaining and educational!


That’s it for now. No real plans for the weekend aside from having the car fixed, but I’m sure that will change as the weekend goes on.

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It’s barely 30 minutes since I made the last entry in the blog, and I’ve only managed to break the bloody shower. I think I’m cursed — everything I touch this week seems to turn to merde.

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