Don’t believe them …


I used to be a cook. From 1971 to 1986 I was a cook at the Leeds General Infirmary. In fact from 1983 to 1986, I was the Head Cook in the staff kitchen. All this is a little bit of background information for what I want to have a chat about. That chat is about pastry. Specifically short crust pastry. Now, when you watch these famous TV chefs preparing pastry (and I’ll not mention any names here) they will always tell you that it has to be done by hand .. No mixer/processor allowed!!! .. They will tell you that your pastry will be tough/dry/chewy and any other descriptive term for ‘bad’ pastry they can think of. They will tell you that you have to make it by had, if you want the best pastry. I want to tell you that’s a load of rubbish. When you are making enough pastry to cover pies that are going to feed 300+ people, making it by hand is a non-starter. Can you imagine trying to ‘rub-in’ 20lb of lard/margarine into 40lb of flour by hand!. You have to use a machine. If it works for large volumes, then it has to work for smaller volumes too. So here is my recipe for short crust pastry in a food-processor:

  1. weigh 8oz flour into your food processor with a pinch of salt
  2. dice up 2oz of cold butter and 2oz of cold lard into 1/4 inch dice
  3. chill butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes
  4. add butter and lard to flour and process until looks like breadcrumbs
  5. add 3floz of very cold water and use the pulse function until the pastry starts to come together
  6. tip out onto a lightly floured worktop and gently kneed for a few seconds until all mixed
  7. wrap in cling-film and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  8. use as required

They key to this is the speed of the processing and the coldness of the fat. I takes less than 2 minutes to go from fat and flour to pastry, which means that the fat is still cold. I can assure you that it does work.

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March is going to be an expensive month I think. Firstly, there’s Mothers Day and then there’s K***s birthday. This is one of those significant birthdays too. The big ‘six-zero’. Looks like I may need to move some cash from my savings account, but it should not be a problem really. We are going away for a couple of days on the weekend before the big day which will be nice. We’ve been to the hotel before a few years ago and it was a nice place. Good food, good scenery and it will be relaxing break for both of us. R*** is away for the weekend, so there are no worries about getting back for him. Just got to hope the weather is better than present. It has got a lot warmer overnight which has led to the snow staring to melt into slush. Much fun!

 

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FrontBackNow, here’s a poser. Which is the correct way? Front or back?  Is there a right or wrong way? I have no real preference at all but I know how K*** feels about it. For her it has to be Front. There can be no argument and it can lead to a lot of tutting if I put it the wrong way around. I’ve been in houses that drop down the front and houses that drop down the back. I’ve also been in places that have different preferences in different rooms. I’ve also been in houses where the loo-roll is sat on the cistern behind, which is an odd if not difficult location. So this is not a poll, just wondering that’s all.

 

 

Well I think this is interesting …


Youngest is doing his usual Saturday ‘thing’ and watching YouTube videos on my laptop. He does this every weekend, after he has had his wash/bath, he’ll come down and sit at my laptop until his lunch is ready. I was going to use my older laptop to do some work on but I thought I would give this a go.

So, I am sat at the living room table, with my iPad Mini and TechGear bluetooth keyboard, writing this post directly into the iOS WordPress editor! An unusual experience to say the least. I think I may have tried using the editor before on my laptop, but usually like to write posts using Open Live Writer (OLW), which is a free piece of software born out of the now defunct, Windows Live Writer. If you’ve not tried OLW, can I suggest you give it a try. Back to the post in question!

I found the settings for Tags and Categories and managed to add some, but it is a lot harder to actually work with. In OLW I have a single button that will post some work as draft. I can then go into the web version of WordPress, check for any errors (there usually is a couple or six!) before I finally post. The iPad app seems to offer the same facility, but it is going to take me a while and a lot more practice if I’m going to make a habit of it.

One thing I have found, it seems to quite difficult to centre a line of text. There must be a way, but maybe not with this keyboard.

** Update** I think I may now know why. The Techgear bluetooth keyboard is mapped for an Android no iOS. There are (apparently) a number of differences between the keyboards of the two systems

An interesting weekend …


In fact, a very interesting weekend. So interesting for us, that I feel it is worth posting about. As I mentioned earlier, K*** has had a problem with her eyes and this has led to her spending much of the weekend trying to rest. She threw a sickie today as she didn’t think she would be able to cope at work, and it was probably a good idea. She is still in pain and and is still seeing the ‘floaters’ at the side of her head. She is going to ring the hospital tomorrow to find out if this is normal. She tells me that it seems to be improving, but only slightly and we don’t appear to have a time frame for improvement.

Now comes the interesting bit! R*** has been a real help. We rarely get a weekend where we do not have an issue with him. The usual issues range from a shouting episode to a full blooded melt-down and we always have a least one issue each day. But not this weekend. There has been nothing. He has been laughing, smiling, singing and generally having a good time. Of course there has been the odd time when he has been a little ‘grabby’ and squeezed my arm, but that has been when I’ve done, or attempted to do, something he did not want to do. And, the squeezing has been a kind of warning squeeze rather than the usual forceful type.

We have come to the conclusion, that he is somehow aware that his mum is not well and this has had some kind of ‘compliance’ effect on him. It maybe that he is just in a good mood, and that nothing has upset him this weekend, but it does seem very unusual, albeit in a good way.

He is on respite tomorrow and will be back on Friday and we will have to see how that goes. It is usually ‘okayish’ and there doesn’t seem to be too many issues, but it will be interesting to see if this current mood continues.

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That’s all for now. Just a little update that I had to share.

Is it a scam …?


Yesterday, I received an email direct to my WordPress email from an organisation that calls itself  ‘My Trending Stories’. Having a quick look on their website, it seems that they collect posts from various people on various subjects.

The email drops a few flattering phrases into the body, such as “…and strongly admire the content. Your writing abilities and ability to engage readers is remarkable and a very rare asset…” and “…strongly believe that your writing aligns with our core value…” and concludes with “…we only allow a certain amount of writers on the website in order to provide mentorship and personal growth…”. Now, this all sounds very interesting and promising, but is there a catch? I emailed them back for more details, and the reply was very much of the same. It appears that I would have to post regularly eg two or three times a week and can even repost work I have posted on my blog at WordPress.

I did a little Googling around, and I understand that a number of people are among the ‘certain amount of writers’ that this site  is attempting to attract. I have to say, that I am a little intrigued, even interested, but I have doubts. Nothing I can put my finger on, but I’m a bit uncertain. Maybe it’s the commitment or maybe it’s the excessive flattery that worries me, I don’t know.

I would be interested to know if any of my followers/readers have had the same email or any experience of this site.

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Now for the “Rant of The Day.” I’m not the biggest fan of tennis. In fact, I’m not really a sports fan at all. But K*** like to watch Wimbledon, especially when it’s Andy Murray. So the point of my rant today is how it is shown on television. The BBC covers all the big matches, but they seem to like to mess around with the channels. Tonight, Mr Murray’s match was on BBC 1 until around 6pm when it was moved to BBC 2, to allow for the news. It then flipped back to BBC1. Why? Why could they not re-arrange the schedules and put the tennis on BBC 2 and BBC 3? It’s not as if they haven’t done it before. I have an idea, that it is to stop people from ‘live pausing’ the matches. That is all well and good and some of us can remember the days before live pausing, but it is a feature that a lot of people have and we should be able to use it. Come on BBC, get your act together.

Worrying day, going well …


I was going to have a go at with the new Writing Prompt app today (might still do later) but things that we were expecting to go bad, didn’t. I shall elaborate.

Mrs H*** decide, some time ago, that she wanted the rendering on the outside walls replacing. It has become damaged somewhat, and the last paint job did not work well at all. The issue has DSCF0167been that the paint is flaking off and exposing the ‘bare’ render. It is not a small job and requires that the old render be chipped off and a new render applied. My personal view was P1010864that it just needed the rest of the paint removing and the render skimming. As ‘Master of The House’ I was, of course out voted and we went for the a full re-application. Whatever we had decided on, it meant that the house needed scaffolding erecting. Today was the day that the scaffolders arrived. We were both worried that the noise would upset R***, as because of his Autism, anything out of the ordinary can cause him a problem. He was brilliant, and it did not seem to worry him in the least. He skipped from room to room looking out of every window, just watching everything that was going on.

Then, just we thought that we had cracked it came the the ‘big hit’. One of the guys knocked on the door and explained, that because of the position of our satellite dish and the positioning of the scaffold around it, we would lose the signal. Now whilst (whilst or while … which would you use?) this was a bit inconvenient, me and Mrs H were not too bothered. But R***! He watches (at least it is on all the time) the same programmes every day. From around 8am until 10:30pm it’s ‘Nick Jnr Too’. He then switches to ‘BBC2 NI’ until 8am the next day. This happens all the time he is at home with us. Never changes. So how will he cope with this? He seemed to be okay when he was having his lunch and when he finished, I managed to load up Thomas the Tank Engine DVD. Surprisingly enough, he accepted this without any issue. We were both amazed. He is now on his 4th DVD and has even picked his own choice. This certainly not what we were expecting at all. There is a lot of finger crossing and hoping at the moment, as he could just turn at any time. We will know when  it gets to BBC2 NI time!

I’m not sure about this …


When I say “not sure…” I mean I’m not about why I’m posting this, but here goes.

I’ll give a bit of background first. One of the aspects of the work I’m currently on, is the need to do testing of certain pieces of computer software. The testing involves working in a ‘clean computer environment’.  This basically means that the PC’s used to test have been stripped back to the standard they were when first installed. It’s a bit of a tedious process that usually involves sitting a room with eight or nine computers and the system manager. Nobody else. That’s the background.

On Friday I was to do the usual testing and arrived at the test room as expected. I was then told that there would be someone else testing. I got on with my work and paid little attention to what was going on. Someone came into the room and they were welcomed by system manager with “Hi there Helen. Can you sit at your usual seat?” Helen is not her real name.

Helen answered, and the voice she had sounded a little strange. Not a woman’s voice I felt. I was then introduced and I turned to say hello. It then became obvious, that Helen was actually a transgender person.

Now this is where I worry about this post. I sat there trying to understand how I felt about this person. The conclusion I came to, was that there was no feeling apart from the fact that they were testing like me. I didn’t feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, intrigued, worried, disgusted or anything like that. It was the first transgender person I had met (at least I think it was) and it felt strangely normal, whatever ‘normal’ means. Should I have had one or more of the feelings I mentioned? At the end of the day, Helen was simply a human being that had decided what they wish to look like, what they wanted to be called and how they wanted to live their life.

On reflection, I think I must have made the mental decision that on this occasion, I’m not entitled to have any opinions. It is what it is and they are what they choose to be. I have no right to approve or disapprove.

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Talking of decisions, I think I’m going to stick with Open Live Writer for my blog editor, well at least for the time being. It doesn’t seem to work too well with images as my entry into the Weekly Photo Challenge shows. I could not get the images to show how I wanted them too, and it looks a little like a rushed job. The blog template in Word seems to be better and so does the WordPress editor. Both appear to have better options for working with images.

A recent idea (as recent as five minutes ago) flashed across my mind. That was, I wonder if I could create an Infographic image of the pictures I wanted to post. I have seen a lot of Infographics floating around on the internet, and have been wondering for a while on using the idea. Not sure if it will work for a collection of images, but I think it will make positioning of the pictures a little easier.

I have that “must test this out” feeling coming over me again, so expect some more ‘quick’ posting over the next week or so.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol


I thought I would have a go at this. I’m not sure if it will work (fingers crossed I’ve got it right.)

I have been a fan of old British films for a long time now, and the first one I remember watching and enjoying was Brief Encounter. For those who don’t know the film, it is set in the Forties, when a suburban housewife and a doctor meet at a railway station and fall in love. Their love is doomed as both of them are from backgrounds that shunned extra marital affairs. The film starred Trevor Howard (real brother of Ashley Wilkes from Gone With The Wind) and Celia Johnson, and was written by Noel Coward.

The station where they meet is the station at Carnforth in the North West of England. K*** and I were having a few days break, and I wanted to see the place. It was a great few days away (a wedding anniversary actually, but don’t ask me which one) and the trip to Carnforth was one of the highlights.

I have a lot of photos from the trip, but this one is of the station tearoom, where the couple met and ultimately parted. The tearoom has been faithfully restored to the same as it was when Brief Encounter was filmed, and it was quite an unusual feeling to be sitting in the same room, effectively where two famous stars of the classical days of British film sat. I have tried to work out the actual position where we sat, in relation the film, but that was too difficult. A beautiful symbol of a bygone age that has been lost forever.