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28 January 2011

This one is really all completely about food

Well the most important thing to everybody I am sure is food, I think it is for me, so that's what I will talk about. Besides, I don't want to disappoint everybody's theories that I am obsessed with food. So I made pumpkin pie and it was good but not as amazingly fantastic as I remember. Not really something you want all the time, just sometimes. It was a bit watery, I think butternuts must have a higher water content. And my brownie didn't work out! I don't know why. It was not fudgy or cakey at all, it was solid and cookie-like. I was not impressed. Other people liked it but clearly I must just make another one.

On a more positive note, I made ANZAC biscuits, and you can't really go wrong with them, and they are delicious. When you bake them people will often tell you that they are the most amazing yummy biscuits ever. So I am slowly converting the world the the greatness of the ANZAC biscuit. And they are so easy to make.

And did you know that lamingtons are a down under thing? I always imagined they were English but they are not. They were actually invented in Australia in the kitchen of one Colonel Lamington by his french chef who fucked up the sponge cake and needed to save his ass. So he cut it up, rolled it in rasberry jelly, coated it in coconut and put cream on top. And there you go, they were a huge hit! So it seems Aussie gets the credit for that one but apparently the chocolate variety is all NZ so that's good because everybody likes chocolate better.

So it is Friday and work is finished for the day, I've been working my butt off and today I get to relax a bit. They are having a dodgeball tournament here, it's a postgrad thing, and I am reffing, which is good because I can't throw or catch and I probably can't dodge either so I didn't really want to play. And of course there will be work tomorrow but it should not be too bad and hopefully I will mostly take the day off on Sunday. At which point I intend to have a go and baking soda bread, and I will make soup to go with it, the weather is warming up here but in my opinion at least you can always have soup. And this next week I intend to make bikkies again, something new and interesting, but it has a secret ingredient so I can't tell you why they are so interesting. If they are good though maybe I will relent.

It's crazy, but January is all bit over. It was a rough month. Everybody says though, that a January slump is common, it is so cold and dark and dreary and going back to work sucks. Do we have this in NZ, even though January is summer? Or do we have this in June and July? Well I think it must be a real true phenomenon because January sucked, I hate working so hard, I have had very little fun, but things are looking up. The days are getting longer, it is only 5pm and it is still quite light. And it is warmer, I am wearing much less layers. I will still be insanely busy next week and the week after, and then less so but still quite busy. Yet the idea of February is quite welcome, despite a lot of work it should be good. A bit more socialising maybe, progress at work I hope, maybe I will manage to begin writing up my results. And of course lots of food to cook! I think we should have a bake sale. That way I have an excuse to bake stuff. And people's birthday's are coming, so cakes will be required! Lot's of chocolate cakes! Which is good because I have some recipes that I have not tried yet, I do not possess the perfect chocolate cake recipe so that will be what I work on for the next couple of months. My distraction from work. It's either that or get me a dog. And that's not really a feasible option at all.

22 January 2011

Another week has gone by, so here is a really long ramble ...

So I think I ended the last post somewhere around banana cake. I gotta say, the banana cake was a hit yet personally I thought it was rather average. It was just not moist enough, I used the Edmond's recipe, but from now on I think I will use three bananas instead of two. And of course I made sure to make a really rich chocolate icing, which makes everything good. You see over here they don't seem to eat banana cake, everybody was quite interested as to what it was. They thought it was banana bread, and I said no it is cake. But, people say, if you put it in a loaf tin and make it bread shaped it would be banana bread. So I had to explain no, cake and bread are very different, the mixture is different, the texture is different. If I put this recipe in a loaf tin it would still be banana cake, just in loaf shape. I tried banana bread actually, it didn't really work and I didn't get the big deal. I would rather make cake.

So as for work, it is as life-consuming as usual only it is starting to get to me and I find myself slacking off. Sure, I work long hours, but I am not getting quite so much done. Still a lot done but it is just never ending. And I can't find the time to do research, to read and learn new stuff. There is a website, PhD comics. Today's comic really illustrates how my life is right now:


So you see this is why I have nothing to talk about. After work I am so worn out, I come home and read my book. So far this year I have gotten through a pile of books already. I read The Butcher Boy, an old Irish story. It is about a young man that is slowly driven insane by his circumstances in life. It was quite sad really, a bit awful. I also read Pompeii, I historical novel with a difference - that being that instead of being something to do with the English royal family it had an entirely different setting. Made a nice change. And it was very good. You always know that a book is really good when you are annoyed at it for ending. I also just read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I had been wanting to get my hands on it for some time now, I thought it would be a good spoof. The concept is good, it surely could have been hilarious. Sadly, it was not. It was rather poorly executed. It didn't make me laugh once. So not only was it a very poor piss-take but it ruined the real satire of the original Jane Austen novel. So now I must find another book to make my day better.

Of course, that is actually rather misleading because there is nothing wrong with my day today at all. I only spent about three hours at work, I went grocery shopping and I watched a movie. And now I am cooking. I am going to have a bunch of friends over tomorrow, really just to give me a reason to cook lots of food. Hopefully they can all entertain themselves. See what I really want to make is pumpkin pie. Only it will be butternut pie because you don't get pumpkins to eat here which is very stupid. And I want to make a proper chocolate brownie too, one so rich that it makes you sick just to think of it.

So in order to have a reason to bake yummy things I will invite friends over for dinner. I am going to make a vegetable lasagna, which I am right now making the sauce for. Then I will prepare the pie filling. Tomorrow I will only have to make soup, put together the lasagna, make a nice salad and do the chocolate brownie. It is still really cold here so it is very neccessary to have soup. Plus I really love lentil soup, it was my favourite thing to eat in Abu Dhabi, and I want to share the joy of good lentil soup. A friend will bring home-made bread. Here in Ireland they eat soda-bread, which is a non-yeast bread, it uses baking soda instead. And it is really good. It's more cake like than normal bread, a little bit sweet, you can put nuts and seeds and anything you like in it, and it's particularly good once it has gotten cold, spread with butter and honey.

After my weekend of entertaining hopefully I will feel ready to face another week of work. The really insanely hard work is sort of my own fault because I signed up to demonstrate the first-year zoology practical labs. But it's for a really good cause, I will put the money I'm getting for it on my student loan. It's not much but better than nothing. Only this last week the lab was terribly boring, they had to dissect earthworms and mussels. I think I preferred looking down the microscope. Even though I did have to go through so many microscope slides I had dreams about them.

16 January 2011

January

So it is January, I can't even remember the last time I wrote, probably not for some time because I am not doing anything much interesting to write about. I am just working, that is all I do. And now it has started raining properly again, more and more rain, it is very dreary. Last week I managed to melt plastic in the dishwasher - it turns out that not all plastic should go in the dishwasher. I needed that stuff, but I've sorted it now so no worries. What's worse is that this week while I was quickly using the microscope I managed to knock my slide box off of the desk, and it was open, and all of my microscope slides fell out and smashed. That's not so good. But luckily today it stopped raining long enough for me to go to the aquarium, which is technically work but seems like a break.

 An anenome
 A scorpion fish
 Crayfish
 And a tunicate, which is really interesting because it is actually a chordate, so it does not look like an animal but is more closely related to us than, say, a crab, or a worm. And all of that is interesting because I am a scientist, and I like all sorts of facts.

 And since I have no interesting things to write about lately, no travels, not even much in the way of funny stories because I just am working so much, instead I will tell you that I baked delicious biscuits on wednesday, tonight I am baking banana cake. And my biscuit recipe? Well they were my classic, world famous (in my world that is) chocolate chippie biscuits, and since I am not longer there to bake them for everybody, here is my recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Cream 125 grams of butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar. When it is light and fluffy, beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 egg.

So next sift into the mixture 1 and 3/4 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder. Mix well and then stir in 200 grams of chopped chocolate.

Roll the mixture into balls, press lightly onto an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes.

And enjoy!

02 January 2011

Back in Galway

So here I am in Galway again and strangely enough it is a whole new year. The snow has gone away and it is raining again. It has actually been oddly warm, but then even 0 degrees is warm after -15. I have already started work sadly. I mean, it's not all bad, today would be the first day that I was working all year! Sounds strange to say that. And it went well, but one day going well when I supposedly am supposed to finish all of what I am currently working on in only two months is not actually so much. To top it off, I seem to have a cold. That sucks.

But you know for awhile it was 2010 here for me but already 2011 in New Zealand. Isn't that the weirdest thing? Only everybody was too busy celebrating so there was nobody online for me to tell at the time. As for celebrations here - the strangest thing happened that night. People were out, as they do, partying it up in the early hours of the morning, and apparently these three clubs, all owned by the same people, have some huge tax issue and were liquidated. Only the tax people for some reason showed up at 2 am on the 1st of January, shut the bars down and took away all their stock! I guess the pub owners had been given till January the 1st and the tax people took it very literally. So many people welcomed the New Year and said goodbye to their favourite pubs all at once.

So to exemplify my resolve to at least begin the new year with hard work (and it is not so much a New Year's resolution as a general resolution because I've been saying I need to work harder for months) here is a pretty picture that I took today, I'm not going to bother explaining it because I don't really see that there is any point and then there is the whole intellectual property thing. But these things can be nice to look at without knowing what the hell you are seeing. So ...