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21 February 2011

Woo sunshine!

Today it did not rain. In fact it was sunny and not even freezing cold! It's nearly t-shirt weather again, and the days are getting longer. Of course, yesterday I got soaked to the skin but you can't really expect any better from Ireland. Now that winter is over hopefully more will begin to happen and then I can write about something interesting. As it is, I guess I will just rant on a bit. See, work has been busy. And not great. Before Christmas I spent a month getting samples ready and then they turned out to be unusable, close inspection with the electron microscope showed that the fixation was not good. So I did it again. A month later, I had more samples ready. But it turns out that the reason my first samples didn't work is because my fixative had gone off. So of course the next lot of samples didn't work either. So can you perhaps see why I had a very bad week? But it's ok because in the long run it will work out, I have new samples ready. It just means a lot of work over the next couple of weeks.

So to make things worse I have gone from never being sick to always being sick. Clearly there is just something wrong with Galway. I get over tonsilitis and stupid antibiotics only to get an ear infection that feels as if there's a big plug of cotton wool in my ear. Not to mention the ringing sound and pain. And while it is great that our student doctor is free, medicine here in Ireland is really expensive. I miss my community service card and only playing three dollars for a prescription.

And you know, after all this time I am growing accustomed to the way things are here and if I were to go back down under I would probably be amazed at the vast selection we have in our supermarkets. But still, sometimes I want something and when it is not on the shelf I notice. So I wanted fruit, canned fruit. And you know at home there is so much of it, all different brands, all different sorts, in juice or syrup, and it tastes good. Here there is very little, there is not much selection at all it seems, and it doesn't really taste very good. And my fruit salad had way too much pear. But that is not really the point. The point is, fruit is good for you so they should have more of it. It is all limited. The fresh stuff, the canned stuff, and the frozen stuff too. Plus they don't have crushed pineapple here! There's all sorts of things you might want crushed pineapple for.

Still, despite what I consider to be serious faults in the selection of certain food-stuffs in this country, I am still allowing my cooking obsession to run away with itself. Firstly a friend had a birthday so I had an excuse to make chocolate mud cake. Now the thing about this cake is that while when cooked it is dense and heave and rich, the mixture is very runny. The recipe specified that a spring-form tin shouldn't be used, but I figured it'd be right. I lined it, and put tin-foil around the outside. But despite this the mixture was so runny that it began to leak out from beneath the tin, up around the tin-foil and down into the tray (because luckily I always put the cake tin in another tray just in case). At the same time though it was already cooking and congealing around the top and edges so I tried to scoop up what was leaking and put it back in the tin. That didn't work. Then somehow the tray beneath suddenly bowed somewhat in the heat! Why would a cooking tray do that? So now the leaky cake tin was on a slight angle and the excess mixture began dripping out of the tray onto the bottom of the oven! So I put another tray below to catch it. Luckily before too long the cake really began to cook and no longer leaked. The mixture that leaked into the tray was of course a much thinner layer and cooked through long before the cake. If I had left it there it would have burnt to a crisp. So I had to take it out and eat it. It was very good.

I am though trying to control my sweet tooth, it is very difficult. But I like to cook other things too so I made a big feast of Arabic foods for a bunch of friends, because I was missing my arabic food. I miss the heat and sunshine too but there's not much I can do about that. The food on the other hand I can do. So I made hummus and baba-ghanoush, I made tabouli and fatoush, we had flat-bread and I made stuffed peppers and kebabs. And it was good! In Abu Dhabi we largely live of hummus and baba-ghanoush, just dipping stuff in it. There are a load of foods that you don't even think about trying till you travel. Eggplant for instance - baba-ghanoush is a dip made of mashed up roasted egg plants with red peppers and tahini (sesame seed paste). And bulgar wheat, which is like grains of wheat and you can soak it and eat it like rice or cous-cous. You use it for tabouli (celery and mint salad basically) and you can make a risotto out of it and even make it into a dessert, like porridge or rice-pudding.

So the plan for this week is to try a new recipe that I have, biscuits of course because really that's what I do best. You know how sometimes you see chilli chocolate? They even had chilli flavoured tim-tams for awhile (I miss tim-tams). So I have this recipe for chilli chocolate chip cookies. Maybe they will be no good. But I hope that they are delicious and chocolatey. I will probably increase the amount of cocoa powder just to be sure. It shoud be interesting. And I really must try to start doing interesting things and taking photos. Just writing is surely boring.

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