Friday, February 26, 2010

Snickers are getting smaller

I ate two Snickers bars yesterday and started thinking that the chocolate bars are a fair bit smaller than a few years back. Or was it that I was bigger?

A quick search on the internet revealed the truth - they are around 8% smaller. Feeling cheated, I ate two more bars, making for a record 4 bars in one day. That's 1200 calories of Snickers ... nice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Expendables film poster

An impressive fan poster, from the WormyTV blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Martha Plimpton - From Goonies to The Good Wife

I just saw a clip of The Good Wife and caught a glimpse of an actress who I was pretty sure played one of girls in Goonies, a childhood favourite film. A quick check reveals her name to be Martha Plimpton and she was indeed in the Goonies. My 'point-out-the-history-of-the C-list celebrity' game is strong.

If only I could remember debits, credits, cost accounting, and variance analysis as easily : (

Simple pasta

Put pasta on the boil. 3 minutes before it's done, add frozen peas. Drain. Add a tablespoon of butter, or a big glug of olive oil, s&p, and a bit of garlic paste. Mix. Done.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No self control when it comes to junk food

This evening I have eaten the following:

- Pita bread and sardine curry
- A bowl of pasta with boil-in-the-bag fish mashed into it, with chili oil (really nice)
- Two apples with honey
- A large bowl of muesli
- A large bowl of bran flakes
- An entire pack of Mr Kipling Cakes (6 cakes at 200 kcal a piece)
- A Snickers bar

And I am not feeling full up, at all! I think I'll have another pitta bread with cheese to top it off.

I might have to commission somebody to build one of these for humans, with cakes and chocolates on a time release!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Katlama at Imran's restaurant

For your reference, my fascination with this food item started here, at Imran's restaurant on Ladypool Road (Sparkbrook, Birmingham, UK). It still represents fantastic value for money:

Katlama £1.50
Spring lamb minced with onions, green chillies, fresh
herbs and corriander coated into a crispy pastry, deep fried

Katlama stories

Search the internet for katlama recipes, go on, I dare you. I found just two recipes, repeated over and over in chat rooms, recipe sites, Yahoo Answers, etc. Two, that's is all. And I searched and I searched. And then, when I was about to give up, I found something very interesting.

It seems the origins of the katlama are not so clear cut, for I found the katlama going under the name of 'Tajik Puff Cake', and I kept on looking and found a Russian site where a chap by the name of Stalic tells of the making of the katlama in great, poetic detail. Truly, he has written an ode to the katlama. What is more, my eyes are opened to a whole new world, as I learn of the sweet, honey katlama. The magical mystery is made all the more touching by Google's Russian-to-English translator:

Вообще-то, там не один вид катламы готовят, и никому не запрещено выдумать свой, новый. Поэтому следите за руками внимательно, сейчас эти руки приготовят пять видов катламы.

'Now hands Hakim will show how to how to prepare Katlama in fairy tales - Margellan. In fact, there is not one type of train Katlama, and no one is forbidden to invent a new. So watch his hands carefully, now these hands will prepare five types Katlama. '
We are given two types of Baked Katlama, two types of Fried Katlama, and a special 'Type fifth, half a step before the opening'. Stalic concludes with the following sage commentary:
.. Look closer - it was not just the fifth appearance Katlama, it is already ... baklava? Yes, I poured ready, still hot Katlama melted honey, while Hakeem telling me: "Yes, just sprinkled with sugar, honey do not spend on that!" And I thought: "What, ever, for us, no one spent on medical Katlama ? And bekmez - boiled fruit juice - no one did in those days, when there was no sugar? Then where did we, the Turkic peoples, undertook pahalva? And where does baklava from those who never knew how to cook Katlama? "

And finally:

'This post represents the result of considerable work, so I am not ashamed to ask you, my dear friends and readers, to tell your friends about it. And you also will not be ashamed to talk about it, I assure you! Good should be shared, then God will send more. '
Thank you Stalic. I have just shed a tear. It is important to note that these katlamas (what is the plural, katlama, katlami?) are not filled with meat, but are pure bread products, whereas the punjabi style katlama is similar on the outside to Hakim's fried katlama, but is filled with a delicious spicy meat filling. Clearly, there are many variants of this dish. Perhaps the story of the katlama is the story of humanity.

The Expendables

Between now and August, life will be about going through the motions. Then 'The Expendables' is released. Here is what one commenter is expecting from the film:

Jet Li has to kill someone by kicking something ridiculous at them (like a car!!), Stallone must walk through explosions without even flinching and arnie must have only one line of dialogue "GET TO DA CHOPPA!!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Boursin special offer

Boursin is now selling for £1 in Sainsbury's. I bought two cylinders.

It is a good cheese.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recipe - Skinflint noodles

I just knocked up a lightning quick meal of noodles with vegetables, in a peanut-chili-soy sauce, and it was delicious. It's also about as cheap as it gets. Here's the recipe:

- One packet of instant noodles (discard the flavour sachet) - 9p from Sainsburys.
- A couple of handfuls of frozen veg.

Place it all in a sauce pan of semi-boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain the water. Add a teaspoon of peanut butter, a quarter teaspoon of chili oil, and a good splash of soy sauce. Stir it all in, on a very low heat for another minute. Pour on to a plate, and gobble it up, adding soy sauce to suit.

I really wasn't sure about how this would taste and was pleasantly surprised.

Will make again, many times over.

Oh yes, and chunky peanut butter is recommended over smooth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A quote from somebody who's seen The Expendables

"But after seeing this, I couldn't give a s**t about Avatar and James Cameron's smurfs fighting over a mineral. (All due respect, Mr. Cameron.)"

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Can you freeze cheddar cheese?

Yes indeedio, and it works a treat.

Buy already grated cheese, or grate it up yourself, and store it in a tied plastic bag, laid as flat as possible in the freezer to prevent the cheese from clumping together (once it's frozen you no longer need to keep it flat).

I wouldn't use it cold, but frozen cheese flakes are perfect for adding to your cooking (omelettes, pasta, toasty sandwiches, etc).

An Alan Partidge film decision is in the works....Aaah Hah!

USDJPY - the long view

Is USD/JPY interesting? I think so.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Quick review of my IBM Thinkpad X32

I'm loving it:

- It's solid and yet it's lightweight at the same time.
- The screen is in the old square format (i.e. not letter box wide-screen), which is better suited to my kind of browsing (less video playing, more reading).
- It's a bare-bones machine, which is dirt fast. Despite packing just 512MB ram, my X32 boots up from cold in 35 seconds flat (processor is 1.8 Ghz). There are no patches installed on the operating system as yet, and the full suite of Microsoft 'improving' updates may slow it down a touch once they are installed, but this is a fantastic starting point.
- The keyboard is seriously robust and very satisfying to use. The keys are more compact versus your regular keyboard, so typing speeds may be reduced by a fraction, but its no biggie. Combined with a decent screen size (12.1 inches), the overall usability of this highly portable unit means it should serve me well as replacement for my main PC (a Vaio from yesteryear).
- Trackpoint - I love not having a touchpad as it eliminates the risk of 'cursor jump', and the trackpoint is very comfortable to use once you get used to it. The only drawback relates my choice of trackpoint cap - I've opted for a cap that pertrudes above the keys by a good few millimetres, which means you can't completely avoid it when typing away. Fair trade. My choice.
- Battery life: I got really lucky with the battery as it yields 2 hours + of surf time. Very good for an old machine.

At around £120-£130 on E-bay, these machines represent seriously good value for money, provided you don't get one that bean beaten to pieces (like the first one I received), and provided you are happy not having a built in web-cam or optical drive.

A couple of tips:

Tip #1: I used and recommended AVG AntiVirus for many years, but this time around I've installed Microsoft's Security Essentials, a free anti-everything bad package that is super light and unobtrusive. The interface is dead simple as well. Give it a try...MS ain't all bad!

Tip #2: If you have a fast machine and don't want it to slow down, then time how long it takes to boot and every time you install or alter the machine, do a retest. If it slows down after the change, just do a System Restore 'roll back' the system to its previous state. Worked for me.

Thinkpad - No middle button scrolling in Firefox 3.6

Many Firefox 3.6/Thinkpad users are finding that middle button scrolling is disabled in the new browser. If you install the latest trackpoint driver from Lenovo, the scrolling feature should come back to life.

Step 1: Download the driver and run the .exe file. Step 2: Go back into folder where you saved the new driver and run the 'Setup' file. The system has to reboot. Step 3: Scrolling should now be working. If it isn't, go to 'Settings' > 'Mouse Properties' and check the scrolling box on the 'TrackPoint' tab.

Film: Ninja Assassin

I paid my respects and caught the last showing of Ninja Assassin before the film disappeared off the big screen. I'm happy to report that it delivers the goods (just be sure you know what you've ordered i.e., it ain't Citizen Kane!). Here's a quick look at some of the key elements:

- Non-stop, blood-spattered, ninja action: You have the ancient ninja training academy, the ninja assassins, the stern master, the classic ninja weapons, and the rebel ninja who is hell bent on revenge. Importantly, the ninja's had several 'special kick-ass moves' such as super-fast healing, and invisibility (hiding in the shadows is the standard mode, but you also see real invisibility).
- Acting: Just right and as it should be - all unknowns, apart from the main ninja, who was played by a Korean boy-band pop-star (seriously).
- Dialogue: Not quite cheesey enough. It could have done with two or three really corny lines. I was surprised that this is an English language film.
- Story: Any story is a bonus, and it ain't half bad (for the genre).

The ninja is back. Long live Shinobi.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sony digital radio anyone?

They are going for half price, at a mere £24.99 a pop. I've put my order in. The Sainsbury's deal expires in a few days time, so act fast.

Game Group ... Boom !

Here's what I said about Game Group back in March 2009:

"They are a games distributor for consoles (e.g. X-Box, Playstation, etc) and their stock is currently trading at 144p. If I was a long-term trader, I would sell their stock..."

Boastful update: The current share price is 92.5p. The broader market (FTSE) is up some 20-25% from this date.

I suffer the remorse, and probably the selective memory.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The early worm catches the cheap suit

- Man that was lucky. I recently bagged two suits from Marks & Spencers for £80, all in, and the deal already seems to have disappeared off the M&S web site. What's more, they fit me just right and don't need any alteration. Suits you sir .... oooh!

- Another money saving/spending tip for buyers of fine bed linens: Head over to Wallace Sacks and you can pick up some high quality Egyptian cotton duvet covers for knock down prices.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Recipe - Procastinator's Omelette

I would rather blog about the omelette I just had for dinner than go through the accountancy notes I'm supposed to be studying. It was a highly bloggable omelette, don't get me wrong, it's just that in recent days I've found every possible excuse not to spend my time learning the art of bean counting. All will revert back, but for now here is the recipe:

The Procastinator's Omelette

- Micowave a bowl of frozen veg (about one and a half fistfuls worth) for a minute and a half. Drain.
- Add s+p, a sprinkle of chili flakes, and dried herbs, and stir together.
- Add two eggs and stir again.
- Pour the mix into a frying pan and cook it up, grilling (or broiling) the top side.

Very simple, very fast, and very tasty., this dish leaves a lot of time for other important matters ... other than bean counting!

Freaky London ... enjoy

(via Kottke)