Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New toys, and birds

So both Magimix and waffle iron arrived yesterday.

I immediately set to making waffles, naturally, using a recipe from Allrecipes.

Not quite what I was expecting - not at all like the Belgian waffles I've had before, but pretty good.

Definitely want to test more recipes though. Anyone have a favourite waffle recipe I can try?

And I made pizza for dinner, using the processor to make the dough and chop everything up. One pizza with spicy sausage, chicken, peppers and olives (using up stuff from the fridge), and one with just peppers and olives. Both were pretty good except I used a little too much tomato sauce on the bases - I was quite pleased in general as I haven't made pizza from scratch since I was in school, and the one I made then wasn't very impressive.

Today's lunch was a savoury waffle sandwich, which was intriguing. My waffle maker makes a round-ish waffle which you can cut into 5 heart shapes - I made one cheesy waffle and cut it in half. Then used the waffle iron to cook an egg, leaving the yolk a little soft. Inserted egg between bits of waffle, along with a slice of processed cheese, the type I refer to as "plastic cheese" - you know the stuff where each slice comes wrapped in plastic, the sort you'd use on a cheeseburger. A little black pepper. Yum!! Will definitely make that again at the weekend, maybe with bacon or sausage as well.

Took Summer out to Linacre with Emma this afternoon, quite a nice afternoon. Loads of birds about, and I got to practice my newly acquired song/call identification skills. We heard a great spotted woodpecker drumming many times, tried to track it down but didn't see it. And got good views of three little grebes calling, two of which were duetting which was cute. And two pairs of goosanders. And Summer is now knackered.

And I've been seeing long tailed tits more often in my garden, seen at least two every day for the last week or so - hopefully it's a pair and they'll stick around and nest nearby!

Fun Monday, but late

Okay, okay, I know it's Wednesday.... but it's still Tuesday somewhere in the world, right?

2) Not sure what my favourite dish is. I like a lot of different foods. But the one most requested is lavender cake, which is a big favourite of my fellow choirpeople.

The dish I make most often is probably the Greek stuffed peppers. Halloumi is one of the nicest things ever, and I love peppers so much that the two of us get through maybe ten a week. Not that I use them all for that dish!

On a completely different note, I experienced my first earthquake earlier.

Yeah, an earthquake in England!!

Wasn't expecting that. I was in the living room, cross-stitching a green woodpecker and watching Sex and the City. It was almost 1am. I heard a noise, a little like when there's a sudden guest of wind which makes the windows rattle. Then a rumbling, and the room shook. I was moved backwards and forwards as I sat on the sofa - the first thing that I thought was that maybe the house was falling down, or that something had hit it, but there was no impact noise. The whole thing lasted maybe 5 seconds, maybe 10, long enough for me to realise what was actually happening, then I went upstairs to the bedroom where Michael had been woken up by it.

Summer got up maybe a second before I heard or felt anything, I'm pretty sure she sensed it in some way. She didn't seem scared but she was definitely disturbed. She settled down again almost straight away afterwards.

10 minutes later and it was being reported on Sky News, with a succession of dull people phoning in to say that they'd been in bed and felt the quake and they'd felt one before in LA and that there didn't seem to be any damage and no-one was out in the street, but a lot of bedroom lights were on. Yawn.

Turns out that it was centred in Lincolnshire, about 55 miles away, and had a magnitude of 5.2 ML. Small potatoes on a worldwide scale, but pretty big for here apparently. At least one person was injured, and there's been some structural damage to chimneys near the epicentre.

Was an experience, certainly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm finally doing Fun Monday again!

Don't know why it's taken me so long.

This week hosted by Mariposa.

Fun Monday is easy, I'll only be asking TWO things -

(1) Please share to us how the NAME of your BLOG was made? I can't wait to hear interesting funny stories!

(2) Please share to us (in words or photo, though a combination of both will be a bonus!) your favorite/ most common dish!


1) Back when I first started blogging, I was on LiveJournal. And technically still am, although I haven't posted for ages. And I needed a funky title, so I settled on Annie and the Spice Rack that Wasn't There.

Annie is my pet name from school, which I hated at first but grew to prefer to Anna. Now I'm happy to respond to either, but tend to refer to myself as Anna because, well, it's my name.

The spice rack bit? I was going for whimsical and a little bit random, but reflective of myself. I have about a million different herbs and spices, but no spice rack. And you know I'm obsessed with food. It just kind of worked.

When I started using my Blogger account, of course I needed a new title. This blog was designed to compliment my LJ which I used for sort of everyday, journally type stuff, while this one would be for my other stuff. Hence Alternative. As I said at the time:

I've decided that I want a second blog. My LiveJournal blog will continue as usual, documenting my day-to-day existance in all its mind-numbing glory.

This one will be reserved for "special" thoughts. Because to be honest, some of the stuff I usually blog is quite interesting and some, frankly, isn't - this way means that those of you who are interested in the more mundane can get your Annie fix over there, and those who require a little more stimulation of one kind or another can get it here.

Some posts will probably appear in both.

2) I actually want to do this, but haven't currently got time, since I need to eat and shower and drag myself off to Sheffield for choir rehearsal. Check back, I'll answer this one tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A visitor and some new possessions

Needing a wee earlier this evening, I saved my Pokémon Diamond game and wandered upstairs to the bathroom.

The light switch, annoyingly, is on the wall outside the bathroom, next to the door. I clicked on the light and pushed open the door.

To be confronted with a small dark fast-moving object with a tail running across the floor. A mouse! It ran behind the cupboard under the sink. It made me jump.

And having on full bladder, that can have an unfortunate effect.

Yes, I did wet myself very slightly.

Not that I mind mice. I'm in no way scared of mice. I just wasn't expecting one!

And on a completely different note, I've ordered myself a shiny food processor, on the advice of Which? magazine and several internet reviews. I've never owned one before. I think it's about time, and the formal has given me the incentive to bite the bullet - it will save me a lot of time during food prep.

The frugal part of me (the bit that channels Michael - I never had a frugal part until I started seeing him) said it was silly to spend the best part of £100 on a food processor when you can get them for £30. But the sensible part of me knows that you get what you pay for with these things. A £30 machine will either break after a while, or just won't perform well, so I'd end up buying a new one anyway. False economy.

I also ordered a waffle iron. £15. Bargain. Because I've never had a real waffle, only the supermarket ones you put in the toaster. Plus I recently found out that you can make savoury waffles! How cool is that??

Both should get here some time this week.

And then I will pig out.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Food, music, and me bitching

So here it is, the menu produced by the lovely Pippa (who is taking me shopping for shoes and make-up for the formal, because I need all the help I can get). How cool is this??

Now I officially can't change my mind about the food I'm serving. Oh well...

While I'm on SingSoc stuff, I can't say I'm 100% happy with the music this semester. A lot of it's just not my kind of thing.

With Socii:
Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell - Bah. Opera. I hate opera. Rob keeps telling me it's not really an opera (I'm not sure why it isn't, to be honest, but I believe him). I haven't heard a single bit of it I like yet, and it isn't endearing me at all to the genre. It's kind of banal random repeated disjointed bits of sentences, hard to follow and the music doesn't seem to "follow" the lyrics at all. I'm fully expecting to yawn throughout the whole performance. Which isn't helping me to learn it, to be honest.
Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi - Yeah, this is okay. Can't say I'm keen on the whole Baroque style, but this is nice so far, and we don't really sound like the recordings I've heard, which is good. Probably we will before the actual performance, not sure how Harriet wants it yet as we're in the note-bashing stage right now.

With the main chorus:
African Sanctus by David Fanshawe - Supposedly a celebration of all faiths, a kind of traditional Latin mass type thing intertwined with traditional African music. It doesn't encompass my faith at all, but then I don't have any. This is the cornerstone of our huge £10k concert to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It jarrs me to be honest, African music's great, and Latin masses are great, but together? It just feels wrong. Plus as a second alto I'm not very happy about the horribly high top As we're expected to sing. It's hard, because I don't know what to expect from it in terms of rhythm and harmony and so am consequently struggling.
Carmina Burana by Carl Orff - I like this one, I've done it before (on no sleep), even though it's rather difficult, especially the fast bits. I especially like how it's not in the slightest bit religious. It's all sex, and drinking, and gambling and fate and not a "deus dominus" or "jesu christe" or "agnus dei" in sight. Plus, there's shouty bits and pretty slower bits and bits that are very catchy. And who doesn't love O fortuna? For those of you who think you don't know it - you do. And here's the proof.

So yeah. I'm hoping I'll grow to like them more as I learn them better. And if I don't... well it's no big deal.

Sorry no London pics yet. Because I still can't be bothered.

Oh, and I finally read the last Harry Potter book the other day. It was okay.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How exciting!!

Pippa sent me a copy of the actual menu for the formal, which looks fantastic. I'm not sure I'm allowed to show it to you, as it hasn't been shown to SingSoc members yet! Maybe after tonight's rehearsal?

Oh, and I've added some recipes here My Recipes at!, and I'll be adding them here as well at some point.

We had a great time in London at the weekend. I'm still organising photos (translation: I haven't even started yet) but I'll get them up as soon as I can be bothered. While you wait (with baited breath, I imagine!), have a raven.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Because I haven't done a meme in ages

You Are a Banana

You are mellow, easy going, and a total softie on the inside.

People find it really easy to get along with you. You suit most tastes.

And while you're very sweet, you're not boring or ordinary.

You have an attraction to the exotic, and you could show up anywhere... doing almost anything!

You are spirited, energetic, and a total kick to be around.

You're also quite funny. Your sense of humor is on the goofy side, and it fits you well.

Stolen from Sayre.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Catering for 50!

I mentioned last year that I'm in charge of the food for SingSoc's formal meal this year (it's in March).

This means, as the title suggests, that I'll be catering for 50.

Which is a bit scary and daunting, but I'm really excited.

You know me, I love cooking, and I really enjoyed cooking under Pete's direction last year, but I've never been in charge of a kitchen before, let alone had to do budgeting and portion control and menu design and all the other essential jobs that go with it. So all new experiences.

The formal will have a Spanish theme, mostly because I fancied having a crack at tapas. I've spent the last two days planning the menus and budgeting for the ingredients (mySupermarket has proved invaluable already, saving me around 15%).

Here's the provisional menu... basically each table will get enough of every dish for everyone to have some, for vegetarians I'll reduce the portions of meat/fish on the table and increase the veggie portions. Far too complicated to ask everyone to order individual dishes. Once I get all the recipes up, they'll all be linked to here. Bout time I posted more recipes anyway.

Lamb meatballs in tomato and pepper sauce
Chicken in lemon and garlic

Salmon in Canary Island green sauce
King prawns with lime

Baked tortilla
Deep-fried manchego cheese
Stuffed garlic mushrooms

Rocket salad
Orange and fennel salad
Roasted pepper salad

Spicy potato wedges
Saffron rice

Orange and mint flaó (Spanish cheesecake)
Fresh fruit

Also bread and marinated olives served with sangria when the guests arrive! Marinating olives is fun and tasty. :)

Good news is that it's inspiring me to get off my arse and do something that isn't watching TV, reading, playing Pokémon or cross-stitching.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hi everyone

So I'm getting a bit disillusioned with blogging at the moment. I think to myself, "I really must blog about that, and catch up with my blogroll, and comment on all the blogs I love." But then I realise that there's a problem with that.

I can't be bothered.

I've got out of the habit of doing all my "internet stuff", and finding it very difficult to get back into it again. It's no reflection on you guys, simply a reflection of the battle I'm currently losing with my own inertia.

And I hate to just come on here and moan about how crap things are, so I won't do that. Just know that I am thinking about all of you and there are quite a few of you that I specifically want to address comments to and reply to, and I will do it eventually.

Just don't anyone mention anything about uni. Because I'm trying very hard not to think about almost certainly having to repeat the year again.

On a completely unrelated note, we're having a little holiday next weekend. We're off to London to see the Lord of the Rings musical, which looks truly awesome. We'll probably spend Saturday doing touristy things, and see the show. More touristy things, come home Sunday night. I want to go to the Tower of London, for one reason and one reason only - ravens! One of my favourite birds, and I'd love to see one closer up.

And I realised that after 7 months, I've still not put up the photos from Scotland last year. I'll get on it. Just give me a minute.