Thursday, November 14, 2013
Thursday, October 3, 2013
|I'll have a new one of these soon. Mine won't be courtesy of The Telegraph though, like this photo is.|
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Here is my entry to the competition. It weighs in at 300 words exactly, although it was originally quite a bit more. Apologies if there are now bits which don't make sense, though I think I've made it so there are not.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
|A picture of Voyager 1, courtesy of www.space.com|
Thursday, September 12, 2013
My usual breakfast is a bowl of Tesco Value Cornflakes, drowned in about a pint of milk. I think the flakes are made by collecting the dust which falls from the overalls of the factory workers and squishing it together with a bit of glue. But at 31p for a big box that lasts me a week, I can't really complain about their relative lack of quality.
This morning I thought it'd be nice to have something a little less dull.
Pancakes are ace. Everyone KNOWS this to be true, and yet most people in this country still insist on eating them just once a year. This is one area where Americans are better than us. They understand that pancakes are not just for using up the flour, sugar and eggs before lent. Pancakes can, and should, be eaten whenever the mood takes us.
Quick. Cheap. Tasty. What's not to love?
Here's a recipe which my mum gave me, for Scotch pancakes. I don't know where she got it from originally, I just remember it being scrawled on a Post-It note in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. It's probably the exact same recipe as everyone else already uses, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway.
9oz self raising flour
2oz caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Put all the ingredients, apart from the milk, in a big bowl, like this:
Now, add a bit of milk. Not too much. You want the batter to be quite thick, so take it easy. A little splash, then do some whisking. Like this:
You're aiming for a batter which is thick enough to drop off the end of the whisk slowly, but which does drop off. Like this:
The bottle of wine in the background is for when you add too much milk and need to drown your sorrows.
Once the batter is the right consistency (or it's the wrong consistency, but you're drunk enough that you don't care) you're ready to make the pancakes.
I use our Cuisinart sandwich press/contact grill/cook everything thing, heated to 180 degrees centigrade. If you haven't got something like that, just heat up a big non-stick frying pan with a good flat area. Don't use a wok. That would be silly.
Pour the batter onto whatever hot thing you're using. A blob about 6cm across will spread out to make a good size pancake:
Leave them on the hot thing until bubbles start appearing and popping on the surface of the pancakes:
Once those bubbles are there it's time to flip them over. They ought to look something like this:
You should have enough batter to make about 12-14 pancakes. Depending on how gluttonous you are this will serve anywhere between one and four people.
Once all the pancakes are cooked pile them on a plate while you cook some bacon.
Stack the pancakes on top of one another, with the bacon sandwiched between them. Pour some (lots of) maple syrup over the top. If you're feeling particularly healthy, as I was this morning, maybe pop a little bit of butter on the top of the stack too.
Here's what mine looked like this morning, just before I devoured it:
Hot damn. That's a good breakfast.
In the unlikely event that you don't want bacon with them, these also go really well with some fresh berries, or you can throw a handful of dried fruit into the batter before you cook them. Whatever really, the pancakes themselves are just the start. They're definitely a better start than a bowl of nasty cornflakes.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
|Poor people's TVs can only show Jeremy Kyle. True fact.|
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
The 90s were a bit of a funny decade, from what I remember. In the early part of it, lots of people lost their jobs, lost their homes and went to big parties in fields. All three of those things were probably a bit shit, but the last one was made good by little tablets which made everyone think the 90s were great.
Then, in 1997, everything changed. You probably know what I'm talking about. The dawn of a new era. A paradigm shift in the way we lived.
Not Tony Blair and New Labour.
|Look at them. Awe inspiring, no? (Photo courtesy of http://www.pop-music.com)|
Remember those guys (and girls)? Inspiring lyrics, easy to copy dance routines, brain achingly uplifting. Wow. Momentous.
I think Steps were probably aware of how much of a game changer they were, which is why they decided to be called Steps. See, steps (without the capital letter) are a bit of a game changer themselves, and they're currently changing the game in my house.
Yes. The boy is walking. A bit. Sort of. He's quite good at falling over. And very good at tentatively letting go of things, taking two faltering, carefully considered paces, then dropping to his knees.
Both my wife and I were present for his first go at it (well, we're happy to assume it was his first go...) and it is one of those moments that reminds you how magical it is to be a parent. A big moment. A window into how things will be from now on.
Soon, we won't be crawling around the floor with him, chasing him out from under the table and watching him laugh as he leads us through gaps which we are really too big to get through. Walking is big. Walking is one of the things which makes us unique as a species (I know there are other bipeds, feel free to not point that out...).
Those first steps are a literal and figurative move toward a whole new chapter in our son's life. Unlike Steps, I think this will be a good chapter.
Monday, July 15, 2013
It's not just about sausages and burgers for me; anything you can cook in a normal oven you can cook on a barbecue, it's just about knowing how.
Some food tastes better from a barbecue than it can ever taste done in an oven, and I want to share one of those things here: pulled pork.
It's a long time favourite in the US barbecue belt, and it's becoming very popular in the UK too. I've been doing it for the last couple of years now, it's simple, easy and delicious.
My recipe is adapted from the Weber Complete Barbecue Book, which you should buy if you want to progress from incinerating sausages.
Here we go then.
1 Pork shoulder joint - a 2.5-3kg one will serve about eight people, generously.
2 tbsp mild chilli powder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp sea salt
4 teaspoons garlic granules
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ground celery seeds
1 teaspoon mustard powder
275ml tomato ketchup
175ml cider vinegar
100ml lemonade (not diet)
50g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of your favourite hot sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 big soft white rolls
A big tub of coleslaw, or make your own (I can't usually be bothered...)
How You Do It:
First off, if you don't have a smoker, you can do this in an oven. It won't have the benefit of being smoked, but it will still be tender and lovely. It just won't be quite as lovely, and you can't pretend to be a Good Ol' Boy in North Carolina while you're cooking. Sorry, that's just how it is.
Mix all the ingredients for the rub together in a small resealable tub, like this:
|All ready to rub your meat. Fnarr.|
|A big lump of pig. Skinned.|
|Pulled pork on a roll. Oh yes.|
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
"Am I big enough to know how small I am?" - Babyhead
Friday, June 28, 2013
Yesterday, I made my son cry.
My beautiful, perfect, delicate little boy. I scared him, and I made him cry.
“So what?” you may be thinking. “Big deal? Kids cry all the time.”
Yes. They do. My son is no exception to this rule. He cries when I try to clean his face after a meal. He cries when I put him down for a nap. He cries when I get him up from a nap. He cries when I stop him chewing on the business end of a can of athletes foot spray (how dare I?) He cries for seemingly no reason at all.
He is very good at crying when he hurts himself. His mouth goes from its usual wide crescent smile into a downturned trapezium as he emits a primal sound which leaves no doubt as to its meaning: “that thing I just did really, REALLY hurt”.
It was in the process of trying to prevent one of those cries that I managed to make him cry myself. My vicarious fear for him causing himself pain transferred into real fear for him.
I feel lucky, and fortunate, to be able to say that in Cam’s year and a bit on Earth I’ve rarely had to shout at him. Actually, I’ve never HAD to shout at him. I’ve chosen to a couple of times. The times when the dark cloud of frustration comes over me and I wish with all my heart that he would stop doing whatever it is he’s doing. Just for a moment. Please. Stop winding me up.
But those occasions are few. And mercifully so. How easy it is for me to forget that my boy is tiny, and I am large? That he can be loud, but that I can be so much louder? That his actions may frustrate and irritate me, but that mine may terrify him?
Whoever designed folding doors clearly did not have children. Or hated children. Tiny gaps between wooden panels are seemingly irresistible to tiny fingers which are exploring the world for the first time. Cam has recently discovered the tiny gap, which can be peered through for “peepo” purposes. Soon, the peering gives way to pushing a tiny index finger through. At the same time, a barely perceptible shift in his position means the door begins to close.
The tiny gap gets tinier.
The finger remains.
The finger remains.
I move my foot into the path of the closing door, stopping the immediate danger. But I am trapped. Sat on the opposite side of the door to him and unable to move to his side without removing my foot and allowing the door to close completely.
I push his finger from the gap.
He immediately replaces it.
I push it away again.
He laughs. It’s a game now.
I wish he could talk. Wish he could understand EVERYTHING I say to him, not just “what noise does a pig make?” He can’t though.
He is in a giggling, ecstatic state. He bounces in excitement. This game is fun!
All I can think of is a tiny, crushed index finger and a frantic drive to hospital. This game is not fun.
I shout, because it is the only weapon I have left: “Cameron! No! DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGER IN THE GAP!”
The laughing stops. The finger remains. The smile is uncertain.
The finger is withdrawn. The bottom lip curls and trembles. The eyes well up. The noise begins its journey from his vocal cords to the atmosphere. His eyes question me: “who are you?”
I leap up and remove him from the vicinity of the door. The bastard, bastard door. I hold him tight and stroke his hair. I whisper comfort into his ear. Tell him I love him. Tell him I am sorry. Tell him I never want to scare him.
Ten minutes later we are playing happily together again. I hope he has forgotten all about it. That I am back to being the person who hugs him, tickles him, reads him bedtime stories in the softest tones I can muster. I hope that he is not afraid of me.
I consider smashing the door from its hinges.
I hope I never make my son cry again.
Monday, June 24, 2013
I went to that there London on the weekend, to that there The Brewery, for that there Britmums Live! blogging conference ting!
Five hundred odd people, including about fifteen men, descending on Londontown to spend a day and a half talking about blogging stuff. And other stuff. Also drinking. Oh yes. Drinking.
I met fellow dad blogger Ben from Mutterings of a Fool on the train (strength in numbers, see) and we chatted away the journey into the Smoke. Ben knew exactly where he was going, because he is a proper man who can navigate London. I just followed him, feeling exceptionally glad I hadn't had to brave much of the public transport on my own.
We had a pre-conference beer with a few fellow bloggers (three men, about forty women at this point). The third member of our Y-chromosome triumvirate was Tom Briggs, who I've wanted to meet ever since he was kind enough to give me my FIRST EVER comment on this blog. Anyway, he's a thoroughly nice chap. You'd like him. Katy Hill liked him enough to sit next to him at the Friday night award ceremony, and if he's good enough for her, I dare say he's good enough for you.
Anyway, prior to the awards there was some conference gubbins in the afternoon. Prior to that I had my photo taken to appear in a national newspaper. Y'know. As you do. No big thing. Also in the photo were Darren from One Dad Three Girls (also lovely) and the BEAUTIFUL daughter of Me and the Tiny Three. She was lovely. So was her mum. Sensing a theme yet?
Our little group expanded to include the frankly awesome Lizzie (@eliza_do_lots), who has many websites, including this one, the absolutely delightful Lara Golden (@APluckyHeroine) who blogs over here, and the equally delightful, totally hilarious in person and on her blog Hannah Smith from www.mamabearwithme.co.uk.
I didn't feel I took all that much away from the sessions on the first day, the exception being Pippa from Story of Mum, who gave a great talk on storytelling. It was really good stuff. Also, guess what? She was lovely!
We bunked off the last session, like naughty school kids. Naughty school kids who wanted to check into their budget accommodation and try to quickly eat some food. We only managed the first of those things. Oops.
Awards happened, some extremely talented bloggers stood up and accepted some shiny things, lots of clapping, several glasses of prosecco, white wine, and red wine. Katy Hill was badgered into following me on Twitter six minutes after I tweeted that I didn't actually know who she was. AWKWARD.
We fleetingly met lots of other people (who aren't getting hyperlinks, because I'm tired now) and then decamped to the pub, where we met Andy Harris (a man who trusted me enough to take my advice on what bike seat to purchase, which was nice) of Always Time for Biscuits and the vision of beauty that is Ella Shaw from Trying My Patients. Fucking. Hot. Saynomore.
We were soon joined by EXCELLENT dad blogger Sam Coleman (@DustandLove) who made the effort to come and see us even though he hadn't been to the conference itself. I'm truly glad he did. Great chat. Great beard. Great blog.
There were more people than I've listed there, and they were all just totally great. It was like meeting up with old friends, yet aside from one person I had never met any of them before. There were laughs, there were hugs, there were surprises, there was even some drooling.
No dinner until I managed to order in pizza at about 12:20am. More bloggers in the hotel bar. More great chat. More. More. More.
It. Was. Fantastic.
The following morning, with its five am wake up call from some bastard in a tower crane, wasn't quite as fantastic. But it was okay. Cooked breakfast. Lots of water. Lots of tea. Reconvening at the conference venue. Better sessions on the second day (still not all brilliant though). Meeting more online friends in real life (special mention for @SonyaCisco and @glosswitch, two of my absolute favourite bloggers).
A bit of a blub over some of the blogger keynotes, and the conference was done.
I went and got some proper barbecue at Bodean's then met up with the few remaining delegates in a bar for more booze. Among them, ace new blogger Ruth who writes A Pencil Skirt and is just as funny in person. I spent much of the evening catching up with Annie (www.mammasaurus.co.uk). She also squeezed my bum and told me about hitting seagulls in her car. Good times!
Fate brought me and Her Royal Hotness Ella Shaw back together to finish the evening, as well as gorgeous Julie from www.mamaowl.co.uk. More excellent chat and more tasty drinks. A general sense of all round winning.
So, yeah, in summary: Britmums Live, really good, especially the bits that weren't really anything to do with Britmums Live.
I hope I won't have to wait until next year to see everyone again.