Sunday, 8 August 2010


Well I feel very sad about doing this because for a couple of years Blogger was my home but, well, I think I've pretty much officially moved my two sites together into one on Wordpress.

This is my new site:

I hope all of you find that it's great, because I think it's a lot better than here on Blogger but that's just my personal opinion.

Bye bye Blogger....


Saturday, 15 May 2010

Baking: Lemon Drizzle Cake

Difficulty: Easy

■2 unwaxed lemons
■175g of unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
■200g of self-raising flour
■1/2 teaspoon baking powder
■3 large free range eggs
■175g of granulated sugar (for the sponge)
■100g of granulated sugar (for the icing)

1.Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 900g loaf tin with some butter before lining with baking paper
2.Grate the zest of the two lemons
3.Put the butter, flour, 175g of sugar, baking powder, eggs, and the lemon zest into a large mixing bowl and mix until thick and smooth
4.Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and level off with a pallette knife
5.Bake until golden brown, and the cake bounces back when you press it (this may or may not take more than 35 minutes)
6.Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before placing on to a wire rack and turning it the right way around
7.Squeeze out three tablespoons of lemon juice and mix this with the remaining 100g of granulated sugar to make the crunchy glaze
8.Spoon half of the glaze over the cake and let it dribble down the sides before leaving for 5 minutes. Repeat the process again after this time has passed
9.Leave the cake to set for an hour, until the icing has crystallised

Suggestion: The cake is classically made with lemons, but to give it a twist, why not use oranges or limes instead? You could even make a lemon and lime cake by adding lime zest to the sponge mixture and having a lemon topping!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Erasing David: Common Sense Doesn't Prevail

A couple of nights ago More4 showed "Erasing David" as part of its ever-insightful True Stories strand (for those of you who don't know, True Stories are feature-length documentaries focusing on issues and stories that never make it on to the news).

The idea was that David Bond, the film-maker, would make himself disappear for a month while private investigators did everything they could to find him and catch him before the month was up.

Now, it may seem as if that would be quite easy: just go to another country, mooch around for a bit and then return triumphant. Er, no. The private investigators were able to find out everything about David's family and the man himself, enabling them to track and pre-empt his every move. They knew he was in Brussels, they knew he went to Berlin. They also knew he was in Paris, and so waited patiently for him to arrive at St. Pancras station, although he never materialised (because he took the ferry).

The action was intercut with scenes from the months leading up to David's disappearance, including a visit to a psychologist, an insight into CCTV, a training session with the man who wrote "How To Disappear" and David's piles of information that he'd gathered from private companies and the government. All about him. And his two year old daughter. The piles were shockingly large - Amazon knew that he was feeling angry on a particular day in 2006. Scary. These parts, along with the efforts of the private investigators, were the most illuminating parts of the film.

What was frustrating was the complete incompetence of David - it was like he actually wanted to be found. When he went to Brussels he let a blogger film him and paste the results on the internet for all to see, he visited his father's house, he planned to go to his mother's house and used the internet and his Blackberry on numerous occassions. In my opinion the only thing he did right was to go to Pembrokeshire and hide in a wood hut for a couple of days. He eventually went to a London hospital to keep an ante-natal appointment with his pregnant, and very ill, wife. This is where he was eventually caught after eighteen days - the NHS had given out details of their appointment to the investigators simply because they knew his name and his wife's date of birth. I was surprised it took them that long considering some of David's silly moves.

Still, I guess the actual chase bit wasn't the real point of the documentary - the real purpose was obviously to get us to think more about how we use our data and who's watching it. It was sort of pessimistic but for me it wasn't anything I didn't know anyway. Perhaps David was naive to think that there wasn't a whole boatload of data on him out there, but if you do want some insight on how our private data is used then you should check the film out.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

Makes 18-24 depending on the size of the cookies you make


■125g of softened butter plus extra for greasing
■125g of soft brown sugar (or demerara which gives the cookies extra richness)
■1 beaten egg
■200g of self-raising flour
■Pinch of salt
■125g of chocolate chips (drops)
■50g of brazil nuts (optional)


1.Grease a couple of baking trays with a little butter. If you have greaseproof paper, you could line the trays with this – it works wonders!
2.In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
3.Gradually add the beaten egg to the mixture, beating well after each addition
4.Sift the flour into the creamed mixture and blend well
5.Stir in the chocolate and, if you’re using them, the brazil nuts
6.Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture on to the baking trays – do not put more than six cookies to a tray, and make sure there’s plenty of space between the cookies or they will run into each other!
7.Bake in a preheated oven at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 for 10-12 or until golden brown (you might have to place the cookies on the top shelf to make them cook quickly
8.When cooked, place the cookies on to a wire rack and wait until completely cooked to enjoy!
Suggestions: Once you’re confident with cooking the choc chip cookies, why not try different flavours? Try making double chocolate by adding cocoa powder to the uncooked mixture, or you could add mixed spice and sultanas for a luxurious taste? If you can cook it in a cookie, try it!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Heston's Feasts: Mostly Gastronomical!

For the past five weeks I've been following Channel 4's series "Heston's Feasts" in which science-minded gastronut Heston Blumenthal picks a theme or era for a banquet for six celebs and redesigns the food associated with the topic. So far he's tackled Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory (i.e. the 60s), the Titanic, Gothic Fairy Tales and the 70s and has yet to tackle the 80s.

Every week Heston himself is the star of the show, getting up to strange antics in all sorts of locations as he tries to suss out what recipes are good and bad by testing them on the British public - not all the results are that great. The joy of this part of the program is that he actually sticks entirely to the original recipes, so he's eaten brains and raw blood, the vile stamina-foods of Sir Walter Scott and has eaten a traditional Moroccan camel recipe just like Lawrence of Arabia (that was the bit of the true story obviously left out of David Lean's film!)

Heston then re-imagines these original recipes to make something more exciting and extraordinary... as well as edible - we've been given the delights of the Humpy Meal (camel meat redifined as Happy-Meal-style fast food), the Pot Heston (a non-processed, fun Pot Noodle that's high on nutrition, low on those pesky E-Numbers) and blood risotto (really not as gruesome as it sounds, it's just a posh risotto with a small amount of concentrated blood, or purer black pudding, with some red beetroot dye to make it look devillishly evil).

Heston's ideas are nearly always inventive but sometimes they fall just that little bit short of the mark. In the weakest episode of the series so far, "Heston's Titanic Feast", Blumenthal swaps invention for the notion that he wants to serve the actual meal that the people on the Titanic never got to experience. As a result, his dishes were flat and uninspired and while all of his food must taste phenomenal, it's hard to get the impression of magic just by watching some celebrities fawn over a plate. Basically, when the fun and games aren't there Heston's Feasts turns into a posturing, high-brow show that could easily be found on inferior cooking shows like Masterchef, or even The Restaurant.

Luckily though, that hasn't happened in most of the episodes in this series. While that single episode was tedious to watch, Heston's charm and intelligence are there for all to see - if you can stand some of the slightly sycophantic celebrities and their comments, the gastronomy on the show is brilliant. If you haven't already seen any of Heston's Feasts, please try and see an episode (er, just not the Titanic one!)

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Prince of Persia: Already A Letdown?

Coming soon to a large multiplex cinema near you: Jerry Bruckheimer's take on Prince of Persia:

I have to apologize for the slightly dodgy picture quality here; what I was trying to pull off didn't quite work I'm afraid. Anyway, any film by Jerry Bruckheimer will no doubt have its share of thrills and spills and also a large spoonful of wooden dialogue (including clangers, plus some explanations that we're frankly patronised by) but his films always make for a good night out, right?

Well maybe not if, like me, you're a disgruntled fan of the original Prince of Persia games. First of all, the Prince never had a name, secondly, he wasn't so wooden in the way he talked. No doubt Jake Gyllenhaal can wield a sword very well (he'll have to, otherwise it'll be "Prince of Persia: The Laughable Rogue") and Gemma Arterton as his love-interest Tamina will prove to be a good sidekick. Plus we'll be able to tell who the bad guy is because he'll be the one wearing the most eye-liner. We've got all that, but none of this:

That's right: BEAST BASHING! In Bruckheimer's version, the Prince will not slay a single zombie or kick a demon into the pits of oblivion - all of the enemies are human. To my mind this defies one of the points of Prince of Persia: it's a platformer where you get to kill some inhuman beasties using some flashy swashbuckling moves. It would have been better if, like in the video game, the Prince used the Dagger of Time to stop a zombie or demon from jumping on him. Surely the film needs to have an element of the supernatural in it? Even if the villain eventually turns into that devil-god monster from the fourth installment in the end, at least it'll keep the purists happy.

I suppose if you're not familiar with the game, then you'll enjoy the film as a piece of escapism. If not, well, at least they've got the Prince's clothes right!

Monday, 3 May 2010

My Bank Holiday

I put an excalamtion mark at the end of the post title to make this seem a lot more interesting than it probably has been: basically Bank Holidays are always the same. You've got football on the telly, rubbish TV programmes, the weather's terrible and everyone thinks that it's a good idea to rush to the seaside because, er, that's what you do on a Bank Holiday.

Well, it's been pretty much the same for me. Today was the seaside day, and even though I didn't see much of the beach (because it's absolutely freezing cold out there) I did get my mitts on fish and chips:

Well it's actually a fish cake, which is why it's so round! I have to say that these paticular variety of fish and chips are very delicious - it's a good job that I don't live nearer to where these are made otherwise I'd be the size of a house! I had ice cream too, but I'll have you know that I was good and only opted for a small tub: I'm not the pig I may seem to be!

In other Bank Holiday news, I was so desperate for a game that takes longer than 10 hours to complete (including min-games, collectibles, side-quests and all the rest of it) that I resorted to getting my ancient Nintendo 64 working again:

I decided to start with Donkey Kong, since it's a game I haven't played for ages - I think this game actually holds the record for the amount of collectible items in a single game (including bananas, golden bananas, fairies, battle crowns, blueprints, banana medals, boss keys, oranges, ammunition crates, two special tokens, banana coins, headphones and camera film. That's quite a long list!) Also on the cards to play is the first two Banjo-Kazooie games (Banjo-Tooie is hilarious and also takes an age to complete 100%) and Zelda: Majora's Mask, for me the most criminally underrated in the franchise.

So other than this and blogging it's been a pretty mundane Bank Holiday really. I'll sign off with Beck's "Youthless" a song that's been on repeat for me over the weekend and also has a very simple yet oddly ingenious video: