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I have been a total posting failure of late, despite interesting things having happened. So instead I present three words:

Winter. Spiced. Ribena.

Spotted in the Co-op on Thursday. It's the Ribena version of mulled wine, and it is fabulous.

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Thanks to ChrisC for pointing out to me that it was the fiftieth anniversary of Aberfan today. Actually, what he said was "do you know anything about Aberfan?"

Yes. )
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Annoyingly, I can't make this (for reasons of a tedious being-an-adult nature), but if you're in London and like photography...

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/southwark-cathedral-photography-evening-tickets-28420767280

(FAO [livejournal.com profile] d_floorlandmine?)

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Badge win. My badge (which I'm wearing as part of a TfL trial, to advertise that I need a seat on the tube) demonstrably worked at least twice today!

Seats on offer... )

My journey in this morning (which was hilarious in its own right, due to failed signals and misinformation - in place of one Central line train I took three Districts, two Piccadillys, a Victoria and a Central and was monstrously late for work) featured some definite badge events...

A man leapt from his seat as I boarded the tube. And it was District, which means no step to board, so I think the badge would be the only indication that I'm walking-impaired. I felt rather guilty, as he was holding a baby, but he assured me it was fine and handed the baby off to someone else (I assume she was with him...)

On one of the other tubes, a guy got up but without obviously looking at me, so I'm not sure he hadn't just decided to stand up anyway. On another, one of the other standees offered to go and ask for a seat for me (I declined her offer). And on at least another two tubes people ignored me totally - though I think I perhaps could have positioned myself better to be more visible.

This evening, a lady beckoned me over to take a seat she would presumably otherwise have taken herself. Again, I think only the badge would suggest I had any more need of a seat than she did.

So I'd say this badge is definitely working well for me today!

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It may surprise people who know me to hear that I watch The Great British Bake Off. Yes, I know everyone and their biscuit-loving dog watches it, but I am famous for my non-TV-watching. I do, I admit, watch it in a slightly half-hearted way (I'm at least a week behind) but for me that's a pretty major commitment.

I am perhaps less famous for my massive love of Viennese whirls. So when (several weeks ago now) they featured as a Technical Challenge[*], I watched it and figured that it didn't look all that difficult at all, really. This was just before my knee went all icky and peculiar, so I felt I probably had enough walking in me to make Viennese whirls.

So I set a timer for 90 minutes and headed to the kitchen. The GBBO contestants had only just squeaked in under the hour-and-a-half time limit, and I had been surprised. Surely it couldn't take that long? The challenge was to make 12 "sandwiches" (two biscuits, glommed together with butter cream and jam) having made everything (including the jam) from first principles.

On the plus side, I'd watched the programme so had heard the experts' advice, and I had a rather fuller version of the recipe from the BBC website. I didn't have a pair of highly critical judges waiting to get on my case, and I didn't have camera crews, tension or drama to contend with. And I was in my own, familiar kitchen.

On the minus side, I didn't have everything nicely laid out for me and would have to locate ingredients and equipment as I went. And I'm not actually any great shakes as a baker. So I figured it would all even out, and 90 minutes was a fair challenge.

ChrisC did try to make it fairer by sporadically getting in the way, pushing a camera in my face, asking daft questions and providing corny jokes. Mercifully, it turned out he wasn't actually filming so the footage is not available ;)

I started making my raspberries into jam, and hit the first snag: GBBO contestants never suddenly realise that some terrible shopping list omission means they have run out of granulated sugar. Well, it's only jam. Soft brown will surely work just as well. Actually, the recipe called for "jam sugar". Sod that - (a) I don't have any, and (b) jam in my house gets made with granulated. Or, of course, soft brown if that's what there is.

Maybe if I'd used jam sugar (which I believe has added pectin) the "boil for 4 minutes" would have even been accurate. As it was, it took more like 20 before the jam showed the least inclination to set. Dammit. Behind schedule already.

(As a side note, in this case I would have been much better off with the sketch-recipe given to actual contestants, which just said "make jam". Instead, I followed the detailed directions without registering that it asked for 25% more sugar than I would have put in. It also made considerably more than was needed, so now I have a large quantity of outrageously sweet jam.)

Next up: make, pipe and bake biscuits. That icing sugar box looks rather empty. Oh dear. I'm pretty certain that Viennese whirls' sugar requirements are quite specific. I looked rather dejectedly in the Spare Things Cupboard and found that for once the commissariat was functioning correctly, and there was a new box waiting.

Then we hit snag 2. Ordinarily, my approach is that if I've made some biscuits then you can have one if you'd like, but you don't get to complain if they're a bit mis-shapen or different sizes. But I was playing by the rules here, so that meant 24 "identical" biscuits, and that they had to be piped rather than dolloped.

I dug out a piping bag, and a star nozzle, and realised very quickly that my star nozzle (size unspecified) is not "medium". It's designed for piping little fiddly icing bits, not biscuits. No amount of violence was going to get the biscuit dough out of that nozzle in a coherent manner. Ah well, I'll just use the piping bag as is, without a nozzle. So my biscuits were not as beautifully swirled as your average GBBO judge demands.

I made the butter cream while they were in the oven. I took them out, and fanned them and glared at them, and at around the 80 minute mark made a decision. I couldslap the butter cream and jam in them and be done in 90 minutes. But they were too warm, still, and the butter cream would melt. So I decided just to accept I'd very slightly failed, went and had tea, and then assembled them later (again, without the requisite star nozzle for the butter cream).


Then Cathy came round with a bottle of vinho verde, which turned out to go beautifully with Viennese whirls :)

Conclusions:
1. I am not the stuff of which GBBO contestants are made.
2. I really do not care that much about presentation so long as something tastes nice.
2a. Apparently neither do my guests (or perhaps they are just polite).
3. I actually prefer Viennese whirls as plain biscuits, without the jam and butter cream.



[*] Note for anyone who actually isn't familiar with GBBO: it's a competitive cookery show. Each week there is a section where the contestants have to make a particular item, for which they haven't been able to prepare, from very minimalist instructions.

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Day 220: additional

Yesterday was the first day, since the accident in February, that I went to work without a stick.

I was a bit sore and limpy on the way from tube to car on the way home. And I had to peel a snoozy suit off the handrail so I could get off the tube on the way in. But mostly successful, I think.

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I've been intending for ages to write up another entry covering where I am in the great Knee Injury Saga. This is principally for my own future reference, and I don't recommend it for your reading entertainment.

The short version: I'm recovering from the surgery, but considerably more slowly than hoped/expected. I don't have a particular timeline for when I can expect to be back in going order. I am mildly fed up ;)

The longer version... Contains the odd icky bit...

Day 220 )

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Apparently there is a Thing going round. I hadn't seen it, but then I saw [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon's answer and requested a year. He kindly furnished 2011, so here we go:

My life in 2011 and 2016 )

Comment if you'd like a year of your own to nostalge about!
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Following on from my last post, TfL have agreed to let me take part in their trial of a "please offer me a seat" badge scheme for use on public transport.

Thus far (having only filled in a questionnaire), I'm quite impressed with their attitude. The survey came with a variety of accessibility options to make it easier to read/respond to (I can't comment on their quality, because I didn't elect to use any of them). When explaining the concept behind the scheme, it went out of its way to point out that there are all kinds of reasons you might feel you need a seat when travelling, including things like hearing impairments and mental health conditions.

It wanted my gender and ethnicity (which, when the trial is going to be all about the attitudes of other travellers, may well be relevant factors so I didn't mind them asking). I was offered six choices for my gender (female, male, trans. female, trans. male, other and prefer-not-to-say). I don't know if that list could be easily improved, but feel it's way better than the usual binary (with a possible "no comment" if you're lucky). And I got a freeform text field for "name and title" rather than a restrictive title dropdown - as it was, I elected not to have a title at all. The name'll do for posting.

So, the actual badge and card scheme may turn out to be rubbish, but I feel fairly well-disposed towards them so far.
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If you are a user of the London Underground, but find it difficult to stand for reasons that are not outwardly visible, then TfL are trialling a "please offer me a seat" badge scheme.
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It's a long shot...

Does anyone in vaguely plausible car-range have a static exercise bike that they would be willing/able to lend me for a few weeks?

(Or, I suppose, one of those Thingies that converts a real bike, though I don't think they're very common.)

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[Poll #2050657]

Why yes, the day's work has left me mildly hysterical, thank you for asking.
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Today (day 156 in the ongoing knee saga) I went back to the hospital to have my stitches out. They are now out, and that (plus absence of dressings) makes it rather easier to bend my leg. The consultant reports that everything seems to be healing well and exactly to plan.

Which is good news. But nowhere near as good news as the following:

1. I can stop wearing the anti-DVT stockings. If anyone ever suggests you wear very thick, ultra-tight, full-length elastic stockings in a July heatwave, try to be in a position to say "no" without risking horrible clotty death.

2. I can get my leg wet, which means baths are permissible again.

Yay.

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Help me, o LJ.

Next week is the birthday of a small girl of my acquaintance. She'll be 6.

I haven't seen her in a year, and am not sure what she'd like (requests for advice from parents have not yet produced results). Last year she was all about pink stuff and craft supplies. However, shopping is a bit difficult at present, so I'm tempted by the idea of sending her money or a voucher.

If one is turning 6, what voucher would suit? Where would one wish to shop? Am I overestimating the consumer-awareness of today's kids? It was all book tokens in my day, but I don't think she's a huge reader. I'm not sure whether she has an iThing, so don't know if iTunes is the right answer.

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Today I am drinking my accidentally-invented easy homemade lemonade.

The Discovery )

The Lemonade )
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Earlier today I was reading on Wikipedia about "paresthesia". Have you ever suffered paresthesia? I imagine you have, it's the proper name for pins-and-needles.

Nuns and poodles )

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Just in case you thought I'd resumed normal posting, fear not! The knee injury saga continues...

This entry describes me being in hospital. It's not especially graphic, but it does contain references to medical stuff and illness and post-operative issues. If you'd rather avoid that kind of thing, then the short version is that the operation was successful and I'm home now.

Day 142-143 )
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Imagine yourself in a situation where you are feeling very nauseous, but wish to eat something. (Perhaps because of medical advice, perhaps because you know it will make you feel better, perhaps because of medication - whatever situation might make that set of circumstances true for you.)

Now, o LJ, tell me...

[Poll #2049789]

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