Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On oggies

Thanks to my mum, I have two pasties in the fridge.

No, she didn't make them. I did. She just gave me the hints I needed to get them right.

Pastry: 8oz flour, 4oz butter, a pinch of salt and enough water.

Sift the flour into a bowl, grate the frozen butter into it (yes, that's right, the butter should be frozen; this is how my mum does it, and So Mote It Be), and use a spoon or similar to mix gently until all the shavings of butter are covered in flour. Add the salt and mix a bit more, then add the water slowly until the pastry comes together as a solid ball. Then, set it aside in the fridge for later. Doing it in the morning is a good idea.

Filling: enough good beef (skirt is best, decent steak is good enough, stewing steak tends not to be), a reasonable amount of finely chopped onion, a chunkily diced potato, and about as much diced swede (rutabaga, if you prefer) as you have potato.

Also needed: a beaten egg.

Roll out the pastry to thin and big enough (this recipe is for two good-sized pasties) and try to get it as close to circular as you can. You'll need to have floured the work surface. Now brush beaten egg around the edge, and then start filling: put a layer of onion, then swede, potato, and then meat on the half that's furthest from you, and then do it again. Now you want freshly ground black pepper, salt, and a pinch of flour and some butter. Now comes the tricky part: folding the thing closed. You'll need to stretch the pastry, and get it to meet around the edge. Now comes the crimp, which is something with a knack to it. You need to pull out the sealed edge and then roll it over on itself. Start from the right, and when you reach the left, fold the remainder over back towards the start. Now do all this again as many times as you're making pasties.

Finally, place the pasties on a greased baking sheet, cut a small slit in the top of each for ventilation, and brush them with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 Fahrenheit, then reduce to 325 and give them another 40 minutes. Serve on their own, and enjoy!

Oggy is Cornish for pasty. The chant of "Oggy oggy oggy" is all the Cornish most people know, and some of those think it's Welsh or Australian. Which reminds me, I must have a word with Tappy...

On gaps

Yes, I've been slack in updating. However, monstrous Faire to-do lists have been kicking my arse, and there's been little to nothing worth blogging about. Yesterday, though, I got to go out (to a not particularly nice neighbourhood; I was actually quite glad cameras, recording devices and cellphones were banned, since that meant zero risk of their being stolen there) and put my fingerprints on file for the US Government. Also, last week was quite busy.

Last week, I was in Northern California, looking for apartments with the LA; we found a good one, and we've got first refusal on it. We also spent some time with the LA's brother, who's a game programmer with Krome Studios. You'll probably hear of them soon; think Star Wars and the Wii. We went to the theatre to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, and enjoyed it (even the parts involving a piano-accordian). However, that's about it, really.

Finally, ducklings are very, very cute.

Monday, April 14, 2008

On hobbies

Ooof. I am tired. Of course, given what my weekend contained, this is only to be expected; when you dress in upholstery fabric and go out to walk around and be funny at people in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, for 9 hours each day, it's only natural that your weekend will be a little draining.

You see, I work Renaissance Faire. This is distinctly fun, gets me out and making an arse of myself all weekend, is about as organised as a teenager's bedroom (two weekends have passed, and we're only just getting our badges (I'm a Constable; think Keystone Kops, Police Academy, Naked Gun, and any other incompetent cop you've ever seen), I've only just gotten the wording and layout done for the warrant cards (next job: hit an office supply store for some good cardstock to print them on and some means of cutting them), we don't have licenses printed up yet (anything we can ticket you for, you can bribe us for a license for - the correct bribe is a quarter, and you get five nickels change. Half a dollar will get you a quarter and five nickels, and so on (and I'll keep the half-dollar, because they're cool)) and we have very few gigs set up. On the other hand, we do have the hang of it now), and really whoops me. It has also subjected me to more Boggardy in four days than the previous four years, really tested my ability to stay on my feet all day (Dr Scholl, I love you and would volunteer to have your babies), and gotten me appraised as a useful person by a self-proclaimed asshole.

But I do hope the temperatures stay in double digits next weekend. If they do climb as high again as they did this weekend, I'm going to grab a zippy bag, fill it with ice and put it in my hat, with a towel to provide insulation and hopefully prevent the temperature mismatch from taking me down.

And I have a monster to-do list for next weekend.

You always know that the ONLY time you ever get it right is closing weekend, right when you're finally used to it and could keep going forever.

If you're in Southern California, stop by. It's a fun weekend day out, in a nice place (aside from the dust; by the end of a weekend, participants can sell their used tissues as fine-grit sandpaper) for not a huge amount of money (assuming you window shop, anyway; buying stuff can be crazy expensive) and we don't bite.

That costs extra. Just ask at the Bell.

EDIT: This is how freaking hot it was:
Oooey gooey goodness

Friday, April 11, 2008

On seafood and unrelated topics

I am the usual cook for our household. The LA doesn't really have time to cook, nor does she enjoy cooking, whereas I find it fun and have plenty of time to cook. However, this does mean that we regularly have to buy ingredients. One of our favoured sources of protein is shrimp. We tend to go for Contessa, if only because nobody else seems to do any small shrimp, uncooked, shell and tail off. This mystifies me; what exactly is the appeal of making it harder to get at the lovely tasty meat by leaving the chitinous exoskeleton in place? Could anyone please explain to me the appeal of having to faff about peeling your shrimp before using them? Do bear in mind that I tend to produce fork meals, rather than finger food...

In other news, I have been conducting a small-scale experiment on our two cats. We own two litterboxes, identical but for colour, and both are in use (ideally, we ought to have a third somewhere, since the rule of thumb is that n cats ought to have n+1 litterboxes available, but this is a small apartment). The one in the living room had been getting far more traffic than the one in the bathroom (trust me, you get to know this when you're the one that does most of the scooping), and we were wondering if it were due to the fact that it's white and the bathroom one was purple. The day before yesterday, I pulled off a full-on Cleaning of the Litterboxes, involving dumping out all the litter, soaking them, scrubbing them and generally discovering just how much my back dislikes bending over the bath. In the process, I decided that the litterboxes would swap places.

The purple litterbox is now consistently getting more traffic. So, for cats, as for houses, the key is Location, Location, Location...

You may also have noticed that the LA now has a blog. Be nice to her, please?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On currency reform

There is a campaign to demonetise and remove from circulation the US cent coin.

I have one objection:

Friday, April 4, 2008

On dating

To the beachfront last night with the LA, for dinner and entertainment. We started with Fun On The Bus, when the machine ate the $5 bill (one of the new ones) and didn't add $5 of value to the card. We wound up with a credit for a refund for $5 less two fare, and found that the transit store was closed... that's going to be fun to figure out. We then repaired to the Apple store, in an attempt to find a type of cable they no longer carry (blast you, USB; FireWire is better!), and then it was time for dinner.

We headed off to get scampi and chips, in the British style - and it was accurate! Then it was through to the pub section, where I found that even though they do over-chill their London Pride, it is hand-raised. Also, a suitable way to handicap a darts leg is to play 301, straight in, and allow the less-talented player to go straight out, while the better player must double out. The LA ran me very close using this handicap...

Next time, we're going earlier.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On perspective

I'm reconsidering my objection to credit cards. You see, when I turned on the TV to watch what had been recorded, there was an advert for Cashcall on. I've seen such adverts before, but this time I actually hit the "pause" button when the wall of text explaining just how shafted you're going to be came up.

I saw that you will be FAR more shafted than I believed was even legal. The standard APR of their loans is 99.25%. Yes, that's almost 100% interest. They gave an example loan as well: borrow $2600, pay a $75 arrangement fee, make 42 monthly payments of $218.65. Total paid back: $9258.30. That is more than three and a half times the loan, over 3.5 years. If you're so short that you need a $2600 loan in the first place, you cannot afford this. I cannot for the life of me understand why this is even legal, why the company is allowed to advertise on daytime TV (the chosen pablum of the "acquire now, pay later" set, without any understanding of what such offers entail and a conviction that there really IS a free lunch, and it's being advertised on TV), how they get away with putting all this "you'll be shafted" info in a wall of text that's on screen for maybe half a second (I read stupendously fast, and I can't read it; their target audience wouldn't have a chance), and how the directors of the company can sleep at night.

I think I'd rather borrow money from the Mafia than that lot. At least the Mafia are honest about being criminals.

So, in the grand scheme of things, as long as you're sensible, credit cards are Not That Bad.