December 2008


Squid are one of the most amazing creatures in the ocean, they’re smart, they’re curious, they can camoflage themselves, and… they’re extremely delicious. Which is probably why Russell Brown’s friend Kerry pestered me to put up this post! Kerry, apologies for this taking so long, seafood was kept of the menu by Chef Du Plunge.

A further great thing about squid is that with the decimation of the world’s stocks of predator fish (like tuna), squid are abundant. It’s therefore our illogical duty  to bring balance to the force, and eat many, many squid.

Cuttlefish are a closely related species that differs mainly in the arrangement of the swim-fins. In Melbourne I learned cleaning these things on cuttlefish, but the difference isn’t too great.

So, what do you look for in a squid? The one pictured is from Moore Wilsons and cost a whopping $3.30. As you’ll see, it’s easily enough to be the protein in a meal for two.

What you’ll need is about half a kilo of squid, a sharp knife, and an apron. This is a messy business.

The thing to look for when selecting a squid or cuttlefish is the colour around the swim-fins. If it is too yellow, and not a translucent white, then the animal has been frozen and defrosted too long. This makes it risky, and less tasty. Also, if you’re cleaning the squid and the gut stinks, and I mean *really* stinks, then it’s probably bad. Take my advice and cut your losses now.

Back in the kitchens the squid was sometimes so fresh its skin still shimmered through different colours… poor, delicious little blighters.

And we’re off!

(more…)

In a word, tedious. Underneath the Victorian racism and faux-socialism there might have been an interesting story here, and there is certainly some science fiction in there that is now science-fact (for instance television, a lengthy discourse on powered flight, state propaganda, and something like radio, written about in 1899), but not enough to make this a good read.

The Sleeper Awakes reads in a similar fashion to Brave New World. It is clipped, poorly characterised, and very much a product of its generation. In other words, a vehicle for some pretty fantastic and big ideas. Wells was visionary, but here he has missed the mark, a point he concedes in the preface.

I got about 2/3 of the way through before I had simply to give up. And it’s a pity, because this had the potential to make some very interesting comments about the nature of the industrial revolution, capitalism, and the transformation of society. But the Victorian lens was too distorting.

Check it out!

This grows on the doorstep of Second Chef’s parents’ place.

This, is a yellow pohutukawa southern rata. I’ve never heard of one of these, let alone seen one.

Somewhere on the web there will be a recipe for making the BBQ pork buns, but who has time for that just at the minute? A man needs sustenance though, and you can buy these buns by the 8 from the Waitangi Markets for about $8. That’s some good snacking.

Now you could just micorwave these things, but where is the fun in that?! Plus, microwaving always creates an unevenly warmed bun. Which I always find is a bit of a tongue-burning minefield…

I’m making two of these, in these handy little bamboo steam baskets from a local “Asian” market.

This literally takes five minutes, and the buns come in different varieties, including red bean (i.e. vegetarian) (more…)

Well, Happy Christmas from here in the kitchen at Object Dart. This year we’re planning on enjoying the obligatory, ham, lamb and chicken for Christmas.

Life wouldn’t be the same without it.

So travel well, be safe, and see you all out and about again in the New Year. I’ll still be posting here, but I’m not supposing anyone will actually read anything until at least Jan 5! :)

And here’s this year’s Christmas video. Something that should be a fine old tradition in years to come.

2008 has been a little like this:

oh, and because I saw this when looking for the above, and because it n my top-10 songs of all time.

I read Herald.co.nz regularly, so was unsurprised to see the following screen present itself to me.

What we have here in this very bad screen grab is a big heading saying, “Recession deepens with latest GDP result”. The article is here. Directly next to that is a cheery Christmas picture with the caption, “Lighting up the world for Christmas”.

You can bet all those lights were bought from China!

Who says you can’t have accidental irony.

(Oh, in case you’re wondering, the country is going broke because of the amount of crap we’re buying from overseas…)

I’m trying to write fewer reviews, but this one was such a surprise I thought I’d better share it.

Escapement is a steampunk/fantasy novel set in 1901 planet Earth. But… and there’s always a but, the world is girded by a massive wall that circles the equator. The Victorian Empire, ascendent in the West, is trying to drill a hole through the wall to find the undiscovered Southern Lands, but they’re opposed by the “magic” of the colossal brasswork in the sky.

So naturally you have lots of British Redcoats and Fuzzy-wuzzies to write about.

Initially the idea was so implausible I found it hard to engage. That, and the writer appeared to be making up lots of words to describe things, which is a death-knell for scifi and fantasy.

But then I realised it was Portuguese…

If you need a decent summer break read, I’m running this one back to the library this morning. Recommended.

Well, everything is under control and Chef Du Plunge is a [not so wee] angel.

So with that happening I’m going to try to make time this week to get some blogging done. The main trouble at the moment is material. With the change of Government I’m acutely conscious that I’ll need to be even more circumspect than usual, especially considering my… somewhat divergent views… on politics, and baby-blogging is best left up to someone else.

But circumspection isn’t really an issue for professional, is it? I have the photos for a couple of recipes, and can always talk about Christmas! Plus, a reader asked for a recipe for semi-dried tomatoes. I’ll experiment ASAP and get back to you all.

Oh! And the traditional end of year round up.

I wanted to take a few minutes to thank the crew up in Ward 14 at Wellington Hospital for doing a sterling job in taking care of Second Chef and Chef Du Plunge. This isn’t just because of the great view from the room she enjoyed on her own:

But because they took so much time to set us on the path of good parenting.

Also because although I’ve spent a fair amount of time complaining about the local District Health Board, I know you’re not all bad, as proven in the days after CDP’s birth.

So from Second Chef and I, thanks.

I was surprised to see that The Moon (1966) was published a few years ahead of Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (1974), because it shares the motif of a moon which is an anarchist’s utopia. Discovering this happening once again made me think that Le Guin often presents ideas represented a few years earlier by another author. But this is a baseless assumption, considering that many of these authors knew each other, and I should move on.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a first person narrative from the perspective of an inhabitant of the Earth’s moon, in 2075. The moon has ceased to be solely a penal colony, and is instead a series of “warrens” inhabited by the sorts of persons you’d expect to find in early C19th Australia: loners, miners, current and former prisoners, soldiers of fortune. And strangely, a self-aware supercomputer.

It’s not a bad idea, but it’s not Heinlein’s greatest work. He invents a dialogue that is a mix of Aussie, cockney and Russian slang, similar to A Clockwork Orange, that while eventually intelligible is highly confusing at first, and partially obfuscates the story. Some of it is even downright racist, though I don’t think deliberately so.

Eventually the ideas start to come through, and the novel reveals itself to be a hearty piece of old-fashioned sci-fi, a welcome and long way from contemporary space opera. More interestingly, it also presents something of an operational model for the development of a terrorist network, while also appearing as a fictionalisation of the Soviet Revolution (an allegory that runs throughout the novel). You’d think the former could be enough to have the book banned if written in contemporary America!

In keeping with 1960s sci-fi themes the novel is intended as an exploration of alternate political systems, and “rational anarchism” is the way of things on the Moon. So if you’re a politics junky, then this could be an interesting read. If you’re into big talking spaceships and hyperdrives, then find some Iain M. Banks.

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