Not said much in a while, but I probably should. Hello everyone! Happy 2016! Will post an update in a bit.
As those who know me in real life will testify, I am a big fan of Lidl’s weekend deals – every weekend, and often bank holidays too, Lidl will sell a few items at half their usual price. It isn’t unusual to see me disappear at lunchtime on a Saturday if I’m working to return with a bag full of pork chops that have cost less than a fiver, which then keep me fed for a week.
This weekend, Lidl’s are selling dark chocolate at 17p a block, so I thought I would give chocolate chilli con carne a go. However, my mate Alan reminded me last night that they are also selling slow cooked brisket at half price, £1.99 for 500 grams, so I figured I’d use that instead of beef mince. The result, if I do say so myself, was pretty good: sweet, spicy, and earthy. This recipe makes approximately 6 servings, and cost about £3.50 to make.
You will need:
1 Lidl’s BBQ Beef Brisket (£1.99)
1 Bar Lidl’s Dark Chocolate (17p)
1 Sachet Lidl’s Chilli con Carne flavour mix (28p)
1 Large Onion (approx 21p)
1 Tin Tomatoes (with Chillies) (45p)
1 Tin Red Kidney Beans (21p)
4 Cloves of Garlic (approx 15p)
One Cup Hot Water
1 Jar Lidl’s Hot Salsa (69p, I got it when half price several weekends ago so 34p for me :-))
25g lard or oil (pennies)
1 Chilli (I used a Scotch Bonnet, approx 15p)
Salt and pepper to taste, I added two tsp of cumin from the cupboard.
To start, get the brisket and microwave as per instructions (takes about 10 minutes, including the obligatory allow to stand halfway through). Whilst this is cooking, finely chop the onion and garlic and leave to one side.
Once the beef has cooked, carefully open the bag, then transfer the brisket to a large bowl. Inside the microwave bag, juice will remain, half of which will need to go into the bowl, the other half into your cooking pot. At this point, add the lard/oil and place on a medium heat, adding in the onions and garlic. Leave to soften – should take about ten minutes.
Using a couple of forks, shred the brisket by pulling the beef. It doesn’t matter if you get some lumpy bits and some stringy bits – just separate the beef as best you can.
Once the beef has been shredded and the onions softened, it’s time to add them together. Pour the beef into the onion mix, and continue cooking on a low heat. At this point, take your bar of chocolate, split into cubes, and add half the bar to the pot. Your beef brisket will also have come with a sachet of BBQ sauce – if you want a smokier flavour, add this as well at this stage. The chocolate will melt fairly quickly, but thicken the chilli, so add the hot water bit by bit until the chilli is runny again.
Next, add the spices – so your chilli (finely chopped), spice mix, salt, pepper and cumin go in. Again, this should rethicken the sauce. If there is excess liquid, leave on a low heat until evaporated.
Once the chilli is at a desirable consistency, add the kidney beans, salsa, and tomatoes. Stir throughly, and cook until the fat starts to bubble to the top. Remove from heat.
As for serving – I like to eat chilli neat, from a bowl, with a spoon – however feel free to serve with rice, nachos, sour cream.
Other supermarkets are available.
Yeah, I got bored and made a home cooking video again.
Tried to make it a bit more professional that the usual ones – a plan that lasted exactly twenty seconds.
Problem is, loads of people on a diet often skip things like curries because they are fattening. Fact is, though, it is possible to make a very tasty curry indeed without using a drop of added fat. This recipe contains no butter, no ghee, and no oil – instead, I rely on the spices to bring out the flavour.
For this recipe, you will need;
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 lime, squeezed
Mix in a bowl with your meat till well coated, leave in fridge overnight.
400g of curryable stuff (i used chicken but other stuff works)
3 cloves of garlic or equivalent
1 ginger root, chopped or equivalent
1 stock cube (chicken or veg)
2 teaspoons of curry powder
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
4 teaspoons of fenugreek powder (or equivalent)
1 scotch bonnet pepper (or 2 if you like a challenge)
1 tsp of mustard
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Lots of coriander!
A nice, hearty, spice filled dish, and virtually fat free.
Please forgive the shoddy camera work, and lack of effort that went into this production – trust me, it’s better than my earlier ones!
On Thursday 18th September, Scotland’s electorate will vote on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country. I’m voting No. This has not always been my view.
As a man who considers his nationality to be a) English, b) European, and quite distantly c) British, who finds himself living and working in Scotland, this referendum is something that I’ve welcomed for a long time, purely for selfish reasons. I figured that the prospect of Scotland leaving the UK would bring about a real conversation about devolved government in my native land, something which has been largely ignored until now. I also believe that a well run, independent Scotland can, in the long term, be a successful small proud nation, as wealthy as it’s southern neighbour, if not more so.
So why am I voting no?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you, from the world of South Park, the underpants Gnomes!
For those of you not familiar with this episode, the Underpants Gnomes are creatures that sneak out in the middle of the night and steal your undies. Tweek, the caffeine addled character who, due to his coffee intake was unable to sleep, warned the South Park kids that this was happening and, though Kyle, Kenny, Cartman and Stan were initially reticent to believe him, they stayed up one night, caught the Gnomes, and pressed them for information as to why, exactly, they were stealing underwear. The answer: Profit.
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which anyone can edit, this episode was a parody of the dotcom boom in the late 90s/early 00s, which ended in failure for a great many ventures. A stark reminder of this is the Million Dollar Homepage – (temporarily offline as I write, however I have linked to the Wayback Machine’s archived version from June) – a good percentage of the links are now dead, and in turn, a great deal of those dead links belong to dead companies. If I were to ask you to name a top online bookseller, you’d say Amazon. Like ’em or not, they’re the number one online bookstore (well, everything store now). If I’d have asked you in 1998, you’d probably have replied with bol.com. Who? Exactly.
But what exactly does this have to do with the independence debate? Well, both the dotcom losers and ultimately the Underpants Gnomes were let down by a lack of a plan. Crucially, they both had a vision, and both had high hopes of success, but there wasn’t a plan in place to achieve that. See the above photo? See the massive question mark? That’s the problem here. The independence movement has a big, massive question mark in place of a credible plan for the future, and it’s kinda difficult to see past it.
To be fair to the Yes campaign, they may have a plan, it’s just that they’re either not making clear what it is, or they’re just not telling anyone. A quick flick through of the Q&A section of the White Paper (the Scottish Government’s blueprint for the future, available at scotreferendum.com) seems to be a curious mix of the SNP’s track record in devolved government (Q.217, for instance, doesn’t answer how an independent Scotland could avoid poverty arising, but it does mention an existing council tax freeze), some “don’t knows” (Q.119 – What will happen to Network Rail in Scotland – A. The Scottish Government “expects” to become a member), some things which I would expect to be outwith their control (Q.92 – Who would be responsible for financial stability – A. the Bank of England), a few “no changes here” (Q.108+109, weights measures and time zones), but mostly, the white paper is full of “everything will be fine, don’t worry” (Q.42 Credit Rating – iScotland expects a top one, apparently).
As an economic migrant in Scotland, all I want to know is, with confidence, am I going to be at least as well off as I am now? The answer to that is unclear. As I said earlier, a Scotland with a plan, I have every confidence in. A Scotland who expects that x will be the case, and will negotiate with the UK government on y, I have no confidence in. Which leaves me to one, inescapable conclusion: Come up with a plan, that is entirely within Scotland’s hands to deliver, and that has a good chance of success, and I’ll vote yes.
My criteria are as follows:
1) Currency. I don’t give a damn what currency we use, but it must be backed by a central bank that Scotland controls. I am not interested in the slighted by Sterlingisation (keeping the pound against the wishes of the rest of the UK), because that’s not independence, it’s utter lunacy.
2) EU Membership. This is a must. I have no appetite for leaving the EU, as it’s where most of iScotland’s revenue will ultimately come from. I’m not talking about leaving then re-entering, but continuous membership of the EU, on the same terms or better, than the UKs.
3) Cost of living: I need a guarantee that the cost of living will be the same, or lower, than it is now, complete with figures, and how those figures were reached at.
OK Scottish Government? You have until 7am on Thursday.
I do rather like the last line.
Donald Waelde was looking for a horse ‘to play with’ on Craigslist (Picture: Craigslist)
A woman who allegedly used Craigslist to find a horse for sex acts has been arrested.
The 22-year-old, who identifies as transgender and is legally known as Donald Waelde, was caught following a police sting in Arizona.
Waelde allegedly told undercover detectives she wanted to perform oral sex on the horse, the Phoenix New Times reports.
A spokesman for Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect ‘stated the sex act [she] wished to perform on the horse and agreed to meet the undercover detective’.
Arrest: Donald Waelde (Picture: Police handout)
‘I am 22 years old and I want to play with a male Horse. Simple as that,’ the Craiglist ad said.
‘If you have access to a male horse, and can allow me access to a male horse, then contact me please😉 I will do something…
View original post 37 more words
Bit late with this years edition of my annual update on how I’m doing and all that. Sorry; I’ve been letting the blogging go a bit (which, in a sense, isn’t necessarily a bad thing), truth is I don’t really ever find the time. I felt bad about not updating you all on my Netflix usage over October like I said I would; turns out Breaking Bad is very good, but I found it a struggle to just watch telly all day, so I just gave up. I envy telly critics – they seemingly have the easiest job in the world, but watching any serious amount of TV must send you totally fucking crazy.
This being a second annual review, stands to reason there must have been a first at some point, roughly a year ago. And indeed there was! You can read it here. Not a very long post, and remarkably difficult to write – I was very emotional, possibly even crying at points when I wrote that. However, I set myself relatively low standards for the year. Let’s see how I got on…
WORK: “Well, compared with two years ago, I am happy enough in my work. I now work with people of roughly my own age again, the job is tolerable, and I can survive on what I’m paid. This said, compared with last year, it is a huge step back, and I would like to continue the forward momentum I had built up at some stage… I expect to be in a similar job (or worse, or unemployed) for at least the next twelve months.”
I’ve pretty much nailed this one. At time of writing, I have avoided unemployment. I went for internal promotions, and a few other jobs, all knocked back, but I’m still in the same job. For someone who (unfairly) has a reputation for changing jobs on a regular basis, it’s encouraging. The company I work for have a career development scheme which they’ve put me on, which is a positive. I hope to make the best of this over the coming year, and move on up within the company rather than look for work elsewhere.
Hopefully a pay rise will follow in the next year; I won’t disclose precicely what I earn, but it’s less than the first ever job I had after university, and that wasn’t a lot.
On the plus side, not having a lot of money has it’s fringe benefits (see right):
Work was only one worry I had back in 2013. At time of writing, I’ve been single for I forget how long. Scarred mentally by previous relationships, last year I was as pessimistic as usual. I done wrote this:
FRIENDSHIPS: “Well, I don’t honestly see a difference really in the last two, or indeed several years really. I am fond of a lot of people, just as I hope they are fond of me, but I am not particularly close to anyone. This does seem to be a continuing frustration in my life. I hope this gets better. Love-live is still zero, and sadly I forecast that to be the same over the coming year.”
In a sense, I fear that this has gone backwards in the last twelve months. I don’t see my pals as often as I used to, and I am, in a sense, spiralling into the same old depression that has plagued me over the years (see blogposts passim, and my twitter feed on a drunken Friday night). I would say that I literally do not know how to make friends. Over the last couple of years, I have joined a couple of organisations (namely the Lib Dems and CAMRA), primarily with the intention of meeting people with similar interests. I don’t think I’ve made a single friend whilst being a member of the Lib Dems, likewise CAMRA. (Important caveat here: Most people I know in ale drinking circles I knew prior to joining CAMRA; If you’re reading this then you’re more than likely one of them, and I don’t mean you!). Now, one could be cruel at this point and state that membership of Britain’s least popular political party, coupled with membership of a very narrow-focused consumer campaign was never going to be a winner as far as popularity goes, but at the moment it really does feel like I’m going backwards when I didn’t think that was even possible.
As for (sexual) relationships; I won’t be in one over the next twelve months. That’s a cast iron fucking guarantee right there. No point in analysing the last twelve months because nothing happened, and nothing will. So let’s move on, shall we?
FAMILY: “Compared with a few years ago, my relationship with my own family has improved slightly; though with the exception of my mother, I don’t really speak to them all that often. In fact, the primary communication tool these days seems to be game requests on Facebook games. This is a definite area for improvement in 2013.”
There was no improvement in 2013. Me and my mum still speak once a week on the phone, I may occasionally get a text message off my eldest younger sister, a facebook message off my youngest sister, and hardly any communication off the other two. Me and my dad will email each other occasionally… that’s about it. That said, looking back on what I typed up last year, my relationship with my family must have been a bone of contention – I’m not sure that it is now. I love my family dearly, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never been all that close to them, and I can’t for the life of me think why I put this down. Naturally, I hope that I am able to continue cordial relations with my parents and siblings into 2015, but I don’t necessarily want closer ties. I like that we are a relatively independent, free thinking bunch. Closeness will just lead to unnecessary drama and squabbles, and I’m best off out of that.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, was the vague category of “Hope”.
HOPE: “Unfortunately, this is the one area which scores particularly badly; unfortunately, having considered all things, I see last year as a bit of luck coming my way for once; sadly, I see my general trajectory heading south.”
HA! Boy, was I wrong on that one?! I was overly pessimistic last year. All in all, it’s been a mildly positive year – the job I do, due to an organisational change, became a lot more tolerable. I have lost a lot of weight which I wasn’t expecting to do. My health has probably never been better. However, it’s not all been a positive year. I feel a lot more fragile than I used to. One of my favourite character traits is, as a kid/teenager/young adult, no matter how many times I got knocked down, I would get up again. I had a bit of fight in me. Not any more. These days I just want a quiet life. I avoid conflict and, in doing so, people. I’m a lot lonlier than I was last year, and that was an area that I thought I’d hit rock bottom.
So what for next year? Well, again, I’m going to end on a pessimistic tone, sadly. I think my job (touch wood!) and my health will continue to improve over the coming months. I am aiming to have a size 32″ waist by June the 25th (my 32nd birthday) – I am currently a size 36″. We will see how that one goes. If I am successful, I will have gone from a size 42″ to 32″ in twelve months. Still, I’m not going to starve myself. My health, as it were, is the most important thing; there’s no point in wearing smaller trousers if I’m in a fucking hospital.
However, I don’t envisage 2014 being all plain sailing; even if I do lose further weight and get a better job; this is all about my overall quality of life, and I fear that I am not far off rock bottom at this point. I fear that I am in danger, a real danger, of relapsing into the mindset I had late 2010/early 2011 (see earlier blog posts) – and that’s not somewhere I want to be. 2014 will be a year where I perilously straddle the tightrope of having suicidal thoughts and not succumbing to them. I hope I remain as successful in the year to come as I have been so far.
And don’t mention the fucking football.