A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Month: February 2022


Post the week in the mountains, I hit Sunday with a bit of a bang. I was hoping to spring board into a new refreshed me mentally and physically. I came down with some kind of stinking cold. The first one in a couple of years so it hit me with a vengeance. Three lateral flow tests throughout the space of the week, all negative…so I can only assume it was some kind of French cold, obviously more painful than a British one and more brutal than man flu!

So I nursed myself at home, and plugged back into the machine.  The email mountain, the projects that have Easter deadlines only a stones throw away causing a jostle for resource, thinking and brain capacity that was controlling the convulsive sneezing.

The week went by in a bit of a fog, and then some excitement of normality returning.  The bus was busy, town was busy and aside from masks and empty desks in the office.  It all felt ok.

Made it to Friday and it had lifted. Time to head into the office for the first time this year. The belly of the machine, under the guise of my new, old company (its complicated). Three office moves in two + years even when we haven’t been going to the office. More a consolidation due to a company merger. Before it all happened I’m now back in the office where it all started for me some 20+ years ago. So an orientation day for me, the circle beginning again. An odd sense of a time warp. New cabinets, new layout, new carpets, modern working……same floors and same toilets! My muscle memory kicked in using the stairs and I had to remind myself I’m on floor 3 not 4 where I used to sit. Definitely not institutionalised!

So the weekend; after all it is the weekend coffee share. We’ve already bagged the Power of the Dog….which I’m in two minds about. Felt a half hour too long, beautifully filmed and a story to reflect on. Oscar worthy I’m sure in some way.

Power of the Dog Trailer

Son number one made it home from Uni, so I came home to a blueberry and coconut dream cake. Definitely up there in my top 5 list of cakes and amazingly we have some left for dinner this evening. We’ve had pancakes for breakfast mainly to cover the fact he wont be here for Shrove Tuesday. It’s been nice to have the extra smiley face at the table, a tweak to the conversation with a different set of topics.

We’ve been into town and back covering the Library, Post Office and the farmers market. The French are in situ for the Rugby six nations this afternoon. Nice to see the red white and blue colours, the berets and the town feeling touristy once more. I might turn the game on the background given the razzmatazz feel to it. I know colleagues from work are going. It’s bitterly cold still so I hope it’s a good game. I’ve just checked kick off time, it’s on now….3-12 to France. oh dear.

It was good to see the Market up and running also under the watchful eye of the castle, a few bits gathered and I splashed out on some organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Some great chat from the guy selling on where he sources the products from Greece and Italy respectively. Took our lunch today to another level.

The evening meal;  the veggie box came with so much ginger and a red chilli that it’s got to be a curry for tea tonight which the boys will be happy about.  There was a small squash and the guardian gave the recipe for a pumpkin and sweet potato tray bake with Gorgonzola.  Link to share won’t be up till during the week.

On the other coffee shares, it’s been great to see what’s on the bookshelf links. I’ve just finished Ready Player II , Ernest Cline. I enjoyed the second filling of an 80s nostalgia romp wrapped up in a futuristic virtual world. More of the same, not quite as good as the first. I’ve sent to it to my pal from university, he’s really into his sci fi so I’m looking forward to comparing notes.

I’ve moved onto step by step by Simon Reeve, an autobiography of a travel presenter.  Eighty pages in and feels written well, fast moving.

Despite the rugby looking appealing, now 10-12 to France…..I’ve now got to go help my son with a little Python programming. Time to get the grey matter going. Thanks for coffee and see you next week.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Ski 22

It’s been a week since I’ve sat in the chair, taping away on the iPad keyboard and a coffee the way I like it.  Fresh from the stove top rather than a conference style flask that we’ve been having at breakfast. 

I’ve been away for a week, blowing away the cobwebs skiing in the French Alps.  I’d have told you in the run up to the trip but I really didn’t want to tempt fate.  Petrified of catching Covid and not being allowed to go.   The run up to a fit to fly test was nerve racking, even more so when we were waiting for the result. 

One of those things that I shouldn’t have worried about.  We were squeaky clean and fit to fly.  An early 3am Saturday start to make one of the first flights out of the airport.  We got into resort around 4pm, where we needed to pinch ourselves.  Couldn’t quite believe we’d manage to travel, to escape into the mountains of a different country.  Tignes and Val d’Isere, our home for the next seven nights with six days of skiing ahead of us.

Sunday morning we rose to blue skies, we couldn’t believe our luck.  My youngest son, kicking off where he’d left off a good three years ago.  Think of Sonic the Hedgehog on skis at every turn he collected gold coins.  My wife and I a little more cautious, however we were caught up in the beauty and the thrill of gliding down the mountains.  We forgot our fears, and grown up worries and our crazy computer led lives and soaked up the awe.

Tuesday morning, the alarm set for a 7am start in order to hit breakfast at 7.30am hoping for more of the same.  It’s a different story, my body aches, muscles that haven’t been used in a long time, shaken and full on fresh air they are wondering what’s happened.   I pull back the curtain in the room.  It looks brutal outside, a metaphor for my muscles.  I can just see the lifts in the distance.  No movement as yet.  My son, ba-bing…up and ready!  The dull clouds aren’t going to rain on his parade there is a day of skiing to be had with no homework in sight.

Wednesday….there is more snow, it’s hard to see.  The disorientation is too much for me.  My muscles are not in a fit state of defensive skiing and I ask myself why I’m doing this.  I agree with the boss we’ll do a couple more runs but I need to call time.  Today it isn’t for me.  The boy needs this though,  this is a salve,  his happy place a way from the pressure to learn and to do well.  Here he is king of the mountain.  Fuelled on Chocolat chaud and another protein bar he’s keen to convince his  mum they’ve got this and stay out together.  I say goodbye at the chair lift and take my rest. I get back to the hotel.  I’m not the only one taking a breather.  Later my wife joins me and we walk to the next village along,  amazingly the walking helps the body.   We walk over a frozen lake, we see huskies and dream of buying new skis and boots.  Our last purchase was before the boys were born a good twenty years ago so they have had their money’s worth.

Thursday…. the forecast indicates some blue skies in the afternoon.  So it was a case of a leisurely breakfast (which was a real shame!). The boy went off to put some time in on the slopes, myself some reading that I’d promised myself.    As the morning went on the clouds started to lift and low and behold we could see again.  An afternoon of skiing ensued and through our enthusiasm we missed one of the last lifts back to resort and ended up on the local ski bus back to the resort.

Friday and our last day.  The mountain range decided to put on its charm.  The warmest day of the week was about to happen.  We were practically on the first lift up at 8:50am….straight up onto the empty slopes that yesterday had been busy.  These slopes were hard, and worn, pisted into grooves that are brutal on the body.  Amazingly empty due to the time of day.  We broke ourselves in and enjoyed the peace before taking a Funicular even higher and close to the glacier.  Here the snow was soft and reminded us why we were here.  We ended up doing the run about eleven or so times.  Plus we found the best restaurant of the holiday right at the top of the Grand Motte.

Eventually all good things to come to an end though.  We needed to get back down the mountain and across the range.  We were glad we’d stayed so high, the lower slopes were showing temperatures of 12°c/53°f, the snow forming sticky clumps that really wasn’t nice to ski on.  My wife calls it bone breaking snow.  Taking a few moments as we drifted back to town….in all an amazing week and a break from the norm.

Sunday, and back to it.  My brain though is thinking differently at least for  a while, before I log into work and check for any damage whilst I’ve been away.  I already know though as I’ve been peeping as the days went along the temptation to great to know if there are any gotchas waiting for me!

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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Black Recipe Box

For the weekend coffee share this week I thought I would share a picture of our magic black box and my long standing project.

Ten plus years since her passing and she is affectionately known as Grannie. Not the box, the lady who gifted this to us.  Often spoken about as we go about our lives.  We wonder what she would think of us now, and how she would have enriched our lives if she were still here.    My wife’s mother and the first of our parents to go.   Sorely missed for many spoken reasons and many unspoken.  A bond between mother and daughter that had it’s moments.  Mostly though something that was rich and full of love.  A piece of music or a mother daughter scene in a film will take my wife right back to the sorrow and longing of hoping for another conversation or a moment together. 

I’m not sure she saw herself as a cook, but in my eyes definitely so.  Coming from a humble background with a missionary for a father who took his family and his teachings to China.  Circumstance and timing led to the family being interned as prisoners of war.  My thinking is that from these beginnings my mother in-law grew to appreciate simple food and simple cooking as a way of life. 

She left us a black box, full of recipes, index cards that had grown over time.  Not sure many go back past the 80’s, and some might not even have been used at all.  Just a recipe passed on from a friend at the church, these are the ones in the hand writing my wife doesn’t recognise.  The scrawl of Grannie very distinct on hers and at times very un-readable!  Some of the cards have my wife’s writing on, a period of her life when calligraphy was the rage.  These are the ones that bring her memories back as a child and has also made with our boys.

My hope when we first received the box was that it would hold the secrets to an alchemy that had been passed on from generation to generation.  That the hidden texts would be revealed to the person who believed in the sacred box, only the worthy would truly become a great cook.

Having now scanned the great works using my printer I plan to work through them.   Deciphering the sacred text without a Rosetta stone, typing them up, tweaking as I go, modernising the measurements and the ingredients.  An interpretation for the way we cook and food shop as a family now.

…..it’s a work in progress, with more to follow

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

220211 – 6 of 52

Honey and Gardening

It’s one of those moments, my mind goes blank,  where I sit down to write and pause for a moment and wonder what I’m going to say about this week.  What can I tell you about a week where I swear only 5 seconds ago it was last Sunday!  I’m determined to stick at a Weekend Coffee share as a constant in my writing routine.

The temperature has been erratic, one minute we have blasts of warmth the sun cutting through the grey clouds, lifting the mind and the soul.   The next a blast of hail and snow that cuts through to the bone.  It’s porridge on the menu this morning and I’m grateful for a teaspoon of honey that I drizzle over the top of the blueberries. Creating a lovely sweet and comforting start to the day as the rain bashes against the glass.

We made it to the Garden center last weekend which seems to have a knack of making you come out with more than what you went in for.  Was amazed to see some plug plants in full flow, so I needed some of them.  There was some primroses on the go, so I needed some of them.  I actually went in for some seeds. To my surprise they were half price so obviously I bought more of those than I intended.  Despite having a vast array of pots in the shed I thought I would also top up and make use of the 20% off all gardening equipment…..so yes I NEEDED some of them as well.  My wife also had some success with a wonderful range of plants call Hellebores which are known for giving at this time of year when nothing much does.

So yesterday I moved the plug plants on and then in the wind and the rain, we got the Hellebores into the ground, shuffling a couple of things around here and there along with a bit of a tidy up.  Needless to say I’ve found a couple of new muscles that a radox bath soak might help with.   Really though its another sign that sitting at my desk all day isn’t doing me any good and I really need to double down on that yoga practice.

Work has been really crazy we are heading into that weekend release that we’ve been planning since before Christmas.   It was a million miles away back then.  People are suddenly waking up with last minute issues and requests for changes, things that were urgent are suddenly not so urgent as they don’t have time to test. My development team are feeling the pain as code is being removed from the release build.  One thing is for sure with a strong head and air of keeping ones cool.  The weekend will come and go and what will be, will be. 

My tune of the week is Keep it Up by Rex Orange County.  Which feels a little apt given the demands.  It’s a nice little upbeat ditty and featured this week on the Jo Whiley Radio 2 show

Food,  I’ve been consolidating notes across my various digital attempts of documenting Grannies black box.  They are all in one place.  I get to the point they are 90% ready to put up on the blog, and then bottle it for some reason.  I’m struggling to take photo’s as I plate them up for the meal itself.

The menu this weekend, is pan fried salmon severed on a bed of green vegetables (Cavolo Nero, Fennel, Purple sprouting broccoli and some baby sprouts).  I plan to make up for the lack of carbs by following with a bowl of warm rice pudding in front of the book of boba with my son.

From Grannies box I’m going to tackle the Pork and Mushroom Sauté.  It calls for pork fillet, a lovely piece of meat that I hope I do justice and don’t dry out.

As my random recipe, I’ve picked up a new flap jack that I want to try out which uses agave nectar.  Similar in consistency to honey with a lower glycemic index than conventional sugar.

It’s possible I might make it into the office this week.  There is a big push to get folk back in and I’m contemplating facing the fear of the change into another routine.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

220206 – 5 of 52

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