30 November 2005

product placements piss me off

Can't stand product placement. Pisses me off. And tonight, my already not so good opinion of Coldplay took a nosedive. On the latest CSI:NY (Jamalot), one of the detectives pulls out his mobile as it begins to ring, explaining to his colleague that it's Coldplay's "Talk". One minute later, in the all-too-frequent adbreaks over here, what do we get but an ad for Coldplay's "Talk" ringtone.

Fecking sell-outs.

Nerd alert: also on tonight's CSI:NY, possibly the first TV broadcast of laser microdissection, where you use a laser to blast around a small area of sliced tissue (goes down to the single-cell level) and ping the microscopic piece of tissue into an awaiting tube.

where the dust bunnies breed

I've been a bit busy of late, which means this wee blog has been neglected. While I talk a lot of rot here, quite a lot of that rot still needs lots of background reading and fact checking. And when you're spending a lot of your evenings fact-checking for work, somehow, doing some research (i.e. using google) for the blog just does not appeal. So for the moment, I'm talking rot elsewhere:

  • my as yet un-named food blog (Update: Gave up on the food blog, lazy me will just continue talking rot here);
  • and my bitch about LA page.

29 November 2005


is a dangerous thing indeed. we live in dark times, my friends

28 November 2005

everlasting chicken

that chicken in milk and lemon? lasted three meals.

  1. last night's dinner
  2. this afternoon's lunch (avec ris)
  3. tonight's tea (with leftover flat bread)

and that's even with us two being pigs and eating more than normal people would.

27 November 2005

chickpeas in pitta bread

Another photo-less post. Ach well. I couldn't be bothered to get all the gear together to shoot a mere chickpea sandwich. (Gear consisting of 1. a small camera, and 2. the light switch.)

So, again, take my word for it: [image]ugly and poorly lit[/image].

Rinsed out some dried chickpeas on Sunday night and left them to soak overnight in the fridge. Boiled said soaked chickpeas for an hour on Monday night after getting home 2 hours after dinnertime (P's fault this time, not mine... yay! oh, at work late. not yay. boo...). Drained off all the liquid before I realised that I normally save two ladles-worth in a bowl. Duh. Put that down to tiredness (or brainlessness). To save us from having to wash too many pans, used the same pan to saute some onions and a smidgen of garlic. Added some curry powder (again, lazy. otherwise would have heated some coriander and cumin seeds, and blitzed them with some ground turmeric and grated ginger) and dry fried for a couple of minutes until the whole place smelled nice. (Who needs Glade when you have curry?) Added some tomato paste (again, lazy. should have added some chopped plum tomatoes or something. Really. It makes a huge difference to taste and texture. But. Lazy.) and chickpeas. Should have added the reserved chickpea cooking liquid at this point, but brainless git here forgot to save some. So added some plain ol water instead. I tell you, it makes a difference. Simmered for another 30 minutes.

And finally, tonight, crisped up some frozen pitta bread and served it with warmed through spicy chickpeas. Not as good as previous versions of my spicy chickpeas. Think I'm losing my touch. Keep blaming the poky and not very well laid out kitchen, but suspect it's because I've lost the will to live cook. Can one get S.A.D. in LA even though the weather is a million times better than in Scotland right now? Or am I carrying some residual SADness from many Northern winters? All the same, the chickpeas were not the same, and that made me quite sad.

chicken in lemon and milk

No photos today. It's strange how on some days we're just trigger-happy, and on others the camera doesn't even come out of its case. So you'll just have to take my word for how good today's chicken in milk was. Originally a Jamie recipe, modified (i.e. made easy for lazy people) by us.

Brown your chicken in a deep pan. Drain off the excess fat. Cut a lemon in two give it a wee squeeze before throwing in the whole thing anyway. Pour in about a (British) pint of milk (that's just over 586ml in metric, but I usually just pour until I remember to stop, so I've never any idea just how much I've used). Throw in several cloves of garlic (we always start with three, but end up adding five or more. Needless to say, our breath honks after.) Stick in the oven at 190C for around 45 min. (There are rules of thumbs for gauging how long to cook a chicken by weight. If I'm being particular, I check them out and follow them. Otherwise, I guess. This was no spring chicken, but no gargantuan either, so 45 minutes seemed sufficient.) In the meantime, faff around and forget to prepare anything to go with the chicken. Remember at around the 45 minute mark, and grab some angel hair pasta from the store cupboard. Take the chicken out while the pasta is cooking. Let it rest. It's a bit exhausted from being in the heat, you know. Don't bin the curdled milk in the pan: reduce it! (um, technical term for boiling some of it away until it's a bit thicker) Shred some of the tender breast into the pasta or noodles, pour over the reduced curdled milky jus, tuck the napkin in and attack with a fork. If being posh, don't bother with all that and serve carved pieces of chicken with some mashed tatties and roasted veggies (yeah right, like we ever plan in advance and have everything in). Bitch about how significant other never takes photos of your cooking even though you've been slaving away over a hot TV watching Stargate. Blog about how crap you are at documenting your cooking.

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26 November 2005


My parents used to take us out for teppanyaki for birthdays and special occasions, like the end of exams. So I felt the need to go out for teppanyaki today (well, yesterday by now...). I didn't particularly want to be wandering around Downtown LA in the wee hours, so we couldn't try the grill at the New Otani in Little Tokyo.

Instead, we headed for our local branch of Benihana in Santa Monica. Completely different atmosphere to the teppanyaki restaurants of my childhood. It's an open-concept space (or is that open-space concept; couldn't care less), which along with the high volume of customers and high turnover rate, takes some of the cosiness away from the experience. Sure, I could have looked for a more intimate dining experience. But I really wanted teppanyaki for my final hurrah and farewell to my youth. Plus, it was P's first foray into the world of teppanyaki dining, so somewhere he could feel comfortable was also important.

Because of the way they seated different groups at the same table, we didn't feel it would be right to take photos of the evening. Which was a real shame. Every teppanyaki chef has his/her own style and little gimmick. Our chef tonight had two little tricks I'd never seen before. First, he turned our fried rice into a beating heart, earning him delighted claps from the two of us (boy were we seated at a table of jaded or too-cool-to-smile Angelinos). Then he amused the kid in me by turning mere rings of onions into a smoking volcano. It's these little things that make teppanyaki so fun for me. Of course, the squid was perfectly tender, the prawns just so, the scallops tasty and the filet mignon just the right side of bloody. It may be a chain, but our chef for the evening was as good as any posh teppanyaki restaurant's.

And may I never grow so old that I cannot appreciate a bit of fun...

25 November 2005

moi aussi

Wow. Some tat in the Daily Mirror results in the bouffant-one declaring his willingness to risk the can. And bloggers of varying political sympathies will share his cell (via).

If it's gotten to the stage where the magic words Official Secrets Act have been invoked, then there must be some juice in the turkey. Even a wee blogger of no significance can do something. Count me in, I guess.

Edit: Al Jazeera staffers speak for themselves (via).

24 November 2005


Evil plans are afoot to transform one of the three remaining real cinemas in Edinburgh* into yet another venue for the suits of the financial district to drink crap lager while trying out lame chat-up lines on each other (equally applicable to males and females). The Cameo, for it is this honorable establishment of which I speak, was home to many a fine evening out for me. I watched many a film in the slightly run-down, but elegant theatre, often preceeded by a pint or two of good beer in the in-house bar.

As others have pointed out, Tollcross is not exactly in need of another bar. So, do with the clickety-click and save the Cameo.

*The Filmhouse and the Dominion being two other cinemas that screen films that aren't just forced on them by distributors and owners.

2nd bbq in a week

i see...

It's Turkey Day in America. I'm no fan of turkey. It's a pointless meat unless you go the whole hog and prepare stuffing, roast veggies, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon and chestnut, chipolatas and all the other turkey trimmings you'd normally have for a British Christmas lunch. Over here, they do creative things with sweet potatoes and make weird concoctions with marshmallows.

We were lazy. And I like my BBQ grill (see last post). So we had a repeat of last Sunday's BBQ. This time, we were even lazier and bought marinated beef kebabs and marinated chicken kebabs. To make up for that laziness, I made some tzatziki. OK, I cheated even on that. Normally, the yoghurt has to be strained for several hours to thicken it. I strained whole fat yoghurt for 1 hour, grated a peeled cucumber and squeezed all the liquid out of it (again, you're supposed to let it strain for hours). Mixed the two together, and finely grated two cloves of garlic into the pseudo-tzatziki (sans dill cos I don't like dill... hey, that means it wasn't tzatziki at all, but merely cucumber and garlic in yoghurt). To pretend we care about being healthy, we stuck some peppers and sweet corn on the grill. And we finished off with some chestnuts leftover from the Halloween BBQ.

22 November 2005

no shit. is it the 1st of april already?

Update: the saga continues.

21 November 2005

unfunny gas

From BBC news: Gas explosion halts England Test.

Trescothick said: "I feared the worst. I could see advertising hoardings were damaged, but I didn't know what to do."

(emphasis mine) I think I know what he means, but it read funny the first time.

20 November 2005

kebabs and flat bread


The Kosher Market near us on Santa Monica Blvd (intersection with Butler, I think...) has a very tempting grill outside the shop. And you can buy the marinated meat from the meat counter, although you'll get strange looks from the guys when you say you wanna cook it yourself. The beef kebabs were very gently spiced, and I have absolutely no idea what was in it, other than tender beef. As for the chicken kebabs, they were home-marinated bog-standard D-style teriyaki. Flat bread also from the market, slathered in butter and garlic. I like my BBQ grill.

mini corn muffins

mini corn muffins

There was a packet of corn muffin mix in the cupboard. I could not resist trying it out for brekkie. Never had a corn muffin before. And the packaging looked so quintessentially American (didn't take a photo, now wish I had). Made the muffins too small, had the oven too hot, so they turned out a little more like rock buns than the maker intended. Oh well. Next time will be better.

Dragon roll

Dragon Roll

Cycled to Venice Beach today (have a magic route, as vouchsafed by our biking neighbours; may post it someday should we try it again). Couldn't decide what to have for lunch, so we had sushi! (This makes it something like 4 days in a row that we've had sushi: Thurs monkfish liver sushi with the boss, Fri inari sushi and spicy tuna roll for lunch; Sat chirashisushi in Westwood after a few yucky hours at work. You can tell we're liking this availability of sushi, can't you? Either that or we're just unimaginative.) Today's sushi came from Naked Sushi on Washington Blvd, which hooks up with Venice Beach pier. We initially ordered the spider roll, but they'd run out of ingredients (the crab, I guess) so we greedily asked for the dragon roll instead. There's nothing quite like unagi. And adding avocado to the mix just makes the kiddies in us so happy.

Of course, we only knew to ask for dragon roll after our last happy experience of it in Little Tokyo:

Black dragon roll

i [heart] angelato cafe

my love

Angelato's, on the corner of Third Street Promenade and Arizona in Santa Monica, is possibly a gelato-lover's heaven. The range of flavours is astounding, the combination adventurous, and the portion size generous. P has been replaced in my affections, naturally.

Face of the day: chocolate mandarin (which P ordered for me; and weirdly enough, I'd had a two scoop combo comprising an orange sorbet and a chocolate on one of my previous visits before his arrival... doo-do-doo-do-twilight zone... or the man just knows me.)

18 November 2005

17 November 2005

smash-it-yourself guacamole


In a lazy mood today. Had an avocado and lots of cherry tomatoes that needed to be used before the sure sudden descent into over-ripeness that always takes place when you look at them, say "oh that will last another day", and end up binning in guilt the next day. Hence the so-chunky-it's-not-guacamole above, and the old-standby-cherry-tom-pasta below.


16 November 2005



on top of plain rice
all covered with spice
i lost my poor meatball
when somebody sneezed

it rolled off the table
and into my mouth
and then my poor meatball
i saw it no more

14 November 2005

LA car usage survey

I've been counting cars over there.

13 November 2005

mochi and tea


I like mochi. And now that P has had some real mochi, he loves mochi too. Yay!

We bought an assortment, some of which were completely new to me. I think my favourite was an inside-out mochi, which had a covering of smooth chestnut paste (a bit like marron glace paste, but paler in colour) with a small ball of mochi buried within. It was even shaped a bit like a chestnut. One to go back for...

Mochi from Mikawaya in Little Tokyo.


Finally ventured to Little Tokyo in Downtown LA. Was very happy to find that they have fresh taiyaki, only these aren't the regular fish shape. I lurved taiyaki as a kid, and was looking forward to biting through the crispy dough into piping hot red bean paste. This taiyaki didn't quite live up to my childhood memories, but perhaps those weren't authentic, being mainly bought in the basement supermarkets of Japanese department stores in S'pore. The dough was quite thick and chewy, which would have been fine if the outer skin was crispier. I liked the red bean paste though; it was just the right side of chunky for me.

11 November 2005

14, 28, 42, 90, and the bonus ball is...

From BBC news: How your MP voted.

Of the Edinburgh MPs:

  • John Barret (Edinburgh West, Lib Dem): against
  • Alistair Darling (Edinburgh South West, Labour): for
  • Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh South, Labour): for
  • Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith, Labour): against
  • Gavin Strang (Edinburgh East, Labour): did not vote

If Rifkind had remained to contest the Pentlands seat (oh, sorry, Edinburgh South West), that would have been a 3:1 against (what was Gavin Strang's reason for not voting?). I wonder what the population of Edinburgh thinks of their representation; I suspect it's closer to 50:50 than we care to admit. Looking outside Edinburgh for a moment, Jim Devine, the current MP for Livingston, voted for the 90-day bill; not really something his predecessor would have done.

And while I can't articulate my unease, my feeling that the number of days is a red herring. I still cannot understand how the government/Home Office intends to a) determine who counts as a friend-of-terrorists, b) ensure their countries of origin do not torture them on deportation from the UK, c) rein in the police from unjust/unwarranted/misjudged detentions.

Elsewhere, doctorvee asks how bloggers across the political spectrum could have such a different reaction to the terror bill from the real public.


i will not forget.

10 November 2005


On many online things, I'm a real late-adopter. So, three years after the inception of Audioscrobbler, I've joined in. Like wonderful electric, my collection isn't much to brag about (actually, his is rather better than mine). Perhaps if I was willing to take more risks and download music via torrent-like apps, I'd have a better collection of new tracks. But since everything on my iPod/powerbook comes from my CD collection, it's embarrassingly fuddy-duddy and BritPop-y. I know I'm not the only person under 60 to enjoy classical music, but how many have Andras Schiff as their current top overall artist on last.fm?

Something needed to be done about this appalling out-of-touchness. Easy solution? A few not-too-expensive purchases from iTunes (US):

Since my new policy is not to buy stuff I don't want to have to pay to ship home, buying songs/albums via iTunes is not a bad way to plump up my music collection. Although the US and UK versions have different catalogues, it's probably not a bad thing to try out non-British bands, and even sample some country music. I miss browsing in Avalanche (ex-lunchtime haunt), Fopp (weekend timewasting) or the Stockbridge charity shops (where my entire LP collection of old jazz and classical recordings was purchased). But looking through the "neighbours" option on last.fm makes up for it, introducing me to music I've never come across, and reassuring me that my eclectic mix is not that uncommon.

And should any passing reader with good taste in music feel like helping out a prematurely-aged (music-wise) blogger, some suggestions in the comments would be nice.

05 November 2005

reuben burger

mountain of sauerkraut camouflaging a humongous burger

Don't know why it's called a Reuben burger, but sauerkraut works well with burgers.

@ Jerry's Deli in Westwood, inbetween some late-night experiments.

04 November 2005


Linguists Marvel at Audacity of Yugoslav Swear Words (via wonderful electric).

The differences in everyday swearing are shown in this humorous anecdote from the Serbian business dictionary: elsewhere around the world old friends greet each other with "Hi, it's been a long time!" But, the Serbian translation reads "Đe si pizda ti materina?" ("Motherfucker! where've you been?") The question: what is that man's function in the business translates to "Koji je on kurac tamo?" ("Which dick is that one?"). The thought that a project can be accomplished is most properly shown by the expression "Ma to je pičkin dim!" ("that cunt's smokin'!").

03 November 2005

The world can't wait

Drive out the Bush regime!

The world can't wait I

Demonstration in Westwood last night, looping around Westwood, taking in the Federal Building and the southern end of UCLA's campus. Seemed an all-encompassing demonstration, with representation from various ends of the political spectrum, all with a common dislike (may be too mild, try hated...) of the Bush regime.

Wish I had better photos to show, but it's difficult to walk and shoot, although I'm sure the firearm-bearing motorcade would have had no problems. Favourite poster of the night: good bush, bad bush (use your imagination).

The talk around my end of campus (overheard while wandering the medical plaza with my student, looking for reagents to scrounge) was more of how folk had been given half the afternoon off to get off campus before the roads were shut, and somewhat less about taking part in the political process. Which made me think about how some sections of society have become so comfortable that they fail to look outside their little circle. Sure, they'll give money to charities when disasters like Hurrican Katrina strike. But should something affect the comfort and regularity of their daily lives, instead of stopping to discuss why there is such disaffection with the current US government, they bitch about having to pick up their kids early and the traffic jams they'll have to endure to get home.

P and I walked with them, then walked home. No problems whatsoever.

The world can't wait II The world can't wait III The world can't wait IV
The world can't wait V The world can't wait VI Police escort

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Mini photo-post of Halloween shenanigans in West Hollywood over there.

02 November 2005

The new Milli-Vanilli?

These lip-synching videos, starring the Back Dormitory Boys are just too good not to share (via wonderful electric, who's been doing some of it himself in airports).

These guys have a blog, but it's in Chinese. (Use Babel Fish to translate...)