Kay Dekker, 1959-2011

I hope you've already heard this sad news, however I post here to reach those who have not heard.

Kay Dekker died on the 7th July 2011, and was cremated on the 11th August. Some friends are gathering in his memory in Coventry on the 21st August (contact stgpcm for details), and at BiCon in Leicester on the 2nd September
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    Spem in Alium,Thomas Tallis

Thank you, and a bit of progress

Thank you, everyone who sent messages of love and support. Very, very much appreciated, believe me!

I saw Jerry, my GP, today about the mess of problems. It's a matter of working out which bit to work on changing first, since the depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and pain all feed off and reinforce each other. So, first step: from today, increasing my bedtime antidepressant from 30 mg mirtazapine to 45mg. This may improve my mood, help me sleep, encourage my appetite and - just possibly - being a NaSSA it may help synergistically with my pain.

I'm to check in with him in no more than a month's time to review progress. If my pain is still bad then, he'll up my fentanyl dose from 50 μg to 75 μg/hr. If so, hopefully I'll be able to shift my morphine intake back down again to more sensible levels.

He's also going to chase up the pain clinic to find out why I haven't had even a review from them in three years, let alone any treatment. I know that their service was seriously dislocated when Richard Walker had to retire suddenly on health grounds, but... three years is a long time to live without effective support. Yes, I probably should have yelled about it earlier, but it wasn't until the beginning of this year that the pain started to get noticeably and progressively less easy to bear.

Anyway. Progress, to some extent, and the knowledge that I've done the right thing in yelling for help, even if I did take too long about doing so :)

Special thanks to the wonderful l0u_1s3, everyone at Willow View (especially Bet, Ben, Sylv and Caroline) and most of all my amazing and lovely stgpcm.
  • Current Mood
    restless restless

Easy caramelised onion and carrot chutney

This recipe happened because of my friend Sue, who is also a volunteer at Willow View. She was enthusing to me about a sandwich that she'd had for lunch a few days previously which contained a caramelised onion and carrot chutney.

I couldn't find a recipe which quite matched what she remembered, but by dint of creatively combining a couple of recipes I already had stored, and using a bit of inspiration, I came up with this chutney. I haven't given it to Sue yet (I've only just finished making it!), but I hope that she'll like it.

The only bit of the recipe which may at first sight seem forbidding is the caramelising of the onion. It's a lot easier than you might think! Just make sure that the onion is sliced as thinly as possible; that you fry it on as low a heat as you can; and that you stir it often enough that it goes a deep golden brown without actually burning. If you're not feeling confident, you can always try caramelising an onion as a stand-alone task; it'll keep in the refrigerator (I'd recommend in a sealed container) for a few days, and it makes a great topping for burgers or sandwiches. Anyway: on with the show...

500 g carrots
1 large cooking onion
1 large cooking apple
175 g sultanas or golden raisins
350 g light brown sugar
300 ml red wine vinegar
2 tsp mixed spice or garam masala
2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tsp salt
olive oil

Peel the onion and slice it very thinly. Fry the onion slices slowly on a very low heat in a little olive oil until they have caramelised, which will take about half an hour. Transfer the caramelised onions to a heavy saucepan, and use a little of the vinegar to deglaze the frying pan; add the deglazings to the saucepan.

Clean the carrots and 'top and tail' them. There is no need to peel them. Grate them coarsely into a microwaveable bowl.

Peel and core the apple. Chop it roughly and add it to the carrots. Microwave on medium for ten minutes or so until the apple chunks are soft. If you don't have a microwave, don't worry; using it just shortens the cooking time.

Add the carrots and apple to the saucepan with the sugar, salt, spices and vinegar. Cover and simmer on a very low heat (the chutney should just be bubbling) for an hour, stirring occasionally. By this time the apple chunks should have disintegrated, if you didn't microwave them; if not, simmer the chutney a little longer until they do.

Add the sultanas or raisins and simmer uncovered for another fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time. You may wish to add more spices with the sultanas if you want a tangier chutney.

Remove from heat, and carefully (hot!) spoon the chutney into warmed screw-top glass jars.

Makes about 4 medium-sized jars of chutney.
dick, food

Very Easy Fruit and Nut Cake

A deliciously moist semi-rich cake that will keep for a couple of months if wrapped in foil and stored in a sealed cake tin. It needs very little equipment to make, and quantities needn't be exact; it's simple enough for the kids to make it with a little supervision. Good for everyday tea-times, or you can feed it with booze and then ice it as a basic Christmas cake.

This cake was much enjoyed by Justin's workmates when I baked it a few weeks ago.

350 g sultanas or other dried fruit
175 g light brown sugar
125 g butter or margarine
50 g walnuts or other nuts if preferred, chopped
3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch salt
225 ml water

2 large eggs

150 g plain flour
150 g self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to moderate (Gas 4, 180 C, 350 F). Grease and line a deep 8-inch round cake tin.

Put everything except the flour and the eggs into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature - put the pan into a bowl of cold water if you're in a hurry! If you don't cool the mix, the eggs will cook too quickly and spoil the rising of the cake.

Beat the eggs until pale and foamy.

Add the flour to the pan and stir to incorporate thoroughly. Fold in the eggs. Pour the cake mix into the cake tin.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 75 to 90 minutes until a metal skewer comes out clean. If the top of the cake browns too quickly, cover it with baking foil to prevent scorching. Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

[cue Twilight Zone theme music]

Of course coincidences happen - it would be remarkably improbable if they didn't - and there's nothing spooky about them, as such, but I just had a rather excellent one happen to me.

At the library last week I picked up Pip Vaughan-Hughes' novel The Vault of Bones, just on a whim - I like to read authors I've not read before - and was quite impressed by it. Unfortunately, as often happens to me, it turned out to be the second in a sequence, and it was obvious that the characters' history was quite significant in driving the plot. So, at the library today, I looked up the first in the sequence - Relics - and, after some faffing about (I do wish they could keep the catalogue up to date!) ended up asking the librarian to request a copy for me from an outlying branch.

I then went to catch my bus home. As I rounded the corner, I saw it pulling away from the stop (another thing that often happens to me!), so I decided to kill the quarter-hour until the next one by seeing what was in stock at the nearby charity shop.

Standing in glorious isolation on a bookshelf was - a copy of Relics. Just as though it had been put there to wait for me...

I mentioned this to the woman at the till as I paid for it, and she smiled, and said "You know, I just put that book out for sale about ten minutes ago."

In other news, Hannah (stgpcm's sister) had her baby at the weekend, so Jus and I are uncles again. A boy, as yet un-named; apparently both she and he are doing well.
Manifold Mania

Moore neighbourhood problem

If anyone doesn't know what the Moore neighbourhood is: it's the eight squares surrounding any square of a square grid.

I admit it, I'm feeling lazy. I could do it myself, with a bit of head-scratching, no doubt. But it's a nice little problem, particularly if you're au fait with a programming language that supports automatic backtracking, such as Prolog or Icon...

Find (and, for extra credit, display prettily!) all the distinct (i.e., disregarding rotations and reflections) populations of the Moore neighbourhood of a square for a two-state (black/white) cellular automaton.
  • Current Mood
    quixotic quixotic

More baby...

stgpcm's sister Hannah is due to give birth on Thursday. I would have thought that being a teacher might put you off children, but apparently not...
  • Current Mood
    sleepy sleepy
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