Sunday, 26 November 2006

turkey day

my third thanksgiving in london

my third turkey (cooked to near perfection if i do say so myself)

my first thanksgiving chez d, my second one shared with s

read more here

in addition to the turkey and potatoes, i made a spinach casserole. i can't take credit for the recipe which i found on, but since everyone was kind enough to rave about it, i am adding my version here. i doubled the recipe since i could only find a 1 kg bag of frozen chopped spinach. my main variations were to add bread crumbs and use mixed herbs instead of dill.

4 eggs (i used 7 eggs to double the recipe)
3/4 teaspoon salt (i didn't add any and it was fine)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry (1 kg)
1 16-ounce container cottage cheese (250 g)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (i used sauteed onions instead)
1 cup packed grated sharp cheddar cheese (500 g)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (plus 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dillweed (mixed herbs)

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Beat eggs, salt and pepper to blend in large bowl. Mix in spinach. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Transfer mixture to prepared dish.
Bake casserole until center is firm and top is golden, about 45 minutes (took almost twice that for the larger recipe).

8 to 10 side-dish servings plus seconds

ps: pogged means full. i'm still trying to figure out if it's a general britishism, or if it's more specific to yorkshire. maybe our weekend at s's parents' house next week will shed some light!

Sunday, 19 November 2006

london by cycle

i want to ride my bicycle
i want to ride my bike
i want to ride my bicycle
i want to ride it where i like

i decided recently that my quality of life would be significantly enhanced by owning a bicycle. i have one of the easiest commutes in all of london: a 15-20 minute walk past a major supermarket (handy for picking up dinner on the way home), but even still, it would be that much easier on a bike. plus, i could pop out for lunch or run errands quicker - they'd hardly even miss me at work.

well, you know how thinking along these lines goes. you find more and more reasons why the object of your desire is a must-have.

* it would be better exercise - i could ride twice as far in the same amount of time that it would take to walk to work.

* in the long run, it's cheaper than joining a gym.

* s and i could go on rides on the weekends. there are so many nice places to see around here.

* it would be practical - just think how much more i could bring home from the big supermarket if i had a bike with a rack.

* riding in wimbledon is not nearly as scary or dangerous as riding in central london, but once i get used to riding around here, i can tackle other places, too. in fact, it will help me understand road traffic better for the eventual day when i go for a u.k. driver's licence.

* of course, it's not the best plan to buy a bicycle just as winter is setting in, but on rainy days i still have the option of walking or even (gasp!) riding in the rain.

you see where my train of thought was taking me, don't you?

the biggest problem was storage space. s keeps his mountain bike under the stairs and there's not much room for another bicycle inside the flat. we don't have any outdoor space. hmmm. what to do? what to do???

the answer, of course, was a dahon speed D7 folding bike. i gave up the idea of buying a brompton after a bit of research. sure, they're beautifully designed and highly coveted - so much so that used bromptons still command nearly the same prices as retail on ebay, without the annoying 12 week wait of buying a new one. (twelve weeks!!!) - but to get a fully equipped brompton could easily have set me back over £600. that's over $1000 for a bicycle. pass!

i am quite pleased with my dahon. check it out.

fully folded

unfold the frame and lock it in place

raise the handlebars

rotate the handlebars so they are pointing in the right direction, and raise the seat

even the pedals fold

snap the pedals into place

ready to ride!

of all the exciting destinations we could have chosen, we ended up going to the recycle center to get rid of a broken electric tea kettle and a rice cooker. i don't know about s, but i felt incredibly virtuous and eco-friendly, riding up to the recycle center on a folding bike, wearing my fleece jacket and silver helmet. ah, suburbania!


we also changed the tires (tyres) on s's bike yesterday so he has a smoother ride on roads. like the geeks that we are, when we encountered a problem halfway through, we went straight to the internet for help. how did people get things done before google?


the best part is that after the ride, i was able to leave my bike in the hallway, ready for work and other adventures tomorrow.


Saturday, 18 November 2006

cornelius' condition

remember our goldfish, bob and cornelius maximus wilmington the 4th?

cornelius seems to have a developed a buoyancy problem. occasionally, he starts swimming around the bowl looking either drunk or pained; he floats sideways or upside down; and then he goes back to being a normal fish. weird. and not a little disconcerting!

he has also lost his black coloring and is now fully gold.

cornelius is either an amazing prankster or a very ill goldfish. you judge for yourself.

bob, however, seems completely unaffected. one of the possible treatments suggested for goldfish buoyancy problems is feeding the fish one single green pea per day. we haven't tried it yet, but will report back with any future developments.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

la ville de lille

for the last eight years, s has spent at least some part of november outside the uk, and it has turned into a tradition for him. luckily, he has graciously agreed to let me in on the fun. last year we went to belgium.* this year it was lille, france.


lille was the closest "abroad" place we could reach by train, about two hours from london waterloo on the eurostar - just one more great thing about living in europe. lille is near the belgian border, so it has a lovely flemish/french feel to it.


however, this year they are doing a "bombay" promotion throughout the city, and the main street is lined with giant elephant statues. fab!


compare this pic with the daytime view above:


usually i forget to take pictures of the places where i stay, but i liked the styling of the art deco romarin.



i also thought the poster on the wall was quite appropriate given our luxuriously indulgent morning lie-ins.


but we also spent a considerable amount of time goofing off - er, exploring the city and all it has to offer.






we even found a space invaders mosaic, appropriately set next to a street sign for rue d'angleterre. acechick knows what i mean... this one's for you, p.


we enjoyed late lunch at le pain quotidien so much that we went back for breakfast the next day. so decadent for a place called "daily bread"!







but the absolute best fun was renting segways and riding around the citadelle.





it takes some time to get your balance right, but what a terrific way to get around town. i highly recommend trying it for yourself.

we had a great weekend and will most likely be back someday (if for no other reason than that i showed extraordinary restraint and did not indulge in a yarn shopping spree...but who knows how long this will power will last?)

* incidentally, that was my first bcuk blog. happy blogiversary to me!

Thursday, 2 November 2006

value for money

around this time last year, i was feeling increasingly skint* and pessimistic about my employment opportunities in the u.k. so i decided i needed a good book, and decided further to splash out on a new book instead of borrowing one for free from the library.**

but obviously i couldn't spend much money, and i needed something meaty, something that would last a while. something about someone even worse off than myself.

david copperfield.

745 pages about a charming boy who lets people walk all over him, is repeatedly robbed and swindled, sells his own waistcoat to have money for dinner, walks in the freezing cold from london to the south of england, is neglected by every family member he has, marries the wrong woman, and generally makes cringe-worthy decisions along the way. but he learns from his numerous mistakes and you can't help but love him.

all this for 99 pence. bargain!

one year later, i have finished dickens' epic novel. it took me ONE FULL YEAR to read it.

now that's value for money!

* skint: another great britishism that means broke, out of moolah, no money in bank account, nada.

** i couldn't actually use the library because my card had expired, and not having a permanent address in the u.k. at the time, i couldn't get a new one. even the library cut me off! now do you understand why i had to read david copperfield?