Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cheese and Lentil Savory, in memoriam

My grandmother was born during World War I and had her first child during World War II. In England at the time there was food rationing, which believe it or not continued after the war ended: in 1946 bread rationing began, and in 1947 they started rationing potatoes. In 1949 my mother was born.

Feeding a family was tough in those days: how to make sure, under ration control, that one's children received proper nutrition? Parents were inventive, and my grandmother started cooking a recipe which has since become a tradition in my family: cheese and lentil savory.

8oz mature cheddar
8oz red lentils
1 large onion
3oz breadcrumbs
a little oil
boiling water

Chop the onion finely and sweat in the oil on a moderate heat. When the onion turns transparent add the lentils and stir well. Then add about half a pint of boiling water and turn down the heat to simmering level. Simmer with lid on. Every five minutes check and stir, ensuring no sticking on the bottom of the pan. Continue adding small quantities of hot water and stirring it in until the lentils are cooked (soft) and don't absorb more water. Take off the heat and stir in the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs, and some parsley if you have it. Put it into two greased dishes. Leave one to cool (freeze it for another time) and put the other in the oven at 200ºC/400ºF for 25 minutes or until going crunchy round the edges. Serve hot.

The secret was, of course, that lentils can keep dry and good forever in one's larder; you could get away with slightly moldy cheese; and the bread could be a little stale and nobody would notice. The perfect wartime recipe.

Every now and then I cook C&LS for Wendy and me---a gentrified version, admittedly, with moldless cheese from Whole Foods and fairly fresh bread. Last night was one of those nights, and this morning I woke up to learn that my grandmother had just died.

In memoriam, Helen Willis.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Also while on sabbatical

As well as reading books, I plan to

  • tidy the garage
  • clean the windows
  • take lots of photos

Here's one I took today with my new camera:


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sabbatical Reading

I'm taking sabbatical from work for the last two months of this year---hurrah! Something I'm hoping to do a lot is read; I've accumulated a large stack of unread books on my nightstand (for the English: that's a bedside table) and I need to catch up. Here's what lies before me.

Reading at the moment:

  • The Goal - despite the moronic and desperately tacky marketing and cover, actually so far a good book full of allegorically packaged business insights.

Top surface of nightstand:

Next nightstand shelf down

  • The Road to Reality - any book subtitled "A complete guide to the laws of the universe" is going to take a while to get through, I feel.
  • Against Depression - as a depressive, I appreciate Kramer's work. I liked his concept of "cosmetic psychopharmacology" and even own the domain
  • Watching the English - deep but trashy but amusing but deep but trashy. I've been trying to finish this for years.
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb - my ex-boss recommended this to me before just before I left my last job. He raved about it but it's 886 incredibly dense pages. I get daunted.
  • Dive into Python - bought before I had my kick-ass one-day Google training on Python. It's there when I feel the need.
  • The Stories of English - file this under "fascinated by linguistics". Plus I'm a fan of David Crystal generally.
  • Secrets and Lies - of course like me you read his blog. The books have a similar appeal. Did you know he works at British Telecom? Weirdness!
  • Python in a Nutshell - a freebie from Google long long ago. I've never written anything serious in Python but I'm certainly Python-curious.
  • Designing Interactions - Amazon tells me I bought this 16 months ago. Rats.
  • Effective C++ - Google freebie. I've never programmed C++, which probably makes me uniquely odd for someone who started coding 20 years ago. I don't think I'll ever feel the urge to use the language, but studying it would surely be interesting.

Bottom shelf of nightstand

Monday, October 06, 2008


I noticed this example of an incredibly practical outlook on the animal kingdom a few years back in Fort Collins, CO. Of course it makes you wonder "HUMANS: Use: ...?"

Pig Utility

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Green Card, Redux

I guess the video says it all. Hurrah.