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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:44pm on 27/12/2011 under , , ,
Jane and I wanted to do something different than just going to her parents' place for Christmas day this year. We talked to each other's parents and offered to have them all at our house for lunch/dinner/some other mutually acceptable combination of food & drink. We thought it would be a suitable introduction to preparing a Christmas meal and hosting. Cooking for six - not too different to what I'm used to, and at home.

Well... this changed fairly soon. This changed in almost every imaginable way.

Jane's mum wanted to do it at her place, partly out of a feeling of being bound to do dinner for some family friends (they've alternated at each other's place for the last 5yrs or so), and partly because I think she likes having it there.

Then, as well as the six of us, there are the five family friends that Jane's mum felt honour bound to invite. So now instead of a nice cosy meal for a manageable number in a familiar kitchen, we're doing dinner for eleven in an unfamiliar kitchen.


Doing it there is not a bad thing, not at all. Our house is small, only a 2-up, 2-down but we could have fitted six in easily. We agreed to do it on one condition: Jane's dad promised that he would feed her mum sherry and keep her out of the kitchen.

Jane's parents offered to buy the turkey (a crown), and the wine. We would do the rest. Then at some point, they gave us £50-worth of Morrison's saving stamps. We got occasional phone calls from her mum telling us not to buy X, Y or Z as she'd got it, and then she went and won a 2-minute trolley dash around a local supermarket!

We made plans, lists, and bought stuff. In the end, we really only bought veg, and stuff for puddings. Everything else was provided for us.

Overall the food all went really well. We arrived at their place on Christmas Eve, and immediately set about preparing veg, making puddings (all cold), cranberry goop, and soup (easy to prepare in advance). Apart from a silly mistake about plain/self-raising flour (seriously: don't make a pie-crust with self-raising flour, it's just wrong) it all went to plan. No emergencies, no disasters.

My parents arrived at their hotel in Oswestry and threw our plans a little bit, asking if they could come to Jane's parents rather than going for coffee/drinks in Oswestry as we'd planned. Despite her mum flapping like crazy about the state of the house, a good night was had. Wine, carol singing and amazing ham (really need Jane's mum to write down what she did to it).

Christmas day came around, we had little to do now except actually cook! I'd planned out timings in my head and knew what needed to be done and when. We were calm, and bar occasionally needing to ask Jane's mum where X, Y or Z was, or how best to use the hostess trolley (things I'm unfamiliar with), and the gravy at the end, it was done on our own. Jane was ace, she claims to have just been a helper but in reality it would never have been done had she not been there.

I was pleased with the outcome. There were a few bits here and there that I would do differently were we to do it again. I would take the turkey out a little earlier (Jane's mum was a little over-cautious about this in my view), I would cook the broccoli a lot less and I would do one fewer pudding (in retrospect, 4 was too many. Even if 2 of those were fruit-based and therefore not really "pudding"!).

We got lots of compliments and fun was had. Hurrah.

I'd do it again, but I would do it at home and I would want to be responsible for buying everything. Using someone else's kitchen, someone else's equipment and not knowing exactly what you've got is more stressful than you might expect.
location: LL11
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
Music:: BBC News on BBC HD
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:07pm on 11/10/2009 under , , , ,
Yesterday it was my birthday. I am now the ripe old age of 30, and let's be fair, it's no different to being 29, 28, 27 or even 26. Life goes on the same!

I took full advantage of this offer of free food from Nando's on one's birthday, and was treated to a film (Gamer) and several nice presents - my favourite is the GorillaPod (from - it's a light-weight, flexible tripod for small cameras - very nifty.

Unfortunately, since Thursday I have been feeling a bit on the rotten side, with a head full of expanding foam and cotton wool, a nose that leaks, and eardrums that only work half the time. It's made the weekend a bit of a washout for "things to do" but it's been a nice one. I suspect I shall be off work tomorrow because I cannot foresee my voice recovering before then, and frankly I will be amused to see how they cope.

Speaking of work, since my last post (which I think went to LJ only... a rant about colleagues taking the piss with a new call logging system), nothing's really changed. I had a word at our Monday morning meeting and suggested that we do things a particular way. This suggestion appears to have been ignored. I should have expected as much. I don't think it's that the boss doesn't want to do x, y or z but I think he doesn't know how bad it is - because he doesn't sit with us.

I heard my slot on Radio 2's Elaine Paige show today, hurrah! It came in the last "Break a Leg" slot - around 1hr 52mins into the show. I didn't sound like a numpty or anything :) I'd been waiting ages for it and was getting worried. We've got another chance to do another recording, which I've asked our director to do instead.

I bought myself a 2nd hand copy of Super Paper Mario on the weekend - I had it from LoveFilm ages ago (must be years now), and have been watching the price ever since. It hasn't fallen at all. Wii games are annoyingly good at holding their retail prices. Some 3yr old games are the same price they were when they came out!

I tried making pumpkin fritters today, and they turned out remarkably "meh". I think I made two big mistakes - one was not letting the mashed pumpkin cool down before combining it with some flour and other ingredients. I don't know - but I suspect - because the pumpkin was still hot, it took a lot more flour to get it to a reasonable consistency, which diluted the pumpkin taste down to effectively nothing. The other was deciding to bread it instead of batter it. I have never deep-fried, and don't intend to make a start now, especially without some decent equipment - a thermometer would be a good start).

Jane's trying to persuade me to go for a facial at a spa that put a leaflet through the door today. Hmmm....
Music:: Emma on BBC1
location: CH3
Mood:: 'exhausted' exhausted
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:04pm on 09/08/2009 under , , , ,
There's not been a huge amount happening, except for the wedding of one of Jane's friends we attended in York last weekend. That was fun, set off at 10am and got back to the hotel at just gone 1am, having had a generally good day albeit with a fair whack of hanging around. I would have liked to have had some more time to potter around York, it's a lovely city, but we arrived at midday, had a taxi booked for half 12, and then were doing wedding things until 1am. The next day we spent AGES getting into town because of a marathony thing happening, then had lunch with the bride's mother. It was busy busy busy.

Work is still being crap with the potential redundancy thing. We still don't know what the outcome is, or what it's likely to be. We were given an extension of 30 days for our consultancy period, based on the fact that there's going to be a review of customer services and support being done by the VP of Customer Services from the US branch of our company, but that's not happening until the end of August. Our extension comes to an end in a week or so.

Not impressed, are we. We just don't know what's going on any more. There's no jobs in the area that I can afford to take, actually want to take, or who are offering interviews to me.

This weekend coming, Jane and I have a trip down to Bristol, staying in the Cadbury House Hotel for the weekend, with a wedding party on Saturday afternoon for one of my cousins in the middle of nowhere. I'm looking forward to it, as we haven't been away anywhere with any time to relax for ages. We're both off Friday and will be seeing the parents' new house in Chippenham in the evening, and have nothing else planned except Saturday afternoon in Somerton. Hopefully it will be good fun.

This weekend I have cooked lots, doing a barbecue last night in the glorious evening. Nothing too exciting but the pork steaks were lovely. Today I did a batch of Boston baked beans (essentially beans baked with bacon in molasses, sugar, Worcester sauce and other stuff for a long time), a curry and last night after several beers, we both got the munchies, and I made flapjacks. A little overdone, but nummy, sweet, gooey and incredibly unhealthy :)
Music:: Babylon 5 - Chrysalis
location: CH3
Mood:: 'accomplished' accomplished
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:40pm on 20/01/2009 under ,

Can't say no to cheap meat. The reduced one's not a 'happy' chick, but to make up for it I picked up a happy one, apparently it gets a window seat, and could exhibit it's natural behaviour... Or something.

Oh, and a kilo of potatoes for ~£1.50? Time to make some more leek and potato soup, I think!

Nom nom cheap meat!

Music:: Radio 1 - Colin Murray
Mood:: 'hungry' hungry
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 12:54am on 28/04/2008 under

Yesterday Jane and I made cookies, and they were remarkably smart(ie).  We'd been to Woolworth's in town and they were selling tubes of Smarties for 15p each.  Whoohooo indeed!

Below are the results.  About 45 orbs of loveliness.  Not bad going, considering that Nigella's web-site claimed that it would make 65, and some of ours are a little lager than she said.

28th_April 016

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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:15pm on 19/03/2008 under ,
(I'm scared)
I am making cookies. They are oatmeal and raisin, and my they're really easy and rather yummy. My first batch came out GIANT because I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon but giant food tastes better, right?

We went shopping tonight for stuff for the weekend of squee (I can't say "squeekend", I just can't), and we now have more food in the house than is possible. How does that work? Don't ask me...

Today at work, it's been most unpleasant. 2 of us and Phil who helped out when he could. We did about 170 calls between the 3 of us, and it wasn't even _that_ busy. The queue did get to 8 people, max Q time of 21:00 before the phone system crashed :P

Hopefully Anthony will be in tomorrow. Life will be MUCH easier if he is.
Mood:: 'cranky' cranky
Music:: Radio 4
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:25pm on 22/11/2005 under , , ,
Remind me never ever to go back there. I only went for a job and although the prices were really good, the store itself... the atmosphere, the environment was screaming out "cheap and nasty". I felt overdressed being in there, and those who have met me know that I am hardly the snappiest dresser.

Today at work seemed to feel like it would never ever ever ever end. Time slowed down so much that I felt that every second was taking a week. I think I fell asleep at some point, oops. I just remember hearing Nadine say "oi, wake up".

Tonight has been a free night. I tried to plan to have a free night for once. No gym, no shopping, no work. Just an evening in front of a hot stove. Been good, not done any serious cooking for an age. Tonight's' masterpieces are chicken soup, chicken sweet and sour, chicken sandwiches and chicken rolls. As you may have guessed, I bought chicken :)

Up early tomorrow to go to Stocksbridge and Meadowhall - hoping that the opening hours on my paperwork are accurate. I'm planning on being at Meadowhall before 0900... tomorrow evening will be spent packing, preparing, rehearsing, organising myself and making sure I have a shirt which is ironed :)
Mood:: happy
Music:: Time Gentlemen Please - Paramount 2
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 11:52pm on 18/05/2005 under ,
Jane and I appear to be incapable of cooking.
I should qualify that slightly.

When we're together, we appear to be incapable of not burning the curry :) A few times now, I've gone to hers midweek after work and we've put on one of those Sharwoods "Bundh" thingies in the oven. They're really tasty and easy as it's literally a case of throw it in the oven, leave it for an hour - then it's done.

Unfortunately, we tend to be quite tired when we do this, and have a quick snooze. Three times now, we've woken up to the beautiful smell of curry filling her place, but having uhhhm... pretty much a completely black pot. The curry itself is fine, but you've just got to avoid the black bits ;)

Really must stop doing this :)