Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Sunday Roast: Entertaining

Here in France there is a programme called Un diner presque parfait. Its UK equivalent is Come dine with me. The idea is that five people are brought together. Each night one of the contestants cooks a fabulous meal and the other contestants judge them on the quality of their meal, their ability as the host or hostess with the mostest and the décor of their table. At the end of the week the host with the most points wins. Simple right?

I know for a fact that I would not win. For a start the table decor is well and truly the Frog's job. Aperitifs are provided courtesy of Picard, dessert by one of the guests and I almost always fall asleep at the end of the meal. Sometimes I fall asleep at the table, other times its the corner of the sofa, but usually I am shaken or kicked in time to say goodbye to the guests, or before I start snoring. 

Despite my obvious flaws in the area of entertaining, I still like to pretend that I'm participating each time I have people round to dinner. I try to follow the cardinal rule of: don't spend  too much time in the kitchen once the guests have arrived (unless of course I haven't actually even started cooking by the time they arrive).

My other idea of entertaining is that if it works once, do it again with a different bunch of friends, then move along and find something new.

The following recipe has been tried and tested on a few friends. I think I need to make some new friends so that I can have it again. I usually have it with some roast vegetables: parsnips, carrots and potatoes.

Salmon en croute (ever so slight adapted from this version)

150g mascarpone or cream cheese
about 120g of mache, spinach and rocket,
I found packets of 4 puff pastry squares that I like to use, but you can use short crust if you like
2 salmon fillets
1 egg, beaten
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. 
  2. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the mache, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green purée. Season well.
  3. Take out your puff pastry squares. Cut the salmon fillets in half and put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. 
  4. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel.
  5. Brush with the egg glaze.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test whether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. 
  7. Serve with the rest of the  purée as a sauce. 
Prepare up to stage 5 and prepare your roasties before your guests arrive and then you can pop it all in the oven as you finish your apero and just before you have your starter. Sorted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Writing on Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Day 24

What's going on?
There is not a great deal to add on the what's going on front. It's the last week of NaNo and the word count is crawling up. The thing is that I am being very careful about writing the second story arc in a way that is probably not befitting of NaNo. I think it's also the fact that I am getting closer to the end and it's almost like I don't want to finish. Although it's not as if I'll be letting go of my little creations for very long.

For a start there is the SCBWI From Idea to Book conference. I'm sort of registered to go. I uhmmed and ahhed about going and by the time I decided I would like to go I had missed the early bird deal, so then I uhmmed and ahhed some more. In the end I have been offered a special dessert deal. You'll be seeing me and my red caddie, full of picard goodies and who knows what else, trundling down rue Abbe Groult and rue de Commerce come December 4th.

The other reason I won't be letting go of my little buddies for too long is that I've decided to apply for one of the SCBWI work in progress grants. In fact I decided to do that before I decided to do NaNo and then I realised that unless I did NaNo I wasn't going to have a work in progress. I don't really want the $2000, it's more that I want someone who's in the industry to read it. I want to know whether this is a glorified hobby, or whether I need to really knuckle down.

So I'll get 2,500 words good, tidy up the rest, find a crit partner and leave it alone for a bit. I have another little seed that I'm not too sure what to do with, but it seems quite exciting, landslides, lightning strikes, and all sorts of adversity. Oh my.


Today Ella is still in suspended animation outside the bathroom door.
Leo is still lost somewhere.
And Will is obviously still lost too, seeing as he's with Leo.

My word count is at 40,777 words.

Check me out here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Roast: A shocking surprise.

When it comes to cooking, alcohol makes everything taste GOOD. Now I don't want to come across as an old sot. I don't consume gallons and gallons of drink every day, but I do love a good glass of wine. There is nothing to beat that feeling of warm, pure velvet dribbling down your throat.

The following recipe is a delightful pleasure because it combines some of my favourite ingredients: mushrooms, lentils and wine. It is one of my favourite VEGETARIAN recipes (and sssh, yes I know that wine isn't vegetarian).

As long as things are not completely full of mushrooms I feel that it is OK to give it to the Frog. Normally, I would eat this dish with mashed potato, but the first time I served it up to the Frog, I felt that I needed to give him meat . A sausage I suggested, I don't know why, I just felt a sausage would go well with it. The Frog agreed that a sausage would indeed go well.

I tootled off to Monoprix, picked up the various ingredients and then went off to peruse the sausage shelf. I looked left to right, right to left, and then my eyes jerked upwards. When I had suggested a sausage it wasn't because I had intrinsically known which meat would marry well with the lentils. This was why I knew sausages would go well:

It's because this meal is a French staple! I had been hoodwinked by Vegetarian Good Food magazine! An ex of mine had once said that he felt that all my recipes would taste better with meat. And now here I was seeing that indeed in this case, my recipe usually was with meat.

Despite, the sense of betrayal and upset that the French had invented this recipe first, and added meat, it's still damn nice. Feel free to add the sausage if you must, but I still prefer it with a dollop of mash on the side.

Mushroom and Lentil casserole

400g of various mushrooms (go for it, they all taste nice in this)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2 leeks
1 carrot
175 g green lentils (puy lentils are especially yummy)
150 ml red wine
300 ml vegetable stock

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the onion, leek and carrot. Cook until soft. 
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the parsley) and bring to the boil. Then cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Check regularly that you haven't run out of liquid.
  4. Add the parsley and serve with whatever takes your fancy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 20

What's going on?

Well yesterday I went to work, while the rest of the family snoozed away because they were having a day off. Progress on the wip this week has been sloow, and reports have been written at the rate of knots. So, as you can see I opted for the no sleep till December route.

So Ella, Leo and Will's story arc is kind of in suspended animation at the moment. Imagine them frozen, waiting for the next tap on the keyboard to wake them up.

This week in the aftermath of the SCBWI event in Winchester, there has been loads of feedback and I realised that I am very much a plot driven writer. I have this idea in my head and I wiggle and weedle and twist and turn and then I sit down to write and the characters come alive. The thing is, I was spending so much time with Will, Leo and Ella that whenever Morgane and Miranda came into the story they were, well... a bit flat to say the least. It was at this point in week 2 that I realised the potential of Scrivener (I know, I sound like a sales pitch). I didn't have to write Morgane and Miranda's story line straight away, in fact I merrily skipped a chapter with a smile on my face.

And now I'm writing them and just slotting them in where I think I want them. As I've already written the other stuff, I know exactly how much to give away or not. I have to say, that I am just a little pleased with myself (yeah, you've probably been doing that for years).

Lastly, I'm writing this in my new writing corner. I've been trying to grab a little space since the summer. It involved rearranging the bedroom and tidying it up. I got a little platform thingy and a cork board. Every now and again I would squirrel myself away and tap away. I've used it more during NaNo, but recently, I've reverted to the breakfast tray on the bed and me in it.

So today when I got home, the desk was installed in a corner with my laptop on it and the Frog has moved his desktop.

Today Ella is outside an open door. All she needs to do is step through it, but the voice she can hear on the other side of the door has stopped her in her tracks. 

Leo is somewhere in the Manning Mansion. I have to admit that I've kind of let him get lost.

And Will is lost with Leo! Eek

My word count is at 35,276 words.

Check me out here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writing on Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Day 17

What's going on?

Well the cat is trying to launch a sneak attack on the little bits of chicken left in the bubba's plate and the bubba is having none of it. But that wasn't really what I was asking, was it. Well... basically after the weekend writeathon I hit 30,000 words and I'm nearing the end of the wip. But, I'm shattered, which I knew I would be, which is why I was trying to pace myself on Thursday, but then blew it on Saturday and Sunday. So on Monday and Tuesday I wrote pathetic amounts and this morning I rolled over turned off the alarm at 6.15 and was found still in bed snoring (so the rumour goes) half an hour later.

Basically, I need to decide whether to write this week off and only concentrate on reports (for the day job), or whether to just go for it and sleep in December.

Today Ella is about to go rushing off to the Manning Mansion, near Mullion's Cove. She is pretty much working on adrenaline at the moment and is not really thinking about the consequences of what she might find at the mansion. 

Leo is a bit lost. He's is fairly certain that Ella and Will are helping him to find his sister. It's all the stuff that happened afterwards that he's not sure about. Like, who is Miranda? Where did she come from? Why do Will and Ella think Miranda is with Morgane? And why do they have to get to the Manning Mansion by four o'clock? Why must this press conference not go ahead?

And Will is also a bit confused, but he's more confused about his feelings. For a start he wishes so much that it was him holding this press conference and not his blooming boss. He also knows how wrong it is to think that, even if he does have one live sample in his kitchen. But it's best not to go down that road, instead he'll just think about Miranda. But no,  that's all too confusing too. What if she is there? And what if she isn't?

My word count is at 31,278 words.

Check me out here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Sunday Roast: Diets and Cook Books

I am one of those people whose weight fluctuates. The only time I start to think about dieting is when I get near the 70 kilo mark. This has happened on several occasions throughout my life. Once when I was doing my A levels and my idea of exercising was waddling to the bus. Another time was after two years of living in Spain and living off tortilla (totally yummy and totally fattening). The first time I gave up giving up smoking I hit the 70 mark and the last time I hit it was at the end of my pregnancy. On each occasion I lost the weight either through boot camp style exercise ( a summer job at the post office) or through some crazy diet my Dad, work colleague or gynaecologist suggested.

The problem with diets is that they are either difficult to follow or the food is horrible. And you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out that eventually the diet is going to fail. After giving up on food combining and The South Beach Diet, I finally ended up trying Weight Watchers, where to be perfectly honest, everything they propose tastes like pants. South Beach on the other hand had well yummy recipes, but an impossible regime to follow. And let's not even go down the food combining road hey.

So, this is where in the end Weight Watchers wins out. You can eat whatever you want. Seriously, I know colleagues who have done WW, stuck within their points, but lived on beer for three months and still lost weight. It's not healthy, but voila.

For me to succeed at WW, I had to eat good food. Tasty food. And The South Beach Diet cookbook is full of tasty recipes, really full. I've tried two, maybe three of them. I'm terrible with cookbooks. I see them, I covet them, I try a handful of recipes out of them. They take up space on my shelf that could otherwise be filled with fiction and in the end they get covered in dust. I have vowed to buy no more. The internet has rendered cookbooks obsolete.  So before I pack the things away for good, I'll share the one or two recipes from each book that I use.

Aubergine Pasta

1 big aubergine sliced lengthways
a tin of tomatoes
loads of fresh basil roughly cut
olive oil
1 tbsp tomato purée
clove of garlic

  1. Brush the aubergines with oil and grill each side for 5 minutes, then set aside until cool (trust me on this one, cutting hot aubergine is painful).
  2. Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft. 
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, purée and loads of fresh basil. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. 
  4. Cut up the aubergine up and add to the sauce for about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add pepper.
I prefer this sauce with tagliatelli, but we all have our own preferences.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 13

What's going on? 
Well, I haven't actually done any writing as such today, what with it being 8 o'clock in the morning. The thing is I did do some writing last night. In case I haven't mentioned this (enough times) I am on my own this weekend. So for the first time in just over two years I can totally have a lie in, I have absolutely no reason to get up and at 7 o'clock I realise that I'm actually awake and planning a scene in my head that I haven't written and will actually need to be shoved in quite early on. At that point, I realised that even if my arms and legs were not conscious, my head was, so I moved my body grabbed my laptop a couple of cables and came back to bed. Well, if I can't sleep in, at least I'm not going to get out of bed!

So two things and I really will try to keep it to two things today. Firstly, after I finished writing last night it suddenly dawned on me that I was basically over the midway hump and therefore careering towards the end of my wip. A bit of quick math and I realised there was a great possibility that with the way I was going I wasn't going to hit 50,000 words with this wip. There was a moment of disappointment when I realised I wasn't going to be a NaNo winner, but like I say that was short, because then I realised that I'm going to get this wip out. It's not complicated, no, what I mean is convoluted. It's got a manageable number of characters, and unless I do nothing but sit on my laurels in December and January, I do have a chance of achieving goal number two. All I will say about goal number two is I need fifteen well written pages.

But then I started to panic. What if the book is too short? Because let's face it, I don't know about you guys, but when I edit, I slash and there are already some scenes that need to be GONE. Which doesn't mean that they won't get put elsewhere, but what I've taken a chapter to TELL, will be SHOWN elsewhere.

A bit of internet research and I realised that my word count is going to be good as a first time author, but in December I really need to decide who I'm aiming for. I know that my wip is not YA, but then I don't think it's traditionally Middle Grade (8-12) either. It seems that there is a new 'Tween' audience of 10-14 year olds and I guess I'm there.  Either way, the word count is OK, so no worries there.

So to the second point. The other day I mentioned Scrivener quickly. It has been developed for a Mac (grr...) but they are running a BETA test for Windows with the Windows version coming out in 2011. If you are signed up for NaNo you can get a free trial of the Mac version until December 1st and if you are a winner than you will get a discount coupon for it. If you are a Windows user you can use it until December 12th, when you can then download another BETA version.

But what is it? Well the link explains a lot better than I will, but I'll try. So, I've used the analogy of a writer's shed, but I've never had a writer's shed, so I'll try and explain it the best way I can.
  • First there was the outline written on green post its and stuck on the corkboard in order.
  • Next came some sketches of locations and pictures that would help with those locations, plans of a yacht. Stuff like that. 
  • Then there was the notebook. It's almost full with notes, timelines, ideas, back stories, motivation letters and little 'ooh aah' moments that I get on the bus. I then come home and write dates all over the green post its, so that when I'm writing that bit I know where to look in the notebook. 
  • Then there is a word document called notes. This contains links to that wonderful, if slightly unreliable, resource wikipedia, where most of my research is done. OK there is other stuff as well, a lot of street view and a pdf file for a German submarine makers site. 
  • Then there are the chapters written on Word. 
  • Then there is the Word Master Document where I put all the individual files together (sometimes adding the same chapter twice and making my word count jump significantly, so that first I get excited and then I realise, who am I kidding, you know you didn't write that much).
OK, well Scrivener puts all that stuff together in one place, and formats your work into a manuscript automatically at the end. In addition, it has this funky little keywords function, so that you can then search through your wip so that you can call up the chapters with a certain character or location in it. Like I said, I can't use it on the bus (unless you have an i pad Father Christmas), but it's full of possibilities, especially on the mac where it has all the features.

So now to whip that wip into shape.

Today Ella is making connections, connections. She's just realised who has Morgane. Now the problem is how are they going to get her.  

Leo is on a pretty low ebb. For a little guy who is usually pretty chirpy, even in the face of dire adversity, he's realised that if Ella is right than the Mearh are in big, big trouble. But Ella could be wrong? Right?

And Will is totally off track and wondering what's going on between Leo and Ella. He's little, she's tall. He's weird, she's pretty cool, even if he is a bit biased. And what about his cephalopod? Travis has gone off on a tangent instead of trying to find the ROV.

My word count is at 23,537 words.

Check me out here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 11

So today is day 11 of NaNoWriMo and after yesterday's NaNo lost my MoJo, I've managed to get back a bit into the rhythm. The frog has driven off into the pouring rain with the cat and the bubba to Charente. They have arrived safely, thankfully. I should maybe write a story about the lesser rain god of the A10, but I think Douglas Adams has already done that. And besides I'm digressing. My point is that I have four (if we ignore the fact that the only reason I'm not in Charente is because of work tomorrow) days of blissfully free writing hours. I've taken over the dining room table. The sink is filling up, I've drunk far too many cups of tea and right now I would be making the bubba's dinner, but instead I'm writing this and listening to Coldplay far too loudly.

Today Ella is trying to think up a good excuse for getting her Dad to drag her to Truro.

Leo is wondering why his excuse was pants (but of course, he isn't using the words pants as that is far too colloquial).

And Will is finally getting his moment on the page. After totally misjudging Travis, Will is wondering whether he will have to include Travis's name when he unveils the discovery of a totally unknown cephalopod. Then again he's also wondering how he is going to continue to finding out about the cephalopod now that Travis has lost the research submarine. Oh no, that's right, according to Travis it isn't lost, somebody stole it. Yeah, Travis isn't all that bad, but he is living in James Bond world. Who would steal a 4 tonne research sub? And more to the point, HOW would they steal it.

My word count is at 19,869 words.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writing on Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Day 10

What's going on?

Not a great deal since Sunday. I really got into the story on Sunday and basically Monday and Tuesday have been a real struggle to hit the word count. I think that I am having a couple of problems here.

Firstly there was a pep talk sent out this week entitled: Silencing your inner editor. So far, I have completely failed to do that. As a result I have been spending every waking moment planning the first edit! I even thought of editing my synopsis the other day!

This leads onto the next point. Rather over optimistically, the day before NaNo started I hoped  I didn't write:
a big steaming pile of poop
and boy am I doing just that. It pains me, because I know I can write better than that. On purpose, I am just getting it down on the page. Sometimes some dialogue shines though, sometimes I think oh! But mainly it's like... mmm, well it's a bit crap.

Maybe NaNo is all about rediscovering your inner vomiter. In 2007 I set myself this goal of writing my first draft of The Shaelhan Sensors during the summer holidays. I churned out thousands and thousands of words and got the story out. Then came the critique, which was just an amazing learning curve. The problem is I think I'm still in that second mode. I've lost the blurt it out onto the page part of me.

The other difference between Shaelhan and this WIP is that, yes I did it in two months, but I was on HOLIDAY! So my final point is I am a wee bit tired (read knackered).

Anyway, I will try and knock something out tonight and then tomorrow I have the day off because it's Armistice Day (I think - I know it's terrible that I'm not a 100% sure). So, I'll try to catch up and get the momentum going again.

So my very final point (I promise) is about momentum. It's kind of hard to get it going when you are constantly interrupted.

OK, enough woe is me, in the end the word count is not that bad, but I do think we are hitting a bit of a midway lull. The thing is that I want to keep the pace of this WIP racing, and I planned it day by day so that something exciting happened every day. Then I got into the pace and I got through the action a bit quicker than I planned. So maybe I should just do what I said I would do on Sunday and make a note to myself and get on as if I had fixed it.

Oh, and this is completely by the by, but if you are signed up on NaNo you can get a free trial of Scrivener. It's described as the equivalent of the writer's shed, and as I don't have a writer's shed I thought I would check it out. I'm about a third of the way through the tutorial and it seems quite exciting. I feel a bit low tech with my corkboard and notebook. The main disadvantage I see with it is that as I don't have an i pad, how am I supposed to use it on the bus? See the notebook fits into my handbag and I took photos of my corkboard and that's on my mobile. Oh well, we'll see.

So now to how the dudes are doing today.

Today Ella is still a bit miffed. She's not a 100% sure if Morgane was ever her friend, or just using her to get access to her Dad and information she needed. Despite this, Ella's decided to help Leo because he's pretty honest and upfront, and she can really understand how he feels.

Leo is sitting at Ella's table baring his soul. Well, at least he is trying to, as concisely as possible. But somewhere, deep down he is also beginning to entertain the possibility that he may never see his sister again.

And Will is now out of the pub and a little hungover (oh OK, a lot) and he's a bit worried about his colleague Travis. Up until last night he thought Travis was a bit of a geek. Now he's discovered that Travis is the laughing stock of the town, mocked for being the only fisherman in Penwithen never to have caught a fish. He's also derided for his inability to navigate and poor steering skills. Given what Will has heard, he's pacing around by the harbour walls waiting for Travis to return on the Timaeus.

My word count is at 16,661 words.

Check me out here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 7

What's going on?

This week's learning curve has been quite steep. For a start, I learnt that no matter how much I thought I had planned there were still some chasm like holes in my plot. The chronology was a bit out of whack and if we were to do a tension graph there were definitely some parts of the plot where readers would be bordering on snoozing rather than sitting on the edge of their seats (read last weeks NaNo update for confirmation).

Normally at the falling asleep stage I would go back and just do a rewrite. And silly old me, tried to pep up a chapter a little bit on Saturday. The problem was I was really tired (that's a whole other story in itself entitled: The varied adventures of Merlin, the expensively deformed cat) and all I ended up doing is cutting my word count. Gah! Slap head, curl up under duvet and have a nap, which I did.

Today (it's Sunday, am I confusing you with the chronology again) I found another one of those chasms. Keep writing I told myself. It's only a couple of lines, my fingers said and deleted. Doh! My head said.

Another thing that was going on today was that I was hosting the first English write-in. English in that you needed to write in English. There was one Brit, one American, one Australian and a French person (YES, I am soooo impressed).

The disadvantages of hosting the write-in is that I have to be there on time. Not being fantastic on the old timing front I ended up having to leave before I could eat the lunch I had cooked, taking a small tupperware of three day old Thai prawn curry instead. The next bad thing was that EVERYONE was late. That wasn't as huge a problem as I make it sound as we are now leading into the good things.

The advantages are that I got two and a half hours (in a row) of uninterrupted me time. To have wasted more than a second of that time would have been stupid, so straight after I'd eaten the Thai prawn curry, I got cracking. I was so busy that I didn't even notice that the first writer had been ringing the bell for the last five minutes!

So, the word count for just under two hours (what with cups of tea, introductions and some cake eating) was just under 2,000. Maybe it was a little bit more given what I had deleted.

The other good thing was that I remembered comments, those lovely little pink, blue (whatever colour your computer does) bubbles where I can write myself a little reminder of why that part of the plot is no good and how it can be fixed and then I write as if I had fixed it.

So, that's me, now let's see how the characters are doing.

Today Ella is stuck in a cave and needs to get home pretty quickly or Will will start wondering where she is. She's a bit reluctant to go as she's just made a pretty amazing discovered about Leo and her supposed best friend Morgane and she's got about a million and one questions to ask. Also I don't quite know how to get Ella home, so I may just leave that till the rewrite and worry about it then.

Leo is with Ella and has rescued her mobile phone, and well, he's also rescued Ella, but he's going to be no help in getting her home. And there's no way he's going to answer her questions quickly, so she's just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

And Will is in the pub with Travis. That is more exciting than it sounds, but I haven't worked out how yet.

My word count is at 14,221 words.

Check me out here.

The Sunday Roast: Chilli

When I first became vegetarian I had two staple recipes. If you came and stayed with me for a weekend one day you would get chilli and the next day curry. Both were essentially the same, I opened the cupboard and shoved everything in, including baked beans (yes, there was baked beans in my curry).

So, over the years I have learned a few things about vegetarian cooking. First, less is more. If you really want to savour the tastes then one or two ingredients work much better than shoving everything and the kitchen sink in. Secondly, the baked beans wasn't such a huge mistake after all.

Back in the day, when I was shoving everything in, I spent one summer in a fit of post adolescent pique sharing a flat with a couple of friends, one of whom was a vegan chef. I learnt several things that summer. Vegan cooking is fantastic for weight loss. I caught sight of myself in the mirror one day and realised that I was SKINNY! I also realised that there was no way in hell I could be vegan. While Chef Leatherbarrow conjured up tasty and wonderful meals, it required culinary skills far beyond my capabilities. The other thing that Monsieur Leatherbarrow let me into was the secret of a good chilli: sugar!

Since then my chilli recipe has developed a wee bit. There was a moment there, where I tried a mushroomless version to please the Frog, but that was just wrong, so the mushies are back.

Vegetarian Chilli
Tin of red kidney beans
tin of chopped tomatoes
big splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
a few drops of tabasco sauce
1 tsp chilli/chilli flakes
coriander fresh and 1/2 tsp ground
1 tbs oil
a small punnet of mushrooms
a red or green (or yellow or orange even) pepper

  1. Heat the oil
  2. Cook the onion till soft.
  3. Add the chilli, paprika and coriander and fry for about a minute (or until you can really smell the spices). 
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, tabasco, sugar and big splash of balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about ten to twenty minutes (the longer the better). 
  5. Add the kidney beans and its sauce (don't drain them in other words). Cook for about five minutes more until the beans are warmed through. 
  6. Add the fresh coriander and ground pepper. 
Serve with plain rice or with wraps and creme fraiche, grated cheese and guacamole (that's the fat version, but very tasty). 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Writing on Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Day 3

Last night I realised that to survive the insanity of NaNoWriMo that some things were going to have to go. Unfortunately work has to stay, along with a thousand and one other mundane tasks. So realising that, and after some complicated maths (1667*7-5000(or 6000 or 8000)/5=) I had yet another brainwave: scheduled posts! So apologies dear readers, I confess that it is actually the 17th October while I write this, but the rest is short and sweet and written in real time.

What's going on?

Today Ella is walking to school with Leo and wondering about him. He's weird, speaks in a funny way and reminds her of someone.
Leo is also on his way to school with Ella and has discovered a beautiful sea view. He's starting to realise that the sea is pretty above as well as below. 
And Will is procrastinating. He has discovered a new love for washing, doing the dishes, making lunch and dinner, anything rather than work.

My word count is at 6591 words.

Check me out here.

PS If this post ever goes out blank, there is trouble afoot!


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