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Eating on week nights

We have recently gone from taking turns in cooking dinners from scratch each weeknight to me batch cooking on the weekend for a few hours and this meaning that we cook about once during the week and we have stuff for lunches.

I'm curious how other people eat in the evenings. 


A kitchen gadget I don't think I need

Let me start by saying I've got an excellent Kenwood mixer/processor/blender and a myriad of attachments.  I also have a slow cooker.  When I heard about this new amazing continental thing called a Thermomix or the local equivalent of a Kcook by Kenwood, I was interested to find out how these things could 'revolutionise my kitchen'.

Both of these consist of a heated bowl which can chop, blend and heat at the same time.  The Thermomix costs about £800.00 and the Kcook about £200.00.

I've spent quite a while looking at the recipes and I don't really get the time saving angle of it.  You still need to be there to put the stuff into the thing.  You might have one less pot to wash but that's it.

Am I missing something?


The improved menu

Further to this, the very helpful input I got has led me to a reduced (and probably saner) menu

Potato, Prune and bacon cake
Vegetable terrine (V)

Cucumber amd mint salad (V)
(Bread, butter, humous, pate and tapenade will be served)

Salmon en croute
Spanakopita (V)
Tomato salad (olive oil and sea salt)(V)
Roasted artichokes (V)
Hasselback potatoes (V)

Charlotte Royale
Clafoutis aux Pruneaux
(Served with cream)


What could be improved on this menu?

I'm looking for some input on a menu I'm planning.  Please assume you are either vegetarian or have no dietary requrements. (NB If I did have someone with other dietary requirements I would of course adjust accordingly).  This is a summer menu so is light on purpose.

Salmon and white fish terrine wrapped in spinach
Vegetable terrine with goats cheese(V)
(Bread, butter, humous and tapenade will be served)

Salmon en croute
Spanakopita (V)
Courgettes with curry spiced oil (v)
Asparagus in butter (v)

Charlotte Royale
Clafoutis aux Pruneaux
Tarte aux pommes
(Served with cream or a chocolate sauce)



So I walk into Boots with an idea of finding a nice soft baby brush to brush Mira's tummy because she likes having her tummy stroked but the metal comb we have would hurt her.

Assistant in Boots is walking through the baby aisle and sees a lost looking person and offers to help.
She shows lost person to a plastic baby brush and comb set.
Lost person says - Oh thank you, but no, it would hurt her tummy.
Assistant goes off to help someone else.

I re-run the conversation in my head but from the Assistant's side.  There are other chemists I can go to while I live in Birmingham, possibly for several decades.


Alan Nourse: Star Surgeon

Have read it and will soon re-read before I properly review.  Nice story, liked the theme of the outsider, the alternative concept to the identification of disease, found the ending a little trite and I like Fuzzy.

But even though it was written in 1960, WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?


Whither the bath.

A random though hit me today.  Many do but this one stuck.  In this day and age do we really need a bath in our homes?  I have had one bath in 8 months.  My mother has used her bath twice in twenty years but despite a tiny bathroom which necessitated a corner bath to make it fit, refuses to remove it and put in a far more practical walk in shower..

And as I am a rational person I asked myself if I would buy a house without a bath? Nope.  Despite the space they take up, I am emotionally attached to a bath.  I want a bath after a really bad day.  I know that if I have a messy job to do like bathe a pet, bleach/dye something large or dissolve a corpse at least I will have a contained space to do it.

Do you have a bath in the home you live in?


Have you used it in the last year?


Did you use it most recently to bathe yourself or another human?


If not for human bathing, what did you last use your bath for?

Would you consider living in a home without a bath but with a shower?



Learning to cater for buffet dinners and not get bothered about it

Since we have started being more sociable in our new house, I have started to pick up some tips that make this easier because when you have a number of guests round, you really don't want to be messing around with food.  I have developed a number of habits and divested a magnitude of guilt  Using this method, I can comfortably cope with up to about 14 people coming over for gaming.

1. Plan it on the kitchen whiteboard and tick off when done.  Start with an empty dishwasher and empty bins.  Feed the cat beforehand and have a pot of coffee on.  Have a good stock of disposable wipes/kitchen roll/bin bags.
2. Take everything out of the fridge which I intend to use and group into recipe clumps on the worktop.
3. Buy chopped onions/pre chopped veg/grated cheese the day before.
4. Buy pre rolled pastry and bake a quiche.(Fry the veg, stick on the pastry, top up with beaten egg/cream and grated cheese, bake).  And if I have pastry left over - jam tarts.
5. Depending on attendees make the same meal work for them all:  A vegan butter nut squash soup, have cream on the side and bacon bits.
6. Any guest who turns up and asks if they can help will be taken seriously.  (Last poor victim ended up frying halloumi, making popcorn and assembling meringue nests and also later playing with cat to keep her occupied (the cat that is)).
7. Own 2 slow cookers and limit the people coming near the stove, getting under your feet and spilling soup on the cooker.
8. Meat eaters: To a large slow cooker add two raw lamb shoulders, a jar of very good quality pasts sauce (Zest) and a bag of good   quality frozen veg.  Come back 6 hours later and pick out the shoulder bones with fingers.
9.  Partially assemble salads and leave the dressing as something people can add themselves.
10.  Breadmaker - have two or three bags of mix in reserve and know they take 2 hours on rapid and serve it hot.
11.  Carpet bomb the place with coasters and mats.
12.  Have a designated dead bottle space.
13. Frozen to oven pain chocolait/croissants are an excellent cheat.

Beyond that I try to keep the cat off the dining table (because she'll walk around displaying her butt), keep long hairs out of the food and always use a temperature probe so you don't poison your guests.

Anyone got any other lazy tips?


Medical Science Fiction

Thanks very much to everyone who replied.  I'm trying to concentrate on post 1950 stuff.  And I'm not too big on plagues and zombies.  I'll start with James White because most people named him.

Here's the list so far:
James White (Sector General series - 12 books) Various short stories
Greg Bear (Blood Music)
Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon)
Geoff Ryman (The Child Garden)

Michael Blumlein (Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration)
Alan Nourse (Star Surgeon, The Mercy Men, Contamination crew, Bladerunner)
Piers Anthony (Prostho Plus)
John Varley (Steel Beach)
T. J. Bass (The Godwhale)
Lois McMaster Bujold The 3rd & 4th of the Sharing Knife series have "major character learning medicine" as a major plot thread
Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog.
James E Gunn The Immortals

Novelette/Short stories:
C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner); "The Little Black Bag
Elizabeth Moon "ABCs in Zero G".
Bernard Wolfe (Limbo)

And here's what the SF encyclopedia page gave me
And it did lead me to a book of short stories called: Great Science Fiction about doctors
Walter M Miller Jr's "Blood Bank" (June 1952 Astounding),
William Tenn's "Down Among the Dead Men" (June 1954 Galaxy),
Cordwainer Smith's "A Planet Named Shayol" (October 1961 Galaxy)
Larry Niven's "The Organleggers" (January 1969 Galaxy; vt "Death by Ecstasy" in The Shape of Space, coll 1969)
Caduceus Wild (January-May 1959 Science Fiction Stories; rev 1978) by Ward Moore and Robert Bradford
Dr Adder (1984) by K W Jeter,
Resurrection, Inc. (1988) by Kevin J Anderson,
Body Mortgage (1989) by Richard Engling
 Crygender (1992) by Thomas T Thomas.
The Madman's Daughter (2013) by Megan Shepherd.
Joe Haldeman's Buying Time (1989; vt The Long Habit of Living 1989).
Raymond Hawkey's thriller Side-Effect (1979)
F M Busby's The Breeds of Man (1988),
Thomas M Disch's The MD: A Horror Story (1991)
Charles L Harness's The Catalyst (1980)
Kate Wilhelm's Welcome, Chaos (1983).

Already read
Bujold's Ethan of Athos and Falling Free both have strong themes of reproductive medicine and related genetic manipulation.

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What I learned from 8 seasons of Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit

For reasons that are beyond me, I watched 8 seasons of L&O:SVU over Christmas.  Here is what I have learned.

That white Christian extremists are the most satisfying bad guy.
That just about everyone has a hit in codis.
That most episodes will have a 'let's dispell a fallacy' section is the form of an info dump.
That the coroner always has perfect hair.
That Jeremy Irons and Robin Williams guested in it.
That Olivia Benson will never be happy in her life.  Every time someone so much as smiles as her they due for a good old fashioned smiting/killing/jailing/suiciding.  Bloody hell girl get out of the job 'cos misery is all that's in the post.
That her partner Elliot finds it hard to pass an episode without at least two accusations of police brutality.  Possibly that's why he gets shot about twice a season and has two emotions.
That ICE T can act, as long as he's playing a street wise thug with a limited emotion range and vocabularly.
That Munch gets all the best lines.
That the majority of perps or humps get 25 to life up in Sing Sing and nobody nice ever goes to central booking.

But most of all it hit me as I walked home through Birmingham tonight and saw an advert for a movie on the side of a bus:


So in the spirit of ICE-T: Gramps the Five Oh gonna bust yo skanky ass to supermax.