Archive for February 2007

Not much to report…

Posted by on February 28th 2007 in Rambling on...

In no particular order, the following activities have been conducted:

Chipping away at the bathroom (literally and metaphorically);

Trawled the other blogs;

Spent far too much time on the OM forums;

SWMBO and me made preliminary plans for our annual high-level wildcamp;

Watched the Wainwright progs on BBC4.

Cairns – a touchy subject for some people

Posted by on February 25th 2007 in Blog on Blog

So, are you pro or anti?

Would a blog about it sway your decision?
Have a look at The Rocker and then reassess your opinion.

Fish Risotto the easy way

Posted by on February 25th 2007 in Dehydrating

Who says that microwave meals are crap? This is a really good recipe for healthy, tasty and filling food - it’s easy to prepare, quick to cook, dries well and rehydrates fast. It’s one that I’ve adapted from the BBC Good Food magazine, just thought that I would mention that before Aunty Beeb and her publishers come knocking on the door brandishing writs! Anyway, ingredients are as follows:


  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stock cube (veg or fish)
  • 850ml / 1.5 pints boiling water
  • 250g / 9 oz risotto rice (risotto, arborio and carnaroli are best, long-grain will do at a push but the results aren’t as good, any other rice just doesn’t work)
  • 250g / 9 oz smoked fish, skinned and cut into chunks (cod or haddock are recommended, but I’ve tried pollack and mackerel and they work too, I’ve yet to try a mix of fish but that’s on the cards)
  • 1 large cupful of frozen peas
  • large knob of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt (optional)
  • Some freshly-ground black pepper (optional)


Nuke it as follows:


Put the onion and the garlic in a large microwaveable bowl, add the stock cube and ½ a pint of boiling water. Stir it up, cover it (cling-film is OK for this, or use a casserole dish with a lid) then microwave it on High for 3 minutes.

Stir in the rice and another ½ a pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

Stir in the fish, the frozen peas and the last ½ pint of boiling water, cover it again then microwave it on High for another 4 minutes.

Check that the rice is cooked (nice and soft), if it isn’t, another 1 minute of cooking should sort it out.

Leave the bowl to stand for 1-2 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed, then stir in the butter. Add the salt and pepper if desired, and stir it all up.

You should dehydrate it immediately to prevent bacterial growth in the rice. Drying usually takes about 8 hours. After you’ve bagged it, freeze it.

According to the blurb, this lot makes 4 servings as a standard meal. I divvy it up to make 3 x 125g bagged meals.

Approximate dietary content for the whole lot:

1292 kcalories, 80g protein, carbs 224g, fat 16g, satfat 8g, fibre 12g, salt 12.4g.

Turkey in a Bag

Posted by on February 23rd 2007 in Dehydrating

Yet another culinary concoction! This is what's in it:

  • 2 organic turnips
  • 4 big organic spuds
  • 2 organic parsnips
  • 6 carrots
  • 2 organic onions
  • 450g turkey breast (pre-cooked in foil then drained, diced and left overnight to soak in a little white wine)
  • 1 tin baked beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 pints of stock (made from water, the juices from the pre-cooking of the turkey and some Bisto)
  • Some left-over corned beef (optional)

Chop the veg nice and chunky, bung it all in a big pot and bring to the boil slowly, then turn down to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Strain off the liquid and put the solids straight into the dehydrator and fire it up. While that's going on, reduce the strained liquid in a big pan until it's syrupy, then pour it over the stuff in the dehydrator. Spend 24 hours redecorating the bathroom and watching DVDs while the whole lot dries out, then bag it and freeze it.
This lot would normally be enough for 6 bagged meals, but I've already eaten one serving (just to check it) and made the remainder into biggies, 3 bags @ 150g each.

An interesting week

Posted by on February 21st 2007 in Rambling on...

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been six days since my last blog entry...

OK, where to start?

The weekend was spent multi-tasking, mainly destructively DIYing the bathroom and chastising the kids into doing their holiday homework. Sadly there were no Six Nations games to distract from proceedings 🙁

Monday - the kids went back to school, so I could do some bathroom reconstruction. First up was the bricking-up of an unused vent, which went well. Next was the replacement of a patch of bad plaster in the top corner of the room. When I started to scrape the duff stuff off, the whole area collapsed into the cavity - the previous owner had bodged a bit of plasterboard into the hole, then plastered over it. Peering into the hole, I noticed that the bricks on the far side (outside wall) were missing, he had done the same trick but using mortar instead of plaster, but he left a big gap allowing any rain to run down inside the cavity. No wonder the plasterwork in there needs replacing! After swearing a lot, I bunged up the holes with plastic bags and went off in a huff to watch The Hunt for Red October on DVD. One good thing about Monday was that my Thornthwaite Crag piccy eventually got approved for the OM Gallery. Most readers will know the one. The other good thing was that my youngest got through her Brownie Guide Promise ceremony without a hitch - I was so proud of her.

Tuesday - used my last 3 internal bricks to fill the inner hole, then went outside to get the ladders to go up and fix the outer hole. Guess what - no ladders. Grrrr. Came back to the laptop to get prices for new ladder, only to find that the lappy was infected with some virusy shite. Double Grrrr. This took all day and most of the evening to fix, so that was a wasted day. Many thanks to all who helped me to fix it, I couldn't have done it without you.

Today - got a good deal on some ladders at B&Q, they were more than I planned to spend but my neighbour flashed his OAP-card and got 15% off, so that dulled the pain a bit. Anyway, the outside hole's gone now, so I'm back on the web, looking for new blogs (Hi, Maverickapollo!) and stirring things on OM as usual 🙂

Tonight I'll be cooking for the dehydrator again, Turkey Casserole and Fish Risotto are on the to-do list, I'll blog the details later.


Networking update

Posted by on February 15th 2007 in Shiny new kit

The wireless card arrived yesterday* and we're up and running already. Had to upgrade the laptop OS to W2K to be able to use the SpeedBooster mode, all's well so far.

* Bought it from a third-party seller on Amazon, they were supposed to ship it withing 2 days but wasn't shipped until day nine, so I fired off a complaint to Amazon, quoting their T&Cs. They replied today, saying that, because of the late delivery, they were refunding me half of the P&P costs for the item, so that's not so bad.

Rab VR Climb Jacket

Posted by on February 13th 2007 in My reviews

This is what Rab say about it:

The Polartec® Classic 100 lining in the Vapour-rise Climb Jacket makes this the warmest garment in the Vapour-rise range. The Vapour-rise Climb Jacket is worn over a base layer as an effective 'soft shell' in all but the very worst of mountain weather. By balancing wind resistance, warmth and breathability the jacket creates a comfortable operating environment through a wide range of temperatures and activities and excels for mountain walking and mountaineering. Weight: 570g

  • Pertex Equilibrium® with Polartec® Classic 100 lining.
  • Shield water resistant treatment.
  • Three zipped chest pockets.
  • Drawcord hem and venting Velcro cuffs.
  • Full length 2 way zip.
  • Stretch Pertex Equilibrium® shoulder and arm panels.
  • Wired peak hood zips into collar.

This is what I say about it:

It fits me well as a baselayer or, if it's sub-zero, over one. I've worn it in some good and some fairly foul weather, it has resisted driven rain and snow but at no time have I either overheated or chilled. It doesn't ride up at all even when at full arm-stretch, and it doesn't slide about under a pack. Others have commented on the length of the arms, and yes, they are longer than expected, but the Velcro closures at the wrists are gusseted, so you can form comfy thumb-loops with them or you can roll them up. The lined zip-away wired hood is surprisingly good and easy to deploy without taking off the jacket. The fabric is durable, the only weak point that I can see is the stitch-work - everything is single-stitched, which means that a pulled thread could result in a gaping seam (double-stitching would have been better and wouldn't have upped the weight by much). I like the pocket arrangement - very pack-friendly.






More goodies :-)

Posted by on February 9th 2007 in Shiny new kit

Grip Clips.
I got interested in these little widgets when Parky put a thread about them on OM, then forgot about them until Parky told me that he had received some and was going to send me some samples. Well, I was blown away when he sent me half a dozen samples various - what a kind and generous bloke, I've never knowingly met him and he sends me kit, that says a lot about him and about OMers in general. Thanks again, Parky. (OM thread link here)
Anyway, these clips are very versatile bits of kit, so far I've tried them as lifters on big poly-tarps, ice-axe loops on rucksacks, glove-string loops on shell-jacket sleeves, and I reckon that they'll come in handy when I get my Tarp2. They grip the fabric well without distorting or damaging it, they don't move no matter how much you load them.
I may get around to attaching some pics to this blog entry over the weekend when I can grab a spare few minutes.

Home Networking.
This week saw the first stage of the home network completed - a nice Linksys WRT54GS-UK Wireless-G Broadband Router with SpeedBooster is now wired up between our cable modem and my laptop, the installation was a doddle and the modem hasn't needed a reboot like it used to whenever it got arsey or when SWMBO connected her work laptop to it. We aren't fully wireless yet - I'm waiting on a Linksys WPC54GS-UK Wireless-G PCMCIA Card with SpeedBooster for my laptop, SWMBO will continue to be wired when using her work laptop. If all goes well, I'll probably have to get the kids' PCs connected to the network too, eventually.

A busy week

Posted by on February 8th 2007 in Rambling on...

Wahey, I've actually started gutting the bathroom in preparation for the refurb. A couple of days of destructive DIY have resulted in all of the old tiles being hacked off, only to reveal that the plaster underneath is in a bad state and needs replacing before the re-tiling can commence. Oh, what joy, more plastering, I just love plastering. NOT!

Had a telephone chat with Weird Darren yesterday about blagging tickets for the OS Outdoors Show. I had to decline his kind offer of some potentially free tickets, as I've already got ours printed out and sitting on the mantleshelf. He let slip that Podcast Bob might be pointing his mike and videocam in my direction (he's checking out the Blogger Scene, man!) so I might have to go in disguise (maybe I'll wear a false beard, lol).

Anyway, it snowed today, so lots of the local schools were affected. Typically, the junior school was open and the high school was closed, so my attention had to be split between walking Annabelle to school (see * below), attending to Elanor during her day off, chipping away at the bathroom and keeping everything quietish while SWMBO worked from home (the roads were too bad for her to drive to work, plus this weather isn't good for her asthma).

(* - just to clarify, it went like this... walk to school, take her in, get told that she needed a swimming kit, walk back home, get kit, get suckered into walking Ella to her friend's house after dropping off the kit, walk home, work a bit, tidy up, walk back to school, pick up Anna, walk back home. Turns out that it adds up to over 7 miles. There's a certain irony about the situation - I've been known to drive hundreds of miles and camp out in ridiculous conditions for whole weekends in order to walk 7 miles in the snow... maybe I've been doing it wrong all along, eh?)

Another TKMaxx rummage

Posted by on February 2nd 2007 in TKMaxx

Yesterday I had another rummage through the bargain-rails at TKMaxx Nuneaton. Here are the results, in no particular order:

  • Keela Phantom Softshell Jackets - Polyester and Spandex, the thick stretchy stuff. Various colour combinations and sizes, £39.99.
  • Zojirushi Tuff Slim Flasks - Small ones only, can't remember the stated capacity, £7.99.
  • Lowe Alpine Deimos Trousers (samples) - 3xDry Schoeller Extreme Dryskin, Limestone grey, Men's 32" waist, £59.99. They also have samples of a similar version (darker grey, no name-tag) with different pocket and ankle configurations. Now, these aren't really a bargain at this price, but every so often they reduce the odd pair to £30 which is not to be sniffed at. I bought a pair of the darker ones last year (at £30, of course!) and they have been excellent in all conditions.
  • They still have some of those nice Keela Belay Jackets as per my previous TKMaxx blog, they've not dropped in price yet 🙁
  • They had a new batch of Keela waterproof fleece jackets (water-repellent fleece outer with a fully-taped waterproof breathable lining) - very comfy, fits well but too warm for me, I was tempted to get one for somebody I know until I found that the detachable hoods were missing from all of the jackets. Apparently, they were delivered without any hoods, so maybe not such a bargain at £29.99.
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