bookmark_borderThai food

Last Friday, we had Phyllis’s brother and his wife round for dinner.

I decided to cook a bit of Thai food, using my favourite Thai cookbook: Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook.

At first, I was thinking about cooking just a curry, but I then read its section on composing a meal: “Most often, in addition to the obligatory bowl of rice, there will be a soup of some kind, a curry, a steamed dish, a fried one, a sald, and one or more of the basic sauces.”

That sounded a bit daunting, so as a compromise I decided to cook four dishes and serve them together: Fish cakes, prawn/pineapple curry, beef salad, and broccoli with oyster sauce.

They seemed to quite like it, but then it is an excellent cookbook.

Here’s how to make the fish cakes:

Mince 250 g white fish fillets with a knife. Mix the fish well with 3 tbsp red curry paste, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp cornflour and ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda. Chop some fresh basil and mix it in. Shape the mixture into balls, 5 cm x 5 cm x 2½ cm, and let them rest in the fridge for a while. Then deep-fry them in hot oil (160°C).

bookmark_borderThis is an ex-financial system

Originally uploaded by sfllaw

What do you do when a professor of economy at London School of Economics who is also the former chief economist of the EBRD and a former external member of the MPC writes this:

This financial system is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the tax payer’s perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-FINANCIAL SYSTEM!!

Do you laugh or cry? Do you call for the champagne or the pistol?

bookmark_borderUbuntu for two

Marcel seems to think that computers are for downloading random programs from the Internet, preferably without an up-to-date anti-virus program.

So of course his computer (running Windows XP) got very, very ill. I managed to clean it, but unfortunately this left many programs broken.

Our only set of XP CDs didn’t work on his 64-bit computer, so in an act of desperation I wiped his harddisk clean and installed Ubuntu Linux on it instead.

Surprisingly, he rather seems to like it, and I have had no requests so far to reinstall Windows XP. Is he a new convert to Linux, I wonder?

Having burned an installation CD for this purpose, I decided to reinstall Ubuntu on my laptop, which had been left somewhat useless after the auto-upgrade from version 7 to 8 failed.

It worked beautifully, except that the wireless connection didn’t work.

However, after rebooting three times with a wired connection, it managed to locate and install a proprietary driver on its own, and suddenly the wireless card kicked into action without any action from my part.


bookmark_borderWe’d rather have had £1230

Tax Return Check from Hell
Originally uploaded by mercyskye

The temporary VAT reduction from 17.5% to 15% is estimated to cost £12.5bn.

I doubt it’ll have much of an effect – I’m definitely not going to splash out on huge Christmas presents just because prices come down by 2.13%.

Also, lots of shops have significant problems already, and they’re not going to pass on the 2.13% if they can help it. Sure, many of them will have to reduce their prices to attract customers, but they would’ve done that anyway even if the VAT rate had stayed at 17.5%.

As far as I can make out, the cost of £12.5bn works out as £205 for each person in this country.

If the government had kept the VAT at 17.5% but instead sent everybody a cheque of £205 for Christmas, it would have lead to much more spending.

I’m pretty sure that if the six of us had received £1230, we would have spent at least some of it on bigger presents.

Can’t this government get anything right?


Lots of scary articles about the British economy at the moment.

I can especially recommend Fraser Nelson’s blog posting on Coffee House, and the two articles he links to there:

First of all this article in the FT by Willem Buiter (which among other things explains why joining the euro is a good idea).

Secondly, this article in The Times.

This is all scary stuff. As the last article states, “one third of Icelanders now want to emigrate, things have got so bad, a recent survey found. The proportion of Britons with similar wanderlust may not be so different before this economic agony passes.”


The fruit market in Århus
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Phyllis has already ranted about this, but our recent trip back to Denmark for a long weekend brought back to me how much I miss proper markets.

In the UK, so-called farmers’ markets seem to be an excuse for farmers to make more money, but with no real benefits for the consumers.

On the continent, however, although some vendors are farmers, lots of others are just people who buy stuff from whole-sale markets and sell them on.

The biggest benefit is for the consumers, who get more choice and lower prices.

Just look at this beautiful selection of peppers and chilis from Bazar Vest in Århus in Denmark.

Isn’t that just much more attractive than what you’d find in Asda or Tesco or in your local farmers’ market?