Outside my window… the sun is shining in a bright blue sky, I have two lines of washing hanging out to dry and the garden is looking lush. I think we may have finally begun to experience a late Spring/early Summer!
I am thinking… about what module to take with the OU next year. I have worked out that if I take one level 3 course I can claim my BA unclassified degree, but if I take two I can claim my BA degree with Honours. I am interested in so many things that narrowing it down has been difficult.
I am thankful… for the opportunity to extend my education. I was not ready for it at the time when most other graduates go to university and now I’m approaching middle age I am very grateful for the chance to do it now. I am loving the experience of learning for learning’s sake, and if I can use my degree for any future career plans then all well and good, but that’s not the reason I’m doing it.
I am wearing… minty green t-shirt, blue tracksuit bottoms, no socks and my “other” glasses. I broke my proper ones earlier today oops.
I am creating… Celtic knots. I have discovered a passion for drawing them recently and am progressing nicely onto more and more complex designs. They are great stress-busters and I’ve found they are a meditation/prayer tool too.
I am going… to watch my son play in a joint concert on Friday night with Andy Prior’s Big Band in Bolton. I can’t wait! I’ve enjoyed Andy Prior’s music for about 20 years or so and for my son to share the bill with him on Friday is a bit of a thrill.
I am wondering… if there’s enough warm sunshine to get another load of washing dried today or should I leave it until tomorrow?
I am reading… “Only the Brave” by Mel Sherratt. It’s one in a series that I have been reading recently and I still can’t make my mind up whether they are good or not! What I like about them is that unlike other police procedurals or crime thrillers, there are plenty of side plots (not sub plots) and the action is not purely centred around the investigation aspect of the story. The focus shifts from police to victim to potential perpetrator, and there are plenty of misunderstandings to keep the reader interested and the storylines and plots are refreshingly different. BUT, what I don’t like is that they are amateurishly written and this one is no better than the first in the series. I have kept on reading them in the hope that the writing standard will improve and I’m disappointed that it hasn’t. I am about half way through this one and to be honest I don’t have much enthusiasm for it. I don’t think I’ll be getting the next one.
I am hoping… that my father in law’s move to his new care home on Friday goes smoothly and he doesn’t feel too disrupted by it.
I am praying… for my father in law; for my friend Rita who is away on holiday later this week; for Emma as she goes away with the Royal Navy this summer; for my husband; for Tracy this weekend; for Steph and Jay.
I am learning… that Kindles don’t bounce (I’ve just dropped mine when I looked up the title of the book I’m reading and it has gone into some sort of “fastboot” mode. Oops).
In my garden… we have lots of pots of things growing such as lavender, mint, chives and so on. The soil has a high clay content and isn’t very good for growing so it needs a lot of topsoil digging through it to make it better, so we have done that to house some shrubs and things, but the colour comes from the pots. And the smell – oh my word, the smell of lavender in the sunshine is AMAZING.
In my kitchen… I have recently discovered a simple way of cooking biryani (curried rice) and it is so easy I’ll share it with you. We have had it with chicken and minced lamb, and I have used both Rogan Josh paste and Balti paste (Patak’s or Sharwood’s). You could use any meat or any paste you like, it works equally well with whatever you choose. Here goes:
- Gently fry an onion (or two if you like) in a little oil and butter. Add some cumin, turmeric, 3 or 4 cardamom pods and a couple of sticks of cinnamon bark. When you can start to smell the spices, add your meat. You could use vegetables as well, but bear in mind that this is a rice dish and small dice will suit better than big hunks of cauliflower for example. When the meat is beginning to brown, add half a jar of curry paste (as above). Cook that out over a middle heat (not low, not high) until the paste begins to look a little dry and your meat is cooked. You may want to add a little water if it goes too dry before the meat is cooked enough.
- Add your rice and stir it all in to coat it with the spice paste. Basmati rice (rinsed in warm water first) or long grain rice work equally well although the purists out there would tell me that one of them is wrong! I use three tablespoons of dry rice per person (usually cook for three of us and aim to have leftovers) and when it is all in the pan and covered in spice add some stock. I use one chicken stock-pot in a litre of boiling water and that is usually enough, but you will be able to tell when you stir it into the rice. If your rice isn’t submerged add a bit more hot water. Stir it well (the cinnamon will float to the top) and put on a tight lid. DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF!! Bring it to the boil and then simmer for 5 mins (basmati rice) or 6/7 mins (long grain rice). Without taking the lid off, turn off the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes (basmati) 20 minutes (long grain).
- When the time is up take the lid off, remove the cinnamon sticks, fluff it up with a spoon or fork and serve. You can add fresh coriander at this stage, and you could add some flaked almonds if you wish. I don’t particularly like them but they would add a different dimension to the flavours and textures so go for it if you like. We have it with poppadums and/or chappatis, lime pickle and mango chutney and (if it doesn’t get wolfed down at the same meal) it matures if it’s left and tastes even better the next day. It’s a great sharing dish to make, and it is relatively inexpensive too. The only real cost to it is the meat that you use.
A favourite quote for today…
A peek into my day… I took this photo coming home from work today. I’ve not seen clouds like this for a long time! The photos look blurred but I assure you they’re not, it’s the clouds. I have included the tree in the first one so you can see the contrast.
One of my favourite things… is line-dried laundry. Especially bedding and towels.
From the board room… I can’t wait for a chance to do this with the kids at church!
Post Script… I have had a bit of a hiatus in my blogging activities recently and this is the first one for a long while. I don’t want to make excuses for my absence, but in a nutshell I had a lot of stress around getting my end of module assessments done for the OU last week, there’s been a lot on at church and I have been at work most days for the last three or four weeks. It’s only exam invigilation but it has tired me out. It’s at times like this that I realise that my health problem hasn’t gone away at all and I need to make sure I build in proper time to relax and switch off. If anything, at the minute, it feels worse than it has before and my whole body is hurting. However, as I mentioned above, I have been drawing Celtic knots recently and I have found they help relax me and take my mind off the pain and tiredness. Here’s a sample of my earlier ones:
And here’s the one I did yesterday:
Thank you for sticking with me through this mammoth blog post! Back to normal length ones next time.