ltmurnau: (CX)

The Rathskeller, Victoria's only German restaurant, is closing after 50 years.
My friend John and I used to go there every so often when, as he put it, "he felt a quart low."
Good schnitzels and the potato pancakes were great.

It used to be in an actual cellar, in the basement of a hotel on lower Douglas Street that is no longer there (it's a Budget rent-a-car lot now).
It moved in 1982, and after it moved a Chinese restaurant was in there for a while.
I stopped in there one night to get supper before getting the bus home.
The new occupant hadn't touched the decor, so I ate my Combination "B" in a dark wooden booth, in a dark wooden-panelled room with large paintings on the walls of cathedrals and trains wending their way through the Alps.
It wasn't bad, but an hour later I felt like invading Poland.

ltmurnau: (Default)
From [ profile] dfordoom.

Do you mostly cook proper meals or do you rely on convenience food, take-away and eating out?

If you do cook do you actually enjoy it or do you do it out of necessity?

How much time is too much time to spend on preparing a meal?

Do you think it’s worth bothering with cooking just for one person?

Is cooking something you’d like to be able to do more often but can’t because of time restraints or lack of energy/motivation?

Answer as many or as few questions as you wish.

My answers:

Do you mostly cook proper meals or do you rely on convenience food, take-away and eating out?
I mostly cook proper meals - I feel I can't trust Lianne and Aki to nourish themselves properly! Food is an afterthought for her and he'd gladly live on starch for the rest of his life, like a potato beetle. What I often do is make "batch food" on the weekend, like batches of spaghetti sauce or stew, freeze it and reheat it during the week after preparing noodles or rice to go under it. But once in a while, we will have pizza or I'll get a roast chicken or something from Safeway, if it's too late or I'm too tired or ill to cook.

If you do cook do you actually enjoy it or do you do it out of necessity?
I enjoy cooking, I really do. I do get stressed out at the end of preparing a meal, when everything has to be ready at the same time, and I hate having anyone in my "cookin' room" when I'm working there - it's very distracting.

How much time is too much time to spend on preparing a meal?
When I make "batch food", I start in the early afternoon and let it cook until the evening. Sometimes I make a roast or a ham. I wouldn't want to do that every day.

Do you think it’s worth bothering with cooking just for one person?
Sure it's worth cooking for one person, if that person is you and you care at all about what you eat. It's cheaper too.

Is cooking something you’d like to be able to do more often but can’t because of time restraints or lack of energy/motivation?
I don't get home until after 5:30 so don't have time to make an elaborate meal every night, but I do alternate the reheated stuff with quicker easier meals like taco salad, pork scallopini, or stir fries with bottled Asian or Indian sauces. The plan this year is to incorporate a lot more vegetables!
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In preparation for the Connections conference next week (yikes! that kind of crept up on me), I spent the weekend tussling with some software called VASSAL, a "game engine" that allows people to create online versions of board and card games and play them over the Internet in real time.

The software was written to permit play of Advanced Squad Leader, a very complicated tactical board wargame, but it's pretty flexible. Unfortunately, I don't think I have the time to create a VASSAL version of Virtualia - I've never even played one of these things online. No time, no time.

But it's amazing to see the lengths that people will go to mimic on a computer the experience of sitting across a table from a real live person to play a paper game (sorry, "manual simulation"). I wonder if I should even bother with this, though.

In other better news, The Lost Box of Books has surfaced! (ref It was found as we excavated our way to the bottom of our video holdings - it must have been one of the first boxes moved into the new house, and then buried by everything else. Well, too late to have written a better article, but perhaps it would have turned out pretty much the same anyway.

I also spent some time on Saturday baking - [ profile] shanmonster's Spicy Devil's Food Cake, which was really good, and an almond-flavoured Dutch butter cake - which recipe I got from a co-op student at work. Also really good, like shortbread but more chewy.


Feb. 18th, 2009 10:45 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yes, I know, it's been a while since I posted but I've been busy. Finished writing yet another article: 7,600+ words on the Sino-Japanese War, to top the 9,300 I cranked out on the Spanish Civil War over Xmas and New Year's holidays, means I've been a busy little bee.

The problem this time is that in the aftermath of moving every blessed thing I and everyone else near and dear to me own, about a mile away from where it was, is that I lost the box of books and reference materials I had pre-packed in order to write this article without having to unpack my entire library. Over 40 boxes of books and guess which ONE is missing. It has to be somewhere in the damn house. Anyway, I had to round up some lesser quality reference materials and get it done in a cracking hurry - at least there were no library books in that box. Wouldn't want Lt. Bookman to get after me (

Next up: the CONNECTIONS conference in Orlando Florida, in early March. Some potential here for making some, uh, connections in the serious games world, wish I had time to convert Virtualia to some kind of digital form. I've given up on learning to use Visual Basic this year - life's too short. Probably not going to Phoenix this year even though I have three games coming out by then (Greek Civil War game, Balkans invasion game, and revision of Vietnam 1964 game), need to save money to fix the back deck and put the stairs back in.

Oh yeah, about lunch: I just realized I am about to tuck into baloney and mustard, with processed cheese on white bread, and wash it down with genuine orange Tang. What am I, nine years old? But that's what was in the fridge this morning... I will try to do better.
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Normally I go far afield to quote stories about things that amuse me - but here's one from my local paper about how sales of Kraft Dinner are going great:

When wolf's at the door, Kraft does cooking

Read more... )
Yeha, I know, it's horribly written (I hate this kind of chirpy I'm-just-an-overeducated-housewife kind of stuff) and I apologize for subjecting you to it, but relate this to the earlier story on how the Hormel factory is churning out Spam as fast as it can be stuffed in the cans ( As I noted, Spam is almost twice the price of ground beef, pound for pound, and I am sure you can make your own Kraft Dinner out of fresh ingredients as cheap or cheaper than the pre-packaged one. Lessee (dairy prices from Statistics Canada, Vancouver area, for 2008):

Simplest Mac n' Cheese
about 200 g macaroni: 35 cents (@ $1.60 or so for a 900g package)
1/4 cup (60 g) margarine: 22 cents (@$1.65/454 g)
1/4 cup (60) g grated fresh medium cheddar cheese: 98 cents (@ $16.28/kg)

Total: about $1.55

Kraft Dinner
cost of box: about $1.95 (the real item, at Safeway)
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk: about 10 cents (@1.59/litre, 2% milk, 1 litre container)
1/4 cup margarine: about 22 cents, as above

Total: about $2.27

Obviously, not included in the above were the electricity needed to cook the macaroni, or any of the other things (ketchup, pepper, frozen veg, etc.) needed to make it palatable, as they would be equal.

I know you can go cheaper than this by buying generic KD, etc. but the point is made: that it is cheaper to make your own "junk food" at home, and healthier, even with the large recent rises in fresh food prices.
ltmurnau: (Default)
My mom used to make this when we were kids, for dessert. Cooks. com has almost 60 recipe entries for it. Here is one that does not use eggs.


2 1/2 c. leftover coffee
4 tsp. baking soda
2 c. raisins
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar (light)
1 1/2 c. chopped nuts
4 c. sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Put the raisins and baking soda in a large bowl and toss to coat the raisins with the soda. Bring the leftover coffee to a boil and pour over the raisin mixture. Stir well and cover the bowl and let it sit overnight at room temperature. The next day, add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Grease and flour three 1 pound coffee cans and divide the batter evenly, a little more than half full. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Cool in the coffee cans for 15 minutes and tap cans on the bottom to release the loaves.

This is good to take on a picnic: just put back in the can and replace the lid. Freezes well too (if you are a hobo with a refrigerator).
ltmurnau: (Default)
Or Not, kinda sorta:

Edible Economic Indicators: Spam, Beer Sales Rise

Andrew Martin | 15 Nov 2008 | 07:44 AM ET Text Size AUSTIN, Minn. —

The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant here, times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

Read more... )

However, we should note that Spam has always had strong sales overseas, especially in Korea and the Phillippines where gift boxes of a dozen cans are popular.

And I wouldn't call Spam a hard-times food necessarily: at US$2.40 a can, that works out to over $3.00 a pound, when fresh ground beef sells for $1.50 or less. Sheer luxury! A-and let's not forget those tasty and versatile organ meats, always a bargain! (those who know me and my preferred cooking methods will know I'm not joking here....)

I wish I could find a good recipe for rice and beans, though.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Oh no, White Rabbit candy is contaminated with melamine!

Run you rabbit, run...

ltmurnau: (Default)
Yoinked from milady [ profile] scuttle of the Severe Expression.
Read more... )

[EDIT: It took eleven tries to get this posted. I think LJ is getting hiccupy again. Or maybe because it's Cyber Monday (in which I grudgingly participated, ordering the new Klaus Nomi album online!).

Weekend was a long one of acquisition and eating, with friends in Federal Way. Went to the Fantagraphics outlet store in desolate southern Seattle and the faraway Outlet Malls of North Bend. Lots interesting to see at the former (half price, yay) and nothing at the latter (half price, so what - it's crap anyway). Discussed next year's Beacon and brought home a nice loaner Mac to learn OS X and INDesign on.]
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From time to time I go by Oxford Foods on Cook Street.
Sometimes I walk in and buy things.
It's a filthy place, notable for its generous selection of Polish foodstuffs that are at or near their expiry date, and therefore available at a hefty discount.
For example, I have just finished eating a 150g (5.25 oz.) packet of "ginger breads choco hearts" (serca szivecske).
I believe they come from Chemnitz (Ciemne).
The ingredients are descirbed in twelve different languages on the back of the packet: GB, D, F, CZ, H, HR, SI, LV, SK, EE, RO, and PL.
In English the food is described as "ginger bread with fruit filling covered by chocolate similar mass".
And so it is.
The cover depicts raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, but the only fruit specified in the ingredients is "apple condensed paste".
It was only 99 cents, marked down from $2.99.

That same day, I also bought almost-expired bottles of cherry juice and Jaffa cakes, made by the same company that made the gingerbread.
I did not buy any of the packets of cornmeal-crusted back bacon or almost-vacuum-packed pastrami, though they were cheap and haven't made me sick yet.
There is a limit.

Yum yum yum.
ltmurnau: (Default)
I've been saying this for years. It's the height of folly to build crappy condos and golf courses on top of some of the most fertile and productive land in North America, the Fraser Delta.

I for one, look forward to extending my Victory Garden to the front lawn in years to come. And the local deer and rabbits are gonna get scarce....

Climate change, rising oil prices imperil B.C. food supply: report

'Re-ruralization' of suburbs mulled as one response to our vulnerability
Randy Shore, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, April 02, 2007

VANCOUVER -- Climate change and rising oil prices are a threat to B.C.'s ability to feed itself in the future, scientists and planners say.

B.C. farmers produce only 48 per cent of the meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables that we consume, according to a report prepared by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.
Read more... )


Feb. 9th, 2007 10:34 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
Well, what do you know - Tuesday night I got food poisoning (avoid the White Spot on Douglas Street!) and spent the next two days at home, thinking I was either going to die or snap in half and then die.

Friday today, and I am back at work, kinda.

And so what if I'm not always Mr. Happy Jolly Fun-time.

"I'd rather be myself. Myself and nasty." - Bernard Marx, Brave New World
ltmurnau: (Default)
I am now eating, and possibly may finish, a large piece of BBQ pork pie. No, it's not a large BBQ pork bun such as is available in Chinatown and groceries north - no! it is a large amount of leftover BBQ pork chunks gathered and baked in a large pastry pie shell, just as if the pork had been apples or lemon meringue.

It is one of the more disgusting things I've eaten (cf. Not least is the fact that it's been laced with Five-Spice Powder, so there is a distinct tang of licorice in my pie.

Augh. Finished it, including the unaccountably thick and chewy upper crust.

Hunger and poor planning drove me to this. Thirst prompted me to get a blueberry juice to wash it down with. Vomiting at this point would invite dire consequences. Next time I will get a chunk of proper fruit pie.

Lianne is back today, she went back to Ontario about two weeks ago to be with her mom who fell and broke her hip (or maybe broke her hip and then fell, you can't always tell with old folks). The house is not messy, but it did get into a bit of relative disarray - that is, I know where to find things now, and that situation is about to change.

In other news, my back and left leg have been dominating my attention. The main problem is that I can no longer sit for more than an hour at a time without getting sever sciatic pain. X-rays revealed nothing discy but there is a slight curve in my spine, mostly the problem was muscles - my "core" is seriously decrepit, and I can't continue walking and bending the way I have been. It's not sciatica proper either, since my leg still does work.

So now I'm doing daily exercises to get my gluteal muscles, quads, hamstrings, etc. moving and I am amazed at how weak and uncoordinated my body has become. I got a 30" exercise ball to sit on, it is not much of a change from the regular chair and kneeling chair I was using before but it does force me to move around a bit and sit properly while working.

And not only that, my left foot started to go numb about a week ago. The doc says it's nerves in my leg local to the injury (which, in five weeks, will be eight full years in the past) and ought to clear up. I sure hope so, otherwise eh, I dunno...
ltmurnau: (Default)
Another weekend filled with consumption of pork products - pork jerky on the way to Grandma's, a roast ham, and a huge feast of cornmeal back bacon and cornbread on Sunday. I think the reason why these boots don't fit is that I'm growing trotters.

other information, not so related to meat, follows )
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yesterday at lunch while running errands I found an incredible deal on almost-expired back bacon, the no-fat kind with the cornmeal on it (In the US this is often called "Canadian bacon".). Bought pounds and pounds and last night I made a simple but very tasty dish for supper:

Potatoes Carbonara

serves 2
cooking time - approximately 20 minutes


350g new potatoes, sliced (about 3 medium potatoes)
1 tbsp olive oil
100g back bacon rashers, chopped (a lump about the size of your palm)
100g button mushrooms (6-8 regular mushrooms, sliced)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
75ml (1/3 cup) single cream (aka half-and-half)
salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the potatoes and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the bacon for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and peppers and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes or until softened. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan.
Pour over the cream and cook gently for 3 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.

Yum, it was good!

I've started walking to work. It's a nice 30 minutes or so in the cool part of the day, and I can mostly avoid busier streets so it's quiet. I may not bea ble to get rid of this prodigious gut, but I can get my gimply old legs back into shape.

The party/gallery opening was lots of fun! Thanks to everyone who made it out, and apologies to everyone who got lost trying to find the place.... Aki had a great time mounting guard over the gate, I took a lot of photos (will post some when I have them read into my laptop) and made him some good chicken wings. I took a big bag of my castings to give away and stuck them up on a cork-board, at Gary's suggestion I put up a tin can for "donations to the Metal Fund". I don't know how many were taken, but I collected over $30, didn't expect that! I split the take with Aki since the more popular pins were of his design (the Eskimo Astronaut, the Wounded Fandango Man, etc.).
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I have just finished eating a cup of Sunburst brand cheese-flavoured noodles-in-a-cup. It is one of the most disgusting conusmer products I have ever tasted. That includes two years of semi-random sampling of what looked interesting on the shelves of the grocery store near my apartment in Japan.

I really think I am going to be sick now.
ltmurnau: (Default)
My friend Joe and I are planning to go to Burning Man together this summer, and this morning we were talking about logistics - transport, equipment, food - and got talking about bars: ration bars, energy bars, and the kind of chocolate bars they do not have in the US that I could bring down as barter items (no money allowed at Burning Man, it's what they call a "gift economy" which I guess means everything's negotiable).

Examples of Canada-only bars are found at, and the most remarkable I can think of is the Aero Bar. The chocolate inside is all crumbly bubbles, "Big on bubbles" ("Les bulles...on s'y connaît!") is this candy bar's catchphrase, and sure enough when you crack one in half it looks like a chocolatey degenerative bone disease."

Of course, these would melt in the 100+ degree Nevada heat, and Joe suggested drinking them, to which I replied:

"Ugh, sometimes you have the most disgusting ideas, Joseph. Anyway, a melted Aero completely misses the point, and the postmodern premise, of this chocolate bar: its sales are predicated on its offer of nothing, of myriads of minute vacancies inside - in short, you are buying a chocolate bar that promises the absence of chocolate."

"Par les bulles on s'y connait" - you'll know it by the bubbles - heh, the slogan is even in French, Baudrillard would be proud.

I think there's something here for all of us to reflect on. Or Not.
ltmurnau: (Default)

I have been amusing myself recently with the "find random user" function of Livejournal. An unexpectedly large fraction of the journals I've seen are written in Russian. I wonder (since I've been too lazy to look it up from their userinfo pages) whether these are Russians posting from Russia, or are they Slavs transplanted to America, taking advantage of abundant and cheap American technology and Net access to write online in their first language? For that matter, where are the other immigrants - I have found only one other user posting in a foreign language (German).


One of the more disgusting things to come out of the Mammon McDonald's Corp. is the new "McGriddle". Haven't tried one myself yet (I don't eat eggs) but I understand it's a wad of bacon or a sausage patty, scrambled eggs and American cheese, served between two McGriddle cakes, which are small pankaces with syrup added to the mix. Apparently 550 calories and a colon-clogging 33 grams of fat.

Now, where do you suppose the idea for this came from? Did someone in the marketing department think that people who eat at McDonald's really do not have the time or coordination to eat things separately, or were they perhaps slumming it in an actual McDonald's one day and saw some obese moron who preferred to eat with his hands shoving the components of his whole Hotcakes n' Sausage tray into a huge syrup-soaked sandwich and stuffing it down his capacious maw? Equally probable to me but we'll never know the truth.


For all the time I spent in the Army in my younger life, I rarely dream about it. But last night I had another mixed-up dream in which I was a platoon commander, had been wounded in the shoulder slightly and was kind of slumming around the mostly empty barracks while my arm healed. I scrounged a couple of doughnuts from the kitchen and sat around reading war comic books. Later the dream turned into a sexual (though not consummated) fantasy involving one of my co-workers, a woman I've never been interested in, see once a week and speak to once a month. Jeez, why can't I just sleep?


Uh, that's it. Say something, whydoncha?


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