selenay: (Default)
Today I got told that I'm in the wrong field and I should go and open a cheesecake shop. Or maybe just a bakery with a lot of cheesecake.

That's possibly the nicest compliment anyone has given me :-D

I made myself a chocolate cheesecake as a birthday treat (it may be the best one I've ever made) and I brought in a slice for a coworker on the Great Upgrade Project who has been having a bad week. A little while later, I got a hug and the outraged declaration that I'm in the wrong field and need to go pro with my baking, because it's the best cheesecake he's ever tasted.

:-DDDD

You see, cheesecake is one of those things that most people I know seem to find intimidating--it's a thing they buy, not make--and on the surface, I can't understand why. The base is easy. Crushed biscuits and butter are so easy, children can do it! The batter is pretty damn easy, too. It's hard to go wrong with eggs, sugar, cream cheese and other flavourings, unless you try to use low-fat cream cheese and that shit is evil for cheesecake making purposes. The only total fail I've ever had was the time I tried to go low-fat. The batter turned ridiculously thin and refused to set no matter what I did to it. Low-fat cream cheese is an abomination unto cheesecake.

So, if the base and batter are easy, why is it so intimidating? Why am I so damn pleased with this one?

It's the baking. You have to get it just right. You have to have the courage of your conviction to take it out of the oven and trust that it's done and it will set properly, even though it feels terrifyingly soft in the middle. This is particularly true with chocolate, because you can't see that the edges have hit the perfect level of slightly gold the way you can with vanilla. I have no objection to a cheesecake ending up slightly cracked on top, although it's more aesthetically pleasing if it isn't, as long as it's not over-baked. Finding the perfect degree of bakedness? That's probably what makes it so intimidating.

Then there's the whole to bain-marie or not to bain-marie question. I'm pretty sure some cheesecakes really need it, and it's probably easier to get it evenly baked. I've done my chocolate one in a bain-marie and without, and I can honestly say it hasn't made much difference. I didn't use one this time, and it's perfect: no cracking, just set in the centre, not overbaked on the edges. If it was a less familiar recipe, I'd probably use one, as a security blanket if nothing else.

So, yeah, I can see why cheesecake intimidates and why my coworker was so impressed. I have to admit, it felt really good to be complimented like that on something that felt properly skillful. I mean, I'm good at my job and it's not easy to write code and manage a massive data warehouse, but baking feels different somehow. It's something that's partially following directions, and partially following instincts from much practice.

Maybe if I ever won the lottery, I could think about opening that bakery/bookshop I've dreamed of.

For now, I'll just bake for fun and maybe write that comfort food romance with lesbians I talked about on Twitter yesterday :-D
selenay: (ace 2 (with gun))
The company IT division is doing a competition to gather stuff for the food bank, so my department has been turned into a team in this thing and we're being encouraged to bring as much in as we can. Fair enough, I have no problem with this. I've got friends who have relied on food banks at times in their lives and I firmly believe in giving back when I'm able.

We didn't get told about this until Monday.

Yesterday, a co-worker sent out a chirpy little email about how sad the amount we'd collected so far was, and exhorting us to bring in 'a few cans and jars from the cupboard' today to make our stack look better.

Which is fine for people who actually have a stash of cans and jars in their cupboard, but I don't. So I didn't bring anything in, because I'm doing my regular grocery shopping later in the week and I'll buy some stuff then. We've got until the end of next week to collect stuff. This will be fine, right?

Cut for length and ranting )
selenay: (tony/bruce)
Cut for length - takeout and me )

I'm reading "Stark Disassembled", one of the Invincible Iron Man trades. Mostly because Reed Richards keeps referring to that time Tony restored his brain from a backup that was out of date. I wanted to see whether Reed is just being a dick or whether Tony actually did that.

Tony actually did that.

From a hard drive.

Oh dear.

The next time fandom tries to convince me that someone's Avengers fic is improbable due to the laws of physics and computing, I'll point them to that time Tony backed up his brain to a portable hard drive and then did a system restore from it. Because that's *so* within the realms of current technology :-D

Also, Reed is definitely a dick but he does have a point about Tony needing to do regular backups if he's going to RESTORE HIS BRAIN FROM ONE. Heh :-D

Avengers canon, never get less crazy. Seriously, ILU. You are my favourite.
selenay: (coffee)
After a long, delayed, unpleasant flight yesterday enhanced by being unable to debark the plane for twenty minutes after we landed, I'm home.

I love my bed and my shower so, so much.

Mum and I managed to stay awake long enough to buy some food, pick up pizza and eat some before giving in and going to bed last night.

That's why I was awake at 5am this morning. Ugh. There is not enough coffee in the world to deal with today.

Obviously that's why I spent the afternoon making jubilee cupcakes for work tomorrow. I'm trying to live up to the stereotype :-D It's sort of expected.

Picture! )

I'd been planning to play with the new stats page and possibly upload something to AO3 this afternoon, but sadly it's a mess of 502's. I'm still quite amused by the fact that the Avengers is killing AO3, but it might be nice if it wasn't happening when I need to use it...

Sushi!

Apr. 26th, 2012 05:59 pm
selenay: (blackberry moment)
Today my tummy was less crampy today than it has been so my back has been a total bitch instead. Ah, well.

Awesome GI Guy has declared me healthy but worn down and in need of a holiday. My blood work is all well within range and although the cramping isn't a good sign, there is no other sign of anything and neither of us want to stick me onto unnecessary meds particularly when I've got a trip to England in just over three weeks.

It's possible that I've committed to rather a lot while I'm over. Oops? Mum is threatening to take over all cooking, cleaning, driving and other tasks for the first week after we get back so that all I need to do is drag myself out of bed and into work each day. We may need to negotiate on that...

Tonight I'm going out for sushi with friends. Woo! My order is half decided already: unagi maki, spicy salmon maki and one or two other things that I need to narrow down from my potential list of many favourites. Om nom.

Tomorrow my team is going out for lunch to Boston Pizza. Yup, I scoped out the menu already and I'm torn between a big order of wings or trying the baked ravioli which frankly sounds incredibly cheese-filled and thus amazing.

Note how non-freaked I'm being about food right now? This is a good thing. With all the food-related activities that I'm doing in England, I need to be happy and calm about food :-D

In a final food note, I'd forgotten how much I love plain Rich Tea biscuits. It's so tempting to nom the entire pack, except then I wouldn't have room for sushi later so that's not gonna happen. Nu-uh. That biscuit I just gobbled? You didn't see it.

There is a reason why I never, ever bring chocolate bourbons or custard creams to work. I'd eat the entire pack in a day.
selenay: (ace and the doctor (fenric))
I took lemon bread into work today (one of the products of a weekend of intense baking) and apparently I'm allowed (positively encouraged) to bring any baking samples in that I might want to. It's quite flattering to have so many people saying lovely things about my baking skills :-)

Over the course of the weekend, I produced the following:

10 portions of bean and lentil soup
10 cornbread muffins
12 chocolate nut muffins
2 loaves of lemon bread

My freezer is well-stocked :-) And my colleagues didn't get all the lemon bread - I have a few sliced retained for private consumption.

In other, completely unrelated things...

I am reading Twilight. It's every bit as awful as everyone said it was. I'm halfway through and have yet to find any kind of plot. Well, plot beyond "Edward is a vampire and Bella is soooooooooooo clumsy!". Sadly, I can see exactly why it appealed so much to the teen crowd. I despair for the future of my species.

Hopefully I'll finish it in the next couple of days. Despite my growing hatred for it and the frankly ridiculous sparkling vampire chapter that I just read, I'm glad that I now know what it's like and can mock and critique without hypocracy.

It's a good thing that Among Others is excellent and I've just cracked open Fables: Volume 2 so that I have antidotes to the stupidity.

Also, last week saw new issues for most of the comics that I'm following. This week is going to be very comic-oriented.

I've constructed a list of what I want to see at the cinema over the next few months. Hopefully my cinema buddy is up for it:

Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman
Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Hunter (not too fussed about this one, but the trailer looked fun)
Brave
Spiderman
Dark Knight Rises
Hobbit

Wow, that's quite a lot for me. Huh.

Lastly, I am now the proud owner of a wrist splint (smallest size available, thank you twig-wrists) in an attempt to stop my right wrist subluxing in the night and being all ouchy and crunchy during the day. I'll be using it at night only and hoping that it doesn't drive me insane. Stupid EDS.
selenay: (reader)
Cut for ranty venting )

In more cheerful news, the Hugo shortlist was announced over the weekend and I now know the sheer scale of my reading/watching task for the next few months. Um, wow.

One of the fun things about reading through awards lists is the chance to pick up things that I'd never normally read. This year that means that I'll be reading zombie novels for the first time ever. I've bought Feed by Mira Grant so that I'm in a good position to read her nominated works. I sense that I'll either love it or hate it. The rest are all things that I'm looking forward to and I've got some hefty reading to get through books 3 and 4 of George R. R. Martin's series so that I can read A Dance with Dragons.

It's nice to see that I've read at least one work from each of the novella/novellette/short story categories thanks to my Asimov's subscription. And obviously I've read John Scalzi's short story because it was such a brilliant joke last year.

Also, I now have an excuse to buy the Game of Thrones DVD boxset. Research! Vital! Hoorah!

All the other films seem to be available to rent from iTunes and I just happen to have an Apple TV that I could watch them on :-D And Captain America was already on my pre-Avengers list of stuff to watch. Um, why didn't X-Men First Class make the list? It was so good!

I've read the first couple of volumes of Fables and I've got volumes 3 to 5 on hold from the library. Only another....eight to read after that to get into position to read the nominated volume :-D Thankfully my library has them all. Woo! And Unwritten 4! And Locke and Key! It's just Digger that I might struggle to track down.

My horrible dilemma is which Doctor Who episode to vote for. All three shortlisted ones were brilliant. Argh.

The next few months are going to be fun!
selenay: (bookworm)
I'm watching the fallout from Christopher Priest's comments on the Clarke Awards with a degree of enjoyment and fascination. His comments seem to boil down to "it's not my kind of sci-fi so it shouldn't be nominated", which is fair enough. Everyone has a right to their opinions. The list doesn't really do much for me this year, either.

His snotty delivery and dismissive, rude comments about the nominated works? Yeah, that's where it all went wrong for him, methinks. No awards shortlist can ever make everyone happy, but there are ways of expressing opinions and then there's Priest's rant.

One thing (of several, but I'm limiting myself to this one) that I need to take exception to is this idea that 2011 was a dismal year for SF. If you're talking about hard sci-fi, then maybe it wasn't a great year. It's not my thing so I don't seek it out and the books that people were talking about and pimping around definitely weren't hard sci-fi. If you're talking about superb, inventive, compelling speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, all the things in between) then I'd say that 2011 was a very good year.

I only have to look at all the books that have been discussed in relation to the Hugos to know that and my "must find it and read it!" list as a result of that is insane.

Priest's opinions might have been better received had he couched them in better language, not demanded the resignation of the entire judging panel, and been a bit less snotty about the state of current SF just because it's not *his* kind of SF.

Ah, awards season. So much excitement. So much potential for being an idiot on-line.

I am in the home stretch on Mockingjay and it's still thoroughly engrossing. Not Dickens-level of literary genius, definitely, but it's compelling enough to keep me awake and reading all evening despite my tendency to nod off in the evenings.

I need to go through my list and decide which book, out of the 100 that I want to read right now now now, will actually be my next book for the Kindle. Oh, the decisions are tough some days.

Today's discovery: nachos are rather tasty. Staff association at work did them as our spring treat, forgoing the usual healthy 'appreciation' breakfast (bacon makes me feel far more appreciated than granola, particularly when I make better granola than the bought stuff) and I enjoyed them a lot. We had to heat them in the micro to melt the (real!) cheese and I opted out of the jalapeno peppers. Suspect they're even better under a broiler with more of my own choice toppings. Think I'll be investing in some tortilla chips and some salsa to make my own at the weekend. Hey, I need a tasty snack supper on Sunday. Perfect!
selenay: (questions/comments)
Cut for discussions of the merits of takeout pizza )

I'd totally order sushi or Thai or some other kind of takeout if I any of them delivered. Sadly, I'm out of range for everything except one pizza place. Woe. My biggest first world problem: lack of delivery options.

In other news...

The Pottermore shop is now open so I can buy Harry for my Kindle. Guess who's going to be doing a complete Harry re-read soon? *bounces*

Of course, first I have to finish the Hunger Games trilogy. It's not like I'm obsessed with reading them or anything...

I did it!

Mar. 10th, 2012 04:45 pm
selenay: (bookworm)
It's done! My Hugo nomination is in! Only one day before the deadline!

I feel both powerful and awed. It will be interesting to see what the short list ends up looking like - I hope at least a few of my selections are there because I love everything that I nominated.

Also, I have cooked and baked my little heart out and made many yummy things. It's been a really good day.

And I finished A Clash of Kings. George R. R. Martin is an evil, evil man and I love him for it. Now I've got to read The Hunger Games before I can go onto the next Song of Ice and Fire book. I want to have that book under my belt before the movie comes out so that nobody can accidentally spoil me and so that I can see the film if I love the book.

And now, to construct a fish pie and then flump in front of the the rugby. My day was awesome but exhausting.

TGIF!

Feb. 10th, 2012 06:08 pm
selenay: (bookshop)
Fridays may be my favourite day of the week. It's a tough pick between Friday and Saturday most weeks. I'm veging out tonight with Holby City and Midsummer Murders. If I'm very good, I might knit something. It's so nice to know that I don't need to deal with work (and a colleague who is being utterly annoying) again until Monday.

I should do a book post soon. I've hit something like 13 in my yearly count already. I bought the first in the Marvel reboots (Fantastic Four) and it's a long one, so that will probably bring me to 14. It's probably going to be my entertainment while I'm having my hair done tomorrow. Oh, iPad, how I love thee.

Tomorrow there is much rugby to be watched and I'm undecided about my lunch plans. For various reasons, I'm likely to be out and about when it's time to eat and I'm torn between saying "stuff it" and popping into somewhere for a tasty cooked meal or being good and cooking at home. It will come down to timings and how lazy I'm feeling. I've been good and cooked all week! Last weekend's sushi was last weekend - I'm allowed to treat myself this weekend, surely.

Oh, Friday, I love you so much.
selenay: (donna 1)
Hello Internet! Why yes, it has been forever since I last updated this thing.

Cut for babble amount life milestones )

Anyway, everything is so different now and I couldn't be happier.

The last few weeks have been quiet due to a lot of reading and watching stuff. I've got so much to say about it all so I shall try to get something up on here about it over the weekend.

Suffice to say, since the beginning of 2012 I have read 10 books, watched a season and a bit of Deep Space 9, watched season 2 of Buffy, watched half a season of Castle and assorted other bits and bobs. It's been so much fun!

And in the most important bit of news yet, I'm now a supporting member of Worldcon 2012 and a Friend of Worldcon 2014. It looks like I'm going to Worldcon in 2014 :-D Let the countdown and insane bouncing begin!

ETA: Correct the years, I'm a supporting member of this year's Worldcon :-D

Yuletide!

Nov. 13th, 2011 05:34 pm
selenay: (yuletide)
I think LJ doesn't have my pretty Yuletide icon. Woe.

However, I have nominated for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide. It's a tough decision. This year, due to the fact that I'm always the only person who signs up or shows interest, I've not nominated Holby City. It seems silly to waste a precious nomination slot on something where I'm the only person who nominates.

I can't remember how many requests we get to put in, but the three things that I've nominated are things that I'd definitely be happy to write in and where I'm familiar with the entire canon with the books at hand in my collection.

Now I just need to spend a couple of days working out what prompts I'll want. Pressure!

I love Yuletide :-)

In other news, I made granola today. Previously Mum has been the granola maker, but today I had a good and it looks delicious. Also, I made chocolate cheesecake and will be sampling it later. My kitchen skills are apparently growing :-)

To I have to go to work tomorrow? Why do I keep going back there? I want to sleeeeeeeep!

Oh dear

Oct. 24th, 2011 05:35 pm
selenay: (bookshop)
Important news: homemade granola = best breakfast ever.

We used this recipe (http://www.joyofbaking.com/breakfast/HomemadeGranola.html), cooked for 20 minutes rather than 30 and added pecans to the ingredients. Om nom. I wanted twenty bowls for brekkie.

So far, the only person who has stuck needles in me this month is me. Obviously this cannot continue so I rectified the situation by getting my flu shot. Yay?

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] gaspodex I now have comics on my iPod Touch and am ridiculously impatient to acquire the iPad so that I can view them on that. It's a rather lovely app (Comics by Comixology for the curious) and I grabbed a few free things plus the first issues of Fables, Stormwatch and Sandman.

This could be a disaster, right?

Dad goes home tomorrow. Woe! But, er, I'll see him on Skype at the weekend so it's not as sad as it could be. We've actually had time together, which is better than his last visit (he worked the entire time including evenings) and my visit to England in February (he worked the entire time including evenings). So it's been lovely and I've enjoyed the visit.

Although, I am looking forward to the household being back to 'normal'. And being able to watch Holby and Strictly without looks of deep disapproval.
selenay: (goofy doc)
Today I made an edible, quite tasty, omelette for supper. As my omelettes are usually awful, this is quite the thing for me. I will never understand how I can master apparently difficult cooking things and fail at simple things like omelette.

The trackball mouse that I've had for years has stopped working. Argh. It's definitely not the batteries so it looks like the thing has finally given up the ghost. Good thing I've got so many spare mouses around, although I'm finding the transition back to a mouse harder than you'd think.

Suddenly Netlfix Canada has tons of awesome stuff on it. Including the whole of Buffy. Looks like I'm sorted for TV watchings, then :-)

Must remember to catch up with some of the new stuff tonight, like NCIS and Grey's.

First day back at work wasn't too bad, but I'm ready for a weekend now. Why does the working week have to be so long?
selenay: (angels have the phone box)
The Doctor Who review will be coming. Probably tomorrow. It was rather excellent, though, and just a wee bit spooky.

I've been having a lovely quiet weekend and didn't actually turn on the computer yesterday, hence the lack of review. Shockingly, there was a bit of cooking and baking yesterday. We roasted a leg of lamb and it was totally delicious. Mum even re-learned how to make mint sauce, as Canada is shockingly short of anything except some substance called mint jelly that tastes totally wrong.

And now I have lamb to go in my lunch wraps this week. Nom!

There was also this cake: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/08/everyday-chocolate-cake/

We ate slices still warm, with Greek yoghurt, blueberries and blackberries and it was delicious. I suspect that this may be the perfect indulgent way to eat any berries and the Greek yoghurt provides a really gorgeous contrast to the sweetness of the cake. In fact, I think the cake may be a little sweet without the yoghurt so it may need a touch of tweaking, but with berries (any berries, really) and yoghurt it is somewhere beyond divine.

Also, I have now addicted my mother to The Great British Bake-off. We're not normally interested in reality shows (except Strictly) but this is perfect. Even Mum is picking up some interesting new tips from it and I regard her as my baking goddess teacher!

This afternoon we caught up on the Archers while knitting. It was lovely. I must do something soon to remind myself that I'm not an old granny as most of my current hobbies seem to be very granny-ish.

TGIF!

Sep. 2nd, 2011 07:42 pm
selenay: (blackberry moment)
It's Friday! Woo! You know the best bit about this particular Friday? It's a long weekend! That's right, I get Monday to do whatever I want because it's Labour Day.

As it appears to be planning to rain, I'm thinking it's just crying out to be a day curled up with tea and a book. Mum and I are seriously considering a roast, preferably beef, because what else can you want on a rainy lazy day?

I'm also seriously considering trying this out: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/08/everyday-chocolate-cake/

Looks yummy, oui? And it is blueberry season, so I could try out the fresh berry idea. Win!

In other food-related things (seriously, when did this journal become 9 parts food, 1 part babble and 1 part fandom?), it's Friday so I'm having supper at the local place of yum. I went for the burger last week and it was amazing. Best burger I've ever eaten. What shall I go for this week?

And tomorrow we're celebrating my aunt's birthday by taking her out for Thai food. I haven't had Thai since February and it's possibly my favourite thing, so this is a source of much excitement for me.

In non-food items, I need to get Mum caught up on Doctor Who before tomorrow evening. Also, Torchwood and the Great British Bake-off. In addition, I have Page Eight to watch because Bill Nighy is awesome. And the Tudors is stupidly addictive for being terrible. So that's lots of TV to watch.

Book-wise, I'm nearly finished with Hospital Sketches by Louise May Alcott and I have either Perdito Street Station (Mieville) or Darkfire (the second Matthew Shardlake mystery) queued on my Kindle. I'll have to see how I feel on which I do first. I'm also halfway through The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston and I've got a couple of Diane Wynne Jones (sp?) books on my coffee table to read first.

My non-fiction read is Medieval Law in Context. Shut up! It's dead interesting, honestly, all about how the legal system grew and became established and how law as a profession evolved.

OK, OK, my non-fiction reads are weird. I've got a book on the Templars in Britain to read next :-) Or possibly a history of the Thames. And I've got my eye on a book about The Black Death...
selenay: (eleventh doctor 01)
OMG, squeee!! That was approximately my reaction last night...

Cut for spoilers )

Note: those cookies that I linked to in Friday's post? Possibly the best recipe EVA. Totally nom. And wouldn't be the same without the cocoa nibs, just FYI.
selenay: (goofy doc)
OMG, everyone, Hurricane Irene is going to destroy us all! Panic eleventyone!!!1!1!!

Er, actually, it should only graze my area so we're expecting high winds and probably a lot of wind Sunday night through to Monday. I'm hoping this is true and doesn't turn about to be another Earl.

Mostly because I don't want to lose my power. I have Humira in my fridge. I cannot afford to lose $800 of meds to a power cut. Although a day off work wouldn't be unwelcome...

Good thing it's not coming tomorrow. It's Doctor Who tomorrow!

I'm thinking that the best response to all this is a bit of baking tomorrow morning before the day gets too hot. I have all the ingredients for Chocolate Cookies with Cocoa Nibs and Lime and they sound like perfect DW watching/hurricane survival food. Am I right or am I right?

And now I am off to the local place of awesome food for my supper. I'm sort of thinking of trying their burger, but may get swayed by the specials board. Or the chowder. Or the fish cakes. Hmm.
selenay: (bitchy trampoline)
I am so proud of myself. I was a grown-up all day on Saturday, got all my stuff done (so happy the car passed inspection) and didn't fall asleep on anyone even though I was so tired I wanted to cry. My being a grown-up even extended to cooking a healthy supper when I really wanted to order in pizza. After all, I'd been out for a meal on Friday so I really couldn't justify the pizza.

OK, yesterday I totally blew off church in favour of sleep but I was still terribly responsible and grown up. I made applesauce and a rice salad thing for my work lunches! I did exercise! I didn't turn on the TV until the evening! I ate a healthy salad-y supper!

I finished The Castle of Otranto even though there were other books that I wanted to ready way more!

This is a week filled with being an adult. Somehow I suspect that I'm going to goof off and be silly all next weekend. I may not even eat that healthily. Heh.

On another subject, is it too early to start a "going to Worldcon in 2014" savings account?

Cut for baking chatter )

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