Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Graham and the Giant Watermelon

Get that peach out of the way, James - there's a new contender on the giant fruit scene!


These mammoth melons were on sale for just $2.99, so we had to get one even if it takes a month to work our way through it. We put it on the bathroom scale when we got home. It weighs 23 lb. The alarming thing is that the average pregnant woman gains 30 lb, i.e. somewhat more than the weight of that watermelon. And I sure wouldn't be happy if you told me I had to lug that around everywhere for several months! Hmmm....



While we're on food news, I've been having a happy cooking day today. Several cayenne peppers ripened all at once so I made a giant pot of chili.



Martha's giant chili

1 big onion, chopped
2 big green (bell) peppers, chopped
4 home-grown cayenne peppers, chopped finely
3 lb minced (ground) beef
2 big cans chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 regular cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (16 fl oz) beef stock
3 bay leaves, spoonful brown sugar, sprinkle of cinnamon, salt and pepper, anything else you feel would add to the flavour

Find yourself a decent size frying pan and a good big stewpot. Put a bit of oil in the frying pan and saute the onions until soft. Tip into the big pot. Then saute both the peppers for a couple of minutes. Lob them in with the onion. Cook the beef until browned, and chuck that in the pot as well, draining off the fat as best you can. Now you're done with the frying pan. Everything else goes in the big pot. Stir it up well, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or as long as you feel like. When you can no longer resist the wonderful aroma, boil some rice and dig in!



My herbs were looking a bit scraggly, too, so I gave some of them a haircut. Oregano and rosemary are now drying off in the laundry room, and I have plans for mint simple syrup.

Mint Simple Syrup

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

See, it really is simple! Put these 3 ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes without stirring. Leave to cool a bit then strain through a sieve, pressing the mint leaves to get the syrup out. Decant into a suitable jar or bottle and keep in the fridge for up to a month. Add to lemonade, soda water, iced tea, mojitos...


As if that wasn't enough, flapjack and a rosemary cake have also made their appearance. But you can have the recipes for those another day. Right now I have some eating to do (may as well get on and gain that 30 lb...!)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Temperature comparison

Just for fun, although attempting to do this highlighted my lack of advanced computer skills and took twice as long as it was meant to. It still could be better, but you'll get some idea.


Data source



So then, Fort Worth starts off at a warm but pleasant 80F and heads pretty steadily upwards towards the high 90s, with a cooler blip around the 9th. Minimums are around the 60s-70s, ie about the same as Bristol high temperatures.
Bristol manages a minor heatwave around the 23rd, but otherwise ranges between low 50s and high 60s. Still pretty cool at night.
Now we're into June we're basically in the 90s and staying there. Haven't really hit triple figures yet - that joy is still to come. Whether or not you Bristolians are jealous is entirely up to you. Personally, as you will have gathered, I prefer my climates temperate, but I promise not to whine about the heat for at least, say, two more blog posts (or until it hits 100F, whichever comes first).

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Dragon Boat Racing

Well, I haven't posted for a while, so I had a quick virtual riffle through the photos to see what I could come up with. A few weeks ago we went to a dragon boat/kite flying/Chinese culture festival, which wasn't a huge affair, but all the bright colours were good for photographs.






Chinese lanterns, of course.

These are actually Aztec dancers. What the Aztecs have to do with a Chinese festival we couldn't guess, nor did we ever discover. I suspect if you turn up in a fancy enough costume they let you in.

One of the four dragon boats. Any group or workplace could register a dragon boat team, and they competed throughout the day. A lady we talked to said they only got about an hour to practise, so it was a good thing each boat had a competent steerer!

Launching a kite.

Formation flying. My stunt kite died its death a long time ago owing to the nose hitting the ground many times too often, but seeing this made me itch to have kite strings in my hands again.

WHATAKITE!

The Cambodian stall. See what I mean about fancy costumes?

A pretty parade of parasols.