Saturday 22 March 2008
links for 2008-03-22
Fixes something that is missing from Windows. Why Microsoft don’t include a feature that does this, I don’t know.
Thursday 20 March 2008
Graybo’s moules marinières
Ok, so actually this is Anthony Bourdain‘s moules marinières with a dollop of cream and some garlic added – but since I modified the recipe successfully, I claim it as my own and you can all send your money now.
Serves 2 as a main course, just. Would probably be enough for three as a starter.
- 1 kilogram lovely fresh mussels. We got ours from here. A bargain at three quid a kilo. For those that worry about this sort of thing, 1 kilo gave us 58 mussels. In hindsight, we could have used a little more, but that depends on what you serve it with. If you made some home-made frîtes, then this would be plenty. With just bread, then perhaps 1.2kg would be better.
- 300 ml dry white wine. We had a cheeky Sicilian in the fridge, so I used that. Incidentally, how can wines be cheeky? This is more wine than Bourdain suggests and I think is justified when adding cream.
- 2 shallots, finely sliced.
- 25g butter.
- 1 tbsp cream. I used extra thick single because we happened to have some, but normal single would do just as well.
- 3 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
- some parsley, finely chopped.
- salt and pepper.
This doesn’t take long. The time-consuming bit is the cleaning of the mussels – say 20 minutes. The cooking takes just 15 minutes.
- Firstly, clean those mussels. Bourdain gives a long examination of this subject in his Les Halles Cookbook (one of my bibles), but you can boil it down to this:
- buy fresh. Don’t buy pre-frozen or rubbish.
- use quickly and prepare just before you use them. Don’t store them if you can help it.
- wash them in a colander.
- pull the beards off – that fluffy bit that sticks out.
- as you go, check to see if any are open. If they are, tap them and see if they close. This is fun! They actually do close quite quickly if they are open. Unless they’re dead, in which case they don’t shut and you can bung them in the bin. Out of our 58, we chucked one.
- wash them again. And again. You can’t wash them too much, really. Leave them in the colander for the water to drain off.
Ok? Good. Have a glass of wine.
- Next, in a big pan with a good lid (not a loose one – we used an Ikea casserole which was perfect for bringing to the table and eating straight from), melt the butter.
- Add the shallots and scoot them around for a minute or two until soft and just beginning to brown.
- Add the wine, garlic and cream. Bring to the boil (turn your heat up all the way) and season.
- Throw in the mussels and put on the lid. Sit down and have another glass of wine for ten minutes (what did you think you do with the rest of the bottle?).
- Check in the pan. The mussels should now be nicely open. Take the pan off the heat and, holding the lid on, give it a bit of a shake. Then add the parsley and shake it again.
- Bring it to the table and serve with some good chunky bread to mop up the juices. Or frîtes.
Now, what should I write?
Canon have emailed me today. They’ve invited me to take part in a customer satisfaction survey regarding their online and telephone tech support.
I think I need a day or two to thoroughly consider exactly what form of words to employ. However, your suggestions are, as always, welcome. The comments await you.
Tuesday 18 March 2008
Making a nuisance
I’ve been having problems with nuisance calls on my business line. They call, it rings, I pick up… *click*…. they hang up.
Ho hum. 1471. Telephone number: 0800 389 6818.
A quick Google search reveals that gazillions of people are having the same problem. This is a marketing company and they use a computer to dial zillions of numbers, including mine. It hangs up. You 1471erise the number and call back. They try to sell you something (mobile telephony, broadband, double glazing, whatever) – earning money as they go from their 0800 number (yes, they earn money from that).
But, the good news is that you can stop it. Well, in theory you can. There is a free service called SilentCallGard. You dial a number (0870 444 3969 – or go online), punch in your number and it subscribes you for two years (although the website says 12 months). It blocks all automated calls from these evil phone spammers, although be warned that it only blocks calls from companies that are signed up to its register and membership of the register is not obligatory.
So, we shall see if it works.
Printer update – better news
On Friday, I finally got a reply out of Canon tech support. They had decided that it was beyond them and that my machine required a service. A number was supplied in order to make an appointment.
Canon outsource their servicing to an organisation called CURA. Dealing with them is, after my experiences with Canon, a revelation. I called the number yesterday. I spoke to a human being. He gave me some instructions by email to reset the printer which I tried – but they didn’t work. They then called me to arrange for an engineer to visit – and I had in mind that I’d have to ship my machine to some servicing depot. The engineer came today and was here for two hours. He tried everything, of that I have no doubt. His conclusion is that the network card on the machine is faulty, so he has ordered a replacement part. Later this afternoon, I had another call to make a new appointment for him to come back and fit the new card – he’ll be coming Tuesday (I was offered an earlier appointment which I couldn’t do and we lose two days for the holiday). The engineer was genuinely sorry that he’d been defeated by the machine.
If only Canon tech support had the same level of service and same approach as these CURA people! If they had, I wouldn’t have got so annoyed with Canon and wouldn’t have bored you rigid with all these posts about my printer. As it is, I’m still not inclined to buy another Canon product because I don’t want to go through all this again. But I’ll be keeping that CURA number safe.
The only thing that isn’t certain is whether the repair will work. All we can do is keep fingers crossed. Inevitably, I will update the story here.