Tag Archives: Food

Malt Loaf Attempt

I wanted to make my own malt loaf, having remembered how much I loved it in the UK. Friend Siobhan sent me a recipe from Mary Berry, and I set to work acquiring the ingredients. A bit of translation from the UK recipe to the US was involved:

  • UK to US translation
  • 5 fluid ounces = 0.625 cups
  • Sultanas = Golden Raisins
  • Black Treacle = Molasses
  • Demerara Sugar = Raw Sugar
  • Plain Flour = All Purpose Flour

The recipe called for malt extract, which I remember we used to sell in Superdrug when I worked there in the late 1980’s (jeez). It was a nutritional supplement, and came in castor oil mixture variety as well. Where could I get it in the US? I googled, and found that it’s a common ingredient in home brewing, so I called Oak Barrel in Berkeley, just up the road from Oakland, and asked. The friendly and helpful guy suggested that simple light malt extract would probably do the trick. On Saturday, among other errands, we popped in and found a bustling and fascinating store full of barrels, tubes, equipment, mixtures, corks, books, and what seemed like lots of knowledgeable and friendly staff and customers. I got my malt extract, and went on my way.

The recipe was pretty simple, and so I was able to toss it all in the Kitchenaid and mix it all up in there and then pour it in a loaf tin and bake it. I didn’t have two small tins like the recipe asked for, just one big loaf tin. The mixture filled it quite well though so I wasn’t too worried. The recipe then said to “bake until firm”, so I did 10 minute intervals, poking it with a toothpick until it came out clean. I think I overcooked it, actually, but that may be because I had to use a larger tin, the middle wasn’t done before the outside was.

Result: Tasty! Good with cream. Lovely malty flavor. But it’s nothing like Soreen. It’s more like a cake than a bread. The recipe title is misleading in that regard. Do you hear me, Berry? With that knowledge, I looked around for another recipe, and it seems that if you want the real bread-like gooey texture of Soreen, you have to make bread. That is, kneading and proving and rising and waiting and airing cupboards and all that. I’ve never made bread, so I’m not sure I want to embark on that particular odyssey.

We’ll eat the loaf as it is, and then revisit the possibility. In the meantime, yum!

Bit Of A Pickle

After our recent trip to England (travelogue pending honest) I got a renewed taste for a couple of my favorite foods: Soreen Malt Loaf, and UK-style pickled onions in malt vinegar*. Our bags were already stuffed full (leading to some rearrangement at check-in) so I wasn’t able to bring any home with me. Plus I forgot. So, let’s make some at home!

(* You may notice a “malt” motif here. “Very malty”. Malty malty malt. I like Horlicks too – although that got a juvenile snicker from Friend Jason when I showed him. Horlicks actually got a mention in Robin’s Best Man speech at my wedding – some form of free lifetime supply might be in order. Must get on that.)

Malt Loaf may need to wait until I can find a good enough recipe that claims to replicate Soreen. It’s got to get chewy and sticky and so good toasted with butter. Pickled onions, on the other hand, should be easy…

Well, pretty easy. I found a recipe, and most of the ingredients are pretty straightforward. Boiling onions (small white ones), spices (ready mixed), dark brown sugar and malt vinegar. It was only the last one I had problems with. White vinegar is everywhere here, but brown malt vinegar (at least in my local supermarket) is in the gourmet-foreign-small-amounts-for-high-prices aisle. I bought two bottles that were clearly meant to be sprinkled over chips, not dumped wholesale into a pan.

I blanched, peeled and simmered the onions for five minutes, then simmered the rest of the ingredients for a few minutes, and put the onions and spiced vinegar in a Fido jar (one of those with the rubber seal and wire closure).

They’re now in the fridge for a week, so next weekend I’ll be able to test them and report back. If they’re as good as the ones from my childhood, I’ll probably eat a whole jar in an afternoon while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark among snoozing adults on Xmas afternoon, getting prune-fingers in the process.

I Invented A Sandwich

This is a luxurious dessert treat, easiy aseembled from ingredients you may already have in your pantry and fridge.

You know the French Dip sandwich as allegedly invented here? Hot sliced roast beef, with a small bowl of au jus (broth) for dipping? Well my recipe is like that, except you replace the hot roast beef with crunchy peanut butter and Nutella, and you replace the au jus with the heavy cream you have left over from the Post-Thanksgiving chocolate fondue you made.

To recap:

  1. Make a sandwich on whole wheat bread with thickly-spread crunchy peanut butter and Nutella.
  2. Pour a small amount of heavy cream into a bowl.
  3. Eat sandwich, dipping into cream as necessary – that peanut butter can be very cloying.
  4. Sit for a while, with the phone close at hand just in case.

Arthur Bryant’s Original Barbeque Sauce

This sauce is better than OK (get it?)

This sauce is better than OK (get it?)

Being the kind of old-world savage that loves ketchup on things, I was very pleased to discover this sauce. We got a bottle in a gift basket, I think. It appeared in our cupboard one day.

Either that or the ANGELS put it there because it is DELICIOUS.

I’m no BBQ-er, and I’m well aware that BBQ-ing and grilling are yet more of the subjects about which people are very protective, snobby, and knowallish, along with coffee, bicycling, beer, and lawd knows what else. I also know that regular brand BBQ sauce is very sweet and is basically ketchup with some spices in.

Of course, I’m familiar with and very fond of HP Sauce, or its generic UK store moniker “Brown Sauce” or “Fruity Sauce”, which goes so well will cold meat and hot chips. It’s quite similar to A1 Steak Sauce, which is very popular in the US.

I would say that Arthur Bryants BBQ sauce sits between HP and ketchup. The first thing you taste is a fresh burst of citrus tartness, then a full round rich spiciness, and then the heat of the pepper comes along. Not too much heat – I’m not a fan of replacing interesting flavor with raw heat.

I had it with some dinner a couple of days ago, and was practically licking the plate to get every last drop. So so good.

I Do Not Intend To Get Scurvy

When I’m out with Cassie for a fancy time, she often likes to drink a Dirty Martini, made with Grey Goose vodka if possible. I like these as well (salty!), but in the interests of not drinking the same thing as my girlfriend, it has become necessary to find my own drink. I’ve never really been much of a cocktail drinker. In the UK, cocktails tend to be reserved for the upscale bars and douchebag wannabe joints. I’ve been to cocktail parties which started with classy intentions, but which rapidly degenerated into random pints of brightly-coloured hard liquor. But in the US, pretty much every bar serves mixed drinks, and every bartender knows how to make them.

Disclaimer: I’m sure there are people who would say these bartenders think they know how to mix drinks, but they don’t know how to mix real drinks, or how to mix drinks properly. To which I say, oh piss off.

So quite a while ago, before I had even moved to the US, Cassie took me to one of her favourite bars in LA, the Edendale Grill, where her good friend (now my good friend) Alex worked behind the bar. Alex took on the task of introducing me to various drinks and cocktails, asking me what flavours I liked, whether I wanted long or short, and most importantly, what image I wanted to project.

The whole process showed the difference in cocktail drinking between the US and the UK. In the UK there are laws about the amount of liquor to be sold in a drink. In the US, your bartender may pour them long or short, and of course tipping may influence them one way or the other. Here, Alex was able to splash around various amounts of booze until we settled on the Vodka Gimlet. Sharp, simple, strong enough to be worth it, and classy. I had a few of these around the town, and I decided that I should try to make one or two at home. I don’t really drink at home, but by this time I was living alone in San Diego, and drinking at home was useful.

First I tried this recipe, but it was gross – far too sickly. I wanted to recreate Alex’s version. I asked her how to make one.

Easy-peasy. Grab a shaker, put in a few ice cubes, pour vodka over, splash of Rose’s. If you overdo the Rose’s you may be sad. Or you may just never get scurvy. DO NOT shake the crap out of it. That’s the most common mistake people make when they mix martinis. It bruises the liquor and waters down your drink– yuck. So, just swirl it a few times, and strain into either a chilled martini glass or over ice. Yum, enjoy!

I tried this out, but I think I got the proportions wrong. I’m no barman, so I asked her if she could be more specific.

Could you be more specific? I have a measuring thing. I should probably buy a shaker. Also, I’m using Stoli that’s been in the freezer. Should I not do that?

Alex replied,

Freezer Stoli is good– the colder the better. Use a few ice cubes anyway though. They serve as agitators to mix the vodka & juice. Personally, I would say one part rose’s to about six parts vodka. But then, I prefer fresh lime juice as my third ingredient. I’m assuming this drink is for you, so take a little taste– some people prefer much more Rose’s than I do! If it was for me, it would be one part fresh-squeezed lime juice to four parts vodka, with a wee capful of Rose’s for the bite. You don’t need a shaker if you have a big pint glass, though. And in a pinch you can just hold back the ice with a spoon or something to strain it.

I had a big pint glass, but what did I use as a lid? I would rather not have to stock up with loads of paraphernalia.

A thermos or travel mug is a good shaker in a pinch, too.

My $3 Tar-zhay travel mug! of course! And it had the little slots to strain with.

Travel Gimlet:
Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2oz Stoli from the freezer
  • 1/2 oz Rose’s Lime

Method:

  1. Put some ice in a $3 Target plastic travel mug
  2. Pour other ingredients into mug
  3. Close drinking slot, shake
  4. Open drinking slot, pour over ice into scotch glass

Sharp, but not sour. Quite smooth. I didn’t have any real lime, but I think it was good anyway. Not as good as Alex’s, but good in my bargain basement way.

All of this brings to mind my Signature Trademark Quick’n’Nasty Caucasian:

Ingredients:

  • Kahlua (however much you damn well feel like)
  • Semi-skimmed Milk
  • Ice

Method:

  1. Place ingredients in tumbler or scotch glass.
  2. Swirl around
  3. Wipe up spills with a silk handkerchief (important!)
  4. Drink… but… very carefully

Later on, buddy Brian gave me a shaker that he had going spare, so I was able to do away with the plastic travel mug. Since then of course I haven’t mixed a single cocktail. Cheers!

Foods From Distant Lands And Also The UK

I came home today to find a parcel from the UK with some happily familiar handwriting on it. It turned out to be a food parcel from my good pal Fleshisgrass, whom I miss terribliy and look forward to seeing in the next couploe of months.

The Teva shoe box contained some pretty exotic stuff, and I will need to consult the sender to ask what I can do with it. My first question will be, “Can an omelet be improved with the addition of Asafoetida Powder?” I see her game – a sneaky way to get me to get in touch.

In addition to said powder, the box contains:

  • Charmagaz
  • Chili/Lemon Cassava Chips
  • Kala Nimak
  • Kalonji
  • Salted Tamarind
  • Anardina (Pomegranate) Seeds
  • Sesame Almonds
  • Brown Rice Vermicelli
  • Black Till Seeds

Not stuff I’m used to, by any means, despite having lived in South West London for ten years. The chips and anardina seeds will just be snacks at work. But I’m going to make an effort to put them all to good use. Anyone have any recipes?

Flesh, thank you. I miss you pal, and I’ll see you soon.

Nice New Old Dresser

Now that Cassie and I are settling in our new place in labradors-strollers-and-badly-parked-SUV-crossovers-ridden Noe Valley, I needed to get hold of a dresser for my half of the bedroom. I had a tall dresser from Ikea in the UK, and I wanted something similar here. However, I didn’t want to go to Ikea again, because I wanted to find some more solid and long lasting. I’m through with temporary solutions – I want something that will stay with me for a while.

So, I set up an RSS feed for Craigslist on the word “dresser”, and a few days later, one crops up that seems to fit the bill. Solid wood, five drawers, right dimensions, $80. We contacted the seller, and on the Saturday morning we drove in the Jeep to collect and pay.

I’m really pleased with it – good solid pine, and built to last. And heavy! Even empty and with the drawers out, it was an effort to get it down the stairs at the seller’s and up ours. Apparently the same model new would cost over $500, so I got a great deal. The seller said that he had owned it since he was 12, and it was nice to think that it had been used and taken care of for that long. When I got it into my corner in the apartment, I cleaned out the drawers, aired it out, and put down brown lining paper before loading it up with the various clothes and personal effects which were piled up on the shelf. Very satisying. It goes well with the parquet flooring.

After talking to friends, it seems clear that men prefer the tallboy style of dresser (not to be confused with the “tallboy” cans of cheap beer that litter the gutters in the Mission) because men get ready to go out standing up, whereas the ladies tend to sit and do things in mirrors.

Whatever. I’m pleased my pants and socks have a decent home now.

Before taking the dresser home, we went to get some breakfast, and ended up having a nice omelet at a Palestinian restaurant that also does omelets. We looked into Lovejoys Tea Rooms, but it was busy, with a wait of an hour for a table. We’ll definitely go back there, perhaps with houseguests. They also have a cute little store opposite that sells teapots, loose tea, dainty teacups and all that shit. They also, joy of joys, sell Branston Pickle, which even at $6.50 a jar is worth it. Apart from basic black tea, it’s the only UK thing of which I need a regular supply. Dark Chocolate Digestives would be nice too, but there’s no shortage of fancy cookies here.

On The Cusp(id) of 2008-2009

~ Better two months late than never, that’s what I always (have to) say. This is one of those summary-style posts that simply serve to let the folks back home know what I’ve been up to. ~ 

As is now tradition, Cassie and I started the Xmas season with a nice meal at LA Prime, at the top of the Hotel Bonaventure in downtown LA. Steak, Vodka Gimlets (Dirty Martinis) and a bit of a view, along with the cool glass elevator ride, and the Logan’s Run lobby.

Most of Xmas Eve we spent driving up to San Francisco to stay with Cassie’s brother Don and his family, like last year. They have a beautiful house out in Orinda, and as they have the large (soon to be larger!) family, they’re the holiday destination.

The 24th is Cassie’s eldest nephew George’s birthday, and he was turning 5. He got the usual shower of gifts (kids these days eh, etc) and traditionally he had his choice of dinner, which this time was sushi. Actually he seemed more into the udon soup and tempura, which left more dragon rolls for us.

Xmas Day was as you’d expect. Pyjamas, paper, gifts, food, drink, toys, music. Cassie’s Mum (Mom) Joan did another fantastic job of feeding us. She’s great. Sugary rolls and strata for breakfast, then more deliciousness throughout the day. Coffee, however, was an issue.

Over the holiday period I was recruited as the new family engineer to try and get the built-in coffee machine to work. I managed it in the end, with lots of help from family friend Renee, printed instructions from the web, and frequent breaks to build up my patience with what turned out to be an astonishingly badly designed bit of kit. You have to open it with a key and remove half the fittings to clean it, and you have to clean it every time you make a milk-based drink. The instructions were poorly written and omitted key information. You can imagine the manufacturers response, “Oh no, it can’t do that. Why would you assume it could?” If I could remember the manufacturer, I’d recommend you not buying.

On Boxing Day (which isn’t anything except “day after Xmas” here) we drove into the city and went to the All You Knead Cafe again, where we met up with Taylor, Aaron and of course Chandra, aka burlesque artiste Ruby White. After a good lunch there in the bohemian surroundings, we wandered up and down Haight Street doing some shopping. Cassie wanted a new Jerry (Garcia) Bear plush toy for Gordon, and I was needing some clothes because I’d managed to leave a load of stuff hanging in Cassie’s closet in LA. There are loads of second-hand and vintage shops along there, with some pretty good stuff, including an original Thompson Twins t-shirt, which I would have bought if it wasn’t for the fact that it was 5 sizes too small, $30 and threadbare. An amusing and incongruous meeting: while browsing in the headshop where Cassie bought the bear, we ran into my San Diego office manager and his wife, who were just browsing as well, honest. No wonder he seems so relaxed at work.

Don and family were off for an Xmas vacation on the 27th, so they left us in charge, with a short list of things to do, mainly involving Hollywood the hugely fluffy white cat, and Nora the pug, aka The Walking Meatloaf. We had to drop Nora off at the kennels, so we headed out to Clayton to Camp Four Paws, which looked like loads of fun for dogs, with large field scattered with toys and exercise equipment. On the way back, we stopped at a farm shop for something, and ended up being shown the shop’s collection of exotic birds, all chattering and squawking away in the barn. Strange little place.

In the evening we looked for somewhere nice for dinner, eventually settling on the Wood Tavern in Oakland. This had been recommended by Don and Darien, and we weren’t disappointed. They were very friendly, the food was great, the refilled cocktails were delicious, and the fact they (accidentally?) forgot to charge us for our entrees was very nice. We left a huge tip, and left quickly.

Saturday saw us back in the city at Chandra’s, for a little gathering to talk, listen to music, and experiment with a bottle of Pisco. It was also my first experience of a Sloppy Joe sandwich, which was very yummy. We started out trying to make proper Pisco Sours, but as these things often do, it deteriorated into random drink mixing. Singing about the Pisco Disco to the tune of Copacabana – “the hottest place in San Francisco” – are you proud, Petty? Really?

Back in LA on New Year’s Eve, I noticed a pain in my jaw, which grew into a huge throbbing and a swelling. I called my dentist (also on his holidays) and he phoned through some penicillin to a local pharmacist. Cassie also had a stinking cold, and she was popping the pills too. So it was that I saw 2009 in with drugs coursing through my veins, avoiding too much alcohol. Brought back memories, it did! (Not really.) It was really nice though, if quiet. Friends, decorated sheet cake, champagne, toasts, midnight kisses. Had I not been in pain and dosed up I would have been up for much more.

On New Years Day we were both fine as far as drink effects go, but we were both still feeling rotten with swollen faces and runny noses. So we ended up watching Arthur while drinking Perrier and eating leftover crudites with onion dip. Not the start of a diet, I hasten to add, we just didn’t feel like anything more. Just to add to the health kick, the next day we walked round Silver Lake reservoir with Gordon the dog, who loved getting a good trot in.

Then just before I had to return to San Diego, we had dinner at Brian and Stacy’s, where we stuffed ourselves after taking an axe to the Xmas tree and burning it in their garden fire grate. Those dry resiny needles went up like rocket fuel. One cute little treat we’d picked up at Gelsen’s was chocolate dipped fortune cookies, which had the usual mix of cold-reading nonsense (“things will change in the year ahead”) and the wrong lottery numbers, made palatable by a coating of chocolate. Talk about sugar-coating the bad news.

The cookie was right though. 2009 is going to be a biggie.

Heavy On The Magick

It was LA again a couple of weekends ago, because we had a few special things planned. Thursday evening I drove up as I often do, and as we couldn’t decide what to do for dinner, we just walked down the road to good old Dusty’s. Walking back up the hill with Cassie in the warm evening with a good meal and a couple of strong Euro-beers inside me was most pleasurable.

Despite having Friday off, I had to be up early, though not as early as Cassie, bless her. My job was to take Gordon to the vet to have his teeth cleaned. This involved a general anesthetic, which in turn involved him not eating, and being given blood tests and all sorts of palaver. I dropped him off, made sure all was OK, then went and hung out with my buddy Brian in North Hollywood. We went for brunch, then for a quick tour around the statues in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, including the Henson Wall. A nice afternoon of chewing the fat, playing with Brian and Stacy’s dog Camden (a beautiful Golden Retriever), exploring the Brian Kinney Museum of GI Joe, Star Wars, Batman, and KISS action figures, and then it was time to pick up Gordon.

He seemed pretty perky when the vet brought him out, but when I got him in the car he curled up on the passenger seat, and went to sleep with his chin on my arm, which is unheard of. Unbearable cute. He was so stoned, he was wandering around, his eyes all droopy. He had a dogsitter that night, because Cassie and I had got something cool lined up.

Our friends A and I had got us tickets for the Magic Castle in Hollywood, which is a bit of an institution. It’s a crazy place, and it does have a bit of a reputation for being esteemed and classy with one hand, and sleazy and naff with the other. They make a big deal over getting people to dress up, and Cassie actually phoned to ask if she would be allowed in wearing flip-flops, because she had an ankle bandage on (she wasn’t, but she wanted to try). She was recommended to ask a friend with bigger feet to lend her some shoes!

Anyway, the four of us made an effort, and it was nice to be there, everyone all dressed up. We were booked in for a meal at a set time (it’s all very “by the clock”), but we got there early so we were able to grab an earlier dinner, then see more of the shows. The shows were what made the evening fun. In one of the small auditoriums we saw a magic variety show with a new stylish act involving clothes that changed color, followed by a much more traditional “assistant in a box” routine. The compére was a live wire, with a great finale involving dozens of those snake-in-the-nut-can tricks, and a blue double-breasted jacket that I think used to belong to the keyboard player from The Jets. Elsewhere in the various nooks and crannies of the building, card tricksters and traditional ball-and-cup-meisters were plying their trade. You could just stop and catch a short act, then move on.

It’s kind of a weird place – all twisting corridors and stairs and dark corners with a couple more tables for dinner, then another bar, then some creepy doll in a box on the wall, then the magical piano that plays what you tell it to (we heard Sweet Child O’ Mine).

The clientele were a mixed bunch. Several groups of younger people, getting a bit rowdy on the monstrously expensive booze. And I don’t know if they were magicians, but several of the older gentlemen were definitely accompanied by their “beautiful young assistants”, if you catch my drift. Maybe they have magic wallets.

It was a great night though, and A & I are cool for inviting us. If you throw yourself into it, and enjoy the effort that the performers make, it’s a really fun evening, even if the actual atmosphere and environment don’t tally with the image they seem to want to project. It’s all smoke and mirrors I guess, the former especially outside waiting for the valet ($8!) to bring your car round.

Then this weekend just gone was a San Diego one. Cassie came down late on Friday, then Saturday lunchtime we went to see The Reader in Hillcrest. An excellent film – my hope for the Oscars, rather than that patronizing one set in India. Kate Winslet was great – a really subtle and strong performance, and the male lead was great too. I also loved the furniture in the scenes in the 70’s. And the professor’s leather portfolio. Seriously. After that we strolled through the drizzle (as in light rain, not some Snoop Dogg thing)  to Mille Feuille for a cup of delicious hot chocolate and a couple fancy macaroon things.

Sunday we actually managed to get to the beach again – Gordon was in need of a good run around after being cooped up out of the rain. The sky was blue with little fluffy clouds,the sun was warm, the sailboats on the horizon out towards the Coronado Islands – pretty fecking beautiful. I must get another camera. Gordon was enjoying running about with all the other dogs, and we walked up to the wire fence separating the dog beach from the Naval Air Base. Then the usual trip to the Dog Wash, then a soda, then some relaxing and TV, before Cassie headed home.

These weekends are the only time we get to spend together, so we try and pack them as much as possible. That’s easier to do in LA, because I know more people there, but that will change. It looks like we won’t be making a move north for a while, because of the work problem – Cassie would need to quit her job and find a new one in SF, which would be kinda dumb, given the climate. We’ll see.

What You (Didn’t) Miss(ed) – A Fascinating Glimpse

I had a bit of a modern dilemma, which I resolved by writing this blog post. Just blurb it out, Petty. If nothing else, it will describe a typical, if busy, evening in the life of your beloved chronicler. A good way to keep the folks at home up to speed, or at least illustrate the little differences.

So after a pretty regular day at the office on Monday, when we were told that budgetary constraints have been lifted so we can carry on working, I went home via the grocery store. I sometimes go to the Albertsons off University, but it does get a little bit ghetto in there. I also go to Trader Joes on University and Vermont, which is more my style (middle class drone “individual human being” that I am). There’s a Ralphs there that I’d never been in, so I gave that a try. In fact I went to both, because they’re next door to each other. Give it a whirl, eh.

Got the usual stuff. I somehow managed to buy a bottle of “green” dish washing liquid at both stores, so that’s me set in case of earthquake. In TJ’s (as I don’t like to call it) I got some extremely girly-girly lavender sachets to put in the dryer. There is a good reason for this. When using the dryers in the laundry at the apartment complex, I don’t like using those dryer sheets cos of the chemicals (all chemicals are bad). I use these knobbly blue rubber balls that tumble around, and help the stuff to dry while making them soft. They work great, but Cassie doesn’t like the lack of fragrance, hence me putting a herbal teabag in my laundry. My underpants now smell like a rural craft shop, and I am a giant pansy-boy.

So I got home with my haul, opened the squeaking, rattling, rolling garage door with my remote, parked in my underground spot (that git in the white Infiniti SUV who always parks over the line wasn’t there, so I could get into it) and lugged the shopping the two flights upstairs, pausing to grab my mail from the mailboxes by the gate.

Once in, I unpacked some of the shopping, changed out of my work clothes in to something a little more… comfortable. Then I gathered my laundry, including my bedding, and lugged it downstairs. There was one machine (out of five) free, which was a pain because I had whites and coloreds to do. The other machine displays said they only had a few minutes to go, so I hung around talking to Cassie, who had called while I was elbow-deep in dirty pants (so no change there). I loaded one machine, slotted in my $1 in quarters, then when a neighbor came out to empty their machine, I nipped in there. The two loads laundry set going, I went back upstairs and while waiting for the 30 minutes to pass, I ate a TJ’s nicoise salad, which had altogether too many capers in it. It was delicious, but too many.

Salad eaten, I washed up while listening to some old Nitzer Ebb and Front Line Assembly (it was the Industrial playlist, in case you were wondering). Warning: you may need to wipe up splashes after washing up while listening to Let Your Body Learn.

By this time, the laundry was done, so I went down and transferred my damp wash to a dryer, adding my blue rubber balls and the aforementioned lady-man lavender sachet. I could fit both loads into one dryer, but I played it safe and paid $1 for a super dry, rather than just 75 cents, because it was a double load. I didn’t put a couple of pairs of cotton linen trousers in the dryer, because they need ironing and it’s easier to do when they’re damp. So having set the machine going I went up and did this, which was extra-fun!

While I was on this crazy domestic kick, I started to polish my shoes, using the fun “set fire to the polish method”. You spread out your newspaper, or the brightly colored advertising freesheets from the local supermarkets that infest my mailbox every day, then get your tin of polish, and light it (it catches quite easily). When it’s merrily aflame and melting, you extinguish it by dropping the lid on it, then open again and breathe the delicious fumes. With a tissue, smear molten polish over the shoe, rubbing it in well. Once both shoes are well rubbed in, leave to dry.

While the polish and clothes were drying, I managed to watch a bit of TV. An episode of Flight Of The Conchords only lasts about 10 minutes if you fast forward through the songs to the funny bits, so it’s good for quick viewing. Then I started to watch some dodgy looking cartoon which turned out to be Heavy Metal 2000, but I had to stop watching because the DVR told me it wanted to record Mobile Suit Gundam Double Zero, which was OK, because I wasn’t enjoying the shite animation and cack music, despite the buxom heroine. I watched a bit of the Japanese lunacy, before switching off and getting back to my chores.

Before that, though, I had to do my One Hundred Push Ups session, as if I wasn’t getting enough exercise schlepping laundry up and down apartment steps. See my progress here.

The time was up for the drying laundry, so I went down and fetched it, finding out that the lavender wasn’t quite as strong as I had feared. After folding the warm laundry, I finished polishing my shoes, which was just a case of taking a brush to them. The dull coating of dried polish rubbed down to a very satisfying shine – I like that. Then finally after a few more minutes of pottering and preparing for the next day, I made the bed with fresh new sheets, and finally gratefully climbed in. I managed a few pages of a Ballard short story before setting the clock radio (89.5 KPBS, Where News Matters) and falling into a nice sleep, safe in the knowledge that entropy had been staved off for one more day, and like a more successful Canute I had held back the tide of kipple.