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Day: September 3, 2012

Neil’s ‘cook at least once a week’ challenge – week one – Sausage Casserole

Last Monday I was out and about in London town. Whereupon I was told that the fact I lived off take-away food and microwave meals wasn’t very healthy. So whilst the rest of the Lib Dem blogosphere is worried about what is going down with the reshuffle I was busy as I have been challenged to actually cook a proper meal once a week. Well I’m not one to run away from a challenge…well in fact that is a huge lie as I always run away from challenges as I like my nice quiet simple life but still this one I haven’t..as yet.

So today on week one and I sit here having eaten a meal that I cooked myself. One that involved more than stabbing plastic with a knife to ensure a meal doesn’t explode in a microwave. One that involved more than opening up a take-away carton and placing it in a bowl and yes even more than bunging something in the oven and taking it out when cooked.

Tonight I cooked…sausage casserole.

However I can’t just say I did it as apparently I could lie so I needed photographic evidence of the adventure. So we’ll start with my raw ingredients:

raw ingredients for sausage casserole
What I started with…

So as you can see I have six Sweet Chilli Sausages, a casserole pack that consisted of leeks, onions, potatoes, swede and carrots as well as some stock. What I did first was brown off the sausage in a frying pan like thus…

frying sausages frying pan
Frying sausages in a frying pan…

As this was working I put the contents of the packet mix into 3/4 pint of cold water. If you don’t believe me look below…

sausage casserole packet mix
See. A jug with a vile looking liquid in it.

Once this was I put all the ingredients together in an oven-proof dish. I am feeling semi-confident at this point but it should be noted I decided not to boil the casserole mix first. In retrospect this may have been a mistake…

uncooked sausage casserole
What it looked like before oven time…

45 minutes later after that length of time with 170 degrees of heat it looked like this…

cooked sausage casserole
This was the look of love…or the sausage casserole if I wasn’t doing a bad music related pun.

On my plate – well in my bowl – this was my dinner…

sausage casserole
Sausage Casserole Dinner

Not sure Gordon would be very pleased with the stock drips on the bowl though I must say…

My conclusion is clear. It was a decent dinner and relatively cheap at £3.66. Apparently it would serve four but I’m not sure how. Some of my vegetables were still hard – clearly those that weren’t covered by stock in the oven. This really dragged down the taste for me. Also I remembered that I’m not a big lover of leeks so I really had to force them down.

Overall I’d give the meal at six out of ten and that might be generous. Will I continue and cook again in week two? Will I get overly excited and cook again tomorrow? Will I blog every single proper meal I cook and turn this from a semi-interesting blog to one that drives people away in their droves?

So many questions and so few answers as I type but at this juncture I know this. I gave it a shot and I should be praised for trying!

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George Osbourne wants a third runway at Heathrow. Good for him but could we have another super-airport instead?

So it seems that George Osbourne is a supporter of a third runway at Heathrow airport which isn’t exactly the biggest shock in the world. It does shock me as to why this issue has become so big but who am I to argue with the media bandwagon?

First of all Tim Yeo’s position that the third runway is of such vital importance that he questioned whether the PM was a man or a mouse was exciting until it came out that he had a horse in this race that would mean that any third runway would probably be financially beneficial for the aforementioned MP. And some people wonder why the electorate think that MPs are all just in for it for what they can get…

Sadly some are but not all of them. I hold that point of view dear and don’t see them all as pigs snuffling about in their own troughs. One of those who seemingly isn’t is Zac Goldsmith who won the Richmond Park seat for the Tories in 2010 who today has let it be known that if the Tories officially backed the third runway then he wouldn’t be able to stand by that and therefore would not defend him seat. Of course he could stand as an independent or as a candidate for another party – if Richard Morris is right it’ll be UKIP – but in a way it is nice to see someone take a stance that they wouldn’t back something to such a degree that they wouldn’t stand under that banner.

I have no idea what the economic fallout is regarding whether Heathrow has a third runway or not. All I know is that more direct flights between London and the rest of the world is apparently a good thing. However in this day and age I don’t understand why expansion in aviation is important as the internet age is hear and people can communicate very easily via the world wide web. A friend of mine is being flown out to Washington DC tomorrow morning and flying back late tomorrow night. So a trip to the USA for a two-hour meeting and then turning round and coming straight back home. What is the point?

I know face-to-face meetings are the best way forward but the speed at which technology is evolving means that by any time that the third runway gets completed then communications will be a further 10-15 years along and look at how we communicated 10-15 years ago and you wonder where exactly we’ll be in 15 years.

Having said that though The Independent on Sunday are reporting that a world-leading infrastructure firm is looking into sites to build a brand new four-runway airport within thirty minutes of London. So we might not see a third runway at Heathrow but we might get a brand new super-airport with four runways. Not exactly sure the Lib Dems will be delighted by this but it is just a feasibility study at the moment and could rival the so called ‘Boris Island’ idea.

So all in all the aviation industry is both in a state of flex but also frozen – something that is really quite impressive. With the coalition in place no new runways are being built in the South East but come May 2015 the political landscape could be very different and if it is different then more air travel is all but inevitable – the big question is where would it be and whose house prices are going to crash.

Still come tomorrow no-one will care about this as the reshuffle will happen and unless Justine Greening is replaced by someone who is desperate to get a move on and David Cameron wants to throw the coalition agreement out of the window then this is a moot story for the next three years. Still a fun one to muse over though…

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Scammers are getting creative. How about compensation for being scammed…?

This morning I got the following e-mail telling me that I had won a whopping million pounds – well when I say won I really mean I had been deemed to deserve compensation for scam e-mails. Brilliant I thought (well I didn’t – I thought this was clever spam) but there are people that would actually fall for this.

I must say that the e-mail address webxxxx01@12freeukisp.co.uk doesn’t seem the most official and giving me options how I’d like my compensation (and the associated costs involved) doesn’t really lead me to think this is legit. However DR. FRANCESCO VANNI D’ ARCHIRAI might be real and he might be willing to make me a millionaire. What am I to do…?

Would you be fooled…?

CITI BANK LONDON PLC
332 OXFORD STREET,
LONDON W1C 1JF.
Tel: +447024043834.
Fax: +447024043834.

ATTENTION: SIR/MADAM,

ACKNOWLEDGMENT INFORMATION REQUIRED, You are welcome to Citi Bank London.
The payment Bank for BRITISH, USA, EUROPE & ASIA SCAM VICTIMS
COMPENSATION. We are pleased to be at your service. We are Regulated and
Stipulated by the Financial Service Authority (FSA), the financial
institutions that govern all financial activities in the United Kingdom .

After receiving confirmation from the BRITISH, USA, EUROPE & ASIA SCAM
VICTIMS COMPENSATION HEADQUARTERS that you are one of the SCAM VICTIMS, we
are presenting you with the following options with which you would prefer
to receive your COMPENSATION of £1,000,000.00 GBP(One Million Pounds
Sterling Only) in our possession. You are to make your preferred and
affordable choice from the options listed below for us to remit your funds
to you in your country.

Citibank London Options FIRST OPTION Dispatch Of An ATM CARD: You shall
receive an ATM CARD which your COMPENSATION FUND has already been
credited into. Once this Card is given to you, the funds can then be
withdrawn in any bank in your country. However a courier company which is
also an affiliate to the BRITISH, USA, EUROPE & ASIA SCAM VICTIMS
COMPENSATION, will deliver the ATM CARD TO YOU AT YOUR DOOR STEP.
Max Delivery Duration…………………. ……………24Hrs
Mailing/freight cost ………………………… ……….£30
Handling Fee……………………… ……………………£40
Insurance………………… ………………………… ….£50
Vat……………………… ………………………… ……..£80
Total:…………………… …………… £200 (Two hundred Pounds
Only).

SECOND OPTION BANK TO BANK TRANSFER: This is the Direct Bank Transfer that
will enable you receive your money in any account that you will provide
for this Bank to effect the transfer of your COMPENSATION FUNDS as it is
always done electronically and it will take 3 WORKING DAYS to reflect in
the account that you shall provide.
Bank Commission:………..£50
V.A.T:…………………… …..£80
Insurance:……………….. ..£100
Total:…………………… …………… £230 (Two hundred thirty
Pounds Only).

THIRD OPTION DIPLOMATIC AGENT: By Diplomatic Agent who will deliver the
consignment of your fund to your address within 7 working days.
Bank Commission:………..£100
V.A.T:…………………… …..£150
Insurance:……………….. ..£250
Total:…………………… …………… £500 (Five hundred Pounds
Only).

Please respond to this email by making a selection from the options above.
Citibank London, is committed to rendering qualitative services to you,
Also you are advice to send us a scanned copy of your driver’s license or
your international passport for proof of identity. So if you are ready to
make the payment for any of the OPTIONS above, you are expected to notify
this office with the specific option so that we can provide you with the
payment details. Your urgent reply will be most welcome.

We look forward to serving you better,
Best Regards,
Dr. Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi
Executive Officer, Citi Transaction Services.
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.
Thanks For Contacting CitiBank London.

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