Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sighs of Relief!

Grateful thanks to MimSys for telling me how to bring back my missing taskbars.  If there is anything in telepathy, then just after I'd checked my email (after midnight) my eternal thanks would be flying across the ether from my mind to MimSys'.

It was such a simple solution, and one I should have remembered (because it had happened before with my old comp). I had tried tapping F11 and also F10 (because I couldn't remember which one it was) but don't think I tapped hard enough.  The problem probably arose because I hit the F11 key in the first place when intending to hit the return bar (just underneath it).

As surmised, I don't have a lap-top, and I suppose the computer is what I call the hard drive.  I think of the comp as the screen and keyboard and the box that stands on the corner with bits of wires connecting up to various bits at the back of the screen is the 'hard drive'.  It just whirrs when switched on, and shuts up when I switch off the screen. 
With this fairly new comp that Steve got for me, I can select 'switch user, a few other things, and also 'sleep' and 'hibernate'.  When I press 'hibernate' the hard drive then switches off and I have to lean down to press a large button on the box to switch it on again.;  With 'Sleep' the comp screen shuts down but will start up again when any key (or mouse) is touched. 

Since I've been going to the spiritualist church, the electrics have been playing up (have I told you this before?).  The TV switches itself off for no reason, the lights flicker in this room when I'm using the comp, and (go back on again when I tell them to), the comp switches itself back on when I enter the room in the morning even though it has been properly switched off (hibernate).  It doesn't do this for B, only for me.  Add to that the toaster blowing up followed by the oven, am wondering if something out there is trying to attract my attention.  Apologies if I've said all this before, but it does make me wonder.

It is with great relief that I seem to have got the comp back to how it should be, although a few seconds ago the screen began making a strange noise, a bit like those ticker-tape machines we see in the older films.  Almost as though someone was sending me a message in morse code.  Are the aliens about to land?  Will a message suddenly appear on the screen?

Thanks also to Anna for a suggestion of how to replace the task bar.  I had tried that earlier, but it didn't come up with anything that would have worked. 
What would interest me is knowing what all the 'F' keys (1 - 12) are used for. (I now know what F11 does). I dare not try them in case it sets up something that I can't undo.  As you can all guess, I have absolutely no idea of how a computer works, to me it is just the same as a word processor, with a built in 'query finder' (only not answering queries like 'how do I get the taskbar back').
The other advantage is being able to send short letters at speed instead of relying on 'snail mail', but have to say there is nothing quite as pleasant as being able to curl up and read a letter sent by a friend (or relative) that has arrived through the post.   How sad that these days that letters between lovers is probably sent by texting (or worse 'tweeting' so everyone can read them).  Not nearly as nice as having a bundle of old letters tied up with blue ribbon to remind us of romantic times when we were young (and I've still got mine hidden away).

Although I normally don't reply to an Anonymous, this time I must give a thank you as the comment gave alternative flavourings for popcorn.  A good idea. I love spicy, so will give it a go.

With that thought in mind the first recipe today is a type of Tabbouleh (bulgar wheat salad) but with a twist.  Takes only 15 minutes to make when the bulgar is cooked in the microwave, or - if you prefer - use couscous, pouring boiling stock over the grain then, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes. When completed, this can be served warm or cold, so left-overs could be eaten for lunch the following day.

Spiced Bulgar Wheat Salad: serves 4
7 oz (200g) bulgar wheat
9 fl oz (250ml) hot vegetable stock
half tsp Moroccan spice mix OR...
...large pinch each of gr.cumin and cinnamon
grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
half a red onion, finely sliced
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained/shredded
handful of fresh coriander leaves
Put the bulgar wheat into a microwavable bowl with the stock. Cover with clingfilm and microwave on High for 4 minutes.  Set aside, still covered, to let the wheat absorb the stock (takes about 5 more minutes).
Meanwhile make the dressing by mixing together the spice mix, the lemon zest and juice, and olive oil, adding seasoning to taste.  Add the onion, chickpeas, peppers and coriander to the bulgar wheat, pour over the dressing and toss everything together.  Serve either warm or cold.

Grains such as bulgar and couscous make a pleasant change from rice.  As does pearl barley and quinoa.  So this next dish is make using couscous, and although I'm not normally fond of aubergines, have to say they work well as this way they have such a meaty texture and good flavour that what is basically a salad dish ends up very filling. 
This being very much a seasonal dish, we could also include courgettes if we wish, or use instead of the aubergines.

Aubergine and Couscous Salad: serves 4
2 aubergines, cut into 1cm rounds
4 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
10 oz (275g) couscous
16 fl oz (450ml) hot vegetable stock
9 oz ( 250g) cherry tomatoes, halved
handful mint leaves, chopped
8 oz (225g) log goat's cheese, cubed
juice of 1 lemon
Spread the slices of aubergine on to a large baking sheet, brushing the surface with a little oil, adding seasoning to taste, then place under a grill and cook for 15 minutes, turning them half-way through, brushing with more oil.  When browned and softened, remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, put the couscous into a bowl, pour over the stock, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.  Mix the tomatoes, mint, remaining oil, and goat's cheese together.
Fluff up the couscous with a fork, then stir in the aubergines, lemon juice, and the tomato/cheese/herb mixture.

As you know, my Beloved really enjoys cooking a stir-fry for his supper.  I'm please because it gives me a chance to use up odds and ends of vegetables (he likes me to 'prep' these up for him so he hasn't much chopping to do - just throw the lot in the pan in the right order).  He also prefers to use a sachet of a stir-fry sauce (we keep a supply of several different flavours), and prefers 2 minute microwave rice to bothering to cook noodles (even though these take only a couple of minutes anyway).  He likes to think he can cook, but have to say so far has only dipped his toes into the water.  My intention is to getting him in at least waist deep, and possibly this next recipe is the one to push him in. 
Although this recipe serves two, it will still only make enough for my Beloved.  He has a big appetite.

Oriental Chicken Noodles: serves 2
2 tsp cornflour
2 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp caster sugar
6 tblsp water
2 blocks egg noodles
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced
7 oz (200g) cooked chicken, shredded
1 tsp ground coriander
half tsp chilli powder
4 oz (100g) frozen peas
few basil leaves, roughly shredded
handful cashew nuts or peanuts (opt)
Mix the cornflour with the soy sauce and sugar, then gradually stir in the water, mixing together until smooth.  Cook the noodles as per packet instructions (usually takes no more than 4 minutes).
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan, then stir-fry the pepper, garlic, and spring onions for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken, spices and peas, and stir-fry for a few seconds, then pour in the cornflour mixture.   Stir until bubbling and thickened, then add the drained noodles and toss everything together.  Serve immediately, with a scattering of basil on the top.

Today seems to have come to almost the end of the 'Roots' saga, although there is one more episode to be seen tomorrow, perhaps a mini-compilation.  Today the story ended with Alex Haley returning to Gambia and finding the village where his ancestor - Kunte Kinte - lived, and also meeting up with one of his distant cousins.  I found this so very moving, in fact the whole series disturbed me much as it did the first time I saw it - many decades ago.

That's it for today, need to have an early night (that's a laugh, it's already 15 minutes past midnight) but the annual service of our gas boiler is due, and the man comes tomorrow morning 'between 8.00am and noon) so as the boiler is in our bedroom (don't ask me why), I don't wish to be found still in bed when he arrives.  Hopefully, back blogging again this time tomorrow.  See you then I hope?