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Feb '08

Stuffed Peppers with a Savoury Cashew Sauce

I enjoyed this recipe which I got from here. It served four people using 8 cute little peppers rather than 4 big ones. I found the text density and lack of photos a bit hard to follow, but it’s all there.

Serves: four
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes.

4 medium red peppers
3tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
175g/6oz long grain brown rice
350ml/14floz water/light vegetable stock
small pinch of saffron or tumeric
juice of ½ lemon
50g/2oz frozen peas, defrosted
3 tomatoes, chopped
2tbsp black olives, sliced and pitted
2tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt & freshly ground pepper

for the sauce:
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2tsp olive oil
85g/3oz cashew nuts, ground
vegetarian stock cube
150ml/¼pint water

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut-the tops off the peppers and save. Remove the seeds. Simmer the pepper bases for 5 minutes to soften, then drain and refresh in cold water. Use 1tbsp of olive oil to oil an oven-proof dish and brush the pepper bases and tops.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute to coat with oil.

3. Add the water or stock to the saffron or turmeric and lemon juice, cover, bring to the boil, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat. Add the peas, tomatoes, olives and basil leaves. Stir to combine all the ingredients and season to taste.

4. Spoon the mixture into the pepper bases and cover with the tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the peppers are tender and golden.

5. For the sauce, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. Meanwhile liquidize the ground cashew nuts, stock cube and water in a blender. Add the contents of the liquidizer to the onions and heat gently for 2-3 minutes stirring all the time. Return the mixture to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Re-heat the sauce gently, adding more water if a thinner consistency is desired.

6. Serve the stuffed-peppers and cashew sauce with an Italian tomato salad and garlic bread.

Sep '07


Today I baked some lovely cornbread that was taken from and enjoyed by Jeremy and myself.

I’ll rewrite the recipe as the very ad-heavy site is difficult to read.

Tools You’ll Need

Skillet Cornbread

Skillet Cornbread
D. Rattray

Cornbread is a staple in the South, and every cook has a favorite method and recipe. Chicken and dumplings, chili, pinto beans, gumbo, and some other meals are just not the same if they aren’t served with cornbread. This is one of my favorite recipes, made with buttermilk and white cornmeal. Follow along with the ingredients in these instructions, or print Buttermilk Cornbread recipe out before you start.Here are the tools you’ll need to begin:

  • large mixing bowl
  • small bowl
  • wooden spoon
  • wire whisk
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • 10-inch iron skillet or a 9-inch baking pan

Let’s begin!

Combine Dry Ingredients

Cornbread Instructions, Dry Ingredients

Cornbread Instructions, Dry Ingredients
D. Rattray

First, put about 1 tablespoon of oil or shortening in a skillet. If you have bacon drippings, add a little to the skillet for even more flavor. Heat the oven to 400° and place the skillet in the oven to preheat.In the large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of white cornmeal with 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Using a wooden spoon or whisk, stir to blend the ingredients.

Combine Buttermilk and Eggs

Whisk Eggs With Milk and Buttermilk

Buttermilk, Eggs, and Milk
D. Rattray

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 cup of low-fat or whole milk, and 2 large eggs. Using the wire whisk or a wooden spoon, whisk or lightly beat until blended.

Blend in Melted Butter

Blend Melted Butter Into Egg Mixture

Blend Melted Butter Into Egg Mixture
D. Rattray

Using a whisk or wooden spoon, slowly blend 2 to 3 tablespoons of melted butter (or oil) into the milk and egg mixture. If you have bacon drippings, add about 1 tablespoon of melted drippings in place of some of the butter.

Combine Dry and Wet Ingredients

Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients

Mix Wet and Dry Ingredients
D. Rattray

Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon just until ingredients are well moistened.

Pour Batter Into the Skillet

Pouring the Batter Into Skillet

Pouring the Batter Into Skillet
D. Rattray

Carefully, using pot holders or oven mitts, take the skillet out of the oven and gently tilt the pan to swirl the fat around the sides. The hot greased skillet will help make a crustier cornbread. Pour the batter into the hot oiled skillet and spread evenly.

Ready for the Oven!

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven
D. Rattray

Put the pan into the oven and bake at 400° for 30 to 40 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Mar '07

How nerdy are you?

I am nerdier than 46% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Sep '06


I am now a resident of Vancouver. I’m very pleased about the move. I am living in the upper half of a house with two old friends.

I am applying to go to SFU. I would like to take computer science, music, philosophy, and business in no particular order. I am interested in all of these things and would happily earn a degree in any one. I have recently figured out that I will have to apply as a mature student. That’s just fine, but I need to figure out who my references will be. I’m not quite sure what is appropriate.

In the meantime I’ll be getting a job to earn some dole to pay for school, food, rent, wild student parties, and the like. This shouldn’t be too difficult given the current job market in Vancouver: desperate.

I miss London, but I’m glad to be in my new home. And it really feels like home. :)

May '06


I am at the computer terminal in the downstairs of a massive hostel. On my floor alone there are at least 50 beds. There is only one little terminal however, for which there would be a line I am sure, but for the fact that for last night and tonight I am the only occupant of this establishment.

It’s not a bad place. It’s centrally located. The staff are friendly. The beds are comfy. It’s been recently painted and done up. It’s admittedly not got a lot of character, but it’s only been open since January 2006 I found out last night. In short, there’s nothing wrong with this place. My only complaint is they don’t supply towels. So why, in the main tourist city of Poland is there nobody in my hostel?

I wouldn’t normally mind having some space to myself, but in London there’s always space to myself. This is one of the cool reasons to travel. I want to be jammed in with all sorts of people and having to deal with that. It also happens to be the best way I’ve figured out to meet people who you wouldn’t normally meet. In Spain I constantly met cool (and other) people in the common room of my hostel.

Technically I don’t live on my own, but in reality Selwyn is so frequently away it’s the same as. Before London I’d never lived on my own and I now know that I prefer to have someone around. Of course, this theory will be tested when I go back to the Comox Valley and stay with family for a little while. 😉

The city itself is pretty nice. On the surface it’s certainly not a Western city yet. I say yet, because with Poland joining the European Union, it seems like a reasonable prediction it will end up being somewhat like the rest of Europe in many senses. Already there are golden arches and other familiar symbols littering the doorways of some original stonework buildings that make up the town centre.

The age of the city was highlighted last night when I was sitting in a courtyard pub enjoying a (really strong!) beer and playing on my mobile (this is when you need company). An old Scottish man drove his ride-on scooter into the courtyard asked “Where in this hellhole can I find a pub with a toilet that isn’t down a flight of stairs?” One of the customers at the bar tried to explain, in broken English, that he thought there was a place around the corner. The Scot then ripped into him, “Are there any disabled Polish people? There must not be! Back home if the city was designed like this you’d hear about it!”

Let it not be said that I’m heartless to the Scot’s plight. It’s safe to say when I have to go and there’s no facilities in sight I am maybe not the most pleasant person in all of the gods’ play space. I just might consider educating myself as to the loo situation of a given place before hopping on a plane with my ride-on anything.

May '06


When I came to England it was because I wanted to escape my life in Victoria. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t trapped as a miserable employee bitterly striving to make everyone else around me as jaded as I was. In retrospect, maybe London wasn’t the city for me to avoid that fate.

As I plan my exit from London I feel relief to be away from exceeding expense, excitement at being able to see loved ones, anxiousness at trying to find schooling options, and dread at having to get back to my ‘real life’. I am going to miss some people here. I am sad that I’ve managed to lose a good friend just shortly before my departure.

I have discovered some neat things about myself. I am a homebody. I love to be away from home. I have an addiction to my home computer. I love healthy food. I want to be wanted. I can barely handle (and loathe) stress. I will always love music. A lot. I feel blindly proud to carry around a musical score and pretend to be studying a recording in a public space. Sunshine makes me profoundly happy. I am most probably a naturist. If I work out it can make a difference.

In twenty-two days I will have been out of Canada for exactly one year. This last weekend when I saw Christian I wanted to toss myself into his luggage and fly home with him. I didn’t care about travelling or saying goodbye to anyone. I just irrationally wanted to run back into the arms of a place that has nostalgically become so much nicer than I ever remember it being. I managed not to and I’m going to do my best to enjoy England and Europe for the remaining month and four days that I’ll be here.

Note to vandal: My passwords have all been changed. I would never vandalize your things. I’m sorry that you felt you needed to stoop so low because your feelings were hurt.

Apr '06

Silly Interview.

Going to Dusseldorf today. :) Here’s a funny clip I saw today.

Apr '06

Beard and Bombers

mrAshley in a hammock in Seville, Spain

More photos from Seville are here


Leaving Spain )-;

I love Spain. I already understand simple written Spanish and I understand it’s not horribly difficult to learn the language. Sevilla (seh-vee-ya) has taught me the value of good walking shoes, the taste of the some of best oranges the world has to offer, and that tapas are good value if you do it right.

Last night I had a giggle. There were eight of us Nuevo Sujzo-ers out for food and eventually drinking. The group split when one Ozzie (Brian), two American girls (Jess and um..), and I went to find some down home Flamenco. Brian had been to the big place the night prior and wanted to find something a little less touristy. We eventually did find it, but didn’t go because it was 33 euros and only had 25 minutes left of the evening. We walked along the other side of the river. (I’m afraid I knew where I was, but am still clueless of the name. The area tends to be swarming with Americans who are studying as this seems to be where they all live. One club even was all in English. Yikes!) I got rejected from two clubs. One bouncer didn’t like my shoes, and one didn’t like my shorts. Oh well, we moved on.

I suppose I should mention at this point that I have not really mentioned to this new group which side of the field I play for and the beard-and-bomber-glasses look I have going on really isn’t giving any hints. Also, the group configuration was such that we could have been on a double-date. As we were walking past it, I suggested we go into a gay bar that was playing some good house. That went down well and we had a laugh dancing the night away. Finally we were just about to leave when on comes Shania so the girls (and the slightly homesick Canadian) gleefully returned to the dance floor. Then the drag queens came out.

They were skinny, Super-skinny, and though both wore heavy foundation to cover the mediterranian blue-beard, you could still see just a little mustache. The show was fun but the best part was when the drag queen pulled Jess and eventually all four of us on stage for a good 10 minutes and just took the piss out of us. By the end we were playing a modified go-go-stop. The point was to dance from the back of the stage to the front. Harder than it sounds, of course, because I got sent back when she tried to undo my shorts. Brian also got sent back when she tried to completely unbutton his shirt and he flinched. We eventually made it to the edge when she decided to stop playing with us and sent us the bar for a shot. Rummy.

I am such an attention tart! I couldn’t get over it. Lots of boys gave the eyes after the stage show and we chatted up two tables of people outside who spoke English/International Sign and Grunt. Still, I went home with the Oz and the Yanks because I’m a good boy. It’s a bit hazy but there was some reason that Brian and I were going out again but we didn’t end up finding what we had meant to so we went back to the hostel.

We were briefly seperated and I didn’t manage to find him again until I got to my bed. There he was in his undies. I was quite sure he wasn’t that-way-inclined so it was shocking on a few levels. Recollection hits and it turns out that sometime through the night we had briefly discussed swapping beds as I was sleeping in the same room as the girls where he wanted to be. I had said no, but then again maybe I hadn’t. Final tuck-in had us all in our proper spaces, but not without my offer of sharing, (drunken frat style rather than anything else) and his suggestion that one of the girls offer the same.

Mar '06


9:30 AM: a girl in my dorm room whispers to another girl the time. I immediately wake up feeling the effects of last night’s over-indulgence but fight the urge to crawl into a whole because breakfast is only free for the next half hour.

I get up and have a better-than-expected breakfast of muffins, juice, and jam on toast. It’s time to get out of here, away from the rowdy Americans (and Brits for that matter) and see some of the citys handsome architecture.

I follow a road in some random (left.. cause I don’t know where north is) direction leading generally towards a river, which I later found out is actually a man-made addition from the the real river a little ways further. It’s wide and clean(er than the Thames anyway). I bump into aforementioned German handlebar mustache guy. His name is Daniel and he has in fact remembered my name from the night prior.

We walk along the river and turn into the city where suddenly I know where I am again. I’m standing in a busy roundabout intersection where the airporter spit the remaining bulk of passengers. There is a lot of restoration going on in this city, but even with that there is plenty to look and the prices are acceptable. I’m so used to be financially raped in London that every clothing shop I like something I’m buying it. I’ve already got two new shirts, and shorts, a belt, and the funniest stripy underwear you’ll never see. Unless you ask.. I’m pretty easy that way. Its not even 2 o’clock yet.

I’m going back out in my new threads (yikes who says threads?) for some more walking and perhaps a bite to eat.

Spain gets my vote!

PS. I also got a haircut and am sporting a beard again.