Monthly Archives: July 2017

2017 Cookery Project — Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Colourful, isn’t it? The recipe I used to make this Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast came from Serious Eats.

I cut some new potatoes into bite-sized chunks, put them in a baking dish, doused them with olive oil, and roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes. Then I added sliced mushrooms, some sun-dried tomatoes, and sweet Italian sausages. When the potatoes were done, about 30 minutes later, I sprinkled cilantro over the top and served the dish with a bit of Dijon mustard for dipping.

A nice, easy meal.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

Ready Player One — First Trailer

Ok, now about that other key trailer from Comic-Con: The trailer for Ready Player One.

Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, Ready Player One was the fanboy must-read book of 2011. It’s set in the unhappy and decaying United States of 2044, when a decades-long recession, a trashed environment, and the general collapse of civil society have driven many people to spend much of their time hooked into a virtual reality universe called the OASIS. When there’s a two-year waiting list for jobs at Burger King, escapism is a logical choice.

As our hero and narrator, Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as “Parzival,” points out:

“Now that I was eighteen, I could vote, in both the OASIS elections and the elections for U.S. government officials. I didn’t bother with the latter, because I didn’t see the point. The once-great country into which I’d been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn’t matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it. Besides, now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

[Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”]

Anyhow, the now-dead creator of the OASIS was a man named James Halliday who, not unlike many of the readers of this book, was a 1980s obsessive. You know, the kind of person who goes nuts over spotting the 80s allusions in Stranger Things….

OASIS made Halliday very, very rich. When his will was read, it revealed that he’d hidden three “keys” in OASIS, and that the first person to find them, and solve the puzzles linked to them, would be the sole inheritor of OASIS and of Halliday’s massive fortune. All that would be required to solve the puzzles was an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s.

Enter Parzival.

I liked the book, but didn’t love it. It’s a fast, easy, enjoyable read, full of Easter eggs for those of us who have, well, “an encyclopedic knowledge of the movies, music, video games, and TV shows of the 1980s,” but it was definitely light reading, without much depth or meaning. It’s a book that’s the perfect source for a big spring/summer movie.

Steven Spielberg (who else?) is directing. The film is scheduled to be released on 30 March 2018.

Stranger Things Season 2 — Comic-Con “Thriller” Trailer

The 2017 Comic-Con International ends today, and, as always, the event was packed with teasers, trailers, and sneak peaks. Among he most anticipated was this trailer for the second season of Stranger Things.

It doesn’t disappoint.

We’re back in the 80s again, a year after the action of last summer’s breakout hit.

Arcades! Dragon’s Lair! Reagan/Bush! Winona Ryder! Ghostbusters! Thriller! Shorts that were actually, you know, short.

It even has Memphis sheets!*

Sequels are always tricky. Can the Stranger Things recapture the charm and magic of the original?

We’ll find out on 27 October 2017, when Netflix will make the whole series available for streaming.


To Be Stuck Here Inside of Mobile, with These Memphis Sheets Again

*Well, sort of. The sheets you can see at the 3:03 mark are certainly reminiscent of the Memphis designs that were ubiquitous in the mid-80s, but I don’t think they’re the original item. This is just another subtle Stranger Things 80s homage.

You can see real Memphis sheets on Grady’s bed at the beginning of this scene from 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. (AKA the gay one.)

Memphis,” btw, doesn’t have anything to do with the city in Egypt. It was the name of a Milan design group, and had a style that heavily influenced New Wave graphics. Apparently, it’s making a comeback this year.

Being able to spread important, potentially life-changing information like this is what makes blogging so rewarding.

2017 Cookery Project — Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

The Balsamic Glazed Salmon recipe came from good old reliable Cooking Classy. The glaze combined balsamic vinegar, white wine, honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary, and garlic,* cooked down to a syruppy (Syrup-py? Syrupy? Syrup-like? Viscous? Whatever.) consistency, and spooned over the finished salmon. Simple.

Making the Herb Roasted Potatoes, from a Serious Eats article modestly titled “How to Roast the Best Potatoes of Your Life,” was more complicated.

I peeled the potatoes and cut them into large cubes, which I boiled in water, with salt and baking soda. While the potatoes were boiling I infused olive oil with—you’ll never guess—minced rosemary and garlic. After the potatoes had boiled for 10 minutes, I drained them, let the steam for a bit, and then put them in a plastic container and coated them with the infused olive oil. In adding the olive oil, I used a strainer, and reserved the garlic and rosemary for later.

I then baked the potatoes for 45 minutes, flipping them every once in a while. When they were done, I put them in a bowl and mixed in the reserved garlic and rosemary. I finished with Maldon Sea Salt flakes, and they were ready to go.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

Of course, this whole ratings scheme is sort of a cheat, because I only post notes about experiments that have been successful. Might have to re-think the whole thing.


*It occurs to me that almost everything I cook these days combines balsamic vinegar, white wine, honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary, and garlic. Add chocolate, salt, shallots, and raspberries, and you’ve got my 10 Basic Food Groups.

The Vivien Leigh Collection — Movie Auction of the Year

Vivien Leigh won Academy Awards for playing Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois, two of the all-time great women’s movie roles.

Now, 50 years after her death, what remains of her estate is being offered at auction by Sotheby’s London. The full auction catalogue has not yet been posted, but you can see a small sample at the auction site.

From the press release: “Passed down through Vivien’s family, the collection comprises paintings, jewellery, couture, books, furniture, porcelain, objets d’art and further items celebrating all aspects of her life, from the pre-war years in London, to Hollywood and beyond, up to her death in 1967. Myriad pieces drawn from the city and country homes Vivien shared with her husband Laurence Oliver [sic] will give a new perspective on Vivien, from her appreciation of art and patronage of Modern British artists, to her passion for books and fondness for entertaining and interior design.”

Included in the sale will be Vivien Leigh’s personal copy of Gone with the Wind, given to her by the author Margaret Mitchell.


As Blanche DuBois, Leigh puts her faith in the kindness of strangers in A Streetcar Named Desire.

As Scarlett O’Hara, Leigh rises from despair in Gone with the Wind.


The auction for “Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection” will take place on 26 Sep 2017 at Sotheby’s London.

A Wrinkle In Time — First Trailer

The movie won’t reach theatres until next Spring, but this weekend attendees at the D23 Expo got an early peak at Disney’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel, A Wrinkle In Time.

D23 is the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company, and the D23 Expo is its biennial exposition event.

You can never judge a movie based on its trailer—see, for instance, Ghost in the Shell, which had me all hot and bothered for weeks—but I’m lowering my previous high hopes for this project. Sorry, but Oprah Winfrey looks laugh-out-loud ridiculous here.

A Wrinkle in Time is scheduled to open on 9 March 2018.


Is That the Sydney Opera House on Your Head, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?