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03 October 2005 @ 08:35 am
There's been regime change in parking enforcement in Ipswich ... which has had the knock-on effect of meaning we got up half an hour earlier than normal this morning, and will continue to do so. We're not supposed to park outside the house between 8am and 6pm Mon-Sat, normally J's left for work about half eight, and it's been OK - but we figure the new regime will want to start with a bang and will be paying extra attention for a while. So we got up at 6:30am this morning, which was a bit of a struggle after a week off - first morning after the holiday is always the worst, even when it's not also a shift to an earlier time.

Yesterday the cat came home from his holidays - he was pretty pleased to be home, purred and purred and purred and purred, and meowed sharply every time he felt our attention had wandered away from him ;) He's back exploring the outside now, though I think it's colder than he thinks it ought to be ;)

I cooked something new for dinner - beef, red wine & rosemary casserole, from a recipe I got from the bbc website. Altered somewhat, as the Co-op didn't have sufficient lamb. It turned out rather nice :)

Playing around with the export recipe function in Gourmet - only tweaked the html it produced slightly, to get rid of the top of page stuff. The CSS gets stripped in <lj-raw> tags, it seems, which is a shame as it looks quite stylish.

Title: Lamb, red wine and rosemary casserole

Servings: 4

Source: BBC Food Website

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours


  • 650 g. boned shoulder of lamb, cut into 2cm/¾ inch cubes
  • 2 tbs. plain white flour, seasoned
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 25 g. butter
  • 1 tbs. tomato puree
  • 300 ml. red wine
  • 300 ml. chicken and beef stock
  • leaves from 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrot, cut into 1cm/½in dice
  • 1 onion, cut into 1cm/½in dice
  • salt
  • ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Put the cubes of lamb in a plastic bag with the seasoned flour and give the bag a good shake so that the meat becomes well coated with the flour.
3. Heat a large frying pan until very hot. Add the oil and the butter and then the lamb and fry over a high heat, stirring now and then, until all the pieces of lamb are well browned. Don't crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Transfer to a casserole dish and set aside.
4. Add the tomato puree and red wine to the pan and bring to the boil, scraping up all the little bits that have stuck to the bottom. Pour this into the casserole dish and add the stock, rosemary, garlic and diced vegetables.
5. Add a little seasoning, cover with a tight fitting lid and bake for 1-½ hours or until tender. (If using a slow cooker, cook on auto for about eight hours).
6. Remove from the oven and check the seasoning.

I also skipped the celery that was in the original recipe - doubled the carrot instead. And went easy on the rosemary (J wasn't sure if he'd like it - we had to go pick a bit and check if he liked the smell before I went to buy the rest of the ingredients). Notes for future reference - when it says '2 tbs plain flour' it means generous tablespoons, don't use prechopped meat it's always too stuck together in the packet to get properly coated in flour, be generous with the tbs of oil.

I've got left overs for lunch for a couple of days :) Need to serve it with more than just mash if that's really going to do 4 dinner servings.

randomchallenge closed voting - winners here - theme was night-time, I did astonishingly badly, which surprises me as I liked this icon:

night-time icon

I started to make this week's icons and blends yesterday, too - did one possible one for iconartistic (that competition closes on Wednesday) and made a decent start on the blend for blendage (which seemed hardest as it's just a theme with no given pictures).
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Rage Against the Machine "Rage Against the Machine"
Rillaithrillaith on October 3rd, 2005 08:34 am (UTC)
I quite like the icon... but I wonder if the text looking a bit jagged like it's been sharpened might be why it didn't do so well? Either that, or if it were a couple of point sizes smaller so it doesn't take over the icon quite so much, maybe. I always find text is the hardest bit to get "right" - I'm rarely quite satisfied with it. Interstingly, the few times I've had constructive critiscism on icons where I wasn't quite happy with the text, it was the text that commented on each time.

Sorry, shouldn't offer criticism on other people's icons uninvited - obviously that's just my personal take on it, YMMV, etc, I'm no sort of authority or anything!
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 08:42 am (UTC)
Mmm. I think that's just the way the font looks, it's a spindly one. Text is difficult, yeah - I like it larger so it's readable, but then it sometimes takes over (though actually, I liked it on this icon - the Pandora one in this post is one where I had to make it big to make it readable, but then I think it looked too overblown). The 'fashion' seems to be for illegible text though, which I really don't like :/
Rillaithrillaith on October 3rd, 2005 09:17 am (UTC)
Do you have a *huge* resolution? I reckon you can use that font at half the sizes you've used and still have it perfectly legible. Just need to make sure you've got anti-aliasing on. If it's too faint by being a really thin font on upstrokes, do it twice, and overlap them either exactly or one pixel to the side, whichever looks better.
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 09:36 am (UTC)
I'm running at 1280x1024 on a 17inch monitor, which isn't huge really.

Tweaking the icon a little - here's the original saved out at 100% compression for comparison (I'd just been accepting the defaults before):

moonlight icon

Here's half size which is pretty close to illegible on my screen - knowing what it says I can make it out but it feels like when the optician asks you which row you can read on the sight chart, and you feel like if you just squint a bit you can make out the next row down ;):

moonlight icon

Here's 3/4 size, which is on the edge of legibility but some letters aren't distinct (I can't see the i in Mountains as a seperate letter, for instance):

moonlight icon

And with the text doubled it's brighter:

moonlight icon

I think I still prefer the initial one though - certainly the last one the text is too solid for the slightly ethereal image in my head though it's a useful trick to know, but I'm not sure if the slightly smaller text is better or not.
Rillaithrillaith on October 3rd, 2005 09:49 am (UTC)
Ok, half was definitely an exaggeration :) With the 3/4 one, try adjusting the kerning so that the i doesn't get lost... if Gimp can't do that well enough, the other option available is to type the letters with spaces, and do it by hand (assuming the text is on its own layer of course). I end up doing that a fair bit. With the final trick, you can adjust how much "extra" you get by putting the second copy on its own layer and reducing the opacity - another thing I end up doing fairly often. Particularly useful where you need to bring up just parts of the text because they're lost in the background, but not all of it - I end up adding the whole text again, then deleting the bits that were already sufficiently clear.

What font is that? That jaggedness is really getting my goat, and I'm wondering if it's font or Gimp...

I must admit I like the 3/4 one more than the original ;)
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 10:04 am (UTC)
The font is SF Foxboro ... and it looks no more jagged on the webpage I downloaded it from than on my icon, over here, so I think it's the font. I don't actually think it looks jagged though ;)
Veewaldhornist on October 3rd, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC)
I like the original as well. I think the lack of detail in the background where the text is covering means you can get away with larger text and it DOESN'T detract from the icon.

But I'm new at all this :)
pycpyc on October 4th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the fonts link. I've been looking for a font I had in-mind. :)

Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 08:43 am (UTC)
And I seem to do better with icons without text, so maybe I should just quit putting text on, given I prefer text-less icons myself ;) Sometimes it feels like it needs words, though.
John: thoughtfuljarel on October 3rd, 2005 08:52 am (UTC)
Compromise: how about putting minimal text on, when you think it really needs it?
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 08:57 am (UTC)
Yeah, I always seem to end up with phrases in my head rather than words though ;)
Ceci n'est pas une viemarble on October 3rd, 2005 12:12 pm (UTC)
I like your icon too. Though I do like the winning one also.
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
*smile* thanks :)
Veewaldhornist on October 3rd, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oooo... I think I'll pass that recipe on to Dave -- sounds like something he'd enjoy. Can't make it here though -- Canadian lamb is a scary thing. Apparently if you want good lamb here, you have to get the stuff imported from New Zealand or someplace like that.

Great icon :) I do love the colour, and how the moon contrasts so well with the rest of the pic :)
Margaretpling on October 3rd, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
It works well with beef (I couldn't find enough lamb in the shop yesterday afternoon, so I bought beef), so you could maybe try it like that? :)

Thanks :)