Thursday, January 28, 2016

More recipes to keep warm with

Cream of Thing Soup
Sounds very much like something from an episode of The Munsters from the late 1950s, but it tastes different from your run-of-the-mill "Cream of ..." soup, which is a major plus when you've been feeding people soup and stews for what probably seems like forever!

Can be Chicken, Mushroom, or Celery. Substitute whichever you like!

Half a medium onion, chopped2 heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic
Heaped tsp Summer SavouryHeaped tsp Nutmeg
1 Tsp Pepper2 litres of Milk
Half stick of butter2 cans of condensed Thing soup (e.g. Campbells)
Two or three slices of brown bread
You can use Herbes de Provence instead of Savoury.
You can use soy milk instead of cow's milk.

  1. Melt the butter in a pot that will comfortably hold all the milk.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and gently fry until the onions are beginning to become soft and translucent.
  3. Add the pepper and herbs, mix, and let cook in for maybe five minutes.
  4. Add the soup and the milk and raise the heat to medium.
  5. Use a whisk to stir up the mixture so that the soup completely dissolves in the milk.
  6. Break up the bread into smallish pieces and add it to the soup.
  7. Keep whisking gently to aerate the soup as it warms. 
  8. When the soup is hot enough you'll see tiny bubbles around the edge of the pot - they're the hottest places and are beginning to boil.

This should provide a good portion of soup for four. Enjoy!!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Global Warming? Maybe Not, But .....

For any Global Warming enthusiasts out there in the US Northeast this winter must seem like almost the ultimate in opportunities to say "I Told You So" to all the Climate Change Deniers! Just look at the temperatures! In the Philadelphia area it almost reached 70F last weekend - a temperature that, in the 1960s, would have had pin-striped Londoners looking seriously at the time-tables for the next train down to Brighton and the beach!

In mid-December???

That's the weird piece that's got the Global Warming crowd crowing, but it isn't. Really. What we have, instead, is a phenomenon called the Polar Vortex - a circulating pattern of cold air centered over the Arctic - being very strong this year, so all the cold air is held over far northern Canada.

At the same time, El Nino is happening strongly, so the west coasts of north and south Americas are getting lots of moisture. Storm Echo is a good example - look here at all the snow it's dropping!

This means that the north-east of the US just isn't getting any cold air! Yet! Although the coming week may well be very different as Echo finally arrives!

As you may have read, I've been popping up at SQL Saturdays all over, and even managed one in Montreal on the weekend before Thanksgiving!

This is one of the roads near Montreal.

This SQL Saturday was special, because it was the very first that the user group in Montreal has put on, and, while very small, was definitely well worth the long drive up - which was itself a lot of fun. Montreal is just a great place, and I'm really looking forward to doing it again next year.

No food this time - wait for a really easy and tasty Onion Soup next time.


Monday, November 09, 2015

A Soup for Winter

Welcome to the home of the hungry programmer! After a long day of fighting my way through undocumented SSIS jobs to try to get them ready for a looming release I'm home to find the horror that that there are no leftovers left!!

Ok - what's in the fridge? a bag of carrots, celery, leek, and a red bell pepper. There's onions and dry lentils in the pantry, and half a dozen or so smoked sausages (kielbasa style). So there's hope, and I'll be fed for the next couple of lunches too!

2 litres Chicken Broth Red Bell Pepper, chopped 500g dried lentils
20 baby carrots, chopped 6 sticks of celery, chopped 6-8 straight kielbasa, sliced
2 leeks, chopped 1 and a half onions, chopped Salt, Papper, Basil

  • Put about a litre of chicken broth in a (very) large pot and add an onion (and another half, as I had a half waiting) and maybe half a kilo or so of bacon, chopped into little squares. Set it to boil for maybe 15 mins. 
  • Add the lentils and simmer for about another 20-30 minutes. 
  • The lentils should be swelling nicely by now, so add all the veg and mix it all well together.
  • Add about a teaspoonful of basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Keep simmering for another 20 minutes.
  • Add the kielbasa smoked sausage (sliced into coins) and mix well in. 
  • Keep cooking for about another 20 minutes, so all is well boiled. 
  • Serve with bread and enjoy the inner warmth!

So here's a close-up so you can see that it's quite a busy-looking soup - plenty of visual interest with the colours and textures.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

More Food, More SQL Saturdays!

Well, time has run me over like a dump truck again - 4 months since I got to write anything here!

Upcoming SQL Saturdays are now:
Pittsburgh October 3rd #440
Montreal November 21st #466
Washington, DC December 5th #470
Providence, RI December 12th #465
They're all looking like good events, so if you work with SQL Server, or if you're into IS in any way and are near an event, you should come along and take part - they're tremendous fun!

Food  --  Scallops and Ravioli

As those of you who've seen this blog before are, I'm sure, aware, I love food. In fact, I eat nothing else!!
So, the AG was hungry this afternoon - and so was i, as a matter of fact, and there was a pack of Cheese-filled mini-raviolis from Trader Joe's sitting in the pantry whimpering that it was being ignored.

In the fridge I found some baby spinach, some chopped garlic, and some little baby tomatoes. The pantry yielded some parmesan cheese, and the fridge door some Almond Milk and some butter.
Out of the freezer came some little bay scallops, and from the spice racks came Chives and Herbes de Provence, along with some black pepper.
Finally you'll need some thickener - I used some Bisto (Turkey, not trad.) that you can get at English shops.

  1. Firstly, start the water heating for the ravioli (5 minutes or so to get hot, and then about 12-15 to cook). 
  2. Put the scallops in some water to make sure that they're thawed.
  3. Next, you melt the butter and add in all the herbs (chopped garlic, chives and herbes de Provence, and some good sprinkles of fresh black pepper.
  4. Once that's started cooking so that the flavours are coming out (2 minutes or so), add the scallops and let them simmer in too. This will take about another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Now add in about half a cup of Almond milk per person you'll be serving, turn up the heat somewhat to get it almost boiling, and then stuff in pretty much as much of the spinach leaves as you can, and cover. 
  6. Cook for five minutes, mashing down the leaves every minute or so, so that they get good and wilted, and then add some more almond milk and a teaspoon or two of Bisto. Stir all very well and the liquid should soon start to thicken as it all heats up.
  7. Now add the tomatoes - I slice mine once lengthways - and turn down the heat some.
  8. Decant the pasta into bowls, cover generously with cheese, garnish with more (fresh) spinach leaves, and pour on the scallop mixture. 


Saturday, May 30, 2015

SQL Saturdays

At the beginning of April I started moving - because a 90+ minute commute each way is just too much! Home is still in the hands of horizontal storage and looks likely to stay that way for another few weeks at least, which means that there's another few weeks of having thin trails and paths through mountains of tubs, boxes, and bags of "stuff", and the perpetual danger of being hit by falling debris dislodged by a careless cat!

So two weeks ago we loaded the cat trays with food, super-cleaned the litter, and escaped on Friday night to drive to Rochester, NY. Five and a half hours later we arrives at the hotel ... how come the weather forecast never said anything about the rainstorm between Syracuse and Rochester? Right next to a Red Lobster - convenient!

Next morning I check out and drive to the RIT for the event. Tola takes off for yarn raiding!
Courses on PowerShell, Extended Events, the Apply statement, Wait Stats, and a double period of Kathi Kellenberger's Window Functions. Great information, leavened with helping of chat with the vendors and some nice lunch left everyone somewhat brain-dead by the final gathering at 5:15 and, after raffles were drawn, we staggered out to find cars. I found a lot of yarn to drive with - !

So another five hours drive home .... again, nobody warned us of the horrendous rainstorm coming out of Pennsylvania into New York state. Thunder, lightning, and heaps of rain! We get home around midnight. Feed the cats and straight to bed because on Sunday I get  to drive again! This time to South Plainfield in NJ for a Linux Admin course! Just two hours each way and five hours of course. I manage to get home around nine pm. Eat and crash. Monday morning I'm wondering if there actually was a weekend!

A week goes by. Tola's birthday caused some celebration. She got a little Acer Switch 10 ... After charging it up it appears to be a very nice little machine - has Windows 8.1 pre-installed but nothing's perfect, and its going to be used almost exclusively for iTunes. Take off the demo version of MS Office and the McAfee anti-virus unpaid system with all their prompts for money and install Avast or suchlike and it's usable.

Another week and I'm back on the SQL Saturday trail - I'm writing this in New York. This one's popular enough to have crashed the SQL Saturday web site! I don't know how many people are here - three hundred or more, compared to the two hundred in Rochester. So the nice things are not just the learning, which is fun, but also meeting up with the people I've met at other SQL Saturday events and the people I used to work with. This time I met some people who took the same courses last September with Brent Ozar in Philadelphia, some guys I used to work with, and a whole heap of speakers who I've seen several times - we all get to know each other and it's nice to see familiar friendly faces.

Coming up soon are Philadelphia on June 6th and Albany on July 25th. #411 is in Cambridge on September 12th, #440 is Pittsburgh on October 3rd, and #446 in Portland, OR, on October 24th. Cambridge would be nice; Protland is almost a requirement as my wife's family lives in the area.

Next time I'll start doing a series of SSIS Tips!