Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eurovision song contest 2012

There's nothing like it – the Eurovision song context makes me weep with laughter. For those who take it all very seriously, then musically it's a little depressing. But if you like cheesy euro pop and view it as a bit of a comedy – then tune in, sit back and enjoy. I'm seriously considering hosting a Eurovision Song Contest party this year :)

Engelbert Humperdinck
Buranovskiye Babushki
It's due to take place on 26 May and this year's contest is looking like it will prove to be a corker. Not only have we, the good old UK, dug deep into our cultural heritage to pull out a 76 year old Engelbert Humperdinck, but Russia have dug even deeper and found the Buranovskiye Babushki, with their rather amusingly entitled track, 'Party for everybody' – which is surely not one to miss! I can hardly wait...

Friday, May 11, 2012

From the frying pan, into the fire...

A few days ago, in an act of rash kindness, I offered to cook for our evening meal. This seemed like it should be a straightforward exercise. Firstly, I found a sausage casserole recipe on the BBC Good Food website. Secondly, I nipped down to Sainbury's and purchased the necessary ingredients. Thirdly, I began the preparation. Now, when I cook, I like to have everything ready and to hand in order to ensure a smooth culinary experience. To this end I usually also follow the recipe to the letter.

On this occasion, on health grounds, I decided to depart from the instructions and instead of frying the sausages and bacon, to grill them. Everything seemed to be going so well. I began to gently fry the onions and garlic whilst the meat was grilling. Unfortunately, what I hadn't accounted for was the combined build-up of excessive fat in the grill pan. This fat eventually decided that it had had enough and began to smoke rather violently, causing the smoke alarm to trigger. As one does in such a circumstance, I began running around opening all the windows and doors. It was at this point that my wife rang the doorbell, loaded down with bags and children. It was also at this point that the fat decided to raise the stakes and burst into flames.

I threw open the front door and ran back to the oven, which by now had quite an impressive plume of flames spewing from the front and back of the over - some of which were at least two foot high. This rather shattered my calm cooking demeanour and I must confess that I was beginning to sweat. I turned off the gas and pulled out the grill pan, unfortunately this message of cessation wasn't passed along to the fat, which was burning away with not a little vigour. From the hallway, my wife decided this would be an appropriate time to point out that the smoke alarm was going off and to enquire as to what I was doing about it. I retorted, quite calmly I think, given the circumstances, that the oven was on fire. However, she didn't seem to grasp severity of the situation and began requesting that the battery be removed from the smoke alarm. I thought it best to defer this request and continue my efforts to put out the blaze. But what to do? All the gas was turned off, but the flames were still very much present. With the addition of numerous beads of sweat, any pretence of the situation being under control was rather lost.

Meanwhile, my two daughters were really rather excited by all the commotion. My wife, having finally understood that there was indeed a fire, attempted to control their enthusiasm and keep them safe. Feeling rather foolish, I began to try and blow out the flames. Perhaps not the best approach, but it was done in the heat of the moment. Thankfully the fat began to burn itself out and combined with my huffing and puffing the flames subsided. I was rather impressed with my wife's laid back approach to it all – I suspect this is because she never actually saw just how engulfing the flames had been.

The Sausage casserole itself was actually rather good. Although, note to self: Next time, empty the fat from the bacon before starting to grill the sausages. Also, if using Bart's Hot Chilli powder, only use half a teaspoon full as it was a little bit too hot, for when I was eating it I found myself sweating for the second time that night.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to avoid conflict

In an article I am reading in preparation for a certain up-and-coming exam, I came across some proverbs from a variety of different cultures on conflict avoidance. Here's a small selection...*

  • Of the thirty-six ways of handling a conflict situation, running away is the best. (China)
  • Money softens a dispute like water softens clay. (Nigeria)
  • A good silence is better than a bad dispute. (Russia)
  • It is best to let an offence repeat itself three times. The first may be an accident, the second a mistake, only the third is likely to be intentional. (Kongo)
  • All is never said. (Ibo)
  • In playing chess, there is no infallible way of winning, but there is an infallible way of not losing – that is not to play chess. (China)
  • If a quarrel gets too hot for you, pretend it is a game. (Hausa) 
* From A Scott Moreau, Gary R Corwin & Gary B McGee, Introducing World Mission: a Biblical, Historical and Practical Survey, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) 275; cited from Augsburger 1992, 223-35.