Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Pumpkin Soup!

Here is a picture of the pumpkin soup-in-pumpkin, and one of the Kiwi dishing it out.

I have been asked for the recipe, and don't have one per se. However, I have muddled this together from the correspondence between the Kiwi and his sister regarding it:

Cut a lid in the top of the pumpkin, with your knife angled so the lid doesn’t fall in (like a Jack-o-lantern, with the stem as the handle). Scoop out the insides.

Fry some onion and garlic and throw it in the pumpkin. Add salt and coconut cream. Fill with boiling water and add some red lentils and nutmeg.

Put in a shallow oven-proof dish and bake at 350F for about an hour. Keep checking to see if it looks done. When it looks finished, mix up and scoop some of the pumpkin into the soup (being careful not to pierce the pumpkin-bowl or make it collapse!)

The Kiwi’s sister Rosalie says she sometimes makes one of these for each guest in a small pumpkin, but the Kiwi did one enormous pumpkin and it worked fine.

Here is a picture of the added-sugar-free banana split:

Think it looks pretty nice and dessert-ish! It's just a banana filled with pineapple, with coconut cream on the top.

And finally, since I'm posting photos, some Iron Age huts we came across on a walk near Holyhead (South Stack - it's a sort of bird sanctuary, and you can sit on the mountain and watch the boats to Dublin go out).

And this I just thought looked cool!

Monday, 20 October 2008


The cabbage rolls turned out amazing! The Kiwi made pumpkin soup, which he was very proud of - in an actual pumpkin! He put all the soup ingredients in the pumpkin and baked it. Will try to remember to post some photos. Claire made candied yams (mmm, coconutty) and besides the cabbage rolls I tried a carrot and parsnip mash (delicious) and made apple tart. We had Thandi and her mum round for "Thanksgiving", but then had so much food we invited the neighbours, Tobias and Daniela, too. Tobias works in the Kiwi's lab and Daniela's his girlfriend. They're German - Daniela's a pharmacist who works in town. But the Kiwi had made his soup in such an enormous pumpkin that there was STILL some left over even after the last-minute invitees arrived.

So it was, "Anne, can I invite the neighbours on the OTHER side too please?" "Erm, sure..." So suddenly the party included three slightly bemused undergrads who'd never met us, eating soup out of an enormous pumpkin!

Thandi and her mum are off sugar till Christmas, so we made an added-sugar-free dessert, too - a banana split filled with pineapple and topped with coconut cream. Went over very, very well with the healthy-eating crowd.

Oh, and turns out that cabbage rolls are "kohlrouladen" in German. Cool!

Friday, 17 October 2008


Yay for September being over! Well, it's halfway through October, but who's counting? Hope everyone (Canadian) had a great Thanksgiving. As it was on a Monday and it wasn't a long weekend here, I wasn't going to do much for it... but my wonderful housemates had other plans. The Kiwi made chicken (he used the Orange Chicken marinade, but put it on chicken thighs instead of the classic chicken breasts) and roasted sweet potatoes. Claire had just returned from a wedding in the Philippines and brought us chocolate and wine.

Did I mention Claire and the Kiwi? Maybe not - things have been a bit hectic. Claire's from Australia and is in the lab for three months as an exchange. I knew that she was coming and was thinking about offering her my back bedroom if she was interested. Just before that, though, the Kiwi (who had been on my course but was supposed to be doing a funded PhD just afterward) had to quit his PhD and was left stranded, with no plans, no house and no income. He begged me to let him move in and I thought he'd be a pretty good housemate... and so it came to pass.

But then Claire turned up. I offered her a place to sleep for as long as she needed, as both the Kiwi and I felt bad that he'd effectively nicked her room. She ended up staying in the attic, and as she had an impossible time finding a short-term lease the week turned into weeks and then a month... However, Claire is so lovely and so good to live with (and insisted on paying us rent even though we didn't ask for it and were happy to let her stay) that we agreed she could stay as long as she wanted. She arrived Sept 5 and has only just now found a place to live in Menai Bridge. It's been great, though. Never would have thought my tiny house could happily hold three people, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Anyway, on Thanksgiving night I went to kick-aerobics class and came back, tired and disgustingly sweaty, to find the table set, food ready, lights dimmed, music on and Claire and the Kiwi wearing nice formal top/dinner jacket & tie! (and trackpants/shorts on the bottom...) It was really sweet.

I had planned to make pumpkin pie but just didn't have the time or energy. However, the Kiwi had bought a pumpkin and I tried making it earlier this week. It turned out perfectly! I've never tried making pumpkin pie by actually roasting a pumpkin (Canadian pumpkin comes in cans) but it was easy enough and gave an excellent result. The upshot is that we are having a sort of potluckish Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday as well. I will make more pie and cabbage rolls, the Kiwi has plans for some kind of pumpkin-coconut soup, and Claire is making Filipino green mango shakes. Perhaps not very traditional, but should be interesting.

And yes, I did get my thesis handed in. It was finished a week early (ie. before the extended deadline) but I was busy trying to write a scholarship application while working full-time. So the Kiwi, brilliant housemate that he is, ran it to the bindery for me and I did manage to hand it in before my trip to London. Now all academic pressure is off, everything is done, and all I have to do is work my hours and go home. big sigh of relief....

Friday, 3 October 2008

Happy Friday Song

I'm printing off my thesis, la la la!

Never mind that it's currently 10.37pm and I'm still in my office... Tis all worth it to see that giant pile o' paper coming out of the printer. To be totally accurate, I'm only 93.3% done my thesis as I have to go back and finish filling in a bit of my Results - three pages worth. I just need the Degrees of Freedom (don't have the stats package on this computer to see them in order to shove them into the thesis), so it's pretty much done. I'm printing the rest and shall sort out the last three pages tomorrow or Sunday. Then it's off to the bindery and I will have it in a mere five days into my extension! (Which I still haven't heard about, but no one has told me I'm not getting my degree so I have to assume they've granted it).

Wow, am feeling a bit manic. I have to say, extensions are the way to go, as I had my thesis 90% done by the official due date and got to spend the last three or four days touching it up, playing with graphs, and fiddling with all the stuff I don't normally have time to do. I can see how it would be nice to be one of those prepared people who always has assignments done early. Ah well. It ain't gonna happen, so I will enjoy the feeling just this once.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

quick update

Got my thesis extension (I think... no one officially said, but also no one has shouted at me for not handing it in) in return for all the hours I put in as a research assistant in September. I ended up working more than my visa says I'm allowed to, but with any luck no one is really checking... besides, surely if it averages out over the course of the month it's fine. This project really is a LOT of work. Scanning participants in the fMRI scanner takes about three hours per participant, but getting the stimuli ready, recruiting participants, getting the money to pay them from Finances etc take about another two or three hours per. (And I swear I should get extra for the stress I go through when they don't turn up!)

Today is my first official day as a full-time University employee. However, until I get rid of this silly thesis I'm also still a student. Hoping to have it in by the end of the week. Bit harder while working full-time, but people manage it so will sort something out. I've been catching up on stuff to do with the fMRI experiment but also helping Helena, who is attempting to hand in her PhD thesis. She's managed to do her PhD in three years AND sort out a post-doc at Yale. (Helena is an overachiever). However, the stress is driving her mad so it's been my job to be a Solid and Reassuring Presence and help collate references and things to try and get this thing done and handed in. Getting a thesis in is a whole-lab effort, generally speaking. Thank heavens for supportive labs.

Fencing has started up again and I am very excited. Have fenced twice and only lost one bout that entire time - and yesterday's wins were in foil! Apparently the giant leap forward I made at the end of last year is sticking around. I am so pleased. Watching the newbies gingerly hold the swords is very funny - can't believe I was there not very long ago. This year has felt like about six in terms of cramming in experiences.

oh well, off to finish cleaning out the testing room and find some food...