Versatile Blogger – Me?!

Thank you Odzer for awarding me with the “Versatile Blogger Award”!

versatile_blogger I still consider myself a novice blogger, having only done around 60 posts, and in the last month having been extremely lazy, making this an even bigger honour of course! Hopefully I will not run out of things to rant about, and thereby continue writing on this blog often enough to keep it interesting.

Taking this opportunity to attract some attention to my most notable achievements in the blog-osphere. My most popular post:

iPod Nano 4th Gen Video Freeze Problem – (1,575 views) Explains what to do when your 4th Generation iPod Nano freezes upon playing a video. Apparently this is an extremely common problem with the latest little iPods…

iPod Nano 4th Gen Video Freeze Solution! – (278 views) Strangely enough, more people are interested in looking at the problem, than the solution. People! When you find that blog post describing how to reset the iPod when it freezes, take the time to scroll down a bit and follow the link to this post which explains exactly how to convert your videos to suit your iPod, preventing the freezing problem altogether! It’s tried and tested! huff… people just don’t pay attention…

The next posts that have attracted the most views are:

CMS Made Simple?! – my first impressions of a free, open source PHP based CMS called “CMS Made Simple”. This post is in need of some updating, as between then and now I’ve actually built a website from scratch using it. And I would say quite successfully so.

Easy South Indian Food – A prime example of my alleged “versatility”; of course people who regularly visit this blog know that roughly 50% of the time that I don’t spend nagging about something I’m dissatisfied with, I spend posting recipes on this blog. And not just regular recipes, but those which I tried and tested myself, multiple times, and mostly those that suit a working lifestyle (Quick and easy).

Well hopefully everyone enjoyed that quick overview of my (seemingly) most useful posts… And now I’d like to take this opportunity to forward the award to: (drums please…) Hades of The Times of Bullshit; for an endless supply of satire, sharp commentary as well as some entertaining movie reviews. May my tiny little gesture fuel his sense of humour so I can spend more time – when I should be doing something else – reading his blog!

To promote or not to promote – that is the question…

I’m bored. Bored with as I optimistically call it “steady sales” – bored with the fact that that automatically means when I open my mailbox in the morning, I don’t get many pleasant surprises …

I’m also bored with the fact that I’m roughly on page 50 of google search results for lots of things I would like to rank better in. And I’m bored with an – although steady – not very high number of visitors every day.

Now – newcomers (or those who missed my post from 11 November 2008 – You sell WHAT?! Sex Toys>! *GASP*) may be a little confused regarding what I’m aiming the above remarks at. Well read that post, visit my site AlterEgoUK.com and be confused no more….

So I’ve been thinking about different ways of promoting myself. Being too lazy to fully take online marketing as seriously as I should – considering the adult toy industry is an extremely crowded and competitive one – I decided I’d have to take my efforts offline. It’s not the type of shop, for which people would appreciate leaflets being shoved into their mailboxes at home… (Just imagine, the average Joe of suburbia, picking up the mail from the doormat “Mmm 15% off Butt Plugs and Bondage Gear! Yeah! That’s what I want!”) – In fact I think I’d probably get sued or something.

Neither is it possible for me to do marketing amongst “friends and family”. My family, being mostly abroad, is not my target audience. And my friends… well quite the same problem really. Also, colleagues are not an option, I wouldn’t want that kind of attention in the office… “Oh it’s the dildo girl!”

With the impending launch of my newest website – AELingerie.com – just around the corner, I would like to emphasize further what I’m trying to do here. Not only do I want my sites to sell (reasonably well). I am building a brand here. My second site showing my intentions a bit; I am in the process of launching a whole network of sites, all following the same AE theme. Recognizable through similar logos (incorporating the AE initials – which obviously stand for Alter Ego) and similar graphics (the flower and swirly accents that both my sites use in their design) as well as the use of models dressed up in Black Lingerie, boots, angel wings and Pink hair.

Marketing Strategy #1

The low budget variant – Do I attend every single adult themed exhibition and fair I can find, giving out discount coupons (with the logo, the pink haired angel girl and website URL) to the passing public – knowing that they would not be offended by my website’s topic? (Dressed up in AE style; with a pink wig, black angel wings, slutty boots with high stiletto heels and black mini dress.)

Marketing Strategy #2

More investment necessary – Do I set up an adult themed party service which – just like Tupperware parties used to – allows people to book me for a hen night or whatever to come over with a bunch of naughty products, and allow attendees to place orders for whatever they want. However; keep in mind that people would still have to find out about my service somehow, this would take time and effort doing SEO and offline networking – for which at the moment I have absolutely no starting point.

Please people – give me your insights. Leave a comment with the strategy you think I should follow, or if you can think of a better idea, please go ahead!

The demise of offline shopping

Well in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past 6 months or so, we’re in a recession, and it seems a big one! People I hear are staying away from watching the news, just afraid of what more bad news it may bring… Every time I go out to do some shopping, I’m reminded of the fact by the ever increasing numbers of shops displaying “closing down sale!” banners. With Woolworth being the first of the lot, more and more stores are facing closure due to decreased demand for anything  really; household goods, clothes, shoes etc.  People have diminished confidence when it comes to spending money; and that is what this economy really needs at the moment. If everybody hoards their money, it will be worthless. Money only has value when it is exchanged for goods or services.

So I did my bit today, going out to buy some clothes. Even though I don’t REALLY need any (according to what my mother would think – if it’s still in one piece and you can physically fit into it, it doesn’t need replacing!) and my bank balance is lower than it should be at this point during the month… But hey, the economy needs me! And I’m happy to oblige.

Although I’m a child of the “internet age” and very comfortable making online transactions, I do enjoy the activity of going out and browsing through physical stuff. Things I can touch and try on, before making a decision. Ironically, being an online entrepreneur as well, I still cannot imagine replacing the offline shopping experience with an online one. Sure you can order clothes and return them in exchange for a different size. But you still have to rely on usually fairly small pictures, in order to make your choice. And especially for girls, trying clothes on is a hugely important part of the decision making process.

But that being said, online shopping has its purpose. When trying on is not an issue (or not desirable due to hygiene considerations) I’m the first to check eBay and whatnot to see what the best deals are. And I’m not the only one. In fact many people, eager to save a few bucks, have started shopping for more and more items online. As the Telegraph writes, last year a 34% increase in online shopping was reported. As pretty much every internet-savvy person out there is aware of: online shops usually keep smaller profit margins, to pay for their much smaller overhead costs. Therefore, the real deals can be found online, no longer on the High Street. Even while I’ve known this for a while, I do catch myself getting outraged sometimes, when I’m looking for something and wander over to an actual shop, only to discover that the item costs twice as much as on some websites I’ve seen…
But to make a long story short, I believe the following – which many successful business people seem to agree with: This is a challenging time, which could open up interesting opportunities for those willing to pursue them. The number of people surfing the net, looking for various products, from clothing to shoes, electronics, CDs/DVDs etc. is set to increase further. Perhaps we will be facing a world in a few years where offline shopping has become outdated. The Ecommerce market is a crowded one to enter as a new player. But with low start up and overhead costs, what do you really have to lose. When 1000 people can survive already, what’s 1001?

And that is why, my new business is about to be launched – www.aelingerie.com –  For exclusive Lingerie, Swim wear, Club wear and fetish/alternative shoes!

Snowy mess!

So Britain got snowed in. Two days ago to be precise. And life came to a grinding halt, 6 million people didn’t go to work, and the economy lost 1.2 billion because of it. Now there are many opinions regarding why specifically London could not cope with the snow at all…. Everybody’s favourite excuse is “Well it’s been the most snow in 18 years! We’re not equipped to handle extreme amounts of snow like this!”…

snow2

But in my opinion someone else’s publicly expressed opinion is more accurate; the people in charge at the local councils, although knowing it would snow A LOT, days in advance, simply didn’t want to pay the overtime for people to go out on a Sunday night and throw salt everywhere. So they didn’t. And so when it snowed, it all stayed on the roads. Monday morning it was absolute chaos, bus depots were snowed in (with just 4″ of snow initially! What a joke!), trains and tubes hand significant delays and cancellations, and the airports were mostly closed. Heathrow cancelled 800 flights that day…

Now I know it has been said over and over already, but a large part of Europe does fine with this type of snow. The defence is always the same “Yes but they are used to it! They have equipment to deal with it!”

Surely this isn’t the first time Britain has seen a bit of snow, or subzero temperatures. However it was the first time the London’s bus network was on its ass. Having powered through the extreme cold of the winter of ’63, as well as World War II when the city was burning, this  country has been reduced to a bunch of pencil pushing, cost cutting incompetent idiots who didn’t want to pay workers overtime. Instead, during a global recession, they’d prefer if people stayed at home and built snowmen with their kids – 1.2 billion well spent isn’t it!

And it’s not enough that for one day the roads were practically slippery death traps. One would think that once the overtime factor is no longer there, at least then the councils will send people out to clean the roads and public pavements. Two days later, the main roads are squeaky clean due to the busses finally running and causing the snow to melt, some pavements around bus stops as well, but NONE of the side roads have even been looked at. The garbage put outside for collection on Monday is still there. The once fluffy snow on the pavements has been trampled on, now it’s properly packed together. With the temperatures dropping below zero at night, any melted snow and slush is transformed into ice by the morning. I cannot contain my dissatisfaction with the people in charge, who dare to take at least over a thousand pounds per year, per household, in council tax! Who could not be bothered to make sure that the pavements are safe to walk on, and the side roads fit for driving on. In fact only this morning did I see a car around the corner from my house, not able to drive off, just spinning its wheels because the road surface was covered in ice and compressed snow!

I wish the council was privatised, and a disgruntled “customer” could call up and threaten not to pay them a dime, until they get their act together! And bloody hell while you’re at it, fix the potholes in the roads, and in the pavements! And where’s my fucking recycling bin, you idiots have given my landlord one, but not to me, even though I pay council tax separately!

Fun with beef – Shammi kebabs Hedonist style

Throughout my time in India, I desperately missed having good quality meat. I craved beef, duck and anything that wasn’t chicken or the largely useless quality of mutton that was available where I stayed. Now, in the UK, to some extent I still miss good quality meat. I tend to stay away from pork because I’ve never liked it much to begin with (Bacon & sausages are exceptions). And British beef is very “aromatic”… No idea why. The same is true for lamb; I don’t buy much of it for that reason…

Anyway, I have figured out that buying Irish beef is a solution to the problem; at least it doesn’t smell. And for certain preparations, such as these Shammi kebabs (deep fried meat balls), even though they are meant to be made with minced mutton, they turn out great with lean beef as well!

However, one warning before trying this recipe out yourself: get yourself a decent grinder! I have one of those cheap “Magic Bullet Blender” knock-offs, which works great for normal every day needs, but starts to screech and smoke trying to cope with the recipe below…. This hasn’t stopped me though, grinding small portions at once seems to be the key.

Shammi Kebabs

500g mince – use lamb or beef, whichever you prefer

1/3 cup split Chickpeas (chana dal) – soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes

1 small onion – chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic – chopped

2 green chillis

1 whole dried red chilli

3 cloves

2 green cardamoms

some freshly ground pepper, or 3 pepper corns

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp Chat Masala – if unavailable, replace with a little bit of cumin powder, and lemon juice

Some water

Combine all ingredients in a pan and boil it until the Chickpeas are relatively soft; approx. 20-30 mins. Keep stirring to avoid sticking. Once done, reduce the water completely; you do NOT want this mixture to be wet at all. Cook all the moisture away, until the mince becomes crumbly and separated. Try to retrieve the whole spices from the mince and throw them away; they are difficult to blend and would make for a nasty surprise if found in the end product. Now, blend the mixture to a fine pulp. The idea is that your chickpeas are completely crushed, as well as the other ingredients.

Let it cool down a little in a bowl, then add the following:

1 egg

3 tsp white Cornflour – more may be required if the mixture is very sticky

Some fresh coriander leaves – chopped

1/2 tsp Lemon juice

Combine all ingredients properly into the mixture; you will probably need to use your hands, which is just as well because the meat balls will need to be shaped by hand also. Now form portions of this mixture into walnut-sized balls, flattening them slightly to look like thick mini-hamburgers. Heat oil in your favourite deep frying contraption; I use a very small wok, less than 6″ in diameter. The oil should be around 1 1/2 inches deep at least. I guess you could easily use a deep fryer, but I’m not sure how well the oil will keep after your done frying the Shammi kebabs. Putting in as many balls at a time as comfortably fit, fry them for around a minute on each side on medium heat. They will turn a nice shade of dark brown – however take care not to burn them!

Serve with your favourite dip; Hot & Sweet ketchup, Coriander chutney or whatever.. They also taste great just sandwiched between some white bread. Or you could add salad, dressing and stuff them into a pita bread like you would do with falafel.

Easy South Indian Food Pt. II

So, when time is lacking, hunger is great, and there’s a lot of left-over rice in the fridge – I’ve already shared one recipe perfect for such situations. However, as one may notice, eating Lemon Rice over and over just isn’t that interesting. One needs variety, a different flavour. But it should still be easy to cook, and comforting….

Tomato Rice (South Indian Style – Hedonist Variant)

1 small onion – finely chopped

1-2 tomatoes – finely chopped

1 green chilli – finely chopped

1/2″ cube of ginger – finely chopped/grated

1 whole dried red chilli – (optional – for those who like it hot!)

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt – (or to taste)

1/2 tsp Garam Masala –(or to taste)

1 tbsp Tomato puree

some Water –  if needed

3-4 cups of boiled rice – preferably straight from the fridge, the colder the better

2-3 tbsp peanuts/cashew nuts – if you  like, you can also add some split chickpeas (chana dal)

4-5 Curry leaves – preferably fresh, but dried will do too.

First of all, heat some oil in a wok, you should use around a tablespoon or more. Fry the nuts in this, also the dal if you choose to use it. (I leave it out because a certain someone doesn’t like how crunchy it gets….)

Let the heat be fairly high, so the oil starts to splutter and the nuts get properly roasted. When they are nice and aromatic, add the mustard seeds, cumin and the red chilli. Turn the heat down so it doesn’t burn. Immediately add the ginger, green chilli and onions, stir fry until the onions are starting to turn light brown. Then add the curry leaves, tomatoes, salt, garam masala. Cook this mixture until the tomatoes turn very mushy. You want everything to look a bit like pasta sauce in terms of consistency. If your sauce gets too dry, add a bit of water to make it more liquid. Also, depending on how flavourful your tomatoes are, you might want to add some tomato puree to give it a nice deep red colour and tomato aroma. Optional: sprinkle a little sugar to reduce the sourness of the tomatoes, or if the tomatoes are not sour enough for your taste, add some lemon juice. At the end, put in the rice, combine everything so the rice is evenly coloured red – taste to check seasoning. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with raita or plain yoghurt.

I suppose you could eat this rice as a side dish with other South Indian food, however I really enjoy it on its own as well.

Hopefully I will be able to add a photograph soon, considering I do make this dish quite regularly. Enjoy!

Homemade beef burgers

All this weight loss talk is making me hungry. Time for some comfort food!

burger

500g Beef Mince – I used extra lean. You could also use any other type of mince you like, need not be beef

1 egg

1 small onion – finely chopped

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped

1 green chilli – finely chopped

2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

Black Pepper – to taste

Red chilli powder – to taste

Combine all the ingredients until they’re evenly mixed. Form the mince mixture into round patties, approx. 2cm thick. How big you make them would depend on your preference, or what buns (if any) you intend to eat them with. For best results use a non stick pan; on high flame. Fry the burgers in very little oil first one side then the other until properly browned. Then turn the heat down and keep cooking them until done. This will take approx. 10-15 mins depending on how thick your burgers are. Test if they are done by pricking them in the middle with a knife. If juices run clear, your burger is done.

For Mushroom-Cream gravy: In case you intend to eat your burger without a bun, it is nice to have a tasty gravy with it. Finely slice 4-5 mushrooms (of your choice, I used Chestnut mushrooms but you could use regular button mushrooms as well) and half an onion and a small clove of garlic. If you’re as sloppy as me, some onion pieces will fall off of the burgers while cooking anyway, so you may use those and not chop any more onion for the gravy. If using a non stick pan, fry up these vegetables with your burgers. If you keep the heat high enough, there will be some meat juices coming out of the burger and making a nice brown coating on the mushrooms. After your burgers are done, take them out and keep them aside. Add a bit of water and 2-3tbsp cream to your mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too runny for your taste, add plain flour, while stirring the sauce well to avoid lumps. You may season the sauce with any condiments of your choice, ranging from mustard, to red wine (use very little!) or even ketchup if you prefer. In my case I thought it was fine as it was.

Serve your burgers with gravy and fries and enjoy! (Or put them in burger buns with lettuce, ketchup/mayo, pickle and anything else you fancy.)

Weight loss for simpletons – Hey it worked for me!

After settling into your first job, the old days seem so far away, your old clothes from High school & college don’t even fit anymore; you look in the mirror while buying a new pair of jeans and your reflection looks fat and old. Who doesn’t recognise this situation? I certainly do.

After I left school, it just took me two years of mindless living to gain around 15kgs. I was two sizes larger than before, and looked much older than just those two years could’ve done to me! Sitting down on a chair, with my arms crossed, all of a sudden there was an inbuilt arm rest there! Needless to say, it had to go, I wasn’t old yet and wasn’t ready to look old either!

Anyone who’s read other posts on this blog can probably tell, I love food! Preferably the rich, creamy, heavy type. I’m a sucker for junk food and sweets, and could replace any or all my meals with cake, should I have some available.

Because of this, I wasn’t ready to just go cold turkey and give up on all my beloved food either! So I devised a plan….

The 5 golden rules

Rule 1. – If I’m not hungry / too busy to remember, there’s no point in eating. I realise it’s not healthy and doesn’t suit everyone, but desperate times called for desperate measures. I made sure I had lots of work to do (at the time I was freelancing, and on the go half of the day). Make sure your fluids are topped up though; if it’s hot outside, or you’re feeling low/tired, have some fresh juice, water or low calorie drink to keep you going. Also, reduce your portions whenever you eat a meal. Eating less food in one go shrinks your stomach, making you feel full more quickly!

Rule 2. – Food = Food therefore = a meal. If you cannot resist the temptation and do buy that big chocolate bar, finishing it off within an hour, don’t fool yourself into thinking that “Oh, it’s just chocolate, so technically I haven’t had lunch yet!”. Hell, you wish! That chocolate has the same, or probably more calories as a meal would. So you HAVE had your lunch! Enjoy the fact that you could eat it without feeling guilty. And that euphoria is all you’re getting for hours to come. No seconds in this dieting plan!

Rule 3. – Exercise is very important. The only thing is, I hate exercise, just as I suspect many of you out there do too! So you find something you enjoy, and you do it LOTS. How convenient that when I needed to lose weight, I had just started a new relationship. And what you may ask was the exercise I enjoyed and could do lots of…? Yes, exactly. Have lots of sex! Then take a nap, you’re even allowed a snack, and do it again! And ladies, don’t just spread and lie there, get on top and do some work also, otherwise the whole point of it is missed. You can only burn calories if you get out of breath!

Rule 4. – Have fun. If you’re depressed, you’re more likely to eat crap. So you keep yourself entertained. Get a new videogame if need be to fill up alone time at home. Get a new hobby. Whatever it takes to keep your mind off food.

Rule 5. – Persistence. Don’t think that doing this for a week will get you anywhere. If you want a long lasting result, you will have to put in lot’s of time. Think months, maybe a year. For me, it took around a year to get back to how I wanted to be (around 15kgs less). If you do it right, the weight will stay off also, as long as you don’t go back to your nasty old habits of stuffing your face with candy right before dinner time every night… Good luck!

And that’s it!

Kill da wabbit!

Ok, touchy vegetarians stop reading now. Because I’ve been whining about my dinner plans for Christmas Eve for weeks now, I might as well tell you how it turned out 🙂  

The Rabbit – Marinated for 24 hours in Red Pesto.

rabbit1

 Slow Roasted for around 2.5 hours at 100 degrees celsius. Afterwards simmered in its own sauce.
Basically I was happy trying to  cook a new type of meat, but not ready to try a new type of marinade/ sauce so I stuck with what I do with roast Chicken. (Just refined it a little with some Rose wine before putting it in the oven).  

The Side – Potato Gratin

potato  This side dish is very simple to make, yet extremely tasty. Probably because it is so sinful. You peel and slice around 4-5 large potatoes, then put them in a small pot, pour 300ml Single cream over them, add milk until the potatoes are somewhat covered. Add salt, black pepper, ground nutmeg to taste. Simmer for at least 5 minutes (until the potatoes are half done). Then take the potatoes out (don’t discard the cream!) layer them in an ovenproof dish and pour only so much of the cream mixture over them until all except the top layer of potatoes are covered. If you like, add some grated cheese over the top. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. If you like your gratin more firm, add an egg, or in my case, I had an egg yolk leftover from the dessert I made, so I put it into the cream mixture before pouring it over the potatoes.  

The Dessert – Coffee Trifle with Chocolate Sauce

trifle
Well if every single thing we ate on Christmas Eve already had cream in it already, the dessert couldn’t be far behind. For making this type of dessert, you need to have three different components: sponge cake (can be purchased or home made. You could also get sponge biscuits), some type of sauce to soak the sponge cake with, creamy mousse which will make up the bulk of the trifle. 

For the sponge cakes, I just did the lazy person’s thing; bought some trifle sponges from the supermarket. 

Then I made chocolate sauce by heating a little bit of double cream and melting dark chocolate in it. I also added some sugar. Make sure to whisk the sauce properly or the sugar will not combine with the cream fully. You’re looking for a sauce of fairly thin consistency so it can be absorbed by the sponge cake. Put the cake into the sauce and let it absorb it while making the cream.

The Coffee flavoured cream was made by combining extra thick (double) cream (approx. 500ml) with some icing sugar. All flavourings were added to taste, because I didn’t follow any recipe. Plus tasting the cream is most of the fun of this dessert anyway. I boiled some water, and dissolved Nescafe in it (just 50ml of water with 1.5 tea spoon of nescafe or more if you like. Added the concentrated coffee and some vanilla essence to taste, to make the cream get a subtle taste of coffee. Whip the cream until it is fairly stiff. Then beat an egg white and softly fold it in. 

Now start layering your trifle in a freezer proof bowl. First some sponge cake, if need be pour more chocolate sauce over it. Then little less than half of the cream, then the rest of the sponge cake and chocolate sauce, and the rest of the  cream over the top. Even out the top of your trifle and dust with some cocoa powder. 

Depending on how firm your cream turned out (depends on the type of cream used and amount of flavouring you put in), either refrigerate it or freeze it. This dessert, being so creamy, is very tasty when its almost frozen, but still soft. If you made it a long time in advance, you may need to take it out of the freezer an hour before it is to be eaten. 

I haven’t been a good girl, but I’ve had no complaints!

Here I am, on Christmas eve, almost dinner time and I’m sitting in front of the laptop, desperate to waste some time, waiting for that darn rabbit to get tender.. Apparently if it doesn’t get tender in the oven (even if you’ve kept it at low temperature, for hours, covered so it doesn’t lose moisture, after marinating for 24 bloody hours) … I’ve read you should instead put it in a pot with the sauce, and simmer it. So after slow cooking in the oven, I’m now simmering… It smells pretty nice, but I don’t have the patience. And having already finished the potato gratin side, as well as dessert, my fingers are itching to do something useful. I should keep away from the kitchen to avoid opening the pot with the rabbit every 5 minutes and poking it to see if it’s tender yet. 

Well anyway.. enough ranting. As (according to German tradition which was forcefed to me as a child) today is Christmas, and not tomorrow, I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Eat, drink, enjoy and be nice to oneanother. Or try to at least 😉

Oh and my wishlist, in case people are feeling generous……

1. Lots of chocolate

2. Lots of cake

3. Lots of biscuits

4. Breakfast in bed tomorrow and a hot cup of tea right now without having to make it myself!

 

My odd christmas tree

Newer entries » · « Older entries