Mary Berry’s Apricot Frangipane Tart (or could it be a Quiche?)

But first a Random Rant.

What the hell has happened to the BBC news website? It’s my go-to primary source of news (If, on the other hand, I want non-news I wind myself up by reading about the latest shenanigans relating to Kim Kardashian on the Daily Mail Online).

The BBC website used to just tell you what was going on in reasonably impartial terms (not bad for a leftie organisation). But now they seem to have employed a 21 year old to redesign the site so that it feels like you are looking at….well I’m not sure. It’s like its designed for people who don’t read the news. GREAT BIG pictures. Sentences of no more than a few words. Lots of videos.

They say it’s because most people view the BBC site on phones and tablets. But people know better than to view lots of videos on the move because it uses up the battery and their network credit.

So what’s the real reason? Money. Austerity. Over here everyone who has a TV has to pay the BBC a license fee. It began a looooong time ago. Before commercial channels with advertising and of course well before cable or satellite subscriptions.

But now, in the brave new world of dog-eat-dog, the license fee is under threat. We have to pay it even if we don’t watch it. Even Sky hasn’t managed to pull that trick (although you know they wish they could).

So the BBC is trying to shrink into the background. You can imagine them sitting in their very expensive new offices in Manchester sweating it out.

‘What can we do?’

‘Can we make them forget?’

‘Forget what?’

‘The license fee.’

‘How?’

‘Well, let’s not increase the price. They’ll forget about it.’

‘Well how are we going to afford our inclusive diversity training weekends at Gleneagles?’

‘We’ll slash the online budget. We’ll create one website that works across any device. It’ll look crap because it will have much less content, but it’ll be super cheap to run.’

‘Excellent! Pour the champagne and give yourself a pay rise.’

So there we have it. A vanilla news website which seems oddly devoid of news. It’s got big pictures and large areas of white space. Groovy.

Still awake? Looking for some food? How about this. It came from BBC GoodFood. Now they aren’t messing around with websites. They do spend a bit too much time messing around with foods you’ll never try (like most recently wild garlic. Come on, wild garlic) but they also do really good things. For instance, Apricot Frangipane Tart.

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End of Year Review

As it is the season of goodwill to all men (and women obviously) I thought it an opportune time to list all the things that have really annoyed me this year. But before I do I wanted to share (there, that’s one of my pet hates, people who ‘share’. It’s not sharing fool, it’s showing, or telling, or asking, or phoning, or emailing) this year’s festive centrepiece…

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Tesco – taking ‘Every Little Helps’ to heart

So Tesco (the UK’s biggest retailer) just announced that it has been overstating its half-year profits by 25% (about £250m). It’s not clear how long this has been going on but the omens aren’t good.

Tesco is to the UK what Walmart is to the USA, minus the firearms. Thousands of stores, millions of customers. It takes nearly 30% of the UK market. It has so much food I get fat shopping there and have to go on diets all the time.

Now, Tesco’s ubiquitous marketing slogan is ‘Every little helps’. And it would appear that the company has been taking this message to heart.

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How Lamb Kofta Kebabs Helped Me Get Over Amazon.com

Rant time. It’s been a while. Do any of you shop on Amazon?

Is the Pope Catholic, I hear you think.

Or does a bear, so the saying goes, shit in the woods?

Well, my take on Amazon is that it’s great. Until it’s not.

I know many bloggers do not watch TV. But I do. Love TV. Sat through 180 episodes of ‘Lost’*. Watched all of Star Trek.

So when Amazon started ‘streaming’ (what a great word that is) TV and films from it’s website I said to myself ‘I’ll have me some of that!.

Now American TV is the best. A series on American TV goes on for ever. Episode after epidode. Not like British TV. Four episodes of ‘Sherlock’ and that’s it for a year. With American TV you got 24 episodes of ‘24’ (canny that) and it seems to take over your (some might say sad) life.

So I settled in to watch a TV show called ‘Once Upon a Time’. The premise is simple. Fairytale characters (you know, Snow White, Hanzel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood etc) get transported to the real world by the Wicked Queen and live in a small town in Maine, unaware of who they really are until someone comes along and messes with their heads.

And I was getting into it. Episode 10 (of about 40). Then suddenly Amazon tells me I will have to start paying extra for it. Well that got me on the customer complaints page quicker than you can say ‘Rip off’.

I got an automated reply ‘We love you and we are totally committed to everything…but tough luck buddy’.

So I cancelled my subscription. And tried Netflix. Which of course doesn’t have ‘Once Upon a Time’. But I showed Amazon. Amazon is quaking in it’s boots. Right now.

*turned out they were all dead after all.

And so I turned off the TV and went and did something less boring instead (I’m paraphrasing an old children’s TV show; see? TV on the brain) by making Lamb Koftas with Cheesy Stuffed Potatoes.

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War Horse W(h)ine

Have you heard of War Horse? It’s a book, that was turned into a play, that was turned into a film.

My wife (she of the always original, always excellent birthday gifts), treated me to a visit to the New London Theatre (which is at least 40 years old) to see the play.

Amazing. Its about a horse and a boy that end up on the front line in World War I. The boy was played by a boy. Not surprising. But the horse was played by two actors manipulating a massive horse shaped frame; they were brilliant – they made the contraption move like a horse and you actually forgot you weren’t watching an actual horse.

But naturally this blurb is not about the play, the horse, or my 34th birthday (ha! ha!). No this was about the intermission refreshments.

Now the wife is not only an excellent picker of surprises, she also has a handy knack of picking perfect seats; right by the exit, which was right by the loos, which were right by the stairs, which led right to the bar. Perfect! And that’s where we headed at half-time. To purchase this…

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