England’s Triumph

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Not four hours ago I dismissed the test match at Cardiff as a rain-ruined draw. I should have remembered the astounding finale of two years ago when the straight bats of Anderson and Panesar (!) saved England, and also recalled that this wonderful game has a habit of flinging egg in the faces of those who make dogmatic comments. A combination of wonderful English bowling and the inexperienced Sri Lankan batting beign overtaken by panic has created out of nothing a victory by an innings and 14 runs, England’s fourth innings win in their last five matches. Swann and Tremlett each picked up four wickets and Broad two. Trott deservedly got the man of the match award for his double century which left this match with only the two possible results. Some have commented on his inability or unwillingness to change tempo, but as Strauss pointed out during the post-match interviews, the man is averaging nearly 70 per innings and his side are winning most of thgeir matches. A further response to one very well known Yorkshireman who was among those voicing this critiicism of Trott is: “Mr Pot, meet Mr Kettle”. Sri Lanka will have a hard time bouncing back from this, especially with play getting underway at Lord’s on Friday. For England the only question is who will replace Anderson. England’s declaration immediately after Bell had completed his century seemed at the time a bold but futile gesture, but bravery was its own reward.

cricket

It is by now entirely clear that the test match in Cardiff has been one by the third participant – the weather! England have done enough to suggest that if they get an uninterrupted match thsi will be their series. Sri Lanka’s bowling looks very ordinary indeed. The selectors did the right thing in going for Morgan to replace Collingwood, though he has not had much opportunity in this match. It does seem ridiculous that in a year as dry as this one, the first test match should be ruined by rain but there you are.

cricket and things

To start with, congratulations to Sri Lanka whose enterprise in declaring early was rewarded when Middlesex collapsed for 161 in their second innings, and SL were able to knock off the runs.

Essex and Surrey are enjoying a run-fest at Whitgift School. Graham Napier has so far had the starring role with 196, including a record-equalling 16 sixes in a first class innings (Andrew “Roy” Symonds also hit 16 in his 254 not out for Gloucs v Kent in 1995. Essex totalled 548, but all results are still possible. The rec ord first innings score by a side who ended up beaten is currently held by Essex themselves who made 597 at Chesterfield in 1904 and lost by nine wickets after collapsing to 97 all out in their second innings. 

Market day in Fakenham was particularly impressive, not least because it was sunny throughout. Tony’s Deli had some very good olives at very reasonable prices.

cricket

I have spent today listening to coverage of day 2 of Middlesex v Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka made a brave effort to breathe life into a game that has DRAW written all over it by declaring while still 51 runs adrift, so as to bowl at Middlesex this evening. They then disposed of Robson quickly for the second time in the match. Another youngster who has not done much to catch the eye is 19 year old Gurjit Singh Sandhu, whost first two overs were dispatched for 22 and bowled a mere eight overs in total for 46 – a comment on the unwisdom of giving someone their first class debut against international opposition. Middlesex failed to capture a wicket at all, both openbers retiring to allow team mates toi have a bat, which means that Strauss has been on the field for two innings against Sri Lanka (World Cup QF the other one) without seeing any wickets go to bowlers. It is abundantly clear from all this that the pitch is a batsman friendly road, unsuitable for a match of a mere three days duration.

Who do I think should replace Collingwood in the test team? Eoin Morgan. He has a decent record fom the tests he has so far played, and has not blotted his copybook, as Bopara (the other principal candidate) did against the 2009 Aussies. Do I think the three captain approach can work? Ask again at the end of the season. However at least we will see three captains in action because such is the plan, unlike previous multi-captain seasons which came about because of lack of planning (Yes, I am old enough to remember the horrors of 1988, the year of the four captains).

Orange Tree

Have been helping out with various bits in the garden. One of our plants is a miniature orange tree, intended ultimately to be taken out to Greece, where my parents have a holiday home. Although the main  purpose of this tree is ornamental, the fruit can be used as a component of salad dressings. It has now been re-potted having outgrown its original pot and moved to a new location on top of a wooden outside table that gets no other use. It is in fine fettle with a bumper crop of fruit, as the photo shows:

orange tree

Pubs and Markets

Today was Market day in Fakenham (The market runs every Thursday and is well worth a visit if you in the area). There are always cracking bargains to be had. As usual, Tony’s Deli stall came up with the best bargain of the day- 800 grams of sirloin steak for £10! The new potatoes from the local fruit and veg stall are now an acceptable price as well. The other fruit and veg stall, which gets stuff from all over the world had a few good things as well, including fresh coriander at £1 a bunch.

Wednesday is the night I regularly go to the pub. I got into the habit of having my night out on a Wednesday when it was quiz night at the Cat & Fiddle. Not only has the quiz night stopped, the pub in question no longer exists.

When I first moved to this part of the world, the village had two pubs. The Crown was rougher than most sandpaper, while the Cat & Fiddle was a good village pub. Things started to go pear shaped for the Cat & Fiddle when a new landlord (all names in this section withheld to protect the guilty) took over and turned out to be the one person I have encountered who is definitely even less suited to a customer service role than I am. People responded to his way of running the place by staying away in droves. When he bowed to the inevitable and departed, he was replaced by a family who were much nicer people (not difficult), but were not the most hygienic. It was while this family were in charge that the Cat & Fiddle suffered it’s death blow, although it was a slow death. The Crown, previously a place best avoided, was bought by a TV Chef, and completely refurbished, in the process unveiling a 14th century fireplace. When it re-opened for business I went to visit, in a skeptical frame of mind, and came away convinced that this was a good thing. This establishment manages to combine being a good local pub with being a top of the range restaurant. The final twist in this little tale came when Flying Kiwi (the company set up to run the stable of pubs of which The Crown is one) bought the old Cat & Fiddle, which is now divided between housing the Village Shop & Post Office, and providing accommodation for staff at the Crown (this part of the building is now called the “Kiwi Nest”).

ASPIBLOG

Leafy Sea Dragon

ASPIBLOG           

 

Welcome to my new blog! My name is Thomas Sutcliffe, and I have just been appointed Group Leader for the King’s Lynn Support Group for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s in late 2006 and was involved in the original establishment of the King’s Lynn Support Group, which had its first meeting in late 2008, and meets on the first Friday of every month at the British Red Cross building, Austin Fields, King’s Lynn. Having been a volunteer Group Leader since the group started I was considered a natural choice when Asperger East Anglia decided to recruit a Group Leader to give our group greater independence. Anyone is welcome to attend. For more details about Asperger East Anglia as a whole, visit www.asperger.org.uk.

The photo accompanying the title is one I took at Melbourne Aquarium/ Oceanarium, of a leafy sea-dragon. I chose this picture for the role because I like it and also because it is not quite what it seems to be at a casual glance.

 In each post I will include something connected with one of my hobbies, starting today with cooking…

 A COUPLE OF KITCHEN SPECIALITIES

 This section comprises details of my own style of home baked bread and also my own version of Lemony Chicken and Coriander (this is derived from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe but I have changed it so much it is now basically my own creation).

 1: HAND BAKED BREAD THOMAS STYLE

This is a wonderfully simple method for producing high quality white bread.

Ingredients (for one half-kilogram loaf)[1]:

300g strong white flour+ [2]

200ml water

¾ tsp of yeast

1 tsp of salt[3]First assemble the starter by mixing 100ml water with the yeast and adding 100g of the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until you have a thick paste. In summer one can use cold water straight from the tap, but in winter it works better if one uses warmer water (my own method is to boil a kettle and mix approximately 50mls of boiling and 50mls of cold water). Once you have a thick paste cover the mixing bowl (I usually use a plate for this purpose, but a tea-towel also works) and leave to stand overnight.

 The next morning, add the second half of the water and the salt, stir the mix, and then add 200g of flour and mix thoroughly. Remove the wooden spoon, and cover the dough. On at least two separate occasions through the day (no upper limit), toss in a little flour and knead the dough rapidly but vigorously (I rarely knead for more than about 30 seconds on any single occasion) before re-covering. In the evening put down a small amount of flour on a kitchen work surface and spread out the dough as flat you can get it with your hands before folding it into the shape of the loaf, making sure that in this process you drive out any trapped air. Place the loaf in a well oiled baking tin, cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise overnight.

 First thing on the following morning turn an oven on at 2200C and bake the bread for 40 minutes. Remove the bread and place on a wire grid to stand and cool. Once the bread has cooled it is ready to eat. It is best when cutting these loaves to cut slowly with a sawing motion so as to avoid crushing the centre of the loaf. Loaves prepared in this way keep fresh for two or three days and toast very nicely thereafter. Personally I always claim the first (crust) slice as baker’s privilege.

2: Thomas’s Version of Lemony Chicken and Coriander

 This is a beauty, easy though quite intensive to prepare and absolutely delicious. As with the bread recipe the ingredients can be factored up or down from my list so long as they are kept in proportion. Note that the ginger and the garlic are given as approximations.

 Ingredients (makes three portions):

6 chicken thighs (or thigh fillets)

The juice of 2 lemons

150mls + 4 tbsp water

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp ground cumin

1+ tbsp salt[4]

1 large bunch fresh coriander

Half of a ginger root

Half a head of garlic

 Start with some basic preparations, juicing the lemons, and assembling the salt and ground spices (I put these together in a small cup and give it a shake to combine them). Then prepare the fresh coriander by removing any thick stalks and chopping it in the blender (this can be done by hand but is fiddly). The final preliminary stage, once the coriander has been transferred to a small bowl, is to chop the ginger into smallish chunks and place in the blender together with the 4 tbsp of water, and blend into a paste.

 Put some olive oil in a large pan on high but not maximum heat (I normally start at four on our ceramic hob and switch down to three once the oil is hot enough) and remove the skins from the chicken pieces (if you use fillets you save yourself this part of the process) before putting them in the pan. The chicken should be cooked until it is golden brown on both sides, turning once. While the chicken cooks, chop the garlic roughly until it is in pieces small enough to dissolve in the cooking. Both for turning the chicken and for subsequent stirring operations a slatted spoon should be used.

 Remove the chicken and place in a bowl, covering securely. Then put the chopped garlic in the oil and cook, stirring continuously[5], until the garlic colours. Add the ginger paste, stir thoroughly and cook for approximately one minute. Then add the ground spices and salt, and the fresh coriander and stir thoroughly. Add the chicken pieces and any accompanying liquid, 150 mls of water and the lemon juice, and stir thoroughly.

 Bring to the boil, and then turn the heat down to minimum, cover the pan securely, leave for fifteen minutes, stir thoroughly and cover and leave for another fifteen minutes. While this process is going on cook your chosen accompaniment (Rice and pasta both work well).


 

[1] You can factor up or down as appropriate, so long as you keep the ingredients in proportion

[2] As will become obvious when I describe the process of making this loaf flour gets added to the mix at other stages than the first.

[3] The reason that is possible to use more salt than yeast is because this process occupies a considerable time, so the yeast can work slowly, and it is desirable to do so because the resultant loaf tastes better.

[4] This means err on the side of generosity.

[5] This prevents any of the garlic from sticking to the base of the pan and burning.