PigPog Hot Sauce Recipe

IMG_1031Today, I made hot sauce, and it was good. We bought a chilli plant, a ‘Basket of Fire’, a couple of weeks ago, and it was growing rather more chillies than we could use, so it seemed like a good thing to try. My plan was to make something inspired by Szechuan flavours – chilli, garlic and ginger.

This was my first attempt at making anything like this, and I’m sure there are plenty of things that could be done better, or at least differently, but the result was very tasty.

Ingredients:

  • As many chillies as I could get from two plants – mainly from the Basket of Fire, but a few more thrown in from a second plant. A fairly good handful, and they’re quite hot.
  • One can of concentrated tomato puree (Tesco own brand, 142g, I think, but anything should do).
  • Cider vinegar – I didn’t measure, but probably around 100ml or so.
  • Garlic – two bulbs.
  • Ginger – one root.
  • Soy sauce – not a lot, probably less than 50ml.
  • Salt.
  • Thickening granules.

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Method:

  • Chop chillies finely, leave in bowl covered with cider vinegar and some salt.
  • Mush garlic, in second bowl.
  • Chop ginger thinly, add to second bowl, add soy sauce.
  • Tomato puree in pan with some more cider vinegar. Add chilli mix and garlic/ginger mix.
  • Add some water. I added water at a couple of different stages, and I think around two and a half of the tomato cans of water went in, so around 350ml.
  • Simmer it all for a while.
  • Use hand blender to blend the mix in the pan. Transfer to another container, rinse the pan.
  • Transfer back to pan through sieve, pushing through with back of spoon to get as much liquidy stuff through as you can.
  • Simmer a bit longer. It should be delicious at this point.
  • Add some thickening granules to make it a bit less liquid.

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To bottle it up:

  • Get some old sauce bottles.
  • Clean them, then boil them in a pan of water.
  • Make sure everything that will contact the sauce is also boiled – ladle, funnel, everything.
  • Scoop sauce into freshly-boiled bottles.
  • Seal them while everything is still really hot.

The sauce, I think, should then keep for a good while, until it’s opened. Once opened, it should probably be kept in the fridge, and used within n weeks. No idea, really.

Some notes/lessons/ideas…

  • The photos are a bit rubbish – just some quick iPhone shots I took while I was making it, not intending to share them publicly. The sauce turned out rather better than I was expecting, though, so I thought I’d write it up.
  • I’ve no idea if it made a difference getting the chillies soaked in the vinegar, and the garlic and ginger soaked in soy sauce. It’s just what I did. I suspect it doesn’t matter at all.
  • Sugar might have been nice, but Sam can’t have much sugar, so I didn’t use any, and it seems to have worked. Given that it’s supposed to be a bit Chinese-style, I’d probably have added some brown sugar if I could have.
  • I don’t really know how the sterilising process should be done, but boiling everything that touched the food until it was sealed seems like it should be safe. I don’t think this stuff is going to last long enough to be a problem, anyway.
  • I was going to use some plain white vinegar, but happened on a bottle of cider vinegar as I started, so I used that on a whim. Seemed to work out well, but white vinegar would probably be just as good.
  • Less water would probably have made a stronger sauce, and might have been better, but I was aiming to make three 150ml bottles, and happened to end up with exactly that much sauce.
  • A thicker sauce would be easier to use – it’s ended up a bit too liquid. Either less water or more thickening granules would probably do the job.
  • If I’d had them, I’d probably have used more chillies, but I was keen to make this entirely with our home-grown chillies rather than adding any bought ones. It’s fairly hot as it is, but could stand being a bit hotter.
  • I wouldn’t follow this recipe. Just get some ideas from it, if it sounds like the sort of thing you might want to do, then experiment with things you like the sound of. I think bananas would be interesting. The biggest lesson I took from doing this was that it can’t be too difficult if I managed to produce something good on my first go.

Bumping Flickr Photos

There’s a trick on Flickr for getting more views that’s starting to get annoying. Your photo appears on people’s default screen in Flickr if they’ve added you as a contact. Its place in this ‘stream’ is based on the date the photo was posted, not the date it was taken, which makes sense. The problem is, Flickr lets you edit the posted date stamp yourself. So you can post your photo, wait a couple of hours or so for it to pick up a good number of views, and hopefully some faves, then ‘bump’ the posting date, pushing it back to the top of everyone’s lists. Do it a few times over a few days, and your photo will be seen a lot more times, and pick up more favourites.

That’s all very nice from the point of view of the person posting it and bumping it – they’re getting more attention, which is why they’re posting on Flickr in the first place. When I’m looking at my contacts photos, I’m seeing the same photos several times, which isn’t so good from my point of view. I don’t follow thousands of people – I suspect those who do don’t care about the photos they’re seeing, they’re just trying to get attention for their own photos by following people and hoping a few will follow back – the same borderline spam following you see so much of on Twitter. For those I do follow, I try to see most of what they post, going through my contacts photos every day, usually more than once a day. Pushing your photos at me repeatedly makes that harder, and gets you unfair amounts of attention.

So, I’ve now started watching out for people who are doing this, and unfollowing them. It’s a shame, because I’ve unfollowed some really outstanding photographers in the last couple of weeks, who take photos I enjoyed seeing. But I’m trying to be consistent about this, because I really don’t like it being done.

It’s usually fairly easy to spot – the obvious signs when you’re going though your contacts photos are photos with more faves than you’d expect to see for the length of time they’ve been there, and (obviously) ones you’ve seen more than once. If you’ve seen a shot before, or even faved it before, and it’s in the middle of other photos you haven’t seen yet, you can be pretty sure they’ve bumped it. If it has, say, 50+ faves, and says it was posted 15 minutes ago, it’s probably been bumped. Check how long ago the main list says it was posted, then click it to open the photo and see the comments. If it was posted 15 minutes ago, but the first comment was 3 hours ago, you know they’ve bumped it.

Personally, I’m hoping Flickr will nerf this by either turning off the ability to edit the posting date, or keeping another permanent posting date that isn’t shown, but determines the position in the contact streams. I think some people do this trick when they post another photo, to keep one they consider their best recent work as the most recent in their photostream, which isn’t a problem, and the second date would let people do that still.

I’m sure the people who do this think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and that the photos they’re doing it with deserve more attention than they get. To me, though, it feels disrespectful to the attention I’m paying to their photos by following them, so I’ll stop.

Running AMOK on March 1st

I am participating in AMOK

On Saturday March 1st I will be wandering round Tiverton handing over envelopes to the hardworking folks who give up their weekends to staff the town’s many charity shops. This is part of Random Acts’ Annual Melee of Kindness, a global event to bring a little bit more happiness to the world.

Why I’m doing this

While I recovered from my operation, I needed distraction and entertainment. On a friend’s recommendation I bought the first few box sets of Supernatural. By the time I got to the fourth series, and met the angel Castiel, I was hooked and had found my latest TV obsession. I found out that Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel, runs a charity that encourages random acts of kindness to make the world a nicer place to live in. I found out about AMOK and decided to take part as a way of saying “Thank You” to the cast and crew of Supernatural for giving me something entertaining to look at during my recovery.

Find Out More

Post-Op Ramblings – Part Two

Today my tiny pouch friend Thumbellyna and I celebrate a month together. We’ve had quite a ride. Most of the time I feel no different than I did before. Thumbellyna sits there quietly and doesn’t make a fuss unless I do something daft like eat too quickly, eat too much, or eat food that’s just far too lumpy for her to process. And when that happens, she just quietly whispers “do not want”, and I have half an hour cuddling a bucket.

In the last month, I have learned a few valuable lessons. The main one being to take it slowly. It took a few bucket-cuddling sessions for this to sink in. For the first week of so, I had the most dreadful ‘mouth hunger’ (meaning having a real fancying for something in spite of not actually being hungry), which brought on some pretty vicious moods and a large amount of moping.

Advice for anyone considering weight loss surgery – try to avoid having it just before Xmas. Living on slop while everyone else is munching mince pies, stuffing balls and little sausages wrapped in bacon is hell. I managed to have a dinner on Xmas Day, thanks to Michael – he took stuffing and sausage and blended it up with mash and gravy. As delicious as it was, it was still painful to see everyone else’s instagrams of platefuls of turkey, roast potatoes, etc.. I was even craving sprouts. So, yes, if you are going for surgery and you have a choice as to when you have it done, have it six weeks before Xmas or four weeks after. Save your sanity.

On the subject of slop (i.e. the “puree” stage of the recovery diet) – it took me a while to get around to doing this, but it really is worth getting some baby food in. After all, we’re learning to eat again, and the ready made meals for babies and toddlers are really quite decent. Ella’s Kitchen meals are particularly good, and just the right amount for Thumbellyna.

The important thing to remember with weight loss surgery is that we all react to food differently. What works for one person may not work for another, and the only way to be sure is to try it. There will be setbacks. There will be sudden rushes to the loo. There will be times when you ‘worship the porcelain god’. It’s part of the process.

Now I’m making the slow journey back to the wonderful world of solids, I have to pay careful attention to the rules. While I’m getting to used to this new routine, I have alarms set up to tell me to take my meds, timers set up to tell me when it’s OK to drink (drinking too close to meals can affect the quality of the nutrients getting in to your system), and I have a stopwatch going during meals so I can time the one-minute gap I have to take between each mouthful. It’s a faff right now, but it will get easier in time.

Here is a video of the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. WARNING – it’s not for the squeamish. This is from a hospital in America. There is a possibility I may be able to get hold of a video of my own operation. If I can, and if I’m allowed to share it, I will upload a copy so everybody can see my insides. Lovely.

Post-Op Ramblings – Part One

Yes! It happened! Almost 4 weeks ago Michael and I made the journey to Taunton, and I finally made it on the table.

Arrived at the hospital 7.00am, went down to theatre 1.30pm, returned from the planet of the clangers at about 7.00pm. What. A. Day.

Arrived at the hospital 7.00am, went down to theatre 1.30pm, returned from the planet of the clangers at about 7.00pm. What. A. Day.

Now I’m learning to live with my new bypassed innards. The day after the op, the surgeon told me that my stomach is now the size of a thumb. So, I dubbed this new tiny pouch Thumbellyna, and I’m gradually working my way through the recovery diet. Some days I have rattled through a little quicker than I should have done, and have paid the price. I’m coming up on 4 weeks out, and this means I can soon move on to the final stage before solids, mashed food. For now I’m living on soup and toddler food. Any excuse to eat Farley’s Rusks again.

Since getting out of hospital I have lost just shy of 10kg/22lbs, so it’s definitely working. Aside from a little infection in a couple of my scars, I’m healing really well. I’m looking forward the coming year, and being able to get out and about. Could it be that I will finally enjoy walking? I do hope so.

More ramblings from me another time.