Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rogan josh recipe

I've decided that I want to make lots of Indian food, however I only have the time and space to do this on the weekend, so I think that for a little while Saturdays and Sundays will be reserved for Indian food.  Given that, I'm going to blog the rogan josh recipe I did last Saturday.

Beef rogan josh, from a Madhur Jaffery book, adapted by me.  Serves 2.

2 inch piece of root ginger
7 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive/groundnut/rapeseed oil (we use rapeseed oil)
10 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves (or more if your bay leaves are really old as they'll have lost their flavour)
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick.
Half a pound of stewing beef
2 or 3 onions, depending on how much you like onions
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander (or use about a tablespoon of whole coriander seeds, but crush them in a pestle and mortar)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1.5 tablespoons paprika - NOT the smoked variety, because that is rank
2 teaspoons of tomato puree (or a good dollop squeezed from the tube)
300ml water
The recipe also calls for a bit of salt for seasoning, but I never add salt to my meals.  You may want to.

If you don't like your food too spicy reduce the amount of cayenne pepper and paprika.

Method and commentary on how I cook it.
1. The recipe directs you to bland the garlic and ginger in a food processor, with 4 tablespoons of water, to get a smooth paste.  I can never be arsed doing this as it seems like a hassle to get out the blender and then it's another thing for my boyfriend to wash up.  So I just chop the ginger and garlic up into small pieces.  You could also crush the garlic, but if you do that, don't do it just yet.  If your ginger is all woody, throw it out and use some better, fresher ginger.
2. Put the oil into a non stick pan and turn the heat up medium high.  The recipe says you need 6 tablespoons of oil to create a proper sauce, and recommends spooning the excess of the top of the sauce once cooked.  I refuse to use that much oil so I use just one tablespoon to start and would add more if needed once I got to the meaty bit.
3. When the oil is hot put in the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.  If you've cinnamon piece came from a longer stick and you've broken it off and it's now in lots of pieces, that's fine, don;t worry about it.
4. Put in the meat.  If you've got a decent sized pan it should all go in in one layer.  If you are using a small pan put the meat in one layer at a time.  On a medium heat, brown the meat on all sides and remove onto a plate to sit until later on in the recipe.  If you have more meat to cook do the same with the rest of it.
5. Add the onions to the oil left in the pan.  Fry over a medium heat until the onions have softened.  Stir occasionally while this happens to stop it sticking.
6. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
7. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and paprika. Stir so it doesn't all dry up and add the tomato puree.
8. Add the meat along with any oil and spices on the plate with it, and the water.  Add salt if you hate your heart.  Stir everything.
9. Bring this to the boil, then turn the heat down, put the lid on and simmer it for one and a half hours, or two, if you think the meat needs to be more tender.

I eat this with vegetable pilau rice and dahl and it's lovely.  This turned out hotter than I remembered so we also had yogurt with it.  Be careful of all the whole spices in it though, especially the flakes of cinnamon stick.

It takes a long time, but it's simple and well worth the effort.  It's a good one to make if you are having a bad day, as it's not delicate or fiddly and it can be left if you need to have a sit down and a cry.

I want to try making samosas this weekend, which I think I'll serve with this dahl, sag aloo and probably some spiced up rice.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Recent comics purchases

I keep thinking about reviewing the comics I've got recently, but as soon as I start thinking about it my enthusiasm wanes.  I tend to go to the shop every few weeks now and pick up a bit pile that way.

These two lots I bought at some point over the Christmas period:

Of these, I remember Bitch Planet as being spectacular and Batgirl as being not spectacular, mostly for the poor treatment of ASL and Deaf people, as I blogged about here,  Ody-C is memorable for being utterly dull (to my mind).
Of this lot, X-men was fun, Ody-C was dull.  I think I may have put Sex Criminals away without reading it.  Either that or I've lost it...  Justice League United was pretty good and I think has further confirmed that I am a real Legion of Superheroes fan now.. oh dear!

This week I also got my first Elsyia reward through:
It contains the first volume of the comic, a tote bag, stickers, t-shirt, bookmarks and a feather or two.   the art is by Jennie Gyllblad so I know it's going to be a good read.

This week I bought this lot:
I've read Sensation Comics, which was a pleasure as always.  If you prefer the pre 52 Wonder Woman you really should give this title a chance, it's lovely.  The style of art on the cover is pretty horrible but I like the choice of characters in it.  I see Cassandra Sandsmark, a warrior child and other women in WW style outfits.  I like it.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today, so although my brain is telling me to write a review of Tiny Titans for New readers... I think I'm just going to catch up on comics and prose fiction tonight.  Hope you're all feeling a bit better than I am.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Playing around with designs for a Captain Marvel themed skirt

So I think I'm close to making a Cap'n Marvel (Carol Danvers) themed skirt a reality.  This is the design I've come up with:

Colour shades aren't correct.

It's based on this costume:

I want it to have a dropped waist so it flares out from my hips, not my waist, and so hopefully won't drown me.  I want it to be above the knee. The vertical pencil lines are to show that I want it to be a bit gathered at the waist and so will drop in, well not pleats, but will hang in sort of lines.  Not quite how I've drawn it.  Does this make sense?  I don't want it hanging down completely flat.  I only like flat hanging skirts if they are also tight (hello 3 lycra minis of mine).  I want something loose around my legs for the summer, but tight at the waist so I still have a shape.

I think the star logo needs to be on the side and needs to be in the lower half of the skirt.  I've inverted the colour order so it's blue-yellow-red from the top, rather than red-yellow-blue, on the basis that I wear quite long tops and you wouldn't otherwise see the the red.  I'm wondering how to incorporate the yellow buttons from her gloves, but I can't think of a way to do this and make it look like a sensible part of the design.

What do you all reckon?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Smallville reading order and pull list

Do you remember last week-ish I was asking about the reading order of the Smallville comics?
I tweeted Bryan Q Miller about it and he confirmed this is the reading order:
Guardian Detective Effigy Haunted Argo Valkyrie Olympus Hollow Titans Alien Harbinger Lantern Chaos Continuity

So now you know. Looks like I got Titans and Alien mixed up, and Effigy and Haunted mixed up.

In terms of my pull list I've put all the Convergence titles on there...because I miss the pre 52 books, so fuck it, why not..

There are 40 tie ins and 9 issues of the Convergence series. A twitter friend said he thought the tie ins were all double shots which makes this 89 issues,.... 'eck!

I'll just sell on the ones I don't like ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Linky time

Look, here's a great post of the vast majority of skirt, bag, dress, shoe etc styles:
There's a few styles missing, but the vast majority are there.  It looks useful for when I want to start making clothes.

Alternate universe Harry Potter where Aunt Petunia takes him in and loves him:
It's beautiful and gut wrenching and well worth reading.

A North Korean defector's view on The Interview:
Really interesting.

A really, really good dahl recipe:
Seriously good.  Seriously seriously good.  The recipes on this woman's site are great - always tasty and simply to do (at least I've chosen the simple to do ones - I leave the complicated ones!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


What I Did On My Holidays.

I'm such a twerp.  What follows are a few interesting things I did on my trip to Derbyshire this Christmas!

It snowed!!!  On Boxing Day evening we got about 4 inches.  It was lovely.  Well it started and I complained and bitched and moaned because I hate the cold and the wet and the ice and the associated risk of falling over.  The Canadian with us thought I was a killjoy.  She is right.  However when we went out to the pub, all wrapped up, on a journey that took us over a few fields and I discovered that my shoes were waterproof and my toes remained dry and warm I was quite happy.

The next day we went out in the snow again. Of course.  Here is proof:

Then on the next day we went out to Ambergate and had a walk through the Shining Cliff Woods.  There's a lot of fun to be had in these woods, particularly when you discover Oakhurst House, which is technically off limits but there's not much actual fence to keep you out so we went in anyway.  This is the house:

Now that is not the sort of house you'd expect to see in the middle of Derbyshire!  It's long since abandoned and the second floors and roof has fallen in.  It's fascinating to look at and work out which rooms were used for what.  We had the additional pleasure of a robin following us around as we wandered around the building.  He was probably trying to chase us off, they are territorial little buggers.

We reckon this room was the kitchen:

This must have been a main door as you can just see the boot scraper at the bottom right of the entrance:

There is also some interesting graffiti:
We had fun searching out an old yew tree called Betty Kenny's yew, where a family supposedly built their house around this massive tree and raised 8 kids in the branches.  See the full story here.  Then there was all the ice to mess about with.  Some of the puddles had a couple of centimetres of ice frozen on top.

For better pictures of our trips out go to James Sharpe's instagram.  Because he's got talent and I'm a photographic fool.

Another day we went out to Fresh Basil in Belper for breakfast:

Between us we got 2 full Englishes and 2 vegetarians.  On my vegetarian one I swapped out the egg for black pudding.  They were good.  Very good.  Not too much.  The black pudding was well worth it and the Fill Englishes got 3 rashers of bacon instead of the usual two.  Although I am informed it wasn't smoked bacon.  The halloumi on the vegetarian plate was properly cooked which you'd think would be a given, but I got battered halloumi in a Kent pub recently and the halloumi wasn't cooked.  Bah.  The same place gave my boyfriend food poisoning so I am Not Impressed by it.

Fresh Basil has lots of signs up about the importance of shopping local and how much money goes into the local economy when you shop local as opposed to supermarkets.  I appreciate that.

Later that day we went to Kedleston Hall who do a very nice cream tea and the cake of the day is always gluten free.  Surprisingly for a National Trust place winter admission prices were just £1 per adult.  We had a good walk around the grounds and I had a massive rant about the parasite aristocracy and class injustices in England and the boyfriend told me to shut up and be quiet.  Fair enough.

One thing I didn't like about the hall was the godawful taxidermy they had in the corridor on the way to the shop.
Decorating dead animal heads is not on!  It's gross and inappropriate.  The stuffed bird scenes (you can see the cases at the bottom of the picture) were particularly disturbing.  I understand why the National Trust still has this stuff up - it's part of the history of the hall and that's what people want to see when they visit.  The owners still live in the Hall and I expect there are lots of complicated agreements about what the Trust can and can't do with the bit they run.  I just don't like taxidermy.

Apart from that shock the rest of the trip was petty good :)

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Pull list suggestions

So, from Sunday's request for new comics to read I got a lot of suggestions. Here they are with my decisions based on looking them up on the internet:

The Wicked and the Divine (Image)
From the blurb: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to start a new ongoing superhero fantasy. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.
Creators: Kieron GillenJamie McKelvieMatt Wilson

Hmm. I like the idea, a bit, but from their twitter feeds I get the impression that Gillen and McKelvie think they are both too clever by half, which puts me off reading their work.  It depends on how myffic it gets.  I could check this out on comixology.

Little Nemo (IDW publishing)
The blurb: An all-new, all-ages series full of magic and whimsy from award-winning creators Eric Shanower (Adventures in Oz) and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key)! Spinning out of Winsor McKay's brilliant early 20th century strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland sees King Morpheus' daughter, in the Royal Palace of Slumberland, select her next-playmate: Nemo! Only Nemo has no interest in being anyone's playmate, dream or no dream!

Now that sounds interesting.  I shall check it out comixology.

Grindhouse (Dark Horse)

The blurb: Grindhouse is back from the dead, and it’s meaner, badder, and dirtier than ever! In the first of four new exploitation opuses, Scalped’s R. M. GuĂ©ra joins series writer Alex de Campi for “Slay Ride,” a brutal holiday tale of revenge and supernatural terror in the driven snow!
Er probably also not for me.  I'm not interested in exploitation stories or brutal or violent stories.

Corto Maltese (IDW)
Long before the term “graphic novel” entered the popular lexicon, the Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt pioneered the long-form “drawn literature” story in 1967 when he introduced Corto Maltese in the epic adventure “The Ballad of the Salty Sea.”
Pratt set the standard for all adult adventure comics in Europe, and by the mid-1970s Corto was the continent’s most popular series and Pratt the world’s leading graphic novelist. “He is one of the true masters of comic art,” says Frank Miller.
Pratt’s books remain best sellers in Europe and are published in a dozen languages yet until now, Corto Maltese has been poorly represented in English.
This is probably a great story and really well told and really worthy to be in the comics hall of fame, but I'm not interested in 1960s adventure stories where the lead is a bloke.

Rare Bit Friends
I found this info:  It doesn't appeal to me.

The Itty Bitty books (Dark Horse) and Tiny Titans (DC)
These books are good at what they do but I'm happy reading them for reviewing purposes and then to pass onto my friend's kids but I'm not interested in reading them for my entertainment.  I do like Art Baltazar's Superman Family Adventures a lot though.

Bulletproof Coffin (Image comics)
The blurb:
Relive the Golden Age of comics! The Legendary Kane and Hine return to their greatest creations! SEE! Coffin Fly Vs. Zombie Nam Vets! The Shield of Justice walks the Dead Beat! The Unforgiving Eye sees all, forgives nothing! Red Wraith: He's red! He's dead! Ramona: Buxom, Beautiful and Bound! Big 2 Publishing, eat your heart out!

Nothing about this interests me.  I don't care for the Golden Age of comics.  Mention of a zombie makes me think they are trying too hard be funny or cool.  I have no interest in crime stories.  The Unforgiving Eye and Red Wraith just sound dull.  Ramona sounds like a postmodern crap ironic take on female empowerment.

New 52 Secret Six (DC)
Now I loved the pre 52 Secret Six but this new version has different characters, they've been New 52-ified and I don't like that so this is a miss for me.

Red Sonja (DC)
I *might* pick this up.  I like some of Simone's stuff but she can be hit and miss, and I'm not sure if I have anything invested in the Sonja character.

Ms Marvel (Marvel)
I already pick this up sporadically.

Silver Surfer (Marvel)
I have no interest in Marvel's space stuff and I'm thinking of getting a Marvel Unlimited subscription so I wll be able to read stuff online 6 months after it comes out, which makes better financial sense for me.

Revival (Image)
I tried this till about issue 18 but got bored.

Morning Glories (Image)
Got the first trade of this, loved the storytelling, hated the art.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel)

I'm sorry, I can't bring myself to read comedy mammal based characters.  I hate G'Nort and I wasn't impressed by Ch'P the Green Lantern. 

Loki: Agent of Asgard (Marvel)
I'll probably check this out when I get my Marvel Unlimited subscription.

All new Hawkeye by Lemire (Marvel)
I like Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye a lot, but I don't care about the character beyond that series.  If Lemire keeps explore Clint's new Deafness, and if he does it right, I might well buy it.

Ant-Man (Marvel)
I'll probably check this out with the Marvel Unlimited subscription.

Gotham Academy (DC)
I tried this.  It doesn't have enough superheroes in it for me.  Maybe I'll come back to it in a few months.  I like Gotham books, far more than I like Batman books, but I need to have superheroes or the cops dealing with villainous stunts in the foreground.  Issue 1 didn't do it for me.

Astro City
Now this I am tempted by.  I also want to read Top 10 again.

Captain Marvel (Marvel)
I really liked the first trade but ultimately I don't like Carol enough to continue with it.

Legendary Star-Lord (Marvel)
Now this I will check out via Marvel Unlimited.  This is because of the GotG film you understand.

Lazarus (Image)
Ooh it's by Greg Rucka.  That is worth checking out.

Velvet (Image)
Oh gods it's a spy thriller.  So not for me.

I also want to read Future's End (yes I know, I'm nuts), Injustice and I have a whole host of comics on my comixology account that I want to catch up on, most of which I reviewed (briefly) on my other blog New readers... start here! last September.  And Sex Criminals needs to go back on there. And Bitch Planet needs to be made a regular too.

If you've got any more ideas send them my way!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Smallville comics reading order - help a lady out

I am finally catching up on the Smallville comics Chaos and Continuity - these are the final story arcs and I have failed to read them until now.

Halfway through Chaos I got distracted and wanted to understand the reading order of the different issues.  I get my copies from Comixology and they arrange the issues alphabetically then numerically, which is annoying as I'd rather they were listed by date of publication.

Here is a page giving the reading order of the Smallville comics.  I'm still a bit confused, some are listed as parallel stories, some are main, and I can't recall exactly when each arc came out.
Note - the chapters in the first table on that page refer to the digital issue numbers.  There are 63 of these which are then collected into 19 print issues.

That web page summarised the story arcs as follows.  I'm pretty much copying it because it helps me understand if I write things out:

Main arcs with focus characters:
Guardian (Hank Henshaw)
Detective (Batman and Nightwing)
Haunted (Impulse)
Argo (Supergirl, Booster Gold and the Legion of Superheroes)
Olympus (Wonder Woman) - All these are released on comixology under the Season 11 title.
Alien (Rocket Red Brigade and the Monitor)
Lantern (John Stewart, Parallax and the Green Lantern Corps)
Chaos (Eclipso, Darkseid, Booster, the multiverse and the bleed)
Continuity (Justice League, everyone else)

Parallel stories:
Effigy (Martian Manhunter and Batman)
Valkyrie (Lois Lane and Lana Lang)
Hollow (Tess Mercer and Lex Luthor) - These top 3 are released on Comixology under the Season 11 title.
Titans (Jay Garrick and the Teen Titans)
Harbinger (Zatanna and John Constantine)

Now, as to how to read them, if you wanted to read the whole lot in one go, I think you would follow the publishing order and do so as follows:
Haunted, Effigy (parallel)
Argo, Valkyrie (parallel)
Olympus, Hollow (parallel)
Alien, Titans (parallel)
Lantern, Harbinger (parallel)

What do other fans think?  I can't recall if the parallel stories take place alongside the main story arcs, or if they take place alongside some of the TV episodes.  I want to establish where the arcs sit within the timeline of the Smallville universe.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

What comics should I be reading?

Right guys, I need ideas for stuff to put on my pull list. I think I'm missing out on some good comics.  So far I have:

Adventures of Superman
Justice League United
Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman

Hawkeye (although I think that's going to end soon..)


Action Lab:
Princeless: Pirate Princess

I will be adding Red Lanterns from when Landry Walker takes over, and Danger Club. I get Ms Marvel digitally (and sporadically) and I'm likely to try out the new Wonder Woman creative team digitally as well.  I want to catch up on the new 52's Green Arrow and Birds of Prey.

Is there anything else I should be reading?  I'm not that interested in Chew or Saga at the moment.  I dropped the lady X-Men team about 7 or 8 months ago and I don't want to try it out again.  I would like something like Fearless Defenders to exist.. does it?

I'm happy to add more Marvel and independent comics but if there is particularly good DC stuff I'm missing out on please tell me!  I've been totally out of the loop over the last year as I hadn't expected to be able to still afford comics now.

Thanks guys!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Batgirl 37 - did y'all miss the appropriation of ASL?

I finally read Batgirl 37, and yes I agree with the rest of the liberal internet community, that issue relied on tired old tropes and cliches for trans people and was all in all clumsily and hurtfully done.

Why have I not seen anything about the use of ASL in the issue?  For those that don't know, ASL is American Sign Language, used by the Deaf community in the States and is a different language to all the other sign languages in the world.  Like English is different to all the other spoken languages in the world.  Even other English speaking countries have sign languages that are different to ASL.  E.g. Australia has AusLan, the UK has British Sign Language (BSL) and the languages are not interchangeable.  Got that? Good.

Back to the comics.  My ire is particularly directed at this page:

Some background - Babsgirl goes to an art show and it's full of floor to ceiling photographic images of someone dressed as Batgirl, pulling all sorts of stupid poses.  Babs is obviously horrified as everyone thinks it's the actual Batgirl in the pictures.

When the show has ended Babs does some investigations and looks up an ASL dictionary.  A quick google search brings up a variety of different images for ASL dictionary, none of which look like the book Babs is holding.  Harrumph.
After looking in the book Babs concludes that the stupid poses were actually ASL signs, a code to her, saying 'Below Burn Side Bridge 10pm'.

Arrggghh!  OK, before we get into how the signs work, let's just look at how this secret message would work.

The plot assumes that no one else at the show, or who would be consuming the images at a later date, understands ASL.  Like it's some ultra secret hidden thing, that you only get to learn once you're in the club.  Not so.  This article gave the number of ASL users in 1974 at half a million, at a very conservative estimate.  For crying out loud, America has a University for the Deaf where everyone uses ASL!  That's not even counting those for whom ASL is a fluent second language, or those who have studied ASL and use it in their jobs or for fun when out with friends, for example.

So, I do not hold that Babs will be the only person ever seeing those images who can work out that it's ASL.

Next, the signs.
Full disclosure here:  I don't know ASL, I know BSL.  I have no idea about ASL vocabulary, but I do understand the grammar of sign languages and the ways in which they can be represented.

The photographs in this comic are 2d representations of a 3d language.  It can be hard to accurately draw vocabulary from sign languages because you need to show movement, speed and relation of the sign to other parts of the sentence.  But it can be done.  Off the top of my head The That Deaf Guy comic strip does it well, as did some of David Mack's Echo/Daredevil comics.  Peter David's Deaf Supergirl and Young Justice issues also did OK.

These Babsgirl panels do not do this.  Yes, you can see that the handshapes are correct - so some tell me, others say they aren't so I guess there's some regional variation in the signs there.  If you look at the image for burn, I'll bet you anything that the ASL for burn is not static and is similar in construction to the BSL sign for burn or fire, e.g. the sign includes movement and without the movement the handshape is meaningless.  Here are some clips of the BSL sign for burn and fire.

Oh look, I've remembered I'm online and have just looked up the ASL sign for burn.  What it ain't is someone clutching their chest and looking wistfully/sexily at the sky.  Facial expressions, shoulder position, head position all count in ASL.

Here are the other signs in that panel:
Pm or any other indication of time isn't even in there, as far as I can see.

Taking handshapes from just one part of the sign is akin to writing down 'cial' from facial and expecting everyone to know you mean facial.  On twitter I said that movement wouldn't have worked in the context of the comic.  I take that back.  They could have shown movement, they could have done lots of superimposed images of the fake Batgirl's hands moving through space.  Bet they still could have made it sexy if they wanted.

Finally, I'd expect Burnside, as a trendy area of Gotham, to have it's own sign and not be an amalgamation of Burn and Side.  It might not be in the dictionary, but I bet you, within the fictional DCU Deaf folk have their own sign for it.

This comic bothers me so much because it reads like cultural appropriation of ASL, it's nominally in there just to move the plot forward and show how awesome Babsgirl is.  It doesn't do anything for Deaf studies, Deaf awareness or ASL.  It's like Gwen Stefani's harajuku girls or white folk dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween.  Or like that godawful French film that was recently released.

I know I'm hearing, and some would say it's not my place to say this, and really it's probably not, you'd be better off reading Deaf bloggers views of the comic, and I'd point you to them but I'm out of the loop on Deaf blogs and I have no idea where to find Deaf comic bloggers (particularly political ones), and particularly fans of the DCU.  If anyone knows any please point me in the right direction!

I'm not trying to say my viewpoint supercedes any Deaf people viewpoint. It doesn't.  But I can't believe that no one else has spoken up about this.  Regular readers know I get my knickers in a twist quite regularly, this is one of those times.  If no one else is going to speak up so that I can comment on the blog and link back to it, I'm going to mouth off.

Many thanks to @matttygurney75, @unikornus and @adreanaline for talking through my ideas with me on twitter.  As @adreanaline said:
"Comics is about capturing 3D motion onto 2D pages.  That is why ASL Deaf artists should be hired.  They know how to do ASL."

Incidentally, she is a Deaf cartoonist and author of How to Write American Sign Language.  So she'll know.