Mitcheldean Festival 2022: the Taylor Family set

Six years ago, I wrote “I do like Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love, and of all the Dylan songs I know it’s the one I am least unlikely to do myself. Probably not coincidentally, it’s one of his more harmonically richest songs.”

A couple of weeks ago, this prediction came true, in the first set I’ve done since before the start of the pandemic. As The Taylor Family (shades of the Von Trapps), we played in Mitcheldean Festival’s showcase concert on Saturday 16th July — my wife Fiona on flute, our youngest son Jonno on cello, me on guitar, and all of us on vocals.

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Fine dining at Purslane, Cheltenham

Since the pandemic started, Fiona and I have basically stopped eating out. We figure that in the risk/reward calculation, spending hours in a roomful of strangers in exchange for more convenient and slightly better food that you can make at home or get from a takeaway is generally not a trade worth making.

But there are exceptions.

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Government consultation on Imperial measurements

Our essay-crisis dead-cat government is now planning to appease disaffected Brexit voters by giving them Imperial measurements, in place of the metric that we have been moving towards since the 1960s and which the majority is living UK citizens were brought up with. There is a consultation on this, but it’s been very poorly publicised. I encourage you to make a submission. Here is mine.

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How much does good pizza cost?

Like everyone else, I’m aware of the Cost Of Living Crisis — or, “recession” as we used to call it in the old days. (Much as we now say “chumocracy” instead of  “corruption” for some reason). We’re fortunate to be reasonably well off, so we don’t need to count the pennies. But I did find myself wondering whether pizza from scratch is quite such an amazing deal as I imagine.

Let’s do the numbers for a basic, and a more exotic, pizza.

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Four pizzas (and a crust cross-section)

Since I started making my own pizza, I’ve been doing it a lot. I’ve tried all sorts of variations, and made a lot of discoveries [evidence 1, evidence 2, evidence 3]. Today I want to show you four pizzas I’ve made recently.

This one is sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies with soft goat’s cheese. I like to change things up a bit from time to time, and this one is refreshingly different what I usually do. It’s very slightly inspired by the Maria Crazy pizza that they used to make at Pizza Bella in Crouch End, back when we lived there from 2000–2005. Continue reading

If you can have pulled pork, why not pulled chicken?

We love pulled pork, a straightforward way of making even the least appetising cut of the most environmentally friendly mammal meat absolutely delicious. But chicken is even less burdensome for the environment than pork, and cheaper too. Can you do the same thing with chicken? (SPOILER: Of course you can.)

I started by rubbing a whole chicken with the same rub I use for pulled pork: brown sugar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika, in a ratio of something like 40:20:1:1.

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The utter blistering incompetence of Now TV Broadband

Internet service providers are hardly known for their service, but with Now TV Broadband I have hit a new low of incompetence and carelessness that just boggles the mind. The spoiler is that tomorrow I will lose my Internet connection due to their idiocy. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a rough ride.

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Nachos

One day as we were driving back home from London, cruising along on the M4, Fiona out of the blue said “I want nachos”. I said fine, we’ll pull over at the next services and buy a packet. But she didn’t just want the tortilla chips, she wanted the whole dish. So this is what I made when we got home:

Since then, nachos have become a staple part of our diet, and they are delicious. So much better than they have any right to be. Here’s how I do it:

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Risotto à la Jon

I love a good risotto, but for years I could never get it to be really good when I made it myself. That changed a few months ago when Fiona and I stayed with our old friend Jon Wensley, who made a superb chicken and mushroom risotto and walked us through it.

This is the actual risotto that Fiona made, following the recipe, immediately after I posted it.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2021

Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the laptop and the desktop box where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

#10=. Dire Straits — 1985 — Brothers in Arms (3 listens)

The year is around 1989. My friend Andy Charles and I are big fans of Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold. I ask to borrow his CD of Brothers in Arms, but he is reluctant. “It’s always the same”, he says: “You lend something to someone, and you never get it back”. But I persuade him I will return it, and he lends me the CD.

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