Chilli Sweet Potato Fishcakes

The great thing about fishcakes is that their integral recipe and cooking is the same, but one can experiment with different fish and different spices or veg to get completely different flavours and a dish to suit many palates. Because sweet potato is a warm, flavoursome starch anyway, it pairs well with medium-heat chillies that don’t overpower the soothing flavours of the potato. Plus, sweet potato is filled with nutritional vitamins, so it can be perfect for young mouths that have a picky side. (I should know!)

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Ingredients:

Two Haddock fillets

One large red chilli of medium heat

An onion

One sweet potato

An egg

Plain flour (for dusting)

Pepper (and salt if desired) for seasoning

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AlexB_fishcakes2

Cut the sweet potato into even-sized chunks of medium size. Bring a half-filled pot of water to the boil. When the water is boiling, cook the sweet potato chunks for about 2 – 4 minutes to soften them.

Rub the haddock (both sides) with pepper and/or salt and/or a light seasoning of your choice. Stronger spices like turmeric or cumin might add too many flavours to the fishcakes, so I kept from adding anything more.

Put the fish into a colander and cover with foil. I used pre-smoked haddock for an additional layer of flavour, but any haddock would work here. Turn the heat in the pot down and heat the fish over the sweet potato for 8 – 10 minutes or until both the fish and the potato are cooked. Once cooked, remove the fish from the colander and set them aside; and drain the potatoes in the colander, then return the potatoes to the pot and leave them to steam dry for a minute.

Mash the sweet potato in a bowl. Now some recipes encourage mashing around the sides of the bowl to help the mash cool, but I found that moving the potatoes and fish from bowl to bowl was enough to help it cool, so I could mash straight away.

Remove any skin from the fish and flake it into the mash. With a dash more pepper/chosen light seasoning, start to mix the fish and the potato together.

Dice the onion and the chilli, and fry together in a pan for about four minutes, or until the onion is browned and fragrant. Put the pan aside to cool. If the onions and chilli don’t cool, there is no issue but with the possibility of them being too hot to handle when hand-mixing/folding the fishcake mixtures.

Once cool or when ready, add the onions and the chilli into the bowl fishcake mixture. Crack an egg into the mixture. This acts as a binding agent for the fishcakes. I suspect it could be left out, particularly with the softness the sweet potato gives to the cakes, but you might be left with crumblier mixture. Then by hand mix the fishcake ingredients, making sure all ingredients are folded in. Have fun doing this. 😉 You will get messy hands.

Mould the fishcakes into flattened spheres of about two cm thick. I dusted a plate with flour and dusted both sides of the fishcakes individually. I believe this helps the final browning, but is by no means necessary to the fishcakes. Transfer to an oiled frying pan to cook. For efficiency, I used the same pan in which I fried my onions earlier. Now I managed to fit all of my fishcakes in a medium-large sized frying pan. I didn’t plan for my mixture to make four, but since it did, I wanted to be able to fry them altogether to save me time. However, if you have the time, I wouldn’t recommend this, particular for thicker fishcakes, as it is difficult to flip them or check sides when the cakes are rubbing shoulders.

Cook until each side of the fishcakes are browned, and serve immediately on a bed of salad. Or wait until they are cool and freeze/refrigerate until later.

Enjoy! ^_^

Doesn't look very glamorous, but it was certainly yummy.

Doesn’t look very glamorous, but it was certainly yummy.

Steampunk…. Seriously?

At the Airship Ambassador blog: Prof Elemental talks about dispelling the seriousness and negative stereotypes abounding in the Steampunk community. Definitely worth a read if your interests lie alt-history.

Airship Ambassador

by Professor Elemental

Being a grown up is hard. Mortgages, illnesses, car payments, credit card bills, parenting and politics; these are not activities for the faint hearted. So it’s no wonder that all of us seek some kind of escape from time to time. There’s the telly and the computer, sports and video games, a cornucopia of exciting drugs and new sexual combinations- all there to help ease the pressure of modern life. Still, some of us like to go that extra mile; for some of us, it’s not enough, to watch science fiction- we want to be science fiction. Why sit around imagining an outlandish fantasy when you could actually go out and live it for a while, or at least a fair approximation of it?

That, to me, is the joy of Steampunk. To don a metal arm, squeeze into an impossible corset or even just pop on…

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Lent: A Time for Giving, Not Taking

rosary-ellen

Photo credit to Ellen Gable

 

Someone asked me at dinner today what I was giving up for Lent. This took me by surprise. For starters, I thought only teenagers partook in the ritual of giving up foodstuffs for 40 days and night. There is also the point I will make that choosing to give up something can actually have quite a selfish motive, just as the Pharisees in today’s Gospel from Matthew are condemned.

Someone even asked me why I had a grey cross on my forehead.

“It’s Ash Wednesday,” I reminded them.

In return, I received a blank stare.

Forget Christmas, it seems people have forgotten the true meaning of Lent in favour of the edible qualities of ‘Pancake Day’ (Shrove Tuesday) and their own absences. Take Twitter, for example. Now, I am utterly guilty of getting caught up in the trivialities of an account, but I like it as a medium for the business of writing. But yesterday. Yesterday, two of the highest trending topics in the UK Twittersphere were #ruinamoviewithpancake (the next step in the #ruinamovie franchise) and #panflake, the simple idea provided by Cadbury of rolling your pancake around a chocolate Flake.

Firstly – eww. Secondly – urg. It upsets me how little this secular world we live in has even been educated about the reasons for Ash Wednesday or even Shrove Tuesday (how many of us know about the old tradition of using up all the ingredients, really?).

You see, whether people realise it or not, when they are ‘giving up’ something in the name of Lent, they are making an advert for their abstinence – “oh, no, I can’t eat that; I’ve given it up for Lent” – for no reason whatsoever. I suspect a lot of people, particularly those my age, who give something up, do it simply because they are used to the idea that Lent = removing something from their lives. They don’t do it in the name of anything.

I wonder if people are conscious or aware of this invasion of conformity and indolence into their lives.

There is a much better way to respect the world during Lent. Of course, I say this from a Catholic perspective, but the idea that one gives their time in Lent more than anything to helping others is something to which anybody can relate. After all, you’d like people to assist you in your own time of need? Do unto others what you would have done to you.

Lent – if you celebrate it for the sacrifice our Lord made for us – is also a time for giving one’s self in greater strength to the Good Works of the Lord. This may mean setting aside a larger tithe to the Church than normal or giving alms to charity on a more frequent basis, or it may mean giving your time to help someone you wouldn’t normally, stranger or friend or simple daily acquaintance.

A larger part of Lenten devotion also comes in the Church’s urge for daily prayer. I know this is something I will be trying to be better at this Lent. I do like the peace prayer provides one, but I find it so difficult in my busy schedules to actually take time out to give my time for the Lord. In particular, I poke myself for grace before dinner, but the idea to do such is swept from me when I make it up to the dining hall. So, that will be my task – to put my prayer forward for the Lord and better myself in body and soul this Lent.

There is always time to look after others – and no better time to do so than in the 40 days of Lent. Forget about the task you’d set for yourself when giving material items up, but replace the idea of yourself with others to serve. Compassion is greater than the money you’d save by giving up something this Lent. Use it.

Gratuitous Ash service photo

Gratuitous Ash service photo of me

Creative Writing at University

Interested in what creative writing is like as a society project in a larger UK university? Below is my short interview with Emily Upson, the president and organiser of Reading’s creative writing society, Scribblers, originally published in Reading Uni’s The New Frontier magazine.

What inspired you to revive Scribblers?

At a poetry reading where Conor Carville, a Reading creative writing professor, and I were discussing how little time we have in seminars, he said “it’s a shame the creative writing society folded”. The more he talked about what they did, the more I wanted one.

What sort of creative writing are you interested in?

Mainly experimental prose – playing around with rules to express meaning in as many ways as possible. I like to think that however weird and wonderful the writing gets, it still works.

Who are some of your favourite writers?

Scott Fitzgerald has to be one of my favourites, due to the sheer beauty of his writing. I’m passionate about literature that makes a difference, whether personal or societal difference. This leads me to Aphra Behn’s works, Madame Bovary, and, very recently, Satanic Verses.

That’s quite a selection! Tell us some Scribblers events this coming academic year.

We’re organizing more ‘Scribbler Support Groups’, where everyone writes together, aware of each other’s goals. It’s very easy to talk and plan to write, but there’s nothing like peer pressure, a support system, and plenty of coffee to get writers to work.

As well as the “Start Scribbling” event we held on the 20th October, we’re planning more talks with guest speakers; next term’s “Start Scribbling” will be even bigger! A book cover design day is in the pipeline.

Thank you, Emily.

So, we’re always busy, always doing things, but the Scribblers have weekly meetings and frequent events, so it is very involved society. One of the things I love is that Emily and her society are so open to different types of writing and never judgemental about the pieces produced in 15-minutes’ worth of time.

Facts about Tabata

Today, I’m opening the floor up to a guest post about an unusual, innovative style of fitness training called Tabata. Enjoy!

If you thought an hour or even half an hour of aerobic exercise was a good way to lose weight and to stay fit, then here’s some four-minute news.

Tabata. Tabata is a four minute fat burnout workout. It increases your aerobic and anaerobic capacity in a no-nonsense way. And what’s more, it increases your resting metabolic rate. A workout that helps your body burn fat even while it is at rest! Tabata really gets those cells up and awake.

Tabata was created by a Japanese man, Izumi Tabata. He tested this high intensity interval training on a group of athletes and found that their metabolic rates improved vastly in comparison with those who adopted a moderate workout. Eventually this is supposed to make you stronger. A word of caution here – Tabata is for advanced exercisers, not for beginners.

You can design your own Tabata. The principle is intensive exercise with intervals. You could use dumb-bells or presses – whatever works for you; and I cannot caution enough here that do listen to your body. There are numbers of videos to help you decide which form of Tabata to use, if you like.

Basically: you can design your own Tabata workout, starting with what you can do with a little effort and then going on to the more strenuous. The aim is to maximize the four minutes of exercise. You should be physically and mentally capable of seeing yourself through eight rigorous cycles of your chosen exercise in the four minutes. If you have to ease off from the exercise often, then choose lighter weights or something – anything that helps you to complete the cycle.

Your body is unique; what works for one may not work for another. The before and after photographs of someone who went from flab to fab is not the correct reason to choose a particular Tabata workout.

The body is never at rest. To power up or power down you jog or jump a little. The actual workout is a legs-apart, anti gravity high jump. It gets you sweating in a few minutes. Those jumps can take a toll of the knees of those on the other side of forty, so I would suggest easing oneself into it, with a lot of regard for the knees.

You have to choose the type of workout depending on what you want from your body. Burn fat? Develop abs? Increase your endurance? What? You can choose from skipping, burpees, crunches, sprints, etc.

Adhere scrupulously to the 20 second-workout-10- second –rest routine in your four minute cycle. Anything more or less might cause a cramp or pull a muscle. Do not ignore this. Also, it would disturb the warm up/cool down mechanism. There are Apps and videos to help you time yourself, but really, a simple stop watch would do, or even maintaining a count of 1 to 20.

After the first day, your muscles will protest at the rigor you have put them through. You would be well advised to rest the next day. Make sure that you also have the right nutrition. A diet that is high on energy is recommended. Eat before and after your Tabata workout. Rest and nutritional plans are important, too when trying our Tabata.

Author Bio

I’m Ramya Raju, a freelance writer/web designer from India. I write on varied topics like English Courses, SEO, Web Design, Mobile, Marketing etc. I have an experience of about 8 years in content writing and have worked for top blogs and websites. I’m generally an extrovert; I like photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn the culture and living of the local inhabitants.
Contact:

ramyaraju896@gmail.com

http://www.englishcourses.pro/courses/intensive-english-courses/

(WTCB September) On Journeys

How far have we travelled in these many hours? What obstacles have we overcome? (Photo of a crazy golf path - ya didn't know I have a soft spot for crazy golf, did'ya?)

How far have we travelled in these many hours? What obstacles have we overcome?
(Photo of a crazy golf path – ya didn’t know I have a soft spot for crazy golf, did’ya?)

We are winding down the WTCB September posts now. I’ve had so much fun this month delving further into my novel and its characters, symbolism, et cetera, but, unfortunately, September can’t last forever. To add to that, tomorrow I’m moving into my hall at Reading University, so I have to unscrew my literary blogger hat and replace it with the commentary-on-life and these-are-my-ideas-for-the-world hat.

Some things in-store for October include a narration of my life as a new English Undergraduate (that is: a Englishwoman Undergraduate, not an Undergrad studying English), the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and thoughts on poetic prose amongst other writerly tangents; books and their psychological perception, and some promotion for The Fauxpocalypse Project.

That is, if my life as a student doesn’t get in the way. We’ll see.

IMAG2510Looking back, it’s amazing to think how far I’ve come since 2010. Yes, in education and my life itself, but also in the production of my writing. We could happily look at my work from a self-contained view.

This year alone, the first chapter has done its rounds of the Beta readers; the full MS may have only been critiqued by a couple of people, but I have certainly learnt of the extent of editing. My ability to show instead of tell has grown, and I can now write a query letter without making it sound like an unfinished synopsis.

What amuses me is the way a whim – inspired by a prompt to write a full novel in NaNo ’10 – has turned into the one project on which I have spent the most time and effort. This only proves that we will never know what is coming, around the next bend of this road in the journey. From the February I finished the first draft, each month gave me a different insight into what I had first written; with every change, a further desire for perfection and completion sprung. With every blog post, I have carried an urge to discuss my characters and my setting and my ambitions beyond the mere electronic-page.

So has been my own, personal journey, perusing the mind of a novelist (if she/I may call herself/myself that) for these ideas – and, almost two years after I started blogging – here I am, feet upon the precipice.

Who knows where the jump will take me next?

TroutInn3_AlexB

Of course, the journey a writer makes with a book is only half of the process of journeying; the other half comes from the lives of those precious characters. Their personal journeys, both the physical such that Phillip makes, sneaking back and forth from his childhood home to the wreckage of his new one, the emotional – Aidelle realising she’s been too image-obsessed – and their ex libris charactorial journeys: those of the 2D stick people, the protagonists who smile and do their best work always, who have shaped and changed before my eyes to become [more, for who can say if they are the best characters?] 3D, flawed people.

I have so much for which to thank my characters, for they have shaped my own journey, as much as I have theirs.

How do we make the most of a journey, though? Everybody is different, but I’d advise taking each day at a time, moving through the moments when you see them. Too many times have I tried forcing myself to edit – and it doesn’t work. Yes, deadlines loom, but that doesn’t mean you have to tackle them straight off the bat.

Breathe. A journey is a journey – a diurnata, a day’s work – for that exact reason: hardly anything happens overnight, and each day must add up towards its end on its own merits.

One day is a single day. As those who’ve done NaNo know, missing one day is no matter towards a target. The idea is substance in a day, not rushing through in a heady mess. I know. I’ve done it so many times.

If you’re journeying, don’t forget the sights, don’t forget to enjoy the passing moments, for they will never come back. We all have goals – but the real success is not letting those goals rule us.