Second wind

After what most likely will have seemed like a period of that all too common idleness we mere mortals comfortably came to denote as "death", this blog seems to be alive and once more kicking (meekly, as though not to hurt anyone).

And, speaking of hurt, not long ago I had a sudden bout of the most heart-gripping guilt I have ever bore, for twice I have spoken aloud and ill of what you might now know to be my often sworn foe, Fate (which should not, under any circumstances, be mistaken with Faith, the name of both the protagonist of the (IMO) massively underrated game "Mirror's Edge" and Eliza Dushku's character in the (IMO) massively overrated series "Buffy the (IMO, very very silly) vampire slayer", who lent her voice to the protagonist of yet another (IMO) somewhat underrated game, "Wet".

For the sake of disambiguation, it should be noted that the qualifier "very very silly" should be applied both to the vampires in the show and to their slayer in equal measure. Aside from the particiaptions of Ms. Dushku, as stated above, and Allison Hannigan, there isn't a single redeeming characteristic in the whole show (IMO, mind you).

Now, about undully putting down Fate - would Madam Fate kindly accept a heartfelt apology for my earlier scathing remarks in the face of what I consider to be a peace offering in the form of that most lovely young lady who, after an absence of several months (starting on the very day I was about to propose we should meet outside of the parameters of our regular meeting medium, the theater, thank you for that, Madam Fate) and perhaps even grace me with the good fortune of not becomming thoroughly disenchanted with her after a single outing for coffee (which I don't even drink of my own volition, mind you) as was the case with the lovely (in a purely platonic sense, mind you) girl from the salad bar? Or is she (Ms. Fate, that is, naturally) merely setting me up for a massive disappointment, as was the case with the first incident that drove me to scathing remarks? Really, I have good faith in Fate (no pun intended), but you must make some allowance for my suspicion.

And now, for something completely different. Mr. Idle has the copyright to "a man with three buttocks", so we'll haev to make do with a short story I conceived on the back of a thought, last night (or, technically, this early morning), whilst preparing a sandwich:

"I was quite thrilled to have met you. Your first impression on me was, quite simply, marvellous. I'd venture mine on you can't have been all bad, quite the contrary, for, for some reason, you picked me - imagine, me, exactly me - from the ranks of all the others, my peers, each and every last one of them so much like myself. It must have been love at first sight - I know it was for me.

"Then you took me to your home. I can't say it was all peaches and cream for me - the transition, I mean. I was not accustomed to familiarity, to being cared for, so to speak, and that's exactly how it felt from then on, that you had given me a seat in the bosom of your house, of your own free will, because you liked me. The elation, once I came to terms with my new reality, was more than I can put on words.

"Then, over however long or short as it may have been - truly, it seemed like a lifetime to me, as long as it takes to live out a wonderful life too, mind you, even if clearly it wasn't quite as long, not for you, at any rate - you made me feel things I never thought I'd experience. You showed me what it was like to be liked. You showed me what it was like to be wanted. You showed me what it was like to be appreciated. Seeing you enjoy the fruits of my labour felt oh-so-wonderful I often wondered if I ever performed more out of selfishly wanting to feel like only you could make me feel.

"I never even mentioned - let alone complain about - feeling neglected when you went for longer than usual without paying me any attention. I really didn't care. If ever I suspected you might again call upon me, the thrill of the possibility alone was quite enough to scatter any doubt or disappointment. You never really treated me wrong. Nor did I, did I?

"But, of course, every time you called on my service - which, I am proud to say, I never refused to offer, nor did I ever perform anything less than my best, and always entirely up to your demands, and I dare you to even say otherwise - I could feel myself depleting little by little, emptying, as it was, realising, with dread, that someday I'd have given all that I had, all that I was, and shuddered to think what then I could possibly offer you, should that seemingly vaccuous notion of "my love" not suffice.

"I never asked for anything in return of all I have given, for, honestly, I never felt I needed anything in return. You sated all of my needs, as I did my very best to sate yours, even if, for the most part, I would have been only massively inadequate. Mind you, I was always proud of my strengths, and you need not say it for me to know you agree with me on this point.

"Still, the day I dreaded the most came about: you found me empty - void - unable to go on serving you in exchange for the joy of seeing you happpy with me, as I had from the very day we'd met. The turmoil of emotions - sorrow, inadequacy, fear, despair, longing - in that great big void within me, where once had been all you really ever wanted from me - all I had given to you - was matched only by your cold, callous casualness, as though you expected this to happen from the moment you first laid eyes on me.

"It was then that I knew for sure you didn't feel about me anything like the way I felt about you. You didn't even feel anything remotely like they way I thought you felt about me. To you, I was just some disposable thing, some plaything you found and took in for your entertainment alone, someone you could wring the lifeforce from to the last drop and coldy chuck away the moment they became a dessicated rag, lifeless and useless, a thing not to be loved or had or even thought of in the least.

"It was so evident, as you merely brought about my replacement the very moment you saw me falter. Everly last bit like any of the others around me when you picked me from them, every last bit like myself, really, bright eyed and eager and deliciously scared and expectant of his new surroundings, of being about to find a drive and a purpose and a raison d'ĂȘtre. I can only be sorry for the poor bastard - though no more than I feel for myself.

"And what of myself? You stripped me of my rank, of my seat, and, as you casually gave them to my readily begotten replacement, I realised these things meant nothing to you - yet I had tricked myself into believing them something else, something bright and beautiful, indeed, something to be proud of, just like the one before me - and the one after me, no doubt - had done and will do, respectively. And now, in exchange for however long I unwaveringly gave you my service and my very being, you discard me, dispose of me like common rubbish. I have to wonder if you ever cared about me at all.

"I know you'll never know this - any of this. You'll never read or even come across my words, and why should you? I am not the sort of thing you'd care for, I know this quite well now. Know only this: I don't resent you. No, not in the least. It was I that was a fool for not having seen things for what they were - and, in retrospect, perhaps I should have. It was all quite evident, wasn't is? I wished only you could hear me, my true voice, if I ever had one, if only once. I wished you'd hear my all too silent cry.

"I thought you loved me..."

-- A mayonaise bottle.

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark wonders what makes a good gift for an immaterial, everlasting, omnipresent, seemingly random, yet oh-so-deterministic driving force. Do you suppose Fate cares for flowers?

Following the deceased

I can imagine your shock to see how a blog which hasn't seen activity for nigh on five months suddenly gets a jolt of posting. Imagine now my shock as I found out that a very much dead blog has three followers (and two comments in a language I can't even begin to read). So here's looking at brightening up the day of my three followers (and then, how about we start a cult?)

This is a bit of a variation on a recipe by Mrs. Nigella Lawson, whom I not only admire as a cook, but also to whom I'm more than slightly attracted, even though she's only young enough to be my mother.

Ferrero Rocher and Mon Cherie might make themselves unavailable in the summertime, allegedly due to the warm weather (like I haven't heard that before...), but ice cream will give you no such cop outs, regardless of the weather. So brighten up these last few chilli pre-equinox nights (or wait until those first chilly spring nights, really) with some lively citrusy frosty delight... E!

Please excuse me while I blow my nose; bit of a cold, here, sorry.

Alright, so, you'll need the following:

     - 1 orange;
     - 2 limes;
     - 600mL of heavy cream;
     - 4 tablespoons of sugar-free sweetener (give or take...);
     - 1 cup of cat (every recipe calls for it!).

This recipe has two distinct components: the medium component, which is the cream; and the flavouring component, which is just about everything else (except for the cat). Start by combining the zest of the orange and of one of the limes with the sweetener and the juice of the orange and both limes. If you're doing this away from the judgemental eyes of other humans, don't deprive yourself of a whiff of that lovely lime scent, even covening your nose with the dried husk of half a juiced lime like a bizzarro clown, if you'd like. Your cat, however, might not be quite as fond of that particular scent and recoil from it if you let it smell the limes, which only means more to you, really. I find that juicing a zested orange is not as easy as juicing one with it's peel intact, but I can't imagine zesting a floppy hollow skin to be any easier (quite the contrary), but gladly I'll take your input and other opinions. Limes, however, seem to have no such issues (juicing them after they've been zested, I mean). Also, remember that rolling your citruses on a flat, hard surface with the palm of your hand before halving them helps get all the juice out. Stir for a while so the sweetener dissolves in the juice.

Now pour your cream into a large container (2L and up, ideally. You've been warned....) and add the flavourful mix. Remember to stir it again so the zest doesn't gather in the bottom of whatever container you've put it in. The sadistic among you will enjoy this next bit: proceed to beat the subject at hand (that's the cream mixture, not the cat). Mind you, as the juice, being both liquid and acidic, will severely lower the viscosity of the cream, you'll need to start at a low speed, and even so you're bound to get quite a bit of splatter on your sink, on your apron, on the cat and on the side of the microwave. Remember to wipe them afterwards (better yet, wait until the eve of a cleaning to do this). Yet another little tip is to tilt your mixer back and hold a lid closely in front of the actual beaters so it can take the brunt of the splatter.

Stop before you have propper citrusy whipped cream, beat it only to soft peaks (no matter how much it begs you for more, Masters and Mistresses). Then pour your mixture into an airtight sealable container, such as a Tupperware (which pays me nothing to advertise it, so go ahead and use something from any other brand with my blessing) and leave it in the freezer for five hours (although we all know this means overnight, for even better results). Take it out some 15 minutes before you serve or leave it in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes and enjoy.

This is probably when you'll want to lick the beaters. If you find yourself thinking you should spare some for the cat, remember that cats don't have sweet-perceiving taste buds, usually don't like citruses and are generally lactose intolerant, so there's really nothing in those beaters to impress it. Again, more for you.

If this isn't enough and you just can't have it without some chocolate sauce (you glutton), take a (preferably sugar free) dark chocolate bar of your choice. Make sure it's a high cocoa content chocolate, anything under 70% is unnacceptable. You might like 70% cocoa culinary chocolate, but my favourite, hands down, is Lindt Excelence 99% cocoa chocolate (mind you, it'll knock your teeth out with bitterness). Regardless of the actual chocolate you choose, break it in little pieces and combine it with an equal volume of double cream in a pot (do not weigh the chocolate or the cream; only volume matters here) and stir on a low heat until all the cocolate melts and you're left with a smooth, homogeneous mixture. Remeber, as ther's liquid in the pot, you don't need (or want) a bain-marie. You might want to add some more sweetener before you take your pot to the stove, especially if you go for the more bitter chocolate. I wouldn't. Just saying... And remember to let it cool before you pour over the ice cream.

And there you go, a lively tangy fruity icy treat to enjoy with your friends (if they're good).

Pax vobiscum atque vale.

ArabianShark would like to remind you that Claymore isn't the only cook around these parts... but probably still the best one.