Funky Porcini

The fantastic cheese stall at North End Road market had a fantastic thing on offer this weekend. Giant 250g tubs of dried porcini mushrooms for £5. Incredible.

So last night I cooked a mushroom casserole. Rehydrated the mushrooms, chopped up an onion, zucchini, couple of carrots and bunged it all into a casserole dish with a veggie stock cube, a healthy glug of Worcestershire Sauce and some dried thyme, topped up with boiling water.

In the oven at 180 degrees C for an hour and a half, stirring every half hour. I served it up with sweet potato mash (with some roasted aubergine mashed in). Yum!

Vietnamese Mint

With the weather warming up, Holly has been getting her herb seedlings going. Last year we had a fantastic crop of chives, basil and oregano. Considering the small space available (one window sill) we had an incredible crop. The basil variety, in particular, was fantastic with massive leaves from a relatively small plant.

This year we want to grow Vietnamese Mint (also known as Vietnamese Coriander. You can find the fresh herb in most greengrocers in Sydney, but I have yet to see it anywhere here in the UK. It's absolutely vital for Vietnamese cold rolls (goi cuon) and works well in stir fries. It's mildly minty and quite spicy.

So I figure we can grow this through the Summer here in London if only I could find some seeds. No luck with a solid hunt around the net. Any ideas? Even importing them would be okay.

Warming up!

It was snowing only a couple of weeks ago and this morning I rode to work in shorts and t-shirt. Beautiful weather and looks set to stay this way all weekend. 19 degrees yesterday!

If this keeps up I'll have to get a BBQ on...

Trackball suggestions?

Trackman Marble FX

I've had one of these Logitech Trackman Marble FX trackballs for about eight years. Best pointing device I've ever owned ergonomically. The beauty of the design is that you don't twist your wrist. It's also one of the early opticals, so the only time you need to clean the rollers is when they physicially stop the ball from moving. The ball is nice and big, which gives you good control.

Sadly this one is now dying. The ball sensors are fine, but the right-click button is having trouble recording clicks and that's getting annoying.

So any suggestions for a trackball as good as this? As often happens with capitalism, this is a great product so it's been discontinued.

Ipaq music streaming

A couple of years ago I bought an Ipaq 3100 with a dud battery for £15 on eBay. My plan was to get it to do wireless music streaming so I could play music in another room without running cables from my computer.

Last night I finally got it working. I'm using esd and can play things from the computer, but I can't get esd with a remote server to work with mpd, my music player of choice. Will keep hacking on that.

Eventually I'd like to get it to work with a remote control, since it has serial on it. To test that out, I'll need a 9-pin null modem adapter. Anyone got one I can borrow?

When I get right into it, I might even end up with a user interface so I can see what track is playing. That would be cool.

Doh moment

Guess who managed to wash his mobile phone with a pair of trousers over the weekend? Doh! Amazingly, the thing still works. I let it dry out overnight, then tried switching it on and it's fine. Screen looks a bit odd, but otherwise works fine. Clean too.

My Windows ate itself

Looks like my work Windows XP machine ate itself on Friday. Completely destroyed itself. Impressive considering I hadn't installed any new software (except last week's Windows updates?). Doesn't seem to be a hardware problem so far. Ubuntu live CD works fine, and a memtest hasn't shown any problems. Quality software, this Windows.