Friday, January 3, 2020

The Joy Of Printing ...

... in which, amongst other things, The Shamblings acquires a new, networked printer. Margo decided that it would be nice to have a colour laser printer about the haüs, and preferably one that was connected to the network so that we didn't have to trudge about the place, and so anyone foolish enough to come here as guests could just print stuff off from their phones or whatever, so - "make it so".

It is a shame indeed that HP apparently does not have a team, completely separate from the actual printer development team, that writes the manuals for these things. Because - as usual - the documentation is pretty crap. For one thing, it is assumed - given that the writers use the stuff every day - that the user interface is "self-evident", and that there is no need to explain that you need to use the left and right arrow buttons to navigate through a list of options, and that depending on the option you must either press "OK" to select a sub-list of further options, or use the up and down arrow buttons to change the option value (before pressing "OK" to confirm) ... talk about consistency, they've heard of the concept.

And there's another thing: let's say you want to set the IP address for the beast. The documentation happily tells you to "press the little button with a picture of a spanner on it, navigate to the 'Network' option, then navigate to the 'IP Address' option, select 'Fixed', and type in the required value". All very well once you've worked out how this navigation stuff works, but the thing is - and why this should be, I have absolutely no idea - many of these options are not in fact available if there's no paper loaded.

And why it should be the case that a printer which is "network-ready" with wired Ethernet and Wifi interfaces, and more computing power than the first mainframes I used to work on, should only be capable of using either Ethernet or Wifi, but not both, I simply do not know. Let it be admitted that this fact is at least disclosed in the manual (bottom of page 17, 6-point type, upside-down) but still I put it to you that this is an unnecessary and somewhat frustrating limitation.

Never mind, it does actually do the job once set up: both our phones found it all by themselves (OK, it's not using Wifi but it is on the home network which, of course, has a Wifi router so same difference) and it worked, and somewhat to my surprise my Linux development system also found it with no prompting from me. It would probably have been too much to expect for it to have chosen the correct driver on its own, rather than forcing me through the sort of procedure that I'd thought died out around the Windows 95 era, but it makes me feel useful ...

On to the obligatory "cute puppy" section: I try to take young Moses off for at least a 10km walk in the weekends, he enjoys it and it's got to be good for me (the exercise is probably the only thing that has so far kept me - despite my best efforts - technically alive) and a while back I took him off along the Canal du Midi, heading from Puicheric to Marseillette. Bit of a shame really, it being a fine Autumn day and all, that when I heard gunshots not too far off I recalled having read an article that very morning concerning the death toll from hunting (8 so far, and doubtless counting), and how there were those who'd like to see a mandatory breath-test be done before the hunters go out.

(Having come across hunters in the wild, sitting down enjoying a very liquid lunch with an unbroken gun on the ground or leaning up against a tree, I am not personally against that.)

Anyways, I'm extremely glad that the bridle-path along the canal is some 3m lower than the surrounding countryside. Makes me feel a bit more at ease.

And while we're on the subject of hunters, José turned up the other day with a fine young pheasant, shot recently enough that it was still warm inside when I pulled its insides out ... sadly, the breast had been somewhat massacred and in any case Margo doesn't really like either roast or casseroled pheasant, so I did what any sensible person would do under the circumstances, and gave our old friend Jacques a call. He being a master of these dark arts, I am now in a position to tell you what you may do should you, like me, find yourself with a spare pheasant on your hands:

For about 400gm of actual pheasant meat (some are scrawny beasts, mine was pleasantly plump but your mileage may vary), take the same weight of pork shoulder chops and fresh poitrine, a couple of shallots (the real échalote, not a bloody spring onion - that is, according to Larousse, a Québecois thing), two cloves of garlic, four or five slices of stale bread dunked in milk and then wrung out, and 100gm of chicken livers (in addition, of course, to the liver of the bird itself).

Note that you may not be able to buy only 100gm of liver - I know I couldn't - but never fear, the cat will probably appreciate the surplus and if not you could always just sear them exceedingly rapidly in butter and maybe flambé them with cognac before adding them to a green salad, just saying.

Chop the lot into smallish chunks, stick into a bowl and sprinkle with decent salt (you may need more than you think you will, 8-10 gm should be OK but you may not think so), freshly ground pepper and grated nutmeg, then mix well. Let me emphasize at this point that you really do not want it to be under-seasoned. Put all that though the coarse grill of a mincer (8mm holes are correct, according to Jacques, but it depends how chunky-textured you like your terrine, really) and back into the bowl. (Do not try this with a kitchen whizz, you'll only wind up with an unappetising paste.)

Add two eggs and as much cognac as you like and mix well: at this point, if you're paranoid or perfectionist you can actually take a teaspoon of the stuff and poach it, to check for seasoning. But life is too short, so I didn't bother.

Then you will need a terrine: if you're lucky you'll have one of those nice porcelain or ceramic oval lidded jobs sitting around somewhere. If not (I do, but they were too small) one of those oblong Pyrex cake moulds does the job perfectly well, using tinfoil to lid it. You may or may not line the thing with thin bacon - that's up to you - but you should definitely fill it with the mixture, stick a couple of bay leaves and a healthy sprig of rosemary on top, seal it and cook in a bain-marie in the oven: 20 minutes at 240°, then up to 60 minutes more at 200°. It's cooked when a skewer comes out clean and the juices are clear ...

But don't leave right now, because you're not done yet. To get the correct texture, once it's out of the oven you should weight the terrine: place something flat atop the paté (I used a smaller cake mould) and put a kilo's worth of tinned fruit or whatever onto that. I used a large preserving jar full of expensive organic biodegradable rice, which let me note that the stuff was no longer entirely vegan, as the rice itself was crawling with those bloody foul little moths and caterpillars. Not impressed, never mind, chucked the lot later on.

After maybe four hours of that just stick it in the fridge and forget about it overnight, or for a day or two: it will thank you for this. All that delicious juice around it will probably not gel into a firm aspic, so personally I'd avoid hassle by serving it from the cooking vessel. But if you want to unmould it feel free, just don't come complaining to me when it all ends in tears and meat juice all over the floor.

Still on the culinary note, but bringing Moses back into it, a little while back I foolishly left open the doggy gate that bars access from the living room to the rest of the house (not exactly the Black Gates of Mordor, but you get the idea) and on returning not even 30 seconds later found that he'd discovered garlic (most of a head) and dried red-hot chili peppers (over half of one of Mary's finest). I suppose I should give thanks that he'd not found the root ginger ... surprisingly enough, none of that seemed to worry him (nor his digestive system) one little bit.

Nor, as it happens, did the Imperial Meatloaf I'd left on the kitchen bench for a while before popping it into the oven: a mince/egg/breadcrumb/herb mix rolled up around a stuffing of fried poivrons, onion, carrots, curry powder and plum sauce. I looked gloomily at the wreckage, made an executive decision that the little that was left could not plausibly be cooked anyway and its odd appearance passed off as a "kitchen incident", and so we ate kebabs that night. A shame, I was really looking forward to that meatloaf.

Whatever, I shall spare you details of the incidents involving indoor gymnastics and Margo's new best-friend coffee mug, also the third pair of glasses, not to mention a wooden shoe-rack. He really is a lovely puppy, I promise!

I am, as usual, overdue with all this: please forgive me, the end of 2019 turned out to be pretty much shite. Here's hoping that 2020 goes better.

No comments:

Post a Comment