21 October 2008

Long distance work

Working from home using your computer sounds like a doddle. Using Skype means no expensive transatlantic phone calls and email, online docs, spreadsheets and mind maps make working together easier, right? Well, only so far. If you've never visited your clients you don't know how their office is laid out spatially meaning that if you are dealing with several people in the organisation you don't know if they can just nip over and check on so-and-so, you don't even know if they can see if someone is in the office!

So you end up with half a dozen Skype chat windows, trying to track people down and playing round-robin chasing the people you need, and it's oh-so easy to ignore that flashing Skype window meaning that working becomes a matter of twiddling your thumbs waiting for responses and then not having enough time to do what you need to meaning you go to bed ever later (note to Cory Doctorow: EST is a great idea, but if you also have to live and in another timezone the payback's a bitch).

Anyway, sometimes it's really nice to do, it's just not great for the family.

A taste of autumn

My friend Thomas gave me the end of an enormous butternut squash on Saturday and I tried to tell him how I'd prepare it. In the end, I made it and sent him the recipe by email with these pics.

Here's the recipe:

I removed the seeds from the end of the butternut squash (and put them to one side for planting later) and removed most of the stringy material that surrounds them.

I heated the oven to about 180 deg C and wiped some oil around the inside of the pumpkin bowl.

Once the oven was warmed, I just bunged the pumpkin in on a baking sheet.

While the pumpkin was in the oven, I peeled and chopped an onion and started frying it in a pan gently. After the onion had softened I added a pack of smoked lardons and kept them frying. Once the liquid that leeched out of the bacon had cooked off, I added a tin of chopped tomatoes.

In another dry frying pan I was browning a pack of pine nuts gently. This recipe would work equally well with mushrooms (especially the ceps, girolles and peebles Tom and I went out to get from the wood behind his house last week), but since Finn doesn't like mushrooms...

Once the tomatoes had cooked down a bit I added in some Herbes de Provence to give it some flavour, along with some balsamic vinegar and pepper.

Elsewhere I was whizzing up some brown bread to make breadcrumbs and I added a generous quantity of grated parmesan and salt and pepper at the same time.

By this stage the tomato/bacon mixture had cooked down a bit, so I tipped in the browned pine nuts and added some of the breadcrumb mixture to thicken the juice a bit.

Then I took the pumpkin "bowl" out of the oven, tipped in the mixture and covered with the breadcrumb mixture and put in back in the oven with the temperature reduced to about 150 deg C for twenty minutes.

I took it out of the oven and left it to rest for about five minutes before serving. It was a real taste of autumn with a glass of good Bordeaux red wine.