Sunday, 27 December 2009

Slow cooked lamb with two stuffings

Moving on from my last blog post about cooking, here's a new one from Christmas Day, 2009.

(NOTE: The basis for this recipe can be found here on the website.)


Ask your local butcher to prepare you a suitable boned-out piece of lamb. For this recipe, a 1.5kg chump gigot chop (of lamb) was used:-


Remove packaging and fat side facing down, open out the joint as far as possible before stuffing:-

Set meat aside.


The stuffing. In this case, I went for two quite different ones as I could not decide which one I preferred.

Stuffing One:-

3-4 cloves garlic
6-8 fillets anchovies (not available so used 2 - 3 spring onions)
1 tbsp capers
flat-leaf parsley
olive oil
crushed black pepper

1. Crush and chop garlic, place anchovies on top of garlic and chop again.

2. Add capers and chop again, then plenty of flat-leafed parsley to the other ingredients and chop once more.

3. Place chopped mixture into a bowl, add a trickle of olive oil and mustard to bring it all together and pepper to taste.

Stuffing Two:-

one cupful of uncooked haggis
125g dried ready-to-eat apricots, chopped
75g fresh white breadcrumbs
leaves from 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
wee dram of fine single malt scotch whisky
olive oil

1. Mix the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

You should then have something resembling this:-

Stage FOUR

Bring back the already prepared joint and by the spoon and then the hand, it's time to get stuffing. Spread all over the inside (for this recipe, half and half) of the opened-out lamb, covering all cut surfaces and into any crevices.

One should now have something like this:-

Stage FIVE aka the difficult bit.

Roll up the gigot of lamb and tie it together with string to make a neat parcel.

Having never done anything like this before, this was a tad on tricky side. Two pairs of hands were required and this was the best we could manage under the circumstances:-

Stage SIX

Place on a roasting tray in a pre-heated oven at 220°C (gas mark 7) for 40 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150°C (gas mark 2) for approximately 2-2 ½ hours until tender.

(By twenty minutes in, I soon realised that I should have listened to my Mum and put a lid on it. Things were getting a tad smokey in the kitchen).

After the 40 minute mark and having reduced the heat as instructed, time to chillax. PHEW !


With an hour to go, add some frozen seasonal veggies into the oven (e.g. roast potatoes and parsnips.)

Prepare some more veggies for the microwave (in this case, peas, mushy peas and broccoli):-

Also prepare some gravy, of course. Went for the easy method with a sachet of Colman's lamb gravy powder, and 1/2 a pint of water. Seasoned it with a dollop or two of blackcurrant jelly, (another) dram of whisky, chopped rosemary, most of the juices from the roasing tin and salt & pepper.

(Note the slight scortching from not using a lid as mentioned in Stage SIX).


Time to get the carving knives (in this case, machine) out having rested the meat for 10 mins.

Stage NINE

Find somewhere appropriate to serve and eat. Oh, this looks nice:-

"Nom nom nom"

Monday, 21 December 2009

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

OMG !!! - Ticket master at my local train station had a heart attack today when I was buying my ticket

Well, a slight embellishment but I might have grabbed your attention !! He almost had a heart attack.

He (he has a name and that is Dennis) has been urging me for a wee while (read on) to purchase a monthly rail pass rather than daily tickets.

I was speaking with Dennis yesterday to ask about what appeared to be a new change of policy on purchasing daily return tickets onboard the train on my daily commute to work. During the discussion he brought up a "history lesson". Dennis said that 15 years ago, he first suggested going for the monthly travel pass thingy. I stated that it was actually 12 years and that I had a note of this in my diary. I was of course just kidding. Anyways, he said that all he needed from me was a passport photo.

Hhmm. So I gave this some reflictive thought over the next 24 hours.

Cutting a boring story short, on the way home from work tonight, I purchased these:-

Now the last time (circa 5 years ago) I calculated the cost of daily tickets v's travel pass, it was still cheaper to pay daily. I wondered if this had changed.

Armed with my hidden passport photos, I leapt into Queens Park Stattion and to my delight, Dennis was on the shift. This was gonna be fun. "Hey Dennis. How much is a monthly travel pass?" It was £9 a month cheaper than buying daily tickets. I promptly ripped up my daily return and played my next card. El photos.

And that is where, he must have thought to himself, OMFG.......

Thankfully, rather than Dennis having a heart attack, he actually took a photo of me. Photo not shown as he doesn't yet know how to upload stuff to teh interwebz :-(

Anyways, the upshot to all this "utter pish" is that I now can haz one of these:-

(As I told Dennis tonight, the reason that I didn't opt for the travel pass initially was that it was very easy to dodge paying for a ticket on the train back in the old days until they erected a human ticket barrier system to Glasgow Central Station a few years ago).

Scotrail 2.0

So, now that I haz my new pass thingy, will this mean having less banter with Scotrail staff ??? Only time will tell.

Cue this classic Glasgae sketch from Chewin' The Fat featuring "Gary & James" et al .....

Saturday, 28 November 2009

"Wake Up Now"

Since my last post (c/o a robot) mangled the layout of McBlawg, here is an air-freshener.

You can read how this song was re-mastered here.

(The re-mastered version of this track got lost in cyberspace, so I self-archived it into another repository)

It was great to get "the whole band" to sing on the Choruses and a recording I'm quite proud of.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

An attempt to fathom out why Hamsters love PLoS...

My package from Razzle, sorry Zazzle arrived at work this morning.

This post by Bora aka Coturnix on 17th Nov essentially set the scene.

Closely followed by this FriendFeed thread:-

And without any further ado, here is my cool PLoS hoodie:-

FAB !!!

Excellent quality material and online print on demand/shipping time from CA, USA to Scotland took only 7 working days. Nice one, Zazzle (plus they threw in a freebie white Zazzle t-shirt too).


Whilst I've wanted a "Hamsters love PLoS" garment for a while, I remain at a loss as to what the logo might actually mean. And even before wearing it, some peeps have been asking. I expect more to do so when I wear it to work tomorrow and down the pub afterwards.

So I searched teh interbebz and here's what I found.

1) The connection of the logo to Not surprisingly, the best resource was from PLoS via this blog post by Liz Allen, July 2007:- "We hope that you like our picture entitled "Hamsters love". It was drawn by one of our founders' kids and has even appeared on a tee-shirt."

OK, so there is the connection to PLoS.

2) But what about the hamster in the spherical object. Hhmm. During my search, I happened upon (again) the blog post, Impact Fauna January 2009 by a certain Dr Henry Gee, Senior Editor at

"Gee Minor models ScienceOnline09 swag, earlier today"

On the "X" loves "Y" front, I created a few images of my own. And here they are again....

A) Chickens love

B) Centaurs love Improbable Research

and C) Dolphins love Science


So, bearing mind the above and also, this

and that,

I've come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, Hamsters love PLoS. End of story. They just do.

If you support the likes of PLoS and Open Access, please do drop by the official PLoS store, have a good look around and happy shopping !!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Symptoms of being over 25

Image c/o Moomettesgram, here on Flickr.

From a friend via email today....

1. You leave clubs before the end to "beat the rush".

2. You get more excited about having a roast on a Sunday than going clubbing.

3. You stop dreaming of becoming a professional footballer and start dreaming of having a son who might instead.

4. Before throwing the local paper away, you look through the property section.

5. You prefer Later with Jools Holland to Top of the Pops.

6. All of a sudden, Tony Blair is not 46, he's only 46.

7. Before going out anywhere, you ask what the parking is like.

8. Rather than throw a knackered pair of trainers out, you keep them because they'll be all right for the garden.

9. You buy your first ever T-shirt without anything written on it.

10. Instead of laughing at the innovations catalogue that falls out of the newspaper, you suddenly see both the benefit and money saving properties of a plastic winter cover for your garden bench and an electronic mole repellent for the lawn. Not to mention the plastic man for the car to deter would-be thieves.

11. You start to worry about your parents' health.

12. You complain that ecstasy's "not as pure as it used to be coz you know that if you have some it will take about 48 hours to recover and anyway,you might look a bit of an idiot.

13. Sure, you have more disposable income, but everything you want to buy costs between 200 and 500 quid.

14. You don't get funny looks when you buy a Disney video or a Wallace and Gromit bubble bath, as the sales assistant assumes they are for your child.

15. Pop music all starts to sound crap.

16. You opt for Pizza Express over Pizza Hut because they don't have any pictures on the menus and anyway, they do a really nice half-bottle of house white.

17. You become powerless to resist the lure of self-assembly furniture.

18. You always have enough milk in.

19. To compensate for the fact that you have little desire to go clubbing,you instead frequent really loud tapas restaurants and franchise pubs with wacky names in the mistaken belief that you have not turned into your parents.

20. While flicking through the TV channels, you happen upon C4's Time Team with Tony Robinson. You get drawn in.

21. The benefits of a pension scheme become clear.

22. You go out of your way to pick up a colour chart from B&Q.

23. You wish you had a shed.

24. You have a shed.

25. You actually find yourself saying "They don't make 'em like that anymore" and "I remember when there were only 3 TV channels" and "Of course, in my day...."

26. Radio 2 play more songs you know than Radio 1 - and Jimmy Young had some really interesting guests on.

27. Instead of tutting at old people who take ages to get off the bus, you tut at school children whose diction is poor.

28. When sitting outside a pub you become envious of their hanging baskets.

29. You make an effort to be in and out of the curry house by 11.

30. You come face to face with your own mortality for the first time

31. You find yourself saying "is it cold in here or is it just me?"

Saturday, 7 November 2009

'The Seduction of Claude Debussy'

As a close follower of the workings of Producer, Trevor Horn, I was most attracted to this CD back in 1999. It inspired several tracks that I produced myself over the following years.


Cue this wiki page about Claude Debussy.


With the web 'n all that, in this case thanks largely to, you can now listen to this album in it's entirety for free, or purchase the CD.

Track listing

1. "Il Pleure (At the Turn of the Century)"
2. "Born on a Sunday"
3. "Dreaming in Colour"
4. "On Being Blue"
5. "Continued in Colour"
6. "Rapt: In the Evening Air"
7. "Metaforce"
8. "Holy Egoism of Genius"
9. "La Flûte de Pan"
10. "Metaphor on the Floor"
11. "Approximate Mood Swing No. 2"
12. "Pause"
13. "Out of This World [Version 138]"

Monday, 2 November 2009

"GOLD" - 1994 by Symbol aka Prince

This one has been on my mind all day and eventually found a version previously posted online.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Welcome to Open Access Week 2009, from SPARC

Welcome to Open Access Week 2009, from SPARC from Jennifer McLennan on Vimeo.

SPARC is a proud co-organizer of Open Access Week 2009 and is pleased to offer this welcome to the global celebrations, to be held October 19 - 23, 2009. See for details. In addition to a welcome and thanks to organizers, partners, and participants, SPARC principals cast the Week in the context of the international movement toward free, open, online, and immediate access to the results of scholarly research. Ideal way to open your week or your session, or to spread the word by email.

(c) Subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License


A short, but informative introduction by Heather Joseph and Jennifer McLennan from SPARC.

Ways to keep up with Open Access Week 2009

1) Follow events via the Official Open Access Week website
2) Page, Events celebrating Open Access Week wiki on the Open Access Directory
3) Open Access News Website and also OATP via Twitter
4) Twitter, via the official hashtag #oaw09
5) Friendfeed, via the Open Access Week Room


Spinning back, some previous related McBlawg posts:-

1) Open Access Day on FriendFeed Oct 4th '08

2) 'Open Access Week': Some Posts from the Blogosphere April 13th '08

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Isle of Lewis and The Birth & Death of an Oil Industry

As a follow on from "It's All About Steam", this one is about Oil.

Just there on BBC2, was a fascinating 10 min "time-filler" as the previous programme (snooker) finished earlier than scheduled. They chose a segment from the 2007 series of Coast on the Outer Hebrides.

"This rugged remote coast is a wonderland of stacks, secret inlets and wind swept secluded beaches. The dramatic coastline is rich with culture and traditions which are deeply rooted across the 120 islands that make up the Outer Hebrides".

The main focus of this segment was specifically in terms of the Isle of Lewis.

Plain sailing so far, but what's the historical connection between the Isle of Lewis and oil??? Follows a semantically enhanced version of a link above.

Isle of Lewis - Birth of an Oil Industry

Stornoway is the largest town on Lewis and the commercial hub for the islands. Over 150 years ago it saw the surprising birth of an oil industry.

In 1844 the island was bought (£190,000) by James Matheson who helped build the area for the community.

Ed- He also had a wee Castle built for him. Lews Castle to be precise.

"Lews Castle is a Victorian era castle located west of the town of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. It was built in the years 1847-57 as a country house for Sir James Matheson who had bought the whole island a few years previously with his fortune from the Chinese Opium trade". Hhmm.

Although Matheson had retired he was forever the entrepreneur, and it was more than the natural beauty of the island that caught his eye - it was the islands vast resource of peat.

For years peat had been used as a domestic fuel. Matheson wanted to take it one step further and use the peat to make hydrocarbon oil. At the time paraffin oil was used for lighting and it came from fish and whales. But how did Matheson make oil from peat?

Armed with a bag of peat and a metal drum, Mike Bullivant from the Open University illustrates the magical properties of peat. By burning the peat, tar is extracted and distilled further, extracting paraffin oil.

Originally, Matheson set up his works at his castle, but the process poisoned the fish in his pond so he moved the process outside. But when all the fish were poisoned in the nearby river, Matheson called in chemist Dr Benjamin Paul (Ed - can't find anything abot him on teh webz) to take charge of the distillation.

The process also gave of a flammable gas - which the night watchman discovered when doing his rounds with a candle, resulting in the chimney catching fire. Forever efficient, Dr Paul used the excess gas to burn the peat, which was used to make paraffin lamp oil, candles, and the excess tar was sold as lubricant and sheep dip.

Alice Roberts joins Ali Whiteford and discovers how this area of peat land was transformed into a full blown chemical works.

The Lewis Chemical Works was the first company to be a commercial success of converting peat into oil. But Dr Paul left and his successor cooked the books, lining his own pockets.

Twenty two years later the site closed and all that's visible today is the track of the Works.


Monday, 5 October 2009

Model sues Mexican plastic surgeon for not making her nipples "even" after a breast implant !!!

'Would You Believe It' (WYBI) - Part two

As a follow on from 'Would You Believe It' (WYBI)- Part one, here is, err, part two.

Fresh in email box is the following.

Being a public domain blog, McDawg has placed what appears to look like a plaster (strategically angled) over part of the following image (nipples not shown). Other than that, you'll get the picture/story.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Saturday night is.......Balti Night

Suggested listening material.

Inspired in part by @cromercrox who recently livetweeted a cookery sketch about chutney making, I post herewith the following.

When McDawg gets home from a hard days work, the last thing they want to do is to slave over a hot stove preparing dinner for the night. As such, usually once a month now, I spend a Saturday afternoon/evening preparing and cooking a large batch of meals for future enjoyment. Here's what happened last night.


8 chicken breasts
3 beef fillets

4 large onions
1 bunch of spring onions
one bunch of fresh coriander
2 bulbs of garlic
2 medium sized stems of fresh ginger
3/4 carton of passata
vegetable ghee
vegetable oil
sesame oil
12-14 chillis
2 limes
5 - 6 mixed peppers
roasted cashew nuts
1.5 packets of chinese curry sauce mix
3 pints of water
balti curry paste
balti cooking sauce
2 other chinese cooking sauces
light & dark soya sauce
2 egg whites
salt and freshly ground pepper

In rough order.

Dice and slice the meat. Marinate and chill according to dishes being prepared.

Whisk together the water and chinese curry mix, bring to boil and set aside for later.

Slice and dice all vegetables other than garlic and ginger.

During the above process, take some of these:

and roast them in sesame oil and a pinch of salt for about 20 mins, turning from time to time.

Finally, finely chop the garlic and ginger. Personally, I tend to go for a 40% ginger/60% garlic mix:

Right. That's all the prep done so time for a break and a beer.

For Indian dishes, a Karahi works miles better than a wok.

For the Balti dishes, after you've sealed the marinated chicken and added all of the (required) ingredients, you want to seal and simmer for about 30 mins. At the very end, add the juice of 1 - 2 limes and garnish with freshly chopped coriander:

That's 4 dishes prepared, 10 still to go !!

Time for another beer break.

With the chinese curry sauce already prepared, it doesn't take long to make half a dozen or so chicken and beef dishes. The methodology in the following video is slightly different from what I do but produces the same end result:

You've guessed it, another beer break.

Almost all done. There should be sufficient ingredients left to make a further 3 - 4 dishes. With variety being the spice of life, time to whip up a few different dishes using the yet to be used sauces.

Since I cook at a leisurely pace, after about 5 hours, one reaches the finishing line:

Allow to cool completely (I usually leave overnight) before freezing:

Oh, I guess these will come in handy laters....

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Freedom of Information: what's in it for researchers? (and Daleks). Workshop, Glasgow, UK, 14th September 2009


A few months ago, either through reading the Research Information Network’s (RIN) website here or this post on Nature Network I was alerted to a free Workshop here in Glasgow which seemed of interest, and it was. I signed up right away as an attendee.

Two weekends ago however, I was alerted to this post on the BBC in that the venue in question for the event had been placed into administration. Utter bummer. I set about contacting the event organisers by email for clarification on the event and hat’s off to Event Logistics Ltd for their prompt responses. This resulted in this tweet I posted on Sept 1st. Yay, the gig was still going ahead as planned. Additional tweet the next day.

McDawg only became aware of the RIN about 4-5 months ago but very much likes what they do/are involved in. About RIN Since I also have an interest in the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) and the fact that this workshop was right on my doorstep (well, six minutes by train), McDawg simply had to attend.

The night before, I pulled together some of my Open Access (OA) swag which I have been known before to stick in my rucky when attending events of interest. The RIN are certainly fully supportive of OA Indeed, one of the sessions (Session 3: Open access, empty archives? A word of warning) of this event mentioned OA although alas, it was not directly related to OA (as I know OA) in the end, per se.

That said, as I was about to find out when I rummaged through my Delegates Pack, it did indeed contain several OA related RIN Brochures:-


Yesterday morning, I arrived at The LightHouse at around 10:00 as planned. The programme for the Workshop can be found here.

First to speak was Stéphane Goldstein, Head of Programmes, RIN. Stéphane provided some background about the RIN during his opening remarks. From my notes, the RIN “chanced upon” FoI about two years ago. Mention was made of the prelude to this workshop which was the first one in London, Sept 2008. Full details here. ++UPDATE++ As pointed out in the comment thread, there's also a podcast with highlights of the Sept 08 workshop here. I've just created a streaming version of the podcast to save folks having to download the MP3.

Observation. From the Summary Report, "One interesting issue raised at the meeting was the potential impact of blogging on the scale of FoI requests. At the moment in the UK, there are 1000,000 FoI requests a year. Might this not increase hugely if bloggers start to become aware of the potential represented by FoI". Food for thought !!

Next to speak was David Goldberg, former Co-Convener Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland who Chaired the Workshop. David discussed the “complex mosaic of FOI Law” in the UK and the differences between the Scottish and UK FOI Acts. He also touched upon one of the main reasons that I attended. See the blog post entitled “Open Access redacted” by Heather Etchevers on Nature Network. As I explained to David during the morning coffee break, there is concern amongst the scientific community about usage of the FoI. He mentioned during his talk that under Section 27/2 of the FoI (Scotland) Act (FOISA), that researchers can refuse access for information (under an FoI request) for example if their work is “part of an ongoing piece of research”. The actual wording is:-

S.27(2) Where the information is “obtained in the course of, or derived from, a programme of research”.


The next speaker was Prof Duncan Tanner, Director, Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs, Bangor University. David mentioned that “FoI is not an easy thing to use” and that “you need to work closely with records managers”. He then gave a broad discussion about FoI in terms of Devolution issues. He also mentioned “a researchers guide to using FoI” and there was a link to this on the RIN website. I haven’t managed to find it yet though. ++UPDDATE++ I think this is it Innovative Uses of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) for Research

Duncan's presentation can be found here

Next to take the podium was Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner. Sarah mentioned that over 80 countries now have FoI in place and the UK is still catching up on the likes of the USA, Canada and Australia that have had FoI in place since around 1980. Scotland however was the first country in the world to release data (under FoI) on surgical mortality rates in hospitals for example. Mention was made of website Her “slides will be online” so will post a link when I find it. The link is here.


A fine duo of speakers next in terms of Bruno Longmore and Hugh Hagan from the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). Their positions, respectively, Head of Government Records and Senior Inspecting Officer Government Records Branch, NAS. Hugh informed those present that the Thirty Year Rule did not and does not apply in Scotland. The FOISA was started in 2002 and came into force on 01/01/2005. One of the key concepts of the FoI is to balance “individual privacy and public need”. Hugh then took to the floor to talk about records management at the NAS.

Bruno and Hugh's presentation can be found here

Prior to a most meaty/wholesome luncheon, there were three short case study presentations from Amy Gibbons, Dr Sarah Glynn and Martin Jones. Amy's presentation can be found here and the one from Martin, here.


A most excellent spread I have to say – 10/10 !!!! Nom nom nom

Time to set up a wee Open Access stall and quite a few folks took away some of the swag. NICE.


Very brief Dr Who Segment appears if you are still reading, a hint follows, in a bit.


Freelance Historian, Harriet Jones (not be confused with this Harriet Jones) was the next speaker. Limited notes but she mentioned that Sweden adopted FOI as early as 1766 but that these days, the Swedish Government no longer record notes of their meetings !!

Parallel workshops time next before we reconvened for a Plenary Session led by David Goldberg. Nice wrap up and planning ahead for future RIN workshops. David thanked the three RIN staff for having this one “outwith London” and suggested the likes of Newcastle or Liverpool for the next one.

Final words by Stéphane who mentioned that all the PPT’s will be posted up on the RIN website shortly. During end of day refreshments, I mentioned to Stéphane that I was the only person who had taken photographs of the event and that I would get them uploaded to Flickr and provide a link. Thanks to Twitter though, RIN’s Branwen Hide despite the fact that she’s currently in Sweden at the 1st Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing has already placed a link to the photos here.