Thursday, February 28, 2008

The eating habits of a nation changed. Unbelievable but true.

This is an incredibly fine change! (See the story below.) Congrats, Britons. For years I have felt so sorry for factory-farmed animals, and along these times I have been very close to becoming vegetarian. Well, what's stopping me, I don't know. I don't like the taste of meat much, except reindeer.

But dear British, please, please, please stop cooking that "Coroner's Chicken" or whatever this disgusting dish is called: chicken with raisins and pineapple sauce. It's such a waste of beautiful birds.

EDIT: The name of the dish is actually "Coronation Chicken". I was close, wasn't I? Here is even a recipe. Poor Queen. (And really; the stuff I have eaten has contained raisins, lots and lots of raisins.)

But if the Britons can quit eating industrially farmed chicken, or even if they can minimize the figures by 35 %, then I belive anything is possible: Soon Russia can become a fair democracy, and in 2009 Obama can win, yes he can! Creme de la creme: the Finnish football team can make it to the next World Cup. (We have already won the Eurovision song contest, so there's not much left to achive.)

* * *
The campaign that changed the eating habits of a nation – Boycott of battery chickens forces supermarkets to think ethically

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Thursday, 28 February 2008

Sales of factory-farmed chickens have slumped since a high-profile campaign raised awareness of the cruelty at the heart of the poultry industry and implored consumers to pay more to improve the animals' welfare.

In a victory for campaigners who have fought to expose the short and brutal lives of broiler birds, shoppers have bought millions more free-range and organic birds while leaving mass-produced chickens on the shelves.

Sales of free-range poultry shot up by 35 per cent last month compared with January 2007, while sales of standard indoor birds fell by 7 per cent, according to a survey of 25,000 shoppers by the market research company TNS.

-- The campaign against mass-produced poultry, of which a quarter have difficulty walking as a result of wading around in their own waste, is to be intensified. Fearnley-Whittingstall intends to produce a new television show on chickens later this year, updating viewers on the campaign and urging more people to join what he hopes will turn into a free-range revolution. "We are going to keep the pressure up and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that this is not a flash in the pan," he said.

...please see the acticle at the Independent site here as a whole.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How to cheat at Italian. Time-saving tips again.

Who is this guy? A hint: he loved pasta. See the end of this post where he is a more mature gentleman.

Time-saving tips again! I used to give a lot of them two years ago – but I hope you don't remember, as I am a bit embarrassed.

I love good food, made out of good ingredients. But I hate cooking.

YET, even more I hate frozen dinners or ready-made food, especially soups and sauces.

So I do cook, and I suffer and cook.

Where is Mr HP, you ask? To tell you the truth, he does cook quite often. But for one thing; he comes home hours after Miss Funnybunny and me, and we will be starving if we keep waiting for a provider. Another thing is that his menus are slightly limited. For example, they often contain minced meat. Too often. So, we need a refreshing change.

In yesterday's Guardian there were good tips under the title "How To Cheat At Italian". (There have been articles like "How To Cheat At Chinese" and "How To Cheat At French", but those are far, far more difficult and not at all as practical.

* * * * *

How to cheat at Italian

No need to slave over a pasta machine. For Italian like mamma makes, just ask the maestro, Giorgio Locatelli

Sunday February 24, 2008
The Observer

1. Leftover soup tips

When we make soup at home, we always freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays; when they're frozen you pop them out and into a plastic bag and they'll be there waiting when you get home from holiday, or late from work. Remember to cool your leftovers down quickly in the fridge, though.

ISTORI: Very good. And so clever. First into cubes and then the cubes into a plastic bag. Can you believe this!

2. Keep it simple

If you make things easier for yourself then your guests will feel more welcome - when they come over for dinner they don't want to see you tearing your hair out in the kitchen. You'll never go to an Italian person's house and be served show-off food - they'll cook food that they know well. So it's not really cheating to get a little help from a good delicatessen - get some cured meats and some olives and put them out for when people arrive. We wrap cured meat around breadsticks and serve them as part of the antipasti.

ISTORI: Hmmm... I usually, like ALWAYS, do cook food I know well. But now I could wrap cheese over my rye bread stick as my show-off food? And my delicatessen is the Hakaniemi Food Market, of course.

3. Think ahead

Make sure one course is coming from the oven: either a roast or some baked fish, or do a pasta al forno, which you can make the day before. If you do something like lasagne, you'll only need to make the bechamel topping and add some parmesan and put it in the oven. I always make my lasagnes a day or two early - a night in the fridge really intensifies the flavour.

ISTORI: I have not yet figured out what this means and why. Too many difficult words like "al forno" and "bechamel". But once I have solved the codes here I'll follow this, too.

4. Avoid ready-made sauces

Using fresh tomatoes is always best in sauces, but tomatoes are seasonal, and there's nothing wrong with using a ready-made passata. Just avoid ready-made sauces - none of them are any good and they're full of sugar. It's not difficult to make your own - just buy some tomatoes, olive oil and fresh basil and warm them up!

ISTORI: I SO agree! Ready-made sauces are all bad, bad, bad. Ketchup being the worst – too much sugar. As for me, only pesto will do. I make good sauces, but to the list of oil, tomatoes and basil I'd add onions and garlic.

5. Shop every day

So often I go to people's houses and see a little bunch of basil suffocating in the fridge. We shouldn't shop once a week just so we can eat rubbish for five days. Your fridge should be empty every night, or at the very least, cook the fresh things in it, and put the finished dish in the fridge.

ISTORI: I don't actually like to shop every day, but luckily the shops are close and I often have to get just a little bit of something almost every day. We have also learned not to buy a lot at once. So – ok.

6. Cook too much

If you make fresh pasta, remember that it freezes brilliantly, including stuffed pasta. Make a kilo and freeze the extra in a single layer on a sheet of greaseproof paper for about six hours, then put it in a plastic bag (with a label telling you the date and what's in it!). Try and keep at least part of the freezer empty for this sort of thing - we always have a clear shelf in ours.

ISTORI: Yep. I always do cook too much. (And then freeze.)

7. Don't buy flavoured oils

Avoid flavoured oils at any cost. They are absolutely pointless. Just get yourself some beautiful olive oil and chop up a couple of garlic cloves and add them to the bottle. Next day you will have garlic olive oil. Or you could use dried rosemary.

ISTORI: "Avoid flavoured oils at any cost." Seriously? WHAT are flavoured oils? So this was an easy one again.

8. Use a slow cooker

Slow cookers are an excellent investment and very safe. You can make foolproof slow-cooked ragu in one. Put two kilos of minced beef, browned, two chopped carrots, a chopped celery stalk, two chopped onions, a bouquet garni, two cloves of garlic, a bottle of red wine, a litre of passata, five tablespoons of olive oil, a litre of water and some salt and pepper (this will serve eight) in the cooker first thing in the morning and then when you get home from work you'll have the best ragu.

ISTORI: I wish I knew what a "slow cooker" is. But once I have found that out I will definitely get one. This ragu sounds delicious, with onions, passata, wine and the rest of the music.

9. Cheat with a lamb shank

Or you could put a shank of lamb in it, with some vegetables and cover it with water and you'll have fantastic meat, vegetables and a perfect stock for risotto.

ISTORI: Hmmm... that one is something difficult again. To have a stock sounds good, but I am not a risotto person.

10. Use a meat thermometer

The other thing I strongly recommend is a meat thermometer. My wife, Plaxy, was a bit sniffy about it to start with, but now she uses it, too, and it's just the most straightforward way to make sure your meat is perfect every time.

ISTORI: If I ever cook meat I promise I most certainly will do it with a meat thermometer. I just have not proceeded so far. If we found some organic-eco-lamb or reindeer somewhere the day might come.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Believe me when I say to you I hope the Russians love their children too"

IStori recommends: the newest Q magazine is a "Special Collectors' Issue: 1958–2008 – 50 Years Of GREAT BRITISH MUSIC."

... and back to the USSR! The Russians, this strange, political song from the 1980's has always been considered more or less naive – and that's what it is, naive. Yep. But in the light of recent undemocratic developments in Russia pushing the federation towards even more concentrated oligarchy it might be accurate to remind the world of the fact that, yes, the Russians do love their children, too.

I just wish they loved the children at Caucasus, too.

EDIT: ... and I wish they did not start a war but respected the will of little nations instead. That would not hurt the Kosovar kids either.

And I wish they loved the Nashi kids enough to make them understand they seem more fascist themselves than the Estonians, for example, whom the youngs Putinists are accusing of such behaviour. Well, now it seems there will be no future, EDIT: or no need, for Nashi under the rule of Medvedev. But the kids have been busy this year, too. See the thoughts of Vilhelm Konnander: Vilhelm Konnander's weblog: Police crackdown on Nashi demonstration

You can also listen to the Sting song here.

by Sting

In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie that we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

* * *

It's not just "Oppenheimer's deadly toy" in the USA I would be worried of. In Murmansk there is a potentially hazardous metropolis of nuclear facilities, weapons and vessels like submarines, ships and even lighthouses. So, the Russian neighbours, please love the children in the Nordic countries, too.

Did you listen to the song? Sorry, but this piece is really jamming one's mind. You'll keep humming and singing this for weeks from now on.

One of my favourite members of Royalty. Actually, my
only favourite member of Royalty (Grace Kelly being dead – but Freddie Mercury wants to live forever. And he will.).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Que sera, sera... I knew it! "The Big Bang wasn't the beginning"

I am worried about some things, like the health and sanity of friends who support Tottenham, and about how Tottenham will play next Sunday when they have the Big Game (but I am a Liverpool supporter, and usually very worried about them, and, by the way, I don't know anyone supporting Chelsea – next Sunday it will be Chelsea–Tottenham),
and I wonder if Miss Funnybunny will live happily and become a good person. Also I worry about catastrophically bad hair days, which I very often have, the future of the earth when nuclear waste is already polluting the seas and soon the atmosphere, and global warming melting the poles and Greenland. And television makes me really worried. The programs, wide – but artistically narrow – range of tv series from hospital crap ("Grey's Anatomy" and all that other baloney based on young people discussing relationships and wondering where they are going – the answer being "absolutely nowhere") to rubbish on police forces ("CSI" – despite the fact that the feature song, by the Who, is the best) and talk shows are so full of nonsense I feel the mankind is ruined. Devastated. Rapidly drowning into an idiot phase.

* * * * *

But there will be a new start and a new one after that, like there always has been!

"the Big Bang Wasn't the Beginning."

This has always been chrystal clear to me.

But finally there's some Cambridge guy who proves me right.

Physicist Neil Turok: Big Bang Wasn't the Beginning
By Brandon Keim

The Big Bang was big, but it wasn't the beginning, Cambridge University mathematical physicist Neil Turok says. He theorizes that the universe is engaged in an eternal cycle of expansion and contraction: There have been many Big Bangs, and there will be many more.

For decades, physicists have accepted the notion that the universe started with the Big Bang, an explosive event at the literal beginning of time. Now, computational physicist Neil Turok is challenging that model -- and some scientists are taking him seriously.

According to Turok, who teaches at Cambridge University, the Big Bang represents just one stage in an infinitely repeated cycle of universal expansion and contraction. Turok theorizes that neither time nor the universe has a beginning or end.

It's a strange idea, though Turok would say it's no stranger than the standard explanation of the Big Bang: a singular point that defies our laws of physics, where all equations go to infinity and "all the properties we normally use to describe the universe and its contents just fail." That inconsistency led Turok to see if the Big Bang could be explained within the framework of string theory, a controversial and so-far untested explanation of the universe as existing in at least 10 dimensions and being formed from one-dimensional building blocks called strings.

The story as a whole at the Wired site.

* * * * *

Buddha, my biggest hero.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Great Drama At the Finnish Parliament. Good Bye, Fish Fingers!

Eduskuntatalo. The center of the drama over Pieces of Fish.

* * * * *

Fish fingers. Kids' all-time favourites.

But Fish fingers mean also the style of moustache, idolised by some Finnish (luckily male) members of the Parliament.

Let me go through this once again:

1) Some guys working for the Finnish Parliament, including some male MP's, have recently been accused of sexual harassment.

2) This accusation of some men giving hard time to female workers leaked out of the parliament when a memo on assessment of working circumstances was published.

3) Well, as expected, the MP's who were (thought to be) among the worst ones quickly claimed in public they are totally innocent, and that "women just do not understand the local kind of humour". As if in the rural areas they come from (and they come from various parts of Finland) the women there were just idiots.

Older ones also said "women have changed", and they (the men) are "just old-fashioned blokes with an old-fashioned sense of humour".

Denying, and minimizing the act: "it was nothing".

4) Some of these explanations were very embarrassing. Those arrogant men lacked consideration and understanding. Some humble but straight-forward act of claiming "there is a problem and we all must work on solving it" might have looked much better. (I am not saying they would have sincerely ment that. But gee, I would make a perfect PR manager, wouldn't I?))

But no. The crumbling attempts to trying to explain the bad behaviour were as a matter of fact revealing the accused do not even respect neither the case, nor the women behind it. This made most women – including women outside the parliament – think the insensitive men conserned MUST have done what they are accused of, no matter how much verbal effort they put into finding the way out.

5) In public the evening press leaked the female workers of the parliament call that ugly style of moustache "fish fingers".

6) The (still male) MPs who have fish fingers above their upper lip said they are very offended now. VERY offended.

"Fish fingers" finally made it.

...and what had happened today:

7) Little birds sang that the fish fingers on the menu of the lunch bar at the Parliament were now called "Pieces of Fish" instead.

So fish fingers are now banned inside the Finnish parliament.

EDIT: Banned from the menu only, unfortunately.

* * * * *

...ja sama suomeksi: kalapuikot olivat Eduskunnan ruokalistalla "kalan paloja" Huimaa!

Run On By. With Tennessee Stud.

Is there any such thing as "Burt Bacharach Appreciation Society"? If I find one, I will be close to joining. BB is a bright guiding star for every runner (with iPod). I don't walk, I run on by.

But a huge surprise for me has been how really very very good, how BRILLIANT an artist Johnny Cash was! Have never really thought so, until now.

Remember Tennessee Stud? Was on Jackie Brown, the Best Film of Tarantino's, I think.

A sample of Tennessee Stud, by Jimmy Driftwood. (Sing along, with the link above.)

Me and a gambler we couldn't agree
We got in a fight over Tennessee
We jerked our guns, he fell with a thud
And I got away on the Tennessee stud

Well, I got as lonesome as a man can be
Dreamin' of my girl in Tennessee
The Tennessee stud's green eyes turned blue
'Cause he was a-dreamin' of a sweetheart too

We loped on back across Arkansas
I whipped her brother and I whipped her pa
I found that girl with the golden hair
And she was ridin' on a Tennessee mare...

As for Jackie B., refresh your memories and take a look at "AK-47".

Jackie Brown is based on a novel Rum Punch of Elmore Leonard's. "He loves sports and guns", thus spoke Wikipeadia. But he has quite recently wrotten a guide book, Ten Rules Of Writing. Very interesting.

You can also learn a great deal from his website; there's an FAQ section. How about this:

Q: How do I gen an agent?
A: My advice is to learn how to write and an agent will find you.

There nothing more to add.

Congrats, best of luck, and peace. A new Kosovo is born.

Kosovar kids.

A field like no other
Heaven above it
Heaven below.

Part of a poem on Kosovo, written Vasko Popa. Earth Erect. Translated from Serbian by John Matthias.

A brief history of Kosovar epics and Serbian poetry linked here. And even if the name of the very poem is "The Battle of Kosovo, please don't give me that crap about "how natural wars and battles are there where people have been fighting each other for centuries".

Google Kosovo and take a look at photos of little kids burned to death etc. There is nothing "natural" in there. Just enourmous pain, shame and disgrace.

Our civilisation must think wars are avoidable, and act accordingly.

Othervise we do not have a civilisation in Europe after all.

* * * * *

Congrats, Kosovo!

Live in peace.

And hopefully Serbia and Russia, as well as we all, will let you do excactly that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rap and drumming

The film has not started yet but Miss Funnybunny is drumming already.

Miss Funnybunny has drumsticks. She got them at the premiere of a film called Risto Räppääjä. (Chris Rapper? Or something...)

Dum-bum-bum. Dum-bum-bum. Dumti-dumti-dumti-dum... Bum-bum-BUM.

Funny how the other day when I was running I started thinking how much I love rhythms, and I think I share this passion with my lttle girl. Then I started wondering if Funnybunny and I should start dancing something. Like tap dancing, flamenco or salsa. Or African dances. Something to do with rhythm and percussions, timbas.

(EDIT: For me, it would be returning to this wonderful hobby combining music and excercising. Since being a teenager I have spent quite a lot of time at dance studios. Even participated a dance-and-riding camp for a week, where we did both flamenco and rode horses, Western style, 2 X 2 h a day!)

Well, now with Funnybunny practising her drumming skills I think we are having more than enough rhythm for a while!

* * *

Risto Räppääjä was a pretty good film, I must say. See the trailer here. And the official site is, also linked here.

Mari Rantasila directing Mimmi Lounela playing Nelli Nuudelipää ("Nell Noodlehead") and Niilo Sipilä playing Risto.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Republicans wanting a change. Troitsky came.

In every man there is a cowboy.

Republicans for Obama. See. That's so great. Like "United Mice Supporting Hungry Cats". Or perhaps "Schlager Bands For Good Music". Or "Oil Industry For Reducing the Risk Of the Climate Change". (Or... please gimme some more!)

But yet, IStori is wishing the Best Of Luck for changing the political atmosphere and environment in the USA, and for protecting the Tellus atmosphere and environment we have in common.

* * * * *

Russian rock manager, DJ, dissident, Kremlin fighter, ex-editor in chief of Playboy magazine Artemi Troitsky gave a good DJ gig in Helsinki yesterday evening. Whoaa. What a show! We were told the basics of the Soviet & Russian rock scene (there is and has been one - both under- and above the ground), and for sure, we were made to listen to some classics along with a "lecture". But that was fun!

More pics at the Rosebud site,, or here.

* * * * *

Thanks, Ajatusten Rekolanoja for your comment, and for reminding me of Laskiainen, Shrove Tuesday. It seems to be a pancake day almost around the world, but according to the Finnish tradition we are supposed to eat buns with whipped cream and jam.

Miss Funnybunny and I will enjoy either genre of delicacies this evening.

Maybe we could try some fasting, too: no more candies before the Easter. We have had more than our share recently.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes You Can!

Savannah River Site. One of the biggest nuclear weapon facilities and storages in the world. And, a huge waste dump: According to its website, its main task is to "support current and future national security and nuclear materials requirements through tritium processing, waste management and vitrification, special nuclear material storage, reprocessing, research and development, and technology transfer". Wouldn't want to live close.

On the verge of the Supercalifragilistic Tuesday... I think Barack Obama stands a chance here. But should he really become a president? Should he be the Chosen One, should he be given the Briefcase with the Codes & the Button? (As well as become the Ultimate Boss of CTU and Jack Bauer?)

Maybe so. From the distance (= Helsinki!) at least he seems to be the cleverest candidate so far: concerned about climate change, promoting renewables, critisizing the war, among other things.

Him being the President of the USA would be refreshing for the conservative racists, all over the world. And, just think about the comparison between Putin-Medvedjev and Obama. Beautiful.

And how about the War Against Terror? Axis of Evil? Obama does not seem to support that kind of crap talk. (Well, who on earth, with a brain, would?)

Obama is doing a good campaign with celebrities of music, go and see (and listen) for yourself.

* * * * *

Barack Hussein Obama was born here in 1961.

* * * * *

EDIT: What do I have against Clinton, you may ask. Bill hiding in the background? Well, perhaps I don't have so much of anything against her. Would be great to have a female leader in the USA. (Our Tarja would feel very comfortable with her:-) But I wouldn't be her active supporter, either. I remember her husband being more or less a conservative, and not at all trustworthy, so I still think Obama would definitely be my choice – if I could only vote for him...