Bus Drivers of Melbourne

Dear Bus Drivers Of Melbourne,
Just a quick refresher of the road rules as you seem to have forgotten them. The rules are quite clear…

A driver facing a red light at an intersection with a bicycle storage area (a ‘box’ containing a bicycle symbol) must stop at the first stop line and not proceed into the area marked for bicycles until the light changes.

From VicRoads pages on Bicycles

In case you were wondering, entering a Bike Box at lights carries the same penalty as running the Red Light.
Can you please just stay back a few meters, I am sure it will not make your bus run any later…

Please see Rule 60A of the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 for more information.
thanks,
A cyclist and a bus rider.

The Smith Family and Around the Bay…

It is that time of the year again…
Just as the daylight starts getting less and the weather gets colder and the last thing on my mind is training, I make the same decision, to sign up for Around the Bay in a day. Yep, 210km around Port Phillip Bay. I know, it is an absurd distance, one I have managed before but still, it ain’t easy.

Why? there will there are a stack of reasons…
One of them is to help disadvantaged Aussie kids. They just need the basics… At school, these children don’t have the basics like a school bag, complete uniform or the schoolbooks they need to make the most of their education. As a result, these kids are often teased or left out by other students. And because they don’t fit in, they end up falling behind at school, or failing altogether.

And so my goal is to raise $516 to help these kids create better futures for themselves…

It isn’t much, it is about 150 lattes (depending on where you buy them of course) so if you can spare a few dollars then can you help me to help the smith family and support me by sponsoring my ride?

It would really mean a lot. Please take a moment to make a donation: www.aroundthebayfundraising.com.au/?LucasSherwood

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chilli SauceThe other day I was standing at the kitchen bench looking at the half a kilo of chillies I had just picked off the two chilli plants in the front yard. I was stunned at how many chillies I had at the end of the season and wasn’t really sure what to do with them all.

I had already stocked up my freezer with a bag of chillies, there was a long chain of them drying in the spare room and I still had more chillies!!

So I turned to facebook and people suggested that I try making sweet chilli sauce with them!

Ingredients

  • 500g long fresh red chillies, stems trimmed.
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 750ml (3 cups) white vinegar
  • 650g (3 cups) caster sugar

Method

1. Halve 100g of the chillies and place in the bowl of a food processor. Halve and deseed the remaining chillies. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Add garlic and 250ml white vinegar. Process until finely chopped.

I used Bell chillies because that is what I had growing in the front yard. Just be aware of your cutting time ratio. If you are using small chillies, you will be chopping for a lot longer than if you use bigger ones.

2. Place the chilli mixture, remaining vinegar and caster sugar in a large saucepan over a low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Try not to take longer than 5 minutes on this step. If you are cheating and using normal sugar instead of caster sugar, toss it in first with a dash of vinegar and get it started first, then it will dissolve in time.

3. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35-40 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Now, don’t be fooled, it might not look like it has thickened enough, but trust me, it will. Once it is in the bottle it will thicken. Don’t do my trick first time around and streach this out to an hour and a half, you will end up with sweet chilli toffee.

4. Lastly Pour into sterilised airtight bottles and seal. After all of the tomato sauce bottling, this is getting really quite easy. Just watch out, the sweet chilli sauce will be hot and with all the sugar, it is quite sticky and so it will really burn if it drips on you.

Turning a Column into a List

I have seen this done so many different ways, most of them badly or at least not very elegantly.

So what is the problem?

Well, it is simple enough. You have a recordset that has a column that you need (for whatever reason) to turn into a comma separated list.

For the purposes of this example, I am going to be working with just a simple single column table. You can knock it up with the following code

-- Suppress data loading messages
SET NOCOUNT ON
-- Create Sample Data

CREATE TABLE Info
(
ID int
)

-- Load Sample Data
INSERT INTO Info VALUES ( 1 )
INSERT INTO Info VALUES ( 2 )
INSERT INTO Info VALUES ( 3 )
INSERT INTO Info VALUES ( 5 )
INSERT INTO Info VALUES ( 8 )

The most common way I have seen is the following

DECLARE @str VARCHAR(max)

-- Coalesce into a nice string

SELECT

@str = COALESCE(@ str, '') + cast(ID as varchar(20)) + ','
from Info

-- Remove the trailing comma.
SET @str = LEFT(@str, LEN(@str) - 1)

SELECT @str

Now, this is good, but it always looks just a bit messy. Having to trim that last comma off is just unnecessary if you think about it for a bit. Now that your really thinking about it, you will also notice that this will die badly if our table is empty as the LEFT will just collapse.

So, lets write something simpler…

DECLARE @str varchar(max)

SELECT @str = COALESCE(@str + ', ', '') + CAST(ID as VARCHAR) FROM Info
SELECT @str

Now wasn’t that much neater?

Hello world again!

It has been a while…
… A very long while….
But now I think it is time to revive this old dead blog…

It has been a long time coming but I have finally switched away from BlogCFC. ColdFusion is playing less and less a part of my every day and I am not really that keen on dabbling in code just to get things out the door anymore. This is more about getting it done and not letting things getting in the way. So after a night of migration fun (and I couldn’t work out how to get the comments across) most of the stuff has been moved over.

I guess that sums it up, the change to WordPress is in a vain hope to remove any obstacles to posting and just actually posting!

We will see how that works out :)

Sambal Oelek chilli chicken

I picked up a jar of Sambal Oelek a while ago (I can’t remember why) but I found it hiding at the back of the cupboard unloved tonight, so I thought, I can do something with this…

Ingredients
250 grams Chicken Breast
1 tbs sambal oelek
1 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tbs peanut oil
200 grams green beans
2 tbs Oyster sauce
Chopped coriander and toasted slivered almonds to garnish
Steamed rice to serve (jasmine rice works really well with this one)

Method
Start by thinly slicing the chicken and toss it into a bowl. Throw in the soy sauce, Sambal Oelek, ginger and half the oil. Set this aside for 5 minutes to let the flavours happening

Heat up the rest of the oil in a wok until it is just about to smoke. Toss in the chicken and quickly cook it. Once it is cooked, put it aside so you can head on to the vegies…
Roughly clean out your wok (DON’T WASH IT!) and toss in your beans and lightly stir fry them with the Oyster sauce.

Plate it up, rice first, the chicken and the beans on the side. Sprinkle the chicken with the almonds and the coriander.

Basil Pesto

Every year we alway have basil planted in-between our tomato plants and they always grow to a huge size! It means that we always have far more than we can eat so every year I end up making three or four batches of pesto to freeze for the winter months. It really makes a great pasta sauce!!

Ingredients
3 cups of Basil leaves
100 grams of parmesan
1/2 cup of Pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil

Method
First off, lightly roast the pine nuts in the oven at 200oC for 10 minutes or you can dry fry them in a frying pan. Either way be careful, they tend to go from almost toasted to burnt in seconds. If you want to, just throw them in un-toasted.

Pop all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and wizz till everything is finely chopped. Then slowly add the oil until everything come together. thats it, your done!

If your going to freeze your pesto, stick it in a small container then drizzle some oil on top to keep the air out otherwise things will go a bit brown in the freezer.

Barbecued Marinated Swordfish

It is summer and there is nothing better than a barbecue in the back yard with loads of wine and some good food. Most Australian BBQ however are relegated to just cooking sausages and lamb chops or beef stakes. Whilst this is can be good, I find that there is nothing better than seafood on the BBQ!

This marinade helps to show of the taste of the swordfish, not that it really needs it. Whilst i have the BBQ on, I often just cook up some veggies to go with the fish.

Ingredients
4 Swordfish stakes (about 250grams each)img_0034.jpg
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons of verjuice (or 3 tablespoons of white wine and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to season

in a glass bowl or dish (try not to use metal as the taste of metal tends to carry into the fish) mix all of the ingredients except the swordfish to get everything blended together. Then place swordfish steaks into the marinade, and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Preheat your BBQ till it is nice and hot and put a bit of oil on it so things don’t stick.

Barbecue swordfish steaks for about 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook them, you want them to be just cooked not overcooked.

Garnish with some parsley and a lemon wedge.

Moroccan Lamb Pizza

I have been making this one on and off for a few years now. I originally found the recipe on the internet somewhere but now that I go looking for it I can’t find it to reference it, so if it is yours, please let me know as it is great!

It is perfect for dinner for 2-4 people or as a different entrée for 8 to 10 people. To start with you are going to need a pizza base, so either whip one up or hit the local supermarket for a ready made one.

If you can’t find lamb mince, a lamb breast or lamb shoulder cut into a small dice will work just as well.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
225g lean lamb mince
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons pine nuts
120g mozzarella, grated

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons mango chutney

Raita
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 Lebanese cucumber, grated
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Method
Preheat your oven to 200C

Heat the oil in a frypan/wok, add the onion and 1 clove of garlic and cook over a medium heat for a minute, then add the lamb and cook till the lamb is browned. Drain off any excess oil.
Add the tomatoes, cumin, ground coriander and cinnamon and cook for 5 minutes, stir in the fresh coriander and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice.

Spread the lamb mix over your pizza base and sprinkle with pine nuts and mozzarella. Cook for about 10 minutes, till the cheese has melted and the pizza base has cooked through.

To make the raita, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Toss the mint and parsley leaves in the remaining lemon juice and season with some pepper.

Serve the pizza topped with herb leaves, raita and the chutney.