Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Hard at work

Phew! We are all set for Thanksgiving now. We collected the heritage turkey at Essex Market yesterday along with two pies and some cheese (in case we don't have enough food).

Today I started off by roasting the sweet potatoes and acorn squash. The sweet potatoes were mixed with sugar, eggs and spices for the casserole (will be finished off tomorrow with caramelized pecans). The acorn squash were mixed with softened onions, carrot, garlic as well as orange juice, cinnamon stick, pinch of chili and cream - delicious soup!

While I was on a roll I made corn pudding - adding panchetta and two eggs and skipping the cheese from this recipe. A tomato/red onion/green bean salad is resting in vinaigrette in the fridge along with a new round of cranberry sauce, this time back to a tested (brilliant) recipe from Williams Sonoma.

Tomorrow we do turkey (of course), mashed potatoes, leek gratin and bacon wrapped dates. Oh and gravy of course!

It is over

While Rob has improved, I agree, he is not a patch on Ricki or JR. For some reason they gave him straight 10's for his show dance which was very good but perfect? I think not.

Ricki danced her tango from halloween again - oh and it is even better than last time! The music must be a movie score, such a great choice and the dancing is crisp. ItI want her to win! The judges agree.

Rob is next. He feels he proved he belongs in the final. I am not convinced. They are dancing the foxtrot from the week when they all did dances for something memorable and he messes up a bit (forgets to take his hat off) and generally just looks very hesitant. Nerves I guess. Well this is not a winning performance. But the judges like it an Len says his foot work is the best he has seen in a male dancer in this competition ever. I just cannot see what they see.

JR is doing their jive but taking out the linty and the illegal lift. So basically doing a new dance? That is ok, I still really, really like him! It is super energetic and I think it looks great, apart from a little miss in the middle. Len decides to randomly thank the singers instead of talking about JR. Bruno looks like Chruschev banging the table shouting "fun, fun, fun" so I take it he liked it.

Judges votes:

3rd - Rob
2nd - JR
1st - RICKI!

But after adding last nights score it is Ricki 1st, Rob 2nd and JR 3rd. Now they are going to add the viewers votes and I think also the instant dance? A lot off re-counting. I am fast forwarding. I love my TiVo.

OK we are back and I do hope their counters are good ones as now we get the news on who is 3rd:

RICKI! WHAT THE FCK! NONONONONO! She is the best! Who are the morons voting? I was working late so missed it. Oh now I am pissed off. First Carson, then David now Ricki. Not fair!

I am giving up on this now, will fast forward through the rest.

Lots of filler with the other dancers already kicked out repeating a dance. I can't remember half of them actually, whoops. But CARSON IS BACK!! Doing Vogue. Hehe. And he gets to dance with Maks' brother. This is brilliant. Not the dancing obviously but having Carson back.

They are doing a recap of the season, I liked 80's week and Halloween week the best I think.

Lacey's dad is back! He dances with Chaz and Lacey to 'I likem chunky' - snark!

DAVID. Aww David, I miss David. They are dancing to a song from Grease and he looks fab as always. He is John Travolta of course, and Kym is Olivia Newton John.

SOON the last two will dance again, just a bit more filler and adverts. Yawn. Lady Antebellum I do not like so fast forward it is.

At last - final dances. Instant samba by JR first - he is brilliant. Rob next and he does rock those hips (with a cheeky wink at the judges.) Len gives them a standing ovation. Bruno gushes about Rob's bonbons. JR scores 10, 10, 10. Rob scores 10, 10, 1o. Oh for heavens sake why are the judges even there if they can't be bothered scoring properly.

A bit more adverts while they complete the complicated task of adding 30 to the total they had earlier. Guess they did hire Mr Scrooge's excellent accountants for this task... And JR wins. Good. Not Ricki but my second choice. And he has been amazing from week 1.

I will have such withdrawals next week...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Semi final

Three dances each this week! Oh how will they manage? And it is injuries galore - Hope gets shots for her shoulders, JR has injured his ankle and the other two fall over a lot. OK I might have exaggerated the galore bit but still...

Hope and Maks started off well I thought, except that she does stomp around a lot. Judges not impressed: 7, 7, 7. Maks pinches Tom's bum as he seems to do each week but I am ignoring as I really don't like Maks.

JR and Katrina next and he is incredibly hesitant, his ankle is really causing problems, this is not good... It is awkward and if he wasn't a super hero he might be at risk of being kicked out. I thought he would be great at samba :-( But the judges do not judge on the dance but on how impressive he is for coming out dancing injured and gives him 8's. The audience is screaming so loud that we can't hear what Tom says. Probably nothing important.

Rob and Cheryl are next and he is great! Samba is definitely his dance! Surprising as that sounds boy did good. His mum cries when Carrie Ann Inaba (ever the over scoring) gives him a 10.

Ricki and Derek next and she is dressed like a chicken but somehow makes it look FAB-U-LOUS! And her dancing is great. Derek's choreography is great as always and their execution as strong as ever and the judges loves it - straight 10's.

To break things up a bit they show sob stories from the stars pasts. (I am in tears when Hope talks about her homeless dad coming to all her football games. Sniff...)

Second lot of dances next - Hope and Maks are back and they should be great at the Argentine Tango but even though it is littered with complex lifts it is just not quite there. Judges agree and Hope has unfortunately learned off Maks and decides to talk back. Bad idea. She is bound to leave tonight.

JR and Katrina - oh and he has gone and bought a new ankle in the break. Very good Argentine tango! Being in pain probably helps with keeping his face all serious as well. 9, 9, 9.

Tonight Brooke is dressed in what looks like a shell covered dress - like a Pearly Queen but American style.

Poor Rob Kardashian - his evil sisters dressed him up as a girl a lot as a kid. Probably scarred him for life. But if he talks any more about going to University of South California I will scream. I know you are supposed to repeat things to make them seep into peoples mind but this is too much. Anyway his tango is quite good except for his bum sticking out in some of the steps. I want Cheryl's dress... Judges like - all 9's.

Time for Ricki and Derek! But first we get a reminder of her background and all the weight she gained and lost. Poor mite was molested as a kid, I didn't know that. OK now I am crying again. Time for Tango! And as always she is absolutely amazing. Love it! Share flicks and hooks and crisp footwork. She looks wonderful in a red sheath dress cut high on the thigh. (oh oh oh they just showed Carson in the audience! I love Carson!) 9, 10, 10 - I have no idea what made Carrie Ann Inaba hold back on scoring seeing as she has consistently been over scoring by at least one the whole season. The worst was when she gave NANCY a 9! I thought Len was going to strangle her.

Time for another oddity - the cha cha relay! Don't think they have this one in the UK... Ricki starts of in a dress with lots of little hanging shiny things that swirl in a fab way when she dances. Hope next in trousers made of the same material but that kinda looks weird... JR next and he walks a little then shakes his hips and now its Rob in a a kinda leather/oily looking shirt. He holds his and over his hip bone in a really weird way. Noone dances enough to really see anything. What an odd invention.

Judges are conferring while we go to advert break: Ford, ToysRus, AT&T, Subway and Modern Family ("I sleep clown" looove!) Hope is last (no surprise, those two know how to piss of a judge), JR is third, Ricki second and Rob is first!

Well I think we can safely say Hope will be voted off and the finalists are JR, Ricki and Rob. I do not know what I will do on Monday evenings when this season is over! Get a life? nooooooo....

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


No idea what the theme is today, missed that crucial bit and can't decipher from the costumes.

Just noticed there is one guy in the orchestra that has a toupe, I saw him last week but thought it was part of the Halloween costume. Some guy in the first row has a cap on. Seriously, he should have been told to take it off, unless he is a stage hand filling a seat for someone on a loo break like they do at the Oscars?

Rob is dancing to Aha Take on Me - the chirpy version. I hate it. Not only are they ruining a good song (you know the high note? the guy in the band did not nail it...) Rob is just DULL. BUT it turns out the guy in the audience who should have been told to take off his cap is his sister's boyfriend (the one who sensibly has not married the nutcase). Len dislikes the opening sequence but says best dance so far (which I take to mean time to leave!). Bruno liked his frame and line. Carrie Ann Inaba thinks he was polished and elegant. I am guessing three 8's in this perpetual scoring of only 7's and up... 9, 9, 9 - OK they are certifiably nuts. I guess the over scoring has stepped up a level, we will see 10's tonight if that was a 9.

There is some random lottery in the middle where they get to pick their music for the instant jive. They pick Maneater with Hall & Oats. I have no idea what instant jive means, but I am sure I will find out soon... Turns out it is that they get 20 minutes to 'learn' a dance. In practice it means they have been practicing all week to different music and now just need to work out how to do it to a certain song. Meh!

Hope and Maks next. She looks lovely in a yellow coat and hat. He looks miserable. Maks apologizes (kinda) for being too rough with her. I doubt he means it. I am not keen. He is trying a gentler approach to coaching. He should just hand over to the guy who did a great job last week... Instead he introduces her to his family so they can tell her all about him. His dad proceeds to tell her Maks used to cry a lot, not sure what she is supposed to take from that. Anyway, they are dancing to Valerie and the start is a bit of a mess. She looks lovely as under the coat is a very pretty 1950's dress. It gets better though and Bruno loves it. CAI gives Hope a hug and Len thinks its her best dance yet. 9, 9, 9. Their instant jive is The Best Damn Thing by Avril Lavigne. No idea.

Ricki and Derek next! He has bad face hair again. They are dancing the waltz and I expect it to be amazing as always. But I am actually a little bored. The judges all love it but Len says she can't get a 10 from him without sorting out her heel leads. Considering how flippantly he hands out 9's I can't believe he is suddenly picky about handing out 10s. 9, 9, 10 (Aw, bless Bruno.) Instant jive music Land of a 1000 dances by Wilson Picket. Again, no idea.

Nancy and Tristan next - for what I hope is the last time! This should have been David! Get rid of her! She feels Tristan is negative and complains about him. I feel for the poor man, he must be going nuts with her. Tom notes Tristan should get hazard compensation - snork! Their tango would be ok for week 4 but this late in the competition it is just not good enough. Len feels since week 2 she has been on a plateau but now she has moved up again. Bruno feels she had the right Jezebel attitude. Carrie Ann Inaba feels she should give Tristan a break. 8, 8, 8. Upside Down with Paloma Faith. I hope they don't ruin it.

JR coming up! I had dinner as the program started, recording it in the background so I just whiz through all the adverts! Well, I did until now when I have run out of TiVo recording. Time for a soda pop break so I can build up some more recording time. American adverts are mind numbingly stupid and annoying.

OK I am back! JR was A-MAY-ZING! A wonderful waltz and he gets 3 10s! Whoppie!

Time for instant jives - quick summary:
  • Rob - ok but not very exciting
  • Hope - wow! interesting outfit and great super fast fabulous kicks!
  • Ricki - ok but not up to her usual standard. Best part was Derek jumping over Ricki's head and doing a great heel slide.
  • Nancy - terrible, week 1 level. Len even found the 6! About time.
  • JR - FANTASTIC! Amazing considering they got the music 20 min ago!
So tomorrow on the results show I want Nancy to go. As does Len. America - please listen to Len!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sweet potato casserole

Just cooked a mean sweet potato casserole - based on the Del Frisco side dish. Definitely one for Thanksgiving!

  1. 7 sweet potatoes - peel and wrap in tin foil then bake for 1.5hrs at 350F
  2. Mix 2 eggs, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup demerera sugar, 1 tsp salt, 50g melted butter
  3. Once the sweet potatoes are done mix in with the above mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. Put the sweet potato mixture in an oven proof pan.
  5. In a pan mix 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, 50g butter and 1/4 cup chopped pecans. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Top the sweet potato mixture with the pecans and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Very yum. Next dish to try is succotash - we had it at Red Rooster and it was very nice.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Thanksgiving plans

Just a few weeks away now! I have ordered the turkey and the pies (apple and pecan) - both being picked up at Essex Market the days before the big day. I will be making the cranberry sauce the weekend before but the rest of the cooking will happen on the day or be done by someone else (frozen corn bread is the way forward.)

I am testing out the side dishes and I was super excited by the idea of corn pudding but after cooking it this morning it will not re-appear at Thanksgiving. Bland. Instead I have decided to go with JD's mash, MoF's leek in cream and anchovies and green bean/tomato salad. Tomorrow the plan is to test cook sweet potato casserole a la Del Frisco's as the final side dish.

JD wants Bisto gravy but I am thinking we do our own. I suspect we will not even touch the pies on the Thursday but enjoy them the next day as breakfast...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


DEAD from Hollywood! (Geddit?) Things go bump in the night.

All Halloween edition, I suspect there will be props galore but luckily they have swapped the judges for skeletons so Len will not have a fit.

The orchestra is more dead than alive, with the conductor is looking very zombieish with arms out. They have swapped the judges for skeletons!

We start with David and his Australian dancer who needs no mask to scare people. I am thinking plastic surgery gone wrong. They are working on his hip action - as it is a nice looking bum I am not complaining.

OK dancing - a bit of pyrotechnics and out his dancer come in her underwear with red string - weird and not very attractive. He is very Mandrake looking in tails, top hat and a cape, but unfortunately not looking very good on the dance floor. But to quote Brucie - they are still my favorites! Well Len liked it!? Obviously I am not very good at this dancing lark. Bruno just called Carrie Ann Inaba a bitch on telly! I think so anyway - they beeped it. Hmpf, finally something interesting said and they beep it! Brooke is looking like she wants to be in Chicago, not sure why that is relevant for Halloween. But there might be an opening on Broadway that she is eyeing up. Judges - 8, 8, 8. Another night of over-scoring! I really don't think they have paddles 1-6 in the US.

JR has a giant red gun. I wonder if they are supposed to be ghost busters but due to budget constraints they just got a cheap water gun at the local petrol station... But first ADVERTS! I am giving out some sweets to the local kids in the breaks. Trying to get them to take more as I am having to eat the rest.

Ah yes. Ghostbusters. JR is in a janitor suit and Kym is in a...erm...well... It is like a feather hat that Cher would have worn 20 years ago with a cape that looks like the egg white when you fry an egg. The dance is very good. Well I thought so. Len and Bruno give him 8's - as if David (love him to bits and all) was equally good.

More adverts then we see Nancy (bleugh!) and Tristan (mmm yum) practicing. She is so annoying I fast forward through most of it, the dancing is rubbish. She walks around a bit looking confused. Time to go. The judges are not impressed and show it by giving 3 7's?! Seriously? Where is Craig when I need him??

Kardashian next! As his sister has just announced her divorce I am surprised none has commented on it so far in the show! Brucie would have been right in there. Gah! Can't believe I am even missing flipping Brucie. Anyway. They are dancing to Addams family - another one eyeing up a role perhaps. The sister with the godawful hubby is in the audience (he is not in costume, no need I guess). Oh I don't like to say this but their dancing is actually quite good. Although his facial expression is more Lurch than Gomez. Len loves it, Bruno admires his manliness and Carrie Ann Inaba says best dance yet. More adverts!

Brooke still not asking about the divorce! Come on! OK scores: 9, 8, 8. Bruno and Len loved that but still only giving it the same as the JR dance they didn't like. Seriously expand your range of votes!

Ricki! Ricki! She is Red Riding Hood but is hampered by an injury - rib nerve something with a complicated name. This season's first injury not counting Chaz knees! Luckily her partner says he knows how to dance with someone in pain (god knows what he does to the ladies...)

Props galore! Trees. Cape. Basket. Great false lashes on her. False teeth and bad face hair on him (well he has no body hair so being a wolf meant pouffing the fringe a bit.) As every week it is very good! Having read up in Us and People I know that is her new bit of stuff in the audience as well. No idea who all the old people are they keep showing. Dad? Random relatives? The judges all love it and Len goes off on how this is why he loves the paso. Blabla. Scores: 9, 9, 9. Seriously she is MILES better than Kardashian brother! You need to sort out your scoring people!

Hope and Maks next. He is wolf man and I hope the fake teeth will shut him up as no one likes the talking back to the judge routine he did last week (a la James Jordan - don't like him either.) Maks broke his toe so Hope is dancing with another guy and Hope is loving it! Maks is unhappy. Fneh! Dance starts with Maks ripping his sleeves and shirt off. Well well... Her dancing is better than last week, maybe she should swap partner. CAB liked it, Len likes it and says thank you to hair, make up and costume department. Bruno liked it too. So probably 8's all round... Score: 8, 8, 8. Well that surprised no one.

Group dances next. As they are getting votes for that they are all super excited and Nancy smashes a pumpkin just to make the point. They are dancing the tango and JR and David are looking good - straight jacket tango suits them. Nancy is more rag doll being moved around the floor. Len likes the group parts but thinks the individual parts were a disaster. Bruno agrees with Len. CAB does too. OK move on. Scores: 8, 7, 8. Yawn.

Group Paso up next. Looking very scary. Adverts. Bruno is on Jimmy Kimmel Live later. Olive Garden (JD has vetoed it so I have never been), ATT (got it) , Ford (better than Toyota, I think not), Walmart (we need one on 5th Avenue I think.)

Ricki is trying to be a group player and she is injured so that is the excuse in early. Maks whips Hope around in an almost violent way. He is such a moron. The others are looking on awkwardly.
Rob stomps around, Hope is not bad, Ricki is solid as always. Finishing with some cape action where Maks is out of sync! HAHAHAHAH! Bruno is ecstatic! CAB is ecstatic and didn't even notice the cape out of sync. Len liked it too. Scores: 9, 8, 9.

Re-cap and its over for the night. Tomorrow Justin Bieber and BoysIIMen (LA special - book one, get one free?). We have lots of sweets left so I am going to have to eat that for the rest of the week.