Friday night, I got in quite late after spending an embarrassingly short time at a colleague’s farewell drinks. I really didn’t fancy cooking by the time I drove home, so went to our friends at Food Junction and brought home a steaming paper bag of meat dhansak with poppadoms and chapatis.
Saturday night, P’s sister phoned and asked if we fancied going out for a meal, and nominated one of our fave haunts, the Balti House where we spent a very convivial evening with really nice people. A few pints greatly helped, and we had a riotous time with the usual bizarre conversation. Another curry, and another evening of feeling uncomfortably full.
This afternoon, I went to another rally with our candidate for Nottingham East at a community centre just around the corner from here. Standing room only. Honoured Guest was Baroness Kishwer Kahn Falkner who came up to talk to us about her work for human rights in the House of Lords, and the perils of recent legislation. These meetings are dominated by Pakistani Muslims, who would be affronted at the prospect of a meeting without food, so out came huge trays of chicken curry, brown rice with chick peas in it, and a curried bean dish. There was something white and sweet for dessert, almost like rice-pudding, but not so ricey.
Now I’m standing in the kitchen typing this on my laptop whilst I cook tomorrow’s dinner before putting it in an empty ice-cream tub and leaving it in the fridge. I know I’m not going to have much time for cooking, and there’s not much quick in the house, so I’m saving time by making my dahl in advance. Curry, four nights in a row.
The dahl is rediculously easy to make, from a recipe that came to me from a cix conference. Simmer 300g of lentils in a litre of veggie stock with a chopped onion and some garlic for 20 mins. Add a tin of tomatoes, and three teaspoons of Indian spices (eg cumin, garam masala and curry powder) and simmer for a further 20 mins. Can be re-heated, is very tasty, and healthy and probably vegan (although check stock cubes…) It might even work as a sandwich spread. The only thing you have to look out for is that it will stick if you don’t keep stirring, which is why I’m typing this in the kitchen, rather than up in my office 3 flights of stairs away.
It’s been a good but busy week: I’ve started and finished designing a newspaper for a key seat, and spent some time in Chesterfield, where more of my job will be now that a colleague has decided to go back to teaching. Saturday was East Mids Lib Dems Regional Conference, which was better fun than they have been in the past. I had another outing as a trainer, repeating material from the Saturday a couple of weeks ago, and I wore a new suit to some very favourable remarks from stunned people who’ve never before seen me in anything smarter than jeans.
We had a fascinating budget meeting in the council on Thursday. We were all set for the long haul of examining turgid documents with figures in the 800 millions about how much money Nottingham City Council will be spending in the next 12 months. 10 minutes in, our glorious leader interrupted proceedings to point out that a misduplication had happened with the committee papers: one section had been reproduced twice, while a vital bit of information wasn’t there at all. The meeting finished almost there and then, but not before a Labour councillor, who’d been paying much greater attention to the numbers than I can any more highlighted a calculation error on p38 where numbers didn’t compute like they were supposed to. Red-faced accountants and committee clerks muttered apologies, and swore the papers had been proof-read by at least 3 people who’d failed to spot the howlers. This is my second budget going through the council since I got elected, and I still find the process very confusing, so I can only be impressed by the people who understand it well enough to spot the mistakes. I used to be good at figures when I was doing my maths A level, but 8 years of not practicing and my mental arithmetic skills are now really, really bad. I’m not entirely sure it’s real money: when councils get money from the government, does it sit in a bank account gathering dust until it gets spent? It’s certainly real money when it pays my allowance, and it’s real money when I pay the council Council tax…
Anyway, a long meeting finishing early gives you ‘meeting gain’ — the second lot in a week since a scoping meeting for a scrutiny project on Tuesday also finished early. So, Tuesday’s meeting gain time was spent ‘just browsing’ for a suit, which ended up with me actually buying one after a cute and attentive assistant at Slaters literally sized me up as I walked in through the door; and Thursday’s meeting gain was spent picking the suit up after they’d made some alterations. Apparently average people with my chest and wasit measurements have longer arms and legs than I do.
Right, whilst I’ve been standing here typing, tomorrow’s dahl has finished and I’m ready to pack it away and go to bed.