Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Thai Green Paste

There are a lot of advantages to making the base pastes for Thai curries yourself. Firstly, you know what goes in them, secondly they’re going to be as fresh as can possibly be, thirdly you get to adjust the ingredients to make them your own. I’ve done this for years, cutting the chilli content down when my kids were younger, now starting to bring it back up to a full-heat version as they’re all getting a lot more tolerant!

There’ll be a lot of recipes out there on the internet for this, this is the one I use when making it for the family.


  • 1/2 tsp White peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4 sticks lemon grass (trim off the dry green bits and the root-ends)
  • 2tsp ginger (galangal if you can get it)
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander stalk (never have been able to get the root, if you can then go for it – and tell me where you got it)
  • 1 small onion or 5 shallots
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled to give you all the cloves you could possibly want (and then add a couple more, just to be safe)
  • Chillies to taste (see below)


Dry-fry the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin, and shrimp paste (wrap it in a little foil first) for a couple or three minutes in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. You should be able to move the seeds around with your fingertips and not get burned. This stage smells divine. Really, you should do this with whole spices whenever you’re using them, before you grind them. Makes a difference! Allow to cool and then crush the seeds to powder. Don’t try and crush the shrimp paste, you only make that mistake once!

Now for the really complicated bit. The chillies. If you want this a full-heat, no-holds-barred, toilet-paper-in-the-fridge paste, whack in ~15 long green chillies. Want less heat? Use less chillies. I substitute green bell peppers or poblanos if I’ve got them with a ratio of 5 hot chillies = 1 poblano or 1/2 a bell pepper. Right now, I’m usually making this paste with 2 or 3 long green chillies and 1 green pepper (de-seeded)

Put everything in your blender (or go old-school and use a pestle and mortar) and turn it into a smoothish paste.

Job done. Freeze what you don’t use in an ice cube tray, that way when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of Thai green paste you can chuck in a couple of ice-cubes’ worth and you’re golden.

Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

I am the very model of a trainee pedagogical…

I found this in my notes today…

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan, who’s Major-General’s Song I have done better justice to using their lyrics, and grateful thanks to Nikki Benjamin and everyone on the Deepings SCITT.

To the tune of “The Major-General’s Song” from G&S Pirates of Penzance… Sort of… If you squint…

I am the very model of a trainee pedagogical
I’ve knowledge differentiated, scaffolded, and practical
I know my Blooms Taxonomy, Growth Mindset, and Pia-a-get
With learner progress at the heart of lesson planning every day

I’m very well acquainted too with Pavlov, Dweick, and Vygostsky,
I understand assessment both the formative and summative
About the latest research I am teaming with a lot of news…
…With many cheerful facts from TES, the DofE, and Twitterverse

I’m very good at thinking hard and assessment for lear-er-ning,
I know my HPAs need lots of higher order questioning,
In short with differentiation, scaffolding, and AFL
I am the very model of a trainee pedagogical.

I’ve observed others teaching and I’ve cherry picked their best ideas,
I’ve powerpoints and handouts that should keep me sweet for several years,
I’ve watched behaviour management and witnessed both the good and bad,
and year 9’s lack of interaction very nearly drove me bad.

When I no longer quake in fear when presenting to those in Year 4,
And whistle up a lesson plan for a subject I’ve not taught before,

But still with differentiation, scaffolding, and AFL
I am the very model of a trainee pedagogical!

slow tempo…

In fact when I know what is meant by questioning and plenary,
When I can tell on sight an HPA from G and T,
When such affairs as questioning and starters I’m more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by proximal development.

When I have learned what progress has been made in classroom ICT,
When I know more assessment than both Ofsted and the D of E,
In fact when I’ve a modicum of behavioural strategy,
You’ll say a better trainee never passed their PGCE!

back to speed

For my subject knowledge audit though I’m plucky and adventury,
it’s only up to date around the end of the last century.

But still with differentiation, scaffolding, and AFL
I am the very model of a trainee pedagogical.

So yeah. It’s not perfect, and I think there’s a couple of lines missing. And there’s some very creating rhyming in there! Suggestions for improvements probably welcome!

Bake like you mean it Recipe Shed

Nigel, our new doughy overlord

I don’t usually name doughs. Obviously, a sourdough starter has to have a name (Herman, in this house) but others? Nah, not necessary. But my daughter called this one Nigel and Nigel he will forever be.

Nigel is a rich dough. Probably the richest I’ve ever worked with (though, all credit, it was my wife who did the majority of the work). He’s the dough you need to make Liege waffles, the requested birthday lunch for my youngest lad.

As with most recipes, we looked at a few from the internet and cherry-picked the bits that looked like they would work when combined with our usual go-to sources – The Cookery Year Book and Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Oh, and we also made more than anyone suggested – there’s 7 of us, it’s a birthday feast, we’re all going to want a few.

Ingredients, stage 1…

  • 240ml milk, luke-warm
  • 180ml luke-warm water
  • 3 sachets instant yeast
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2tbs vanilla extract
  • 4tbs golden syrup or honey
  • 6tbs sugar – light brown if you’ve got it, caster if you haven’t (we didn’t. I blame COVID-19. We’re just lucky we had the flour!)
  • 2tsp salt

Fit your trusty Kenwood with a dough hook (other mixers are available, trust me you do not want to be doing Nigel by hand!). Put all of the above into the bowl, mix until well combined. The sugar, syrup, and yeast are going to start to react and turn all of the sugar into alcohol and CO2. It’s going to rise like nothing you’ve ever seen before even though it’s the richest damn dough I’ve ever handled and they’re normally shy, quiet, and reserved.

Ingredients, stage 2…

  • ~1kg strong white flour
  • 2 packs of butter (standard Supermarket 8oz packs), softened but not completely melted if you can help it.

Get the mixer on a low speed and add in 3/4 of the flour. Get it combined with the yeasty bad boy you made in stage 1. Now start adding the butter. Couple of tablespoons at a time, getting it thoroughly integrated with the proto-dough you’ve got emerging. Keep going until you’ve mixed in all of the butter, then add the rest of the flour. Leave it on a low speed for 5-10 minutes to give you a gorgeous, smooth, elastic dough. If you try it now, it tastes rich and fantastic.

Take the bowl off the mixer, making sure you scrape down the dough hook (which has a tendency to hang on to nearly a whole waffle’s worth of dough), cover with clingfilm and leave until doubled in size. Timings across the internets vary, most suggesting 1-2 hours. We found 30 minutes was enough in a warm kitchen before we were facing a “magic porridge pot” situation – stop, little pot, stop!

Nigel was then dumped unceremoniously into a much larger bowl, lightly oiled, kneaded briefly, then covered with clingfilm and escorted safely to the fridge where armed guards would stop him escaping and trying to take over the world. Trust me, we feared for the world we’d come down to the next morning.

Having rested in the fridge overnight, letting the yeast do it’s work low and slow (a trick that works like a charm when you’re making sourdough or even just regular bread and have the time to do it), Nigel looked like this:

The dough, risen in a lightly oiled bowl and covered with clingfilm.

Not a world-dominating monster but still pretty damn enormous. If you taste the dough now, you’d better not be driving anywhere in a hurry because damn, it’s alcoholic! Time for the final ingredient:

Ingredients, stage 3…

  • 500g pearl sugar

We’ve got pearl sugar from Amazon, you can get it from wherever you find it. I’m sure there’s a Waitrose Essentials version.

Knead all of the pearl sugar into the dough.

Now time for the magic. Get your waffle iron heating up and ready. I did say you needed a waffle iron for this, didn’t I? Argos have a great little one for about £20 if you’re needing one.

Pull off a chunk of the dough about the size of a golfball, put it in the middle of the plate. Our maker does 2 waffles, so that’s 2 golfballs. Cook according to the iron’s instructions – 3-4 minutes, turn, 3-4 minutes, serve.

And you end up with these beauties…

Okay, so our other waffle iron does clown, lion, and possibly elephant shapes.

Thank you to all of our internet sources for inspiration and information. Particularly Handle the Heat who’s recipe provided the base for ours once we’d translated it into real measurements. Seriously, America, cups? In the 21st Century? We’ve got the metric system for a reason!