Bottom of the Freezer Cooking (with your chef Tooty Nolan)

Everyone knows how easy it is to fill the family freezer to bursting point. Miss-matched items just seem to proliferate behind our backs. Well I’m not immune myself. In fact I’m so un-immune that I had to buy a second freezer – which quickly duplicated the first. The kitchen cupboards aren’t any better. If anything, they’re actually worst. I had to build some hidden shelving, just to house the tins of baked beans,chopped tomatoes, pasta, and sweet and sour sauce that were threatening to tear the high-level units off the wall. And I don’t want to think about what’s lurking in the cupboard under the stairs! So, recently, I thought the time was right for a purge. I don’t mean throwing good food away: I mean using the stuff up, irrespective of it’s suitability. And just to show you well it can work, if a little imagination is used, here is the photographic journey of last night’s meal that I shared with my two hungry children.

First up I thought I’d use some sausages that were so ghastly when we first tried them, a couple of years ago, that we vowed never to touch them again…

A quick defrost in the microwave and an even quicker chop…

Then its virgin olive oil in the pan…

Turn on the gas at a medium heat…

…and start sizzling…

And just to prove that it really is your favourite author doing all the donkey work…

Next up is pretty obvious. It has to be that split bag of potato and leek soup mix vegetables…

In it goes…

Crikey, those potatoes are gonna taking some cooking!

Okay, now for the wall units. Ah, what’s this? Perfect – that’s what it is…

Right then – chuck it in…

Nice, but not quite there yet. I know: there must be five or six packs of that freezer-burnt pulled ham in the bottom drawer…

Yup – in that goes too…

But wait – those potatoes are still half-raw. Some boiling water should take care of that..,

Simmer for eternity…

Then select a bed upon which to lay this fabulous concoction…

Kinda similar: They’ll do – especially since they’ll take a mere four minutes in the microwave to cook. And they did too…

May I present Tooty’s Cat Sick Supper. Weird, but wonderful. Well, edible anyway. Which shows that if the sauce is strong enough, any old crap will make a tasty meal.

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Distant Land (part 38)

Of course, being power generation engineers, Beaufort and Richter knew their way around the back alleys and secret conduits of the maintenance department like the back of their hand. Despite this, Beaufort was a little surprised to find himself standing atop the Mud Village exhibit, which hailed from a future era in which everyone became fervently ecological and gave up concrete and bricks for several generations, until one particularly wet night when every house in the world dissolved back into slimy soil and people were forced to sleep under hedges, straw bales, and raffia mats…

What surprised him less was the sight of the barely visible electromagnetic defensive screen that had been erected to ward off the dramatic climatic change.

“That must take almost every erg of energy the museum can produce.” He exclaimed. “But how long can they keep it up? Eventually it’s bound to fail. Then it’s curtains for everyone. Oh lummy, Richter: we’re gonna die. And after all we’ve been through too. It isn’t fair!”

But Richter was less pessimistic: “Oh I don’t know: those scientists are a clever bunch of so-and-so’s: one of them is bound to think of something. Come on, let’s get inside the exhibit; then we can make our way into the museum proper.”

So with slightly gladdened hearts, the brothers proceeded…

It was a difficult descent down slippery steps that hadn’t benefited from dry-air dehumidifying since the crisis had begun…

But the brother’s ‘space legs’ served them well on the uneven treads; and soon they reached the bottom, where they knew of a fire exit…

…that would allow them entry into the main building…

“It’s certainly warmer in here.” Richter observed.

“Not for much longer.” Beaufort complained.

Nothing more was said until they approached the tunnel that took them within spitting distance of the royal palace. It was there that they heard a loud-speaker announcement, which informed them that their arrival had been detected and that they had been summoned to a meeting with the scientists and Princess Cake… 

“Ooh,” an impressed Richter said in a stage whisper, “they don’t miss much, do they!”

Naturally the brothers attended…

…and what they learned astonished them. Two things actually. One: Dennis Tawdry had run out of fresh underpants and had attended the meeting sans lingerie. Two: Princess Cake was delighted to announce that Whoops Brannigan’s team had calculated that, by using the same device with which they had accessed the alternate reality and caused global ruin, it was possible to send everyone into another – hopefully safer – dimension.

“Did you hear that, Richter.” Beaufort whispered as the others spent a few moments feeling self-satisfied and smug, “we can escape this living hell – soon to become a dying hell?”

Beaufort had; but he was more concerned that Dennis had nothing more than the material of his lab coat protecting them all from his hideous wind breaks. Then Princess Cake took a few moments to tell the boys a tale of bravery that she believed should be a source of inspiration for everyone. Two tales actually. One about a father and son: another about a beautiful female earplug who was the Mother Superior to a team of Adventure Geisha.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019 

 

Distant Land (part 37)

For a moment the brothers simply stood stock still and watched the storm rage beyond the transparent opening in the hull – known, technically at least, as a ‘window’…

“Okay.” Richter said with a shrug of his shoulders. “It’s not an experience I’d care to share either.” And he duly made tracks…

…towards the bulkhead door…

…which opened at his approach…

…and allowed ingress of only a tiny proportion of the bitter cold from outside…

It was several hours later that the brothers finally laid their plans for approaching the museum in relative safety. They decided to ride a low-altitude two-seater sky-cycle, which Richter was to pilot…

But when he read this message upon the dashboard…

…he was struck with the realization that any flight taken during a blizzard aboard the fair weather craft was doomed to failure. So (after cursing the sky-cycle’s designers) instead they…

…thought it best to test the strength of the frozen river, upon which the Gravity Whelk had landed.

“It’s a bit – you know – slushy, isn’t it?” Beaufort half-stated/ half-inquired.

Indeed it was. In fact they both wondered how the ship had remained upright on such structurally unsound footings. But then Beaufort slipped into the icy liquid accidentally and discovered that the river was actually very shallow…

“Hey,” Richter exclaimed. “That’s given me an idea.”

Three minutes later…

…the brothers were riding the ships’ life raft through the semi-frozen waters…

“Are you sure this river will take us to the Museum of Future Technology?” Beaufort asked from the forward passenger seat.

“Indubitably.” Richter replied. “It’s the source of the power generator’s coolant supply. I thought everyone knew that.”

Naturally Richter was entirely correct; and in a short while the flowing slush had carried the life raft to the outer walls of their destination, where they quickly disembarked before it transported them all the way to the distant frozen sea…

“Look.” Richter said with a triumphant squeal. “The emergency back door to the Maintenance Shed!”

And he was right…

“Quick.” Beaufort yelled, as he pushed past and dashed through the deepening snow towards the inviting entrance. “Without thermal underpants on, this weather is playing merry hell with my bladder!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Distant Land (part 36)

Well, as luck would have it, someone had forgotten to switch off the museum’s Racing Plugmutt homing beacon. So, before very long, the Gravity Whelk’s atmospheric drive roared above the Museum of Future Technology in a blaze of fury…

“There it is.” Richter yelled in unadulterated joy. “Down there – below us. Call them up! Call them up!”

Beaufort was no less enthusiastic; so it was with dejection that he felt compelled to inform his brother of the radio silence that greeted his hail.

“Arse!” Richter yelled in disappointment. “I’m so disappointed I could cry. Try another pass: maybe someone will notice us out of their bathroom window.”

Beaufort had similar thoughts, and within seconds he’d instructed the Automatic Pilot to perform a U-turn…

“Best be careful.” The Automatic Pilot warned the siblings. “The Museum has automatic defences – against marauding aliens from outer space and suchlike. You don’t want to get us shot out of the sky, I hope.”

This was a situation that neither brother had considered. Now they did. “Take us somewhere else.” Richter yelped in an embarrassingly high pitched voice.

Beaufort took a second or two deliberating: “Somewhere nearby, but not too nearby.” He added.

So, moments later…

…the ship headed for the nearby hills, where…

…its sole occupants disembarked.

“Was our world ever this cold?” Richter asked as he stared at the snowy hills, beyond which their home lay quiescent and strangely foreboding.

“No.” Beaufort replied. “Not even during winter. Something happened while we were gallivanting about the Galaxy upon a fools’ errand. By the way – I wish I had some thermal underpants on.”

Richter felt much the same way. “Do we have any aboard ship?” He inquired.

Beaufort thought about the question…

“No.” He answered finally. “But if we visit a city, we might find some in a department store.”

Richter didn’t hesitate: “Let’s go!” He yelled.

But when the ship grounded once more – on the outskirts of the nearest city – Ciudad De Droxford – they discovered that it was…

…thoroughly snowed-in, ice-bound, and barely visible through the blizzard that greeted them.

“Arse again!” Richter growled as he and Beaufort looked out of the Viewing Room window…

Richter sighed. “I guess there’s no point in searching for survivors. Surely anyone with more than two brain cells would have made tracks to the Museum long ago.”

Beaufort also sighed. Then his gaze fell upon the Space Loo that glowed invitingly upon the other side of the Viewing Room. “Oh, that reminds me: I’m desperate for a pee. I hope you don’t mind, but I like to do it alone.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

Great Nook Spikes!

At first glance that title might appear nonsensical. Who is Great Nook and what has he/she spiked? Sadly it’s nothing so fascinating: just me bringing some book sales stats to your attention. It’s just that recently there has been a slight spike in my book sales – notably the ‘Silent’ books…

…which is excellent: they are (after all) my better work. But, in the time honoured fashion, all sales have been to Barnes & Noble Nook users. Once again the Kindle readers have been left languishing in their wake – having taken only the ‘freebie’ Junior Earplug Adventure e-books. Hip, hip, hooray to all you Nook readers: and yah-boo sucks to the freeloaders – unless you come back to buy some of the non-freebie tales, in which case I would have to tell you that I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. But, at the moment, I only love you from the heart of my bottom. So get on over to the sidebar (or the relevant page beneath the header above, if you’re using a tablet or phone to view this) and start selecting a wondrous e-tome or two. Stand out from the crowd why don’t you!

Early Work Gets a MASSIVE Makeover

For some while now the quality of my early Earplug Adventures – both script and photos – has concerned me. At the time (2014) I was dipping my metaphorical toe into the art and didn’t really know what to expect. I used a nasty cheap camera: I had a very limited supply of ‘actors’: my computer programs available to me were the basics that come with Windows 7: even my pens failed to write properly when I drew faces upon the the earplugs: and I didn’t have a story either. So I suppose its a surprise that I was able to produce The Museum of Future Technology at all. On top of that, for some reason, the photographic quality dipped further as I transferred the pictures from one file to another as they were integrated into the final manuscript. So I thought the time was right for a makeover. No re-shooting, obviously – that would take months: but a general clean up of the pictures – making facial characteristics clearer and adding a few special effects – and a re-jigging of some of the prose, was in order. Well its not yet complete, but here’s a sample of some of the pictures…

When its done I’ll pull the original version of the e-book, and replace it  with the new and improved version. You know, I might even label it as such. Good idea, yes? Will it be worth the effort?

Tooty

Distant Land (part 35)

Meanwhile, Folie, Placebo, and the others continued to stare in utter fascination at the bridge main viewer…

And what it showed at that particular moment was a spectacular head-on shot of the Gravity Whelk against a backdrop of stars…

Placebo was about to say something along the lines of: “Wow, how did they get that shot? Do they have a huge, invisible selfie stick or something?” when the view reversed…

“Ooh,” Folie managed, “a big star. Do you think that object in the top right quadrant is a planet?” But he shut up when the view altered again…

“That sure is a pretty ship.” Placebo opined in a  breathless rush. “And look how close it passed to that star. Look – it’s turning to port. It’s surely heading for…

…that planet. Oh, by the Saint of All Earplugs: it’s a frozen world!”

Then it became clear to those watching that the pause in commentary had been inserted so that they could enjoy the aesthetics of space craft in their natural environment. So, once more, the tale was taken up…

“Flipping heck.” Beaufort cried out at the planetary apparition, as the Gravity Whelk made a fly-past. “What the flip has happened on our home world? It’s gone all icy!”  

“Dunno.” Richter replied grumpily. “But we didn’t come half way across eternity to turn away now: We’re going in.”

So they did…

And before very long they were plummeting through the atmosphere towards the frozen surface…

Above which they skimmed at intolerably low altitude…

“Beaufort.” Richter called above the noise of keening air as it tore at the blunt prow and bulbous flanks of the large vessel. “See if you can locate the Museum of Future Technology. If that’s gone, the world is done for!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019