Thursday, 14 June 2012

Playing around with Disqus

This is not a serious post. I just wanted to test the Disqus 2012 and see how it works.

The most interesting feature is the real time updating, so there's no need to refresh the page to see new comments. On the other hand, the avatars are very small and there's no option to make them bigger.

Do comment on it, is it better than the old Disqus? Do you love it or hate it?

[I've changed it back to the old Disqus because the new version is really irritating.]

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Bye bye, Sarah

This week has been very liberating for me. I'm convinced that I wrote everything I could possibly have written about Sarah Palin. However outrageous her behaviour from now on, it would just be a replay of some previous idiocy.

There are excellent blogs on my blog list where you can follow her antics, some of them still pursuing the truth about Babygate, always a very popular topic.

I won't be writing main posts anymore and I think it's pointless to keep a political blog running on open threads alone. I designed a new blog back in February, when the fate of Palingates was uncertain. The idea was to do what we normally do on the open threads: A mix of everything, with contributions from the readers or anything that took my fancy. It's time to bring it to life!

As Palingates will be frozen in time and comments will automatically close after fourteen days, all readers are invited to continue chatting, sharing and venting HERE. I believe this community deserves a dedicated space to continue to pursue their friendships and I hope you'll feel comfortable in the new home. That means there will be no open thread on Palingates today... or tomorrow or the day after.

I may not post on Palingates anymore, but the blog list will be automatically updated as usual, so you may continue to use it to access other blogs, if you wish.

It's been fun for two and a half years and I'm grateful to Sarah Palin for bringing us together.

Bye bye, Sarah.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Open Thread - Friday

Mrsgunka sent me some photos of this aeroplane. The airline definitely has a good sense of humour.

Another funny design:

Their announcements are quite amusing too:

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced,

"People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"


On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said,

"Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."


"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."


As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker:

"Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"


"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."


"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."


"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.."


"Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"


Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town, on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said,

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"


An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline". He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said,

"Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?"
The little old lady said,
"Did we land, or were we shot down?"


"Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing... If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Thank you, Mrsgunka!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Open thread - Thursday

Today we're taking a trip to Algeria, a country of constrasts. It has a beautiful coastline and a vast expanse of desert. The original people of Algeria were the Berbers, then came the Arabs and the French...

North African food is delicious, with very deep flavours. The smells in the kitchen are something else when a tagine is being cooked!

A tagine is a North African stew made in an earthenware dish that has a conical top. You can make a tagine in other types of heavy casseroles, like enameled cast iron, but you can use an earthenware set over a flame tamer. I selected three different recipes, the first two cooked in heavy saucepans and the third using a slow cooker.

Vegetarian Tagine


1 1/2 pounds okra, ends trimmed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 pound small boiling potatoes, like fingerlings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound tomatoes, seeded and grated; or peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 teaspoon spice mix (see below)
1 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1/2 preserved lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Place the okra in a large bowl. Salt generously, douse with the vinegar, and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the remaining ingredients, tossing from time to time. Drain the okra, and rinse thoroughly. If the potatoes are not very small (no more than 1 inch wide and no more than 2 inches long), quarter them or cut them in half.

2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy casserole or (preferably) an earthenware pot set over a flame tamer. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, and stir for about half a minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, spice mix, turmeric, saffron and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the dissolved tomato paste, and bring to a simmer.

3. Add the potatoes, okra and the preserved lemon. Cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour, adding a small amount of water if the mixture seems dry, until the potatoes and okra are tender and the sauce they have cooked in is thick. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Algerian Spice Mix

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1. Mix all of the spices together. Keep in a jar in a cool place or in the freezer.

Lamb Tagine


1 pound lamb (cut into bite sized pieces)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon lemon (zest)
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon garlic (grated)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or chopped sun dried tomatoes)
1-2 cups beef stock
3/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons harissa
1/4 cup pistachios (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped, optional)
1 cup Greek style yogurt (optional)


1. Mix the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cayenne pepper, saffron, lemon zest and oil in a ziplock bag.
2. Add the lamb, mix well and marinate the fridge for a few hours to overnight.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan.
4. Add the lamb, brown well on all sides and set aside.
5. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute.
7. Add the lamb and tomato paste and cover with beef stock.
8. Bring to a boil, reduce the meat and simmer covered until the lamb is fall apart tender, about 2-3 hours.
9. Add the apricots, raisins and more beef stock to cover.
10. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
11. Add the honey and harissa.
12. Serve on couscous and garnished with pistachios, cilantro, parsley and Greek yogurt.

Chicken Tagine 


8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


* Searing the chicken before adding it to the crock pot is important to lock in flavour.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken pieces and eggplant in the heated oil; stir and cook until the chicken is browned on all sides but not cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place the browned chicken and eggplant on the bottom of a slow cooker. Layer the onion, carrots, cranberries, and apricots over the chicken.

Whisk together the chicken broth, tomato paste, lemon juice, flour, garlic salt, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and ground black pepper in a bowl. Pour the broth mixture into the slow cooker with the chicken and vegetables.

Cook on Low setting for 8 hours.


1 cup water
1 cup couscous

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Stir in couscous, and remove from heat. Cover, and let stand about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.


I'm a great fan of Algerian music. The three singers in this video are very popular in France.

And here is Rachid Taha on his own, in a strange, weird video, but I like the song.