September 25th, 2011


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September Books 17) Storm Harvest, by Robert Perry and Mike Tucker

A Seventh Doctor novel set between Survival and the start of the New Adventures, following sequentially from Matrix by the same authors. Having just listened to the Big Finish "Lost Stories" set in the same chronological gap, I am struck by how much better both this book and its predecessor are. From the story point of view, it is a basic alien invasion of a future human colony; but there is a lot of very pleasing homage to hard sf classics, particularly the intelligent dolphins of David Brin's Uplift series, and monsters reminiscent of the various works of Larry Niven. Ace, as sole companion, gets some very decent character development setting her up for the more mature arc of the New Adventures; Perry and Tucker remind us that she has already been travelling with the Doctor for three years by this point. So, rather a good one.

Pasta and houmous/hummus/حمّص sauce

You may spell it hummus, you may spell it houmous, you may spell it حمّص; but somehow I had not thought of using it as the base for a pasta sauce before. Normally I like to cook a thick cheese sauce for my lunchtime pasta, but this weekend we were temporarily out of milk and my eye fell on a full pot of the stuff. A little recipe googling and I found various options which I adapted as follows:

1) Set your pasta boiling
2) Lightly fry a few vegetables - I did three very big mushrooms and a quarter of a green pepper, all finely chopped, for two people; I could profitably have included onion as well, or aubergine instead of the mushrooms
3) When the vegetables are transparent, turn the heat way down, tip in the houmous and a couple of spoonfuls of water per person, also salt and pepper (I regretted having no coriander leaf), and stir till it has a constant consistency
4) Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, or vice versa
5) Serve and eat

Houmous is a bit too thick in flavour to work as a sauce on its own, but thinned a bit and with the mushrooms and green pepper for extra texture, it did very nicely; the whole procedure took about ten minutes from start to serving.

The Doomsday Quatrain, House of Blue Fire

Having whined last week about the recent "Lost Stories" of the Seventh Doctor released by Big Finish, I'm glad to report that this month's two plays in the regular sequence, both featuring the Seventh Doctor with no companions, are a bit better.

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Both stories share a questioning of reality reminiscent of Philip K Dick, and also reflected in several of this year's TV episodes, though that is probably a coincidence. Good listening but probably a bit impenetrable for non-Who fans.

McCoy mentions on the extras track that he is off to New Zealand to appear in The Hobbit (which I knew) and that he was the reserve choice after Ian Holm for Bilbo in the Lord of the Rings films (which I didn't know). Looking forward to seeing him as Radagast!