Things I’ve learned this week

Recent adverts on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council (one of them can be seen here) have taken a basic tautology (we are all capable of learning things) and put it to good neo-liberal use in claiming that ‘learning new skills is actually part of our DNA’, thus seeking to naturalise the attempt to get us all to turn ourselves into more attractive resources for the market.

As a response to this, I’m going to implement a new (semi-)regular feature here in which I will list things I have recently learned – interesting yet trivial facts, revealing statistics, skills that wouldn’t really fit in on my CV – that are unlikely to make me more appealing as an employment prospect.

So, this week I have learned…

1) …that Stockton, California is the sub-prime capital of the US (interesting as I am a previous resident of Stockton-on-Tees);

2) …that by the rules of cricket the maximum length a bat is allowed to be is 38 inches (I know this due to the second place tie-break question from the pub quiz at a local pub. I had said 32, the other team said 36, so we didn’t win the prize of a case of beer);

3) …how to make a delicious bacon and bean risotto:

Ingredients: stock (chicken or vegetable), garlic, cubes of bacon, risotto rice, white wine (you could probably leave the wine out – but where’s the fun in that…), beans (I used a tin of butter beans – I may experiment with other types of bean in future), Parmesan cheese. You can figure out the quantities for yourself.

Method: Heat the stock in a saucepan. Meanwhile, fry the garlic in a little oil in another pan. Increase the heat, add the bacon and fry until it begins to crisp. Reduce the heat again and stir in the rice, ensuring all the grains get coated in oil. Add a good slug of white wine. Once the wine has been absorbed add a ladel-full of stock. Add another once this is absorbed. Move the rice around with a spatula to prevent sticking, but don’t stir too vigourously. After about 15 minutes of cooking, add the beans and some grated Parmesan cheese. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, keeping adding stock as required. It’s cooked once the rice loses any chalkiness, but it should retain some firmness to the bite. Season with black pepper to taste. Wolf it down with the rest of the white wine as an accompanyment.

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~ by Steve on August 9, 2008.

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