Google analytics

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Video not working in Skype

Ever since I upgraded Skype after the Microsoft takeover I have been plagued by bad video. I chat nightly with my wife, Liz, who is several thousands of miles from me. I can usually see her - all-be-it very pixelly - but I battle to get my video camera working. I sometimes have to recycle the built-in web cam dozens of times before there is a see-able picture, and even then the connection is frequently dropped. I did some research through Google and came up with a solution on the Skype Community website. You will need to completely uninstall your current version of Skype (don't worry - you won't lose your settings - well I didn't anyway). There is a special version of Skype that solves the problem. I have only (so far) used it a couple of times, but each time the video worked immediately - in fact Liz says that she has never seen a better picture - no pixels, she can even see the time on the wall clock behind me.

So here's what you do:

That's it - simple. As I said earlier, I have been battling for months but this special version seems to have done the trick - for me anyway, although there are a few comments that say the procedure did not work for them. 

BTW I'm using a Lenovo G550 laptop with built in webcam. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Bolognaise Sauce

It has been 41°C (105°F) in the shade here in Martindale today. Many of the immigrants from out of province who have been here during the silly season have left and are making their ways home. I thought that it was about time that I published another of my recipes. Last week my good friend from Bologna in Italy (is there another one?) was staying with me and treated us to his version of this well known sauce. However, the following recipe is my own, and you will find it is delicious. Obviously the sauce is best served with pasta, however I have to admit that I am not a pasta aficionado, so although I will happily make this and serve with pasta, I personally use the sauce with mashed potatoes and green beans or Brussels sprouts.

This pic is to cool you down - Liz took it yesterday

The Ingredients

450g Lean Beef Mince
1 medium to large onion
3 large cloves of garlic (actually I use more as I love the sauce to be garlicky)
2 - 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tin (410g) Tomato Puree
½ tin chopped peeled tomatoes
1 tsp each of dried Basil, Marjoram, Thyme (fresh is better if available)
3 Bay leaves
Ground black pepper
½ Cup red wine
salt to taste.

Optional: 4 or 5 mushrooms sliced and cooked in butter.


Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan until nearly smoking. Remove from the heat.
Chop the onion finely, crush the garlic and add to the oil. Return the pan to a medium/low heat and cook the onions until nearly transparent. Add the herbs and black pepper, stir and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the beef mince, stirring and breaking up any lumps. Cook until the mince is browned right through.
Add the wine, tomato puree and tomatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for ¾ hour.
At this stage I frequently add the cooked mushrooms and stir in.
Add salt to taste

As a variation you can also add a little Cayenne Pepper or Chilli Powder with the herbs.

Tip. The above will easily serve four, but if you happen to be single or living alone, divide the sauce up into containers (I use old plastic margarine containers) and freeze. The sauce will keep well and can be defrosted and used at a later date.