Monthly Archives: August 2017

Prawn and Chorizo Paella

There are a few things that I have learnt from my career so far in investments. Firstly there is no magic formula. Secondly research your investments thoroughly. Thirdly adapt your strategies and investments to suit your needs. Finally trust your gut.

I am allergic to crustaceans. However my wife loves prawns. From time to time I make a particular Malabar inspired prawn curry for her. I know it is really good even though I have never tasted it. I will post that recipe some other time. This is my take on a Spanish prawn and chorizo paella. Once again this dish came out well. The quantity below is for four people.

Ingredients

Prawns: 360 grams

Chorizo: 400 grams

Red Peppers (Capsicum): 2

Onions: 2

Bomba Paella Rice: 250 grams

Saffron: A few strands

Cava or dry white wine: 200 ml

Chicken stock: 500 grams.

Lemon: 2

Dried Thyme: One tablespoon

Dried Bay leaf: 2

Olive Oil

Coarse sea salt

Black pepper powder

Paprika

1) Marinate the prawns using half a tablespoon of Paprika, half a tablespoon of dried thyme, the juice of half a lemon, two tablespoons of cold stock and half a a tablespoon of garlic paste. You can vary this quantity based on your taste. I used cooked prawns with the whole shells on it. My guess is that unshelled raw prawns will give the most flavour. If you don’t like messing up your fingers while eating then please do shell the prawns. If you are using raw prawns then make sure that they are clean and their digestive tract is removed. I used hot paprika but smoked or sweet can be used too. It will of course change the taste. I would say leave it for at least 15 minutes but the more time you can keep it then the better it will be.

2)Use a wide flat pan with a lid that sits firmly. Drizzle olive oil on a medium heat. The olive oil is used to lubricate the pan. Do not add too much oil as the chorizo will release its own oils.

3) Heat the stock. Do not boil. Take it off the heat just before it boils. Pour half of the stock in a separate container and put the saffron in it so that it can infuse with the stock.

4) As the oil is heating delink and slice the chorizo. My preference is raw cooking chorizo. If you cannot get your hands on cooking chorizo then any other chorizo will work too.

5)Once the oil is hot then add the chorizo. Let it cook until it starts to release a golden oil. Make sure that the chorizo is spread evenly across the pan. Close the pan with the lid. This should take between 3-5 minutes. Stir the chorizo once or twice in between so that it does not get burnt.

6) You can either do this step before you start cooking or at this stage. Deseed the red peppers (in certain places they are known as capsicum) and slice them into strips. Finely chop the onions. Finely chop the garlic.

7) Once the chorizo has released its oils then mix the peppers, onions and garlic into the pan. Stir until they are well coated in the oil. This will be more visible on the onions. You will know that it is well mixed when all of the onions have a nice yellow colour to it. Close the lid and let it cook until the onions soften or gets caramelised. Add a big pinch of coarse sea salt. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Stir once or twice after six minutes so that the onions do not burn. Keep the lid firmly closed. This will help it to cook better.

8) Add half a tablespoon of paprika. You can add more if you want a stronger flavour or richer colour. Add the remaining thyme. Stir and cook for a minute. Add olive oil if the pan is too dry.

9)Add the paella rice and fry for about two minutes until it is coated in oil. You can use white basmati rice if you do not have access to paella rice.

10) Add 200 ml of Cava to the rice and reduce by half. Stir so that the rice is mixed with the cava and is not stuck onto the pan. Any dry white wine will also do.

11) Add the plain and the infused stock and stir properly. Ensure that the rice is not sticking to the pan. Taste and see if you need more flavours. You can add salt and pepper at this stage. Do note that it is fine if the salt is a little less as the stock and the prawns will add more salt during the cooking process.

12) Add the prawns and mix nicely. Place two Bay leaves on top and close the lid. Increase to high heat. This will take about 15 minutes. You will know that it is starting to get ready when you get the beautiful aroma of prawns. Cook until the rice has soaked up most of the liquid.

13) Chop the parsley finely. You can use the stalks too.

14) Add most of the parsley and squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon. Taste and add salt,pepper and lemon if required.

15) Garnish with parsley and serve with a lemon or lime wedge.

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Preview England vs. Windies Test match.

I am looking forward to this test series. West Indies wants to rebrand themselves and be known as Windies now. That rebranding did not help them as Pakistan beat Windies convincingly in the West Indies. Except for the test that Windies won; the Pakistan bowlers decimated the Windies. However it is a different story in their tour matches. Their batsman have done extremely well against the English bowlers. The exception was against Kent.

England have gone in with a different team than the one that played against South Africa. Jennings and Dawson have been dropped. They have been directly replaced by Mark Stoneman and Mason Crane. Michael Woods is still injured and has been replaced by Chris Woakes. The team that I would have liked to see

1) Alastair Cook

2) Mark Stoneman

3) Joe Root

4) Dawid Malan

5) Ben Stokes

6) Jim Baristow

7) Moeen Ali

8) Toby Roland Jones

9) Chris Woakes

10) Stuart Broad

11) Jimmy Anderson

Seven players automatically get selected. So the question is the choice of Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan, Tom Westley, Toby Roland-Jones,Chris Woakes and Mason Crane. The team chosen to play are

1) Alastair Cook

2) Mark Stoneman

3) Tom Westley

4) Joe Root

5) Dawid Malan

6) Ben Stokes

7) Jim Baristow

8) Moeen Ali

9) Toby Roland Jones

10) Stuart Broad

11) Jimmy Anderson

The team that they have chosen is a good game and cannot be faulted. They have not chosen Woakes because they want to make sure he his fit especially keeping Australia in mind where Chris Woakes may be needed. I have not followed Stoneman and this is the first time I have heard about him. However England need to find a stable opening partner. So far Alastair Cook has had 11 partners so far. An opening partner must be found by the time the Ashes come up. I don’t think that The Ashes is a place to test new players. You have had greats like like Don Bradman and Graham Gooch fail on debut even though they were playing in their home country. I hope Stoneman, Westley and Malan succeed. The top order needs to get sorted. Generally your best batsman should be at number three. Trevor Bayliss wants Joe Root to bat at three but Root feels comfortable batting at four. In the top order Cook and Root are the most important players. Cook opens the batting so it is only fair that Root bats in the slot where he feels most comfortable. It is better for Root to score more runs with either Cook, Stokes, Baristow or Moeen supporting him.

This will be England’s first Day and Night test match. The first in England and the 5th overall. This will also be the first match where the Dukes pink ball will be used. England is one of those few places in the world where Test cricket is still healthy. Having a day and night match will probably be better for the game.

Detailed Analysis to follow.

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Analysis Test Series England vs. South Africa

Analysing this series from a pure numbers point of view and as a portfolio has been very interesting. To see my theory finally come alive has been rewarding. Although I have to admit the data entry has been a slight pain. If there are any good data base programs that can work well with excel then I will be grateful if you let me know.

This was a great series. It was extremely well fought. Sadly the final margin of victory does not reflect how close the series was. South Africa was 7.6% ahead after they levelled the series. This increased to 18.1% for the third test where both England and South Africa made changes. After the third test England was ahead by 9.3% and they ended with a lead of 31.4%. In comparison the West Indies and Pakistan series ended up with Pakistan leading the series by 9.5%. This should generally indicate that the test matches were closely fought. There may be some truth to this. The margins of victory were smaller. All of the matches were won on the fifth day. Apart from this the extra test and the margin of victory would have greatly contributed to the differential. I am not entirely convinced that the difference should be so great. The best way to check this is to create a benchmark or to average the scores.

The player of the series for England was Moeen Ali and for South Africa was Morne Morkel. This is where things get interesting. Root has the most points in the series. He leads Moeen by 1%. The question is whether the all round performance by Moeen Ali is better than the fairly consistent performance by Root with the bat and his captaincy. In my view the role of the captain is vital in cricket. Further this is Root’s first test as a captain. When tests go badly the captain is usually the first head to roll and get criticised . Before Cook and Strauss; you had Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen who lost their captaincy because of the bad performance of the team. Overall I would be tempted to give the Man of the series to Root. The performance of both Moeen and Root are too close to call.

The numbers do not support giving Morne Morkel the player of the series for South Africa. Yes he bowled beautifully and was unlucky not to have picked more wickets but a millimetre is the difference between not getting any wickets and getting five wickets just like a snick off the bat that could get a batsman out for a duck or the one that leads to a double hundred. For me it is clear that Hashim Amla is the man of the series for South Africa. After Amla the next best performer was Quinton De Kock. However a good portion of his score came from his wicket keeping role.

The top five performers are below

1) Joe Root

2) Moeen Ali

3)Johny Baristow

4) Ben Stokes

5) Hashim Amla

The best batsmen are below

1) Joe Root

2) Hashim Amla

3)Johny Baristow

4)Ben Stokes

5) Dean Elgar

The best bowlers are

1) Moeen Ali

2) James Anderson

3)Morne Morkel

4)Keshav Maharaj

5) Kagiso Rabada

De Kock has got more points for wicket keeping than Baristow. Both of them are pretty close for their wicket keeping. The role of the wicket keeper has changed. Your wicket keeper must be able to bat really well. It is in this department where Baristow excelled.

My playing eleven for this series would be as follows.

1) Alastair Cook

2) Dean Elgar

3) Hashim Amla

4) Joe Root (Captain)

5) Faf Du Plesis

6) Ben Stokes

7) Johny Baristow (Wicket Keeper)

8) Moeen Ali

9) Toby Roland-Jones

10) Morne Morkel

11) James Anderson

The only spot that could be up for debate is whether the number Rabada should be played instead of Rabada. You have experience with Rabada. Roland-Jones just started his international career. Rabada did get more points than Roland-Jones but Toby got more average points than Rabada. It would have been nice to have Bavuma in the mix but you can’t pick him over Du Plesis and Ben Stokes has to be in the side.

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Analysis England vs. South Africa third Test Match

South Africa did a straight swap where they replaced Duanne Olivier for Kagiso Rabada. Olivier’s performance was well below standard. His economy rate was very high. His strike rate was good but you would expect it to be significantly lower. He just gave too many runs. Of course it can be argued that it really did not matter at the end of the day because South Africa had a big lead. While this could be justified for the second innings where he gave 7.5 runs per over; you really can’t justify his first innings economy rate where he gave 5.57 runs per over. These are closer to what would be acceptable in One Day Internationals and T20’s and not in tests. The result was that South Africa started 4.1% higher than where they finished.
England made a few changes. Gary Ballance was dropped and Tom Westley was brought in at number three. Michael Wood got injured so Toby Roland-Jones was brought in to replace him. Liam Dawson was dropped and interestingly Dawid Malan was brought in to replace him. These changes made the English team look better. It also removed the illusion that Moeen Ali was their second spinner. I was sceptical about Moeen Ali wearing the hat of a spinner early on in his career. However he has improved heavily over the years and definitely deserves the title of the main spinner. These changes meant that England started 22% lower than South Africa.
The headlines may have been about Moeen Ali’s hat trick but this was definitely Ben Stokes games. A fast century and a quick fire 30 along with wickets in both the innings made sure that the deal was sealed. England excelled in their batting and bowling. Westley did reasonably well. I did wish that Malan would have done better. His performance with the white ball recently has been magnificent to say the least. I do hope he is given more chances. For the bug scores England are largely dependent on Cook, Root, Stokes, Baristow and Ali. There are still problems with the opening pair. There is no serious middle order that can be spoken of. Due to the weakness in the batting, the partnership that are essential are Root and Stokes, Stokes and Baristow and finally Moeen Ali with the tail and either Stokes or Baristow.
With this victory we have another all rounder playing an instrumental role and England regain their lead and are 9.3% ahead.

Cricket at the end of the day is a game analysed by numbers and stats but lives because of passion. Moeen Ali’s hat trick was the first in the Oval. It was the third hat trick to finish a test match in the history of test cricket. The last being in 1902. It was the first where all the batsmen who got out were left handlers. History was made. This hat trick will probably be excellent of spin bowling in England because it was done by a person who has come from the Indian subcontinent. The fact that the hat trick was achieved by a spinner in England makes it more valuable than if a seamer would have achieved it.

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Analysis England vs. South Africa 2nd Test.

As expected England played with an unchanged side and South Africa made quite a few changes. Du Plesis was back and captaining the side. Rabada was left out because he was banned for one test. South Africa also made one strategic choice by replacing de Bruyn who is more of a pseudo all rounder with Chris Morris who fits the term all rounder more suitably.
The result was that South Africa started 62% weaker than the English team. This compares to them underperforming England by 32.2% in the first test match. By the end of the test match South Africa was was in front by 7.6%.
Hashim Amla performed extremelly well with the bat. However once again it was an all round performance by Vernon Philander that sealed the match. Hashim Amla scored more runs than Philander. Chris Morris got more wickets than him. Philander's batting strike rate was much better than Amla's which meant that it was worth more. Morris had a better bowling strike rate but his economy rate was bad. Philander had a better bowling average. Faster runs combined with a better economy rate and a bowling average was too much for England. He seemed to be batting and bowling on a different wicket altogether.
My numbers indicate that England bowled better than South Africa. This is definetly because there were better individual performances from England but you had all of the South African Bowlers contributing. I am not too concerned about this because this actually shows the system is working. The match was won and lost in the batting department. The batting of South Africa was 3% better than the last test match. However England was 50% worse.
I am looking forward to the next match. South Africa will definetly bring back Rabada. England will most likely make changes.

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Masks

I acted in a play when I was in university. One of the props I used was a copper metal sheet which was shaped into a face. My director told me that my character used it to defend himself when he felt vulnerable. He used it to assert his authority. Most importantly the mask was to be a natural extension of his hand. The movement always had to be fluid like a stream of clean water no matter if the action I had to do was sudden or slow.
What are the masks that we wear to hide what is really going on? Is it a stoic face or a beautiful smile? We musicians love to hide behind our instruments and our microphones. Is it work or volunteering time whether at church or at a charity. Pastor Simon mentioned in his sermon that Paul said that the mind is the most important organ for it is by the transformation of our minds that our lives will change. If the mind is the most important part of the body and the face as well as the eyes are windows to the mind then what would happen if we use masks to hide them. We do not allow anyone a glimpse into our beautiful unique minds. We do not allow people to truly look at our lives. We all our members of one body. If we cover our face then how will the other parts of the body know that something is wrong? How will they be able to help you improve yourself? At the same time how can you see clearly if you wear a mask?
Why do we need masks when we are given the full armour of God. Most importantly we have been given the helmet of salvation. In all probability the coolus helmet was used when Ephesians was written. The coolus was simple but effective. It protected the head, the back of the neck and had protection for the ears. The soldier did not have anything that would obstruct his view. His face could clearly be seen by anyone who saw him. If there was something wrong with the armour of the soldier then you had a minimum of 80 people who could help him. There were 80 people from whom you could learn things. Are we ready to drop our masks so that we can help ourselves by allowing others to help us? Are we ready to wear the whole armour of God? If we are not then why so? Getting rid of masks that we have plastered all over our face will not be easy. I strongly believe that God will give us the right tools to get rid of it. Once we do that we will be better off.

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