In a few (where few can be considered to be a number greater than five, but with an upper bound determined only by the intricacies of the US immigration services) months, I'm going to be leaving the UK.
(It's not quite doing a Phil Collins, honest. Incidentally, my post-Coalition meltdown has receded a little, finding myself in the frankly bizarre position of looking forward to most of the 'Great Repeal', although trying to make it out that it's more important than extending the right of universal suffrage smacks a little of hyperbole, Mr. Clegg)
Anyway, I will be leaving, and this will be my last Summer in Britain. So there will be a need to do some things before I go. Like going to the seaside, making sandcastles and playing crazy golf (thinking about the future, obviously), walking on the South Bank as the sun goes down, a trip back up to Manchester to see the hallowed ground of BBC North, a few concerts here and there, and of course the World Cup (even if I'm not much of a football fan).
This will be followed by an overdose of DVD watching of childhood favourites like Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Dark Season, plus a skip through of The Beiderbecke Affair, Boys From The Blackstuff, Jeeves & Wooster, and as much Doctor Who as my family can bear. It's going to be fun.
After all that, I will probably spend the first couple of months in Durham wearing a suit and bowler hat whilst being insufferably Britain. Sorry about that in advance, people of Durham. But! Because I simply can't bring over shipping containers full of hobnobs, chocolate digestives and HP sauce over with me, I need to learn how to make a few things.
(Believe me, I've seen what they try to pass off as mincemeat in American supermarkets. shudder)
Sherbet in America means a frozen dessert similar to a sorbet, not the fizzy joy that hung around the 1p / 2p sweet sections of the newsagents of my youth. This did lead to some funny looks whilst in America when I gleefully told people that I was making it; the white powder was not quite what they were expecting.
But how does it work and how can I make it? The fizz is the result of the reaction that occurs when a mixture of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate meets water (i.e. your mouth). However, you need to mask the flavour of the bicarb and cut the massive sourness of the acid somehow. And traditionally, that's done by using a considerable amount of icing sugar. It is a sweet, after all.
Sherbet Base Recipe
2 tablespoons icing sugar
¼ teaspoon citric acid
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
There's very little to it; mix together, sift into a bowl, and package (given that I've been ill all week, this is about as much cooking as I'm up to right now). The citric acid will give it the classic, almost lemon-like flavour (you can adjust the citric/bicarb levels to your taste; if you make it too sour with the citric acid, you can just add in more icing sugar to soften it again). All you need now is a stick of liquorice and you're done!
Except I'm never satisfied. One of the things I'd like at Fallout Durham is a selection of different flavoured sherbets sold in little packages with lollipops. Sweet paprika sherbet, anybody? Szechuan Pepper? No? Nobody?
Bah. WHERE'S YOUR SENSE OF ADVENTURE, PEOPLE?
Okay, I decided to make a small step rather than a big leap. A handful of freeze-dried blackcurrants, ground to dust in a coffee grinder and folded into the sherbet mixture. Fizz and blackcurrant - the only thing that could make it more British would be to stick a Union Jack on it…
(and yes, I do plan on exploring making liquorice sticks as well. But that'll be a little bit later)
An idle thought on a Sunday morning: a tempering machine is little more than a computer-controlled heating element with a great big stirrer in it. The element heats the chocolate up to the point where all the crystals in the cocoa butter melt, while the stirrer agitates the mixture, making the stable crystals form (the ones that make chocolate shiny and have a good snap). As the chocolate is stirred, it cools, until the element kicks in again to bring the chocolate up to a working temperature (around 32ºC). Easy, but expensive - tempering machines start from around £500.
But I have a KitchenAid (well, technically, I have two, but the other is 4,000 miles away. And really really technically, I have half and half, so maybe I only have one KitchenAid after all, but I digress). It does a very good job of stirring. It does lack a heating element, but if I used a hairdryer, I could bring the temperature up to the working one when necessary.
And it works. I seem to be able to temper chocolate without having to stand around and stir vigorously for fifteen minutes. This could be very useful! I still need to experiment a little more - I only tempered 500g of milk chocolate this afternoon, so I need to try dark and white, whilst seeing if I can push the quantities up to 800g-1kg. And then, my pretties, and then, muahahahahaha! *dons the Willy Wonka hat*
Getting ready to go - hours of flight tomorrow, and then hitting the ground running. Eeep.
Coming soon: http://falloutdurham.com/live - will hopefully have video streaming and live Twitter updates throughout the week and especially on the day itself.
For those of you coming next week, we both look forward to seeing you! If not, we hope you can follow along vicariously on the website - thanks to everybody who has given us their best wishes in the past few weeks.
PLUS! SPITFIRES FIGHTING FLYING SAUCERS!
(I will be torrenting, obviously!)
Thanks for everybody who’s voted so far at the Jukebox. Due to a few last-minute issues with venues, it remains to be seen just how much of them we’ll get through, but keep voting!
Meanwhile, my sister is designing the greatest (and geekiest) wedding cake I’ve seen for ages (though she has been threatening violence after spending days working out Pac-Man grid patterns…), projector and Quartz videowall are almost sorted, bands are arranged, food is confirmed…yes, we’re getting there.
15 days to go. Let’s do this wedding thing!
Okay, let’s try this again - the Fallout Jukebox has had a MySQL and DataMapper make-over, and seems to be a lot happier as a result. Vote early and vote often! (up to 15 times per day per IP address!)
(I reserve the right to jettison ABBA and Queen suggestions at any moment ;))
One way of fixing it is to remove -DHAVE_MYSQL_SSL_SET from the Makefile flags in ~/.gem/ruby/1.8/gems/do_mysql-0.10.1/ext, then do a make clean; make; make install.
(because the Internet had nothing for me and I spent three hours going down blind alleys to no avail)