101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant - Blackcurrant Ice Cream

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Blackcurrant Ice-Cream

101 Ways To Use A Blackcurrant *

(* or at least five)

Did you know that blackcurrants are banned almost throughout the entire United States of America (if you’ve been near me at all in the past six months, you probably do, and my audience isn’t all that big, but anyway, for future Googlers who get here trying to find the lyrics of You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve it might be new trivia!)? The currant family was blamed at the start of the 20th century for a disease called ‘white pine blister rust’ and was exiled by the Federal government. In recent years, some states have begun lifting the ban (thank you, New York!), but the chances of it being lifted in North Carolina are somewhat remote at the moment.

This is a bit of a problem. I am going to be moving to a place that has a Prohibition on blackcurrants. While I’m envisaging Ribena speakeasies in backalleys of Durham populated with blackcurrant-addicted flappers and supplied by British bootleggers (hello!), I’m planning on making the most of this last Summer with easy access to the currants.

Which means: prepare yourself for a lot of blackcurrant recipes throughout July and August.

I Wear A Fez Now

Bow Ties Are Cool.

I was a bit worried about Matt Smith. After two young Doctors, I was hoping for someone a bit older, and the ‘new unknown’ angle did seem to suggest that budget cuts meant they couldn’t secure the services of Chiwetel Ejiofor. Plus, come on, that forehead. So, I approached the new series with a little trepidation, my fears somewhat salved by the hoots of from Doctor/Rose ‘shippers whining about the evil Moffat replacing their beloved Doctor (and not being too keen on the relationship either).

Of course, my personal life intervened with the first episode; when it aired in Britain, I was on my honeymoon donning a cape in Brooklyn’s Superhero Supply Store and eating The Greatest Sandwich Known To Mankind. But I downloaded a copy of The Eleventh Hour and it sat on my MacBook, and then my iPad, waiting until the flight back to Britain to actually watch it.

About an hour into flight AA174, I watched the beginning of the Moffat Era. An hour later, I had a huge grin on my face - all my worries about Smith faded away within the first five minutes; a strange, ambling, gangly, cranky, goofy boy that somehow manages to look nine hundred years old despite being the youngest actor to play The Doctor. And Amelia Pond! The duck pond without any ducks! “Basically…run.” Let me tell you, there’s no better way to come back to Britain.

And now, in a few hours, I’ll be watching what’s quite possibly the last episode of Doctor Who I’ll see in this country for quite a while. Next year, I’ll be fiddling with VPNs and attempting to get iPlayer working from American shores, but tonight, it’s the last time on the sofa. It’s been a very different series from the last four years, an emphasis on plots over Russell’s insistence of character beats, which has led to claims that Amy is little more than a cipher. Still, I’d say Amy’s Choice was more affecting than any of Rose’s overwrought emotional arcs, and The Lodger managed to make me stop wanting to punch James Cordon’s face for 50 minutes, a feat previously thought impossible by modern science.

Having said all that, Chris Chibnall needs to be sent to the moon and only let out to write Law & Order UK episodes. How he managed to make the return of the Silurians boring, I still don’t know. And yes, Victory of The Daleks was a bit underwhelming, but was completely redeemed by “WOULD-YOU-LIKE-A-CUP-OF-TEA?”.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight; The Pandorica Opens was everything a RTD finale was not; slow-building, intricately-plotted, and leaving us all with the sense of “how on earth is he going to get out of that?” in the finale minute. We’ve spent all week talking about the final episode tonight - just who or what is Amy Pond? Why are there no ducks? Are there really two Doctors floating in time, or was it just a silly continuity error? What did the Doctor say to Amelia Pond when she was seven years old? Is it important that we’ve never seen any of her relatives this series, in sharp contrast to the past four years? Where can I get a bow-tie like that?

So, tonight: another good-bye to Britain. With a mad old man and his impossible box. I can only hope for a few shots of the TARDIS flying through a gasometer!

Heaven Has A North.

Heaven Has A Virgin Megastore Checkout.

WE. ARE. ALL. GETTING. ONE.

So, how do you think Flip feels today? Probably not as happy as AT&T. Suck on it, Verizon! No CDMA for you!

I can feel the power of the Reality Distortion Field. Thankfully, my upcoming move means that I am safe from buying a new iPhone, as it'd be stupid. As soon as I land in America, though, I'M GOING TO THE APPLE STORE, BABY.

A Farewell To Britain: Part One of Many

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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)

Looking Forward to the First Europe Cabinet Meeting!

I wonder how it feels to be party of a coalition of anti-Semites, homophobes, and extreme right-wingers, Nick?

(On the one hand, it looks like the Tories have pretty much given the Lib Dems everything they want, and will be tempered. On the other: George Osbourne.)

Experiments: Tempering

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*