FOODSCIENCE: Agar Agar Agar Agar Agar!

We all remember agar, yes? Using it in petri dishes for growing bacteria? What you may not know is that you can use agar for other things. Edible things. It turns out that it can take the place of gelatin in many recipes, especially jellies. Which is quite handy if you’re a vegetarian, unless you like marshmallows, as it doesn’t quite work in the same manner. Today’s FOODSCIENCE! is all about agar!

The first experiment of the day was to try and recreate the chocolate jelly seen oh-so-briefly on Masterchef a few weeks ago. Nothing special here: melt 100g of chocolate with 300ml of water, mix in some agar and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a mould. Leave in the fridge for two hours, and you get this:

Chocolate Jelly!

It looks much better than it tastes, sadly. I’m guessing that it might have turned out more like it looked on television if I used dark chocolate and a little more agar to make it firmer.

That was just the prelude, though. The real reason that I got the agar was spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti.

The Equipment

It’s quite simple. You first make an agar solution in the normal way (I used orange juice and strawberries in two separate batches) and pour it into a squeezy bottle. Then you squeeze the mixture into a series of coiled PVC tubes, placing each one in a bowl of iced water to help the solution set faster.

Setting the agar

Now comes the magic! The trusty iSi whipper comes in handy yet again. Charge up the whipper with a canister as usual, and place the tube on the nozzle. Press down, CAREFULLY!, and a noodle of spaghetti will shoot right out. Repeat with the other tubes, then fill them up again for another set of noodles!

I learnt a few things. Firstly, when they say CAREFULLY, they really mean it. Press down too hard on the whipper and you’ll send the noodle shooting across the kitchen. Secondly, fruit purees are far too thick to be inserted into the tubes. After two unsuccessful attempts, I watered down the strawberry puree with orange juice and managed to get a couple of noodles from the remaining mixture. I’m thinking that the best idea is to use the gelatine filtration method to produce a consommé first, and then mix the agar into that. If I have time, I may try that before I go to America (the process takes a few days to work).

Still, they do look pretty, don’t they?

Noodles!

currently playing: The Long Blondes – Nostalgia

SAT FUN!

At The Club :: Get In

Somebody To Drive You Home :: Couples

Texas, Ohio

You broke my heart, Texas You broke my heart.

currently playing: Orange Juice – Tender Object

Snapshots...

Vermont passes resolution calling for the arrest of George Bush and Dick Cheney (Vermont is the only state in the union that the President hasn’t visited while in office)…Ohio continues its winning streak in electoral shame by running out of ballots in some counties…leaked results from Texas have Obama up by over ten points in early voting…Obama up 130,000 in Texas with 750,000 early ballots counted…surely that can’t be right…to compare…McCain is currently leading with 170,000 early votes…did Texas decide to shove a stake through the heart of the Southern Strategy? If Obama wins the Texan primary outright, holds her close in Ohio, surely that’s got to be very damaging for Clinton…one Texas caucus has 200 Democrats turn up and one singular Republican…McCain finally wins the nomination…Rhode Island dead heat…Huge Obama caucus turnout in Texas….threats of lawsuits from the Clinton camp…Rhode Island pulling to Clinton and called, margin around six points…Obama wins exit poll for under-65s in all four states…

Super Tuesday III: THE RECKONING.

The side-effect of compressing all the primaries into a shorter space is that we expected it to be over by now. Thirty years ago, the electoral cycle would just be gearing up for New Hampshire; it seems like a geological period has passed since 2008’s contest.

Which is to say: if nobody comes out stronger tonight, the next big primary is on April 22nd (Mississippi and Wyoming are next week, but they don't have a huge amount of delegates on offer). That's almost two months of campaigning and Democratic self-immolation while the Republicans look and laugh. I can't wait.

Obama seems to have had a tough weekend. Firstly, there's all this business with somebody in his team telling the Canadian embassy that his tough talk on NAFTA was all for show, though it's unclear just how much Canadian politics is playing a part in all that, and then the Rezko trial starting in Chicago. All this has blunted his polling in both Texas and Ohio. Having said that, he was twenty points down in both states just a scant few weeks back.

Meanwhile, Clinton seems to be back on the momentum, looking likely to take Ohio, Rhode Island, and tying (or edging a slight win) in Texas. But will it be enough? Amusingly, Obama's win tonight in Vermont may itself be enough to balance her delegate wins in the remaining states, depending on how big her victory is. She can no longer catch Obama in a pledged delegate race; all she can do is try to cut into his lead and persuade the superdelegates to vote for her en masse.

But the latest rumour is that Obama has 50 superdelegates ready to declare at a drop of a hat; a secret weapon to take the sting out of a tight night, and incidentally making the Michigan and Florida be able to stand without changing anything. Would that be enough to end it? Or are we going all the way to North Carolina and Puerto Rico?

While We're Here...

Is BedroomTV the creepiest thing on British television since MiniPops?

currently playing: Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia – Heliotrope

Ow.

Mach 3: Three times the slashing!

Umm.. Daily Show tonight! Hillary Clinton! Tomorrow could be the end! But probably not!

Also: EMI - dumbest bunch of rocks on the planet, or is there something more going on than dropping their hippest group?

Oh My God, What Have I Done?

It’s odd that, instead of turning to the trusty collection of Radiohead and the atom bomb of misery that is Spiritualized’s Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space (it even came in a antidepressant pill packet for goodness sake!), I instead have found a record that I always meant to buy eight years ago, but never got around to actually picking it out of the HMV rack.

It's Jo And Danny's Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy was one of those records that floated around Radio 1 in 2000, awkwardly sitting on the daytime schedule along with Travis and Britney Spears. Listening to it now, all this time later, the thing that keeps coming back to me is Bran Van 3000. Which is bizarre, but it is almost 3am. It seems to have some of the Drinking In L.A. sound in places, and the vibe of the quieter moments of Discosis.

As I said, it is 3am. And I'm listening to Repentant Song on repeat.

currently playing: It's Jo and Danny – Repentant Song

RIP Netscape

old-netscape.png

You gave us the Internet. Microsoft gave us the marquee tag. It was never fair.

currently playing: Feist – Amourissima

It..It Just Can't Be Helped.

currently playing: Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You