Kindness and restraint

That is an unusual combination of words that I have used for the title but it is quite commonly needed in people that run drinking establishments. They quite often talk to there customers as that encourages them to come back but also it helps to establish how much they are affected by alcohol and therefore how much more they could take before advising they stop/drink water/eat food. I’m a bit anti authority, even more so when drinking so it’s a bit challenging to handle me although the people at the bottle shop do it quite well even if I’m not too thankful at the time. Moderation is the key although sometimes despite my best efforts I get a bit too past that mark. I forget that various things come into play and there always changing so it’s too difficult to calculate a benchmark. These usually amount to weight, water drunk, alcoholic drinks drunk, timing, strength, size, amount of food, duration of session, state at the start of session, when the last session was and also the company/occasion. Last factors are money and whose paying. If others buy me drinks that can also be an interesting twist. So as well as myself, I need others too. Either myself or my husband will be the relatively sober one since neither of us drive, the trouble comes when we both go for it or he is so focused on looking after me that he gets in a complete state. Luckily we no longer need to rely on buses or walking and can get a cab home.
This tale is not just relevant at Christmas or to do with food, it applies to all things.

Meringue/marshmallow madness

When I get an idea in my head I like to explore all the different ways it can be done. Hence I will eat the same foods for a week and then not again for a while. It comes in handy when you live on a budget. I like experimenting with different foods to see what I can come up with. I have been watching James Martin in the afternoon and he has some very good recipes. I made his marshmallows as I’ve always wanted to make them and there rather tasty. There was a craze a while back so I have peppermint, chocolate and coffee flavoured as well as normal.

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When making them an electric whisk is essential due to the amount of beating required and if you don’t have a sugar thermometer you will get softer mallows that spread easily and taste very nice but are not set as much as normal. Also liquid flavourings are better. If using coffee or cocoa disolve it first otherwise it doesn’t combine properly and you might end up with a bitter end product. (Despite the sugar I used.) Rolling in sugar/arrowroot/cream of tartar/cornflour is also necessary to prevent stickiness. Some of these shortcuts are due to laziness and others to not knowing how to make them.

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Marshmallows are also one of the few things you can eat on a paleo or lactose intolerant diet that I tried last year. The recipe mentioned above isn’t but there is an abundance of different recipes out there for all different diets. Some are cooked as they don’t use gelatine, some are flavoured or turned into meringue biscuits. You can use jelly/jello if you don’t have gelatin and want it fruit flavoured. We don’t usually think of flavoured ones but the taste of your homemade ones are better than shop ones, healthier as there lower in calories and don’t have so many

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/artificial ingredients and possibly cheaper. Meringues are really cheap but marshmallows not so much. This is a good creative activity as you can make them very complex in terms of variations or incredibly simple. Beware the hot sugar if your using it though and things can get a bit messy. You can of course colour them as well as flavour them. They can even be made vegan with egg replacers, condensed milk or omit it entirely. You can coat them with lots of things as well as adding nuts, fruit, spices etc to them. You can even make them like cocktails by changing the liquid used as I saw a recipe using apple cider on pinterest. This is a very useful place for unusual recipes. Your imagination is the only limit.(plus your budget, cupboard, time and ability to use the net lol).

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Basic marshmellow recipe has egg whites, sugar and gelatine with water to melt the gelatin, basic meringue recipe has been previously covered but is egg whites and sugar. See my basic cookery page.

Joining the Classics Club

Joining the Classics Club.

This is an admirable list. I once had ambitions to read the classics until I found out how difficult they were actually to read. I have 1984 which is a book everyone should read and most do at school. I have also read Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, Brave New World and Clockwork Orange. On a lighter front I have read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. I tried to read Jane Eyre but found it too sad and depressing. A Handmaids tale is another that I read but did not enjoy.

Movie time and updates

There are currently so many movies out at the moment that I want to see that I have told my husband that I wish to take up residence at the cinema. I have see the Imitation Game and that was a very good movie I have also seen Mocking Jay the latest Hunger Games movie. I have also seen the last Hobbit movie and last night I tried to see The Theory of Everything but they were sold out. So was Into the Woods and Ex Machina is not out until next week. I also want to see Kingsman:Secret Service and think that Mortecai will be quite funny too. Paddington might be ok and I wanted to see Lucy although that is now on DVD as is the Boxtrolls. The next Star Wars movie is showing in a years time although the trailer is doing the rounds. I hope it lives up to expectations.

Blackhat looks an interesting movie that I know little about and is not part of a franchise for once and Jupiter Ascending although it was a little bit spoiled by the short write up in the Odeon magazine. Avengers: Age of Ultron might be fun escapism. Night at the Museum : Secret of the Tomb should also be quite good if its anything like its predecessors. Penguins of Madagascar will probably be a romp too as there getting very good with their exploits.

Why you would want to see Dumb and Dumber 2 I don’t know. Why they even made it is beyond me but I guess they achieved something because I’m talking about it.

Edit Its actually an hilarious movie that made me laugh the whole way through.

While I’m aware there are different movies in the US and the UK, I didn’t think there would be as much difference as there actually is. So this may not make as much sense to a person in the US as it would to a UK audience since I know that pretty much all the people that read this blog are actually Americans. This selection only includes the movies I’m interested in of course and there are many other movies out there that I will just not see.

>> I have now seen The Theory of Everything and it was very good. It helps that Eddie Redmayne looks rather like him. I also saw Paddington on a plane along with Lucy. I thought they were both very good. Into the Woods is still around although not for long. I have tried to see it again but I’m usually got other things that get in the way. Same for Kingsman even though that doesn’t seem to be that popular. Ex – Machina must have not been that good as its vanished but Mortecai vanished even faster. The fastest was Dumb and Dumber as I don’t remember seeing it anywhere. Blackhat I wished had disappeared.

Avengers is not out until May and Jupiter Ascending is another thats around but barely as its supposed to be rubbish according to critics. Night at the Musuem is popular with the kids but if your not one its tough getting a good time to see it. Same for the Penguins.

Edit I still haven’t seen Into the woods as I’d forgotten about it, same with Penguins,  Kingsman is a brilliant movie, I have bought Ex-Machina,  Night at the Musuem 3 and recorded Boxtrolls off Sky to watch over Christmas and  Star Wars is coming out on December 17th finally!

Mortecai must be rubbish as all the reviews say so and nobody talks about it, Jupiter Ascending is also supposed to be from the review of the only person I know that has seen it.

I have various Marvel movies on my Christmas list so I may get Avengers age of Ultron then.

January Beer tasting

I thought since I was catching up reading my beer emails I would talk about the beer tasting I went to about a week ago. I was hoping for Drew to put the list up on FB like he has done previously as it was scandi breweries with weird spellings but I haven’t seen it so far. This was not a battle of the brewers but just a showcase of beers from a particular area, in this case Scandinavia. Well the first was Omnipollo’s Leon, Belgian pale and was a good beer to start off the night it. It was light and didn’t taste of bananas which is always a plus in my book. I have had this one before when the Omnipollo first came in so it was nice to refresh my memory of what it tasted like. This has a keyhole with blue characters in it and doesn’t say Leon on it. Omnipollo are Swedish and it means all the chickens?

Although actually I was drinking Founders Flipside Rye IPA before we started as there was debate about whether you could have a tasting with three people not including Drew who was hosting or Gywn who was manning the bar for anybody who happened to turn up. I like red/rye ales and I drink Siren‘s Liquid Mistress quite a lot when I just want to take it easy on the beer front and also after the tasting and a couple days go I had the Beavertown Rye IPA 8 ball. These are good standard ales and its also nice when you have had a break from alcohol and you start again, to have something that you can really appreciate and depend on.

Now back to the tasting, I have been invited to many on FB and in person by Drew and the one I turned up to before didn’t happen as you can’t run it with 2 people it happens. I also like that you don’t have to pre-book, you can just turn up and that they are now doing 10% off beers while you are there. Drew’s pronunciation of some of the beers was quite funny as unlike Stefan he didn’t really know and most of us wouldn’t either so good attempt for trying. All jokes aside as Drew likes to make the terrible literal ones that I do, it was a pleasant enjoyable evening even with 2/3 guys that I initially didn’t know much about.

The 2nd/4th beer was Omnipollo’s 42 and as all geeks know this is the answer to life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams. This was also a magic label series beer which you can immediately tell on the shelf as they have no front labels. As to the taste of the beer It was a good palate cleanser as it tasted very refreshing and was a passionfruit and key lime beer. This is very surprising as I don’t normally like passionfruit. It was also a Belgian wit beer and I only sometimes like them.

3rd was magic number 411 by Omnipollo. This is the number in America for directory enquiries which is why it is associated with information. I have no idea what that has to do with a wild strawberry/rhubarb milk beer. Drew said it was supposed to taste like a sweet but didn’t really taste of much to me. It was a huge disappointment. I got a bit of the fruit flavour but not anywhere near enough for me to buy or recommend it.

Dugges made some beer we drank as there was debate about how to pronounce it. This is why next time a scandi tasting happens Stephan should do it as he will be able to tell you more about the breweries etc. Its not that your bad Drew its just he has more knowledge in this area so will be a better fit.

I perhaps have forgotten what order the beers were drank in as I have sequencing issues. Maybe it was Leon, 42, 411 then Nebuchanezzar and I’m forgetting 2 second half beers as I can only remember Kosacken and Baronen. I have no idea what Dugges beer we drank but I have a feeling that the 7th beer was a dunkel. 8 out of 10 beers isn’t bad even though the tasting beers were thirds. I’m also being too perfectionist wanting to include every last detail!

There was a gap between the first 4 beers and the second 4 beers as we were getting through them quite quickly and you don’t want to be hammered before the end as you won’t be able to taste them and therefore defeat the purpose of a tasting. Drew also gave us some Henderson’s Yorkshire sauce crisps to help out in this respect. I wouldn’t technically call Sheffield and that kind of area Yorkshire even though its South Yorkshire. This also helped to illustrate the difference between the lighter style and colour of beers with the darker more potent beers to come.

The 4/5th beer is the Omnipollo Nebuchadezzar which is another geek reference as its the name of Morpheus’s ship in the Matrix. It is also the name of the really big bottles of champagne and 2 kings in ancient times. This was a double IPA. This was quite a nice beer but I’m not quite sure it deserves such a grand title. It makes you expect a lot more and then you just get a normal beer so it should really be drunk by people who don’t know what the title means or just have a normal title. Omnipollo don’t like to put words on there labels but instead have pictures like a white and black greek style flag on this particular one.

Now we get into really tricky pronunciation territory as Drew mostly skipped saying it and who could blame him its 6 syllables in the Nordic tongue. Hantverksbryggeriat. The next couple of beers are by this brewery. They were quite nice 6th Kosacken a Russian imperial stout and 8th Baronen, a raisiny barleywine that was very nice and a good beer to end on. This was another surprise as I wouldn’t have thought I would have liked this style having always being advised against it due to it not being my kind of thing. Now there is one missing but not having the sheet in front of me I don’t know what it is. Afterwards I got to finish off my catchup with Gywn.

How to deal with austerity or cheapness versus frugality

This is a thing I have struggled with most of my life as when I was a child I was not commercial in the slightest and needed very little money to get by on. When I got older the wants and needs crept in. Now I think I am stabilising as I have done most of the things that you want to do when your young and its looking towards the new challenges of the future whatever they may be.

Buying things cheaply may initially be a good idea but if it keeps wearing out quickly as you use it a lot, in my case a green jacket, you need to get something more substantial. This will probably cost a lot but for the about of usage it will be quite low overall. Beds, shoes etc. are all things that are worthy of spending a lot on as your using one or the other most of time. Just don’t go overboard. Reassess your life periodically to ensure your not just hoarding and actually require all those items you seem to have collected. You will most likely be surprised at what you have managed to accumulate over the years. Moving house is also good at spurring this on.

I have been thinking a lot of Martin Lewis recently as I have been having a clean out of various items that haven’t been used in a long time and getting a fair amount of money for them. Sometimes it involves some effort but its worth it as you get rid of an item you no longer want and somebody else gets an item that they want. As a bonus I have been using the money to fund my most recent hobby skiing. This is not a thing that can be done on the cheap as its so cold so you need all that extra layering and protection as it can be quite dangerous.

Budgeting is difficult at the best of times and I think that January can be one of the hardest times as you might regret overspending at Christmas, but wonder how you can prevent doing it again as you had such a good time and now all is dark, cold and wet reality. Happiness is a key thing here. This does not need to cost money and indeed some of the best things in life are free as the song says. Its going back to basics and cutting out unnecessary things that we have probably got into the habit of wanting maybe to impress others or to keep up with the neighbours. STOP! This is capitalism at its finest. Think what did you like to do as a child, think how you could encourage your children to like more natural things, teach them to cook, garden, appreciate art, take part in arts and crafts even take up knitting or clay modelling. Everybody loves board games and if you don’t like the traditional ones like Scrabble or Monopoly how about Settlers of Catan which is an awesome board game that can be expanded and even comes in a travel version with expansions for that too. If you can’t tear them away from the TV or you want some peace and quiet time to yourself swap games, movies or even books with friends, relatives or neighbours. This way you get the latest releases but you don’t have to buy them all. Even better go to your local library.

It worked well when I was a child and human nature does not change much we are still born, grow, age and die getting married, having children and moving house several times in between along with lots of other common shared experiences. It is common sense really but sometimes we can get so caught up in our daily lives that we need to remind ourselves what we are doing this for in the first place. Don’t be afraid to spend money if it is required just make sure you are making that money work well for you.