The Invisible Belt Invisibelt        
No more unflattering bulge from bulky belt buckles! This flat, undetectable and adjustable belt instantly gives you a sleeker, slimmer look.

I saw this on the MSN homepage. It is a clear plastic belt, similar to lingerie straps, which has a flat hook instead of a buckle. It holds up your jeans or pants, but doesn't make that "buckle bump" which shows under tops worn untucked.

No more unflattering bulge from bulky belt buckles! This flat, undetectable and adjustable belt instantly gives you a sleeker, slimmer look!

You know when you buy a pair of jeans that are just a little too big on the waist? Running to the tailor is a major time and money drain, and wearing an ordinary belt (ugh, that bulky buckle!) won't work either.

Think about it, do you really want to put your favorite fitted top over the dreaded buckle bulge? We didn't -- so we invented the Invisibelt -- a smooth, undetectable belt with a flat clasp.

Nicknamed the No Buckle Belt by its fans, the Invisibelt will help you look slim, finished and fabulous all day. It's genius! An ideal functional, fashion accessory with adjustable plastic belt with a flat clasp belt instead of a belt buckle. Plastic band, width is 7/8 inches. Naked is clear; Noir is black (a sexy patent sheen)

One woman received the invisibelt in the mail a few days ago. She decided to give it a tough few days' wear before she reported it either way.

So far it seemed to be doing a good job. It comes with instructions on how to adjust its length that makes it sound like it could be easily be stretched if pulled the wrong way, but so far it seemed to be holding up well. The clasp is plastic but easy to use, and it isn't bumpy at all.
Oliver Allen
http://invisibelt.blogspot.com/
          Sulla critica del diritto nel giovane Gramsci        
E' successo che, preparando un commento all'ultima sortita di Saviano a proposito di storia della sinistra italiana, ho ripreso in mano, dopo anni, il vecchio volume dell'Einaudi (Torino, 1960) che raccoglie i corsivi pubblicati da Gramsci sull'"Avanti!" nella rubrica Sotto la Mole (1916-1920). Qui mi è capitato sotto gli occhi il commento di Gramsci alla sentenza sui "fatti di Torino", cioè (annotano i curatori dell'edizione) "lo sciopero generale per il pane e contro la guerra, che sfociò nella sommossa del 23-26 agosto 1917". [1]

Il commento di Gramsci fu pubblicato sull'"Avanti!" il 20 ottobre 1918: il testo, come di frequente, uscì con vistosi "vuoti" dovuti all'azione della censura. Eccolo qui di seguito [2].

BELLU SCHESC' E DOTTORI!

Il giudice Emanuele Pili non è senza storia, come gli uomini e i popoli felici. Ma la storia del giudice Emanuele Pili ha una lacuna; iniziatasi col protagonista autore drammatico, riprende ora col protagonista «ragionatore» di sentenze, e riprende con una gloriosa e strenua pugna: il «ragionamento» della sentenza per i fatti di Torino, che nell'ultimo numero della «Gazzetta dei tribunali» il misuratore di crani prof. Vitige Tirelli qualifica «dotta».
Benedetto Croce ha scritto: «Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú gio [dodici righe e mezzo censurate]. E il giudice giovane ha fatto sfoggio di dottrina; e il giudice giovane — poiché nella prima gíoventú aspirava alla gloria di Talia e dedicava le sue fresche energie intellettuali a scrivere commedie nei vari dialetti di Sardegna e non poté studiare tutti i risultati delle ultime ricerche sulla natura del diritto e delle costituzioni — ha ragionato [una riga censurata] nella sentenza dei fatti di Torino, rovistando nei vecchi cassettoni, rimettendo alla luce tutti gli imparaticci scolastici del primo anno universitario, quando ancora si frequentano le lezioni e si prendono gli appunti.
[Venticinque righe censurate].
Gli sono estranee le correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure — superando le concezioni puerilmente metafisiche della dottrina tradizionale, degli imparaticci da scoletta universitaria — colla riduzione dello Stato e del Giure a pura attività pratica, svolta come dialettica della volontà di potenza e non piú pietistico richiamo alle leggi naturali, ai sacrari inconoscibili dell'istinto avito, alla banale retorica dei compilatori delle storiette per la scuola elementare. Il «ragionamento» del giudice Pili è solo una filastroccola di banalità retoriche, di gonfiezze presuntuose: esso è il ridicolo parto di un fossile intellettuale, il quale non riesce a concepire che lo Stato italiano almeno giuridicamente (e come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare al «giovane» da tribunale) è costituzionale, ed è parlamentare per tradizione (l'on. Sonnino è gran parte dello Stato attuale, ma crediamo che il suo articolo Torniamo allo Statuto! non sia ancora diventato legge fondamentale del popolo italiano): [cinque righe censurate]. La «dottrina» del giovane da tribunale infatti si consolida (!) in esclamazioni enfatiche contro chi ha «resistito» o è accusato di aver resistito: non cerca (come era suo compito) di dimostrare, alla stregua delle prove concrete e sicure, un delitto per passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice. No, il «giovane» vuole sfoggiare, come una contadina ricca del Campidano di Cagliari le vesti multicolori che hanno servito alle sue antenate per le nozze e per decine e decine di anni sono rimaste seppellite in un vecchio cassettone a fregi bestiali e floreali tra lo spigo e una dozzina di limoni: e sfoggia tutti i vecchiumi, tutti gli scolaticci dei vespasiani giuridici chiusi per misura d'igiene pubblica.
Il giudice Emanuele Pili ha scritto una commedia dialettale: Bellu schesc' e dottori! (che bel pezzo di... dottore!) L'esclamazione potrebbe essere la conclusione critica della lettura di una sentenza, cosí com'è il titolo di una commedia.

La prima lacuna è stata integrata facilmente dai curatori del testo gramsciano. Si tratta di una citazione dalla Logica di Croce, riportata come segue:

«Chi ha pratica dei tribunali sa che molto spesso un magistrato, presa la decisione e stabilita la sentenza, incarica un suo piú giovane collega di "ragionarla", ossia di apporre una parvenza di ragionamento a ciò che non è intrinsecamente e puramente prodotto di logica, ma è voluntas di un determinato provvedimento. Questo procedere, se ha il suo uso nella cerchia pratica o giuridica, è affatto escluso da quella della logica e della scienza» (B. CROCE, Logica come scienza del concetto puro, Bari 1917, pp. 87-88).

Quando Gramsci nel suo corsivo parla delle "correnti del pensiero moderno che hanno ringiovanito tutta la dottrina dello Stato e del Giure", si riferisce appunto alla filosofia del diritto di Benedetto Croce. Croce aveva infatti affermato l'assoluta separazione tra morale e diritto, e aveva sottoposto il diritto alle categorie dell'utile e della forza. Nella concezione di Croce, il diritto è forza, che viene applicata per il raggiungimento di uno scopo ritenuto (da chi agisce questa forza) utile; il diritto è inoltre amorale, in quanto prescinde dal giusto e dall'ingiusto.

E' interessante notare che qui Gramsci si serve della teoria del diritto di Croce per porre un'istanza di garantismo giuridico. Infatti, ciò che Gramsci rimprovera al giudice Pili, estensore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino, è di aver confuso il diritto con la morale. Il giudice avrebbe dovuto limitarsi a vagliare le prove, accertare se fosse stato commesso un reato, e, in caso affermativo, determinarne la pena secondo le norme del codice. Invece, questa sentenza (scrive Gramsci) pretende di condannare gli imputati non sulla base della legge, bensì sulla scorta di considerazioni di ordine moralistico, la cui infondatezza giuridica è mascherata dal ricorso all'enfasi e alla retorica.

La linea del ragionamento gramsciano è abbastanza riconoscibile, nonostante i buchi lasciati dalla censura, e nonostante un probabile refuso tipografico [3]. Comunque, in un poscritto all'articolo del giorno successivo (Le vie della divina provvidenza, 21 ottobre 1918), Gramsci scrive:

P.S. Nell'articolo pubblicato ieri sul giudice Emanuele Pili la censura ha lasciato solo la parte «floreale» che può far supporre aver noi scritto un puro pamphlet per insolentire un magistrato. La censura ha imbiancato le giustificazioni delle insolenze: la giustificazione filosofica trovata nella Logica del senatore Benedetto Croce; la giustificazione storica trovata in una notizia pubblicata dal «Journal des Débats» l'8 novembre 1817 (milleottocentodiciassette!), la giustificazione costituzionale trovata nello Statuto albertino. Un'insolenza giustificata da «pezze» di tal genere crediamo non sia piú insolenza, ma espressione plastica della imparziale giustizia. La censura pertanto ci ha solo diffamati, senza che le leggi ci diano il modo di dar querela.

La "giustificazione filosofica" delle critiche che Gramsci rivolge al magistrato corrisponde, lo abbiamo visto, ad una citazione da Croce. Rimane la curiosità di sapere quali potessero essere le altre due "giustificazioni"  imbiancate dalla censura.

La "giustificazione costituzionale", che corrisponde alla lacuna di cinque righe, si trova, dice Gramsci, nello Statuto albertino; e potrebbe forse trattarsi di uno degli articoli che, in quel testo costituzionale, tutelavano i diritti civili: per esempio l'art. 26, secondo comma, "niuno può essere arrestato e tradotto in giudizio, se non nei casi previsti dalla legge, e nelle forme che essa prescrive".

Naturalmente, non è da pensare che Gramsci si facesse particolari illusioni circa l'effettività delle garanzie prescritte dallo Statuto. Sappiamo, invece, che Gramsci sempre ritenne la borghesia italiana incapace di creare un vero Stato di diritto che tutelasse le libertà individuali [4]. Un articolo di Gramsci di qualche anno successivo a quello che stiamo ora esaminando (Lo Stato italiano, in "L'Ordine Nuovo", 7 febbraio 1920) contiene una puntuale critica, da questo punto di vista, allo Statuto albertino:

Lo Stato italiano [...] non ha mai neppure tentato di mascherare la dittatura spietata della classe proprietaria. Si può dire che lo Statuto albertino sia servito a un solo fine preciso: a legare fortemente le sorti della Corona alle sorti della proprietà privata. I soli freni infatti che funzionano nella macchina statale per limitare gli arbitrî del governo dei ministri del re sono quelli che interessano la proprietà privata del capitale. La Costituzione non ha creato nessun istituto che presidî almeno formalmente le grandi libertà dei cittadini: la libertà individuale, la libertà di parola e di stampa, la libertà di associazione e di riunione. Negli Stati capitalistici, che si chiamano liberali democratici, l'istituto massimo di presidio delle libertà popolari è il potere giudiziario: nello Stato italiano la giustizia non è un potere, è un ordine, è uno strumento della Corona e della classe proprietaria. 

Gramsci sottintendeva questo tipo di considerazioni anche all'articolo qui in commento, laddove scriveva che lo Stato italiano "almeno giuridicamente" (cioè solo formalmente) era costituzionale, ed era "parlamentare per tradizione", nel senso che lo Statuto albertino non istituiva una vera e propria democrazia parlamentare, bensì l'ordinamento parlamentare dello Stato derivava da una semplice consuetudine che poteva essere in ogni momento abrogata: così come aveva proposto di fare Sidney Sonnino nel suo articolo del 1897, appropriatamente richiamato da Gramsci, Torniamo allo Statuto!,  e come poi farà il fascismo.

Tuttavia, il fatto che la monarchia sabauda fosse uno Stato di diritto carente e imperfetto non avrebbe dovuto esimere il magistrato dall'applicare comunque quelle garanzie (pur se insufficienti) che la legge disponeva a favore degli imputati: "come giudice questa apparenza della realtà doveva solo importare" al giudice Pili, osserva giustamente Gramsci.

La "giustificazione storica", che corrisponde alla lacuna di venticinque righe, è data (scrive Gramsci) da una notizia pubblicata sul numero dell'8 novembre 1817 del "Journal des Débats". Internet consente oggi di consultare facilmente quel numero di giornale per cercare quale potesse essere la notizia che costituiva la "giustificazione storica" invocata da Gramsci.

Una delle notizie ivi contenute, che possono essere state utilizzate da Gramsci ai fini del suo commento, è una corrispondenza dalla Gran Bretagna datata 3 novembre, che riporto qui di seguito in una mia traduzione (il testo originale è in nota):

Quattro individui di nome Booth, Brown, Jackson e King, prima delle ultime assisi di Derby, erano stati condannati a morte per crimine di ribellione. Condotti sul patibolo, al momento stesso della morte hanno avuto l'audacia empia di arringare la folla, affinché li venisse a liberare. Questa folla era composta da loro vecchi amici che li avevano frequentemente visitati in carcere; ma il luogo dell'esecuzione era sorvegliato da folti distaccamenti di cavalleria e di fanteria, e la legge ha avuto esecuzione [5].

Inizialmente ho pensato che questa notizia potesse aver attratto l'attenzione di Gramsci (per analogia con i fatti di Torino) perché riferita a un episodio di ribellione delle classi subalterne conclusosi con una condanna penale. Episodio che forse è leggibile nel quadro della fase di irrequietezza sociale che fu caratterizzata, in Gran Bretagna, dalle proteste contro la legge sul grano del 1815, fase che sfociò nel massacro di Peterloo.

Tuttavia, non ho trovato alcun elemento che potesse suffragare questa ipotesi. Non è chiaro neanche se i quattro uomini giustiziati a Derby nel 1817 siano stati effettivamente condannati a morte per reati politici, o non piuttosto per reati comuni; in un elenco dei giustiziati nel carcere di Derby, compilato da Celia Renshaw, una storica locale, questi Booth, Brown, Jackson e King risultano essere stati condannati per aver appiccato il fuoco a dei covoni di paglia [6]. Inoltre è noto che Gramsci non amava gli atteggiamenti tribunizi e teatrali, né apprezzava particolarmente i gesti individuali di ribellione: lo si evince dal suo stesso comportamento di imputato durante il "processone" del 1928 [7], nonché dal suo commento, contenuto nei Quaderni del carcere, ad un libro che raccoglieva i resoconti di una serie di processi contro anarchici libertari [8]. Perciò mi sembra improbabile che, nel suo corsivo del 1918 che stiamo ora commentando, Gramsci possa aver preso ad esempio il comportamento di quattro condannati a morte per reati contro il patrimonio che, dal patibolo, incitano la folla alla rivolta.

C'è però un'altra notiziola, sempre nella prima pagina  del "Journal des Débats" dell'8 novembre 1817, che potrebbe aver attirato l'attenzione di Gramsci. Si tratta di una corrispondenza da Losanna datata primo novembre:

Il Cantone Esterno di Appenzell ha da poco emesso una singolare sentenza contro un ragazzino accusato di alcuni piccoli furti. Lo hanno condannato a 50 fl. di ammenda e a trenta colpi di verga. Gli sarà inoltre assegnato un posto particolare in chiesa per un periodo di due anni: dovrà trovarsi colà per due volte ogni domenica, e sarà punito severamente in caso d'inosservanza [9].

In questa notizia di cronaca (un ragazzino condannato con sentenza penale ad andare a messa due volte la settimana) troviamo un esempio estremo e grottesco di quella perniciosa, pre-moderna confusione tra diritto e morale, che Gramsci stigmatizza nella sua polemica col giudice relatore della sentenza sui fatti di Torino. Perciò ritengo che sia stata questa la pezza giustificativa di quella parte dell'argomentazione gramsciana, che la censura ha cancellato lasciando nell'articolo un buco di venticinque righe.

Note

[1] Sempre secondo l'apparato critico dell'edizione citata, la sentenza fu emessa dal Tribunale militare di Torino il 2 agosto 1918; il testo della sentenza è reperibile in "Rivista storica del socialismo", n. 2, 1960.

[2] A. Gramsci, Sotto la Mole, ed. cit., pp. 447-48. L'articolo è stato poi raccolto nella più recente edizione degli scritti gramsciani precarcerari: A. Gramsci, Il nostro Marx 1918-1919, a cura di Sergio Caprioglio, Einaudi, Torino 1984, pp. 360-2. In Internet si trova qui: http://www.liberliber.it/mediateca/libri/g/gramsci/sotto_la_mole/pdf/sotto__p.pdf, p. 269.

[3] "Passare l'esatta commisurazione alla sua entità di una pena contemplata nel codice" è frase di cui si capisce il senso, ma che sembra guasta anche grammaticalmente. Penso che Gramsci abbia invece scritto "fissare l'esatta commisurazione della sua entità ad una pena contemplata nel codice".

[4] Cfr. Leonardo Rapone, Cinque anni che paiono secoli. Antonio Gramsci dal socialismo al comunismo (1914-1919), Carocci, Roma 2011, pp. 162-6.

[5] Quatre individus nommés Booth, Brown, Jackson et King, antérieurement aux dernières assises de Derby, avoient été condamnés à mort pour crime de rebellion. Amenés sur l'échafaud, ils ont eu, même au moment de la mort, l'audace impie de haranguer la multitude, et de l'engager à venir les délivrer. Cette multitude étoit composée de leurs anciens amis qui les avoient fréquemment visités dans leur prison; mais le lieu de l'exécution étoit gardé par de forts détachements de cavalerie et d'infanterie, et la loi reçut son exécution.

[6] Fonte: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/DERBYSGEN/2009-08/1250276359

[7] Cfr. Giuseppe Fiori (a cura di), Antonio Gramsci: cronaca di un verdetto annunciato, I Libri de "l'Unità", supplemento al numero del 4 aprile, Roma 1994. 

[8] Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere, edizione critica a cura di Valentino Gerratana, Einaudi, Torino 1975, pp. 6-7 e 1896-7.

[9] Les Rhodes extérieurs d'Appenzell viennent de rendre une singulière sentence contre un enfant accusé de quelques petits vols. Ils l'ont condamné à 50 fl. d'amende et à trente coups de bâtons. Il lui sera d'ailleurs assigné une place particulière à l'église pendant deux ans; il devra s'y trouver deux fois chaque dimanche sous des peines séveres.

          Pausa pranzo        
Torno a casa. Metto una pentola d'acqua sul fornello e lo accendo. Poi prendo un dischetto e lo metto nel lettore.

Beethoven, Sonata op. 106 nell'orchestrazione di Felix Weingartner. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, diretta dallo stesso Weingartner. Incisione storica, del 1930. Riversata su CD, edizione economica.

Che idea bislacca, trascrivere l'Hammerklavier per orchestra. L'opera, così, non funziona. E' incongrua, fuori posto. O forse è l'arrangiamento che non va bene: tutto in legato! Come no: siccome al piano non si può fare e con l'orchestra sì, allora mettiamo il glissando un po' dovunque...

Non importa. L'op. 106 è bellissima anche così. Beethoven è l'unico musicista che riesce a commuovere anche nelle esecuzioni più impossibili, e nelle situazioni d'ascolto più precarie.

Audiocassette in edizioni da autogrill della Quinta o della Sonata al chiaro di luna ascoltate in auto, d'estate, andando verso la spiaggia, coi finestrini aperti e quasi tutta la musica che si perde nel rumore...

C'è qualcosa di disneyano, nell'orchestrazione anni '30 di Weingartner. Quando ho visto per la prima volta Fantasia? Non ricordo, ma dovevo avere quattro o cinque anni. A Milano. I miei mi portarono al cinema, sicuramente, e qualcosa deve essersi depositato profondamente nella mia memoria. La Sesta sinfonia mi sembra di conoscerla da sempre.

Questa, però, è preistoria. La storia dei miei ascolti musicali comincia invece a metà degli anni '80. Avevo (o meglio, i miei genitori avevano) un magnetofono da tavolo a cassette, di quelli che si usavano per registrare pro-memoria e appunti vocali. Io lo usavo per sentire musica. Le cassette le avevo comprate all'uscita da scuola, prima di prendere il treno che mi avrebbe ricondotto a casa.

Il corso principale della città dove frequentavo il liceo scientifico aveva due negozi di dischi. Quello della signora Esposito era il più fornito: aveva dei meravigliosi cataloghi delle principali case discografiche. I cataloghi, però, mi mettevano in imbarazzo. Avrei voluto consultarli per ore, ma non stava bene: a un certo punto bisognava scegliere e ordinare. E poi, la cassetta arrivava dopo settimane, e a quell'epoca ero molto impaziente.

Il negozio del signor Cavo (dischi ed elettrodomestici, nomen omen) era più piccolo, ma aveva la particolarità di essere praticamente sempre aperto. Arrivavi col treno la mattina presto e trovavi già la saracinesca alzata, oppure perdevi il primo treno del ritorno, e potevi comunque rifugiarti una mezz'oretta da Cavo a contemplare lo scaffale con le cassette, senza essere disturbato (era, e per quanto ne so è ancora, un uomo di una discrezione esemplare, cosa non frequente in provincia). Potevi stare lì davanti quanto volevi prima di scegliere cosa comprare, oppure anche uscire senza aver preso niente, con un semplice grazie e arrivederci.

Ma, quando avevo diecimila lire in tasca, mi piaceva sempre entrare da Cavo per poi uscirne con una cassetta di Mozart o di Beethoven ben sistemata in mezzo ai libri - che tenevo orgogliosamente legati con una cinta elastica, per distinguermi dai miei compagni che sfoggiavano zainetti Invicta dai quali, durante l'intervallo, tiravano fuori i loro dischi di musica pop.

Intanto l'acqua bolle. Mezzo cucchiaino di sale. Apro la dispensa: pennette rigate o spaghetti? Opto per gli spaghetti: cuociono prima.

"La città dove frequentavo il liceo". Ho già scritto il nome di questa città? No. Lo scrivo adesso: Locri. Provincia di Reggio Calabria.

Da una vita, la semplice domanda "Di dove sei?" mi obbliga a fornire spiegazioni complicate e, suppongo, noiose, e anche poco convincenti. Ai tempi del liceo la risposta era semplice: di Africo. Se l'interlocutore era discreto, bastava così. Altrimenti scattava l'altra domanda: "E perché parli con l'accento milanese?" - Sai, la mia famiglia abitava a Milano, poi ci siamo trasferiti in Calabria. "Ah, allora i tuoi sono milanesi". - Niente affatto, siamo calabresi da chissà quante generazioni; ma i miei erano emigrati a Milano alla fine degli anni '60. "E come mai siete tornati qui?" - Uffa...

Da quando sto al Nord, la spiegazione è diventata ancora più involuta e implausibile. Se ci penso, mi vedo in un commissariato di polizia, seduto davanti a una lampada da tavolo puntata addosso a me, mentre l'ispettore, nascosto in una minacciosa penombra, mi inquisisce. "Ricominciamo daccapo. Di dove sei?" - Di Vigevano. "Ma non parli con l'accento di Vigevano". - No, perché sono calabrese. "Ma sul documento c'è scritto che sei nato a Milano". - Sì, perché all'epoca i miei abitavano lì. "Ah. E adesso dove abitano?" - Ad Africo. "Prima hai detto a Bianco." - Sì, anagraficamente stanno a Bianco. Sono due paesi confinanti. In realtà casa dei miei è tra Africo e Bianco, sulla statale. Ma comunque è più vicina ad Africo che a Bianco, anche se, sulla carta, è nel territorio di Bianco. Però i miei sono di Africo. "Ricominciamo daccapo..."

Intanto l'op. 106 di Beethoven, trascritta da Weingartner, è finita. Devo cambiare il CD. Ho ancora una cinquantina di minuti prima di tornare in ufficio. Cosa metto?

Scelgo velocemente, prima che la pasta scuocia: Invenzioni a due e tre voci di J. S. Bach. Glenn Gould, al pianoforte.

Butto gli spaghetti nello scolapasta. Che senso ha suonare il piano facendo finta che sia un clavicembalo? Venticinque anni che ascolto Gould e me lo chiedo.

Dicembre millenovecentoottantotto. Pomeriggio. Devo studiare per l'interrogazione di matematica. Non ne ho proprio voglia. Slego il fardello dei libri di scuola e ne estraggo il mio acquisto di oggi. Una cassetta made in U.S.A., dall'elegantissima copertina nera bordata d'oro. Bach, Inventions and Sinfonias. Glenn Gould.

Metto la cassetta nel mangianastri. Una musica astratta, trasparente, cantabile. Sembra provenire dallo spazio siderale, eppure i contorni si distinguono con precisione. Una sensazione di freddo secco, fine e pungente.

Guardai fuori. Non potevo crederci: stava nevicando. La casa dei miei è sul mare; l'Aspromonte dista solo una cinquantina di chilometri, ma qui sulla costa l'inverno è mite, la neve è un evento che capita forse una volta ogni dieci anni. Capitò quella volta. Mi alzai dalla scrivania e andai alla finestra a vedere i cristalli che scendevano lentamente.

L'inverno è mite, sulla costa ionica della Calabria. La stagione peggiore è l'autunno. A fine ottobre le piogge arrivano improvvise, massicce e violente, e possono durare per settimane. Non c'è che da chiudersi in casa e aspettare che passino.

Ho sedici anni e sto correndo attraverso la piazza principale di Locri verso la stazione. Il cielo è nero, l'aria è elettrica e tra poco scoppierà un forte temporale. Stavolta ho perso troppo tempo dalla signora Esposito, non sapevo decidermi, alla fine ho comprato la Sesta sinfonia di Beethoven e i concerti K. 488 e K. 491 nell'interpretazione di Daniel Barenboim, ma ora rischio di perdere il treno. La Sesta un po' la conosco, è quella della pubblicità. Ma il Concerto in do minore. Chissà com'è. Mozart scrive raramente in minore. Ma quando lo fa, mette i brividi. Mi precipito con il cuore in gola, mentre le bobine sbattono ritmicamente contro l'involucro di plastica nascosto fra i libri.

"Secondo le testimonianze di molta gente che ha vissuto in prima persona quei tragici giorni dell'alluvione e attraverso dei libri pubblicati da alcuni scrittori del paese, il 15 ottobre 1951 rappresenta una data indimenticabile e storica per il popolo di Africo in quanto un evento imprevisto sconvolse l’esistenza di Africo e della sua frazione, Casalnuovo. Per quattro giorni consecutivi dal 15 al 18 ottobre 1951, una bufera di vento, pioggia e nevischio si abbatté ininterrottamente sui due paesi causando frane, crolli di abitazioni e la distruzione di intere colture. La gente, spaventata, si riversò in massa in chiesa, pregando Dio e il suo Santo protettore, San Leo. La catastrofe avvenne soprattutto giorno 17 con continue frane, smottamenti di terreno, pioggia battente e violenta".

"La mattina del 18 ottobre la gente ricorda un'aria rossastra su nel cielo che metteva paura solo ad osservarla. [...] Molti furono quelli che, sorpresi dal maltempo, non fecero in tempo a mettersi in salvo, perché la piena del fiume impedì loro la via del ritorno a casa. Alla fine i due paesi contarono i danni: i morti furono sei a Casalnuovo e tre ad Africo. Gran parte del bestiame fu trascinato dal fiume, le case furono per la maggior parte distrutte e sepolte, le colture non più esistenti perché trascinate dalla pioggia."

"La lenta organizzazione della vita civile e della lotta politica fu sconvolta dall'alluvione del 1951. Una frana spazzò via il paese. I morti furono pochi, ma Africo scomparve. La storia della ricostruzione è allucinante. Per tutto un decennio gli africoti cercarono il terreno per ricomporre la loro comunità. Si iniziò una lotta tra chi voleva tornare nel vecchio territorio, dove erano restate le misere proprietà, e quelli che cercavano una sistemazione nuova. La scelta di una soluzione divise i due campi, anche la sinistra. Alla fine prevalse la tesi, sostenuta da don Stilo e dalla DC, di costruire un nuovo comune in una località distante 50 chilometri dal vecchio paese. Per lunghi anni la maggioranza degli africoti visse in un campo profughi. All'inizio del 1960 era sorta Africo Nuovo".

Un bambino di nove anni. Una bambina di due anni. Che esperienza possono aver fatto della catastrofe, e poi della loro condizione di profughi? Come l'hanno vissuta? Che tracce ha lasciato su di loro?

I miei genitori mi hanno parlato pochissimo dell'alluvione e degli eventi successivi. Hanno sempre insistito affinché studiassi, hanno incoraggiato i miei interessi per la musica, la letteratura, le scienze. Mi hanno sostenuto fino al diploma, poi fino alla laurea. Ma sugli eventi del loro paese non mi hanno mai detto molto.

Mio padre non sopporta il vento. Se è notte, e fuori c'è vento, non riesce a dormire.

"Non si è mai capito - manca una documentazione e mancano anche testimonianze orali credibili - se fu la mafia calabrese a premere per ricostruire Africo nel territorio di Bianco, senza terra, senza delimitazione territoriale e stato giuridico (com'è rimasto fino al 1980), in una località dove i contadini poveri, la grande maggioranza degli abitanti, sarebbero stati privati di quei diritti civici - il legnatico, il seminativo, il pascolo - di cui godevano nel vecchio paese. Da una montagna aspra al mare. Un caso esemplare di perdita dell'identità individuale e collettiva: gli abitanti di Africo infatti non sono più pastori né contadini, odiano il mare e non sono diventati né pescatori né marinai".

Ho diciannove anni. Preparo l'esame di maturità ascoltando la Sinfonia Italiana di Mendelssohn e la Sinfonia Incompiuta di Schubert. L'incongruità della situazione mi è divenuta insopportabile: che senso ha vivere in Calabria stando sempre chiuso in casa, parlare con un ridicolo accento settentrionale e, in generale, far finta di abitare in Mitteleuropa? A questo punto, non è meglio emigrare? Spengo il registratore e accendo la radio. Trasmettono The End dei Doors. C'è l'anniversario della morte di Jim Morrison.

Alla maturità, filosofia non è uscita. Peccato. Mi sarebbe piaciuto portare Kant. Non capisco perché tutti dicono che è un pensatore difficile: a me sembra così naturale, così ovvio. Certo: lo spazio, il tempo, sono forme della nostra mente. Ma, in sé, non esistono affatto.

Spengo lo stereo, aziono la lavastoviglie. E' ora di tornare in ufficio.

(Racconto pubblicato anche su Evulon. Nota: tutti i paragrafi tra virgolette sono tratti dal sito Internet di un mio compaesano, http://www.giuseppemorabito.it tranne l'ultimo che è tratto da Corrado Stajano, L'Italia ferita. Storie di un popolo che vorrebbe vivere secondo le regole della democrazia, Cinemazero, Pordenone 2010, pag. 96).
          UNI Plastic Bag Exchange        

The Office of Sustainability and Rod Library will host a plastic bag exchange in the east lobby of Rod Library.  Faculty, staff and students can exchange five or more plastic bags for a UNI reusable bag. Limit of one reusable bag per person. All plastic bags turned in will be recycled.

Special Events
Location: 
Rod Library
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 -
11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Eric O'Brien
Phone: 
(319) 273-7207
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          Plastic Bag Exchange        

The Office of Sustainability is hosting an opportunity to go green. Bring at least five plastic bags to exchange for one reusable UNI bag; limit one bag per person.

Outreach/Service Projects
Location: 
Maucker Union
Monday, April 21, 2014 -
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Kelsey Ewald
Share/Save
          Plastic Bag Exchange        

The Office of Sustainability is hosting an opportunity to go green. Bring in at least five plastic bags to exchange for a reusable UNI bag.

Special Events
Location: 
Maucker Union (near Chats)
Thursday, February 27, 2014 -
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Enter Your Email: 
Name: 
Kelsey Ewald
Phone: 
(319) 231-4709
Share/Save
          Review: The Face Shop Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip        
It is the time of the year again, where I get really obsessed with the blackheads of my nose. Usually happens when I am too free. Before anyone reads this post, I would to warn that there are disgusting photos of my blackheads embedded nose below. So if you don't like to see it, I suggest you don't read post haha. 

I am really curious by how people keep their nose blackheads-free. Mine doesn't seem to come off no matter how much exfoliating I do. I decided to try The Face Shop Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip since the typical blackhead strip is not very effective for me. 

First look at The Face Shop Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip

Instructions for Step 1 and 2

Unlike the the typical blackhead strips, The Face Shop Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip involves two steps (as the names suggest). The Step 1 is the blackhead out step and Step 2 is the pore tightening step. Before zooming into the first step, let me show you the before condition of my nose so that we can make a before and after comparison. Below is the picture of my nose before using the Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip. See those blackheads there, they are the ones that the typical blackhead strips unable to remove no matter how many times I use it.

Surprise...the before photo of my yucky nose
Step 1: Blackhead out
Step 1 instructions
The instruction states that I should cleanse my face before putting the black head out strip on y nose for 10-15 minutes. I did as instructed. The photo of the blackhead out strip is shown below. It is like a moist thick cotton strip. Since the strip is thick, the stupid thought that there are multiple pieces stuck together and tried separating them LOL. After 10 -15 minutes, I removed the strip and used the cotton butts to remove the blackheads. Unlike what I image, I do not see any visible blackheads being dislodged. I was beyond disappointed.

What you need
Blackhead out strip
I decided to give up trying to remove my blackheads using the cotton buds. I proceeded to the pore tightening step. I cleaned my nose first before putting the pore tightening strip. The strip has a jelly consistency. You need to remove the plastic film and placed the sticky section on your nose. I left it on my nose for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2: Pore tightening
Step 2 instructions

Pore tightening strip
Below is the photo  of my nose after going through the Step 1 and Step 2. It slightly read..probably due to irritation? The blackheads are all still there. I feel that the Blackhead Out Dual Nose Strip is really not effective at removing blackheads. What is worse is that one pack is not cheap at all. Initially Step 2 felt like there is no effect. But my nose felt slightly more smooth on the next day. It only lasted for 2 days thought.

This is my nose right after the Step 2

I will give this product 1/5.




          LG Introduces The Curved Phone G Flex 2        
LG Introduces The Curved Phone G Flex 2

Back in 2014, LG released the G Flex handset, a 6-inch smartphone with a unique curved body design and a self-healing coating that clears up scratches or any damage done to the device's casing.  

Now, the South Korean company is introducing an enhanced and more streamlined version, the G Flex 2. This time around, the newest version comes with a smaller but more handy 5.5-inch display screen, and Qualcomm's most powerful chip set.

The G Flex 2 smartphone was introduced by LG during its very recent press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 (CES 2015) held in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States. 

With its introduction, LG's G Flex 2 handset is the first of many phones this year expected to feature Qualcomm's newest offering -- the Snapdragon 810 processor. It is an eight-core 2.0 GigaHertz chip set that is 64-bit compatible for Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest version of the Android mobile operating system. The 810 processor functions with 2 gigabytes of memory, and can support 3 x 20 MegaHertz LTE carrier aggregation for all networks that support it.

For the device's display screen, LG employed its own plastic OLED display technology. Techies may recall that this is the same display technology utilized in LG's G Watch R wearable device. But in G Flex 2's case, the resolution is set higher to 1080 pixels. 

As for its camera, the G Flex 2 smartphone sports a 13-megapixel camera that has laser autofocus system and optical image stabilization -- features that users may also find in LG's current flagship device (the LG G3).

The G Flex 2 features a 3,000 mAh battery that takes full advantage of Qualcomm's fast charging technology available via the latest Snapdragon chip sets. This technology significantly reduces the recharging time by up to 75 percent. Thus, users can get the G Flex 2 half-charged in just 40 minutes.

But what really makes the G Flex 2 unique is its curved body. The front side (display screen) has a 700 millimeter curved radius, while the rear side is curved just a bit less (650 millimeter radius). This is by design, by the way. According to LG, this helps users hold the phone more easily and also, allows the device to fit more easily in users' pockets.

Naturally, the G Flex 2 will be launched first in South Korea before the end of the month. But American users will not have long to wait. Major carriers AT&T and Sprint have already confirmed that they will be including the device in their respective smartphone line-ups this year. Regional carrier US Cellular has also announced that they will be offering the device in spring. No specific release dates and pricing details have been provided yet, but LG fans in the US should be pretty excited nonetheless. 

Want to know more LG devices? You can start comparing LG phones and plans now.

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          Chrissy Teigen: “Everything About Me Is Fake Except My Cheeks”        
Chrissy Teigen is a popular model and she tweets often in social media. Having made her debut in Sports Illustrated in 2010, she has gone on to host the Lip Sync Battle on Spike TV. However, in recent years, she has been dogged by plastic surgery rumors. In a recent interview with Byrdie Chrissy opened […]
          Burning through the Desert         
Dan Rielger & Ayala Moriel

A few months ago (the last day of April, to be exact, which was also the first day of my Orientals week-long course), I had the pleasure and honour to host a special guest throughout the day: Dan Riegler of Apothecary's Garden - a purveyor of fair trade resins from around the world - especially frankincense and myrrh that are wild crafted in the traditional methods in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Kenya. He also sources Cretan labdanum, and other rare raw materials, and sells resin-centrered products that he concocts himself, which you can find on his online shop. One of them being a highly fragrant moustache wax which basically surrounded him with a cloud of frankincense - so obviously he made an instant good impression on me!

We started the day at the Baha'i Gardens in Akko (which deserve a full post dedicated to them) and then went to my studio to make incense - and burn a bunch too. Little did I know what I was signing up for. On top of the usual things I burn for this class (palo santo chips, sandalwood incense sticks, one type of myrrh and frankincense resins and my own rendition of Egyptian Kyphi) - Dan had a trunk-load of resins that he just imported from Africa, and was immensely kind and generous to share with us the most incredible incense resins with me and my class. We spent the afternoon burning rare myrrh, olibanum, and also some gums I never knew existed, namely Sandarac and Ammoniacum, the latter of which totally blew my mind.

I learned so much from Dan, about the resins (and the other raw materials he curates and sells), how they are harvested and collected, the chemical makeup of the resins and how it affects the stages of burning (it turns out that incense resins also have top, heart and base notes) - and this post is just a little taste of all the beautiful resins we burnt when he was here. I'm looking forward to meeting him again on his next visits in Israel on the way to the African continent.

Boswellia carterii
Frankincense usually comes in "tears" shape as this Boswellia carterii - but not always. Below is a specimen of the less known B. neglecta that look more like a chunk of resinous granules. B. carterii has the characteristic, most unmistakable scent of frankincense - beginning with sweet citrus notes of lemon drops and orange candy and continuing into more resinous, woody and even balsamic, caramel-like nuances as the incense burns on the charcoal.

While looking pretty much the same, other frankincense species provide further nuances and a whole frankincense burning comparative study (or incense games a-la Japenese Koh-Doh) can easily occupy half a day. Compare this to Maydi (Boswellia frereana) which albeit its slightly herbaceous (sage-like) opening, is more subtle, woody and perfumey. In fact, it smells almost powdery like violet and iris. Ethiopian frakincince (Boswellia papyrifea) is even finer with its suave, light perfume notes, slightly sweet and with notes of burnt sugar at the end of the charcoal burning process.

Boswellia negoecta - black and white

Boswellia neglecta is endemic to north Kenya and comes in white and black forms (as you can see in the photo) and is not widely known. The white and the black smell significantly different. The white begins resinous-green, piney and mysterious, surprisingly juice like crushed leaves with hints of parsley, galbanum and ammonia (smells a lot like amoniacum).  It has a hint of sweaty note, a little like coriander seed. The final burning moments bring to mind the smoke coming out of autumnal piles of fall leaves.

The black neglecta smells completely different - you wouldn't think it came from the same plant: it smells dark and looming, like moss, mushrooms, decaying fall leaves, peat, forest floor and hints of campfire. It's surprising and magical that a resin can possess so many different facets.

Sandarac
Sandarac (tetraclllyris) comes from Malta and just like its pure milky appearance, burns clean with a woody-balsamic-resinous scent that is fine and very pleasant. It's a little bit like elemi, a little like mastic but not quite. There is a tiny hint of seashore to it that I only detected after many times of burning. It is quite lovely, even if underwhelming at first impression.

Ammoniacum
Ammoniacum is intense and pungent, like a mixture of galbanum, asafoetida, sulphur, greens. It it a very interesting odour but I suspect it would have better effect in magic and exorcism ceremonies rather than contemplative incense rituals.

Commiphora confusa

Commiphora confusa, as the name suggests, is a type of myrrh that is hard to identify, and for several reasons: the flowers look different on each plant, the resin looks different as well - and the most surprising of all: it smells more like frankincense than myrrh.

Commiphora myrrha

Commiphora myrrha (from Ethiopea) has the characteristic bitter, rubbery scent when burnt, and is what I'd imagine the Queen of Sheba to wear on her neck when seducing King Solomon.

Commiphora karat

Commiphora kataf (from Kenya) has pieces of wood in it (which would change the smell of the smoke depending on which chunk you burn). It has a strange, sulphuric-sweaty odour. I guess you could call it spicy, as it has a hint of cumin in it too. Overall it reminds me more of the smell of food than incense - barbecuing kebabs comes to mind.

Commiphira holziana
Commiphora holtziana does not smell like myrrh at all to me. It's more woody than C. myrrha, and a tad fresh to start with. Dan describes it as briny and sea-like but I'm not getting it.

Arabian/Yemeni Myrrh
Arabian/Yemeni Myrrh is by far the most incredibly beautiful myrrh resin I've ever burnt. Although it came in a strange looking chunk, containing pieces of the plastic bags used by the collectors, and even a piece of wool yarn, it has the most fantastic scent, like a perfume on its own accord. It reminds me of the unique "version" of frankincense that B. papyrifea offers. I would love to have this as an essential oil and create a perfume with it.


          Druze Tea        

Herbal arrangement for tea brewing
For those unfamiliar with the Druze culture, it is unique to the Levant (Lebanon, Syria and Israel). This minority group originated about a thousand years ago in the Ismaillia sect of early Islam, and was largely prosecuted after splitting off from it. Therefore, mate

they usually dwell on mountains and have long tradition of bravery since they've always needed to fend for themselves in a rather hostile environment. In Israel, the Druze communities are all located in the north - from Mount Carmel in the largest Druze town Daliat el Carmel and all the way up north to the Western Galilee, the Golan Heights especially around Mount Hermon.

Near my village alone there are four Druze villages - Jath, Yanuh, Yirka and Julis. We've held strong friendly relationships with our Druze neighbours. Growing up, two elders from the village Yanuh will travel on foot or by donkey and come help us build our village - they taught our parents how to built terraces from the many rocks around here so that we can grow crops along the hillsides, how to cultivate wild olives and do the grafting so the trees grow strong and bear good fruit, and we went every summer to the miller and grind our wheat (when we still grew our own), and every autumn to line up with all the other olive growers and press our olives into fine olive oil and buy handmade olive soap that was made on the spot from the pommace left from the pressing process. As the nearby village Yirka developed into a small town bustling with businesses - we go there also to do most of our shopping and other business (that's where I usually go to the ship my online orders, by the way), and continue to build business and work relations with our neighbours. My house (both the old and the new part) was built almost entirely by a Birka-Born team of construction experts who became my closest new friends since moving here, and their wives come to practice Pilates with me.

Growing up here, I remember my mom being especially enthusiastic about learning from the Druze women about the bounty of edible and medicinal wild plants around here. From them she also learned to drink olive oil in the morning on empty stomach, and how to make a special scorpion antidote (from the scorpion that stung you, fried in olive oil). I never tried either, and probably never will. But I do love to learn from them about the nearly magical properties of the plants that grow everywhere around here. It's as if there is an entire pharmacy out in the open, here in the wild. 

Besides, there is much to be learned from the Druze traditional way of living, which is very family centred and values hospitality and taking the time to sit and enjoy a cup of anything - tea, coffee, and more and more coffee. The latter is served everywhere you go - from the hardware store to the mobile phone shop. And of course you can't enter a home without being invited for at least a cup of coffee, and if it's dinnertime - to break bread with the whole family.

Ka'kat Isfar
As is widespread in all of Israel - among both the Arab and Jewish population - the Druze adore za'atar, sage and the many wild harvested and then dried herbs from around here. They are  popular as digestifs or medicinal brews for various ailments or as preventative measures: wild sage, white mint, savory, wild oregano, and more are either infused on their own or added, dried or fresh, to black tea.  The love for za'atar is so profound that it is even added to some sweet pastries, such as this traditional ka'akat isfar ("yellow cake") - a mildly sweet yeasted flatbread that is coloured with turmeric and additionally spiced with sesame and nigella seeds, hints of za'atar (this umbrella name could be wild oregano, savoury or thyme - more on that in another post), and hints of mysterious spices that I'm yet to identify (I detected nutmeg and perhaps even some cardamom or allspice but I can't be sure of the latter two). It has become a favourite of mine, but is never found in a pastry shop. Some families would sell their traditional homemade ka'kat isfar when they make it, and the recipes vary. The first one I tried was only spiced with turmeric. This particular version that I'm very fond of was made by a random person I met on one of my traveling tea parties, and I doubt I will be able to taste ever again. The only recipe I found that seems close is written in Arabic and I'm far from being proficient enough to follow a recipe in that language.

Many of my Vancouver perfume studio guests have been indirectly introduced to Druze culture through the special tea I would brew each winter (we fondly called it "witch brew") of dried hulnejan (a particular type of dried galangal root) and ginger roots, which is simmered forever in a large pot, simultaneously cleansing the air, warming the chest and keeping colds at bay. It is often served with pecan nuts sprinkled on top, and a lot of sugar, which is how most Druze like their teas. I personally prefer it unsweetened, and like to add cinnamon bark which has its own natural sweetness. Sometimes I would add honey but not often.

But Hulnejan is not the only interesting thing about the Druze tea culture. As it turns out, in the 19th Century, many Druze - especially from Syria - left for Argentina, and they brought back with them mate, and a special fondness for this unique South American concoction. They drink it socially, sharing the same bombilla (the silver straw), traditionally sucked from the tea which is brewed in a dried decorative gourd.

Mate, Druze-style

In this photo, I am holding a dainty cup of mate that was offered to me on the streets of Majdal Shams, a remote Druze village come ski tourist town on Mount Hermon (Jabal Sheikh), formerly part of Syria. 

On Saturday morning, we were having a hard time finding a place to eat breakfast. The breakfast place recommended to us the night before was still closed at 8:30am - it turns out it was them who had the wedding the night before with the parade that blocked the streets) - and so we were directed by a local lady to a corner shop that sells coffee, cigarettes, local cherries and freshly whipped before your eyes malyukh (Druze flat bread that is baked on top of a saj - an iron dome much like an upside down wok) on top of open fire. The bread is baked only on one side, than folded and smeared with generous amounts of labneh (soft cheese made from strained yoghurt), za'atar mixture, and homemade hot sauce that I swear was spiked with cinnamon.  We were also offered black tea "on the house" which turned to be fragrant with "Ootra" - Arabic for the popular Pelargonium graveness. The lady was impressed with my Arabic (very basic, but still better than nothing) and even more so that I recognized what she put in the tea and know the Arabic name for it.

I chatted her up as I was munching on the malyukh and sipping the tea, and learned that while Majdal Shams is not as big as Yirka - it is a lot more "modern" to her words. There is a high percentage of post-secondary education, most of which was acquired in Syria, where up until the civil war was offered for free to all Syrian citizens. As a background - you should know that up until 1967, the Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon, including the four Druze villages  there - Majdal Shams, Mas'ade, Ein Kiniya and Buq'ata - were under Syrian rule, and their culture is quite different than what you'll find in the Galilee. One thinks of the border between Israel and Syria (sworn enemies since the establishment of the state of Israeli in 1948) as hermetically sealed, but in fact there was a dynamic flow of the Druze population between the countries - especially for weddings and for family reunions, but also for studying abroad. This lady's brother lived in Syria for many years - he went there to study medicine, got married and lived there until the war started, and then requested to return, and came back to Israel via Jordan with his wife and their children.

We finished our delicious breakfast, thanked the lady and crossed the street to where our car was parked, right in front of a bakery (the only other place that was already open by 9am). In front of it, two ladies sat on a bench and a couple of upside-down plastic grocery boxes, boiling water on a portable gas stove and sipping non other than mate from a dainty little jug. I was so astonished I could not hold my gasp of delight. In return, they offered me to sit down and join them, rinsing the bombilla with boiled water from the kettle and pouring fresh water over and over the mate to bring out the flavour time and again. I was so thrilled that even though we're only two hours drive from home, and are already experiencing new culture that is so different yet invites us to share a cup of tea together.
I had a couple of jugs of mate with them and thanked the big spirit that's in this world that encouraged me to finally set up on my tea journey. 

          Medicines for the Soul        
Christmas in Nazareth

On Christmas Eve my brother invited us to go with him on an urban evening stroll in Nazareth, to experience the holiday at the historic birthplace of Christianity. My brother is a tour-guide, so it's always an experience to go for walks with him. He always knows about more than what meets the eye, and has connections with people where we visit that makes every trip with him, even to familiar places, a different experience.

Our experience started on a rather stressful note, being stuck in traffic in a very narrow, one-way downhill street that would make San Francisco's terrain look rather friendly. There was no traffic control despite very heavy flow of visitors to watch the festivities. We were stuck in what should have been a two minute drive for 45 minutes. When we finally found a 3/4 parking spot between a dumpster and another truck and got out, it was drizzling and cold, as it should be in midwinter in the Galilee.

The large square in front of the Church of the Annunciation was festive with an enormous tree-like construction with many lights and a big glowing red star on top and next to it the customary nativity scene. Many people around were wearing Santa Claus hats, blowing little annoying-sounding horns; but thankfully above it all was a recording of Fairuz singing Christmas songs. Christmas in the Middle East is certainly very different than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere.

I don't recall ever visiting in Nazareth, even though our family has special ties with the city. My mom's midwife, a Christian-Arab from the neighbouring village of Kfar Yasif is originally from Nazareth. Both our families have five children each (aside from me, my mom has four boys, and her midwife has five daughters). We are all in more or less the same ages. If it weren't for the strange political climate of this country, they'd all be married to each other by now...

Safdi's in Nazareth
Aside from the religious spots (Nazareth's spring, bath house and historic city centre, Mary's Well and its Church, AKA Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, and the Roman Catholic Basiclia of the Anunnciation (كنيسة البشار  in Arabic בזיליקת הבשורה / כנסיית הבשורה) - we also went into the old souk (market) of Nazareth, which is sadly mostly dormant due to modernization. Very few people have the desire or time to find parking in narrow alleyways that were built thousand years ago and wander between merchants to compare prices and negotiate bargains. It's much easier to go to the mall and pay with plastic cards all in one place, and cart your goods to the car underground. It was very sad to see so many stores closed, behind them are beautiful old shops with arched ceilings. Some of the old apartment buildings - although mostly neglected - were used to be effendi's homes, and their ceilings are made of Cedar of Lebanon, and hand-painted by a Lebanese artist from the time of the Ottoman empire. It's a lost world, and only recently some brave entrepreneurs have taken the initiative to renovate such places and open boutique hotels, hostels and cultural centres in the ancient cities of the country. There was also a little shop in the entrance to the empty souk, full of beautiful local craftsmanship. I hope to see more such things develop.

Meicines for the Soul
Once we reached the part of the souk that was still alive, I bought a cupful of coal-roasted chestnuts, reminiscing the cold foggy nights in Vancouver when we'd buy them from Yve's Chestnuts and warm our frozen mittens with their starchy, caramel-scented comfort. At the bottom of the hill there were some of the country's best Halawiyat (Arabic patisseries), where one should stop by for kunafeh - even if they don't have time or room in their stomach. But we were in a group with a different agenda than enjoying life on the stop - and instead continued on to Ziad Safdi's grocery store, which is really more of a magical old-fashioned herb and spice shop, that contains many folk remedies for all kinds of physical ailments, a collection of essential oils from local plants that is distilled in Nablus; speculates such as mastic gum, and mastic-flavoured chewing gum; and last but not least - assortment of medicines for the soul in the form of incense (pictured above) to be burned in special clay pots. You could find there anything from frankincense and myrrh to colourful and sparkling blends typically burned in churches.

Fine Nazarethi Baclava
As we continued on, we stumbled upon other interesting merchants, such as this man who brews coffee in a special pot decorated with olive branches and misbaha (prayer beads) that has hot charcoal in a pipe in the middle, and sends impressive steam to the air. We continued to El Babour Mill - Nazareth original steam-powered miller (the name is a mispronunciation of the English word "vapour") -  now more of a live museum for old mills, sieves and pieces of history from the family that keeps this tradition - and a spice and candy shop. I bought there a jar of black-coloured nigella spread, and green frikeh (charred green wheat berries). The tour ended there and once everyone spread to all four direction of the winds, my brother, daughter and I stopped at a more humble bakey and bought some spinach-filled sambusac, date-filled sesame balls, and karakish - savoury cookies that look like hard flatbreads studded with fragrant seeds of sesame and fennel.
Charcoal Coffee


          2011-09-04 19:00:00 / Magisches Open-Air-Spektakel         
Am Sonntag, dem 4. September 2011, erhielt der Ku'damm anlässlich seines Jubiläums fantastischen Besuch: Riesige heliumgefüllte Fabeltiere der französischen Künstlergruppe "Plasticiens Volants" schwebten von Halensee bis zum Breitscheidplatz und verzauberten Berlins berühmtesten Boulevard mit einer unvergesslichen Open-Air-Inszenierung. Start: Ku'damm / ...

          By: silk        
just discovered your blog and am looking forward to dig into it. first impression: I am a bit amused that you depict yourself with a plastic cup and at the same time talk about the health of the planet ;) all the best!
          By: HenryLoL        
They accept returned mattresses and just re-plastic and sell again...
          TALLERES FEBRERO 2013        
Aquí tenéis el calendario para los talleres de Febrero. Si quieres apuntarte a algún taller solo tienes que enviar un mail a info@carmennavarro.es, diciendo el talleres que te apetece hacer y adjuntanto un nº de telefono.



Detalle de los talleres:

Sábado 2 de Febrero de 11.oo a 13.3o
TALLER GANCHILLO GIGANTE CON TRAPILLO
Nivel: cero
Aprenderemos a uitlizar el ganchillo gigante, asi como los puntos básico y nos haremos una cestita muy molona para guardar lo que nos apetezca...
Incluye aguja, trapillo y patrones
Precio 35€



Sábado 9 de Febrero de 1o.3o a 13.3o
TALLER DE INICIACION AL PATCHWORK
Nivel: cero
Aprendermos a realizar una funda para nuestro ipad en patchwork con la técnica Log Cabin, y ya tendrás las fórmula para coserte cualquier funda... además de conocer todas las técnicas posibles y modalidades que hay en este mundo tan bonito... 
Incluye telas, guatas, hilos, fornituras...
Precio 35€
Impartido por Pilar Maquilón




Sábado 16 de Febrero de 11.oo a 13.3o
TALLER INICIACIÓN DE LANA CARDADA
Nivel: cero
Aprenderemos a utilzar la lana cardada, a realzar cuentas de lana con diseños diferentes, a trabajar la lana con aguja... Nos haremos un precioso collar y un bonito broche.
 Incluye lana cardada, aguja, esponja, hilos, cuentas... todo lo necesario para nuestro proyecto.
Precio 35€



Sábado 27 de Febrero de 11.oo a 13.30
TALLER DE BISUTERIA ILUSTRADA (plástico mágico)
Nivel: cero
Aprenderos a utilizar este mágico material, realizando joyitas de bisuteria únicas, con nuestras propias ilustraciones.
Incluye todas las fornituras necesarias para realizar nuestras joyitas y plástico mágico.
Precio 35€



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          Plastic Surgeons Warn That This Popular Cosmetic Procedure Can Cause Blindness        
There's a continuously growing demand for fillers . In fact, injectables have become so mainstream that they seem simple and harmless...
          This Woman Had Lamb Fat Injected Into Her Butt and Now She's Paying the Price        
Plastic surgeons sing the praise of fat for augmentative purposes for a handful of reasons. But almost any doctor you ask about fat...
          Voice Feminization Surgery        

Voice Feminization Surgery (VFS) is changing one’s voice to a higher voice tone. It is for the patients who have experienced abnormal hormone functions that were affected by a urogenital syndrome or androphobia, or through the side effect of the hormone treatment for aplastic anemia. However, Voice Feminization Surgery (VFS) is mainly performed to the […]

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          Aplastic Anemia        

Idiopathic aplastic anemia is a condition where your bone marrow stops making new blood cells. This condition is not that uncommon and can be fatal if left untreated. Aplastic anemia is caused by damage to the bone marrow which can be due to viruses, some drugs, and radiation exposure. Some scientists think that this may […]

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          Skin Care Treatment        

The post Skin Care Treatment appeared first on Medical Treatment, Medical Treatment centre, Medical healthcare Centre.


          Voluma        

Juvéderm VOLUMA™ XC, Voluma Filler The Woodlands, TX is a new filler designed specifically for the cheeks. Rivela Plastic Surgery has been pleased to be the first to provide the newly released Voluma. Instead of just treating signs of aging around the mouth, Voluma, add volume for the mid-face, correcting the problem and not the […]

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          Radiesse        

Radiesse is a safe, FDA approved dermal filler that restores a natural, long lasting, youthful look. This convenient treatment can restore facial volume as well as correct smile lines, Nasolabial folds and wrinkles around the nose and mouth. Radiesse is made of unique calcium-based microspheres suspended in a natural gel that is injected into the skin […]

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          Sculptra        

Sculptra®Aesthetic is a new facial injectable treatment indicated for the correction of shallow to deep nasolabial fold (smile lines) contour deficiencies and other facial wrinkles, which are treated with the appropriate injection technique in healthy people. It works gradually to replace collagen that is lost during the aging process. Most injectables can fill these wrinkles, […]

The post Sculptra appeared first on Medical Treatment, Medical Treatment centre, Medical healthcare Centre.


          Body Contouring        

Surgical body contouring following major weight loss. It Removes excess sagging fat and skin while improving the shape of the underlying support tissue. The result is a more normal appearance with smoother contours. Dramatic weight loss has many benefits. But after weight reduction surgery, or any substantial amount of weight loss, the skin and tissues […]

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          Breast Surgery        

Dissatisfaction with breast size and shape is not only a cosmetic concern but may lead to physical symptoms. While breast augmentation leads to enhanced self-image, breast reduction, and lifts. It results in relief of symptoms of back and shoulder pain, improvement of posture and comfort. In men, male breast reduction reduces Gynecomastia, enlarged male breasts, […]

The post Breast Surgery appeared first on Medical Treatment, Medical Treatment centre, Medical healthcare Centre.


          Plastic & Reconstructive – Cosmetic Surgery        

Cosmetic Surgery In The Era of Beauty It is the most wide-spread form of plastic surgery and is associated with voluntary and optional surgical or non-surgical practices (e.g.: Botox, laser hair removal) that are intended to improve appearance, boost self-confidence, correct unaesthetic features, forms, sizes or conceal the signs of aging. In case of cosmetic […]

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          Treatment        

Cancer / Oncology Treatments Oncology is the medical study of cancer including its diagnosis, prevention, and therapy, which usually comprises three types of treatment: surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, with the follow-up care Plastic & Reconstructive / Cosmetic Surgery It is the most wide-spread form of plastic surgery and is associated with voluntary and optional surgical […]

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           Normal service is resumed        
Hello everyone! 

It seems like a long time ago since I last posted but it's only been 24 days. In that time I've been to Donegal for two weeks and my cousin from Ireland came to visit me here in Bedford. I have had a wonderful three weeks and it was also good to have a break from blogging! I did miss everyone else's blogs and have tried to catch up since I returned.

I'm going to dedicate this part of the post to Fiona of 'Made in a Muddle' here. Fiona has a mobile home in France and asked me to do a post about about my mobile home in Ireland - so here goes.

The site we stay at  is at the top of a hill and has about 180 mobile homes in total. It is split into two separate areas by a road. There is a children's playground; a green play space with trees and tyre swings; a football/tennis/basketball pitch; picnic sites and a hut for wet weather activities, on site. There are also woods to the rear of the site, two nearby lakes and lots of local beaches.  Our mobile home is on the upper slope of the hill and at the end of a row. It is a truly beautiful spot and we are surrounded by mountains.

We are 17 miles from the town of Donegal; 3.5 miles from Killybegs and about 7 miles from Ardara. There is a garage cum post office cum grocery shop cum deli at the bottom of the hill, about 4 miles away and it's our nearest shop.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, house, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

This is 'Ruby Super' hereafter referred to as the 'caravan'. She is a static caravan or mobile home made by Atlas and was originally made in the mid to late 1990s. I bought her in April 2014 after I retired in March. I had the wooden decking/patio and base around the caravan made especially. Ruby Super has three bedrooms but can sleep eight people as the seating area in the living area pulls down into a double bed.


There is no central heating but I do have a gas fire in the living room and two other electric heaters. However, electric voltage is is limited in a caravan and you learn pretty quickly how many electrical items can be in use at the same time. When the electricity is 'tripped' it's only a short walk to the decking to 'throw' the switch. As it can get very cold, in the evenings especially, I always have a good supply of throws and blankets which are stored in the large basket.




I like the layout in the caravan  - apart from the sleeping areas and bathroom, everything else is open plan. From the kitchen window and two of the bedroom windows I can see St. John's Point which is one of the longest peninsulas in Ireland.  The peninsula is separated on either side by McSwyne's Bay and Inver Bay; which feed into Donegal Bay and the North Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, I can also see Ben Bulben mountain  across Donegal Bay in Co. Sligo. If you look very carefully at the picture below, in the distance on the left hand side you can just make out Ben Bulben. There were very few clear days on this trip but when it is clear it's as if I can lean out of the window and touch the sea!



The kitchen is compact but has lots of storage space. I have no washing machine but there is a laundry on site with two washing machines and two tumble dryers. They are not free; unfortunately...


This is the bathroom. There is a shower to the left of the photo.


There is a separate loo



One double bedroom complete with another wardrobe of clothes, shoes, jewellery and perfume!


Two twin bedrooms.

When we've been away from the caravan between September to Easter, the caravan suffers from mildew. We leave plates of salt and humidifiers (non electrical) bought at hard ware shops to help with the mildew. This year we've left the blinds up and curtains open to maximise any sunshine and warmth; until I return in July. The caravan heats up really quickly when it's sunny. 

We also have to pack any clothing or textiles, including bedding, away in plastic bags to avoid them becoming mildewed. If we were able to visit more frequently this would be less of an issue. So far though, it has been the only problem we've experienced and we love Ruby Super. When I return in July, I shall be applying weather protection stain to the decking and washing the outside of the caravan with a mop and bucket. Thanks to Fiona for alerting me to this - it was in the terms and conditions,  but I had completely missed it!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Are you ready for some outfit posts? Not many I'm afraid; I was too busy having a good time!


I only managed one selfie with the selfie stick. Everything charity shopped. Cardigan; 50p at a jumble sale, top; £1.00 rail somewhere, can't remember where I bought the trousers.


All jewellery and headscarf charity shopped.

When OH arrived we spent a day in Derry.


Taken outside the Guildhall in Co.Derry. Everything charity shopped except the bag; online retail and the boots; Christmas present. The mac is by Max Mara and I bought it for 4 euros at my favourite charity shop in Killybegs, Co. Donegal. I also bought a pair of brown trousers and a green and black pair of trousers there for 2 euros each and a tunic by Apricot for 3 euros. It was a chilly day in Derry hence the gloves and scarf!




I'm standing against the wall that once surrounded the city of Derry. This plaque is in memory of all those who were killed  by weapon systems within the city and district of Derry.


Another part of the wall. 
OH and I had a really good rummage in the charity shops of Derry on Easter Saturday. There were nine in total that we found and only one was closed. I was quite restrained for a change (!) and bought a necklace in a hospice shop and a Desigual tunic top in the Red Cross shop; where I got discount bringing the price down from £6.00 to £4.80! On the way to Derry we stopped at Ballyboffey to have a rummage and I bought a pair of trainers and a pair of walking shoes for 99 cents each. In the Donkey Sanctuary charity shop I bought a ring for 5 euros and a couple of books.


This picture was taken in Letterkenny, where we stopped for a meal on the way back from Derry. I have no idea what the sculpture is and there was no information about it that I could see.

 We also spent a day in Sligo where we went rummaging as well as visiting family. I bought some white jeans for 2.50 euros and a couple of bangles. I also visited another cousin and his wife in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo before OH came out. This the view of the Atlantic from their garden:

On that occasion my cousin's wife, Martina and another cousin Caroline, and I, went walking around the base of Ben Bulben. It was a beautiful walk and we had two dogs with us who were very well behaved throughout. 

And other than reading, eating, sleeping, a bit of walking, listening to the radio and starting (finally) a new crochet blanket, I did very little else! 

Only another 100+ rows to go....
I'll post about my cousin's visit in my next post. It's good to be back!

          Universal Plastic Window Crank Winder Handle Black for Automobile Trucks        

Specifications:

Product Name Car Window Hand Crank
Total Size 11 x 3.5 x 2.5cm/ 4.3" x 1.3" x 1" (L*W*H)
Material Plastic
Color Black
Weight 30g
Package Content

1 x Window Winder Hand Crank

Descriptions:

  • This is a set of high quality replacement part for car window crank handle.
  • These window cranks are universal fit most vehicles with the manual window crank handle or the door crank handle.

 


          How Plastic We've Become        

Our bodies carry residues of kitchen plastics

Food for Thought

In the 1967 film classic The Graduate, a businessman corners Benjamin Braddock at a cocktail party and gives him a bit of career advice. "Just one word…plastics."

Although Benjamin didn't heed that recommendation, plenty of other young graduates did. Today, the planet is awash in products spawned by the plastics industry. Residues of plastics have become ubiquitous in the environment—and in our bodies.

A federal government study now reports that bisphenol A (BPA)—the building block of one of the most widely used plastics—laces the bodies of the vast majority of U.S. residents young and old.

Manufacturers link BPA molecules into long chains, called polymers, to make polycarbonate plastics. All of those clear, brittle plastics used in baby bottles, food ware, and small kitchen appliances (like food-processor bowls) are made from polycarbonates. BPA-based resins also line the interiors of most food, beer, and soft-drink cans. With use and heating, polycarbonates can break down, leaching BPA into the materials they contact. Such as foods.

And that could be bad if what happens in laboratory animals also happens in people, because studies in rodents show that BPA can trigger a host of harmful changes, from reproductive havoc to impaired blood-sugar control and obesity (SN: 9/29/07, p. 202).

For the new study, scientists analyzed urine from some 2,500 people who had been recruited between 2003 and 2004 for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Roughly 92 percent of the individuals hosted measurable amounts of BPA, according to a report in the January Environmental Health Perspectives. It's the first study to measure the pollutant in a representative cross-section of the U.S. population.

Typically, only small traces of BPA turned up, concentrations of a few parts per billion in urine, note chemist Antonia M. Calafat and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, with hormone-mimicking agents like BPA, even tiny exposures can have notable impacts.

Overall, concentrations measured by Calafat's team were substantially higher than those that have triggered disease, birth defects, and more in exposed animals, notes Frederick S. vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia biologist who has been probing the toxicology of BPA for more than 15 years.

The BPA industry describes things differently. Although Calafat's team reported urine concentrations of BPA, in fact they assayed a breakdown product—the compound by which BPA is excreted, notes Steven G. Hentges of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. As such, he argues, "this does not mean that BPA itself is present in the body or in urine."

On the other hand, few people have direct exposure to the breakdown product.

Hentges' group estimates that the daily BPA intake needed to create urine concentrations reported by the CDC scientists should be in the neighborhood of 50 nanograms per kilogram of bodyweight—or one millionth of an amount at which "no adverse effects" were measured in multi-generation animal studies. In other words, Hentges says, this suggests "a very large margin of safety."

No way, counters vom Saal. If one applies the ratio of BPA intake to excreted values in hosts of published animal studies, concentrations just reported by CDC suggest that the daily intake of most Americans is actually closer to 100 micrograms (µg) per kilogram bodyweight, he says—or some 1,000-fold higher than the industry figure.

Clearly, there are big differences of opinion and interpretation. And a lot may rest on who's right.

Globally, chemical manufacturers produce an estimated 2.8 million tons of BPA each year. The material goes into a broad range of products, many used in and around the home. BPA also serves as the basis of dental sealants, which are resins applied to the teeth of children to protect their pearly whites from cavities (SN: 4/6/96, p. 214). The industry, therefore, has a strong economic interest in seeing that the market for BPA-based products doesn't become eroded by public concerns over the chemical.

And that could happen. About 2 years after a Japanese research team showed that BPA leached out of baby bottles and plastic food ware (see What's Coming Out of Baby's Bottle?), manufacturers of those consumer products voluntarily found BPA substitutes for use in food cans. Some 2 years after that, a different group of Japanese scientists measured concentrations of BPA residues in the urine of college students. About half of the samples came from before the switch, the rest from after the period when BPA was removed from food cans.

By comparing urine values from the two time periods, the researchers showed that BPA residues were much lower—down by at least 50 percent—after Japanese manufacturers had eliminated BPA from the lining of food cans.

Concludes vom Saal, in light of the new CDC data and a growing body of animal data implicating even low-dose BPA exposures with the potential to cause harm, "the most logical thing" for the United States to do would be to follow in Japan's footsteps and "get this stuff [BPA] out of our food."

Kids appear most exposed

Overall, men tend to have statistically lower concentrations of BPA than women, the NHANES data indicate. But the big difference, Calafat says, traces to age. "Children had higher concentrations than adolescents, and they in turn had higher levels than adults," she told Science News Online.

This decreasing body burden with older age "is something we have seen with some other nonpersistent chemicals," Calafat notes—such as phthalates, another class of plasticizers.

The spread between the average BPA concentration that her team measured in children 6 to 11 years old (4.5 µg/liter) and adults (2.5 µg/L) doesn't look like much, but proved reliably different.

The open question is why adults tended to excrete only 55 percent as much BPA. It could mean children have higher exposures, she posits, or perhaps that they break it down less efficiently. "We really need to do more research to be able to answer that question."

Among other differences that emerged in the NHANES analysis: urine residues of BPA decreased with increasing household income and varied somewhat with ethnicity (with Mexican-Americans having the lowest average values, blacks the highest, and white's values in between).

There was also a time-of-day difference, with urine values for any given group tending to be highest in the evening, lowest in the afternoon, and midway between those in the morning. Since BPA's half-life in the body is only about 6 hours, that temporal variation in the chemical's excretion would be consistent with food as a major source of exposure, the CDC scientists note.

In the current NHANES paper, BPA samples were collected only once from each recruit. However, in a paper due to come out in the February Environmental Health Perspectives, Calafat and colleagues from several other institutions looked at how BPA excretion varied over a 2-year span among 82 individuals—men and women—seen at a fertility clinic in Boston.

In contrast to the NHANES data, the upcoming report shows that men tended to have somewhat higher BPA concentrations than women. Then again both groups had only about one-quarter the concentration typical of Americans.

The big difference in the Boston group emerged among the 10 women who ultimately became pregnant. Their BPA excretion increased 33 percent during pregnancy. Owing to the small number of participants in this subset of the study population, the pregnancy-associated change was not statistically significant. However, the researchers report, these are the first data to look for changes during pregnancy and ultimately determining whether some feature of pregnancy—such as a change in diet or metabolism of BPA—really alters body concentrations of the pollutant could be important. It could point to whether the fetus faces an unexpectedly high exposure to the pollutant.

If it does, the fetus could face a double whammy: Not only would exposures be higher during this period of organ and neural development, but rates of detoxification also would be diminished, vom Saal says.

Indeed, in a separate study, one due to be published soon in Reproductive Toxicology, his team administered BPA by ingestion or by injection to 3-day-old mice. Either way, the BPA exposure resulted in comparable BPA concentrations in blood.

What's more, that study found, per unit of BPA delivered, blood values in the newborns were "markedly higher" than other studies have reported for adult rodents exposed to the chemical. And that makes sense, vom Saal says, because the enzyme needed to break BPA down and lead to its excretion is only a tenth as active in babies as in adults. That's true in the mouse, he says, in the rat—and, according to some preliminary data, in humans.

Vom Saal contends that since studies have shown BPA exhibits potent hormonelike activity in human cells at the parts-per-trillion level, and since the new CDC study finds that most people are continually exposed to concentrations well above the parts-per-trillion ballpark, it's time to reevaluate whether it makes sense to use BPA-based products in and around foods.


If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


          A Sweeter Hops        

Federal scientists have bred a new, antimicrobial-rich hops variety for tea

Food for Thought

Brewers prize hops for the characteristic bitter flavors they impart to ales, lagers, and other beers. But aficionados of another class of brews—certain herbal teas—would prefer their hops bitterfree. And federal scientists may have come up with just what the doctor ordered.

"People have used hops medicinally for a long time. It's a fairly ancient remedy," notes plant physiologist Barbara M. Reed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Corvallis, Ore.

The bitter tonic made from hops has putative sedative, hypnotic, and antianxiety properties. Hops tea has been offered as a folk remedy for conditions ranging from fever and insomnia to bruises and cancer, according to a report by botanist James A. Duke, who has authored several books on medicinal plants. A quick browse on the Internet will turn up numerous sources of hop tea.

The new cultivar, named Teamaker, may produce an especially palatable brew owing to a unique ratio of certain acid components. Moreover, the components that predominate in Teamaker have long-established antimicrobial properties. Indeed, their germ-fighting function appears to have won the appreciation of brewers more than a millennium ago, notes John A. Henning, who leads hop genetics and breeding at a USDA research center, also in Corvallis. Beer producers realized that when their recipe included hops, brews not only proved tasty, but had a longer shelf life.

Hops breeder Alfred Haunold and his colleagues at the Corvallis center will formally register their debittered cultivar this month.

What brewers of all stripes refer to as hops are actually the cone-shaped dried female flowers of the Humulus lupulus L. plant. Inside are glands that contain flavorful oils and some fairly bitter water-soluble components.

To extract the flavorings for use in beer, or merely to make a cup of tea, brewers boil the cones to release their characteristic flavorings. However, the altered chemistry of USDA's new hop has dramatically boosted the production of flavorings possessing natural, antibiotic properties.

In fact, the elevated antibiotic attributes of the new hop might open new markets for this crop, observes Henning. For instance, sugar producers might turn to it as a preservative to prevent microbial degradation of their product during processing. Alternatively, he notes, manufacturers and others may substitute it for the formaldehyde used to control pests and fungal growth in everything from animal feed and plywood to tissues that are being stored for use in research.

Alpha vs. beta

The key flavor compounds in hops trace to two families of chemicals: water-soluble alpha acids, and beta acids that develop in the plants' essential oils. Breweries prize the alpha acids for their hearty, if bitter, taste: These serve as a natural foil to the sweet compounds that develop in many beers. Indeed, some brewers just buy isolated hop-derived alpha acids and dispense with the beta acids entirely.

The new Teamaker hop derives from experiments several decades ago when Haunold wanted to see the extent to which he could preferentially maximize a plant's production of alpha or beta acids. One successful beta-rich cultivar proved virtually devoid of alpha acids. A technician who tasted it jokingly said the bitterfree product would be great for tea—eventually giving rise to its name.

In the January Journal of Plant Registrations, Henning, Haunold, and their coauthors describe Teamaker's pedigree—at least as much as is known. Most of its initial ancestors appear to have come from old English lines, such as cultivars known as Fuggle and Late Grape. However, Henning points out, because these lines are rich in alpha acids, there must have also been beta-rich ancestors. He now suspects that these were probably wild U.S. hops that pollinated their English cousins growing openly in Oregon fields, early in the last century.

Currently, U.S. farmers produce some 55 million pounds of hops annually. Since the big market for hops has always been beer, the alpha acids-shy Teamaker languished in a few test plots for decades. A beer company or two checked the variety out, but ultimately exhibited no commercial interest.

Recently, however, interest in beta acids—and their antimicrobial prowess—has been growing, independent of hops' use in beer. For instance, European sugar refiners have begun buying beta-acid extracts—essentially leftovers from alpha-acid production for breweries—as a bitterfree, all-natural preservative for use during manufacturing. At the same time, some feed suppliers have begun substituting beta acids for low-dose antibiotics as a livestock growth-promoting dietary additive. Feed producers couldn't use conventional hops directly, Henning notes, because the alpha acids' bitter taste would have soured the animals' interest in their chow.

However, with Teamaker, the hop is essentially alpha acids-free: It certainly has the lowest quantity of alpha acids of any commercially available hop.

Teamaker is available to breeders through the National Clonal Germplasm Repository—essentially a federal library with holdings that include more than 510 different hops. Some are wild natives collected throughout the United States. Others are cultivated varieties collected from throughout the world.

But if the idea of bitterfree hops appeals, Henning says, stay tuned. In a year or two his group expects to announce a new and improved variety. Think of it, he says, as bitter-Terminator 2.


If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.

Citations

John A. Henning

Forage Seed and Cereal Research

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

3450 SW Campus Way

Corvallis, OR 97331

Barbara M. Reed

National Clonal Germplasm Repository

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

33447 Peoria Road

Corvallis, OR 97333-2521
Further Reading

Carter, P.R., et al. 1990. Hop cultivation and use information. In Alternative Field Crops Manual. University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service. Available at [Go to].

DeNoma, J.S. 2000. Background information on Hops. USDA ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository. Available at [Go to].

Duke, J.A. 1983. Humulus lupulus L. In Handbook of Energy Crops . Available at [Go to].

          Everyone Is Irish At Providence City Hall        
Providence City Hall celebrated St. Patrick’s Day today with music and dancing. This traditional tune kicked off the celebration at city hall. Members of the Providence Police Pipes and Drums looked sharp in their kilts and spats as they played and marched. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras welcomed everyone, flanked by a row of dignitaries from the police chief to parade committee members. Providence College president Reverend Brian Shanley said a prayer for the crowd, invoking the words of St. Patrick. And students from the Goulding Irish dance school performed. Taking it all in were onlookers of all ages and backgrounds. The latest US Census numbers rank Irish the second largest ancestry group in Rhode Island, but going by the plastic green hats and sparkly green wigs in the audience, everyone was Irish today.
          The Art of Lovin' Trees --- Featuring Joel Tauber        




The Art of Lovin’ Trees-- 
Featuring Artist Joel Tauber
Story dedicated to Joel and Alison
in celebration of their joyous engagement on November 9th,
2008

Written and Researched by Enilde Van Hook
Story Consult and Editing by Luke Van Hook
Painting, www.lukevanhook.com
Photography, www.gingervanhook.com
Writing, www.enildeingelsvanhook.com


 America is having a love affair with trees and California is second to none in leading its appreciation of trees. Digging deep into the roots of this story, I have followed and researched the tree culture specifically in Los Angeles where our love of trees has spawned a unique pop tree culture relating to art. Our popular tree culture today includes but is not limited to tree sculptures, tree paintings, tree photographs, tree videos, tree poetry, tree songs, tree jewelry, tree movies and even tree love affairs. 


Tree Earing created by Joel Tauber for his Sick-Amour Tree in Pasadena, California.
Additional Tree Jewelry created by Joel Tauber to adorn the Sick-Amour Tree includes leaf jewelry, as well as the male earing and the female earing that hang from the tree below.  
Photos of tree jewelry courtesy of  Susanne Vielmetter Gallery 5795 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, California 90232 www.vielmetter.com   infor@vielmetter.com (323-933-2117)


Sick-Amour Tree in the parkinglot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, protected by barriers installed by Joel Tauber in his quest to save his beloved tree. Tree wearing the earings looks hot!  Photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery.
Leaf sculpture by Joel Tauber
Female tree earing by Joel Tauber.
Male tree earing created by Joel Tauber, photo courtesy of Susanne Vielmetter Gallery, 2008

For the record, our love of trees goes way back to the dawn of time when we were swinging in the trees, however, our love has grown and matured since then. The Greek and Roman heritage of literature and art bestows us with intoxicating stories of their Gods having entanglements with humans. Some of their deities were known as protectors of trees and nature such as Dionysus the Greek god of agriculture, fertility, wine and merriment. He was later renamed Bacchus by the Romans and reported to be the Tree God. Back in the day when artists carved trees into stone and marble relief sculptures to worship in the temples of their mythological gods, people celebrated the sacredness of trees, grapevines and sometimes the unions of gods and mortals. There was Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees who married Vertumnus, the god of fruits and gardens. Digging deep enough, one is sure to find stories of deities mating with trees and spawning children of the harvest for instance.

In modern literary circles there are a number of great imaginative family favorites written about trees, like “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Then there’s the infamous story of how Robinson Crusoe lived in a tree-house, and of utmost importance to our American history of trees, we propagate the very memorable legend of ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

In our contemporary times we have a legend in the making too. I have been fortunate to witness the emergence of a new ‘Johnny Appleseed’ and interestingly enough, the story involves a recent romantic love affair between one special tree and a mortal that is well worth pursuing the story. Sometime in the fall of in 2007, I met Joel Tauber. This is the artist who I believe was struck by a mythological bolt of lighting, so to speak, pertaining to one of the Greek or Roman deities’. Joel Tauber is said to have fallen head over heels in love with one particular Sycamore Tree in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. My chance meeting with this now famous mortal under the influence of an enchanted mystical spell, has led me to research the mysteries intrinsic in the charms of trees. I too have been struck with the frailty of trees, their vulnerabilities, and their enormous strengths and inspiration. This together with my own personal experiences with trees has prompted me to come out of my shell and discuss the subject in all seriousness.

My own personal background is not in trees. I am simply a tree-lover from childhood. For a little over ten years, my professional background was in radio as a disc jockey and on-air personality. I listened to music, reviewed songs and kept tabs on the pop music culture. I worked in the Los Angeles market as well as Santa Barbara, California; Eventually I moved to expand my work experience in neighboring radio markets like Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe and Gardnerville/Minden, Nevada. It was through traveling that I saw some of the most beautiful trees along the routes through Northern California and Northern Nevada!
While I drove from one radio market to another over the years, I watched the trees go by at the various speed limits along the highways of my life’s journeys. Thus you will understand when I tell you that often I see art and life, for that matter, through a series of moving images in my head which include a music bed. 
I was eleven years old when in 1970, Joni Mitchell wrote and released a song called ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ whose lyrics surpassed the test of time and is currently in airplay by a glut of new groups. The lyrics began with “…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em.” One of the barometers I use to gage the influence of any particular song, music or artwork that I come into contact with is if it will surpass the test of time, among other important criteria. This song became one of my favorite songs of all time. The lyrics made so much sense to me.
When I met Joel Tauber, I was introduced to the enormous scope of his Sick-Amour Tree-Baby Project. It was then that I suddenly started hearing Joni Mitchell’s song in my mind again, only this time, as I got in my car, Counting Crows was performing the song. When I started doing more research on the song that I could not get out of my head, I was struck by how many artists had re-recorded the song and barely changed anything about the words. There is Amy Grant, who upgraded the dollar amount from $1.50 to $25 when singing about how much the museums charged people to enter. Additionally there is Green Day, Sarah McLachlan, Charlie Barker, Bob Dylan, Moya Brennan, Ireen Sheer, Donnie Eidt and a host of so many others that have recorded ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ it was simply overwhelming!
I think the importance of the lyrics to this one particular song is that it reveals the fact that people love trees and hate parking lots. The message is that if it weren’t for our trees, we could be living in a frying pan! The impact of this single song is that it reveals what is really going on in people’s minds. There is a reason why so many artists are flocking to re-record the lyrics in their own way.











Not only are trees involved in the music arena, trees as subjects, are very involved in politics as well. Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin at the time, took a leading role in developing the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd 1970 as a way to commemorate our environmental concerns. Arbor Day is presently celebrated as well with the first ceremonial tree planting in Washington D.C. on April 27th in 2001, all evidence that goes to prove the people of our planet do care about what happens to our trees.


Trees stand as a testiment and memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King is memorialized with trees along Expositon Blvd. across from the Los Angeles Coliseum and down the street from the University of Southern California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook


Online sources on the subject of trees are rich in number. For instance, eighteen years ago, here in Los Angeles, a multi racial group of volunteers planted 400 Canary Island Pine trees along seven miles of road on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. Today, this living homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to thrive and keep the dream alive for his followers. The founder and President of www.treepeople.org is Mr. Andy Lipkis and he keeps tabs on the trees to make sure all 400 trees stay healthy.



Mayor Antonio Villarigosa is the person to thank for the ‘Million Trees Initiative’ he signed into effect in May of 2006 and Los Angeles residents can learn how they too can receive up to 7 free trees to plant on their property. Visit the website at www.milliontreesla.org to learn the details.   Also in Portland, Oregon there is www.friendsoftrees.org and in Bellingham Washington you will find www.geocities.com. There is also the International Society of Arboriculture called ISA and can be accessed by visiting www.isa-arbor.com. You will also find a great deal of valuable advise on the growth and care of trees at www.treesaregood.com and check out Tree Care Industry Association TCIA as well.



Mark Dion created an art piece titled "Library for the Birds of Antwerp" which is also a good example of how art is vitally connected with our tree culture and how it connects Mark Dion to his PBS special where he removed a dead tree from the forest and recreated its living components in a city scape in Washington.  From the "20th Century Artbook Phaidon Press 1996", the caption reads: "Using props from the natural and man-made world, Dion has constructed an installation that explores contemporary attitudes to science and the environment. He has created a fictional and hybridized situation in which the trappings associated with knowledge, learning and classification--such as books and photographs--are juxtaposed with natural elements including birds and wood.   The representation of nature is a fundamental subject in Dion's art, and here he takes on the role of sociologist/anthropologist and blurring the boundaries between authentic and fake, representation and parody. By adopting the persona of a scientist and by satirizing man's obsession with categorization, Dion questions the values of the Western world.  His subject matter is heavily influence by popular culture.  In Dion's world we might witness Mickey Mouse as an explorer, or Clark Kent interviewing Dr. Frankenstein." (Photo and contents are used in this story for purposes of artistic review.)

In the art world, an artist named Mark Dion was featured in a documentary film report that aired in 2007. To view the video one may visit on the Internet by going to www.pbs.org and find Mark Dion as he took the subject of trees and made an art piece that explored what would happen if one were to take a tree after its death, take it out of its familial context of natural forest, and re-create the ecosystem in an environment that would otherwise be a hostile urban setting, needless to say, a cityscape. Just outside of Seattle Washington, he states, a Hemlock fell on February 8th, 1996…and so begins an elaborate experiment that pits optimism against reality." The PBS special is very detailed and you will enjoy the depth of research and work that Mark Dion went to to take a tree out of the forest and recreate the setting in the city.  The difference between the artwork presented by Mark Dion and  the artwork presented by Joel Tauber is in the nature of the life of the tree. Mark Dion works with a dead tree and its living components, and Joel Tauber creates life out of a tree seed and duplicates it all over his community.


Thus I’ve discovered for myself that when I researched the subject of trees, I discovered Joel Tauber wasn’t alone! However, instead of creating an experiment in ecology, Joel Tauber goes further than Mark Dion does with this concept of eco-systems and their frailties. Joel Tauber begins a journey that could eventually repair the eco-systems that man has destroyed. This is where Joel Tauber takes the lead in the art world and becomes not only the realist but the optimistic hope for trees in desecrated forests all over the country.
Joel Tauber’s work as a living project of art in 2008 has resonance and his story is well worth telling again and again. He is certainly not the first, nor the last to get involved in the love of trees, but he is the first in contemporary times to have been associated with a mythological and mystical occurrence of reproducing tree babies out of just hugging one lonely tree.


The last time I saw a man hugging a tree, he was hugging the tree for all the wrong reasons. At the MOCA, Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, some years back I was viewing an exhibition that was in town by the Utah born artist now working in Los Angeles, Paul McCarthy. While this work of art depicted a very raw and unsettling sculpture of ‘tree-lovin’ it had nothing whatsoever to do with the love of any tree. The work displayed a timely political statement about our government rather than the love for trees, but bear in mind that the thought involved images from man’s intimate involvement with trees both in the biblical sense and in the sense of man’s raping of the planet. Joel Tauber’s work counteracts the devastation of many years of neglect for our trees with a very basic recipe for the renewal of our commitment to our green-leafed friends. Now, when I see the image of Joel Tauber hugging his Sycamore Tree in Pasadena, I get a whole new perspective for the love for our planet, our trees and our environment as a whole.

"The Garden" by Paul McCarthy from The 20th Century Art Book, 
Phaidon Press Limited, page 280. Photo is used for purposes of artistic review.
The caption in the book reads as follows: " 'The Garden'  is a full-scale tableau of an outdoor, woodland scene, complete with leafy trees, shrubs and rocks.  This tranquil picture of nature is rudely interrupted by the presence of a middle-aged, balding man with his trousers round his ankles, engaged in a wholly unnatural act. From one side of the installation, his actions are not immediately apparent, being partially hidden by the tree trunks and foliage, but the sound of mechanical activity draws the viewer in to discover the shocking sight of a man copulating with a tree.  This robotic figure, with its endlessly repetitive movements, is both comical and crude, and is intended by McCarthy to question notions of acceptable public behavior and sexual morality.  McCarthy is a lecturer at UCLA as well as an artist. His sculptural installations evolved out of his earlier performance work which focused on his own body engaged in extreme and disturbing acts."




To further explain this romantic entanglement between a tree and a mortal, I cite some important historical facts. Back in 2005, Joel Tauber was in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl, when he spotted a particularly lonely and neglected Sycamore Tree. There are hundreds of thousands of trees in Pasadena, and a great number of them thrive very well on the grounds of the Rose Bowl, should you ever drive through this luscious community of tree and rose-lovers, you will see. But Joel Tauber focused his attention on one specific lonely tree. He started to note more and more how cars would hit the bark of the tree and scrape it, injuring the tree repeatedly. Joel Tauber became a witness to this tree’s life. Taking compassion and friendship upon this particular tree, Tauber began to film the area of the parking lot where the tree was growing. He got the idea to put up solid barriers to protect it from cars and also carried water in large plastic bags to irrigate the tree. Soon, Tauber found himself as a one-man band, orchestrating a symphony of activities leading to editing mass quantities of tree footage, fighting City Hall, and embarking on a quest to save this tree from infertility using tried and true guerilla tactics that would make tree-huggers stand and salute. To personally view the Sick-Amour project, along with the giant scale tree sculpture installation exhibited at Susanne Vielmetter Gallery in 2007, you may visit www.vielmetter.com.













               Recently, I had the privilege and opportunity to discuss Joel Tauber’s work with Susanne Vielmetter and she was delighted to tell me what a wonderful sense of humor that Tauber exhibits in all of his works of art. Susanne Vielmetter reviewed the Underwater project with me as well as the Flying Project which Tauber presented.
She explained how deep down, she feels Tauber is on a quest for meaning in his work and that he has a keen sense of humor that unifies and makes his ideas successful. She states that he uses the comical and the tragic in the Tree-Baby project to address the issues of urban living in our time and very subtly pokes fun at the problems innate in urban planning. The real irony of a small Sycamore tree dying of thirst in a parking lot of a beautiful park in a paradise-like valley, alongside the 110 Pasadena Freeway where 80% of the territory is plastered with concrete and the water below runs along asphalt channels of the Los Angeles River is not lost on Tauber, she explained. To contrast, Susanne Vielmetter cited that parks in Europe allow for weeds to grow naturally on landscapes that are not covered with concrete. Joel Tauber’s projects were initially presented at the Susanne Vielmetter Gallery located at 5795 Washington Blvd., in Culver City, California. The response Susanne Vielmetter’s Gallery received was incredibly exciting, even though at first, some folks thought Joel Tauber was a nut; he went on to prove just how serious he really is about changing the landscape of our environment, one tree at a time.



Joel Tauber has a large body of video artwork, photographs and developing tree babies, (the children of a mortal and a Charmed Sycamore Tree) and one may also visit www.joeltauber.com.
As I learned more and more about Joel Tauber’s project, I realized how blessed we all are that tree-lovin’ is not a singular act of love or even a fleeting love of art. I realized how connected we all are to our environment and how the idea of having a special friend ‘the tree’, any tree in any state, in any country for that matter is a beautiful connection to have. The connection that Joel Tauber has to his Sycamore Tree is in synch with the love that the country is experiencing during our new millennium. We have all become acutely aware of the fragility of life; we realize now more than ever that we must respect our dependence on our environment and value our trees.

The first thing that struck me about Joel Tauber was that we had the love of trees in common. He seemed a bit shy, unassuming and humble yet I was later to learn the enormous power he wielded for this one frail and neglected tree in the parking lot of the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California. I was truly inspired by the level of involvement and commitment he had demonstrated for his own beloved Sycamore Tree which he had turned into a full-blown art-project including video, photography and sculptured jewelry. (He did it all!) He named this work the Sick-Amour Project mainly because he said he felt this tree was ill from the lack of love and the inability to have tree babies to fulfill its legacy. I had never personally met someone with such an extreme love and dedication to one particular tree. In our local newscasts, I had heard stories of people who became very emotional when a land developer was about to cut down a tree they considered a relic of their community; in which case people got very nasty about the issue and would chain themselves to the trees or surround the location with demonstrators that would shut down the jobsite. That’s when the news crews would come in with their cameras and boom mikes and the news helicopters would hover in circles above the trees trying to capture the ‘event’ that was creating all the uproar. A very recent example of this type of community behavior is written about on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times where Eric Bailey, a Times Staff Writer, wrote an extensive story about the tree-issues pertaining to Scotia, California where activists are protesting the logging of the Great California REDWOODS! Read the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, August 24th, 2008 or visit www.latimes.com online to learn how the tree-sitters are doing today.

But Joel Tauber is a different type of activist. He doesn’t consider himself an activist at all. He merely states, humbly, just for the record, that he loves this one particular Sycamore Tree and it is an outrage to him to see how his new best friend is being suffocated under a six-inch blanket of black tar and asphalt. Better yet, Joel Tauber does something about it. Not with a crew of forty thousand demonstrators, not even with a crew of forty residents. He does this on his own, quietly challenging the laws of the city of Pasadena and humbly takes responsibility for the care and nurturing of his new best friend. I was touched. At once I began to marvel at his potent idea.



The art of loving our trees has grown roots in the higher levels of the art world as well. For instance, if one were to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum both at the Getty Villa which recently re-opened in Malibu and at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, you will find the love of trees has grown branches on all the hillsides surrounding both properties. There are lucky Sycamores and fortunate Pines; there are Pomegranate trees, Apple trees, Pear trees, Jacaranda trees and trees that just look good in a vista overlooking the ocean. Millions of dollars went into the development of artistic gardens which envelope the California landscape against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean on one edge and the rolling hills of Malibu on the other.






Over in the area of the Miracle Mile, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is celebrating an enormous renovation of its facilities and you guessed it, there are aisles and isles of gigantic palm trees lining the walkways to the entrance of the museum in concert with a unique and flamboyant architecture that has drawn the attention of the art-world with the generosity of Eli and Edythe Broad of the Broad Foundation. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is the new wing at the LACMA and is considered the largest space in the country devoted exclusively to contemporary art. With a ‘living art display’ dedicated to the iconic palm trees, not native to California, Robert Irwin has developed a plein-air walkway through ‘Palm Gardens’ as one makes their way to the entrances of the museum.





Lush green trees thrive all over Pasadena, California, home of the Rose Bowl where Joel Tauber fell in love with a Sycamore Tree.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook, 2008




 The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California  is also home to some of the most exquisite antiquities in its museum history which includes sculptures amid a forest like atmosphere. Currently at the Norton Simon Museum, among its many exhibitions, one may enjoy the artwork of Ruth Weisberg, Dean of the Gayle Garner Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Opening on October 17, 2008 the Weisberg exhibition at the Norton Simon runs through March 2, 2009. Additionally a lecture by the artist is planned where Weisberg discusses: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image on Sunday November 16, 2008.  The Norton Simon Museum of Art is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, California. Ruth Weisberg was instrumental in selecting the work of Joel Tauber to be permanently planted on the Main University Campus of USC on January 24, 2008 where a tree planting ceremony was held and attended by numerous members of USC faculty, staff, students and guests. The location of the new tree-baby, child of the Sick-Amour Project, currently exists on the Exposition side of the campus between Gate one and the Fischer Gallery, across the street from the Museum of Natural History. 


In Pasadena, where lovers of trees line every street of the city as the landscapes are lush with all types of trees and where these wonderful healthy trees keep cool the throngs of tourists who visit the Rose Bowl every year, is also home to the Norton Simon Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Both locations are areas where tree-lovin’ may be experienced alongside some of California’s best-known artworks. Visit the NORTON SIMON MUSEUM at www.nortonsimon.org located at 411 West Colorado, Pasadena, California 91105 or visit the PASADENA MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA ART at www.pmcaonline.com at 490 East Union Street, Pasadena, California.



In San Marino, California, the art of trees, gardens and succulents has found a worthy haven at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens spanning an area of 120 acres dedicated to the fine arts founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1928 as the very first public art gallery in Southern California. Along with English portraits and French eighteenth-century furniture, one will delight in tours of the unique garden paradise established for the pure love of the botanical arts.


On the hillside along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles, one may also enjoy walking along the elegant landscapes of the Skirball Cultural Center and Museum grounds and witness the serenity of the trees as Weeping Willows slope their leaves to the ground, and gentle breezes sway the branches of Sycamores, Oaks and Birch trees. Visit the Skirball Museum online at www.skirball.org, or enjoy a personal walk along the grounds and explore the tributes to culture at 2701 North Sepulveda, Los Angeles 90049.

Trees at the Skirball Museum and Cultural Center thrive and enjoy the mild California climate.


In San Diego, one enjoys walking through a vast museum complex housing 15 unique museums in Balboa Park, not to mention to the collection of rare cactus and enormous Eucalyptus trees (just to name one tree type out of numerous ones) which shade the paths leading from one museum to another.

Each of the locations I have mentioned or described here is where I personally walked through, witnessed, and or photographed sophisticated artistic tree landscapes of the California terrain.

The Roots of my personal anxieties: Why I care.

The impact of my meeting Joel Tauber coincided with an important event that took place for me way before I knew about his Sick-Amour Tree project and was what eventually led me to throw myself into this frenzied study of trees over this summer. Thus I do not necessarily consider myself struck by any of the Greek or Roman gods. I believe my influence came with a special awareness of the frailty of trees with this personal story:

A little over one year ago, on June 30th, 2007 I was walking our dog Sasha, around the block for one of our frequent walks. I rounded the corner to the next block when I was taken aback as I witnessed a set of ‘city’ crewmembers slaughtering what appeared to be a California Oak tree. I had grown quite fond of that particular Oak on my many walks while I was writing my first novel. As a matter of fact, I had used that model of tree to describe a forest of these trees in a chapter in my first fiction novel. I especially love the sculptured texture of the Mighty gnarly Oaks. This tree had been the one to rekindle my relationship with the trees of my imagination. My stomach got queasy when I saw how it was being destroyed. I would have thrown-up, but I got a hold of my emotions and took Sasha home. Not only did I return to the scene of the slaughter, but I brought my camera to document the death and dismemberment of this great oak; I was so distraught that I returned again to the site, without my camera this time, and begged the men to stop for a moment while I sought out the seeds for this tree. To my surprise, the men stopped and helped me search for the seeds.








When I got home, I had no idea what to do with the seeds. I called a couple of nurseries until a gentleman at a nursery in Marina del Rey explained to me that I had to wait until the pods dried up and slit to get at the seeds and plant them. So, I waited until the pods were black and wrinkled. I split them according to the directions I had gotten from this kind anonymous arborist. (He suggested a process much like that which squirrels have for cracking the pods.) I photographed the seeds and compared them with the larger seed of an apricot fruit tree and the seed of a maple tree.






Once properly documented, I planted them in a small brown pot. Two weeks later, the first seed came up. A few days later another seed appeared to take root. On the one-year anniversary of the re-birth day of this Great Knurly Oak tree, July 20th, 2008, I documented how large the great twin oaks had become. The highest little bitty branch was about fourteen inches tall. I estimated this tree had grown a little over an inch every month. A compassionate act of kindness yielded a new life on the impulse of grief. The impulse of grief affected not only me; there is an entire world of tree-lovers mourning the losses of their favorite tree friends in surrounding communities.












What about the subconscious feelings innate in developing a relationship with a tree? For instance, what draws people to want to save a particular tree? 

I can really only speak to my own experience in that my relationship with trees started when I was a child.

          Luke Van Hook Paintings Now at Brand Library Galleries "Circle in the Square" Yesung Kim, Barbara Kolo, Susan Sironi, Cheryl Walker thru Sept 5th 2008        
The Entrance to the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale, California hosts a prominent postcard of the show "Circle in the Square" now exhibiting through September 5th, 2008


PHOTO-JOURNAL BY GINGER VAN HOOK


Photo above: 
Cathy Billings, Art Librarian and Gallery Manager of the 
Brand Library Art Galleries and Co-Curator of 
"Circle in the Square" selected Luke Van Hook 
as one of the artists to show his circle paintings 
which explore Giotto's fabled "perfect circle.
Photo below: 
Alyssa Resnick, Senior Library Supervisor, Gallery Director 
and Co-curator pictured with Luke Van Hook.
Both ladies made studio visits all over Los Angeles and surrounding communities in search of the "perfect circle" of artists to represent the illusive qualities of the circle.
It takes over a year to prepare for a large show at the Brand Library Art Galleries and no one will have a better story to tell you about the waiting process than Galleries Manager and Curator, Cathy Billings or Alyssa Resnick, Senior Library Supervisor and Gallery Director. These ladies traveled to Inglewood, California for a studio visit to see Luke Van Hook's circle paintings some time in the early summer of 2007. They told Luke that they were preparing to curate a show of artists working on the motif of the 'circle'.  They had already reviewed a number of artists and found making the final decision difficult, first because there were a number of artists who worked with this subject and secondly, the talent was very competitive. The subject of the circle and how each artist approaches this topic is worth dedicated study in and of itself.  These lovely ladies, Cathy and Alyssa, with a keen eye for artistic talent, selected a total of five talented artists to show together this summer.   
Here you will find photos of how each artist expressed their obsession with the circular form.  I'll begin my blog entry with a brief history of what I believe may have led Luke Van Hook to painting the circle and continue with the photos and biographical information of the additional four artists each selected for working with the motif of circles, independently of each other, with their own unique and individual interpretations of the circle: Yesung Kim, Barbara Kolo, Susan Sironi, and Cheryl Walker.
Luke Van Hook began his present study of the circle in 2005. He first discovered the legend of Giotto's "Perfect Circle" in a class about ancient history; but the idea didn't sink in at first. He needed time to reason with his quest. While Luke approached the specific task of painting the circle with thin paintbrushes and applying layer upon layer of color to a raw naked canvas, I set about trying to understand what the hell prompted my husband to go circle crazy in the first place.  I started researching what the circle meant and I found a lot of literature in the realm of magic, rituals, mathematics, secret societies and romance. But my first impression was that the circle was a way to get back to the beginning of things.  Then I delved deeper.  Was Luke trying to say that he was going in circles?  Were we at this artistic point in our lives as a result of a past life?  Was our circular existence referencing our cycle of birth, death and rebirth?  Or was the answer more basic than that, like "the earth is round and it's an orbital thing.' There were other issues on the table I was urged to deal with also.  Were these circle paintings partly influenced by the school we had attended?  Once we leave school we are expected to make works of art that have fresh meaning and to blow out the cobwebs of old thinking.  While at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, Luke Van Hook studied all the required areas to excel in his chosen profession as a fine arts painter including the figure, landscapes and abstracts. But the abstract visual image is what finally drew Luke back in.  Could it be the understated obvious fact that the big 'O' (which formed a circle on every memo, syllabus and brochure in the name of Otis College) was influencing him subconsciously?  
Luke's earlier work involved intricately small hatch marks that evolved into large abstract images full of vibrant colors.  This work was very reminiscent of Jasper Johns.  So where did this circle idea really emanate from?  Did his hatch marks get married or what?  Observers of Luke Van Hook's work have stated that it raises the question, 'Is it a painting or a drawing?  Is it text or writing?'  Luke will often begin a row of circles that reads from left to right just as western literature is expressed.  But sometimes he changes his mind, and the direction of his technique, and he starts to paint his rows from right to left. At other times, he completes a horizontal column of circles which refers more to ancient Asian forms of writing going from the top, down.
During his graduating year at Otis College in 2004, Luke went on a mission to explore machine technology as it pertained to replacing humans.  He painted large canvases with a number of faces and shapes that represented cyborgs expressing the fear, uncertainty and ambivalence that humans have toward our technological future.  But once out of school, a full year later, in 2005 Luke seem to have turned a corner.  He seemed to have replaced his fear of technology with a competitive defiance that defied all reason.  Luke started working with his father-in-law, in his machine shop, where he started to observe how everything around him involved the circle in one way or another.  He watched the machines (Fadal CNC's- numerical control production machines) in action. The tool would spin in circles, plunging in and out of aluminum, stainless steel and plastic materials. The space left behind was almost always a perfect circle.  Perhaps, this was Luke's starting point. It was the first time he'd really seen a machine make simple circles and Luke probably said something to himself like 'I can do this! Just watch me!' then promptly, decided to take on his destiny. To compete with a machine, may have been the early impulse that drew Luke to paint the circle, but the legend of Giotto's 'perfect circle' was what has kept Luke going full steam ahead into production of abstract works of art.  The initial pieces he created were prototypes. These were the experiments he and his father-in-law Luis Ingels, worked on before moving into the hand made pieces. As his first experiment, Luke inserted a paint brush into the collet of the machine and programmed the coordinates to match the canvas. He overshot his calculations and the brush came crashing down upon the canvas; the collet smashed the brush right through the canvas and even broke the frame. Perhaps, Luke might have thought as he and my father, Luis, looked at each other, 'it was time to go back to the drawing board'. Undaunted by initial failure, Luke did complete an entire series of machine made circles before he went on to the main event, the competition of drawing the circles, one by one, by hand.  
Each piece of artwork created since his first attempts, is meticulously reinvented into creative visual landscapes layering circles upon circles of color schemes in gradations of complementary hues.  The colors reveal very subtle changes.  The circles pull the eye in.  The images seem to have a life of their own, a vibrant quality of pushing the viewer to look for patterns while pulling the eyes into fishers, crevices, or 'wormholes' as one collector observed. I have witnessed the intimate evolution of Luke's circles only because I have the honor and privilege of being Luke's wife.  The fact that I am discussing my husband's art work is of significance only in the sense that it is somewhat rare, although not unheard of, for the artist's loved one to interject a provocative discussion of the artwork publicly in a blog; however, this is a sign of the times we live in today and I feel blessed as a writer to have this open forum to share with you the joys and struggles inherent in Luke's artistic process.
The way I see it, Luke has taken on  the impossible task of creating the perfect circle, where no perfect circle has ever existed before, despite Giotto's legend.  All mathematical equations to date reveal that there is no perfect circle. It is a myth. So why Luke has persisted in this impossible feat only reminds me of the story of Don Quixote. Here is where I see Luke chasing his windmills. This is where in my imagination, I view the circles on the canvas as Luke's quest for the impossible dream and his circles are his windmills.  His paintbrush is his sword.  Thus Luke 
Van Hook's paintings, for me, exhibit all the romantic qualities innate in a love story.  Seeking to please his beloved Lucia, these references emerging from raw canvas could be read practically like text.  Some art collectors saw the circles as Braille text or some secret code or language.  The secret, I think, lies in Luke's love of sports!  Sometimes I interpret this circle code to reflect images of the sports activities I see Luke enjoy daily;  I make visual connections to the circles on the wheels of his bicycles which hang in his studio or his skate boards that decorate the rafters of the painting bays or even the wheels that drive his car which sits resting on almost perfect circles on the driveway.
For a while, I was convinced that Luke's enthusiasm for cycling was directly influencing the subjects of his paintings because one day, I was staring at one of his earlier images, (which is hung lovingly on the wall of the dining room right over the microwave oven); I saw it hanging next to a photograph of Luke participating in the 'Death Race 1999', a bicycle ride that cycle enthusiasts pursue along the most dangerous mountainous roads known as the California Alps in Northern California at the edge of the Northern Nevada border where Markleeville meets the Carson Valley.   The image Luke had painted in 1998, while recovering, ironically, from a broken ankle suffered in a bicycle race in Minden; was the image of three bicycles in a dead heat on the gray pavement with the yellow dividing line providing a ground for what appears as three large helmets (representative of the riders) in red, green and yellow.  The eventual emergence of Luke's hatch marks from work created in 2000, can be seen on the helmets and if you are really looking for this, (with your microscope) you may even find, the very beginnings of the influences which have eventually led to this mad case of circle paintings!  The circle imagery you might be searching for could have started at the base of the bicycle's anatomy with the wheels spinning along the highway to Kingsbury Grade, somewhere near Genoa, along the bottom of the hill leading to Lake Tahoe.  I comfort myself as painter's wife, that even Picasso had his periods, as did Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin and so long as Luke Van Hook doesn't try to cut off his ear we are doing just fine with these circles.


But don't take my word for it. Luke Van Hook's circle paintings are something you should see for yourself.  The subtlety of the work is difficult to capture on film, although I tried my best to create a video after struggling with photographing the stills for three years.  But even the video work fails to reveal the whole story.  You've got to stand in front of one of these pieces to involve yourself in the novella of Luke's life.  Although I can decode a small portion of what I see through his work, the rest of the circles on the canvas are still a vague mystery to me as well.  Every relationship has its secrets.  Thus Luke and I, as artists, are no different.  Even when we know each other, there are elements of surprise and adventure that we have yet to tell each other.  The mystery in his canvases is what really thrills me to see Luke's work on display under gallery lighting! (Sales don't hurt my enthusiasm either!)





When I think of Luke Van Hook's circle paintings, today, in 2008, I often think of Luke riding a skateboard doing 'ollies' and then trying for a loop-de-loop in mid-air.  This is because in January of 2008, Luke begged for a skateboard for his birthday and little did I know what would happen when I wrapped it up for him!  He has returned to the love of his youth.  Luke Van Hook has come full circle to his beginnings to land on his home base. The skateboard has also flown in mid-air, in harmony with gravity, and both land as one in a perfect execution of a move I would never dare try to do myself.  I see each circle on the canvas as Luke's attempt to catapult his work into the mainstream of the art-world with each rotation of the paintbrush on the surface of the canvas.  This is where I see Luke Van Hook in mid catapult, surfing on the air, light in transition, from youth to inspired maturity; from student to master, with paintbrush in hand landing and continuing to roll on four wheels with a great big shit-eating grin on his face. ('four' being the lucky number of his numerology charts). I see the ordered struggle, the innate joy in the success of one loop-de-loop after another. And once in a while, I also see the crash landing and the bloody injuries.  What is more important is that Luke gets up and does it again each and every time.  Luke has to begin again with each new circle, every circle becoming a part of a larger layer of community, thus his canvases vibrate with activity, mystery, romance and adventure.  I find my own meanings in each image  as it develops day by day and I am privileged to stand beside him, admire and witness the struggle of our Don Quixote in the new millennium, first hand.
There is still time to see these painting up close and personal. The Brand Library Art Galleries is part of the Glendale Public Library, located at 1601 West Mountain Street in the City of Glendale, 91201  Telephone:  818-548-2051/ fax 818-548-2713 ;  visit the Brand Library Art Galleries online at   www.brandlibrary.org    to  check for Library hours.
Cookie Gallegos, Ana Porras and Martha Ingels attend the opening of "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook. Brand Art Library Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008 Photo by Ginger Van Hook
(From left to right) Margo Payne, Lynn Nantana-Green and Angela Williams attend the exhibition "Circle in the Square" in support of Luke Van Hook.
Lynn Lantana-Green came to support Artist, Luke Van Hook at the opening reception of "Circle in the Square" an art exhibition held at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.  Photos by Ginger Van Hook
Kevin Powell came to support Luke Van Hook and enjoy the paintings at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California, August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

Artist Luke Van Hook brought home-made pies to his reception of the exhibition "Circle in the Square". In addition to painting, Luke Van Hook has a reputation for making awesome pies from scratch. Photographed milling around the Double Fudge Pican Pie and the Sweet Berry Pie were the grandchildren of Hector Sticker. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook
(From left to right) Claudio Sticker, Hector Sticker, Peter Bolten, Martha Ingels, Luke Van Hook and Luis Ingels attend the reception of  "Circle in the Square". Luke Van Hook and Luis Ingels worked together to create circles on canvas with the use of robotic CNC machines. After creating a little over a dozen machine-made paintings, Luke went on to compete with the machine and do the circles on his own by hand, one by one. Each circle is represented as being one breath and Luke Van Hook states that these are the marks he is leaving behind which define his existence during this lifetime as he continues to pursue the legend of "Giotto's Perfect Circle". Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

From left to right, Ohannes Berberian, his daughter Melanie, Luke Van Hook and Rouzanna Berberian attend the opening reception of "Circle in the Square" at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008.  Ohannes Berberian owns DigiTECH Camera Repair in Monrovia, California (www.digitechcamerarepair.com). Luke Van Hook and Rouzanna Berberian are both fine art painters and members of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (M.A.F.A.). Rouzanna Berberian is a teacher in the after-school arts programs supported by M.A.F.A.  which promotes the goal of enhancing the lives of those within the community through interaction with the arts and to increase the opportunities of children through art education. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

From left to right, Kathleen Zgonc, photographer Frank Zgonc and artist Luke Van Hook attend the opening reception of 'Circle in the Square' at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008. Frank Zgonc is a an executive member of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts in Monrovia, California. Frank Zgonc is the vice-president and official curator of Monrovia's yearly October Art Festival. This year the October Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 11th and 12th, 2008 at the Monrovia Community Center located at 119 W. Palm Avenue in Monrovia. Free and open to the public, this art event will feature work by photographer Frank Zgonc; (Scheduled from 10 am to 6pm both days).  There will also be an Opening Night Celebration Saturday, October 11th from 7-9:30 pm where the special Renaissance Award will be presented to a worthy individual who has made significant contributions to the arts. 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Mr. and Mrs. Luke and Ginger Van Hook attend the opening reception of 'Circle in the Square' at the Brand Libraries Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 in Glendale, California.  Luke Van Hook an artist working from Inglewood, California earned a BFA  at Otis College of ARt and Design.  For several years, Van Hook has been exploring in his work, Giotto's fabled "perfect circle".  Over time the single-minded focus on the perfection of the circle has been subsumed by the artist's interest in the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the circle. New works depict ritualistically repeated circular brushstrokes on canvas, hemp, and other materials. Van Hook states that he began " as a challenge to myself to see if a perfect circle was possible; these circles have now morphed into a challenge to myself to see if a perfect circle is  possible. These circles have now morphed into a study in patience. The sense of time and the marking of time is inherent in the meticulous application of paint. The viewer can appreciate these temporal qualities but is also compelled to bring their own  interpretation to the work. Are these circles pure abstraction? Combined do they conceal deliberate shapes and forms? or are they perhaps a secret code or language? Van Hook has exhibited at TAG Gallery, Focus One Gallery, and the Bolsky Gallery in  Westchester. Luke Van Hook's painting may also be viewed on his website: www.lukevanhook.com
Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten


Kevin Powell comes to support Luke Van Hook for his opening reception. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.  Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Jason Porras attends the opening reception to support Luke Van Hook in his endeavors to pursue Giotto's legend of the 'Perfect Circle'. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo By Ginger Van Hook.


Zoe Hengst, Ginger Van Hook and Martha Ingels attend the opening of "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California August 2, 2008. Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten.
Zoe and Jopie Hengst walk through the center of the exhibition "Circle in the Square" to support Luke Van Hook at the opening night, August 2, 2008. Paintings by Susan Sironi in the background. Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.

Cookie Gallegos, Ginger Van Hook and Luke Van Hook pose for photographs in front of Luke Van Hook's painting at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 Glendale, California. Photo courtesy of Peter Bolten.

Cookie Gallegos and Ana Porras watch the dance performance choreographed by Cheryl Walker, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California.
Paintings by Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Paintings by Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008, Glendale, California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Yesung Kim poses for a photograph in front of her paintings at the Brand Library Art Galleries, August 02, 2008, Glendale, California. Yesung Kim from Upland, California, was born in Seoul, South Korea and holds MFA degrees from Chung-Ang University and Claremont Graduate University. Kim's mixed media pieces are seductively simple. Ordinary brown packing string is deftly applied to a painted canvas creating organic shapes that shimmer and reflect light. At times these shapes appear to be on the brink of an amoeba-like division as they spread and expand, dropping off the edge of one canvas and continuing on to another. Kim  cites the natural world and light and color as the underlying themes that both inspire and permeate her work.  Following solo shows at the Seoul Museum of Art and the Seoul Arts Center, Kim's work was most recently exhibited at the San Bernardino County Museum's Multi Media Mini Show. More information about Kim's work can be found on her website: www.yesungkim.com
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Painting by Susan Sironi, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008 Glendale, California.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook
Glass curtain by Susan Sironi, Brand Library Art Galleries, August 2, 2008,Glendale, California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Cheryl Walker designed a curtain of vinyl layers of color called 'Waterfall IV' that became the backdrop for a beautiful dance performance using the 'circle in the square' theme exhibited at the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale California, August 2, 2008. Cheryl Walker holds in her hand some of the vinyl circles that were placed upon the windows at the exhibition hall. Her vinyl circles upon the windows created an illusion of  the stained glass effects. The dance piece entertained a large audience on opening night as artists, collectors, art appreciators and family and friends celebrated the mythologies, geometries, magical and mystical qualities of the circle.   Dance Performers Liz  Curtis, and Martha Carrascosa performed a dance which included participation from members of the audience.  
Members of the audience interacted with the dancers Martha Carrascosa and Liz Curtis at the Brand Library Art Galleries participated in creating a colorful cascade of window art on August 2, 2008 in Glendale, California.
Audience watches dancers Liz Curtis and Martha Carrascosa from Glendale Community College as they perform a choreographed piece by Cheryl Walker, artist. "Circle in the Square", Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California, August 2, 2008.  Photo By Ginger Van Hook
Dancers Liz Curtis and Martha Carrascosa performing dance choreographed by artist Cheryl Walker, (within the green curtain), Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook.
Cheryl Walker engaged in performance art intersecting with window art using the artistic theme of 'Circle in the Square'. Brand Library Art Gallery, Glendale, CAlifornia August 2, 2008. Photo by Ginger Van Hook.

Cheryl Walker smiles happily on opening night, Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California. August 2, 2008. Cheryl Walker, a Los Angeles artist, earned her BA in art in her home state of Minnesota, and her MFA from California State University, Long Beach. In this exhibition Walker created two large site-specific installations of vinyl, oil pastel and natural and artificial light.  Walker explains that the driving force behind her work is "human interaction and improvisation in response to a natural phenomenon or situation." Trained as painter, Walker's installations have some of the qualities of painting; when viewed head-on the suspended layers of vinyl can appear to be two-dimensional because of their transparency and the cut shapes and forms applied to the vinyl are reminiscent of brushstrokes--but removed from the wall these works are thrust into what she calls an "interactive field of play." The fluidity of the material she works with and her interest in collaboration between the artist and the viewer have inspired Walker to create works that can be transformed into performance pieces by dance, music and in-situ art-making. In this exhibition, a dance performance captivates the audience on opening night at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. August 2, 2008.  Photos By Ginger Van Hook




Barbara Kolo, Artist from "Circle in the Square" poses for a photograph in front of her painting with her husband Mr. Kolo. Barbara Kolo, a Santa Monica Artist, earned her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Kolo Participated in a successful two-person show at the Brand Library Art Galleries in 1999. The Brand Library Art Galleries are pleased to present (nearly ten years later) a new body of work by Barbara Kolo that connects to that which was here before. In those works and these, her focus is on representing organic materials. The current large scale acrylic on canvas works are saturated with color; the stippled application of paint creates organic shapes and patterns representative of the natural world.  The subject matter is open to each viewers interpretation, where one may see a birch forest at dusk, others may see the  bold aesthetic of pure color and abstraction. Kolo has had recent solo shows at Topanga Canyon Gallery and the Off Rose Gallery in Venice, California. More information about Kolo's work can be found on her website: www.barbarakolo.com Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale California. Photo by Ginger Van Hook






Barbara Kolo poses for a photograph during opening night celebrations for the exhibition, "Circle in the Square" at the Brand Library Art Galleries, Augusts 2, 2008. Glendale, California.


Susan Sironi,  an artist living in Altadena, California posed for her photograph in front of her paintings at  the Brand Library Art Galleries, Glendale, California. August 2, 2008.  Susan Sironi earned her BFA at California Sate University, Long Beach. This exhibition will showcase Sironi's recent paintings as well as her Glass Curtain installation which is comprised of conjoined antique optometric lenses. Her paintings are about texture, color and process. Small dabs of oil paint are painstakingly applied to aluminum, building up an intricate, thorny surface. Highly textured and multihued when viewed up close, this surface belies the color play minimalist color-field appearance of the work at a distance . In the artist's own words "texture and color play equal roles in these works. They ... set up contradictions within each piece. Painitings  that seem to invite touch and intimacy are also reserved and automomous. Time and process are weighed against a static and minimal structure. Sironi's work was most recently seen in the Brea Art Gallery's Made in California exhibition, at the Chouinard School of Art Gallery, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.  More information about Sironi's work can be found on her website: web.mac.com/susansironi/susan/sironi/Welcome.html.
Photo by Ginger Van Hook.  

Yesung Kim, Brand Library Art Gallery, Glendale, California, August 2, 2008.



The Entrance to the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale, California hosts a prominent postcard of the show "Circle in the Square" now exhibiting through September 5th, 2008

                   Luke Van Hook paintings are now showing at the Brand Library Art Galleries in
          ã€æœ€æ–°ç™¼è¡Œ/搶先聽】 Empty        
【專輯】 Empty
【藝人】 Mondtraüme
【音樂類型】 電子/舞曲
【發行日期】 2014-04-19
【專輯介紹】
目前暫無介紹
... (更多專輯資訊)
【完整曲目】
1. Life Is Short | 05:09
2. Parasite | 04:06
3. Pyschodrug | 05:03
4. Broken Wings | 04:32
5. Empty | 04:14
6. Far from Pain | 05:12
7. Forbidden Paradise | 05:34
8. Echoes of the Past | 04:25
9. Fragile | 05:02
10. Plastic Girl | 05:01
11. New Life | 05:09
12. A Sea of Distance | 04:54

          ã€æœ€æ–°ç™¼è¡Œ/搶先聽】 Empty (Deluxe Edition)        
【專輯】 Empty (Deluxe Edition)
【藝人】 Mondtraüme
【音樂類型】 西洋歌曲,電子/舞曲
【發行日期】 2014-04-19
【專輯介紹】
目前暫無介紹
... (更多專輯資訊)
【完整曲目】
1. Life Is Short | 05:09
2. Parasite | 04:06
3. Pyschodrug | 05:03
4. Broken Wings | 04:32
5. Empty | 04:25
6. Far from Pain | 05:12
7. Forbidden Paradise | 05:34
8. Echoes of the Past | 04:25
9. Fragile | 05:02
10. Plastic Girl | 05:01
11. New Life | 05:09
12. A Sea of Distance | 04:54
13. Life Is Short | 03:49
14. Broken Wings | 04:22
15. Parasite | 04:41
16. Plastic Girl | 06:18
17. Parasite | 05:20
18. Life Is Short | 04:27
19. Parasite | 03:14
20. Broken Wings | 04:14
21. Pyschodrug | 06:26
22. Plastic Girl | 05:31
23. Life Is Short | 05:04
24. Far from Pain | 05:10
25. Parasite | 04:17
26. Broken Wings | 04:06
27. Parasite | 04:11

          Settling in        
Settling in,
with the light of the day retreating,
I'm recalling eastern nights many years ago.
I recall the heat, the windows open and the sounds of the street.
I recall the chill, and plastic on the windowsill.
The music that moved my soul
and the spirit of friends that I could never let go.
Living, as I am now, in what seems like 3 hours in the past -
I watch the eastern nights pass while the light still fades on this foreign shore.
I watch the movement of eastern life
while my life in this warm Pacific light wraps me around it's hands
takes me in and makes me grin.
          Fermentation Fun with Friends        
A Portrait of the Author as a Lacto-Fermentation Instructor
On Thursday, October 18th, I had the privilege of teaching a lovely group of people about lacto-fermentation. The space we used was The Red River General Store at 5700 Henderson Highway - for my friends in the local Jewish community, that's the old Stern store. I was stunned to discover how many people were sentimentally attached to that place!

First of all, many thanks to my friend Rosalie, who brought her iPad and took pictures for me. Here is a picture of me behind the counter, posing with a jar of lacto-fermented pearl onions I brought along to demonstrate the kind of things we can make.

Gorgeous winter cabbage
This is one of the gorgeous winter cabbages our gracious hostess Monique provided for us to use. They were so beautiful, some people were munching on them as they went along.

We started with a brief overview of lactic acid fermentation (in which cells convert glucose into lactic acid and energy - it's the same process that happens in your muscles when you run fast, causing "the burn" - although if you are a scientist you may prefer to call it anaerobic glycolysis). It's a traditional method of food preservation all around the world, because the increased acidity of the food causes molds, botulism, etc. to be inhibited, making it very safe. The Lactobacillus bacteria responsible for this miracle are present everywhere, in the air, on the vegetables, on our hands, and most importantly, in our gut. Eating lacto-fermented food, whether vegetables or dairy, is a great way to heal our antibiotic-ravaged digestive systems.
Participants
We washed our hands and cut up that lovely cabbage. We added some good, real salt that had not had all its minerals stripped away, and also some caraway seeds and/or juniper berries for flavour. Then we squished that cabbage within an inch of its life - a source of great enjoyment for everyone, I think. Who says only kids can have fun squishing their food?

The salt drew liquid out of the cabbage incredibly quickly, and we soon found ourselves with liberal quantities of brine in our bowls. We then filled little mason jars (yes, I know, they don't seal as well as one would like, but they are great for beginners). We were careful to cover the cabbage with a nice big leaf to keep it submerged in the brine, and weighted it down with little plastic bags filled with excess brine (again, yes, I know, plastic in our food is B.A.D. But I hope everyone found a better, more suitable weight when they got home).
Chopped cabbage
We finished the evening with a quick, funny video about fermentation and some great discussion. Monique spoiled us with yummy snacks, coffee and amazing herbal tea.

I had an absolute blast and it looked like most people were having a good time. I'm hoping we can do this again - maybe we'll do a kombucha/water kefir/milk kefir session? I do need somebody to provide me with water kefir grains before I can do that ...

Finished productThanks again to Monique, Rosalie and everyone who came out on a rainy, yucky October night to celebrate lacto-fermentation with me!







          EVOLUTION OF SUN HO'S HORSE FACE TO PLASTIC FACE?        

Today, the courts have finally delivered the guilty verdict to the 6 CHC leaders for breaking the 8th commandment. But during the trial that spanned 2 long years, did Sun Ho undergo plastic surgery to alter her face? Look at the evolution of her face and judge for yourself! 

Original face given by God. 

Subsequent new faces given by doctors-who-play-God?

What do you think? 

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          LIFE BEHIND BARS IN CHANGI PRISON (PART 1)        

Courts

Once you are charged and convicted for an offence and is sentenced to a custodian sentence in prison, you will be put in the Court's lockup manned by SPF and Prison officers assisted by Certis Cisco Auxiliary officers.

You will then be transported to Changi Prison in the evening in handcuffs and shackles.

Cluster "B"

Once you are there, you will be temperorary housed in what they call cluster "D" or "Queenstown" (Note Queenstown is not referred at the location of the old prison there but as a name for remand prisoners)

You will be stripped searched, fingerprinted, etc. Your properties are then hand over for safekeeping until the day you are released.

You can be house here for a few days or up to a couple of months.

You are also give a plastic stripe that you wear at all times during your imprisonment. This will state your name, Prison number, length of imprisonment (LT = Long Term more than 1 year, ST = Short Term less than 1 year)

You are issued with 1 straw mattress, 2 blankets, 1 plastic container, 1 toothbrusth, 1 plastic spoon, 1 mug, 1 soap, 1 small towel.

You will house together with 2 others and up to 3 others prisoners of ideally the same race who had committed various crimes. You are house in a lock up which is smaller than a HDB room. You shit, urine, bathe and eat in this cell.

This is where you spend up to 23 hrs a day on weekdays or 48 hrs on weekends.

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          25-Year-Old Dies After Botched Plastic Surgery        

( 4UMF NEWS ) 25-Year-Old Dies After Botched Plastic Surgery: A woman who died after getting plastic surgery in the Dominican Republic was in excruciating pain after she returned to the Bronx, a neighbor said Sunday. Janelle Edwards, 25, died Thursday of a blood clot caused by a breast enhancement, tummy tuck and butt implants […]

The post 25-Year-Old Dies After Botched Plastic Surgery appeared first on 4UMF | Current Events | Current News | Latest News.


          Guide for Picking The Best Android Phone for You        
Sony Xperia X10 vs Nexus One vs Motorola Droid vs Acer Liquid vs Archos


Xperia X10


Nexus One


Motorola Droid


Acer Liquid



(Updated: 21st Jan 2010) The Android handset landscape has changed drastically over the past year, from a literal handful of options to – the fingers on both your hands, the toes on both your feet and all the mistresses Tiger Woods has had in the past 24 hours (OK, maybe 4 hours). You get the point though, there are quite a few options and through the course of 2010 these options will only increase.


The only other mainstream handset smartphone option that rivals the Android handset options available in 2010 will be the Windows mobile platform – and we're all rushing for it – not!


So what are the handsets to consider in 2010? The ones currently released on the market that we will look at are the Acer Liquid and Motorola Droid and an additional three to be released early 2010, the Sony Xperia X10, Google Nexus One (Passion, HTC Bravo) and Archos Phone Tablet – though we only have a handful of details on the phone.



Archos Phone


We will look at hardware and software sub-categories, and compare the phones based based on the information we have.


HARDWARE


Processor


The Nexus One and Sony Xperia X10 have the snappier Qualcomm Snapdragon 1Ghz processor onboard. The Acer Liquid has a downclocked version of the Snapdragon running at 728Mhz – perhaps to conserve battery. This would probably put the Acer Liquids performance more on par with the Motorola Droids. The Archos Phone promises to be a really fast phone with an upgraded ARM Cortex processor running at 1Ghz and also with improved GPU over Droid and iPhone.


Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8250, 1.0 GHz

Texas Instruments OMAP 3430 550 Mhz

Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8250, 1.0 GHz

Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD 8250, 768 MHz

ARM Cortex 1Ghz


Graphics


The Snapdragon's Adreno 200 Graphics core is phenomenal on the triangle render benchmark, coming in with a score of approximately 22 million triangles per/sec compared to approximately 7 million triangles/sec on the Motorola's SGX530. This is an important element for 3D graphics. Interestingly, the iPhone 3GS has a similar CPU to Motorola Droid but an upgraded faster SGX535 GPU which is capable of 28 million triangles/sec and 400 M Pixels/sec. Archos may get better SGX GPU.


Xperia X-10 Graphics Demo


Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Adreno 200 Graphics Core with OpenGLES 2.0

PowerVR SGX530 Graphics Core with OpenGLES 2.0

Adreno 200 Graphics Core with OpenGLES 2.0

Adreno 200 Graphics Core with OpenGLES 2.0

PowerVR SGX540?

22 M Triangles/sec

7 M Triangles/sec

22 M Triangles/sec

22 M Triangles/sec

35 M Triangles/sec

133 M Pixels/sec

250 M Pixels/sec

133 M Pixels/sec

133 M Pixels/sec

1000 M Pixels/sec

HD Decode (720p)

HD Decode (720p)

HD Decode (720p)

HD Decode (720p)



3-D Graphics Benchmark









Motorola Droid 20.7 FPS (Android 2.0).

Nexus One 27.6 FPS. (Android 2.1)

Acer Liquid 34 FPS. (Android 1.6)

Xperia X10 34FPS+ est. (Android 1.6)



Note: All phones tested running WVGA resolution 480 x 800 or 480 X 854. Different versions of Android will be a factor e.g. Android 2.0 + reproduces 16 million colors vs 56K for 1.6. Older phones such as G1, iPhone 3GS may score 25-30 FPS but they use lower 480 X 320 resolution.



Memory/Storage


The Nexus One comes in with an impeccable 512MB of RAM. This provides an element of future proofing for the hardware and puts it in a league of its own. The Xperia X10 comes with 1GB of ROM and 384 MB of RAM. The 1GB means you'll be able to have twice as many apps on your phone until Google lets you save on your removable memory. The Acer Liquid and Droid are more or less the same.




Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

RAM

512 MB

256 MB

384 MB

256 MB


Flash

512 MB

512 MB

1024 MB

512 MB



Display


The Nexus One uses an AMOLED screen which provides crispy images and more saturated colors than a TFT-LCD. It's also more energy efficient. Xperia X10 packs a 4.0 inch TFT screen with 854 x 480 resolution. Expect similar picture quality to the Motorola Droid for the Sony Ericson phone. The Archos Phone promises to deliver an interesting experience that could potentially make it the King of Androids.



Spot the difference: Top TFT-LCD screen and bottom OLED



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

800 x 480 px, 3.7 in (94 mm), WVGA,

AMOLED

854 x 480 px, 3.7 in (94 mm), WVGA,

TFT-LCD

854 x 480 px, 4.0 in (102 mm), WVGA,

TFT-LCD

800 x 480 px, 3.5 in (89 mm), WVGA,

TFT-LCD

854x 480px, 4.3 in (109mm), WVGA, AMOLED



Display Input


All standard stuff here. All are pretty much Capacitative with multi-Touch depending on the continent you buy your phone from.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Capacitative, Multi-Touch

Capacitative, Multi-Touch

Capacitative, Multi-Touch

Capacitative, Multi-Touch

Capacitative, Multi-Touch



Battery


The Xperia X10 has the largest battery – and might I add likely the best quality battery from the lot. It's the same battery used in the Xperia X1 and it performed admirable. Talk time for the Nexus One is very good and we expect the Xperia X10 to match this or be marginally better. Of concern is Nexus Ones 3G stand-by time of 250 hours. It's worse than the other phones but not bad at a little over 10 days! Updated 21st Jan 2010 - confirmed Xperia battery times. Xperia more or less performs at the same level as the other Android phones, delivering 5 hours talk time.


Sony 1500 mAh Battery




Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

mAh

1400 Li-Po

1400 Li-Po

1500 Li-Po

1350 Li-Po


Talk/Standby 3G

hrs/hrs

7/250

5/380

5/300

5/400




Communication


The phones are all capable of 3.5G (HSDPA 7.2 Mbit/s) data transfer. The Motorola Droid and Sony Xperia X10 can give you a little bit extra supporting 10.2 Mbit/s data transfer. Obviously the network must exist to support these speeds. Motorola is the only one with Class 12 EDGE, but this is not too important in this day and age of 3G.




Nexus One, Bravo

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

HSDPA (Mbit/s)

7.2 (1700 band)

10.2

10.2

7.2


HSUPA

2.0 - 5.76

2.0-5.76

2.0-5.76

2.0-5.76


GSM

(850, 900,1800,1900)

Y

Y

Y

Y


EDGE

Class 10

Class 12

Class 10

Class 10


UMTS band 1/4/8

(2100/AWS/900)

Y

Y

Y

Y


GPS

Y

Y

Y

Y


Network

3-3.5G

3-3.5G

3-3.5G

3-3.5G




Connectivity:Bluetooth/Wifi


Nexus One is the only Android phone that currently offers 802.11n connectivity. In fact, I can't think of any other phone out there that also has 802.11n. This might be the Google Talk phone we all thought was heading our way after all! All phones have either bluetooth 2.0 or 2.1. These will essentially be the same as far as data transfer (3 Mbit/s) is concerned. Version 2.1 offers better power efficiency though and a few other enhancements.


Nexus One - Broadcom 802.11n



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Bluetooth

2.1 + EDR

2.1 + EDR

2.1 + EDR

2.0 + EDR

Y

802.11 b

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

802.11 g

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

802.11 n

Y

N

N

N

Y


Ports/Connectors/Sensors


The 2GB shipped micro-SD card with the Acer Liquid is unrealistic by todays standards. The Motorola Droid offers the best deal with a 16GB micro-SD. The Sony Xperia X10 is shipped with an 8GB micro-SD card, but remember the Xperia X10 also has that slightly bigger 1GB flash memory on-board as well for and impressive total of 9GB expandable to a total of 33GB. Google decided to save on costs by only offering a 4GB micro-SD card with the Nexus One, but if the idea is to compete against the iPhone then 8GB should be the minimum. Clearly the Motorola is on the right track with 16GB shipped, and you can't ignore the impressive 1GB ROM on the Xperia X10.


SanDisk working on 128GB Micro-SD




Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Sim Card

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

3.5 mm jack

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Micro USB

Y

Y

Y

Y


Shipped Micro SD/Supported (GB)

4/32

Class 2

16/32

Class 6

8/32

Unknown

2/32

Class 2


Unknown

Light Sensor

Y

Y

Y

Y


Proximity Sensor

Y

Y

Y

Y


Compass

Y

Y

Y

Y


Accelerometer

Y

Y

Y

Y


Cell/Wifi Positioning

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y



Case Material


The Motorola metal case is the sturdiest. Build quality for the Nexus One and Xperia X10 is very good. The Xperia X10 has a refelective plastic whilst the Nexus one is more industrial with teflon and metal on the bottom. Acer Liquid has average build quality, but that was always the intention with the Liquid in order to keep manufacturing costs low.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Rubber/Plastic

Metal

Plastic

Plastic



Keyboard


If you want a physical keyboard then the Droid is your only choice in the list. The keys on the Droid keyboard are basically flush so you don't get the comfortable key separation feel on a Blackberry keyboard. The others (Droid as well) have virtual keyboards which work in portrait or landscape mode.



Droid Slide-out keyboard



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Virtual

Physical

Virtual

Virtual

Virtual


Camera


The Xperia X10 is one of the best camera phones. Sony used it's camera know how for their new smartphone lineup and it will be hard to match-up against Sony unless the other guys partner up with someone like Canon. The X10 comes with an 8.1 mp camera with X 16 digital zoom. The software has also been changed from standard Android to include typical camera options. Also included are a four face detection feature that recognizes faces in a photo and appropriately tags/files the photo. Motorola Droid comes in with a 5 mp camera with X4 digital zoom compared to the 5mp and x2 digital zoom on the Nexus One.



Xperia X10 sample photo

***Additional Photos***



Motorola Droid sample photo



Nexus One sample photo



Acer Liquid sample photo




Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Megapixel

5

5

8.1

5


Zoom

X 2

X 4

x16

1


Flash

Y

Y (dual)

Y

Y



Video


Video wise, the Nexus One, Motorola Droid and Xperia will perform roughly the same.














Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Video Res.

720x480

720x480

800x480

320x240


Flash

Y

Y

Y

N




Size/Height/Weight



Lightest and thinest is the Nexus one. Motorola is weighed down by the metal used. They all are roughly the same size as the iPhone 3Gs which comes in at 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm and weighs 135g.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Height (mm)

119

115.8

119

115


Width (mm)

59.8

60

63

62.5


Depth (mm)

11.5

13.7

13

12.5

10

Weight (g)

130

169

135

135




SOFTWARE


OS Level


Nexus One has the most current OS level at 2.1. Motorola Droid is expected to upgrade soon as well as the Acer Liquid. The heavily customized Xperia X10 will be more of a challenge to upgrade to 2.1 because of the heavy customization.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

2.1

2

1.6

1.6




Customization


Xperia X10 shines as far as demonstrating how customizable Android really is. The other 3 phones have very few changes to the standard Android OS.


Sony TimeScape/MediaScape



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

None

None

Rachael UI

Acer UI 3.0



Application Market


We are likely to see more App market emerge. Sony currently leads the way and Motorola and HTC (Nexus One) will follow suit as well.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Android Market

Android Market

PlayNow, Android Market

Android Market



Media


Mediascape is an ambitious effort to add decent media functionality to Android. Sony succeeds and also introduces a fun way to organize your media. Acer has Spinlet which is not as complex as Mediascape.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Android

Android

MediaScape

Spinlet



Social Networking


Sony again leds the customization way with Timescape. This is another good job by Sony to add extra functionality to Android. Timescape helps manage your contacts better and brings social networking and contacts onto one application.



Nexus One

Motorola Droid

Sony Xperia X10

Acer Liquid

Archos Phone

Android

Android

TimeScape

Android





          Beautiful Rolex Yacht-Master        
This is a Never Worn Timepiece that still has the factory original protective plastics on the case and comes with the Original Box and Papers. See this Beautiful Rolex and more just like it
          Beautiful Rolex Explorer - Fantastic Price        
This is a Never Worn Timepiece that still has the factory original protective plastics on the case and comes with the Original Box and Papers. See this Beautiful Rolex and more just like it
          Vintage Barbie        
Okay, I am going to start this post with a plea, to any one who has been kind and loyal enough to continue following me despite the fact that, recently, I have been so entirely rubbish and negligent. Here goes. Please remind me never to leave it this long before posting again. Not only have I a) neglected all the followers that I've been so happy, excited and, most of all, grateful to acquire over the last nine months since starting this blog, but b) my head has been so full of ideas since my last post over two months ago, that it is now near to exploding, and I feel like I don't even know where to start.  Nevertheless, I will start somewhere, because it is my intention to turn my full commitment back to writing Porcelain Princess, so prepare yourself for the cathartic, sequin-spangled avalanche of ideas, inspiration and probably slightly hysterical sounding style-related sentences that are to follow. 

In my defense, I must explain that I started a three month internship at Groupon UK as a creative writer in May, and have now secured a permanent position (yay!) As great as this is, never before did I appreciate just how much having a full time job and lengthy commute into London zaps up pretty much all of your time and energy. Oh for the uni days of getting up at noon, dreaming up outfits all day long, writing whenever the moment took me and attending the occasional lecture or Zumba class...it would be pretty safe to say that leaving the house at 7.40 in the morning and not getting back until 7.30 at night has made it a little difficult to find the time for this blog. However, in my moments of rest, the ideas have been brewing, words have been dancing tantalisingly in my head and my pink lap top has been calling...and so I am determined to make time to get in at least one post a week, and to get back to doing what I love most: writing about fashion. In an attempt to spice things up a bit and motivate myself not to return to my blogging days of silence, I have given the blog a bit of a makeover, which I think is a little more fresh. Please let me know what you think :-) Anyway, that's enough rabbiting on about that, so here's a pretty picture to get things started, and then let's get on to the important stuff...

 MAC Barbie-themed ad campaign 

So. Having reflected recently on my love for sequins, metallics and all things that sparkle, I have come to the conclusion that I perhaps lean a little towards Barbie-like tendencies of dressing. Now, don’t get me wrong - you won’t catch me wearing a vomit pink Big Brother contestant-style outfit complete with an OTT spray tan any time soon, but lately, I’ve been rather inspired by this whole notion of ‘Vintage Barbie’. It was actually a fellow Lookbooker and blogger (the very stylish Zee F from http://zizziswardrobe.blogspot.com/">ZiZi's Secret Wardrobe who I am going to credit for coming up with the phrase. After Zee very kindly commented on a photo I'd put up of myself in a black sequin vintage shift dress, over-sized doll lashes and bright pink lips, pointing out that the look was rather 'vintage Barbie,' the term stuck with me and I realised just how much it sums up the kind of style that is giving me the fashion goosebumps right now.

As Barbie can be perceived as the very epitome of conventionality and even female objectification, it would seem odd that she is now a figure that I can draw inspiration from, given that her stereotypical, busty/blonde/skinny brand of beauty is one that the media constantly shoves down our throats, and which causes both women and men to aspire to a narrow-minded ideal of what it means to be beautiful. That said, there is simply something about Barbie and her mannequin-like perfection and overt 'girliness' that I belive can be used in an ironic sense to inspire, and to create something that is actually entirely fresh. Take Lily Allen in her ironic 'chav' get up, that she made her trademark when she first erupted onto the music scene, and which still inspires artists today like Gaga and Jessie J. Huge gold hoop earrings and thick ghetto-tastic chains fresh from the Argos catalogue may scream 'tacky' when teamed with a lurid-hued velour tracksuit or when adorning the lobes and neck of Vicky Pollard, but when taken and worn in the whimsical, fun, self-aware wat that Brits are so good at (in my opinion), it becomes something quite different indeed. Take Agyness Deyn, who arguably reinvented the whole 'bottle blonde' look, using her eccentric, urchin style to take it from page three glamour-model territory to the ultimate in quirky cool. You can't swing a beaten-up vintage satchel these days without knocking over sereval peroxide-blonde hipsters, who all manage to make the look contemporary with edgy hair styles, bold make up and nonchalantly thrown on faux-furs, battered leathers or studded denim jackets.  

Speaking of bleach-begotten hair colours, I am currently obsessed with the idea of bleaching my hair blonde and dying it a pale, pastel pink. It is simply a fear of ruining the condition of the hair I have been painstakingly growing and caring for for the last four years that stops me (plus the fact that my hair is dyed bright red, and naturally brown.) However, I have never been more inspired by Polly-Pocket shades of softly falling curls and tumbling waves, and I highly suspect that by 2012, I'll be welcoming in the new year by finally succumbing to the bleach bottle.   

Therefore, for all the above reasons, I am currently fascinated by the look of overtly girly, plastic-fantastic elements like bubble gum pink lips teamed with a vintage edginess that takes the look from WAG to cool. Think platinum blonde locks tied into a perky pony, teamed with luminous pale skin and the bedimmed glamour of a tarnished gold trophy jacket. If it’s inspiration you seek, look no further than blogger and Lookbooker Bonnie Strange from http://www.strangeambition.com/">Strange Ambition, whose stunning photography and crazy, sequin-spangled get-ups have me longing to raid her wardrobe and, well, just actually be her. Or, behold the dolly mixture-hued, glittery creations that are Miu Miu’s glitter boots. I kid you not when I say that never have I experienced shoe lust quite like this before. The pastel toned paillettes overlapping scale-like in Prada’s ad campaigns have got me feeling all mermaid Barbie, whilst the softly shimmering diamond-patterned knee-highs call to mind the teenage nostalgia of Clueless. That's not to mention the advert featuring a fresh-faced young model descending a staircase littered with cascades of candy-coloured glitter boots, which literally makes my heart flutter. So, it appears that irony is the key here folks; mixing up a bit of Malibu Barbie's unashamed girliness with a sprinkling of fun, tounge-in-cheek humour, 1980s vintage magic and all-out British eccentricity, Barbie can be allowed out of her dream house and let loose to wander the streets and catwalks ...                

And here are the pictures: 

The look that sparked my vintage Barbie fascination...

Nicki Minaj- the embodiment of hip hop Barbie
I personally think Patsy is a shining source of vintage Barbie inspiration

Mac models exhibiting doll-like perfection and the Barbie and Asos collaboration from a few years back

Marina Diamandis from Marina and The Diamonds, my official new style crush. Here she is at London Fashion Week looking like perfect vintage candy-floss 
Photography from the AMAZING Bonnie Strange, taken from her photography blog:
http://www.strangeambition.com/ If you haven't checked it out yet, do so immediately!
 Another of Bonnie's amazing pics- I want her blue hair so much!
Picture from an unknown source, but one which I think perfectly demonstrates the vintage Barbie look.



My own interpretation of 80s vintage Barbie (PS check out my new gold Toppers nail polish!)
Below are some of Prada's ad campaigns featuring the adored glitter boots, diamond socks and pailette-covered dresses, as well as a random blue hair picture I found and a lovely picture of girls laughing and carrying clothes and balloons. To me, it captures the unashamed girliness of Barbie and the nostalgia of female adolescence.  I would actually wear that picture on a T shirt.







          Purple Rain        
Who remembers back in the late nineties/early noughties, when purple was the colour to deck out your room, adorn yourself and paint your nails in if you happened to be a girl aged nine to thirteen with a penchant for Mizz Magazine, lava lamps and wavy, silver-framed mirrors? It was cooler than liking the Barbie-reminiscent, childhood-connotative pink, yet still feminine enough to be girly without having the tomboyish reference of blue. I think my first style encounter with purple as a 'cool', I'm-not-a-kid-anymore colour, was when, aged nine, I persuaded my mum to buy me a sequin-covered, satiny pair of low strappy heels from Tammy Girl to wear at the school disco. The more my mum shook her head at the Spice Girl-esque shoes with their miniture heels and repeated that they were too old for a girl my age, the more I inevitably wanted them, until finally she gave in, making me possibly the happiest nine year old girl on the planet. I thought I would love those shoes forever.

After that, purple was officially my favourite colour. I proclaimed a strong dislike for baby pink, adorned my eyelids with cheap purple eyeshadow from Boots and became the height of cool (or so I thought) by wearing those hideous stretchy plastic neck chokers from Claire's Accessories (remember those, girls??) Like any other self respecting pre-teen my age, when I was eventually allowed to have my room decorated in a colour of my choice, I went to town with an entirely lilac and silver colour scheme (FYI- our house resembled a building site for most of my pre-teen years, when we lived in a tent in the back of our garden whilst the entire roof was taken off and put back on again, before moving back in and living with bare plastered walls and glassless windows covered in plastic sheeting for a considerable amount of time, so finally having an actual room with painted walls was kiiiind of a huge deal for me).

It was about the time I approached the age of fourteen, when I became a teenager overnight, that purple was suddenly no longer en-vouge. No longer content to listen to Dido CDs on my silver stereo whilst I crimped my hair and told ghost-stories to my friends on my purple, star-scattered duvet, I filled my days with reading melodramatic romance novels (The Thorn Birds, anyone?) watching hip-hop stars shake their bootys on MTV and lusting after miniscule items of fabric resembling clothing from stores like Clobber and Jane Norman (I know- the memory still haunts me today!) My desire to fit in and to become 'popular' and fanciable took over, and pink was suddenly acceptable again.  I adorned my planner with stereotypical-heartbroken-misunderstood-teen song lyrics, inked carefully in bubblegum pink gel pen, and drew felt-tipped coloured pictures of Disney Princesses to impress the popular girls (whose year eleven planners were covered in Disney Shop sticky-tape, printed with the pretty faces of Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella). I found a new relatability in the Disney princess films I'd watched as a child, suddenly able to fully appreciate the romance of being whisked into jasmine-scented night air on a magic carpet and into a diamond-studded sky by the handsome Aladdin. When I was sixteen, Barbie pink, Disney Princesses and girly memorabilia suddenly became cool again, whilst my sequin covered purple shoes were probably donated to a charity shop along with the purple dress with black lace overlay that I wore to celebrate the millennium. Having fully embraced my girly side again, I unashamedly sprayed my hair with magenta streaks, built up a collection of candy-coloured tops, skirts and dresses and lusted after boys in pink Hacket polos and pink-striped lacoste shirts. When I was finally allowed to re-decorate my room again, just before my GCSEs, the look was full-blown baby pink and black: think baby pink satin curtains edged with black beading and pink satin headboard embroidered with the outline of a black lace heart. Pink was in again, and I incorporated it into my makeup draw, pencil case, and of course, wardrobe. From the ages of fourteen to the age of around nineteen, I don't think I wore one single purple item.

Since then, purple has slowly began to filter back into my style radar, and these days, being someone who is no longer limited by the desire to fit in as I was in my adolescence, I find that there is space in my closet for anything which happens to be inspiring me at the current moment, weather or not it's 'in'. My re-introduction to purple has began slowly, with a sparkly vintage indigo slip here and a deep mauve, slightly shimmery Mac lipstick there (it's called Violetta, btw, and it's my new best friend.)

Just lately I've begun to be more and more inspired by the colour purple, and seduced by it's mystical, magical connotations. To me, as well as being the colour of my child-to-teen transition years, purple is the colour of night, mystery and magic. It's the colour of a star- filled, inky-dark night sky, a velvety smooth, gently rippling ocean and, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's the colour of Dumbledore's moon-and-star covered cloak in the first Harry Potter book. What's more- for some reason- purple to me is also the colour that I feel best epitomizes the whole Harry Potter Series- that feeling of snuggling on the leather sofas on a humid day in our old playroom in summer whilst a thunderstorm rages against the rain-washed windows, that feeling of smelling the summer rain mixed with that distinctive, comforting musty smell of the pages of a book whilst reading about Hogwarts and Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks- that magical, cosy feeling is inescapably and undeniably purple. And since I have been re-reading the entire Harry Potter Series almost every summer since I was eleven as a kind of tradition, I am currently starting again on The Prisoner of Azkaban, which is making me feel in a thoroughly purple mood indeed.

Purple also reminds me of violets, which I think are some of the most beautiful, vibrant-petaled flowers there are. Right now in our garden, an array of lovely, jewel-toned purple flowers have recently burst into bloom, and when you look outside at dusk, it's like this muted lush green backdrop, scattered with dots of bright, vivid, purple that just seem to glow ultra-violet, like gems in the dimness.          

These are all the things that are collectively inspiring me right now, and making me fall a little head over heels for the deep, mystical, night-sky shade. Not to mention that my uber-stylish friend Justine recently wore out a sparkly purple vintage top as a dress which I am a tiny bit obsessed with. As any readers of my previous posts will know, I have a major thing for vintage and also for anything sparkly, so if it's sparkly, vintage and purple, then you really can't get any better. Right now I love the idea of throwing on a sparkly, over-sized top/dress, teaming it with mega heels, tonnes of necklaces and long, wavy, free flowing hair. Here are some pictures that capture my current purple haze:

Our garden at dusk, taken by me just after the rain had fallen:

  There's nothing like getting stuck into Harry's magical world for some mystical fashion inspiration worthy of Professor Trelawny (I get so inspired reading about her many glittering necklaces and strings of beads draped over layered-up, spangled shawls as she gazes into a crystal ball).

From left: sparkly vintage top from Rokit, sheer lace purple blouse- gift from a vintage modeling shoot, purple dress, from a vintage shop in London

These pics are all from the modeling shoot I recently did- sadly none of the clothes are mine, but these potfits were two of my favourites!
Me wearing sparkly purple top, Rokit Vintage, Bomber jacket, Rokit Vintage, levis cut-offs, Rokit Vintage, booys, Topshop

Hop you all enjoyed the post...:-) xxxxxxxxxxx
          The Plastic Lawn Chair        
This is the story of the unlikeliest of business people. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment and catalyst of her foray into entrepreneurship, but during the 1980’s, she was actively involved in importing shoes from Italy to Ghana. In the 1990’s however, her life took an unexpected turn and so did her business. She
          Breezy Summer Days in White        

When I first saw these stunning pictures of Simone Rocha's SS11 collection on the popular style blog Love Aesthetics, I guess you could say that I had something of a fashion Proustian moment. In case you don't know, (as I didn't until recently when we did this at uni) a Proustian moment or memory is when something you encounter evokes recollections of the past without conscious effort. In other words, involuntary memory. It could be caused by a smell (the most powerful evocation of memory that we have), a taste, or just anything that triggers off a sense of powerful, unexpected memory or recollection. The term was coined by the French author Marcel Proust. It's like when you catch a whiff of perfume or aftershave that your ex used to wear, and suddenly you are overcome with the feelings that you had when you were with that person, and you feel as though you are right back in that time, in that compartmentalized  memory inside your head that you thought you'd closed the chapter on, that you thought was well and truly preserved as merely a memory, that you'd never have to revisit again. It's like you jumped right back into a photograph from the past, and just for that one moment, when you can smell that fragrance, the past is alive again, and you are there, back in that time, feeling that onslaught of forgotten emotions, back in that place you thought you'd put way back on a dusty shelf in your memory, far in the recesses of your mind.

Well, seeing these photos didn't exactly give off the fragrance of youth or the taste of childhood, but they did take me back to a time, in that summer in 2006 that I mentioned in 'Acid Brights and Summer Rain', when I had an all-white outfit that I accessorized with bright, fuchsia pink lips. I think that that summer was so special to me, not just because it was a time of happiness and of hazy, adolescent dreaming, but because it was also around the time that I really started to discover real fashion. Before that, I had always been a tall, skinny, insecure teen who thought that 'fashion' meant piling on as much bronzer as I could, getting out as much flesh as was decently possible, and trying my absolute hardest to look like the 'popular' girls in school. It was when I got to the age of seventeen that I started to question this desperate desire to blend into the crowd and look like everybody else.

I had discovered Sex and the City at the age of sixteen, and had watched, awed, as Carrie pranced the streets in tutus, outrageous hats, look-at-me knee-high socks and sometimes even ball gowns, with a confidence that made it seem like she owned the city. I had discovered Dita Von Teese, and realized that not only did staying out of the sun and remaining pale-skinned prevent you from premature aging and skin cancer, but also that it was beautiful. Watching shows like America's Next Top model and reading fashion magazines had taught me that being tall wasn't something to be ashamed of, and for the first time, I gave in to my love of heels. Before that, I'd only ever worn flat shoes, and would sometimes even stoop so that I was more the same height as my friends. It also taught me that beauty comes in many, many forms. Weather you're black, white, tanned, skinny, curvy, blonde or brunette, you can find your own way to be beautiful. For the first time in my life, I realized that fashion wasn't about making boys like you or fitting in, it was about being yourself, and most of all- having fun.

I reveled in my new discoveries and growing confidence that summer. I tried new things and dared myself to step out of my comfort zone. I stopped being ashamed of what I'd previously seen as 'flaws' and finally learned to embrace my differences. The models on the pages of my copies of Vogue were tall, willowy and ethereal in their beauty- to me, they looked like something right out of a different world.  I wanted their perfect confidence, their grace and their ability to stand out on the page and make the clothes come alive. It was the first time I learned to take risks, and to try and stand out like my beautiful Vogue models. Sometimes I got it horrendously wrong, and people would laugh at me (like the time I cured my hair into ridiculously tight ringlets that bounced with my every step- BIG mistake) but at least I can look back now and say that I wasn't boring.

That summer I remember reading in Vogue or Elle that lipstick was making a comeback. I was so excited by the idea of wearing bold, matte colour on my lips, that was so different from the translucent, shiny lip-gloss I was used to wearing throughout my teens. I remember reading about how you should team your bold, fuchsia lipstick with pale skin, powdered to perfection, and a lick of black mascara for a fresh, minimalist take, and the words to me sounded like poetry. I remember telling my best friend about it in a random, old man pub we'd managed to sneak into one summer night, and how she laughed and told me I was talking too loud because I was drunk, and that everyone was looking at me sitting there raving about pink lipstick.

The Simone Rochas SS11 collection reminded me of the bright pink of that lipstick, and an all- white outfit I'd picked out to perfectly compliment the look. I had teamed together little white shorts from Zara, and a long, flowing, white top from Topshop that swung in the summer breeze when I walked.  Seeing the Simone Rochas SS11 collection and the white with neon pink accents makes me recall that summer with a perfect clarity. The heat, the freedom, the excitement, and the feeling of being just seventeen years old like the Dancing Queen, and of having the whole world at my feet.

This summer, I cannot wait to re-rock this look. Here are some more images that are inspiring me right now:
The beautiful Carrie in the first SATC movie


Classic Carrie in a white vintage- looking sundress. I want her sun parasol!

Carrie in the opening scene of SATC 2



I love the way the Simone Rochas collection is made up of simplistic, deconstructed pieces layered under gauzy, billowy fabrics with pops of fluorescent pink accessories in futuristic shapes and plasticky materials (pink plastic box bag, I covet thee.) The collection was inspired by traditional Chinese mourning, when everyone wears white. Simone Rochas described in an interview how "I visited my grandad’s grave in Hong Kong and it was stark white but had highlighted flowers and that’s where I got the colourful accessories from and the pink clothes. It’s tough but with a feeling of romance." (If you want to read more of this interview, go to http://love-aesthetics.blogspot.com)

Although this idea may seem slightly creepy, I actually think that it's kind of beautiful, if you think about mourning as a way of showing love and respect to lost loved ones. I like the idea so much more than wearing black. There's a purity to wearing white and decorating graves in bright, cheerful pink that to me seems to be more of a celebration of the person's life and your love for them than just sadness at their passing. I think the idea behind this collection is really unusual and beautiful- what do you think?

It wasn't just at Simone Rocha that white clothes were seen on the runway. White was also seen at Dolche & Gabbana and Stella McCartney.
  I love the floaty sheer dresses, pretty white cotton bloomer shorts and puff-sleeved blouses as seen at Dolche & Gabbana.
Long fluid silhouettes were seen in white at Stella McCartney.

Since I first read the Simone Rochas post on Love Aesthetics, I've been scouring the internet for pieces I can buy to take on the look. They're just ideas at the moment so I can decide what to buy come summer. Here's what I've found so far...





All the above are from www.topshop.com
white vintage dress from www.rokit.co.uk


Also from www.rokit.co.uk

I love these sunnies, from www.topshop.com

I've not managed to find many bright pink accessories yet, but I'm on the hunt! Come summer, I'll be strolling down memory lane in some of my bright pink lippy, for some more of those breezy summer days in white...

Please comment and let me know what you think :-)
The Porcelain Princess xoxoxo
          All That Glitters...        
It is my personal belief, that deep down inside every woman, there lies a secretly burning passion for all things that sparkle. After all, isn't that  why diamonds are a girl's best friend? I believe that deep down within even the most tomboyish of girls, there is a secret lust for things that twinkle, things that shimmer, things that sparkle, shine, glitter and gleam. No? Okay, just me then...

But seriously, ever since I was a little girl, I've been obsessed with glitter. I recall this one time, when one of my oldest friends (that means you, Leah Rossi!) and I sat in my bathroom, when we were about ten or eleven years old, collecting together all the glitter in my house that we could find. We collected up hair glitter, sparkly body spray, glittery mascara, glitter nail polish, glittery talc, shimmer face powder, you name it (remember all that 90's/early 00's stuff?)

We sampled each of the products, spraying them and puffing them and squeezing them and what have you over the bath, so that it wouldn't go all over the floor, and analysing the different types of glitter. We decided to categorize the different types, to see which was the best. There was glitter with huge shiny bits in it, glitter in tiny particles that gave more of a subtle, shimmery effect...I can still smell the glitter spray now, heady and gluey and with that note of excitement and anticipation on it- it was the spray I put on whenever I was going to a school disco or a year six birthday party or to one of my parents' big new year's eve bashes. I think we thought we were glitter scientists or something. Leah, if you are reading this, you probably don't even recall this weird random memory, but you know what I'm like for having a freakishly good memory when it comes to this stuff! It reminds me of a time even further back, when Leah and I decided to paint all the china ornaments in my room with my gold glittery nail varnish, and the times we used to make 'gems' out of lumps of wet toilet paper left to dry and coloured in with felt-tipped pens and painted with the same glittery nail polish (now I know you remember that!)

Well, weather or not anyone else shares this particular magpie tendency of mine (and Leah's!) to want to squeal with delight at the sight of glitter, that's what's got me all girlishly excited about my latest look. I'm calling it 'all that glitters' (another Sex and the City Reference, for any of those equally geekily obsessed fans among you). It all started with the outfit that I put together on one of my previous posts, the one with the pink sequined top and the leopard print heels (which I have now bought, and can't WAIT to wear out!) I loved the way the sequins on the top looked like those pink edible cake sparkles you can buy, and the way they winked and flashed and twinkled like stars in the light with my every tiny movement...

I also adored the soft pale pink of it, and the combination of the sparkles and the girlish pastel hue. So, when I came across this GORGEOUS little vintage gem on my travels in Greenwich a few days later, I simply couldn't get it out of my head.

                                          (here is is, pictured with the pink Topshop top)

I was browsing the rails in The Vintage Emporium, to see if there was anything that caught my eye, when I glimpsed it, twinkling softly in the dusty light. It was a pale, mint green, sixties style top, which also happened to be sparkly (insert inward screams of delight). I held it up to myself in the mirror and noticed that it went perfectly with my skin tone and hair colour (don't you just LOVE making those discoveries?) but then quickly told myself that I didn't need yet ANOTHER little sparkly top. I moved on to the next shop, The Beehive, which is a total treasure trove of affordable vintage pieces (not to mention owned by the most lovely, friendly, beautiful lady whom I spent a good long while chatting to about all things fashion) and ended up buying an eighties-tastic jumper, featuring a similar colour of green (which I have been living in all week- thanks Beehive!)

That weekend, I simply couldn't make myself forget the darling little mint green top. It danced tantalizingly in front of my eyes inside my head, calling to me in a sound like crystals twinkling and clinking together (I know I'm getting totally carried away now, but I really did love the top). So, today I went back to The Vintage Emporium and bought it. Did I mention that it was only £15?? Total bargain, I know!

It goes perfectly with the other stuff I bought to go with the pink Topshop top, so that's two outfits I have yet to wear out! In addition to this, I also decided I needed a cream fur coat to complete the outfit, and found this beauty on ebay, which I won (yay!) and which was delivered today:
 

Don't you just love it!? It's real rabbit fur and sooo luxuriously soft and snuggly. I would just like to point out, that although I would never condone the purchase of new fur, this coat is vintage and therefore second hand. Hence, wearing it is actually a form of recycling, and if no one wore it, it would only be rotting away in some landfill somewhere, polluting the planet. ANYWAY.

The pretty ice cream shades of the tops and the coat got me thinking about Tavi's fantastic Valley of the Dolls posts that I've recently read. If you want to check it out, go to:
http://www.thestylerookie.com/
For anyone who doesn't already know this-Tavi is amazing. Her blog was one of the main things that inspired me to start this. But getting back to my main point, her post was inspired by the 1966 novel, Valley of the Dolls, which was turned into a film in 1967. I have yet to actually see the film (it's on my list of fashionable things to watch, along with The Taxi Driver, which apparently is the film to channel for the current on-trend seventies vibe) but I've seen pictures from it, and am loving the pretty, innocent but plastic doll-like look that's going on. The look is all about pastels, candy colours, pretty-girl makeup and a kind of creepy doll-like perfection. Think of the candy-coloured houses in Edward Scissorhands (Tavi also references this in her post- I give her full credit for it- although I've always loved that image anyway!)

To complete the all-that-glitters-meets-Valley-of-the-Dolls-look that I'm loving right now, I also bought two gorgeous Barry M lipsticks, one in an amazingly bright, shocking, almost fluorescent pink, and one in a beautiful pale chalky coral. I love the totally matte texture of the lipsticks combined with the intense, opaque quality of the colours. I have searched high and low for a reeeaally bright pink lipstick with a totally matte finish, and this is the first one I've found. Thanks Barry M!

I am planning on wearing this look with fun, unexpected twists like leopard print (cue my new heels!), garishly bright lipstick and flashy, gold vintage jewelery to give it a trashy/fun/glam edge. And of course, extra long, doll-like lashes. Pictures of me wearing the outfits will follow (I want you to see them with the full benefit of my two hours of pampering, hair and makeup that I will do when I actually wear them out!)

Here are some pictures that I feel capture the girly/glam vibe of the all that glitters look with it's Valley of the Dolls feel...enjoy!
 My magpie collection of sparkly tops! From left: vintage from ebay, vintage from ebay, vintage from Rokit, vintage from a shop in Whitechapel, vintage from The Vintage Emporium Greenwich, and Topshop.

 My pretty ice cream shaded tops go perfectly with my gold vintage bag from Rokit which I have actually worn to death!
(clockwise from top) bracelet: Topshop, cuff: Topshop, earrings: from a charity shop in Hunstanton, earrings: also from charity shop in Hunstanton, ring: Topshop, necklace: vintage from Greenwich Market (only 99p!)

My Barry M lipsticks, Topshop glitter, Benefit eyeshadow and Mac eyeshadow. Tutti-fruitti shades like this were seen all over the SS11 catwalks!

                                  I <3 Dolly Mixtures! xxx

  Glitter is a girl's best friend...
                                                 The Valley of the Dolls Look
Hope you enjoyed the post, and please feel free to leave any comments! Have a sparkly day...

The Porcelain Princes
XOXO
          Lindsay's Mini Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols        
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Series: None
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: â™šâ™š
Pages: 325
Published by MTV Books on July 10th, 2010
Amazon | B&N

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.

Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.

But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.

By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.

Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
Though at first the cover drew me in, I've come to hate it. The girl looks plastic, mid-twenties, and nothing like the gorgeous, yet hand-me-down Leah in the book. I think this is my first problem.

The plot flowed nicely, however it didn't really feel like this was actually a book. Everything was calculated in a way that through every setback it worked out in favor for the main character Leah. On top of that, the other characters were also very basic. They had stereotypical personalities like brooding, popular, etc. They were only skin deep, and I wasn't very drawn to them.

Such a Rush was a basic read that I would flip through before bed, trying to quiet my mind. It kept me up some nights having to get through a particularly interesting part, however it's easily forgettable and not really full of substance. Things happened too easily, and it was all webbed together too carefully. I did enjoy reading it, but I don't think I'll be picking it up again.

          ãƒ›ãƒ¼ãƒ ãƒ‘ーティー        
蝶ネクタイのお客さまのホームパーティーに参加😆
もうすぐ70歳になるというご夫婦。

奥様はGS大好きで特にタイガースとオックスのライブに昔めちゃくちゃ行ってたらしい。

旦那さまはTWIGGY来日の頃からファッション関係のお仕事をされてて、後に専門学校でファッションの講師をしてた方らしい!
いろんな資料やサンローランの服を着たサンダーバードのソフビ、EXPOグッズなど貴重な物をいっぱい見せてもらった✨


すげぇな〜こぅいぅ繋がり。
なかなか普段70歳の方と友達になる機会なんてナイよね。
出逢いをもっと大切にしよーってホント思うわ。

美味しいお料理を食べて、ベランダから淀川の花火が見える特等席付き!

最高やないか〜〜❤︎

          è¿½åŠ ç´å“ã—てきたよ        

ART HOUSEさんに追加納品してきたよ〜❤︎

関ジャニ∞のコンサートが先週の木曜日から4日間あったりしく、朝からめっちゃファンが来てて、あっという間に売り切れ✨
今回の納品は赤と青が多めね。




神奈川に住んでる関ジャニファンの友達がコンサートの為に大阪に来ててね。
私も一緒にジャニ勉のロケ地巡りしてきたよ(笑)

デッカい椅子❤︎
めちゃくちゃ可愛かった〜
それにしてもロケ地巡りってオモロイねー
ジャニ勉を実はあんま見たコトなかったんだけど、友達からロケ写真めっちゃ見せてもらって、なんか私までテンション上がった(笑)
これからジャニ勉見ようと思います😂


          Wマーケットに出店してきました        

‪Wマーケットに来て下さった方々、暑い中ありがとうございました😊‬


{84B439F6-7932-4F8E-B4E0-BB956B7E4F23}

{22050E43-021A-4DFB-BE2B-84403E0C73E9}

{23543D10-263E-4022-BBBE-1B3631108DD0}


‪化粧ドロドロ、全身汗まみれという醜い姿で接客w‬
‪とんでもなく恥ずかしい姿でしたが、今まで出店した中で一番のお客さま数でした✨‬
‪ありがとう〜‬❤︎
{6D7D9B83-5117-473A-AF4C-1BF84966FBA7}


‪バタバタで写真をほとんど撮れなかったけど、フォロワーさんからお写真を拝借✨





いろんな方々とお話出来てめっちゃ楽しかった❤︎
作品を大量に作ることが出来ないので、出店はあまりしてなかったんですが、こんな出逢いが増えるなら出店も良いな〜と思いました。
これからは出店しよぅかな♪
.
昨日はアシンメトリーのイヤリングで行ったのね。



お客さんがマネしたい〜❤︎って言うて下さって、みんな2種類選んでくれるという現象(笑)
私、商売上手?😂
でもホント左右違うの可愛いよ〜〜
ダマしてないよ(笑)
オススメです❤︎


          ãƒ˜ã‚¢ãƒ¼ã‚¢ãƒ¬ãƒ³ã‚¸        

お花イヤリングの髪飾りを作って〜とリクエストをもらったので蝶ネクタイ作ったよ❤︎




インスタで「Ludovico techniquesの蝶ネクタイはクリップ式なので髪飾りにも出来ます」って書いたら「どぅやって髪につけるの?」ってDMがめちゃ届いてビックリした(笑)

そんなにみんな髪につけたいのかい?w

たまには蝶ネクタイとしても使ってよぉ〜〜


ということで、ヘアークリップとしての使用写真をドドーンとご紹介します。

{767B9CA0-DEF1-4177-9435-652C6F2502A6}

{78A34C9D-A2D4-4212-BEB4-79B249528349}


{D7399B00-C775-4EF9-8FF0-59FA4AB364DC}

{EDD0981B-7D38-4BFB-B3A5-9167CA365C97}

{8A6293DE-E8BE-43FC-B0CC-496CE15D24D7}

浴衣にも可愛いよ❤︎

{BF20E5EE-6A5D-4193-988A-7CFBE96EC912}



{827BEB00-FF7E-4BAC-8B38-5D20A7BB5F5D}

wマーケットに持って行くよ❤︎


          ä¹…々に出店するよ        

7/16  ディープな、非常に濃い街 「新世界」で出店しまーす❤︎

wマーケット

ナヌ?値段が存在しない?

どーゆぅこと?

{8992BB76-BE30-4D43-A7A4-358190BFCA5D}




値札のないマーケットだそぅで、「これいくら?」から始まるらしい。

お客様といっぱい喋りまくりたい私にピッタリだわ✨

出来るだけ沢山の作品を手にとって見てもらえるよぅに、今日からめっちゃ作りまくるぞー!


スマートボールついでにLudovicotechniquesのとこに遊びにきてね。


すいませんが、オーダーはマーケットが終わるまでお休みさせて下さいませ〜〜

待ってまーす‼︎

{CF683A2B-CC21-426D-97B9-7A8D3511E3C0}

{8CEBFC92-21F4-4F1A-A07F-BA1C4947DADD}

{8857F95B-1690-48CF-BF68-5851F288D95D}

{B29B19B8-4A61-4ECE-A9CA-89D27E7DF7C3}


#Ludovicotechniques #wマーケット


          ç´å“ã—たよ        

納品してきました❤︎

Logic納品分↓

{79A96745-2E7A-4BE5-B95C-3E13280B8E2D}

{CCA87FBD-4606-44A7-B122-8547092BA926}

ART HOUSE納品分↓
{28418320-9862-49BB-958D-3804B362CF0E}

{224DF787-DB82-43DA-A59E-193A28843D79}
ジャニ勉の影響だと思うんだけど、関ジャニ∞のファンの方からのオーダーがめちゃくちゃ増えてる(笑)
夏に関ジャニ∞のコンサートがあるらしくて、その時に友達とお揃いで着ける好きなメンバーのカラーでイヤリングを作ってほしい〜とか、エイトカラーの髪留めを作ってほしいとか…
それで、このイヤリングが誕生したよ。
{14045292-7331-4C7E-9EBC-464EC7F16883}

着けたらこんな感じ
{E810506C-EE45-4435-9CB7-9A5854ED1823}

普段使いも出来てめちゃかわ❤︎
満足の出来だわ〜〜✨

納期に追われる日々ですが、頑張って作ってます。
関ジャニ∞ファン大歓迎だよー(笑)


🍀🍀🍀


蝶ネクタイの新作はまだですかー?ってめっちゃ連絡もらってたんだけど、ホンマ遅くなりました。ごめんなさい🙏

やっと出来たよ〜❤︎

パープルに羽根で遊びをプラス✨





LINEI@ID➡︎ @zsh1409v

ご注文は LINEでご連絡下さい。


【大きさ】

横幅 10㎝、縦 5㎝

【素材】

プラスチック、レジンなど

【重さ】

約25g


いろんな場所で作品の紹介をしています。良かったら見てね。
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          ãƒ©ã‚¤ãƒ–ペインティング        

こないだライブペインティングっちゅーものを初めて見てん。






自分が絵心ないもんだから、絵の描ける人がホント羨ましくてね。
真似してぇー!っていつもめっちゃ見るんだけど、やっぱ真似出来るものじゃねぇわ。
上手いだけじゃなくてセンスが必要やよなぁ〜。

buggyさんがスプレーを重ねていくと、グレムリンが現れる!すげーーーー‼︎
{46E48EC0-CF38-4BF2-B230-0D69CB6C10B0}


単に枠内にスプレーをしてるだけじゃなくて、順番と配置が重要になってくるから、下準備めちゃくちゃ大変やろなぁ。

buggyさんの作品はいつも鼻血(って表現してええんかな?w)みたいなインクがたらーって流れるのが特徴なのね。
{52EBD23E-0D37-4327-979B-531F31E5323E}


今回もたっぷり流して完成✨

いや〜〜見ててドキドキしたわ❤︎
才能があるってホンマええなー

⚫️⚫️⚫️

グルンとうずまきループタイ🌀
キャンディカラーに仕上げたよん

【大きさ】
横幅11㎝×・縦5.5㎝

【素材】
レジンなど

【色】
きみどり、黄色、赤、黒


いろんな場所で作品の紹介をしています。良かったら見てね。
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          ãƒãƒ£ãƒ©ãƒ³ãƒ        

ヤングライオンに行ってきたよ。

{8DE75DDA-435C-4BB9-BA56-DAD65E0E67FD}

野外にはちょうど良い季節かと思ってたのに、くそ暑い!
直射日光耐えれねぇー!
ホンマ暑かった。

私のお目当は一番風呂のチャランポ。
どうせなら前で観ようとめっちゃ張り切って11:30着。

めでたく最前列❤︎
{3BBCC25F-E2F3-4827-8571-8A0BA3077A0B}

やっぱ好きだわ〜〜
今回のイジリはこの方
{335D5294-99B4-4B2C-A79A-68A8B2EE5BD5}

{F7B68E06-2EAC-4A85-A4B3-67E04439CDE9}

{1BCBF17D-8F0E-42F0-B2E0-38B94DD9D6A2}

笑けるww
{0EE837C2-91BF-4959-8CE9-E880E9C9B285}

ももちゃんがこんな悪い顔してても、小春さんはクール(笑)
{D22A0533-7E73-42D9-8F5B-2FC3A52882E8}

{39BBE1E9-1B89-45E7-9B0E-A8745AD11636}

このバランスが好き。
いいなーやっぱりこの2人❤︎

⚫️⚫️⚫️

母の日なのでお花のコサージュを作ったよ
{81F6CBD6-BC18-430C-9B64-6B044FAE51FF}
いろんな場所で作品の紹介をしています。良かったら見てね。
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          ã‚¸ãƒ£ãƒ‹å‹‰ã®å–材        

いつも置かせてもらってるART HOUSEさんに関ジャニ∞の番組「ジャニ勉」が取材にきたよ❤︎

{AFE74821-E26C-4BC6-B73E-98D0DA38A4CF}

私の蝶ネクタイも関ジャニメンバーが「似合う?」とか言うて付けてくれてたらしい😆

テレビデビューだーーーー✨ってワクワクして見たのに…

はい。残念〜全く映らず(笑)

そんなもんよねw

{2BF0C42B-6C99-4AFA-8656-0FA7FA18B3E9}

{B82040EB-545F-4B4E-8B74-73CCF9154A2D}

私が大好きなハニワ作家さんがメインやってね。

その作家さんの背後に私の作品があるのにぃ〜😰

くそーーー

ART HOUSEさんに行った事ある人しか分からないよぅな程度だったわ。

ちゃんと目を引く作品を作れるよぅに頑張ろ♪

{5D296C03-4777-4906-B965-1D16487C9C64}




放送後に関ジャニ∞ファンの方から連絡がきてね。

エイトカラーでオーダーお願いしますって✨

で、早速エイトカラーで手鏡を作ったよ♪

{9C4DDCC6-DC56-45C8-872D-CFDC495D9BE5}

安田くんとスバルくんのカラーの赤と青の作品もいろいろ作って欲しいって要望をもらったので、また作るね。

良かったら見て下さい♪


いろんな場所で作品の紹介をしています。良かったら見てね。
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          ãƒãƒ£ãƒ©ãƒ³ãƒ 小春 ソロライブ        

チャラン・ポ・ランタン 小春のソロライブ
「人生、伸びたり縮んだり」に行ってきたよ。
{1D18B345-DC6C-4996-A6A4-519080F6BE04}

会場はめっちゃ素敵な世界館。
{6AABAF5A-BFDC-454E-A414-AC33AA228AD9}

{68D9DF55-4413-445A-B0D0-77D7BC14845F}

小春さんってのはチャランポのアコーディオンの担当なのね。
だから当たり前だが2時間みっちりアコーディオンのみ(笑)
唄ナシ….正直どーしよぅか迷いに迷ったんだけど、ただ小春さんが好きってだけで行ったワケよ。
で、帰り道の今の気持ち。

あーー‼︎小春好きだーーー‼︎

結局それかいっ(笑)と言われそーやけどw
めっちゃセンス良くて、
めっちゃ才能あって、
めっちゃ可愛くて、
めっちゃオモロくて、
そんでもってめっちゃファンに対する優しさが滲み出てるんよ〜
あ〜〜〜〜イイなぁ❤︎
こんな女になりたい。
{BD5FB533-9895-47DF-B25E-A3BF1C65DD63}

マネージャーのねこ太さんがインスタにあげてた、オモチャのアコーディオンを弾きまくる姿 ãƒ›ãƒ³ãƒˆã«ãƒ¤ãƒã‚¤ã§ã™âœ¨
⚫️⚫️⚫️
マリン ブローチの色展開したよ。
お好きな色でのお作りも出来ますので、ご希望ありましたらLINEくださ〜い♪
{1489AB86-1DFE-414A-A40E-CA638D50E568}

【大きさ】
横幅 4㎝、縦 5㎝

【素材】
レジンなど

【重さ】
約10g

いろんな場所で作品の紹介をしています。良かったら見てね。
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          come mi diverto a smanettare sul pc        
Tra le cose con cui mi tengo occupato il cervello per non pensare a me stesso, una posizione di rilievo la occupa la politica. Ma viste le ultime pesanti delusioni e l'impressione che per qualche anno è meglio lasciar perdere, questa sta cedendo il primo posto ad un'altra occupazione, l'informatica, o meglio, , anzi, !
Non fosse altro perché lui (lei?) mi riempie di soddisfazioni.

L'altro giorno (lunedì) la scheda, come previsto, è arrivata. Poi pausa per aspettare il mio informatico di fiducia ché mi fidavo poco delle mie capacità (nel mentre mi acculturavo su come smontare e rimontare tutti i componenti del pc con le spine inserite ad occhi chiusi e in meno di 1 minuto).
Lavoro (tutto da solo) per:
  • preparare (rimuovi i vecchi driver ATI)
  • estrarre la vecchia scheda
  • introdurre la nuova scheda
  • porconare per liberare un cavetto molex per l'alimentazione usando 1 coltello, 1 cutter ed un cacciavite per sollevare la fascetta in plastica e non segare con lei anche i cavi sottostanti
insomma... un parto.
Poi riavvio il PC, parte Ubuntu, risoluzione a 800x600 vabbè. Installo i driver per la Nvidia usando Envy; va tutto bene, ma la risoluzione resta 800x600.
Qui entra l'informatico di fiducia, che coinvolgo nel riconfigurare Xorg.
Alla fine va tutto, ma non .
Eh no! mi compro la scheda video figa, voglio Compiz!
In 2 ore ho incasinato tanto il sistema che quando ho spento sapevo che la soluzione per uscirne era formattare ed installare da zero tutto, approfittandone per passare alla nuova versione, la 8.04.

La mattina seguente installo i driver per Windows (e mi ricordo del perché ho smesso di usarlo), dovrei formattare e reinstallare tutto anche lì.
Quindi reinstallo Ubuntu dal cd, installo la .
Che dire?
Va che è una meraviglia.
          Stiletto Heel Boots - FeliciaC in hot pantyhose video        
Stiletto Heel BootsKneeling on the huge brown divan in her black crotchless pantyhose and high heels only, Felicia C is playing with her big plastic cock. She gives it a good lick before getting ready to stuff it into her little puckered hole. The babe does it on all fours before spread-eagling on the sleek leather cushions and later sliding one of her hands under the tights to enjoy their silky soft feel..View Gallery :: Brought to you by ePantyhoseLand.com @ FerroNetworkCheck Official Reviews to learn more about FerroNetwork sitesRelated tags: stiletto heel boots, horny stocking clad women in high heels, mature nylon sex, videos of high heels drop from nylon stocking feet video, amateur latex stockings, seamed stocking milf
          Forever in their debt.         

    Prince and Pearl, Duke and Baron, Queen, and Bonnie and Clyde. 

   All seven of our carriage horses are amazing horses. They brave things that would have the average horse badly spooked. We routinely encounter all sorts of crazy things that very few horses would ever tolerate. Heavy traffic, loud motorcycles, and honking cars is the mild stuff. We have had everything from a carriage full of teen girls screaming at the top of their lungs, to mariachi bands, bagpipes, the massive gun fire on New Year's Eve, and even fireworks. Lots more of the typical stuff as well, screaming babies, hyper children, every sort of flapping plastic, and loud event commotion, is all just part of their "norm"  

   Unlike the hack or street carriage horse our special event carriage horses have to perform in a different environment at each job. Someplace they have never seen before and are unfamiliar with. Most people can't fully grasp the level of training much less the immense trust that these horses have in us and us with them to be able to perform under those circumstances, and do it calmly. Good commercial carriage horses have to have a naturally adaptable personality. The reliable ones always do. A large part of their fearlessness is due to the bond they have with their drivers and footmen. It is a mutual bond that is nothing short of divine. 

  This brings me to share with you a little about the human side of the equation. You see, the bond flows both ways. The connection a driver has with his/her horse is equally important. Being flight animals even the best horses can get a little rattled once in awhile and that is where our equine partners trust in his person comes in. A soothing tone of voice, a command given with authority does wonders to let that equine partner know that not only is he being given direction, hes safe because he is not alone. It's hard to describe to the non-horseman, but to those who are, it's as real a thing as the morning sun. Speaking of such things among their peers the horseman simply nods in understanding. 

  So you can probably imagine the deep love and appreciation the horseman/woman has for their horses. We keep each other safe and out of harm's way. We lean on each other for support when things get sideways. The trust that forms between a carriage driver and his/her horse goes far deeper than just affection for a beloved pet. It is a mutual respect like no other. The love and admiration we grow to feel for our horses is immense. Carriage drivers thank God every day for their brave and wonderful horses, and cannot help but to feel forever in their debt.  

          Mike Dukakis: Marathon runner, trash picker, delightful raconteur        

Garrett Quinn has an interview with your neighbor and our former governor, Michael Dukakis, in the November Boston Magazine. In it, the two stroll along Olmsted Park as the governor stuffs garbage into a plastic bag and recounts various histories …


          CANTERBURY WATER BOTTLE        
CANTERBURY WATER BOTTLE

CANTERBURY WATER BOTTLE

The Canterbury Water Bottle is made from a robust, transparent plastic and is shaped for an easy grip. The CCC logo features prominently to the front and rear.


          Paul Smith Junior Bathing Trunks Multi        
Paul Smith Junior Bathing Trunks Multi

Paul Smith Junior Bathing Trunks Multi

Paul Smith Junior boys swimming trunks with elasticated waistband, pockets and multi coloured ball print all over. Comes with plastic zip bag.


          April 2015 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Focaccia         
Focaccia
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I love making focaccia – I make it twice (sometimes thrice) a week. So this challenge was a breeze since I had two doughs ready in the refrigerator when the challenge was announced.

See the challenge PDF here

A big thank you to Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise for hosting this month's challenge.

A most enjoyable challenge and I stunned at the sheer variety of focaccias made by the other Daring Bakers', the spelt flour focaccia was of note.

My focaccia recipe uses mashed potato which produces a wondrously soft chewy tender (almost cake-like) moist open crumb with a crisp thin crust and increases the shelf life of the bread. Basically you replace ½ cup of water with ½ cup of mashed potato which produces a softer than normal dough that is slightly tacky which encourages the formation of large holes in the crumb of the bread. Also I like to cold-ferment my dough. That is use ice-cold mashed potato and ice-cold water and rise the dough in the refrigerator (overnight or up to five days) which really produces a very flavoursome bread. Using mashed potato captures a lot of moisture so allows for a higher temperature and longer bake time so the crust can develop a deep brown colour and flavour.  I like to really brown (in a very hot 260°C/500°F/gas mark 11 oven) my focaccia since ¾ of the taste of bread comes from the crust. I usually stuff my focaccia with olives, salami sticks and semi-dried tomatoes (or roasted capsicums) and then cut and slice them so I can use them as pizza bases. 

Cold-Ferment Potato Focaccia
Using mashed potato and the cold-ferment method produces a thin crisp crust with a crumb (interior) that is soft, tender, moist and airy with large open holes. The slow cold fermentation process gives maximum flavour to the bread and it's still great to eat the next day. The high hydration dough allows a thin crisp deeply coloured and flavoured crust to develop without the bread drying out.

Notes:
1. The dough is about 90% hydration it is soft, pliable and elastic and slowly flows into the shape of the pizza pan which ensures that the focaccia is level when baked. The dough when cold-fermented has the consistency of "warm melted mozzarella cheese". Every day in the fridge the dough will improve its internal structure (up to five days) to produce a silky smooth well-hydrated gluten network.  
2. Resist the temptation to add more flour, the dough should be soft, tacky and loose these characteristics create a crisp crust with an open crumb. The high water content (hydration) of the dough produces a lot of steam when baking so creating a thin crisp crust and large holes within the crumb (interior) of the baked bread.
3. Using milk increases the colour of the crust when baked.
4. Cold-fermentation creates the maximum amount of flavour compounds in the dough. 
5. If using rosemary coat it lightly in oil so it will not burn in the very hot oven.
6. Gentle handling of the dough is essential when spreading out the dough in the final rise.
7. If you find your bread is doming too much you can gentle pat (using a clean tea towel) it level ½ way through the baking time.   
8. Preheat your oven to maximum for an hour, so the initial blast of heat will really give a huge "oven spring" to the focaccia dough. The baked focaccia should have a thin crisp crust with an airy crumb with large holes.
9. Using mashed potato gives the focaccia an extra soft tender crumb and extends its shelf life since the potato "locks" in the water so delays the bread going stale.
10. You can use instant mash potato powder, just make up the required amount then add that to the flour mixture do not add the powder to the flour it will lump-up and these lumps will never go away so you will have to start again.
11. Use the water that the potatoes were cooked in for the water in this recipe to add extra tenderness to the crumb. I usually freeze the water I cook the potatoes in and use that for all my bread doughs it adds a nice touch of tenderness to the crumb. Also yeast just loves potato water it seems to give the yeast beasties extra lifting power. 
12. Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can afford, it will really add a gourmet taste to your final focaccia.
13. It is important to add a good amount of olive oil to the baking pan before adding the dough for the final rise. The oil soaks into the dough and during the bake it creates a super tasty "fried" base for the focaccia.
14. Focaccia is a wonderful treat to bring to BBQs, pot-lucks, parties etc. Since you can make the focaccia look authentically rustic or exquisitely elegant by the decorative placement of the toppings into and on the bread.   

Ingredients:
For the dough
3 cups (750 ml) (450 gm) "OO" bread flour or all-purpose (plain) flour, firmly-packed
¾ cups (300 ml) ice-cold water (or milk), might need a few tablespoons extra
½ cup (120 ml) ice-cold mashed potato, make sure the mash is very smooth
¼ cup (60 ml) best quality extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons rock crystal (Kosher) salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast (½ satchel of yeast) for overnight cold-ferment OR ½ teaspoon dried yeast (¼ satchel of yeast) for three day cold-ferment OR ¼ teaspoon dried yeast (1/8 satchel of yeast) for five day cold-ferment
¼ cup (60 ml) best quality extra virgin olive oil, for the baking pan
Toppings for the stuffed focaccia
500 gm jar (2 cups) pitted olives, stuffed with pimento or anchovies or chilli/garlic or a combination, or marinated artichokes or marinated feta cheese or similar antipasto
200 grams (7 oz) salami sticks or spicy cooked-sausage, chopped to the same size as the olives
Optional 2 large red capsicums (red bell peppers) blackened under the grill (broiler), skins removed, chopped to the same size as the olives
3 tablespoons (45 ml) best quality extra virgin olive oil, for the dimples
Toppings for the rosemary and sea salt focaccia
3 stems of rosemary, washed, dried, whole sprigs removed and lightly-oiled
2 teaspoons sea salt crystals, try to have some large and small crystals
3 tablespoons best (45 ml) quality extra virgin olive oil, for the dimples

Method:
Making the cold-ferment focaccia
1. Whisk the flour & dried yeast in a medium bowl. Add the salt whisk until mixed.
2. Add the ¾ cups ice-cold water (or milk), ½ cup ice-cold mashed potato and the ¼ cup of olive oil.
3. Mix with a plastic scrapper or wooden spoon until just combined about a minute, it will look like a shaggy blob of just-mixed flour and water with lumps, just make sure all of the flour is moistened with the liquid. Don't worry the cold ferment process will "knead" the dough for you.
4. Cover the dough and bowl with a thin layer of oil or oil-spray. The dough should be like a shaggy mess. It will be sticky and tacky but over the cold-ferment it will become a smooth elastic soft dough. 
5. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap.
6. Place the bowl in the refrigerator's coldest spot overnight or up to five days max.
7. The dough will hydrate and knead itself to a soft elastic slow-flowing dough (like "warm melted mozzarella cheese") during its time in the refrigerator. The dough's structure will get better each day (up to five day max) during this process. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water if the dough isn't soft enough.
8. Everyday; turn, stir and fold the dough over itself using a scrapper or wooden spoon about 30-60 secs. Re-spray the dough with oil-spray and re-cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place back into the refrigerator.
9. If making the overnight version; turn, stir and fold the dough over itself, after a few hours of refrigeration to ensure max gluten formation. This step is not necessary if making a multi-day cold-ferment dough.  

Baking the focaccia
1. Preheat oven to maximum or to very hot 260°C/500°F/gas mark 11 for one hour. Modern ovens can behave erratically at very high temperatures so go as hot as your oven can handle to establish an even stable temperature most likely 240°C/465°F/gas mark 9.
2. You can use one large deep pan or two medium pans. On the day you wish to make your focaccia take out the bowl from the refrigerator. Cover your baking pan(s) with the ¼ cup of olive oil (the oil layer should be at least 3 mm (1/10 inch), a little more is even better) & gently “pour” (without deflating too much) the dough into your pan(s). Gently level the dough in the pan(s) using your finger tips in slow careful movements. If the dough resists let it rest a few minutes and continue levelling until completed. 
3. Firmly poke the stuffed olives, salami (or cooked-sausage) into the dough in a decorative pattern. As an option you can poke the capsicum (red bell pepper) pieces into the pattern as well. (If making the rosemary/sea salt version firmly poke the lightly-oiled rosemary sprigs into the dough in a decorative pattern try to make the sprigs look like open-flowers). Cover with oil-sprayed plastic wrap.   
4. Let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled (about one to two hours could be longer) in volume. The risen dough should almost cover the olives and salami pieces (or rosemary sprigs) just leaving a dimple of olive or salami (or rosemary) showing. You can poke down the olives and salami pieces (and the optional capsicum pieces) (or rosemary sprigs) if they are poking out of the dough too much. If you wish you can dimple the dough between the olives and salami (or rosemary sprigs).
5. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the focaccia. (Then sprinkle the sea salt crystals over the focaccia if making the rosemary version) 
6. Bake in a preheated very hot oven for 35-40 mins for the large focaccia and about 20-25 mins for the two medium focaccia, rotate the pans half way, and cover with foil if over-browning (or reduce oven temperature 20°C/40°F half-way through bake). If baking this recipe for the first time watch carefully since very hot ovens can behave erratically check how the focaccias are baking half-way through and adjust temperature or cover with foil. The crust should be well-browned almost blackened in a couple of small places and the sides of focaccia will have shrunk away from the pan. The base should sound hollow when tapped. Using a high hydration dough allows for a crisp deeply coloured crust to develop with a fully developed taste and a moist chewy open crumb interior.

Stuffed Focaccia with olive and spicy salami sticks
I usually make pizza with my stuffed focaccia. I slice the focaccia into two pizza bases then top with fried tomato paste, well-fried onions, blue cheese, some sun-dried tomatoes and extra spicy sausage and bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes. The cooked pizza stays crisp the next day if wrapped in foil and plastic wrap and stored in the fridge.
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Rosemary and sea salt focaccia I love the look of this rustic looking bread. I always try to use whole sprigs of rosemary and poke them into the dough to look like open-flowers which really adds to the to the appearance of the final bread. Remember to oil the rosemary so it doesn't burn in the very hot oven. I will be bringing this to the Royal Easter Show tomorrow we are having a picnic there.
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          The Daring Cooks’ August, 2014 Challenge: Freezer Meals        
Hello this is Audax Artifex, I will be hosting this month's challenge. It is all about making best use of your freezer and making meals that can be frozen.

Freezers allow cooked and uncooked meals to be stored for long periods so when we are in a hurry we can always have a meal prepared quickly.

I always have cooked beans and lentils in my freezer, as well as baked pizza bases, fish cakes and patties of all kinds. Most soups are excellent for freezing and reheating. Nearly all baked breads (except crusty French loaves) can be frozen and reheated in a moderate oven for 15 mins. Frozen pizza bases make perfect weekday meal; you can bake frozen bases with added toppings and cheese immediately in a moderate oven, no need to thaw the bases at all.

I find time on the weekends to make meals that can be frozen and then reheated and eaten during the busy week days. 

I have included a great link in the reference section where you can find information on how to store foods in the freezer.   
 photo soup05.jpg
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Recipe Sources: 


Frost bite (everyday food fresh from the freezer) by Susan Austin
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-tips-freezing-food

Blog-checking lines:

  This month, the Daring Cooks challenged us to think inside the box - the icebox, that is! Audax taught us some really cool tips and tricks for stocking our freezers with prepare-ahead meals that can keep our taste buds satisfied even during the busiest of times.

Posting Date:

August 14, 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE FILE HERE.



Notes:


Top 10 freezing tips

Whether you have a chest or upright freezer, the principles of successful freezing are the same.

1. Freeze quickly and defrost slowly is the number one tip. This process will give you the highest quality frozen food which retains the taste, texture and nutrients of the meals that you prepare. Always defrost in the refrigerator overnight the frozen meal you wish to make for the next day.  

2. Cool foods before you freeze them. Freezing food when they are hot will only increase the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting.

3. Never re-freeze anything that's been frozen. Even if the food was frozen raw and then cooked, to be extra safe it still shouldn't be re-frozen.

4. A full freezer is more economical to run as the cold air doesn't need to circulate so much, so less power is needed. If you have lots of space free, fill plastic bottles half full with water and use them to fill gaps. Alternatively, fill the freezer with everyday items you're bound to use, such as sliced bread or frozen peas.

5. It's a wrap. Make sure you wrap foods properly or put them in sealed containers, otherwise your food can get freezer-burn. Use strong cling-wrap, foil or metal/glass containers.

6. Portion control. Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don't want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you're only feeding a family of three. Leave a ¾ inch (2 cm) gap to allow for expansion of high water content foods (soups, etc).

7. If in doubt, throw it out. Contrary to what many people think, freezing doesn't kill bacteria. If you are unsure of how long something has been frozen or are a bit wary of something once defrosted, don't take any chances.

8. Stay fresh. You get out what you put in, as freezing certainly won't improve the quality of your food. Don't freeze old food because you don't want to waste it; the point of freezing is to keep food at its prime.

9. Friendly labels. It may seem a bother at the time, but unless you label you might not remember what it is, let alone when it was frozen. Buy a blue marker for raw foods and a red marker for cooked foods. You don't have to write an essay, just label the food clearly. You can use big-lettered abbreviations, for example a big red P means cooked pork or a blue F means raw fish. And always add the date it was frozen.

10. Defrosting your freezer is a must. An icy freezer is an inefficient one, so make sure you defrost your freezer if ice builds up. Don't worry about the food; most things will remain frozen in the fridge for a couple of hours while the freezer defrosts.

11. In an emergency... If there has been a power outage or you think the freezer has been turned off at some point, don't open the door. Foods should remain frozen in the freezer for about 24 hours, leaving you time to get to the bottom of the problem.

What not to freeze...

Most individual ingredients can be frozen. However, some foods simply aren't freezer friendly:

Raw eggs in the shells will expand and crack. You can freeze egg whites and yolk in containers.
 Hard-boiled eggs go rubbery.
Vegetables with a high water content, such as lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and radishes, go limp and mushy.
Soft herbs, like parsley, basil and chives, go brown.
Egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise, will separate and curdle.
Plain yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, single cream and cottage cheese go watery.

Great to freeze

All these everyday ingredients will freeze well.
Butter and margarine can be frozen for 3 months.
Grated cheese can be frozen for up to 4 months and can be used straight from the freezer.
Most bread, except crusty varieties such as French bread, will freeze well for up to 3 months. Sliced bread can be toasted from frozen.
Milk will freeze for 1 month. Defrost in the fridge and shake well before using.
Raw pastry will freeze for 6 months and takes just 1 hour to thaw.

Cooking from frozen

Freezer management is all about forward planning, but some dishes can be cooked straight from frozen. When cooking food from frozen, use a lower temperature to start with to thaw, then increase the temperature to cook. Foods include:

    Soups, stews, braises and casseroles.
    Bakes, gratins and potato-topped pies.
    Thin fish fillets, small fish, sausages, burgers, and seafood if added at the end of a hot dish.

Mandatory Items:

You must make a meal that can be frozen for later use

Variations allowed:

You can make any dish you wish that can be frozen. 

Preparation time:


Recipe one – 40 mins – 60 mins depending on type of lentils. (Overnight soaking might be needed.)
Recipe two – 15 mins preparation time, rising time for dough 1-2 hours
Recipe three – 40 mins preparation time 

Equipment required:


Measuring Cups
Sharp knives for chopping and dicing 
Baking dish
Sauce pan
Fry pan

Recipe 1: Lentil, Pasta and Vegetable Soup


Servings: 6
This is a simple, toothsome and wholesome soup that can be made up on the weekend and reheated during the week. It is stew-like in its texture. You can add ½ cup of shredded cooked chicken if you wish to make it even more filling. 

Ingredients


1 cup (250 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) lentils (I used small French lentils)
6 cups (1½ litres) stock (chicken or vegetable)
½ cup (125 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) small soup pasta
1 carrot, grated (or 1/2 cup of finely shredded cabbage)
1 potato, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
Optional 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch spinach (or other greens), leaves shredded
1 cup frozen vegetables (carrots, broccoli, beans, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:


1. Check the cooking time for the lentils on the packaging. Check if the lentils need soaking overnight. Small French lentils don't need soaking while brown/green lentils need an overnight soak in cold water. Use lentils that retain their shape when cooked.  
2. Simmer the lentils in the stock for 15 mins (for small French lentils) or 30 mins (for soaked brown/green lentils) until three-quarters tender. Add some salt half-way through cooking process. (If you add salt to early it will increase the cooking time of beans and lentils significantly). Check occasionally and add more stock/water as needed.
3. While the lentils are cooking, saute the chopped onion, chopped potato and grated carrot (and optional garlic if using) in a fry pan using the oil; for 3-5 mins until soften. Reserve.
4. When the lentils are three-quarters tender add the onion, carrot, potato (and optional garlic) mixture and uncooked pasta to the lentils and simmer until the pasta has increased in size by twice and the vegetables and lentils are tender (about 10-15 mins).
5. Place into containers (leaving ¾ inch (2 cm) room for expansion), cool on counter for ten minutes
6. Place into freezer up to one month.     
7. Defrost overnight in fridge, reheat slowly (check for seasoning). When simmering add frozen vegetables. Simmer until almost tender then add fresh spinach (or others greens). Simmer until wilted, serve with crusty bread. 

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Ingredients – French lentils, brown/green lentils and soup pasta. French lentils need no soaking and take 25 mins to cook while brown/green lentils need an overnight soak and take about 40 mins to cook.

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Cooked lentils and soup pasta

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Finished soup


Recipe 2: Potato Bread Pizza Base


Servings: makes 6 large thin crust pizza bases, or 3 large thick crust pizza bases, or 1 very large extra thick pizza base

Potato bread (using the water that the potato was boiled in and the mashed potato) makes for a crisp crust and extra soft crumb (interior texture) in the pizza base, and also increases the shelf life of the baked bread. Also yeast just love potato starch which makes the rising process a joy to watch; your dough will be full of large, soft, luscious bubbles during the proofing stage. This is my standard pizza base and makes a lot of bases. You can halve the recipe if you only want to make a couple of bases (keep the same amount of yeast and use 2 teaspoons of salt). Use the pizza base frozen straight from the freezer, just top with tomato sauce and your favourite toppings (sausage, chopped cooked chicken, mushrooms, etc.) and cheese and bake in a moderate oven until piping hot. A pre-baked pizza base gives the best pizza result since the base has been baked at a much higher temperature, giving a great texture (to the crust) and taste (to the crumb), while the toppings are baked at a much lower temperature just to heat the toppings and melt the cheese.    

Ingredients


6 cups plain (all-purpose) flour (or strong bread flour)
2 cups of warm potato water (use the water that the potato was boiled in)
1 large potato
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast (or one packet of yeast)
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
3 teaspoons salt

Directions:


1. Chop the potato and boil in 3 cups of water until tender. (You can peel the potato or leave the skin on). Mash the potato.
2. Wait until the potato water is warm. Top up the volume until you have 2 cups of liquid.
3. Add the sugar and the yeast into the water. Wait about 5-10 mins until the yeast becomes foamy.
4. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, mashed potato, oil, yeast mixture and the salt.
5. Knead the dough mixture until a ball forms, about 3 mins. (At this stage you can place the dough in the fridge up to three days; allow the chilled dough to warm up to room temperature and proceed with the recipe as below.)
6. Place into an oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Set aside in warm place until it has doubled in volume.
7. Punch down the dough and knead until soft and pliable (about 5 mins).
8. Spread the dough over your baking trays cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm place until it has doubled in volume.
9. Bake in a preheated hot oven (425°F/220°C/gas mark 7) for 20 mins for thin crusts, 30 mins for medium crust or 40 mins for the very thick crust base respectively. Check the base to see if it is brown and crusty
10. Cool completely on a rack.
11. Cover tightly in plastic wrap (or foil), place into freezer up to one month.
12. When needed, bake the frozen base with toppings added in a preheated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 mins for thin crusts or 30 mins for thick crust bases.          


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Dough ball

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The risen dough – notice the huge bubbles in the dough


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Dough ready to be baked on a pizza pan

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Baked pizza base

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Notice the crumb of the pizza base

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I usually make one extra thick pizza base and split into lunch sized pizza bases. I can make 8 bases (only four are shown)

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Unbaked frozen pizza base with toppings

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Pizza ready to eat (yum)


Recipe 3: Lentil and Sausage Lasagna


Servings: 6
Lasagna is the perfect freezer meal. You can make up the unbaked lasagna on the weekend then store in the freezer up to one month. You can cook the lasagna straight from frozen (baking time is doubled) or thaw overnight in the fridge and bake for the normal time. This recipe uses lentils and sausage with tomato sauce. If you wish you can use some cheese sauce.


Ingredients


1 packet (250 gm) (9 ozs) of fresh lasagna sheets
3 cups (750 ml) tomato passata, (Italian tomato cooking sauce)
2 cans (3 cups) drained cooked lentils
1 onion, chopped, fried and cooled
4 sausages, cooked, thinly sliced and cooled (I used turkey sausages)
1 cup of shredded cheese

Directions:


1. Ladle a thin layer of passata on the base of a baking pan.
2. Place a layer of lasagna sheet on the passata.
3. Place 1/3 of the lentils and 1/3 of the onions on the pasta layer, cover with some passata.
4. Place another layer of lasagna sheets on the passata. Cover the lasagna sheet with some passata.
5. Place a layer of thinly sliced sausage and cover with some passata.
6. Cover with a layer of pasta sheet.
7. Continue layering until all the ingredients are used. Making sure the last layer is a lasagna sheet.
8. Cover with passata and cheese.
9. Tightly cover the baking dish in plastic wrap or foil.
10. The dish can be frozen for one month.
11. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 350°F/180°/gas mark 4 for 1 hour if thawed or 2 hours if frozen. 

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Ladle some tomato passata on the base of the baking pan


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Cover with lasagna sheet

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Cover with lentils/onion mixture

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More passata on top
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A layer of sliced sausage, repeat this process using up all the ingredients

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Top with passata and cheese

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Baked lasagna

Additional Information: 


27 tips for freezing foods - http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/freezing/freezer-fundamentals-10000001012301/



          Daring Cooks Challenge June 2013 Meatballs         
This month's challenge was MEATBALLS my favourite recipe of all time I have so so so many great recipes here a couple of personal fav's enjoy the colour and flavours.

This month's hosts were  Shelley and Ruth and here their introduction to the challenge

Hi there! We are Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood. We are twin sisters who share a love of food, but who have very different cooking styles. Ruth keeps a vegetarian home while Shelley is a carnivore through and through.  Despite our differences, we both love all aspects of food – eating it, preparing it, and sharing it with the people we love.

For this month's challenge, we wanted to do something a little bit different.

So many of the challenges this year have helped us learn skills or techniques that are pretty specialized - and that have proven to be very challenging. And while the big challenges absolutely bring big rewards (not to mention yummy results), this month we thought we would go a bit more creative.

There are many foods that appear across a variety of cultures, with only slight differences or variations.  This month we wanted to test out one food across many cultures to see how many variations we can bring to the blogosphere.  So this month we challenge the community to bring us meatballs from around the world.

A meatball, at the most basic level, is some kind of ground meat that has been rolled into a ball and cooked.  But that is where the basics end.  Usually other ingredients are involved – generally breadcrumbs and eggs, to give the ball body and bind it together, and a variety of spices for flavor.  The type or types of meat used, the method of preparing the balls and especially the way the meat is served can vary so greatly that it is sometimes amazing to think that they are all the “same” kind of basic food.

It is these differences that we are looking to celebrate this month – to create more meatball dishes than anyone ever would have thought possible, and to show the world just how versatile the “simple” meatball can be.

Recipe Source:  Basic meatball recipes or based on recipes from cooks.com and Mark Bittman, with additional inspiration recipes provided from various online sources.

Blog-checking lines:  The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

Here follows my meatball recipes please enjoy them as much as I and my friends and family did!!!


Kangaroo and beetroot meatballs in red wine sauce


I LOVE meatballs and I KNOW how to make them after doing them many 1000s of times and I never get tired of them. This is one of my personal best meatball recipes made with kangaroo steak minced, the ready-made mince is easily available in major supermarkets in Australia (Coles/Woolworths $8.75/kg). I combine it with the other classic Australian taste that is beetroot. It always surprises foreigners how much beetroot is eaten in Australia, in fact it is a standard addition in hamburgers in most takeaways. So how couldn't I combine kangaroo and beetroot into a humble meatball. I use very strongly flavour rye crisp bread combined with robust sun-dried tomato pesto to favour the meatball mixture this combination seems to produce a mellow flavour simmered meatball. This is always a winner at parties and BBQs especially if I have let the meatballs soak in the red wine sauce overnight. The biggest tips for light, moist and fluffy meatballs - use the best ingredients you can afford, freshly minced meat is best, sauté your aromatics, all ingredients must be cold when mixing, freshly made bread crumbs, a gentle touch, make a test meatball check seasoning and simmer the meatballs.
Kangaroo is a very 'soft' meat; especially lean, tender, and soft-textured well suited for children's palate and also it cooks at a very low temperature and very fast which makes it excellent for simmered meatballs.
My standard roo and beetroot recipe (roo is Australian slang for kangaroo) is below, this makes the lightest most tender meatballs. I like making a batch and letting it cool in the red wine sauce overnight and then reheating until just hot super tasty.
It is a very easy recipe.
Kangaroo and beetroot meatballs simmered in red wine sauce
Makes a lot, 4 dozen meatballs
1 kg kangaroo mince, (best if used cold)
2 large beetroot, finely grated
1 carrot, finely grated
2 onions, finely chopped and pan-fried until caramelised
1/2 cup of cottage cheese (fetta cheese works well, reduce salt if using)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin
3 rye crisp-bread soaked in 3 tablespoons of cream or milk
1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from wholemeal pita bread
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto (basil pesto is fine also)
1 large egg
2 small hot chillies, finely chopped
2-3 teaspoons salt (if in Australia use vegemite (1/2-1 tablespoon) instead of salt)
3 teaspoons pepper
1 large tin of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of red wine, good quality (or if using for children cranberry jelly or beef stock)
Instructions
1. In a sauce pan combine the cherry tomatoes (smash them with wooden spoon) and red wine bring to a simmer and let simmer while making the meatballs.
2. In a bowl combine all the other ingredients except meat until well mixed.
3. Place meat in large bowl add the mixture gently combine until almost mixed. Make a very small meatball, add to simmering sauce, cook, taste, adjust seasoning of the meatball mixture. Finish combining the mixture.
3. Using 1-1/2 tablespoons of mixture form meatballs, drop immediately into the simmering red wine sauce. Cook for 10-15 mins.
4. Enjoy!
Kangaroo Mince - easily available in supermarkets in Australia (cheap & super healthy) I usually mince my own meat but the market was out of kangaroo meat so I used pre-packed mince.



Ingredients for meatballs (L to R caramelised onion, carrot, beetroot, parsley, in front cream soaked rye crispbread)
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The mixture that is added to the kangaroo mince (beetroot, carrot, caramelised onion, parsley, cottage cheese, cream soaked crisp bread, bread crumbs, whole egg, sun-dried tomato pesto) which is great on toast by itself.
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The mixture all ready to made into meatballs
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I did a fried test batch just to see how these worked out (not my usual procedure)
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The interior of the fried meatball, nice, soft and fluffy
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My normal simmered meatballs
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The interior of the meatball
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I have to say the fried ones were interesting not has tender as the simmered one but well worth eating. I have road-tested this recipe over many years to get the most tender simmered meatballs (especially made for children and fussy adults) so that is why the fried meatballs were well above average but not as good as the simmered ones.
Lamb, mint and beetroot meatballs
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Isn't the colour gorgeous on these bright pink lamb meatballs. This is one of the reasons I love this recipe and it goes so well with cucumber/mint/yoghurt dip. I like making tiny 2 teaspoon-sized meatballs for the kids just one bite for their tiny mouths. The caramelised beetroot and onion really adds to and intensifies the natural sweetness of lamb. This meatball recipe has been developed by me over a couple of years. As the butcher was explaining to me a long time ago the fat in lamb is "funny" it doesn't take too well being mixed with pork or veal or beef. That is why I like adding gelatine to the lamb mixture which adds a lovely tender moist mouth feel to the cooked meat balls. Also I like how the meatballs when fried have a "black" crust the characteristic brown-black colour of the crust results from the browned beetroot it doesn't taste burnt or bitter. If you bake the meatballs you can control the colour of the balls to suit your visual liking.

A couple of years ago I was researching on the internet about meatball making and discovered a trick professionals use - adding gelatine to the soaking liquid which adds an unctuous mouth feel to the meatball (which is why a lot of meatball recipes add veal which is gelatine-rich). So I tried it in my standard lamb, mint and beetroot meatball recipe. I have to say the gelatine really adds a lot of moistness and a soft tender mouth feel to the interior of the meatballs. I do this gelatine trick to all my recipes now. Several people who had my lamb meatballs before the change commented after I added the gelatine about the tenderness and moistness of them now. (If anything I thought almost too tender and moist the first time I tasted them but that is my opinion.)
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Lamb, mint and beetroot meatballs based on this recipe
500 gm (1 lb) lamb mince, freshly ground, best if used cold
250 gm (1 very large) beetroot, grated and fried until caramelised
2 onions, grated and fried until caramelised (do the onion and beetroot together)
1/2 cup of cottage cheese, drained
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon of gelatine bloomed in 1/2 cup of warm wine for 5 mins
3 slices of white bread, torn into small pieces, then soaked in the cooled wine/gelatine liquid for 5 mins then squeezed dry and chopped
1 bunch mint, finely chopped
1 large egg if frying the meatballs, 2 large eggs if simmering
(optional toasted sesame seeds for garnishing the cooked meatballs)

Method
1. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl except for the meat. Mix until well combined.
2. Add meat and gently mix until almost combined. Make a very small test meatball and cook, taste, adjust seasoning then continue combining mixture until just mixed. Make medium meatballs using 1-1/2 tablespoons of mixture or large meatballs using 3-4 tablespoons of mixture. Let rest in fridge for at least one hour and up to one day. Fry or simmer gently. I find it best to fry them first and then simmer (the frying adds a nice crust to the meatballs).
3. Best served with yoghurt/mint/cucumber dip.
4. Garnish with the optional toasted sesame seeds.

The baked meatballs garnished in black and white toasted sesame seeds
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Spicy Tom Yum Asian Meatballs


This is the recipe I have when I'm trying to impress at dinner parties. They are made with beef/veal (and the gelatine trick) and the same ingredients as TOM YUM soup. The colour for them is so golden and when fried the meatballs form a beautiful tasty crust. These are so beautiful piled high on a party platter. I know I know this soup is meant for prawns (shrimp) but it seems to work excellently for these meatballs, maybe the saffron, coconut cream and fried tomato paste does the trick.



Tom Yum Soup Ingredients
4 lime leaves,finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, chopped into tiny pieces
4 slices galangal, finely chopped
2 thumbs of ginger, finely chopped
4-8 bird's eyes chillies, finely sliced
1 tbsp palm sugar
Juice of 1-2 limes
2 tbsp fish sauce (a good Thailand brand)
3 large pinches of saffron infused in the lime juice and fish sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small tomato de-fleshed seeded and chopped finely
20 gm dried mushroom reconstituted in warm coconut cream with 1 tsp of gelatine
1 tbsp of tomato paste fried until brown
1/2 cup reconstituted glass rice noodles (or bread crumbs) soaked in the mushroom/coconut cream/gelatine liquid
Meatballs
1/2 kg of beef/pork belly (freshly ground)
the above ingredients plus 1 large egg combined. Form 1-1/2 tablespoon-sized meatballs then fry gently.
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Lentil and Spinach balls with blueberry sage glaze


This is an intriguing recipe! It tastes so GOOD yet it is the weirdest combination of ingredients but it's always a winner at parties and surprise pot-lucks and it's easy to cook also (only a couple of mins in a mircowave and if you want an optional light browning in a fry pan.) It always STUNS guests when I tell them what these tasty entrées are made of - lentils, spinach, a couple of eggs and some seasoned bread crumbs served with a sticky blueberry sage glaze. This combination is so delicious and so stimulating to the palate, the different tastes oscillate on your tongue which is exactly what you want an entrée to do to stimulate the appetite for what-is-to-come. The lentil and spinach balls are delicious alone but teamed with the sticky blueberry sage glaze they really seem to switch the taste receptors to the "pleasure" setting. A good recipe to have and their freeze well also.
I always get so many different answers when I ask what they tasted like, but universally they do say they liked them.
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The cooked balls (after microwaving for 2 mins in my very old microwave oven)
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Lentil and Spinach balls with blueberry sage glaze
Lentil and Spinach Balls (adapted from this recipe)
2 cups of cooked green lentils (these lentils hold their shape when cooked)
250 gm packet of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry and chopped (you can use watercress or collard greens make sure that the greens are squeezed dry and chopped finely)
2 large eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup heavily seasoned dry breadcrumbs (Italian-seasoned is fine)
2 teaspoons of freshly cracked pepper
Method
1. If you want a very fine texture and even colour in the interior of your vegetarian balls, you can machine-process the spinach and eggs (not the lentils) together to form a bright green purée. (see here for a picture of a puréed lentil/spinach ball)
2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, form 3 tablespoon-sized balls. Refrigerate for at least one hour up to one day.
3. Microwave on high for 2 mins (check at 1 min). Serve with a simple tomato sauce or the blueberry sage glaze.
4. If you want you can lightly fry the microwaved balls to form a crisp thin eggshell crust the balls will brown slightly if fried.
Blueberry sage glaze (based on this recipe)
500 gm frozen blueberries (can use a mixture of red/purple berries) (cranberries or pomegranate molasses work well also but will need more sugar) (you can use 1/2 cup red wine but reduce the blueberries by half)
1 tablespoons white vinegar (to taste)
2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot chilli powder (optional)
1 thumb of ginger, grated (optional)
1 spring (green) onion, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 garlic clove(s), crushed (optional)
4 sage leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or butter)
Method
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan reduce gently, taste and adjust vinegar or sugar until slightly sweet with a light sour after-taste. Use the optional ingredients if you are serving a meat (or strong tasting) main course.
2. Remove sage leaves before serving.
Blue-Veined Watercress Ricotta Balls








Blue-Veined Watercress Ricotta Balls
These ricotta based balls are simple to make and only contain a few ingredients; ricotta & blue-veined cheese, eggs, watercress (or spinach), and seasoned breadcrumbs (or flour). I included some puréed beetroot in the mixture (I had some left over) that is why this batch is pinkish in colour usually they are white. They fry up nicely but I like them simmered in soups and stews. If you use flour in the recipe you get "gnudi" a dumping, these are much lighter.
Blue-Veined Watercress Ricotta Balls1 cup (250 gm) fresh ricotta cheese, broken up into small pieces (I use low fat)
1 large bunch watercress (or spinach), blanched (1 min), squeezed dried & chopped finely
1 bunch mint (or basil if using spinach), finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or flour if you want gundi), seasoned (may need more)
1/3-1/4 cup blue-veined cheese, finely crumbed (1/2 cup finely grated parmesan if using spinach)
(optional 1/4 cup root veggie purée (beetroot, carrot or pumpkin) best if you are using spinach)

Method
Combine in large bowl all the ingredients mix until almost combined, make small test ball, cook, taste adjust seasoning, finish combining, form small (2 teaspoons), medium (1-1/2 tablespoons) or large (1/4 cup) sized balls, place into simmering soup or stews until cooked (small 3 mins, med 6 mins, large 10 mins)

Hearty Winter Soup with Ricotta balls and Spinach Balls



.
Ballsy Hearty Winter Soup with Ricotta balls and Spinach Balls
I made up a warm filling pearl barley, red and green lentil, split pea, tomato and beetroot winter soup I served it with my spinach/lentil balls and blue-veined watercress ricotta balls, (each 4 tablespoons-sized). (The spinach and lentil balls recipe has already been posted and the blue-veined water ricotta ball recipe is above). Perfect on a cold winter's day especially with buttered sourdoug rye bread.
Ballsy Hearty Winter Soup
1 onion, chopped, fried
1 carrot, grated, fried
optional 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece celery, chopped, fried (fry (3 tablespoons olive oil) celery, carrot & onion (& optional garlic) together until onion goes translucent then add tomato paste)
3 tablespoons tomato paste, fried (until brown), then add
2 cups - 4 cups of good vegetable stock
1-3 teaspoon salt & 2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
1 cup pearl barley, soaked and washed
1/2 cup green lentil, soaked and washed
1/4 cup split pea, soaked and washed
2 tablespoon red lentil, soaked and washed
1 cup of finely chopped (or grated) beetroot
Method
Add in a large saucepan the fried ingredients, stock, barley and legumes. Simmer for 1-1/4 hrs adding extra stock as needed. Add the beetroot simmer of extra 1/2 hr. Add plenty of spinach/lentils balls and blue-veined watercress balls in the last 15 mins. Serve the balls covered in the thickened soup or stew.

Super Duper Surf and Turf Meatballs
These are so so so GOOD I scoffed the entire first whole batch down myself there is something about adding umami (the savoury taste sensation) to food especially to meatballs that really intensifies and accents the taste of all the ingredients. These tasted like something from a super fancy restaurant I even impressed myself, since it was an impromptu recipe just using leftovers and a couple of pantry staples, usually you aren't this lucky with "spur-of-the-moment" recipes. Deeply and profoundly satisfying and so exquisitely tasty. I will be making these again and again.


I opened the fridge and this is what I had leftover from the night before:-
1. a half packet (250 gm or 1/4 lb) of good quality hamburger mince (ground beef),
2. a tin of smoked oysters in oil,
3. a 1/4 packet of powdered mushroom, nori sheets and sesame (the blue plastic packet),
4. vegemite,
5. wasabi powder,
6. some fresh bread crumbs (not shown), and
7. 1 large egg (not shown)
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I noticed immediately that many of the ingredients were rich in umami. After sweet and salty, sour and bitter, there is umami—the fifth taste. Discovered at the beginning of the last century by the Japanese, the word umami translates roughly to mean "deliciousness" or "deliciously savour" — an understatement if ever there was one. Rich, deep and intensely savoury, umami exists in a number of foods and I had a gold mine of them.
So I decided to make a surf and turf meatball (technically an umami-rich wasabi beef meatball stuffed with smoked oysters). The powdered mushrooms, nori, vegemite, smoked oysters and beef are all rich sources of umami (the savoury taste in foods). Also roasting, caramelizing, browning and grilling all boost the umami taste sensation in foods. Which is why this is a FABULOUS little entrée super rich in umami literally drenching in "deliciousness". I would serve with blue-vein cheese (rich in umami) or shaved parmesan cheese (one of the richest sources of umami), black olives (rich in umami) with some fried tomato paste (rich in umami) or fresh ripe tomatoes (rich in umami), tabasco sauce or hot chilli sauce, fish sauce (rich in umami), balsamic vinegar (rich in umami) and freshly minced garlic and a some finely chopped herbs parsley or mint, with a little of the reserved oyster oil. YUM YUM YUM. These tasted so good I'm calling them super duper surf and turf meatballs.
This is the best one so far on my meatball making challenge!. On reflection and making two other batches for my friends who LOVED these, I'm entering these in the college's (that I'm attending) cooking competition next week so tasty and satisfying hummmmmm.
How to make the meatballs
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The finished meatballs waiting to be cooked (all the same size)
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Super Duper Surf and Turf Meatballs
250 gm (1/4 lb) minced beef, best if used cold
100 gm (3-1/2 oz) tin of smoked oysters, drained, reserve oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, heavily seasoned
2 teaspoons of vegemite, mixed into the beaten egg (or 1 tablespoon fish sauce)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of wasabi powder, to taste
1/4 cup of dried mushroom, shredded (or 2 tablespoons of mushroom powder)
1 sheet of nori, finely shredded
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Method
1. Combine in a large bowl all the ingredients except the oysters until almost combined. Make a very small test ball, cook, taste, adjust seasoning. Place 1 tablespoon of mixture into a semicircular spoon, poke finger into mixture to form a hole stuff with 3 smoked oysters cover the stuffing with the displaced beef mixture to form a complete meatball, repeat until all the mixture and oysters are used up, makes about 16-18 meatballs (See pictures above).
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Chicken balls

I made two sorts of chicken balls; a sun-dried tomato, olive and ricotta chickenball and a sesame seed coated Thai coconut lime chickenball
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Sun-dried tomato, olive and ricotta chicken-ball
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Sesame seed coated Thai coconut lime chickenball
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Sun-dried tomato, black olive and ricotta chicken-ball
300 gm chicken, mince
300 gm ricotta, finely crumbed
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
28 black olives, stoned, (use 2 black olives per 1-1/2 tablespoon meatball)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4-1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs, heavily seasoned

Sesame seed coated Thai coconut lime chicken ball
500 gm chicken, mince
3 tablespoons coconut cream
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 packet of Hot and Spicy Thai noodle soup (any spicy Asian style is fine)
2 lime leaves, finely shredded
1/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs, heavily seasoned
1/4 cup of peanuts, pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 red chilli, finely chopped
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, for coating

          Nov 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge Brining & Roasting        

Hello this Audax from Audax Artifex and I'm honoured to be your host this month. I have decided to concentrate on a couple of important cooking techniques that every good cook should have up his or her sleeve. The first technique is brining – which uses a brine (at its simplest, a combination of salt and water usually with some sugar) to infuse flavour and moisture into poultry, red- & white-meat, fish, seafood and most types of nuts and seeds. Brining guarantees moist succulent roast chickens and turkeys, fried steaks, steamed trout, BBQed prawns (shrimps), grilled seafood and toasted nuts and seeds. Brining is simple and only needs a few simple ingredients and really adds an extra dimension to your cooking. I will be providing a couple of different recipes and guidelines on how to brine which can be used with a whole array of meats, poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds.

Then for the second technique (once you have brined your chosen cut of meat) I want you to roast (or BBQ) it. Again I will be giving you guidelines and rules on how to roast your cut of meat. The roasting guidelines can be used for meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds. For our non-meat eating cooks I want you to use the roasting guidelines to roast a selection of vegetables and/or nuts or seeds to perfection.
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HOW IT WORKS (from http://www.cooksillustrated.com/images/document/howto/ND01_ISBriningbasics.pdf)

Soaking in brine improves the taste and the moistness of all fowl (chicken, turkey, goose, duck and guinea fowl), also it works on lean red- and lean white-meats, fish, most seafood and most nuts and seeds. It is simple, cheap and effective and will ensure that your Christmas roast will be the tastiest you have ever made. All you do is brine your cut of meat and then proceed as normal, you will find that the roast is juicy and the skin has a lovely colour. The recipe for all-purpose brine is simple - for each cup (240 ml) of water use 1 tablespoon (18 gm) of table salt this makes a 8% brine solution which can be used for most foods. (This is equivalent to 1 cup of table salt for each gallon (4 litres) of water.)

Brining works in accordance with two principles, called diffusion and osmosis, these two principles like to keep things in equilibrium (or in stable balance). When brining a fowl for example, there is a greater concentration of salt and sugar outside of the fowl (in the brine) than inside the fowl (in the cells that make up its flesh). The law of diffusion states that the salt and sugar will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). There is also a greater concentration of water, so to speak, outside of the fowl than inside. Here, too, the water will naturally flow from the area of greater concentration (the brine) to lesser concentration (the cells). When water moves in this fashion, the process is called osmosis. Once inside the cells, the salt and, to a lesser extent, the sugar causes the cell proteins to unravel, or denature. As the individual proteins unravel, they become more likely to interact with one another. This interaction results in the formation of a sticky matrix that captures and holds moisture. Once exposed to heat, the matrix gels and forms a barrier that keeps much of the water from leaking out as the meat cooks. Thus you have a roast that is both better seasoned and much more moist than when you started.

HANGING IT OUT TO DRY

Brining does have one negative effect on poultry: Adding moisture to the skin as well as the flesh which can prevent the skin from crisping when cooked. This can be overcome by air-drying, a technique used in many Chinese recipes for roast duck and chicken. Letting brined chicken and turkey dry uncovered in the refrigerator allows surface moisture to evaporate, making the skin visibly more dry and taut and therefore promoting crispness when cooked. Although this step is optional, if crisp skin is a goal, it’s worth the extra time. For best results, air-dry whole brined birds overnight. Brined chicken parts can be air-dried for several hours. Transfer the brined bird to a heavy-duty cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, pat the bird dry with paper towels, and refrigerate. The rack lifts the bird off the baking sheet, allowing air to circulate freely under the bird. If you are not air-drying your fowl it is best to pat dry the skin with paper towels before roasting in a hot oven.

Surprisingly, brining has one large positive effect on fish fillets, a quick brine (only 10 mins) greatly improves the appearance of cooked fillets, because the brine reduces the unsightly white layer of albumin that coagulates on the surface during cooking, I highly recommend brining fish fillets when presentation is paramount. 

ITEMS THAT BENEFIT FROM BRINING
Lean cuts of meat with mild flavour tend to benefit most from flavour brining also most nuts and seeds can be brined with good affect. These include:

Chicken: whole, butterflied, or pieces
Cornish Hens: whole or butterflied
Turkey: whole, butterflied, or pieces
Pork: chops, loin, tenderloin, fresh ham
Seafood: salmon, trout, shrimp
Beef: use lean pieces of beef
Nuts and Seeds: Most nuts and seeds are suitable i.e. pumpkin, peanuts, sesame, almonds etc.  

Fatty meats such as duck, beef, and lamb do not benefit as much from brining (but still can be brined)—they're naturally moist and flavourful. They also tend to be cooked to lower internal temperatures and thus don't lose as much of their natural moisture.

WHICH SALT TO USE
Kosher salt (called rock salt outside North America) and table salt are the most common salts used in brining.

Sea salt can be used for flavour brining, but it tends to be quite expensive. If you have a cheap supply available, go for it; otherwise, stick to kosher salt or table salt.
Some people say that kosher salt tastes "cleaner" than table salt because it does not contain the anti-caking agents added to table salt. Some people prefer non-iodized table salt over iodized table salt, believing that potassium iodide creates an off-taste. However, these flavour differences melt away when salt is diluted in large quantities of water in a brine. In an article about salt in the September/October 2002 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine, taste testers felt that "all nine salts tasted pretty much the same" when dissolved in spring water and chicken stock, whether it was 36¢/pound iodized table salt, 66¢/pound kosher salt, or $36/pound Fleur de Sel de Camargue sea salt from France.

SALT EQUIVALENT MEASURES
Table salt and kosher salt do not have the same saltiness in a flavour brine when measured by volume—but they do when measured by weight.

Table salt weighs about 10 ounces (285 grams) per cup, while kosher salt weighs 5-8 ounces (140-225 grams) per cup, depending on the brand. If using kosher salt in a brine, you must use more than a cup to achieve the same salt flavour you would get from a cup of table salt.

The chart below shows equivalent amounts of table salt and the two most popular brands of kosher salt.

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Morton Kosher Salt weighs about 7.7 ounces (220 grams) per cup, making it three-fourths as strong as table salt. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt weighs about 5 ounces (140 grams) per cup, making it half as strong as table salt.
What if you're using something other than Morton Kosher or Diamond Crystal Kosher salt? Regardless of the type of salt—sea salt, pickling salt, and any other brand of kosher salt—just measure 10 ounces (285 grams) of it on a kitchen scale and you will have the equivalent of 1 cup of table salt.

HOW LONG TO BRINE
The length of time meat soaks in a flavour brine depends on the type of meat and its size, as well as the amount of salt used in the brine—the saltier the brine mixture, the shorter the soaking time. Here are common brining times found in recipes:

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It is possible to end up with meat that's too salty for your taste, so you may want to brine on the low end of the time range to see how it turns out. You can always brine longer next time, but there's no way to salvage a piece of meat that's been brined too long.

ROASTING TIMES AND TEMPERATURES FOR POULTRY 
When we roast brined cuts of meat (or whole birds) the procedure firstly is to brown the skin in a hot oven then to lower the temperature so we reduce the moisture loss in the roasted food. It is important to rest (loosely covered in foil) your roast so that the moisture can redistribute itself in the meat, it greatly adds to the final tenderness of the cooked product.

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For other roasting times for red meat, fish, seafood, nuts and seeds see the additional information at the end of the challenge write-up.

Recipe Source:  The brine and roast chicken used are traditional recipes used in my family for many generations. The roast vegetable recipe is from my own family cookbook.   

Blog-checking lines:  Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host.  Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

Posting Date:  November 14th, 2012

Download the printable .pdf file HERE


Note:  Important Information – brining must be done in the refrigerator the salt water will not stop the growth of germs and bacteria. Also brine cannot be reused always discard it after first use.  Make sure that the brine goes into the cavity of large chickens and turkeys when brining.  

Mandatory Items: If you eat meat you must brine a meat (or seafood) cut and then roast (or BBQ) it. For non-meat eaters please brine some nuts or seeds then roast them or just roast a load of vegetables. I have included an extensive listing of poultry, seafood, nut etc. recipes in the additional information section at the end of the challenge feel free to use any of these recipes. Of course you can use your own favourite recipe if you wish.

Variations allowed:  Any meat/seafood (or nuts/seeds) can be used for brining. And any vegetable can be used by non-meat eaters. 

Preparation time:  Generally brining takes from ½ hour to 2 days. Roasting can take up to 2 hours for most pieces of meat, for large poultry 6-7 hours.

Equipment required:
non-reactive container for the brine
roasting pans or trays

Challenge Recipes
I have included one all-purpose brine recipe, a roast chicken recipe and a roast vegetable recipe.

Recipe One – All-Purpose Brine:


Makes 4 cups of brine enough for about one pound (½ kg) of meat

This is the brine to use for most cuts of meat and poultry that will be roasted.

Ingredients
4 cups (1 litre) of cold water (see note 1)
¼ cup (70 gm) table salt or  ½ cup (70 gm) Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
optional 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar (see note 2)
optional 3-4 peppercorns, a few springs of herbs, a garlic clove or two, a knob of ginger etc. (see note 3)

Instructions
1. Heat 1 cup of water to boiling point add the salt and stir until all the salt has totally dissolved.
2. Place in a non-reactive container (glass, plastic, stainless steel, zip-lock bags etc). Add the remaining water and stir. Make sure that all the salt has dissolved. Wait until the brine has reached room temperature.
3. Add your cut of meat make sure that the meat is completely submerged (that is totally covered in the salty water) if need be you can weigh down the cut of meat with a clean plate (etc). If using plastic bags make sure that the meat is totally covered in brine and make sure that is bag is locked securely.
4. Cover the container with plastic wrap to prevent odours contaminating the flavour brine or the brine leaking.
5. Place the container into the refrigerator for the soaking time suggested by the guidelines above.
6. If desired you can air-dry your poultry (usually over night) in the refrigerator if you wish to have crispy skin on your bird. It is best to pat dry your brined item (inside and out) with paper towels before cooking.
7. Cook the brined item as directed by the roasting guidelines above.

Notes
1. You can replace all or some of the water with a combination of wine, cider, beer, tea, coffee, fruit juice, most sauces (tomato, soya, BBQ, chilli etc), chicken stock, beef stock or fish stock. Be careful with acidic liquids like wine, cider, fruit juices which can turn your meat to mush if brined too long.
2. A little sugar can help overcome the saltiness of the brine and helps to give a nice sheen to your piece of meat when roasted. You can use up to ¼ cup of sugar (use the lesser amount (2 tablespoons) for high temperature roasting since the brine can burn at high heats if you use too much sugar). You can use brown sugar or honey or other sweeteners if you wish.
3. Any combination of spices and herbs can be used to flavour the brine. Garlic powder, onion powder and ginger powder are excellent to use for brining.

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Recipe Two – Roast Brined Chicken
Serves four to six people

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (organic is best) about 2 kg (4 ½ pounds)
Enough brine (see recipe above) to cover the chicken in a large non-reactive container

Directions:

1. Brine the whole chicken in the flavoured brine in the refrigerator overnight about 6 hours can be overnight. (Make sure that every part of the chicken is covered in the brine you can weigh the bird down with a clean plate so it is completely submerged.
2. Discard the brine and dry the skin and inside of the bird with paper towels.
3. If you desire crispy skin then leave the bird on a rack for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator so the skin can dry.
4. Preheat oven to moderately hot 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
5. Roast for 15 minutes.
6. Reduce oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and roast for a further 12-15 minutes per 450 grams/pound, You can check for done-ness the internal temperature should be 165°F/84°C, or the juices should run clear when you pierce the bird between the leg and thigh.  
7. Rest for approximately 30 minutes covered loosely in foil.

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Recipe Three – Roast Vegetables
Serves six people

For best results use the largest shallow heavy-weight roasting pan you have and make sure that the vegetable are well spaced out in the pan and only form one layer, use two trays if necessary. A very hot oven 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9 is the key to roasting vegetables. Only toss the vegetables once or twice during cooking. For lighter-weight vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or cut corn add it to the pan 15 minutes later, so it doesn't get too brown. Greens like kale and mustard greens are done in only 15 minutes. Root vegetables should be cut into cubes of about one-inch (2½ cm). You can add a small amount of apricot fruit spread or honey in the last 10 minutes to enhance the caramelising process. Fresh basil, rosemary and thyme are best when used fresh. Curry, paprika and turmeric are also great. Grated ginger or crushed garlic can also be added.  

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash (pumpkin), cubed
2 red bell peppers (capsicums), seeded and sliced
1 orange sweet potato, peeled and cubed OR 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced lengthways
3 Yukon Gold (or any baking) potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, quartered
optional 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. In a large bowl, combine the squash, red bell peppers, sweet potato, red onion and Yukon Gold potatoes and the optional garlic if using.
3. In a small bowl, stir together thyme, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables until they are coated. Spread evenly on a large roasting pan.
4. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring one or twice, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned. If using a smaller tray the vegetables will take about 50-60 minutes.

Roast Vegetables
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Brined and BBQed “seven-bone” steak (notice the shape of the bone in the steak)
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Brined and BBQed “wagyu” steak
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Brined and Roasted Peppered Ribeye Roast
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Additional Information:  Include links to videos or information that can be of assistance to members.
Kosher salt versus table salt http://bbq.about.com/od/spicesseasonings/a/aa102007a.htm
Everything you wanted to know about brining http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/zen_of_brines.html
Brining Nuts and Seeds http://www.jwright44.com/recipes/BrinedNuts.htm
How to brine pumpkin seeds http://www.ehow.com/how_8144233_brine-pumpkin-seeds.html
How a quick brine improves the appearance of fish fillets http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/detail.asp?docid=36992
Dry brining thick steaks (a great article) http://steamykitchen.com/163-how-to-turn-cheap-choice-steaks-into-gucci-prime-steaks.html
Brining turkey a primer http://bbq.about.com/od/turkey/ss/aa110808a.htm
Roast chicken ten ways http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/tp/roastchixtenways.htm
Cooking a turkey (many articles) http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/tp/Cooking-A-Turkey.htm
To roast a turkey http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/chickenturkeymore/r/Roast-Turkey-Recipe.htm
Roasting guidelines for red meat roasts http://www.donaldrussell.com/game-technique?ms=tab5 Jamie Oliver's Roast Potato, parsnips and carrot recipe http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/roast-potatoes-parsnips-carrots 
Jamie Oliver's Perfect Roast Potato recipe http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/perfect-roast-potatoes
Delia Smith's Roast Potato recipe http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/fruit-and-vegetables/how-to-roast-potatoes.html
How to brine fish http://www.ehow.com/how_5963061_brine-fish-before-cooking.html
Vegetable Roasting Guide http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_cooking_guides/vegetable_roasting_guide
How to cook a steak to perfection http://howto.yellow.co.nz/food-drink/cooking-and-baking/how-to-cook-steak/
How to cook a steak (using American cuts of meat) http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-cook-the-perfect-steak/

Disclaimer:
The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”.  If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it.  If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with.  Thank you! :)
          May 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Challah        
Six Braid Challah Bread
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Recipe Source: The recipes provided for the challenge came from or were inspired by recipes found through a variety of online sources (including, but not limited to allrecipes.com). Also invaluable was the book “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh.
Blog-checking lines: May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I have never made braided bread before so I was thrilled when I saw the challenge was Challah. In Finland we have a sweet bread called pulla that is braided (three strands) I saw my mum make it many times when I was a child and always wanted to make some. The final bread is very similar in taste to pulla I was very pleased about that. I decided to do a six strand braid. I was extra careful about making sure that the braids were all the same (size, shape and weight) and that I did a double coating of egg wash. I made a jury-rigged dough proofing cabinet the bread raised in only 45 minutes the final raising took about 20 minutes.

The process of making the bread was very straight forward, it was the braiding that was a little challenging for me, I practised the braiding using strands of playdough (dough made with salt and coloured dye) after a dozen attempts I had the technique down pat, looking at the final result I thought I had done a reasonable job on it for a first attempt. I was fairly pleased with the final outcome, it was only after I had looked at it I realised that I should of made the ropes of dough tapered I had made them absolutely straight and even the entire length of the strand hence the reason why the final challah loaf looks so flatt  but I didn't mind that at all. Overall a reasonable job I thought.

The jury-rigged proofing cabinet – fill the sink 5 cm (2 inches) with hot water from the tap. Place a metal pan on the bottom place the bowl with the dough on the pan making sure the bowl doesn't touch the hot water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then cover the sink with newspaper (this traps the warmth and steam) then prove the bread.
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Process of rolling out the strands
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Starting the six braid challah
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The egg-washed proved bread just before going into the oven
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The final bread
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I liked doing this so much I will try some other shapes again soon.
          February 2012 Daring Bakers’ Challenge - Quick Breads        
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Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Posting Date: February 27, 2012

Recipe Source: The basic quick bread recipe is from Sara Schewe. The prune bread recipe was my Aunty Ann’s recipe. The Meyer Lemon Loaf and Green Onion, Cheddar & Asiago Beer Batter Bread were adapted from Recipe Girl (http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/08/13/meyer-lemon-loaf/ & http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/05/30/cheddar-chive-beer-bread/ ). The Pumpkin Bread with Maple Cream Cheese Filling was adapted from Dana Ramsey’s recipe located on Just a Pinch Recipe Club.


Basic Quick Bread
Makes one 9” x 5” (23×13 cm) loaf
Recipe from Sara Schewe
Ingredients
2 cups (480 ml) (250 gm/9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or soured milk*
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) mild- or non-flavored oil, like canola
1 teaspoon (5 ml) flavored extract, such as vanilla or almond

for the glaze
1/3 cup (80 ml) (35 gm/1-1/3 oz) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
1-2 teaspoons (5-10 ml) milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to moderate 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease a 9×5 inch (23×13 centimeter) loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper cut to fit the length and width of the pan, with enough overhang to allow easy removal after baking. Grease the top sheet of parchment.
  2. In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk (butter)milk, egg, oil, and extract to combine. Pour into well and stir until just mixed into a batter. The batter will be lumpy and may still show a few streaks of flour.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Drizzle with glaze, if desired.
  5. For the glaze: Slowly whisk confectioners’ (icing) sugar and half of the milk, adding more milk as needed to thin the glaze to the desired consistency.
Note: To make soured milk, combine 1 cup milk (240 ml) with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar or lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes.


I really liked this challenge so many possibilities for the flavourings I made seven versions.


Roasted banana and coconut cream bread
I make banana bread at least once a week (an oversupply of bananas and it's super easy and quick to make and most of my friends and family love it) so I have developed a good feel for making it any way I want, below are some general guidelines on how to manipulate the ingredients and what techniques to use to obtain the banana loaf you want.

For this challenge I made a brunt butter, brown sugar, coconut cream, roasted banana loaf. I roasted 4 bananas until they were like syrup I combined this with brunt (actually well browned) butter, brown sugar I used coconut cream for the liquid soured with some lime juice. I wanted a dense moist bread-like loaf, so I used the two bowl method to make the quick bread.
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This is the set of general guidelines to get the texture, mouth feel and moisture levels I want for the final loaf

Firstly about the texture of the interior (or crumb)
1. the creaming method (i.e. use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy about 5 minutes then beat in the eggs and then fold in the dry ingredients) produces a light well-aerated loaf with a cake-like crumb
2. the two bowl method (sift the dry ingredients in one bowl and combine the wet ingredients in another bowl then mix (usually) the dry into the wet) produces a “heavier and denser” loaf with a bread-like crumb

Secondly about the mouth feel, for most quick mix recipes as a general rule – less butter and sugar in a recipe makes it more bread-like, while more butter and sugar produces something closer to cake. So it is best to use the two bowl method when doing low-fat versions and the creaming method for high fat versions
1. Low fat version use the lowest amounts of sugar, butter (you can use apple sauce instead) and lite sour cream (no eggs), stir the sugar and butter together until well mixed but still grainy add the other wet ingredients, sift the dry ingredients in another bowl, combine gently.
2. Medium fat version use the middle amount of sugar, butter, sour cream and one egg
3. Extreme fat version use the highest amount of sugar, butter and use 2 eggs (no sour cream), cream the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, add eggs one at time beating well until incorporated add all the other wet ingredients mix well, add the sifted dry ingredients, combine gently.

Thirdly the ratio of dry to wet gives different levels of moistness versus denseness
1. Equal ratio batter: This batter has a dry:liquid ratio of 1:1. Which gives a very moist and dense loaf.
2. Bread ratio batter: This batter has a dry:liquid ratio of 3:1. Which gives a moist but fluffy loaf. (This is the same ratio of flour:water as in normal bread)
3. Stiff ratio batter: This “batter” has a dry:liquid ratio of 7:1 This batter will result in a very light and fluffy baked good.

Here a great link to a video of a chef making banana bread well worth watching http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2012/01/banana-bread-thats-okay-to-make-early.html

Ratios for banana bread (based on one cup of flour)
1 cup flour (any sort or combination of flours is fine) (½ cake flour & ½ whole wheat is great)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large bananas
optional 1 tablespoon kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soya sauce) this really adds a wonderful depth of flavour & colour to the banana mash (if using do not add extra salt to the recipe)
¼ teaspoon of salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup of sugar (for extreme flavour can use 1 cup sugar per cup of flour)
2 – 4 tablespoons butter (or oil) (for extreme flavour can use ½ cup butter per cup of flour)
1/4 – 1/2 cup sour cream (any sort full-fat or lite is fine) (for extreme moisture use 1 cup sour cream per cup of flour) (you can use buttermilk, coconut cream, almond milk, yoghurt etc if you want)
1 large egg, lightly beaten (or use 2 eggs and don't use any sour cream) (you can use another 4 tablespoons of sour cream if you do not want to use eggs in the recipe)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
optional ½ teaspoon instant coffee
optional ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (really adds a lovely intensity to the banana and kecap manis mash)
optional 1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
optional 10-12 banana sweets (lollies) for decoration

Additions (add an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder per addition to the recipe above if using)
½ cup chopped nuts (or chopped soaked dried fruit)
½ cup chopped chocolate chips
¼ cup cocoa powder, (not Dutch-processed) sifted
¼ cup bran (or crushed bran cereal or wheat germ flakes)
¼ cup coconut, desiccated or flakes (not sweetened)
¼ cup maraschino cherries, chopped

Method
1. Roast the bananas in their skins in a preheated moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for 15-20 minutes until black. Carefully remove banana flesh from the skins then mash well with any liquid released from the banana. Add the kecap manis and/or cayenne pepper if using mix until well combined. Cool and reserve.
2. If you are using browned butter gently heat the butter in a saucepan until it browns to desired colour. The darker the colour the deeper the flavour. Set aside until firm.
3. In one bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon (and if using the salt, cocoa powder, ground cloves or instant coffee).
4. In another bowl using a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula lightly cream the sugar and butter together (about 1 minute) this will produce a bread-like loaf (if you use a mixer to cream [about 5 minutes] the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy the final loaf will be light textured and the crumb very cake-like), add the egg(s) one at time beating each time until well incorporated add the roasted banana mash, sour cream, vanilla extract and any additions. Mix until well combined.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mix until just combined there should be lumps and a few wisps of flour in the batter. (If you have used the creaming method then fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.)
6. Spoon the batter into a greased large loaf [23cmx13cmx7cm (2litre)/9”x5”x3”(4.5 pints)] pan, carefully level the top. (The loaf pan should be a little under 3/4 full, it will rise to the top of the pan when baked). Decorate with banana sweets if desired.
7. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Check at 50 minutes). Muffins take about 20-30 minutes (check at 15 minutes).
8. Leave in pan until warm (about 15 minutes) remove to wire rack cool to room temperature, cover in foil then plastic, refrigerate overnight.
9. This banana bread improves with age. The bread will store on the counter for three days if well covered and about ten days in the fridge.

The roasted banana (the skin goes black when baked)
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The mixed wet ingredients and the sifted dry ingredients
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The mixed batter notice the lumps and the wisps of flour in it, the flour will be fully incorporated when the batter is spooned into the baking pan
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Unbaked loaf decorated with banana sweets (lollies)
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The finished loaf after one hour of baking
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If you are a follower of the “ratio” cookbook the ratio by weight for baking quick bread is 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part fat. To fill a 9” x 5” (23cm x 13cm) loaf pan, you will need 240 grams of flour, 240 grams of liquid of any kind, 120 grams egg (2 of them) or egg substitute & 120 grams of fats. This ratio also works for making muffins. By volume you will need 1¾ cup flour, 1 cup liquid, 2 eggs, ½ cup fat (plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and about 1/2 cup of sugar plus additions).

Quick Italian pizza loaf
Italian herb, sun-dried tomato, spicy sausage and blue cheese quick bread
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I needed a really strongly flavoured quick bread, I followed the basic savoury recipe, 2 cups soft self-raising "OO" flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with these additions 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (with 2 tablespoons of the oil in the jar), 2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 egg, one small chopped onion fried with one chopped spicy sausage and 1/4 cup high quality olive oil, I used 3 tablespoons of the fried onion and spicy sausage as a topping. When I was mixing the batter I could see the dough expanding, I spooned it into the loaf pan and baked it at moderate 325F/165C/gas mark 3 for 40 minutes. The aroma from the loaf was so good it smelt like a pizza baking. I was really pleased with the look of the loaf. The cut loaf was so yummy it had a thin crisp crust with a soft tender crumb choke full of flavour!

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Cherry Almond Semolina Syrup Cake
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My favourite flavour profile for quick bread is cherry and almond, I used 1 cup almond meal, 1 cup of very fine semolina (soaked in some almond milk), 4 tablespoons gluten flour, 1 cup chopped cherries, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup vanilla sugar, 4 tablespoons rice bran oil, 1 cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons of natural almond extract, 1 teaspoon of cherry extract. I used 1 cup of sugar syrup to soak the cake after it was baked. This cake took almost two hours to bake at the recommend temperature! It is best to refrigerate the bread for a day before serving. The crust was thin, crisp and sweet while the crumb was soft tender and very tasty one of my better examples of my favourite cake. It is such a pretty cake and the tasty is luscious.

I made this loaf a couple of days ago, I wanted to share how the crumb improves with some aging. After storing in the fridge cover in foil and plastic the loaf cuts cleanly and the density of the crumb is firm, so much better after a rest.

Freshly sliced
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Two days later rested in the fridge
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Black cardamom bread
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I thought that I would make a flavour profile that was based on spices, I dug around my spice box and came up with this spice mix

1 tablespoon black cardamom
1/2 star anise
2 cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ginger

I used 1 cup of roasted parsnips and 1/2 cup of pureed prunes as the moisture content of the loaf. A really tasty and unusual flavour combination.

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Upside down blood plum loaf
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The local gourmet fruit and veggie shop had cute little blood plums on special ($2/kg about $1/lb) so I thought I would make an upside down loaf with them. I sliced up four plums and laid them out decoratively on the base of a parchment paper lined loaf tin, then I made some boozy plum sugar syrup (¼ cup white sugar, 2 tablespoons plum brandy and 2 tablespoons blood plum juice simmered until thick and glossy) and poured that over the sliced plums then I made up the quick bread batter; the dry ingredients were 2 cups of soft “OO” flour sifted with 2 teaspoons of baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt, the wet ingredients were ¾ cup lite sour cream, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons non-flavoured oil. ½ cup vanilla sugar and 2 tablespoons of plum brandy. I used the two bowl method to combine the wet into the dry. I baked the loaf for 60 minutes at moderate 325ºF/165°C/gas mark 3. Then I cooled the loaf in the pan then I un-moulded the loaf. I was very very happy with the look of the topping it was so neon bright with a lovely red transparency. The loaf was superbly flavoursome the brandy taste was mellow and combined well with the blood plum flavour overall a nice looking treat for the afternoon and not much harder than the normal quick bread recipe (i.e. without the fruit topping).
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A picture of blood plums (photo from the internet I forgot to take one)
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Maximum Intensity Chocolate Quick Bread
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You can intensify the flavour of chocolate in a recipe by using a combination of techniques. The easiest is to use a combination of melted unsweetened (not dark) chocolate and cocoa powder which has a much stronger chocolate flavour than each individual ingredient tasted separately. Using espresso coffee or vanilla or chilli or kecap manis (used separately or in combination) greatly enhances the taste of the flavour compounds found in chocolate. Also steeping the cocoa powder in boiling water intensifies the taste of chocolate.

To obtain the intense chocolate flavour of this quick bread I combined
1. melted semi-dark chocolate mixed with vanilla sugar, 2 tablespoons of kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) and 1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder and
2. cocoa powder which was steeped in 1/4 cup boiling hot espresso coffee and I used
3. chocolate wafers to form an "upside down layer" (so when the bread is turned out the wafer layer becomes the base).

I used the creaming method to make the bread.

You can tell you have a strong chocolate taste when there is a "reddish" hue to the chocolate colour in the cake which shows that the flavour compounds have been fully extracted from the cocoa.

I really like the simple elegant look of this treat.

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Cherry coconut cream popovers
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I thought I would do flavoured popovers as an experiment, I used the recipe that Renata linked to and substituted the cow's milk with coconut cream and used some home-made sour cherry extract also I accidentally used my 5% cake flour which I don't think was the correct choice for this recipe. They smelt wonderful while baking. I think I will have to do them again since the coconut cream made the batter too heavy for the popovers to rise correctly. Even if they sunk once out of the oven they tasted delicious. I think I will use coconut milk for my next batch and see if that will correct the heaviness of the batter.
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Cherry coconut milk popovers
I made another batch of popovers using coconut milk and less cherry extract they worked out beautifully they rose about three times in height and had one large central hole in the popover perfect for filling with some lovely flavoursome morsel. See this recipe but replace the milk with coconut milk and 1 tablespoon of cherry extract. Also I baked them in a preheated very hot oven 450F for 15 mins and then 400F for 20 mins. I used 1/2 cup aluminium baking pans filled about 3/4 with the rested (30 mins) batter.

Popovers
1 cup plain (AP)flour (bread flour is best, I used AP flour for the recipe)
1 cup milk or coconut milk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon non-flavoured oil
extra oil, for the popover baking pans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sugar
Optional 1 tablespoon extract; vanilla, cherry etc

Directions
1. Place a small amount of oil in each popover baking pan. Place pans onto a baking sheet.
2. Preheat oven with the baking pans on a baking sheet to very hot 450F/230C.
3. Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl.
4. Form a well in the flour pour in the milk and the eggs whisk together until just combined with no lumps. I usually transfer the mixed batter to a jug with a long narrow spout which makes pouring out the batter much easier
5. Rest the batter on counter for at least 15 mins (an hour is best). Do not stir again. DO NOT refrigerate the batter.
6. Quickly remove the baking sheet and pour the batter into each pan about 3/4 full. The batter should sputter in the oil. Return to oven.
7. Bake in the preheated very hot 450F/230C oven for 15 min then lower the heat to hot 400F/200C and bake for a further 20-25 mins until risen and well coloured. DO NOT OPEN the oven during this time.
8. Remove from the oven and pierce a small hole into the side of the popover this allows steam to escape return the popover to the cooling oven to dry out completely which stops the popover from collapsing.

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          February 2012 Daring Cooks' Challenge: Flipping Fried Patties!!!        
Hi it is Lisa and Audax and we are hosting this month's Daring Cooks' challenge we have chosen a basic kitchen recipe and a basic cooking technique which can be adapted to suit any ingredient that you have to hand and are beloved by children and adults alike … of course we are talking about patties.
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Technically patties are flatten discs of ingredients held together by (added) binders (usually eggs, flour or breadcrumbs) usually coated in breadcrumbs (or  flour) then fried (and sometime baked). Burgers, rissoles, croquettes, fritters, and rösti are types of patties as well.

Irish chef Patrick "Patty" Seedhouse is said to have come up with the original concept and term as we know it today with his first production of burgers utilizing steamed meat pattys - the pattys were "packed and patted down" (and called pattys for short) in order to shape a flattened disc that would enflame with juices once steamed.

The binding of the ingredients in patties follows a couple of simple recipes (there is some overlap in the categories below)
Patties – patties are ingredients bound together and shaped as a disc.
Rissoles and croquettes – use egg with breadcrumbs as the binder, typical usage for 500 grams (1 lb) of filling ingredients is 1 egg with ½ cup of breadcrumbs (sometimes flour, cooked grains, nuts and bran can be used instead of the breadcrumbs). Some meat patties use no added binders in them they rely on the protein strands within the meat to bind the patty together.  Vegetarian and vegan patties may use mashed vegetables, mashed beans, grains, nuts and seeds to bind the patty. Generally croquettes are crumbed (breaded) patties which are  shallow- or deep-fried. Rissoles are not usually crumbed (but can be) and are pan- or shallow-fried. Most rissoles and croquettes can be baked.  (Examples are all-meat patties, hamburgers, meat rissoles, meatloaves, meatballs, tuna fish and rice patties, salmon and potato rissoles, most vegetable patties.)
Wet Fritters – use flour, eggs and milk as the binder, typical usage for 500 grams (1 lb) of filling ingredients is 2 cups flour, 1 egg with 1 cup of milk and are usually deep-fried and sometimes pan-fried  (examples deep fried apple fritters, potato fritters, some vegetable fritters, hushpuppies)
Dry Fritters – use eggs and (some) flour as the binder, typical usage for 500 grams  (1 lb) of filling ingredients is 1 to 2 eggs and (usually) some 2 to 8 tablespoons of flour (but sometimes no flour) and are pan- or shallow- fried. (examples most vegetable patties like zucchini fritters, Thai fish cakes, crab cakes, NZ whitebait fritters)
Röstis – use eggs (sometimes with a little flour) as the binder for the grated potato, carrot and other root vegetables, typical usage for 500 grams (1 lb) of filling ingredients is one egg yolk (potato rösti).

Sautéing, stir frying, pan frying, shallow frying, and deep frying use different amounts fat to cook the food. Sautéing uses the least amount of oil (a few teaspoons) while deep frying uses (many many cups) the most oil. The oil helps lubricate (sometimes adds flavour) the food being fried so it will not stick to the pan and helps transfer heat to the food being cooked.

In particular, as a form of cooking patties, pan- and shallow-frying relies on oil of the correct temperature to seal the surface (so retaining moisture) and to heat the interior ingredients (so binding them together) so cooking the patty. The exposed topside of the patty while cooking allows, unlike deep frying, some moisture loss and contact with the pan bottom with the patty creates greater browning on the contact surface that is the crust of the patty is browned and the interior is cooked by pan- and shallow-frying. Because the food is only being cooked on one side while being pan- or shallow-fried, the food must be flipped at least once to totally cook the patty.

So this month's challenge is to pan- or shallow-fry a patty, so giving us the title for this challenge “flipping fried patties”.

This challenge will help you understand how to form, what binders to use, and how to fry a patty so that it is cooked to picture perfect perfection.

Recipe Source:  Audax adapted a number of popular recipes to come up with the challenge patty recipes and Lisa has chosen to share two recipes – California Turkey Burger adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, and French Onion Salisbury Steak adapted from Cuisine at Home magazine.

Blog-checking lines:  The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness!  We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

Posting Date:  February 14th, 2012

Download the printable .pdf file HERE



Notes:
     
  • Binders
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  • Eggs – are found in most patty recipes it acts as a binder, use cold eggs and lightly beat them before using  If you cannot use eggs try this tip  "1/4 cup of silken tofu, blended, or a commercial egg re-placer powder mixed with warm water."
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  • Flour – normal plain (all-purpose) flour is used in most fritter recipes it can be replaced with rice, corn or potato flours (in smaller quantities) in some recipes. If you want some rise in your patties then use self-raising flour or add some baking powder to the flour. 
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  • Breadcrumb Preparation – breadcrumbs are a common ingredient in patties, burgers and fritters they act as a binding agent, ensuring the patty keeps it shape during the cooking process.
  •  
    • Fresh breadcrumbs – these crumbs are made at home with stale bread simply remove the crusts from one- or two-day old bread, break bread into pieces, place pieces in a blender or food processor then blend or process until fine. Store any excess in a plastic bag in the freezer. 1 cup of fresh crumbs = 3 slices of bread.
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    • Packaged breadcrumbs – often called dry breadcrumbs, these are used to make a crisp coating on the burgers, patties and fritters they are easily found in the supermarket, You can make them at home. Place slices of one- or two-day bread on baking trays, bake in the oven on the lowest setting until slices are crisp and pale brown. Cool bread, break pieces in a blender or food processor then blend or process until fine. 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs = 4 slices of bread.
     
  • Alternate binders – bran (oat, wheat, rice, barley etc) can be used instead of breadcrumbs in most recipes. Tofu (silken) can replace the egg. Also using mashed potato (or sweet potato, carrots, most root vegetables) and/or mashed beans can help bind most patties. Of course chickpea flour and most other flours can be used to help bind patties. Seeds, nuts and grains can help bind a patty especially when the patty has cooled after cooking. These binders are used in vegan recipes.
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  • Moisteners – Mayonnaise and other sauces, pesto and mustard are used in some meat patty recipes mainly for moisture and flavour but they can act as binders as well. For vegetable patties you can use chopped frozen spinach, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, shredded apple and cooked grains to add extra moisture. Also sour cream and other milk products are used to increase the tenderness of patties.

     
  • Patty Perfection
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  • When making meat patties the higher the fat content of the meat, the more the patties shrink during cooking this is especially true for ground (minced) red meat. Make patties larger than the bun they are to be served on to allow for shrinkage.
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  • For hamburgers keep the fat content to about 20 - 30% (don't use lean meat) this ensures juicy patties when cooked. Also use coarse freshly ground meat (if possible) to make patties, if the mixture is ground too fine the large patties will break apart since the protein strands are too short and are covered in fat and can only bind to nearby ingredients so when the large patty is cooked it will fall apart or be too dense. Compare this behaviour with small amounts of finely ground lean meat (almost a paste) where the protein can adhere to itself (since the protein chains are short, not covered in fat and all the ingredients are nearby) hence forming a small stable patty (lamb kofta, Asian chicken balls, prawn balls).
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  • Patty mixtures should be kept cold as possible when preparing them and kept cold until you  cook them the cold helps bind the ingredients together.
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  • Don't over-mix the ingredients the resultant mixture will be heavy and dense.
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  • For meat patties chop, mince, grate the vegetable ingredients fairly finely, if too coarse the patties will break apart.
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  • Patties made mostly of meat (good quality hamburgers and rissoles) should be seasoned just before the cooking process, if salted too early liquid can be drawn out of the patty.
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  • Make all the patties the same size so they will cook at the same rate. To get even-sized patties, use measuring cups or spoons to measure out your mixture.
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  • For patties use your hands to combine the ingredients with the binders, mix gently until the mixture comes cleanly from the sides of the mixing bowl. Test that the final mixture forms a good patty (take a small amount in your palm and form into a ball it should hold together) before making the whole batch. Add extra liquid or dry binder as needed. Cook the test patty to check for seasoning, add extra if needed then cook the rest of the batch. 
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  • Usually patties should be rested (about an hour) before cooking they “firm” up during this time, a good technique to use if your patty is soft. Always wrap patties they can dry out if left in the fridge uncovered.
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  • Dampen your hands when shaping patties so the mixture won't stick to your fingers.
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  • If making vegetable patties it is best to squeeze the grated/chopped/minced vegetables to remove any excess liquid this is most important for these types of patties.
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  • When making fritters shred your vegetables because it makes long strands that gives a strong lattice for the patties. A food processor  or a box grater is great to use here.
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  • For veggie patties make sure your ingredients are free of extra water. Drain and dry your beans or other ingredients thoroughly before mashing. You can even pat them gently dry with a kitchen cloth or paper towel.
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  • Vegetable patties lack the fat of meat patties so oil the grill when BBQing them so the patty will not stick.
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  • Oil all-meat burgers rather than oiling the barbecue or grill pan – this ensures the burgers don’t stick to the grill allowing them to sear well. If they sear well in the first few minutes of cooking they’ll be golden brown and juicy. To make it easy brush the burgers with a brush dipped in oil or easier still use a spray can of oil.
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  • If you only have very lean ground beef try this tip from the Chicago Tribune newspaper  “To each 1 lb (½ kg) of ground beef add 2 tablespoons of cold water (with added salt and pepper) and 2 crushed ice cubs, form patties.” it really does work.
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  • A panade, or mixture of bread crumbs and milk, will add moisture and tenderness to meat patties when the burgers are cooked well-done.
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  • For vegetable patties it is best to focus on one main ingredient then add some interesting flavour notes to that major taste (examples carrot and caraway patties, beetroot, feta and chickpea fritters etc) this gives a much bolder flavour profile than a patty of mashed “mixed” vegetables which can be bland.
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  • Most vegetable  and meat/vegetable patties just need a light coating of seasoned breadcrumbs. Lightly pat breadcrumbs onto the surface of the patty there is enough moisture and binders on the surface of the patty to bind the breadcrumbs to the patty while it is cooking. You can use wheatgerm, bran flakes, crushed breakfast cereals, nuts and seeds to coat the patty.
  •  
  • Use fine packet breadcrumbs as the coating if you want a fine smooth crust on your patties use coarser fresh breadcrumbs as the coating if you want a rougher crisper crust on your patty.
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  • Flip patties once and only once, over-flipping the patty results in uneven cooking of the interior and allows the juices to escape.
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  • Don't press the patties when they are cooking you'll squeeze out all of the succulent juices.
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  • Rest patties a while before consuming.

     
  • Shaping the patty
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  • Shaping – Shape the patty by pressing a ball of mixture with your clean hands it will form a disc shape which will crack and break up around the edges. What you want to do is press down in the middle and in from the sides, turning the patty  around in your hand until it is even and uniform. It should be a solid disc that is firm. Handle the mixture gently, use a light touch and don’t make them too compacted. Rather than a dense burger, which is difficult to cook well, aim for a loosely formed patty that holds together but is not too compressed.
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  • Depressing the centre – When patties cook, they shrink (especially red meat burgers). As they shrink the edges tend to break apart causing deep cracks to form in the patty. To combat this you want the burger patty to be thinner in the middle than it is around the edges. Slightly depress the center of the patty to push a little extra mixture towards the edges. This will give you an even patty once it is cooked.  

     
  • Shallow- and pan-frying 
  •  
  • Preheat the pan or BBQ.
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  • Generally when shallow-frying patties use enough oil that it comes halfway up the sides of the food. Best for most meat and vegetable patties and where the ingredients in the patty are uncooked.
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  • Generally when pan-frying use enough oil to cover the surface of the pan best for most vegetable patties where all the ingredients are precooked (or cook very quickly) and all-meat rissoles and hamburgers.
  •  
  • Most oils are suitable for shallow- and pan-frying but butter is not it tends to burn. Butter can be used in combination with oil. Low-fat spreads cannot be used to shallow fry as they contain a high proportion of water. Rice bran oil is a great choice since it is almost tasteless and has a very high smoke point of 490°F/254°C. The smoke point is when the oil starts to break down into bitter fatty acids and produces a bluish smoke, Canola (smoke point 400°F/204°C) is also a great choice. Butter has a smoke point of 250–300°F/121–149°C. Olive oil Extra light 468°F/242°C. Olive oil Extra virgin 375°F/191°C. Ghee (Clarified Butter) 485°F/252°C.   
  •  
  • Do not overload the frying pan which allows steam to be trapped near the cooking food which might lead to the patties being steamed instead of fried. If you place too many patties at once into the preheated pan this reduces the heat and the patties will then release juices and begin to stew. Leave some space between each when you place them in the pan.
  •  
  • For most patties preheat the oil or fat until the oil seems to shimmer or a faint haze rises from it, but take care not to let it get so hot it smokes. If the oil is too cool before adding the patties, it will be absorbed by the food making the patty soggy. If the oil is too hot then the crumb coating will burn before the interior ingredients are cooked and/or warmed through. For vegetable and meat/vegetable patties start off cooking in a medium hot skillet and then reduce the heat to medium.  For all-meat patties start off cooking in a very hot skillet and then reduce the heat to hot, as celebrity chef Bobby Flay says that “the perfect [meat] burger should be a contrast in textures, which means a tender, juicy interior and a crusty, slightly charred exterior. This is achieved by cooking the meat [patty] directly over very hot heat, rather than the indirect method preferred for slow barbecues”. All patties should sizzle when they are placed onto the preheated pan.
  •  
  • Cast iron pans are best to fry patties.
  •  
  • When the raw patty hits the hot cooking surface it will stick. And will stay so until the patty crust forms so causing a non-stick surface on the patty at this point you can lift the patty easily without sticking. So wait until the patties (with a gentle shaking of the pan or a light finger-twist of the patty) release themselves naturally from the frying pan surface (maybe a minute or two for meat patties maybe 3-6 minutes for a vegetable patty).  If you try to flip it too early the burger will fall apart. The secret is to wait for the the patty to naturally release itself from the pan surface then flip it over once.
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  • Veggie burgers will firm up significantly as they cool.
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  • Most vegetable patties can be baked in the oven.
  •  
  • Check the temperature of the oil by placing a few breadcrumbs into the pan they should take 30 seconds to brown.
  •  
  • If you need to soak up excess oil place the patties on a rack to drain, do not place onto paper towels since steam will be trapped which can make the patty soggy, if you need to just press off the excess oil with paper towels then place onto a rack.



Mandatory Items: Make a batch of pan- or shallow-fried (or baked) patties.

Variations allowed:  Any variation on a patty is allowed. You can use the recipes provided or make your own recipe.

Preparation time:
Patties: Preparation time less than 60 minutes. Cooking time less than 20 minutes.

Equipment required:
Large mixing bowl
Large stirring spoon
Measuring cup
Frying pan

Basic Canned Fish and Rice Patties


Servings: makes about ten ½ cup  patties
Recipe can be doubled
adapted from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/17181/tuna+rissoles

This is one my favourite patty recipes I make it once a week during the holidays. It is most important that you really mix and mash the patty ingredients well since the slightly mashed rice helps bind the patty together. 

Ingredients:
1 can (415 gm/15 oz) pink salmon or tuna or sardines, (not packed in oil) drained well
1 can (340 gm/13 oz) corn kernels, drained well
1 bunch spinach, cooked, chopped & squeezed dry or 60 gm/2 oz thawed frozen spinach squeezed dry
2 cups (300 gm/7 oz) cooked white rice (made from 2/3 cups of uncooked rice)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
about 3 tablespoons (20 gm/2/3 oz) fine packet breadcrumbs for binding
3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil, for frying
2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) hot chilli sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oyster sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sweet chilli sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup (60 gm/2 oz) seasoned fine packet bread crumbs to cover patties

Directions:
1) Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl.
2) Mix and mash using your hands or a strong spoon the ingredients with much force (while slowly adding tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the patty mixture) until the mixture starts to cling to itself about 4 minutes the longer you mix and mash the more compacted the final patty.  Day-old cold rice works best (only needs a tablespoon of breadcrumbs or less) but if the rice is hot or warm you will need more breadcrumbs to bind the mixture. Test the mixture by forming a small ball it should hold together. Cook the test ball adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) of the mixture to taste.   
3) Form patties using a ½ cup measuring cup.
4) Cover in seasoned breadcrumbs.
5) Use immediately or can be refrigerated covered for a few hours.
6) Preheat fry pan (cast iron is best) to medium hot add 1½ tablespoons of oil and heat until the oil shimmers place the patties well spaced out onto the fry pan lower heat to medium.
7) Pan fry for about 3 minutes each side for a thin lightly browned crust about 10 minutes for a darker thicker crisper crust. Wait until the patties can be released from the pan with a shake of the pan or a light turning of the patty using your fingers before flipping over to cook the other side of the patty add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil when you flip the patties. Flip only once. You can fry the sides of the patty if you want brown sides on your patty.

Pictorial Guide
Some of the ingredients
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Starting to mix the patty mixture           
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About ready to be tested
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The test ball to check if the mixture will hold together
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Form patties using a ½ cup measuring cup
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Crumb (bread) the patties                   
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Cover and refrigerate


Preheat frying pan add oil wait until the oil shimmers add patties well spaced out onto the pan
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Wait until the patties can be released by a light shaking of the pan or by finger-turning the patty and then flip the patties over add some extra oil (these were fried for 10 minutes)
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Enjoy picture perfect patties
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This patty was pan-fried on my cast iron fry pan notice the shiny very crisp crust as compared to the patty above
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Zucchini, prosciutto & cheese fritters


Servings: makes about 8-10 two inch (five cm) fritters
Recipe can be doubled
adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/08/zucchini-fritters/

This makes a great light lunch or a lovely side dish for dinner. 

Ingredients:
500 gm (½ lb) zucchini (two medium)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (7 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml) (60 g/2 oz) grated cheese, a strong bitty cheese is best
5 slices (30 gm/1 oz) prosciutto, cut into small pieces
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm/2½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour plus ½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted together
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chilli paste
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) black pepper, freshly cracked
2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil, for frying

Directions:
     
  • Grate the zucchini with a box grater or food processor. Place into large bowl, add salt, wait 10 minutes.
  •  
  • While waiting for the zucchini, pan fry the prosciutto pieces until cooked. Remove from pan and place prosciutto onto rack this will crisp up the prosciutto when it cools. Paper towels tend to make prosciutto soggy if left on them.
  •  
  • When zucchini is ready wrap in a cloth and squeeze dry with as much force as you can you will get a lot of liquid over ½ cup, discard liquid it will be too salty to use.
  •  
  • Return dried zucchini to bowl add prosciutto, cheese, pepper, sifted flour and baking powder, chilli paste, pepper, a little salt and the lightly beaten eggs.
  •  
  • Mix until combined if the batter is too thick you can add water or milk or another egg, if too wet add some more flour. It should be thick and should not flow when placed onto the frying pan.
  •  
  • Preheat a frying pan (cast iron is best) until medium hot, add 1/3 of the oil wait until it shimmers.
  •  
  • Place dollops of batter (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the fry pan widely spaced out, with the back of a spoon smooth out each dollop to about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, do not make the fritters too thick. You should get three or four fritters in the average-sized fry pan. Lower heat to medium
  •  
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes the first side, flip, then fry the other side about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Repeat for the remaining batter. Adding extra oil as needed.
  •  
  • Place cooked fritters into a moderate oven on a baking dish for 10 minutes if you want extra crispy fritters.


Pictures of process – fresh zucchini, grated zucchini, liquid released from salted and squeezed dry zucchini, ingredients for the fritters, fritter batter and frying the fritters.
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Cooked fritters
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California Turkey Burger


Servings: makes about 10 burgers
Recipe can be doubled
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine September 2005:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/california-burgers-10000001097016/

Sauce:
½ cup (120 ml) ketchup
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fat-free mayonnaise

Patties:
½ cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped shallots
¼ cup (60 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon (¾ gm) freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1¼ lbs (600 gm) ground turkey
1¼ lbs (600 gm) ground turkey breast
Cooking spray

Remaining ingredients:
10 (2-ounce/60 gm) hamburger buns
10 red leaf lettuce leaves
20 bread-and-butter pickles
10 (1/4-inch thick/5 mm thick) slices red onion, separated into rings
2 peeled avocados, each cut into 10 slices
3 cups (750 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) alfalfa sprouts

Directions:
1. Prepare the grill to medium-high heat.
2. To prepare sauce, combine first 3 ingredients; set aside.
3. To prepare patties, combine shallots and the next 7 ingredients (through turkey breast), mixing well. Divide mixture into 10 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick (1¼ cm thick) patty. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done.
4. Spread 1 tablespoon sauce on top half of each bun. Layer bottom half of each bun with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 patty, 2 pickles, 1 onion slice, 2 avocado slices, and about 1/3 cup of sprouts. Cover with top halves of buns.                                                                                                         

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Yield:  10 servings (serving size: 1 burger) - Nutritional Information – CALORIES 384(29% from fat); FAT 12.4g (sat 2.6g,mono 5.1g,poly 2.8g); PROTEIN 31.4g; CHOLESTEROL 68mg; CALCIUM 94mg; SODIUM 828mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 37.5g
Lisa’s Notes:
Nutritional information provided above is correct for the recipe as written.  When I make these burgers, the only ingredients I change are using regular mayo, and dill pickles.  My red lettuce of choice is radicchio.  I’ve both grilled and pan fried these burgers and both are delicious.  If you decide to pan fry, you’ll need a little extra fat in the pan – so use about 2 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil, or canola oil before laying your patties on the pan.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until done.  Do not overcook as the patties will dry out and not be as juicy and tasty! :)

French Onion Salisbury Steak


Courtesy of Cuisine at Home April 2005 edition
Makes 4 Steaks; Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb (600 gm) ground chuck 
1/4 cup (60 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (⅓ oz/10 gm) scallion (spring onions), minced
1 teaspoon (5ml) (3 gm) kosher salt or ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) table salt
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) black pepper
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (½ oz/18 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 cups (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) onions, sliced
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (⅓ oz/10 gm) garlic, minced
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) tomato paste
2 cups (240 ml) beef broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine
3/4 teaspoon (2 gm) kosher salt or a little less than ½ teaspoon (2 gm) table salt
1/2 teaspoon  (2½ ml) (1½ gm) dried thyme leaves
4 teaspoons (20 ml) (⅓ oz/10 gm) fresh parsley, minced
4 teaspoons (20 ml)  (2/3 oz/20 gm) Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cheese Toasts
4 slices French bread or baguette, cut diagonally (1/2" thick) (15 mm thick)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 ml/1 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (2 gm) garlic, minced
Pinch of paprika
1/4 cup (60 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) Swiss cheese, grated (I used 4 Italian cheese blend, shredded)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (⅓ oz/10 gm) Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
1. Combine chuck, parsley, scallion, salt and pepper. Divide evenly into 4 portions and shape each into 3/4"-1" (20-25 mm) thick oval patties. Place 2 tablespoons flour in a shallow dish; dredge each patty in flour. Reserve 1 teaspoon flour.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add patties and sauté 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan.
3. Add onions and sugar to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste; sauté 1 minute, or until paste begins to brown. Sprinkle onions with reserved flour; cook 1 minute. Stir in broth and wine, then add the salt and thyme.
4. Return meat to pan and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
5. Serve steaks on Cheese Toasts with onion soup ladled over. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan.

For the Cheese Toasts
6. Preheat oven to moderately hot 200°/400ºF/gas mark 6.
7. Place bread on baking sheet.
8. Combine butter, garlic and paprika and spread on one side of each slice of bread. Combine cheeses and sprinkle evenly over butter. Bake until bread is crisp and cheese is bubbly, 10-15 minutes.

French Onion Salisbury Steak
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Potato Rösti


Servings: makes two large rösti
adapted from a family recipe

The classic rösti; cheap, easy and so tasty.

Ingredients:
1 kg (2½ lb) potatoes
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (6 gm) black pepper, freshly milled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (½ oz/15 gm) cornflour (cornstarch) or use all-propose flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) oil, for frying

Directions:
     
  1. Grate lengthwise the peeled potatoes with a box grater or a food processor.
  2.  
  3. Wrap the grated potato in a cloth and squeeze dry, you will get a lot of liquid over ½ cup, discard liquid since it is full of potato starch.
  4.  
  5. Return dried potato to bowl add the egg, cornflour, pepper, and salt.
  6.  
  7. Mix until combined.
  8.  
  9. Preheat a frying pan (cast iron is best) until medium hot, add 2 teaspoons of oil wait until oil shimmers.
  10.  
  11. Place half of mixture into the pan, flatten with a spoon until you get a smooth flat surface. Lower heat to medium.
  12.  
  13. Fry for 8-10 minutes (check at 6 minutes) the first side, flip by sliding the rösti onto a plate then use another plate invert the rösti then slide it back into the pan, then fry the other side about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Repeat to make another rösti


Pictures of process – Peel 1 kg spuds, grate lengthwise, squeeze dry, add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons starch, salt and pepper. Pan fry.
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Pictures of the grated potato before (left) and after (right) squeezing dry. Notice in the left hand pictures the gratings are covered in moisture and starch, while in the right hand pictures the grated potato is dry and doesn't stick together.
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Pictures of the finished small rösti
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Pictures of the large rösti
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Chicken, potato and corn patties
I had some leftover chicken legs and boiled potatoes from dinner last night so I made up some patties. The patties are made from 1 kilogram of finely grated cold boiled potatoes, 4 chicken legs meat removed and finely chopped, and one can of corn kernels. The binder was one egg and 1/4 cup of self-raising wholewheat flour.

The crumbed (breaded) patties waiting to be pan fried
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Patties pan frying
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The finished patties
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Meatballs
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I made meatballs using high quality ground veal and pork (30% fat) I didn't use any binders in the mixture just a little seasoning chilli, garlic and dried mushroom powder.

The meatballs waiting to be fried
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Frying the meatballs
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The finished meatballs
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Of course I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner so so delicious
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Thai Fish Cakes
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I adore Thai fish cakes but I have never really made them I was surprised how simple it is if you have a very strong food processor. Basically you make a paste from 1/2 kg (1 lb) of white fillet fish (I used catfish (basa) fillets) with 1 egg and 6 tablespoons of flavourings (a combination of 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp chilli, 2 Tbsp red curry paste, 1 Tbsp coconut cream, 1 Tbsp chilli crab flakes, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp shrimp paste, a few spices), 6 kaffir lime leaves and 2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon of baking powder, you form small patties (each 2 tablespoons) from the paste and pan fry until cooked. These are just as good as the cafe ones I buy and only cost about 30 cents each instead of $1.90 at the cafe. A good basic recipe for Thai fish cakes is here http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaiseafoodrecipes/r/classicfishcakes.htm I added some extra baking powder and cornflour to the basic recipe since it makes the cakes rise and the interiors are light and fluffy. Super tasty and so cute.

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Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Most rissoles, croquettes and dry fritters keep well for three or four days if covered and kept in the fridge. Uncooked and cooked rissoles and croquettes can be frozen for at least one month.

Additional Information: 
An index of Aussie patty recipes http://www.taste.com.au/search-recipes/?q=patties&publication=
An index of Aussie rissole recipes http://www.taste.com.au/search-recipes/?q=rissoles&publication=
An index of American patty recipes http://allrecipes.com/Search/Recipes.aspx?WithTerm=patty%20-peppermint%20-dressing&SearchIn=All&SortBy=Relevance&Direction=Descending
An index of American burger recipes http://busycooks.about.com/cs/easyentrees/a/burgers.htm 
A great vegetable and chickpea recipe http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2006/06/vegetable-and-chickpea-patties-recipe.html
A baked vegetable patty recipe http://patternscolorsdesign.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/baked-vegetable-patties/
Vegetable patty recipes http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/veggie-burger-recipe.html
Best ever beet(root) and bean patty http://www.thekitchn.com/restaurant-reproduction-bestev-96967
Ultimate veggie burgers http://ask.metafilter.com/69336/How-to-make-awesome-veggie-burgers
One of best zucchini fritter recipes http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/08/zucchini-fritters/ 
Old School Meat rissoles http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2008/07/rissoles-recipe.html
How to form a patty video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHutN-u6jZc
Top 12 vegetable patty recipes http://vegetarian.about.com/od/veggieburgerrecipes/tp/bestburgers.htm
Ultimate Meat Patties Video http://www.chow.com/videos/show/youre-doing-it-all-wrong/55028/how-to-make-a-burger-with-hubert-keller
Beautiful vegetable fritters so pretty http://helengraves.co.uk/tag/beetroot-feta-and-chickpea-fritters-recipe/   
Information about veggie patties http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2011/08/veggie-burger-test-kitchen-and-lemon.html  

Disclaimer:
The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”.  If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it.  If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with.  Thank you! :)
          January, 2012 Daring Baker Challenge: Back to Basics:Scones (Biscuits)        
Introduction:  Hi my name is Audax from Audax Artifex (yes this web site). Whenever I visit my sister and her family in S.E. Queensland Australia she always welcomes me with a fresh batch of my favourite baked treat which we devour gleefully with cups of tea while we chat and catch up with the events in our lives.

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The treat that I'm talking about is the basic scone (also know as baking powder biscuits in North America) my sister really knows how to make them, they are wondrously light with soft sides and a lovely airy crumb – superb with jam and cream. This month I want the Daring Bakers' to share my delight and I invite you to bake a batch of scones to enjoy with friends and family.

For our North American members I wish to clarify what this challenge is all about and try to avoid any confusions. Scones in North American are nearly always triangular in shape have a slightly crisp crust usually covered in sugar and have a soft interior crumb and sometimes are laced with dried fruit (these baked goods in Australia and England are called “rock cakes” since they are usually made to look like “rocky” cakes not wedges), meanwhile biscuits in North American are a round shaped buttery slightly flaky baked good usually eaten with meals (these items in Australia and England are called “scones” and are eaten with butter and jam usually with cups of tea or coffee as a sweet snack). So this challenge (using the North American name) is to make biscuits. Or using the Australian or English name this challenge is to make scones.

To further clarify for our North American bakers this month's challenge is to make biscuits (also called baking powder biscuits) if you choose to make your biscuits using buttermilk as the liquid you are making what are known as “Southern” Biscuits which are one of the most famous examples of home cooking in the Southern States of America (that is they are a baking powder biscuit made with buttermilk). In Australia and England “Southern” Biscuits would be called buttermilk scones. So restating the above, the challenge is to make scones (using the Australian/English name) or to make  biscuits (using the North American name). Incidentally if you use cream as your liquid in the challenge recipe the final baked good would be called a cream biscuit in North America or a cream scone in Australia and England.  

Scones (biscuits) contain only a small number of ingredients they are fast to make, quick to bake, only cost cents per batch and most importantly are super FUN to eat. In England and Australia scones are eaten with jam and butter usually with cups of tea or coffee mostly as a sweet snack, while in North America they are usually eaten with meals as a savoury side.

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Of course scones (biscuits) have a notorious reputation as being difficult for some people to make  comments like “hockey pucks”, “These made great door-stops ” and the like fill the comment sections of most recipe websites. You see scones (can be said as a rhyme with cone and also can be said as a rhyme with gone) are a type of quick bread that is a white flour dough that is raised using chemical agents usually baking powder and/or baking soda. Basic scones contain flour, raising agent(s), butter (or shortening or lard), salt, and milk (or buttermilk or soured milk or cream). Most recipes just say to “rub the fat into the flour” then combine the dry and wet ingredients until “gathered together” and then “lightly knead” the gathered mixture until a soft dough forms, then “roll or pat” out this dough and then “cut” out rounds and bake them in a hot oven. Well how hard could it really be I thought uh-mm as you can see below my first batch wasn't the greatest success … they didn't raise at all and the texture was barely OK I thought … I was left wondered what I had done wrong …   

My first attempt at scones (really pretty terrible I thought, no height no tenderness and no flakiness)

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So after studying many many (288 websites bookmarked) scone/biscuit recipes and the bakers' comments about these recipes and after doing 16 batches! myself I have acquired a lot of information to help you master the techniques involved I hope that at the end of this challenge that you will be able to make a good if not great scone (biscuit).

After much research and many attempts …  finally some scones (the 14th, 15th and 16th batches) that I wouldn't mind sharing with my sister.

The Classic Australian scone ring (Aussie Damper) – the crumb is very similar to bread
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Cheese and chives scones – a “sky-high” light and tender scone flavoured with cheese and chives
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The classic Southern Biscuit (buttermilk scone) – a superbly flaky scone made with buttermilk and laminated to form distinct layers when baked
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Fairy Ring
As I mentioned in the challenge posting in Australia and England scones are usually eaten as a sweet treat (with butter and jam) with cups of tea on that theme while doing my research for this challenge I thought I would do a variation on the sweet side of the scone. Here is one recipe that is suitable for kids and adults when you want something special and sweet yet can be made at a moment's notice.

In Australia one of the most popular children's party food item is fairy bread. This is a variation of fairy bread called Fairy Ring made with an Aussie Scone (Damper) ring laced with 100s and 1000s then iced (with some icing sugar and a touch of lemon juice made into a sticky paste) then sprinkled with more 100s and 1000s (coloured sprinkles). My 9 year old niece went crazy with delight and literally squealed with glee when I showed her this Fairy Ring and say I made it especially for her.

Normal (Damper) Scone Ring
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Fairy Ring straight from the oven
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Completed Fairy Ring
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Hot Dog Buns
Here is a savoury variation, I made hot dog buns using the basic scone recipe. They worked out great I couldn't believe the crumb and they tasted great with the hot dog and relishes and I made them in under 15 minutes (once the oven was hot enough). I was very surprised how well the basic scone dough complimented savoury food.  
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Touch of Grace Scones
(Click on the title to go to a great posting about this recipe)
Here is the answer to dry biscuits this recipe is called "touch of grace" biscuits which uses a few simple techniques to create a super moist crumb. These scones are all about tenderness everything is designed to obtain the softest and most tender crumb possible. These are very different from the normal bread-like scones that Australians like with jam and cream. These would be perfect with a savoury meal. They were so buttery with a soft creamy crumb that literally melts in your mouth, the mouth feel is like clouds. As one reviewer lovingly opined "They're squat little puffs you'll want to grab, steaming, from a basket passed over fried chicken or bacon and eggs". The way I make them is slightly adapted from the original recipe,  I use a lot of very large pieces of butter and all buttermilk with very low gluten cake flour and some resting time in the fridge. Resting the dough after the buttermilk is stirred into the dry ingredients is essential you would never be able to form the soft balls of dough coated in flour that are the "rounds" in this case and keeping everything cold helps the baking process. While baking the large pieces of butter melt into the flour causing large air holes to form in the baked dough and since we use soft flour (6%) which cannot form flaky layers we thus obtain a feather-light creamy tender crumb infused with the maximum amount of butter that the dough can hold.
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These scones are made entirely from cake flour (6% gluten), I used 1 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 cup very large-sized butter pieces, about 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. I rubbed in butter making sure most of the fat/flour where large pea sized pieces. I rested the dough after I mixed in the wet ingredients for 10 minutes until cold, during this time the dough "firms" up making it possible to turn it out in one cohesive dough ball onto a lightly floured board. I formed a rectangle of the soft dough floured the top lightly then I stamped out rounds. You could feel the pieces of butter in the formed round The rounds are very soft but can be picked up and placed into the baking dish. Then I place the baking dish with all the formed rounds back in the fridge for 10 minutes until cold then bake. (This procedure is much easier than the original recipe's method and it gives as good results I think). As you can see the crumb is saturated with butter and has masses of large airy pockets to trap your favourite topping. Absolutely delicious.
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Raisin Scones
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I wanted to make one batch of flavoured scones I went with sweet raisins and some molasses in the dough. I rubbed in the butter until it was like fine sand and I used "OO" cake flour about 7% protein and some cornflour (cornstarch), I was very happy with the look of the baked scones and the crumb was very tender very much like bread which is what I wanted. These were very cute looking but to be honest I like plain scones much better.
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The bread like crumb of the scone so so tasty and soft.
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As you can see scones (biscuits) are all about technique since the scones pictured above used the same basic recipe. 

Recipe Source:  The challenge scone (biscuit) recipe has been especially formulated by Audax Artifex after a large amount of research and experimentation. It is designed to help you master the techniques involved in making scones (biscuits) exactly the way you like them. 

Blog-checking lines: Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

Posting Date:  January 27, 2012

Challenge Notes:
The Ingredients – since scones contain only a small number of ingredients each should be of the highest quality
Flour – lower gluten (i.e. soft) flours (about 9% or less protein) produce taller and lighter scones than normal plain (all-purpose) flour (about 10%+ protein). But to be honest it wasn't that great a difference so long you sifted the dry ingredients thoroughly at least three times. That is always triple sift the dry ingredients this will ensure that the flour is well aerated and the raising agents are evenly distributed so resulting in light scones. I found that finely milled soft “OO” flour gave the best results but don't worry you can get excellent results with sifted plain (all-purpose) flour. You can use self-raising flour if you wish (remember to leave out the raising agents and salt) in the recipe below it is important to triple sift the self-raising flour as well I like to add about ½ teaspoon of extra fresh baking powder per cup of self-raising flour to ensure a good lift in my scones. In the northern states of America and most of Canada all-purpose flour is generally very hard (high in protein) you can replace for each cup 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with cake flour  OR for each cup replace 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with cornflour (cornstarch). Or you can let the scones rest (20 mins) in the fridge before baking. 
Fat – unsalted butter gives the best flavour while lard gives the flakiest texture since it has a much higher melting point than butter so promoting a flaky texture in the final scones. The best compromise is to use a combination of the two in equal measure. I usually use all (unsalted) butter for flavour and health reasons. In most recipes the fat is rubbed into the flour using fingers or a pastry cutter (don't use two knives or forks since it takes too long to cut in the fat using this method). It is best to grate the butter using the coarse side of a box-grater and then freeze it until you need it. Freezing the butter prevents the fat from melting into the flour. The idea is to coat the fat particles with the flour. You are looking for a fat/flour combination that looks like very coarse bread crumbs with a few pieces of butter about the size of peas, the finer you make your fat pieces the more tender the crumb of your final scones. If you want very flaky scones then make the fat pieces large like Lima beans and only lightly coat them in the flour. If your kitchen is very hot you can refrigerate your flour so helping to keep the fat from melting. Don't freeze your flour as this will make it too difficult to rub the fat into the flour. (Typical usage about 1 to 8 tablespoons of fat per cup of flour).
Chemical raising agents – always use fresh raising agents, baking powder deteriorates within two months once the jar is opened, typical usage 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup. Baking powder nowadays is double action – there is an initial release of gas once the dry and wet ingredients are combined and there is another release of gas from the high heat of the oven. If you are using acidic ingredients (such as buttermilk, soured milk, honey, citrus juice, yoghurt, tomato sauce etc) then use an additional ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per cup of liquid to help neutralise the acid and make the final baked product raise correctly. Baking soda is much stronger (x4) in raising power than baking powder. You can make you own single action baking powder by triple sifting together one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar store in an airtight container. To check if your double action baking powder is fresh place 1/4 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of water it should bubble a lot, then microwave it for 30 secs it should bubble it again. To check your baking soda place 1/8 teaspoon into 1 tablespoon of vinegar (or lemon juice) it should bubble a lot. 
Liquid – you can use milk (any sort), buttermilk, soured milk, yoghurt, half-and-half, cream, coconut cream, soda water, even lemon-flavoured soda pop (soft drink) or a combination of these as the liquid in your scones. You can sour regular milk with a tablespoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice for every cup. Just stir it in and let it sit for 10 minutes or so to curdle. Typical usage is 1/3 to 1/2 cup of liquid per cup of flour.
Salt – a small amount of salt (about ¼ teaspoon per cup of flour)  helps improve the action of the raising agents and enhances the flavour of the scones.

The Equipment
Baking pans – use dark coloured heavy weight baking pans as these have the best heat distribution and really give a great raise to your baked goods. Many people like to use cast iron skillets for best results.
Measuring cups and spoons – try to accurately measure all ingredients especially if this is your first attempt at making scones (biscuits) remember to scoop the ingredient into the measure and level with a knife. If you can weigh the flour using scales even better.
Scone (biscuit) cutters – use a cutter that is made of sharp thin metal with straight sides and is open at both ends this ensures that the scone will raise straight and evenly and ensures the cut scone is easy to remove from the cutter without compressing the dough. Try to avoid using cutters with wavy sides, thick walled cups, glasses, metal lids, small jars or any cutter with only one opening since it is difficult to remove the cut scones from these without compressing the dough therefore leading to 'tougher' scones. If you cannot get a good cutter you can cut out squares or wedges etc using a sharp knife if you wish.
Rolling pins – most scone doughs are very soft (and wet) so can be easily patted out using your fingers. For a large amount of dough you can use a rolling pin remember to use light pressure from the centre outwards to form an even thickness of dough ready to be cut into scones. Avoid rolling back and forth over the same area as this can overwork the dough.    

The Techniques
Triple sift the dry ingredients – sift your dry ingredients from a height this permits plenty of air to be incorporated into the mixture which allows for maximum lightness in your scones and ensures even distribution of all the raising agents and other ingredients.
Rubbing in the fat – this is the stage where you can control how tender or flaky your final scone crumb will be. The more you coat your fat with flour and the smaller the particles of the final mixture, the more tender the end product because you’re retarding gluten formation in the flour (unfortunately the price you pay for this tenderness is that the final dough will be soft and might not raise very well since the gluten isn't developed enough to form a stable structure to trap the gases that are released when the dough is baked). Conversely the larger you leave the pieces of fat (the infamous "pea-sized" direction you always see in scone/biscuit recipes), the flakier the final scones will be (that is the gluten in this case is more developed but you might find that the final baked product is dry and the mouth feel of crumb could be too firm i.e. tough). So summarising the tenderness/flakiness of your scone is achieved in this stage by manipulating the size of the fat particles and how much of the flour is used to coat the fat (the more flour used to coat the fat promotes more tenderness while larger fat pieces promote more flakiness).  Either way quickly rub in the grated frozen fat into the dry ingredients using
1)your finger tips – as you lightly rub and pinch the fat into the flour, lift it up high and let it fall back down into the bowl, this means that air is being incorporated all the time, and air is what makes scones light, continue this until you have the desired sized flour/fat particles in the mixture, or
2)a cold pastry cutter – begin by rocking the pastry cutter into the fat and flour mixture continue rocking until all the fat is coated in flour and the desired sized flour/fat particles are obtained.
Moistening and bringing the dough together -  add nearly all of the liquid at once to the rubbed-in dry ingredients.  When mixing the dough (I use a soft plastic spatula, my sister uses a knife), stir with some vigour from the bottom to the top and mix just until the dough is well-moistened and begins to just come together it will be wet (and sticky). And remember the old saying – the wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits)!  
Handling the dough – as most people know it is important not to overwork the dough but what isn't appreciated is that under-working is almost as common a mistake as overworking. Look at my first attempt (the first photo in this article) at making the challenge recipe it is crumbly and a bit leaden and the crumb isn't flaky at all this is due to under-working the dough and making the flour/fat particles too small, it took me about six batches to understand this and not be afraid to handle the dough so the scone (biscuit) would raise correctly. Under-working causes as many problems as overworking. Overworking leads to tough, dry and heavy scones while under-working leads to crumbly leaden ones. If you are not happy with your baked goods look carefully at your final scones (biscuits) and decide if you have under- or over-worked your dough.
Kneading or folding/turning the dough – this is the stage where you can control whether or not your scone has distinct layers by 1) only kneading the dough (for no layering effect) or 2) only turning and folding the dough (for a layering effect).  As mentioned above given the same amounts of flour and fat, leaving larger pieces of fat equals more gluten formation and, therefore, flakiness. Leaving smaller pieces of fat equals less gluten formation and, therefore, tenderness. Your dough at this stage of the recipe will be a mixture of different gluten strengths since it is almost impossible to make a totally homogeneous dough at home. The major idea at this stage of the process is to exploit these gluten differences to achieve a desired degree of lamination (layering) in the final baked good. That is at this stage your dough (after you have added the liquid and mixed it until it just holds together), will have different layers of relatively gluten-rich (tougher) dough (the more floury parts of the dough), and layers of relatively gluten-free (tender-er) dough with small pieces of fat (the more fatty parts of the dough). So at this point if we only lightly knead the dough these layers will become less distinct which means the dough will become more homogeneous so producing a more even and more tender crumb when baked. But if at this stage you only fold and turn the dough (as shown below in pictures) over itself, these different layers will remain intact but will get thinner and thinner with each fold and turn, so when the fat melts and the liquid turns to steam in the oven, this steam pushes the tougher layers apart, leading to an overall flakiness and a layering effect in the scone crumb (see picture of the buttermilk biscuit above). So if you want an even more tender crumb just lightly knead (much like you would knead bread but with a very very light touch) the turned-out dough a few times until it looks smooth. If you want to form layers (laminations) in your final baked goods do a few folds and turns until it looks smooth. Always do at least one light knead to make the final dough structurally strong enough to raise and hold its shape whether you are aiming for a smooth tender crumb or a flaky layered crumb.
Pat or roll out the dough – since most scone (biscuit) doughs are soft (and sticky) it is best to use your fingers to gently pat out the dough once it has been kneaded or folded and turned. Use a very light touch with little pressure while forming the dough rectangle to be cut into rounds for the scones. If you want tall scones then pat out the dough tall, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch (2 cm to 2½ cm) thick is about right.
Cutting out your scones – use a well-floured scone (biscuit) cutter for each round that you stamp out from the dough. That is dip your cleaned cutter into fresh plain flour before each separate cut. Do not twist the cutter while stamping out the scone, push down firmly until you can feel the board then lift the cutter the round should stay inside the cutter then gently remove it from the cutter  and place the round onto the baking dish. You can use a sharp knife to cut out other shapes if you wish from the dough, also the knife should be floured before each cut as well. 
Baking your scones – always preheat your oven when baking scones. Place each scone almost touching onto the baking dish this encourages the scones to raise and also keeps the sides soft and moist. If you want crisp sides widely space your scones on the baking dish. Don’t over-bake your scones. Over-baking for even a minute or two will dry your scones out. As soon as the sides begin to turn brown and are set, remove them from the oven. Immediately, place the scones on a wire rack—the hot pan will continue to dry the scones.
Extra comments about resting the dough – I found in my researches that a number of respected sources mentioned resting the dough in various stages in the recipe. Surprisingly this advice is sound. I found that if you rested the just mixed dough (in the fridge) for 20 minutes there was a huge improvement in the dough's handling qualities and the final scones height, lightness and crumb were outstanding. Also I found that if you rest your patted out dough covered in plastic for 10 minutes in the fridge that the rounds are easier to stamp out and the final baked goods raise higher and have a better crumb. Also you can rest your stamped out rounds in the fridge for a couple of hours without harm so you can make your scones place them into the fridge and then at your leisure bake them later great for dinner parties etc. This is possible because modern baking powder is double action, i.e. there is another release of gas when you bake the rounds in the heat of the oven.

Troubleshooting  
Problems with bitter after-taste or dry chalky mouth-feel

The biggest problem that scone/biscuits can sometimes have is an after-taste (sometimes described as metallic or a salty chemical taste) or the mouthfeel is dry and chalky (i.e. the crumb is tough and doesn't have enough moisture).

If the problem is the after-taste try these tips
  • use freshly opened raising agents, many people claim old baking powder has a stronger taste
  • look for a single action baking powder (that only uses baking soda and cream of tar tar with a little cornflour) or make your own, since some double action baking powders can have metallic salts in them which some people can taste even in small quantities. Also keep in mind that homemade baking powder works faster and at a lower temperature, so put your recipe together quickly
  • look for a double action baking powder that uses non-metallic ingredients in it, check the ingredients listing on the packet.
  • use less baking powder
  • if you used an acidic liquid (buttermilk etc) and did not use some baking soda with the normal baking powder then some of the acid in the liquid wouldn't have been neutralised so leaving some salts behind causing the salty aftertase, that is make sure you are using the correct combination of agents for the liquids that you use, see the link below for full details about this. 
  • use only baking soda and an acidic liquid (buttermilk) like in the famous Irish Soda bread which very few people complain about having an aftertaste
  • use bakers' ammonium (available from King Arthur's flour) it was one of the most common chemical raising agents in the old days before modern baking powder, it smells like ammonia when baking but the ammonia smell totally dissipates and this chemical leaves nothing behind. I use it a lot in my baking it really gives baked goods that old-fashioned taste that people really can pick up on also it gives cookies extra crispness when baked.   

See here for a comprehensive posting on baking powder/baking soda and how to use them in recipes.
See here for the most interesting discussion on the use of baking soda and baking powder

If the problem is the mouthfeel try these tips
  • try smaller sized scones and bake them quickly in a very hot oven and make the dough wetter since large sized scones using a drier dough baked in a moderate oven will give you a dryer crumb therefore a dry chalky mouthfeel
  • over-handled dough will lead to a dry mouth
  • eat them immediately fresh out of the oven, scones do really suffer (they become dry and tough) when stored for any length of time
  • try using more fat about 1/4 cup+ per cup of flour - more fat gives moister crumb. Also try using all shortening, since shortening contains no water or milk solids it gives a very tender crumb.
  • use this great recipe they are called "a touch of grace" biscuits they are the most tender and moist biscuits (scones) that I have had.
  • some people claim that a very hot oven is best to start the baking process then lower the temperature to moderate to finish baking the scones

The problem lopsided scones
About lop-sided scones this is usually caused by uneven cutting out of the scone. Some hints
1. Clean and flour the scone cutter (by rubbing off any wet dough and then dipping the cutter into fresh flour the entire height of the cutter) every time you stamp out each round. Remember not to twist when you are stamping out the scones. If you are using a knife remember to clean and flour it for each cut.
2. Try to pat out or roll out the dough as evenly as possible.
3. Did you sift the dry ingredients three times? (uneven distribution of ingredients can lead to uneven scones).
4. Try to get the scone out of the cutter by applying gentle even pressure on the entire scone circumference that way you do not compress just one place so making that area less tender so raising less when cooked.
5. Turn the cut scone upside down onto the baking dish, since this side will be flatter than the patted out top surface.
6. Only glaze the tops of the scone, a small amount of liquid on the sides will inhibit raise in that area.
7. Some people like to use a fork and prick some holes in the top of the unbaked scones supposedly this helps the scone raise evenly.
8. Also some people like to use their thumb and press a small hollow into the top of the scone supposedly this helps the scone raise evenly.
9. A good article about "making the perfect scone" see here it goes through a lot of the best scone recipes by master bakers.
10. Try this recipe and its method from Bakers' 911 which seems to make straight-sided scones even from wavy-sided cutters

How to test baking soda
1. Place a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda into a tablespoon of vinegar it should bubble a lot.

How to test your single action baking powder
1. Place a teaspoon of baking powder into a cup, add 1/4 cup room temperature water it should bubble a lot.

How to test your double action baking powder
1. Place a teaspoon of baking powder into a cup, add 1/4 cup room temperature water it should bubble a lot.
2. Wait 30 secs and then place your cup into the microwave heat for about 30 secs until about 180F it should bubble again.
3. If it doesn't then discard and buy a new jar.

How to test your self-raising flour - add one tablespoon of S.R. flour into some hot water it should bubble a bit. Or try adding some vinegar and see if it bubbles. Usually SR flour is only good for about three months.

The problem an unreliable oven
1. Try and use heavy grade dark metal baking dishes which give the best heat distribution.
2. If your oven heating cycle is unreliable (varies the temperature a lot) lower the temperature to hot 220C (430F), preheat the oven along with a heavy metal baking dish for a good 20 mins then bake the scones on the baking dish which acts as a heat sink helping to bake the scones more evenly. Try to bake smaller sized scones which helps with a constantly varying temperature.
3. If your oven has hot spots which mine does just rotate the dish at about 3/4 of the total baking time.

The problem my dairy-free margarine doesn't do a good job of cutting in
1. Just melt the margarine and add it to the liquid and proceed as normal (this is the best you can do if the margarine is "bad for cutting-in or just bad for scones" in the first place).

Mandatory Items: You must make one batch of basic scones (i.e. basic biscuits using the North American name). The challenge recipe has been designed to be fast, very cheap and easy to follow so allowing for multiple attempts to be made until you can achieve your desired result. I encourage you to make a couple of batches to see how small changes in technique can obtain vastly different final baked products. I estimate all of my 16 experimental batches cost less than $4 and took about four hours, so please do take this opportunity to explore the possibilities of the different techniques and advice that have been presented here in this challenge. I have included a number of links to the most popular scone (biscuit) recipes (and variations) in a number of countries feel free to use these if you can make a good basic scone (biscuit) already.  

Variations allowed:  A number of variations (cheese and chives, herb, etc) on the basic challenge recipe are included use them if you wish.  

Preparation time: Scones: Preparation time less than 10 minutes. Baking time about 10 minutes.

Equipment required:
Large mixing bowl
Baking dish
Measuring cups and  spoons (optional)
Flour Sifter (optional)
Board (optional)
Scone (biscuit) cutter (optional) or knife (optional)
Dough scraper (optional)
Spatula (optional)
Weighing scale (optional)
Cooling rack (optional)
Pastry brush (optional)

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9. 
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough).  Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes  (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

Variations on the Basic recipe
Buttermilk – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with buttermilk, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, increase the fat to 4 tablespoons, in Step 3 aim of pea-sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 fold and turn the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with buttermilk.
Australian Scone Ring (Damper Ring) – follow the Basic recipe above but decrease the fat to 1 tablespoon, in Step 3 aim of fine beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, in Step 7 form seven rounds into a ring shape with the eighth round as the centre, glaze with milk.
Cream – follow the Basic recipe above but replace the milk with cream, add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are just touching in the baking dish, glaze with cream.
Cheese and Chive – follow the Basic recipe above but add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, after Step 2 add ½ teaspoon sifted mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon sifted cayenne pepper (optional), ½ cup (60 gm/2 oz) grated cheese and 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives into the sifted ingredients, in Step 3 aim of beach sand sized pieces of fat coated in flour, in Step 5 knead the dough, rounds are widely spaced in the baking dish, sprinkle the rounds with cracked pepper.
Fresh Herb – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives etc).
Sweet Fruit – follow the Basic recipe above but after Step 3 add ¼ cup (45 gm) dried fruit (e.g. sultanas, raisins, currents, cranberries, cherries etc) and 1 tablespoon (15 gm) sugar.
Wholemeal –  follow the Basic recipe above but replace half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour.
Wholemeal and date – follow the Basic recipe above but replace half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour and after Step 3 add ¼ cup (45 gm) chopped dates and 1 tablespoon (15 gm) sugar.     
   
Pictorial guide to the challenge recipe
I was at my brother's house and we had a hankering for a baked treat so I decided to make the challenge recipe also I needed some photos of the challenge recipe being made for this posting. My brother isn't a cook, all he had to hand as equipment was concerned was a mixing bowl,a thin walled 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin and a knife, he didn't even have a cup measure only mugs so I improvised.

As you can see in the collage below I roughly chopped some butter (I eye-balled about 2 tablespoons) and froze it. Then I throw the frozen cubed butter onto one mug of cold self-raising flour I couldn't sift the flour since my brother doesn't own a sifter. Then I proceeded to rub in the butter with my fingers until I got pea-sized fat pieces coated in flour.
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I added the liquid (½ mug of cold lite-milk) to the rubbed-in fat/flour mixture until I got a sticky dough I turned this out onto a floured board, I lightly floured the top of the sticky dough then I kneaded it once  then I patted it out into a rectangular shape then I proceeded to fold and turn the dough. Notice that you fold 1/3 of the dough over itself then the other 1/3 over that and turn it 90° degrees. Notice the lines on the broad this will help you understand how to do the folding and the turning.
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I did a couple more folds and turns and used a well-floured knife to cut out squares of prepared dough.
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Here is a close-up of the finish patted-out dough notice how you can see the fat particles in the dough this is what causes flakiness in the final baked scone.
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I used the inverted cake tin as my baking dish and baked the scones in a very hot oven for 10 minutes they worked out really well I thought. Notice the nice central lamination in the scone and the great crumb and how well they rose in height.
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I placed two unbaked scones in the fridge to test whether resting them for 20 minutes helped improve the raise of the final baked product. As you can see the left scone and the middle scone are taller than the right scone which was baked immediately after it was cut out from the dough. So don't worry if you cannot bake the scones straight away they do better with a little resting time. 
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Videos of my sister making scones (baking powder biscuits) – using a very popular Australian recipe
(http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/8163/basic+scones) 
Part 1 – my sister making the scones (baking powder biscuits)
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF9YJiHZ1K0)
Part 2 – my sister showing off her scones (baking powder biscuits)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GorStLKSoMo)
Pictures of my sister's scones
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Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Scones are best eaten warm. Scones (biscuits) are really easy to store – bag the cooked and cooled scones and freeze until needed then reheat in a moderate hot for a few minutes.


Additional Information: 
Australia’s most popular scone recipe uses lemon-flavoured soda pop and cream as the liquid
(http://figjamandlimecordial.com/2010/08/08/lemonade-scones/)
A great English scone recipe this uses more sugar and fat and has an egg
(http://www.instructables.com/id/Perfect-English-Scones/)
Classic Southern Buttermilk Biscuits recipe by Alton Brown
(http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/southern-biscuits-recipe/index.html)
An index of North American recipes
(http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Bread/Biscuits-and-Scones/Biscuits/Top.aspx)
Another index of North American recipes
(http://www.breadexperience.com/biscuit-recipes.html)
Three great Australian recipes
(http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/homestyle/blogs/tried-and-tasted/how-to-bake-the-perfect-scone-20110504-1e7xn.html)
An index of Irish recipes
(http://www.littleshamrocks.com/Irish-Bread-Scone-Recipes.html)
An interesting discussion on “what makes a scone a scone”
(http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810928)  
Videos of Alton Brown making biscuits (scones) with his granny (super cute to watch)
Episode one ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3QuQSdjMVE)
Episode two (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qcz4JQUwY9Q)
Links to advice about chemical raising agents
http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/what-is-the-difference-between-baking-powder-and-baking-soda-in-pancakes.html
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/quick-bread-primer.html 

Disclaimer:
The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of “alternate baking/cooking”.  If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it.  If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. The responsibility is YOURS regardless of what health issue you’re dealing with. Please consult your physician with any questions before using an ingredient you are not familiar with.  Thank you! :)[/quote]
          Dec 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Sourdough        
Sorry for posting late but I'm on holidays away from my normal computer setup and this is the first chance I've had to get onto my blog.

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was sourdough, yes sourdough and yes we were asked to make a fresh starter for the challenge.

French Country Sourdough Picnic Loaf
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I have a decade old starter called Boris (100% hydration i.e. equal weights of water and plain bread flour) so I decided to use that to make the French Country Loaf recipe. I started the process at Day 4 in the instructions. Since I had Boris already made up I saved four days. I have started a new sourdough starter to use in a few days time. In Sydney Australia it is the start of summer so I made a stuffed picnic loaf with the baked bread one of my favourite summer picnic foods.

I used "OO" finely steel-milled bread flour and "OO" finely cold-steel-milled whole wheat flour with some stabilised wheat germ (since I couldn't find my stone ground flour).

Boris my (100% hydration) starter, before I fed it to make the Leaven Starter, notice how Boris is burping gas
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Boris feeding on the extra flour and water, notice the condensation on the top of the plastic lid which indicates that the yeastie beasties and bacteria are very active making lots of gas and tasty flavour for the sourdough
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Boris full of tiny active bubbles after feeding
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Comparison of Boris (left) when he is made into the leaven for the sourdough (right) in the French country loaf. Notice how wet and soft the leaven is for this recipe!
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The loaf proofing for the final raise in a greased pan (I didn't want flour on the outside of the picnic loaf) before it is tipped out and slashed. The unbaked loaf is very soft and needs a mould.
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The baked loaf (the unbaked loaf is very wet and soft and forms a great shape when baked) the final loaf shape is formed by squeezing (the soft out-turned unbaked loaf) with your hands, then you quickly slash it and place immediately into a very hot oven and turn the temperature to hot for 10 mins and then to the recipe temperature for the rest of the time.
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Making the picnic loaf
Hollow out the loaf, notice how moist the interior is and the 'greyish' colour which is a indication of the sourdough starter. The crumb (the texture of the interior) of the loaf is like dense sponge really good I thought, notice the dense spongy crumb in the hollowed out top of the loaf (bottom piece in the photo below).  
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Line the hollow with several layers of thin ham, and then fill with a combination of ricotta cheese, chopped charred-grilled red capsicums (fire-roasted red bell peppers), spinach, basil, finely chopped spicy smoked French sausage, grated sharp cheese and lots for black pepper. The filling ingredients can be varied to suit your own tastes a great version is the famous Muffuletta sandwich (the filling is an olive paste with various cheeses and sliced meats).
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Wrap tightly with plastic film and place into the fridge with a light weight on top of the loaf for a few hours (up to two days)
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The finished picnic loaf
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Close-up of a slice of the picnic loaf yum yum
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The verdict - this recipe produces a sourdough unlike anything I have done before the crumb of the loaf is very moist almost sponge-like which I really really liked and it is a perfect foil for the pressed filling ingredients since they almost have the same texture which is what you want in a picnic loaf. Also the picnic loaf slices cleanly and thinly. I bet for an extra special treat slices of this picnic loaf would fry up beautifully. I will be using this recipe from now on to make picnic loaves.

What to do with the leftover starter
You can make a lot of recipes with the leftover starter examples pancakes, cakes, scones etc.  In this case I made crumpets with the leftover starter (To make the batter - to one cup of starter, sprinkle over the surface 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder), stir well, the mixture will double in volume. Dry fry 1/4 cup scoops of the batter in well greased 3" (7-1/2 cm) metal rings on a medium-low heated griddle (or fry pan) for 4-6 minutes on the bottom and optionally 30 seconds on the top if you like colour on both top and bottom of your crumpets.) These crumpets were so good I love how the holes form and the moist texture of the crumb so much better than the store bought version. You can freeze the leftover starter/leaven and the cooked crumpets. 
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Comments and notes
1. This recipe is unusual in that you knead the leaven into the dough.
2. The leaven is very wet and soft more like soft putty so when you form the disk of dough and place the leaven onto it and knead it, the final dough-making is incredibly messy and the final dough is very very soft and spreads out very slowly (takes about 20 mins) if left on the counter. I had to add about 3 tablespoons of extra flour to make it a little stiffer.
3. The final interior of the loaf is very moist, as compared to my normal sourdough. I really liked the final interior and the loaf. The crumb (the texture) of the interior was like soft dense sponge even slightly doughy which I really liked. The weight of the loaf feels very heavy for its size. 
4. What to make with the leftover starter make crumpets see links below for the recipe.
What to do with the discarded starter (use to make crumpets)
And what to do with a neglected starter
5. A plain flour starter seems to work very well for this recipe.

French Country Sour Dough Open-faced sandwiches with home-made pesto, tomatoes and cured Italian ham
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I made the French country loaf its starter was very easy to make and look after until it was active it only took three days for the starter to become super active since I feed it twice a day and the starter was in a moist warm environment for the entire 'brewing' time. I made up the loaf has per the recipe I used very coarse stone ground whole meal bread flour and "OO" finely milled bread flour. The dough rose in about 2 hours (really quick for a sour dough) and to twice it original volume and when baked stayed exactly the same size. Since I used such coarse flour the final texture of the crumb was very grainy. My dough was so wet and soft it really needed a mould but that was no problem.

I wanted perfectly shaped sandwiches which means the crust has to be very smooth with crisp edges, so I went for a 'brick-shape' loaf that could be cut thinly and cleanly while having the strength so the bread slice wouldn't break or bend when the sandwich is being eaten.

The final texture of the loaf was like a Rye European sour dough bread, not dense at all in fact, the loaf could be cut very thinly and cleanly - perfect for open-faced sandwiches.

I had the most beautiful tomatoes and basil so I had to use them as the topping for my sandwiches.
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This summer in Sydney Australia has been the coldest in the last fifty-one years, so I took special precautions in keeping the starter warm that is by enclosing the plastic container in several tea-towels on the counter on the spot that is above the hot water system. The temperature was gorgeously warmish at all times, so after three days the starter was full of energy and going for it. If you feed the starter once in the morning and in the evening it shortens the time for the starter to become active.

The starter covered in many tea towels over a warm spot on the counter, it is toasty in there:)
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I wanted to make thin open-faced sandwiches so I coated my pan with oil-spray and then with wheat germ flakes which produces a thin smooth crust on the loaf
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Notice the nice straight edges and smooth faces on the loaf, it looks like a brick! Perfect for open-faced sandwiches.
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Close up of the crust of the loaf
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Some more photos of the loaf and the thin slices that can be cut from it
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I really like how thin you could slice the loaf
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To make the open-faced sandwiches
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Finished sandwiches with home made pesto, tomatoes and cured Italian ham and a piece of tangy goat's cheese
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The verdict - a very tasty open-face sandwich bread wonderful with the tomatoes and pesto. And so filling only a couple of quarter slices where enough. Just like the old fashioned country breads I had in my childhood.

Some notes
1. You can speed up the 'brewing' time of the starter by twice feeding it a day and making sure that the starter is in a moist warm place.
2. My starter was super active it rose the dough in about two hours which is very quick.
3. The final dough was too soft to be shaped into a free-form loaf it really needs a mould.
4. The final crumb is very much like the classic black bread style of Northern Europe.

Cornmeal sourdough loaf
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I used the French Country starter to make a cornmeal soudough loaf that was more traditionally shaped. I replaced the whole meal flour with corn meal (polenta) I added some pure gluten flour to replace the missing gluten from the corn meal and raised the dough in a bowl lined with linen that was covered in flour and cornmeal.

This is the largest loaf of bread I have made it was 12 inches (30 cms) in diameter and weighed almost 2-1/2 kgs (5-1/2 lbs)! It took about an hour and a quarter to bake.

The dough is very wet and soft
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The dough raising in the lined bowl
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How to raise the dough during cold weather, place a plastic bag over the bowl and place that over a saucepan 3/4 filled with warm water also you can wrap the saucepan in tea towels this will keep your dough warm for many hours even overnight.
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The final baked loaf
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The underside of the baked loaf a wonderful yellow colour
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I will use the loaf tomorrow after it has cooled down and the flavours have settled.

I love the look of this loaf so rustic with lots of character in the crust and the yellow colour is stunning. 

Cornmeal Sourdough Loaf part II
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I use my cornmeal sourdough loaf today I was extremely pleased with the look, taste and texture of the slices. I had some beautiful beet(root) and mint on hand so I made a spicy beetroot mint dip to serve with the cornmeal bread.

Lovely beet(root) and mint
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The yellow cornmeal bread sliced into wedges so colourful and tasty
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The beet(root) and mint dip served on the cornmeal sourdough slices
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Another photo of the delicious bread
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Gorgeous White Sourdough
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One thing about sourdoughs is that they can look so beautiful as compared to the store bought loaves. I made another loaf using the French Country starter but using all white flour for the loaf. I had to add about 1/4 cup of extra flour to the dough so that the shaped loaf would hold its shape and be slashed. I double egg-washed the loaf which really gave the baked loaf a lovely shiny gloss finish. I will use it tomorrow after the loaf has had time to settle and mellow. I cannot wait.

I used a five cup "flower-pot" shaped container which gives a nice visual proportion to the loaf 
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Some gorgeous photos of the final loaf
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White Sourdough Loaf
I made tandoori roast chicken to serve with the white sourdough loaf I had made yesterday. The crumb of the sourdough was very smooth and its hue was a light sand colour which was unexpected since I used a very white flour for the dough. The thinly sliced chicken was lovely on the sourdough sandwich. The crumb of the loaf was very similar to white wonder bread a wonderful bread for sandwiches.

The white sourdough loaf being sliced
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The tandoori roast chicken I adore the vibrant colour of the chicken
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The final tandoori chicken sandwich
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White sourdough loaf
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I repeated making a white flour sourdough but this time I added some more flour in the final stage so that the loaf would spread out so much and would hold it shape when slashed. I needed about 1 cup of extra flour to achieve the correct consistency. I was very pleased with the final result. The loaf expanded about three times it was incredible to watch it grow and bake in the oven.

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More things to make with the leftover starter part II
Wholesome banana and date sourdough bread
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I had a cup of very sour active starter left so I thought I would make my favourite banana/date bread with it, I make this recipe about once a fortnight during the summer. The recipe is easy -

Wholesome banana and date sourdough bread
1 cup starter (the starter doesn't need to be active)
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
3 tablespoons dried milk powder (or buttermilk powder)
3 tablespoons wheat-germ
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup of dates finely chopped, soaked in orange juice until soft
(Optional 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, milk powder and salt, form a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour into the well the sourdough starter, oil, wheat-germ, egg, brown sugar, banana and dates (and the nuts if using). Whisk the ingredients together until a normal "cake" batter consistency is formed you can add more water if you need to loosen the batter. Bake in a moderate oven 160C/320F/gas mark 3 for 1-1/2 hours until a skewer comes out clean, check at 1 hour and then every 10 mins until done. Best if left for one day before slicing, but can be sliced when completely cooled. The bread will last for 2 weeks (at least! I have always eaten it before this) in the fridge covered in foil and plastic wrap and it gets better and better with time, fabulous toasted and served with butter. The slices are super moist and not too sweet. The sourdough and bananas really makes for a moist bread. 

White sourdough loaf
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I decided to make a treat for this delicious bread that is meatloaf which I really really like a lot in Australia it isn't that common basically nobody I know makes meatloaf but every time I make it the meatloaf gets rave reviews.

For a super special treat I baked the meatloaf on two slices of the white bread these slices therefore get toasted and are dripping with gorgeous flavour I'm sure that they aren't not that healthy but once in while it is such a flavoursome treat.

The meatloaf notice the two slices of white sourdough bread that acts as a soak of all the juices
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The delicious slices of bread that have been baked and basted throughout the cooking of the meatloaf
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The cut meatloaf. My meatloaf contains grilled red capsicums (the red pieces), shredded seaweed (the black pieces) and lots of herbs and a mixture of pork and veal with some BBQ duck and the glaze is a mixture of tomato pesto, black sugar and balsamic vinegar.  
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          Oct 2011 Daring Bakers Challenge - Povitica        
A tale of two povitica loaves
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This month's challenge was to make povitica (a type of nut roll.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

This is my first time ever making this sort of recipe so I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the recipe. Well after doing some interesting internet research and ringing a pastry chef mate of mine whose mum is from Croatia and another friend's mum who is from Poland. I have some (little) understanding of the process and what to expect.

When comparing my notes with the information from my friends and their mums I found that povitica (or nut rolls) seems to be made by two slightly different methods that lead to two very dissimilar results; it seems that the “Northern European“ version (my name) is dense and moist like a firm bread-and-butter pudding, while the “Southern European” version is a well risen roll slightly less dense than the Northern version.

One major difference between the two versions is an hour of rising time before the final baking. Our challenge recipe only has ¼ hour of rising time before the final baking like a lot of Northern recipes while a typical Southern recipe has an hour of rising time before the final bake.

During my internet research I found that there are other differences; the Northern version uses a soft dough that is rolled out fairly thickly while the filling has a firmish consistency, while the Southern version uses a firmer dough that is rolled out very thinly while its filling has a consistency of thick honey. Since I was making two loaves (½ batch) anyway I thought I would do one loaf using the challenge instructions (which are very Northern) and do the other loaf using the Southern method. For both versions you make the dough layer as thin as possible.

A (Northern) povitica is meant to be dense and moist, it is important not to let the shaped roll rise too much before baking (in our challenge recipe you only let it rest for 15 minutes) in the other version you let the unbaked roll rise until doubled in volume then bake it.

I found that if you refrigerate the loaf until cold, it will slice thinly and cleanly, remember to serve it at room temperature. Also let the povitica rest for a few hours (a day is better) before cutting it this will help it set better so it can be sliced cleanly.

The biggest tip - If you find the dough is too springy let it rest.

Uhmmm, I don't know why but every stage of this recipe was an uphill battle.I used “00” soft flour (finely milled white flour 8% protein) for the recipe since I had it to hand and I thought it would make the stretching of the dough easier since “lower gluten” means “easier handling”.

For the nut filling I used about 300 grams (10½ ounces) walnuts and 250 grams (9 ounces) of mixed nuts, also I added 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder I wanted a chocolate hit from the Povitica. I used ¾ cup of white sugar and ¼ cup of dark brown sugar in the filling. And I used an unsalted “European” styled butter 87% fat since it had to used.

Dough – Firstly the size of the dough is amazing when you stretch it out, you will need to do it on a large table with a floured tablecloth. I found that the dough was very very hard to stretch it wanted to go back to its original shape that is every time I rolled it or stretched it out it would spring right back. From experience I know what to do in this situation I let the partially stretched out dough rest for about 15 minutes covered in plastic so the gluten strands in the dough would relax so making stretching a lot easier so after resting the dough I then proceeded to make a very thin layer of it … that is … after a lot of time doing guarded stretching and gentle man-handling … finally … I could see magazine print through the dough but this process took about 45 minutes. I think the problem was that I added too much flour while forming the dough, next time I will just have the dough a little tacky which will make it easier to stretch out. Also I will add ½ teaspoon lemon juice (for a ¼ batch) next time since the acidity helps to tenderise the dough so making it easier to stretch out. The second dough was a lot easier to roll out since by this time it had a lot more resting than the first dough it only took 15 minutes to roll out to phyllo (filo) sheet thinness. Looking back I should of added about 3 tablespoons of milk to get the correct consistency.

Filling - Firstly the filling seems like a huge amount but you need it all for the ½ batch its volume is almost 1 litres almost 4 cups. I found that the filling was much too stiff to spread out (I was using very dry nuts that could of been the problem?) on the thin dough layer without tearing it I had to add 4 tablespoons of warm milk and micro-wave to get it to the right consistency (like very thick honey). It is best to place tablespoon dollops of the filling evenly over the dough then spread these dollops evenly across the thin dough. After 20 minutes! of careful and methodical spreading the nut filling it was done. Of course the second version was a breeze to spread again I think resting time really helps the nut filling with spreading it over the thin dough sheet.I trimmed the edges and placed it into the baking pan such that the roll was coiled on itself I egg washed just after forming the unbaked loaf and once again just before baking.

I had given away for the long weekend my baking pans to a friend so I used my high loaf tin.I let one loaf rest for 15 mins then I baked it and the other loaf I let rise until doubled in volume then I bake it both were baked the same way (same temperatures and times). I'm sure that there is nothing wrong with the recipe I think I didn't let the dough rest enough for the first version and I added too much flour at the start.I have to say after all the troubles they both looked good, the loaf using the challenge instructions expanded about x2, the other version expanded about x2½ both had great colour and the crust dough layer for both was very thin so thin you could see the nut filling through it. And the colour was great so brown and shiny. Since the final baked loaf rises so much take this into account when you are shaping the loaf into the baking pan. I had a little trouble getting it out of the pan, so I recommend using parchment paper or butter and flour your baking pan well.

The dough starting to be mixed notice the foamy yeast mixture
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How to tell if your dough is kneaded enough if you poke an indentation into the dough it should spring back I realise now that I should of added more liquid it should be tacky Photobucket
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The huge amount of nut filling I used my food processor to make it this is the first time I used the machine since I bought it two years LOL LOL ago in this instance I thought it was worth the effort to clean the machine after the task
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Stretching the dough to size … a pain to do in every sense of the word
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The baked Northern povitica
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The southern povitica
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If you want to do the recipe over two days I would do the nut filling and the challenge recipe up to step 7. that is make the dough and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then the next day return the dough to room temperature (a couple of hours) and make the povitica as per the recipe. This sort of recipe freezes very well, freeze the baked loaf and thaw in the fridge overnight loosely covered in paper towels then cover in plastic wrap this stop the povitica from becoming soggy from condensation.

The verdict – the challenge (Northern) povitica is a really delicious nut roll with a very dramatic interior appearance, the texture of it is very similar to bread-and-butter pudding, very moist and 'firm-ish” to the tooth. While the “Southern” had great height it was a lot lighter in texture than the challenge recipe version still good. But I liked the challenge version much more the interior looked better and tasted better also. Overall I was very pleased though it was a frustrating process for the first version, though the second version was a breeze.

Comparison of the two loaves – on the left is the challenge version (which I call Northern) and on the right is the Southern version. As you can see very different looking results.
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Tips and hints (some of these are from the other bakers' experiences with this recipe I will add extra tips and hints during the month when others have posted their results)
1. It is very important to get the correct consistency for the dough and the nut filling if you do the process is a breeze. Remember when it comes to making bread -- recipes are guidelines, since flour absorbs moisture from the air so it is not unusual to add extra liquid or flour to get the correct consistency for the dough (in our case it should be slightly sticky) and depending on how old the nuts are and how the nuts are ground (this is highly variable for each baker) determines how the nuts absorb the liquid so again look at the consistency and adjust the liquid for the nut filling you want it to be like thick honey. I think this is the real lesson of this challenge, don't be afraid to adjust the liquid amounts to suit what you find in front of you in the mixing bowl!
2. Use plain (all purpose) flour. Use the flour sparingly when you mix the initial dough, it should be sticky don't be afraid to add liquid to get the correct consistency if you used too much flour. When you start mixing the dough it looks like that there isn't enough flour avoid adding any extra at this stage. It is best to mix the dough up (reserving some of the flour) and really give it a good working over it will be sticky (slap it down on the counter a few times and use a scraper to scoop it off the counter and knead it hard) it will be become less sticky while you knead it, that way you will use the least amount of flour.
3. Let the dough rise then punch it down and let it rest until it's pliable, if it is too springy let it rest longer.
4. Always check if your nuts are fresh and are not bitter tasting, ground nuts in a packet easily can be a year old. Fresh nuts give the best result leading to a lovely moist filling. Grind or process the nuts very finely if the nut pieces are too large they will break and tear the dough layer when you roll it up.
5. The consistency of the nut filling is like thick honey don't be afraid to add some liquid to get the correct consistency, micro-waving really helps make it spreadable.
6. The amount of time you let the roll rise just before baking leads to different results for the final baked povitica.
7. Roll up the povitica fairly tightly (using the floured sheet as your guide) so the final baked loaf will not fall apart and the layers will have a good pattern with no voids between the layers.
8. To check if the loaf is ready lightly knock the top of the roll it should sound hollow, or insert a skewer (or small thin knife) into the loaf for a slow count of three it should come out dryish and feel warmish if the skewer is wet or feels cool bake for a longer time don't over-bake since the filling will dry out making the final loaf dry so making the layers fall apart when the roll is cut into slices.
9. Leave the roll in the tin until it has cooled this helps firm it up so the roll will not collapse when you take it out of the pan recall the loaf weighs over 1 kg (2 lbs).
10. Let the roll rest for a few hours (better for a day) until completely cooled and set before cutting, if you refrigerate the loaf it will cut thinly and cleanly without crumbs, remember to serve the slices at room temperature. Makes great toast or even better French toast yum yum.
11. The loaf gets better and better the longer it matures in the refrigerator.

A few more tips and hints from Wolf who has made povitica every Christmas for many years, I put these here so they can be found easily by the forum members
A. Don't spread the filling right to the edges of the dough. You want to stay within at least 1/2 inch of the sides. This way, you can seal the filling inside and won't have leakage.
B. I use a stoneware bread pan to bake mine in. The one in the photo had the ends tucked underneath to the center, so it presented a smooth top. It was also rolled to the center from BOTH ends. That's how I got 4 distinct swirls. (See her exquisite povitica here)
C. Definitely cool the loaf in whatever you bake it in, until you can handle it with your bare hands, before turning it out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. It slices cleaner when completely cooled or refrigerated.
D. Roll the dough tighter than you think you need to. Yes, some filling will squeeze out the ends, but you'll get a neater swirl in the center, less voids and gaps and it'll stay together better, as well as make it a nicer sliced bread for toasting or even french toast- which is awesome with this type of bread.
E. It will freeze well, especially if well wrapped- I've done one upwards of a month before. It does ship very well- I ship one loaf to my parents every Christmas and one to my In Laws, my recipe makes 3 full sized loaves and will last upwards of a week on the counter at room temp. - if it lasts that long in your house }:P

Wolf graciously included instructions to obtain her exquisite swirl patterned povitica for the method.

I have drawn some diagrams of the method

The stretched out dough layer covered with filling
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Then roll each long edge to the center thus forming two swirls
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Then take each end and fold them towards the middle of the roll (the brown line is where the ends finish up when folded) thus forming a double height roll
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Then turn the loaf over and place into the pan so the seam ends are at the bottom of the pan which means the top is smooth and has no cut seams or edges
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Txfarmer a very experienced and superb baker posted some great tips also
1) At first glance, since we need to stretch the dough to very thin, it seems to make sense not to knead the dough too much. Kneading == strong gluten == too elastic == hard to roll out/stretch. However, what we really need is a dough that can be stretched out WITHOUT BREAKING, that actually requires the dough to have strong gluten. I make breads a lot, from my past experience, I think the solution here is to have a wet (as wet as one can handle) dough that's kneaded fairly thoroughly. Wet doughs are more extensible, despite being kneaded very well. I kept the dough so wet that it was sticking to the mixer bowl at the end of kneading, however, a large transparent strong "windowpane" can be stretched out, which is the indication of strong gluten.
2) With the right dough, stretching out was easy, < 10mins of work. The dough was tough enough not to break, yet wet enough to be stretched out. I made quarter-size (i.e. one loaf), but the dough was stretched out to cover almost all of my coffee table. The tip of using a sheet underneath was very good. I used a plastic table cloth (lightly floured). In fact the dough was stretched so large that the filling was barely enough to cover it. 3) I proofed the dough longer than the formula suggests to get more volume, and the loaf less dense. I understand the authentic version is quite dense, but my family tends to like lighter fluffier loaves when it comes to sweet breads. 4) Since the dough was kneaded well, the final loaf had very good volume. Rose well above the rim in my 8.5X4.5inch pan. Poviticas for morning tea
I needed to make a treat for nibbles at a morning tea. So I decided to make two poviticas – one povitica filled with tea infused figs and almonds and the other filled with coffee infused dates, cocoa and hazelnuts. I wanted a strong contrast in the flavours between the two loaves. The tea/fig/almond filling was a lovely 'camel' colour its flavour was like caramelised fig on the palate each element was present I really liked how the tea melded with the fig and the almond this povitica was additively GOOD with tea. The other loaf had a very strong coffee/date base flavour while the cocoa and hazelnut added a lovely lingering after taste the winner for me. I was very very pleased with the filling flavours and how they tasted with tea or coffee. (Apart from the coffee infused date povitica looking like a baked chicken LOL LOL.) Those loaves were moist, very dense and incredible rich, perfect (when thinly sliced) with a cuppa. Feeds a lot of people! There were like very moist, ultra dense fruit cakes I thought hence the reason for very thin slices to be served with your choice of tea or coffee. Not recommended for children too much caffeine!

For this attempt I was careful about adding the flour and made sure that the finished dough was a little sticky, this time I found it a lot easier to stretch though the consistency wasn't exactly right I felt and I need to better understand how do to the spreading out of the filling and I haven't still mastered how the amount of filling as compared to the amount of stretched out dough needs to be in ratio, and also how to form a good pattern of swirls needs some thought so a lot of little things to practice for me over the next few weeks.

I will give this recipe another go since I want to perfect the process (making pretty interior patterns and getting the texture right) since these loaves would be a great Christmas present.

Tea infused figs with almonds
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Coffee infused dates with hazelnuts (the finished loaf looks a little like a roasted chicken LOL)
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Tea infused figs with almonds
375 grams (13 ounces) finely chopped dried figs
¾ cup of very very strong tea (I used 4 teabags of Earl Grey tea)
¾ cup of vanilla sugar
1 cup (120 grams) (4¼ ounces) ground almonds
2 large egg
½ cup clotting cream (66% butter fat)
Method – combine all the ingredients (except eggs and cream) in a small saucepan bring to boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Beat eggs and pour slowly into mixture, stirring constantly and simmer gently 5 minutes more. This mixture scorches easily, so heat must not be too high. Cool mixture add clotting cream. Place filling into a container and let rest overnight before using.

Coffee infused dates with hazelnuts
375 grams (13 ounces) of finely chopped dried dates
¼ cup (55 gm) (2 oz) unsalted butter, fried until nut brown
¾ cup of very very strong coffee (I used 1½ tablespoons of instant coffee)
½ cup of dark brown sugar
¼ cup of cocoa powder
1 cup (120 grams) (4¼ ounces) ground hazelnuts
2 large egg
¼ cup clotting cream (66% butter fat)
Method – combine all the ingredients (expect eggs and cream) in a small saucepan bring to boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Beat eggs and pour slowly into mixture, stirring constantly and simmer gently 5 minutes more. This mixture scorches easily, so heat must not be too high. Cool mixture add clotting cream. Place filling into a container and let rest overnight before using.
          Sep 2011 DB challenge - Croissants        
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I have placed the first croissants into yeastspotting http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif


Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two. Julia Child and Simone Beck.

See here for a PDF of the recipe (it has 57 steps LOL LOL)

Wow this month's challenge was so interesting making croissants, croissant pastry is intriguing it is a mixture of "puff pastry" and "yeast bread dough", technically croissant pastry is a laminated dough, that is you basically make a yeast bread dough and then you make a butter puff pastry with it, using four turns and folds. Very interesting.

We were very lucky to have a wonderful member txfarmer she had experimented with croissant over a two month period and her postings in the "The Fresh Loaf" web site were invaluable well worth a look see these links link one, link two and link three.

1457 layered sourdough croissants
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Croissants making is all about technique and practice practice and more practice.

I have made croissants a large number of times so I thought I would push myself on this challenge. I wanted to try some new techniques and methods. So I did sourdough croissants using a HUGE amount of butter using six turns in as little time as possible.

Luckily Sydney Australia is having perfect weather for making laminated dough cold cold and more cold. So I could do two turns (almost three!) every 45 mins (chilling the dough in the freezer between turns). The final proof took a long time.

I had some very active sourdough dough on the rise ready to be shaped when the challenge was announced so I used that to make my croissant dough (sorry I didn't use the challenge recipe for this attempt). I used 500 grams of AP (plain) flour (Australian plain flour is about 10% protein) in the final pastry dough and a 500 gram butter-block (since I had to use up the butter today). Using a high ratio of flour to butter makes it much easier to make the laminations in the pastry. Since I have made laminated doughs before and I was using sourdough (which gives good structural strength to the crumb with plenty of tenderness) I did six 'letter' folds (which produces 728 layers of butter and 729 layers of dough or 1457 different layers in total!) and double egg-washed the croissants. Using sourdough makes for a very tender dough (much softer than normal bread dough). I had to chill the dough after each two turns for 45 mins.

The croissants increase in volume about 3½ times. They smell fabulous when baking.

A very long process, but well worth it.

I was very pleased with these 'quick' croissants since the sourdough really helped tenderise the dough and the many turns seemed to work out fine and the HUGE amount of butter stayed in the rolls when baked so overall a very good result.

My list of characteristics of a good croissant
1. good layering of the butter and dough
2. the exterior crust is deeply coloured all over, the crust should be shiny thin and crisp with a slight crackle (the crust should almost shatter) when bitten into
3. the interior colour is even (slightly yellow or creamy white it depends on the colour of your butter) with an open crumb (lots of holes), the interior dough should be moist and soft with a 'pull' when your tear it apart, and the
4. butter flavour should be strong but not overpowering.

A Sunday article in “le Figaro magazine” referred to the nine pillars of pleasure (volupté) for appreciating a croissant. The author of the article asked two well-known Parisian pâtissiers, Pierre Hermé and Laurent Duchêne to “analyze what makes the heart of the croissant beat”

The nine pillars of volupté (pleasure) from "le Figaro magazine" are:
1. The layers (le feuilletage) – look for the layers, lots of space, not flat and smooth; crusty exterior, soft inside
2. The soft interior (la mie) – is light and agreeably honeycombed. When you eat it, it should have crumbs. When you tear off the cornered end, the soft interior should resist a bit. It should not be doughy.
3. What you hear (à l’oreille) – Ideally you should hear the crunch of the crust. It should crackle the whole while you are biting into it. As Pierre Hermé says: “you should hear the croissant suffer!” («On doit entendre la souffrance du croissant!»)
4. What you taste (en bouche) – You should taste the amount of butter rather than the sugar. However, the subtle taste of salt is the crowning point of a good croissant.
5. What makes a bad croissant (et un mauvais croissant?) – Look to see if the bottom of the croissant is whitish; it was not cooked long enough or was poorly baked. Is the croissant flat in appearance and doesn’t seem to breathe or is it oozing butter?
6. The smell (l’odeur) – This can be a giveaway, if the croissant smells of yeast or the metal baking sheet. It should give off an agreeable smell of creamy butter.
7. Shelf life (sa durée de vie) – The croissant has a very short shelf life: five or six hours; outside of this, it becomes stale. Don’t eat the croissant too hot, it loses its taste, its heart, it fades.
8. The ingredients (les ingredients) – The choice of butter is first and foremost. Pierre Hermé uses Viron flour, fleur de sel de Guérande, butter from the Viette (Charente) region, course sugar and of course water. But, mineral water.
9. The season (la saison) – Does the croissant have a season? From the end of October to the beginning of November (this is for the Northern Hemisphere) is not a good time to buy a croissant. At this point the wheat harvests are blended (the old with the newly harvested). The dough is more difficult to control.

When ordering, ask for the croissant made with butter (croissant au buerre). And although winter might be the croissants’ most popular season, they are available all year round.

The sourdough croissant dough has increased three times in volume, it is full of flavour and bubbles
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The sour dough punched down
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The butter block - I shape the butter block as perfectly as possible
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Locking-in the butter into the dough
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Use rubber bands on your rolling pin to get thin even layers in your laminated doughs
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After the first turn and fold (notice after the 1st turn & fold the dough is the same size as the butter block)
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Trimming the final croissant dough after six turns and fold - keeping the dough neat and even is essential
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Unbaked croissants
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Baked croissants
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Close up of the laminations in the overlapping sections
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Tips and hints
1. One “letter” (also called a 'simple') fold (i.e folding the dough like a letter taking the top 2/3 of the way down and then taking the bottom 2/3 of the way up to form a rectangle), produces 2 layers of fat encased by 3 layers of dough, so two letter folds produces 6 layers of fat and 7 layers of dough, three letter folds produces 26 layers of fat and 27 layers of dough, four letter folds (typical of croissants) produces 80 layers of fat and 81 layers of dough (this type of pastry dough can increase in volume about three times when baked), five letter folds produces 242 layers of fat and 243 layers of dough and six letter folds (typical of puff pastry which can expand eight times in volume when baked) produces 728 layers of butter and 729 layers of dough that is 1457 different layers in total! (this type of pastry dough can increase in volume about eight times when baked)
2. About the type of flour (low or high gluten) to use – I have checked a lot of websites and my extensive collection of cookery books and there seems to be two camps; the high gluten camp that uses bread flour (high gluten 13%+ protein), and the low(er) gluten camp that uses some (or all!) cake flour (low gluten about 8% protein). Oddly French recipes seem to about 3/4 bread and 1/4 cake on which flour to use. High gluten strengthens the structure of the bread but also toughens the crumb and can be hard to roll out, while low gluten gives a tender crumb but with compromised strength. In the end it is a juggling act between tenderness versus strength. Low gluten flour gives a light open textured crumb but there is a tendency for the croissant structure to collapse, while high gluten flour gives a tighter crumb more like normal bread but the croissant structure is much firmer. My 10% protein sour dough produced a light open crumb with good volume increase I think this was due to the chemical/baking effects of the sour dough and not so much about the amount of protein in the flour. I think a lot of the bread flour recipes are really for machines and not the home baker.
3. Sour dough takes a very long time to proof as compared to normal bread.
4. Here are the major pitfalls for this recipe; warm butter, warm dough, the butter and dough aren't the same consistency which encourages the butter to run out or crack in the laminated layers, untrimmed laminations, uneven final sheeting (the layers of alternating dough and butter should be even).
5. Make paper cut-outs (templates) of the rolled-out dough shapes, the butter-block and the croissants the templates really makes rolling out the dough so much faster and easier.
6. I like to add ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon (or lime) juice per three of cups flour, the acid helps to tenderise the dough's gluten, also the juice intensifies the taste of the butter I feel. Be careful too much lemon juice will result in a dough that is too soft therefore hindering oven spring (the amount the dough springs up in the first few minutes of baking).
7. Use a “French” rolling pin if possible (French rolling pins have no handles and are the same width over the length of the pin they look like a large dowel length) or a very long traditionally shaped rolling pin.
8. Try to use the best quality butter you can afford for your croissants. “European” butter styles have a lower water content (<10%) than normal supermarket brands (about 16%) also top quality brands of butter are more pliable (than low cost butters) when cold. That is low-water/ high-fat content butters make for the highest quality croissants. In France you can buy 'dry' butter (i.e. extra low water content and extra high fat content butter) especially made to be used in croissant making. I used a Belgian butter called Lurpak $16/kg. I was surprised how easy the dough was to layer with the butter block. After each turn and fold I let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 1½ hours. I have found Aldi's unsalted butter about $6/kg works fine. You can buy butter sheets (butter spread out in thin sheets wrapped in plastic) these make the layering of the dough and butter a lot easier, but they are hard to find try good foodie shops and suppliers to major hotels and restaurants.
9. Most recipes use 45% butter to flour weight I find for the home cook using a lot more butter makes the rolling and turning much easier, increase the butter to about 55-65% flour weight. I did 100% butter to flour weight since I needed to use the butter up and I wanted to experiment what would happen. No leakage at all since I proved the rolls for a long time!
10. To use unsalted or salted butter? I like using unsalted butters since they have a higher fat content than salted butter and I feel that unsalted butter tastes better. But I think it is a matter of personal preference.
11. The butter block has to be made cold and kept cold. You want pliability, NOT softness.
12. The optimal temperature for the butter is 60°F (15½°C) at this temperature it will be pliable and not break into pieces when rolled out.
13. Make sure that the butter block and the dough have the same consistency especially for the first 2 turns, leave the cold dough out on the counter until the butter is the same consistency as the dough. A dough that is softer than the butter will be forced to the sides by the firmer butter; a dough that is too firm will force the butter out the sides.
14. After four turns the dough is beautiful and silky.
15. Remember to let the dough warm up a little (a few minutes) if it has been in the fridge for a long time (over 2 hours) recall you want the butter and the dough to be the same consistency when you roll out the laminated dough.
16. Laminating takes a little practice. Mainly, using the rolling pin as evenly as possible for the turns, keeping the dough rectangle so that the laminations are tight and even, and finally trimming the ends.
17. When rolling out the dough. Always roll in a square or rectangular shape regardless of the final shape. Roll in one direction. Begin with your pin on the edge closest to you and roll toward the far end; do not roll sideways. Do not press down when rolling or the layers may stick together and the recipe will not rise properly. Decrease the pressure as you roll toward the edges to avoid flattening them and compressing the layers. Evenness of rolling is essential so there is even rising. The upper part tends to lengthen faster than the bottom, so turn the dough over occasionally to keep the seams and edges even. Make sure you place the dough so when you resume rolling you do so over the previous rolls and in the same direction. Be neat. Don’t roll it side-ways. Always roll it length-wise. Use as little flour as possible when rolling out the dough so that the dough doesn’t get too tough. Roll it thinly and evenly so that the layers are even when baked. The straighter your rolled dough, the more uniform your puff pastry.
18. Make sure the corners are at a 90-degree angle. This is so the layers are lined up properly for the greatest puff during baking.
19. Rolling to 1/8-inch thick is good for most pastries. For tartlets, roll to 1/16-inch thick, and for larger pastries, such as the Gateau St.-Honore, 3/16-inch thick.
20. Unless you are a professional puff pastry maker and have a home sheeter (a machine that rolls out pastry sheets – a dream of mine) then limit the number of turns for croissants to a maximum of four. For the normal home baker (three or) four turns will produce the maximum lift, further turns will result in smaller and denser croissants. I did six turns since I was using sourdough and I have been making laminated doughs for a long time and can make a good dough with even thin layers that are aligned very closely to 90° to the dough edges. Usually I do four turns but since this is a challenge I thought I would do six to experiment.
21. If some butter escapes you can add a very thin layer of flour to the butter and proceed as normal.
22. You can place thick rubber bands on the edges of the rolling pin the bands make rolling out even thickness dough's much easier. Or you can use flat thin bars of metal laid out on the table as your rolling guide for your rolling pin.
23. Trim the parts that do not expose laminations (like the long edges of the dough.) You do not want 'dead' areas in the laminated dough these dead areas will not rise and bake correctly, so be neat and keep straight edges on your dough when rolling it out. DO NOT put the trimmings in the dough
24. Always brush off the excess flour after turning and folding, this unincorporated flour can cause toughness in your final baked croissants.
25. Get the dough out and back into the fridge as soon as possible between lamination steps.
26. Proving the shaped croissants takes much longer than normal bread...2 to 2.5 hours (even longer if using sour dough) until they are fully puffed-up and jiggle when they are done. It is this final proofing that produces large light puffy croissants and stop the butter from running out of the rolls.
27. The melting point of butter is very low (90°F/32°C) and it has a spreading consistency at room temperature. So if the ambient room temperature is well above 77°F/25°C proof your unbaked croissants in the fridge (this will take about 8-10 hours).
28. Egg washing immediately after forming the croissants keeps them moist! Egg wash again just before baking. This double egg washing produces a lovely deep shine on your croissants.
29. Remember to egg wash the tops of the laminated dough (not the edges that have the laminations) in the shaped croissant, since the egg wash will stop the croissant laminations from rising correctly.
30. Remember the croissants will increase in volume about three times so arrange the unbaked rolls on your baking sheet with plenty of space between them.
31. Rotate your baking sheets half way through the bake.
32. Add a little steam (an ice cube or two in a shallow pan in the oven with the croissants is fine) when starting to bake the croissants this moisture produces thin crisp crusts.
33. The oven temperature is very hot (475°F/240°C/gas mark 9) for this recipe I baked mine for 15 mins and the colour on the croissants was perfect. Remember to preheat the oven for about 20 mins at the correct baking temperature, this long preheating ensures marvellous oven spring and a deep colour on the croissants.
34. The colour of the croissant should be brown all over even where the pastry overlaps.
35. If after 15 mins in the very hot oven you need more colour reduce the temperature to moderately hot (400°F/200°C/gas mark 6) and bake until you get the colour you want.
36. To see some WONDERFUL croissants (with loads of tips and hints) see these links from Txfarmer's postings in The Fresh Loaf website. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24534/double-chocolate-croissant-sourdough-starter-can-bread-be-mysteries-and-sexy http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22677/poolish-croissant-pursuit-perfection http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/23342/croissant-sourdough-starter-txfarmer-vs-tx-summer

Butter Croissants
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I did another batch using the new updated challenge recipe, I used plain (AP) flour (10% protein), I double egg-washed the rolls and I made sure that I proofed them until soft and wobbly (about 4 hours since it was cold here). The interior crumb was a marvellous honeycomb.

A nice honeycomb pattern
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A crisp shiny crust yum yum
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Comparison of the crumb from my first batch (sourdough croissants) and this batch, the final proofing is very important to get a light airy interior in your croissants.
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Pain Au Chocolat Noir
The shiny lacquered crusts of the pain au chocolat noir
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I made up some dark chocolate dough (by replacing 4 tablespoons of flour with dark Dutch processed cocoa powder in the challenge recipe) to make pain au chocolat noir, I used dark chocolate chips in the rolls to give an extra chocolate hit. This shape for the rolls minimizes waste and also you can place some extra chocolate along the entire width of the pastry. These where a smash hit with my guests also I really like these a lot not too sweet with a great mouth feel, the best ones so far (it is hard to beat chocolate).

The layered chocolate and butter layers in the croissant dough, this is after three turns and folds
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Loads of pain au chocolat noir
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Interior shot of the chocolate crumb and dark chocolate filling
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A small stack of pain au chocolat noir
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Cherry Ripe Croissant Bread Pudding
I love how it looks like a lava explosion rippling with chocolate yum yum!
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I love the flavour of cherry ripe (that is a combination of cherry, coconut and chocolate) so I thought I would make a bread pudding from the 'leftover' chocolate croissants I had from yesterday. (To be honest they weren't leftover I stashed them away (LOL LOL) so I could make a bread pudding from them today.) This dessert is rich, decadent with a lusciousness that boarders on the sublime, and it looks so tempting and inviting. The topping is oozing with dark chocolate goodness while the interior is soft melt-in-your-mouth coconut egg yolk custard which is full of hidden ruby red treasures of cherries. Too good to share really this amount feeds 12 people with ice cream.

Bread pudding is basically ripped stale buttered and jammed bread that is baked in an egg/milk/cream custard usually along with soaked dried fruit like raisins etc.

So for this decadent croissant bread pudding I used this recipe

The unbaked cherry ripe croissant bread pudding (this had soaked overnight)
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The baked croissant pudding
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Cherry Ripe Croissant Bread Pudding
For each two medium-sized chocolate croissants ripped into 1 inch (2½ cm) inches pieces use; one cup of custard liquid (¼ cup coconut cream, ½ cup cream and ¼ cup milk) whisked with 2 egg yolks, and the filling ingredients of ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup dried cherries soaked overnight in rum or cherry brandy or orange juice, ¼ cup dark chocolate chips. Line a baking dish with the ripped croissant pieces, add the custard liquid and the other ingredients stir gently. Cover with plastic and place a light weight on top and let soak for at least one hour (or overnight is better). Preheat an oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas 4, remove the plastic from the pudding add some more chocolate chips (do not add soaked fruit they will burn) and place the baking dish into a larger baking pan place enough boiling water to reach about half way up the pudding dish and bake for an hour. The centre should be slightly wobbly. Let cool to warm (about 45 minutes) and serve with vanilla ice cream. Marvellous warm but better at room temperature the next day.

So oozy with deliciousness
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What to do with the left over trimmings of the croissant dough?
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After so many batches of croissants I have lots of trimmings, (a lot of long trimmings and short trimmings) so I thought I would share what I make these them. Scrolls are always good to make with the long lengths of trimmings, Danish pastries and pain au chocolat are great when you have a lot of shot trimmings just roll out and fill as normal.

Scrolls made with the long lengths of trimmings - on the left the filling is soaked raisins and the other is filled with stewed apple pieces
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Danish pastry
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Crumb of the pain au chocolat roll
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          ARTWORKS        





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Artworks è un insieme composito, che ricorda un oggetto sapiente e ricco di fascino, qual è l'erbario. Queste opere infatti parlano la lingua del generale  e del particolare; hanno complici il caso e la cura; sono legate al gesto e muovono all'astrazione; evocatrici di natura e poesia. Come nella costruzione dell'herbarium in loro c'è la grazia della raccolta, della scelta, della gratitudine; sono frutto di un comporre per dare senso. I singoli di Enrico Marani sono luoghi dell'anima fermati sull'alba tabula della memoria. Hanno estensione simbolica molto forte, senza perdere essenzialità.  Ogni opera declina un verso, con la leggerezza e la potenza di un'immagine parlante che va oltre la sua materialità. Ci sono abitudini e curiosità, bisogni e capacità creative che perdiamo con il tempo. Enrico Marani ce le restituisce con l'abilità e la sapienza di chi riscopre un'attitudine. Un linguaggio fatto di incontri, di sovrapposizioni, di chiusure ed aperture dove l'istantaneità e l'eternità si fanno complici. L’'evocazione di paesaggi reali ed immaginari, terribilmente vivi e fantasticamente inesistenti. Il simbolico non è sublimazione ma arcaica corrispondenza del concreto e dell'astratto. Scopriamo l'astro nella sua assoluta perfezione sorgere dal buio della terra (composition 13) o l'occhio pericoloso di Medusa nell'assoluta fissità dei fili e degli sterpi annodati (composition 10); dentro una piccola cavità scopriamo la “possibilità” che appartiene ad ogni dolorosa crepa che si apre nel contingente (composition 10); troviamo la potenza evocatrice della memoria paga di se stessa finché non viene invasa dalla verdescenza del presente (composition 3), per fare qualche esempio. Marani è un artista poliedrico, la cui espressione è nella forma più completa segno parola suono. Il segno che nelle sue opere assume su di sé la capacità di evocazione poetica. Ama definirsi “scultore musicale”* perché capace di mescolare i sensi e le abilità. In Artworks a ciò si aggiunge una ricerca sapiente di comunicare al di là dell’io. Sono le cose, i frammenti di una natura non addomesticata nelle forme, non neutralizzata dall’identità della nomenclatura scientifica, ma viva, imperfetta a volte mescolata ad altro che non solo riconosce ma ingloba, fortifica, domina. È un’arte delle cose nella loro immortalità poetica, è una comunicazione che supera il dire della soggettività, perché come ci suggerisce il filosofo Remo Bodei il privilegiare la cosa rispetto al soggetto è mostrare il soggetto stesso nel suo rovescio. Non troviamo nei singoli dell’artista il suo sé deforme, alterato, idealizzato, ma il suo gesto, il suo cogliere e deporre come atto di universalità. Non è sul sogno, sulla ricerca di perfezione, sul fantastico che troviamo in questa collezione il senso dell’arte, ma nella possibilità di parlare attraverso l’istante che si itera al di là della sua volontà.
Come gli erbari, dove il perdere la propria tridimensionalità significa acquistare per sempre e per molti la propria eternità.


Micol Perfigli


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Queste opere parlano di incontri. Tra chi? Non è dato saperlo con certezza. Elementi della natura, potremmo dire. Ma quale natura? Non certo la natura nel senso ristretto, moderno, ma in quello più ampio della physis greca, all'ascolto della quale Heidegger ha rieducato il nostro orecchio. Anche due reti di plastica possono essere, e qui sono, physis. Natura, prima ancora che nel senso di potenza, nel senso di mistero. Non la natura romantica, non la natura intesa come forza, o come mondo, o come orizzonte inglobante, ma, piuttosto, come ciò che spunta e cresce oltre il mondo e l'orizzonte, tra le loro pieghe, rompendo le pieghe stesse. Natura come ciò che sorge spontaneamente, sommessamente, sempre sotto possibile smentita, che viene dal nulla e nel nulla è destinato a tornare – e che, a differenza del sistema, non se ne fa problema. Non una forza che si oppone ad altra forza ma un soffio che se ne sottrae radicalmente. Elementi, abbiamo detto. Mi ha colpito, in questi lavori, questa strana sospensione che invita a considerare, nell'accordo generale, ciascuna singolarità: un equilibrio miracoloso e paradossale tiene separate le identità di ciascun elemento anche nelle opere apparentemente più corali. Anche negli intrecci, anche negli addensamenti attorno a un punto: superata la visione d'insieme, ognuno di essi ci invita ad essere considerato nella sua propria esistenza. Potere della materia sull'attività uniformante della visione, della pittura. In queste opere, ogni singolarità si espone di per se stessa, con una propria luce, una propria resistenza, irrestibilmente, naturalmente – ed ecco ancora questo significato quasi capovolto di natura, che non significa più uniformità ma emersione dall'uniformità. ingolarità che esige di essere guardata, nella sua fragilissima presenza; null'altro da offrire che se stessa, nessun escamotage, eppure proprio questa nudità è seducente al massimo grado, è un coraggio che sentiamo mancarci. E l'occhio rimane lì. Ma abbiamo detto anche: incontri. Incontri tra due elementi (che può significare: tra due singolarità dello stesso tipo, ma anche tra due tipi diversi). Ciò che emerge dalla physis non è incurante. In queste opere sembra che la tensione verso ciò che è sorto dietro o davanti a me, di fianco a me, sia la prima preoccupazione della cosa stessa. Io vengo al mondo, e per questa stessa ragione immediatamente mi piego, mi dispongo verso l'altro. Gli elementi, qui, sono solo apparentemente rigidi e fissati. Da essi emerge un bisogno di comunicazione – anche negli elementi apparentemente più potenti, più in alto nella gerarchia dell'esistente tracciato dalla disposizione delle tavole. Nessuno di essi può essere solo, ma, ancora di più: nessuno vuole esserlo. In queste opere, nella loro purezza, venuta al mondo e desiderio si concentrano l'uno nell'altro fino a coincidere. Nel silenzio, gli elementi si parlano in un modo soprendente. Ed è proprio il discorso sull'incontro che ci porta al grande assente: l'uomo, quello che sta davanti l'opera e quello che le sta dietro. "Grande assente", perché assente di un'assenza sempre ricordata. Da qui, da questi incontri, l'uomo non è semplicemente andato via. Esso rimane come un sottointeso. L'uomo non compare – eppure il suo fantasma silenzioso sta dietro a questi lavori, impercettibilmente ma senza possibilità di smentita. Non sono opere dentro le quali ci si abbandona. In esse continua a percepirsi la risonanza del gesto, il lavoro, la regola. Regola talora apparentemente invisibile, ma non assente. Il sole accecante attorno al quale tutto si organizza, che pure non possiamo guardare direttamente. L'invisibilità della linea parla della misteriosità di questa regola, misteriosa almeno quanto il sorgere delle cose stesse. Mistero che l'artista rispetta. Non bisogna lasciarsi traviare dalla geometria delle disposizioni: non è una geometria imposta estrinsecamente, anche quando essa si fa più scopertamente violenta. Al contrario, essa dà quasi l'impressione di sorgere dalle cose stesse, come se l'artista si fosse semplicemente limitato a fotografare la disposizione del loro incontrarsi – qui forse esce l'occhio fotografico (e cinematografico) di Enrico –, come l'istologo congela la grande danza dei cromosomi nel susseguirsi delle fasi del ciclo della cellula, che da una si fa due. La regola, abbiamo detto quindi, è evidente: ma non è l'uomo che dà la regola, quanto piuttosto segue quella che le cose nel loro farsi gli suggeriscono. Ciò che si sente qui in modo supremo è quel mistero eminente dell'arte, secondo il quale l'artista, a un certo punto, sente che l'opera, che pure egli ha prodotto, non è più sua. In questi lavori, sembra che l'artista abbia da sempre soltanto guardato il suo materiale, e quasi si stringe a noi in una contemplazione magica. Per questo motivo ho scritto che il lavoro è allo stesso tempo evidente e sottointeso, che la regola organizza, ma secondo i ritmi che le cose impongono: per questo ho detto che l'uomo c'è, ma come fantasma. Mi immagino, guardando queste opere, che lo sguardo dello spettatore, davanti ad esse, se potesse bucarle, troverebbe specularmente lo sguardo dell'artista, che pure da da dietro le guarda. Più che fare, egli permette che le cose si facciano. Ricordo una conversazione con Enrico sul mistero di essere padre e madre, in cui egli ribaltava la logica consueta che vede il figlio come qualcuno o qualcosa da plasmare, per confessare che il problema era piuttosto il contrario: capire cosa voleva il figlio dal padre e dalla madre, capire in che modo ciò che era stato generato interpellava il generante, capire in che modo egli chiedesse di seguirlo lungo le proprie strade. Paradosso del creatore che viene creato a sua volta dalla creatura, come ha scritto anche Lévinas. Paradosso umano, prima ancora che artistico.Dietro all'incontro delle cose, l'uomo. L'uomo che accompagna la vita della natura, che la annusa con una riverenza religiosa: non acritica, ma umile. L'uomo che sente il respiro della natura, quando sa di non possederlo più: e con quest'immagine del respiro, certo logora e abusata, vogliamo significare un evento reale: quello per cui, paradossalmente secondo le nostre regole, le cose, nel loro silenzio e quindi senza apparente comunicazione, si rendono disponibili per ogni altra. Non dicono "sono qui, e posso fare per te questo". Il "posso" e il "questo" non sono nella loro disponibilità. Essere al mondo è già un essere radicalmente esposto. Tacciono, quasi disarmate, consapevoli dell'inevitabilità del respiro. Non un respiro "cosmico", cioè, in fondo astratto, perché valido "per tutti e per ciascuno", ma un respiro che condivide l'aria con ciò che gli è stato messo di fianco (di nuovo, Heidegger e la Geworfenheit?), che si apre alla stessa aria: e l'aria non è uguale dappertutto, e non ogni cosa va bene per tutti. Si conserva qui, cioè, il senso della differenza. La fragilità dell'incontro che è anche ciò che lo rende autenticamente tale, il suo poter sopravvivere magari anche un istante solo, il suo essere dipendente da certe condizioni, da un certo tempo. Irripetibile, davvero. Dipendente dal tempo e dallo spazio; e in un certo senso al di fuori, come miracolosamente emergente dal tempo e dallo spazio, in altre parole: vita: "Il significato dell'universo non sta nell'universo".

Davide Bertolini

 



          A Rhinoplasty Procedure Will Boost Your Self-confidence        
By Adriana Noton

You may be someone who thinks that your nose is really horrible. Looking at popular college kids with their perfect features and athletic bodies, you feel ugly. You spend hours in front of the mirror looking at your flaws ' especially your nose. Perhaps someone has said cruel things about your appearance. If you search online about nose surgery, the word rhinoplasty will come up.

"You have an exotic look, " your family and friends might say, amongst other cliches that do nothing to make you feel better. You've seen yourself in photos, and it is always there ' standing out like a beacon on your face. You try everything to make your nose look smaller, to no avail.

After doing some research online, you have found out all these is to know about rhinoplasty. You know that you would qualify to have the surgery. Now you have to go and face your family to tell them about your decision.

Your family may, at first, be horrified when you tell them that you have going to have rhinoplasty. However, if you can explain how severely this is affecting your self-confidence, they are sure to see your side. You will first need to see a plastic surgeon to talk to about the surgery.

The surgeon will take photographs of your nose and explain what changes can be made during the procedure. He or she will tell with you and your family about what the surgery entails. The cost of the surgery as well as the recovery period will also be explained.

Rhinoplasty is one of the most common male cosmetic surgery performed today. It can be done in an outpatient surgery, or in a hospital. You will either be under local or general anesthesia, depending on your surgeon who does your nose surgery.

Local anesthesia means you are slightly sedated and your nose area is numbed. You are aware what is happening, but cannot feel any pain. General anesthesia is when you go into theatre completely asleep and wake up some time after the surgery.

The operation is commonly done through the nostrils. The surgeon will chisel away at the bone and cartilage and reduce the size of your nostrils if necessary. There will be no visible scarring when you have healed.

Most surgeries will cause a certain amount of pain. After your procedure, you will have puffiness and bruising around your face. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication and give you other instructions which you must take heed of. Don't miss any follow up appointments.

It is important not to blow your nose during the first week of your operation because you might injure your healing nose. Within about 10 days the stitches will be removed and the bruising should almost be gone. Your nose will still be slightly swollen for some time.

Once your face has healed up nicely, you will be able to really see what a difference the rhinoplasty has made. Your confidence will soar and you will soon be out and about feeling like a million dollars. This small procedure can make a big difference in your world. - 29851

About the Author:


          Cuneiform Writing        
Inside the Cuneiform Writing EduKit

Using a stylus and a plasticine tablet, students are introduced to ancient Mesopotamian writing. Activities include writing simple sentences in cuneiform and examining a reproduced ancient cuneiform tablet.

Contents: 

Cuneiform writing utensils, cuneiform tablet and student activity booklets.

Level: 

Junior
Intermediate

Best Grade Connections: 

Grade 4

Subject: 

History
Social Studies

Available Languages: 

English

Case Category: 

A - Mini

Case Size Information: 

46 cm x 38 cm x 16 cm

Weight: 

12 lbs

          HAPPY SPRING Paper Watches · New DIY!        




welcome spring with my Spring Paper watches that are also greeting cards.
craft, draw, and color any of the downloadable printables
for the perfect handmade Easter presents.
check the full tutorial and templates on Handmade Charlotte and enjoy!
🌼  happy crafty spring!🌸
💚
P.S: take a look at the new cute watchband for my real watch!
smitten by the combination of crocheted lace, wooden butterfly button
and black plastic technology.


da a bienvenida a la primavera con mi nuevo tutorial,
estos relojes de papel son también tarjetas de felicitación
que podrás colorear o dibujar bajándote las plantillas descargables.
pásate por Handmade Charlotte para ver todo el tutorial
y descargarte las plantillas.
espero que lo disfrutes!!

P.D. aprovechando el tutorial, me he hecho esta correa para mi reloj.
a que es bonita?
perfecta para un regalar estas pascuas!
feliz primavera!!
🌷 ⌚️ ðŸŒ» 







          Timers, temporizadoes y relevadores de estado solido robustos aguantan alta temperatura        
Fabricamos timers y temporizadores para soportar las mas latas temperaturas utilizando componentes con estandares militares y circuitos integrados especiales. Algunos de ellos soportan mas de 100 °c. Especiales para platans donde hay hornos, prensas, plasticos, bolseadoras. Cartoneras. Diseñamos nuestras tarjetas para que sean inmunes a las lineas con ruido armonico, muy indicadas para plantas con cargas no lineales, laser, hornos de induccion, autotransporte, tanques electroliticos etc. Reparacion de tarjetas electronicas industriales y conversion a alta temperatura, al momento de reparar la tarjeta sustituimos circuitos regulares por circui
          Eco- September Issue (part 6)        
Accessories

Milk Munny
Cute wallet made of Milk Box!



ReMade USA
Leather Bags made of reused leather.



Moo Shoes
Vegan Shoes



Freitag
Used materials bags



959
bags made with used seat belt



Kayu
Bambu nice sunglasses



TerraCycle
cool and fun bags made of old snacks bags



Comercial Drive
Old street banner become nice eco-bags!



Melissa
because its from y lovely country and because its green plastic sandals!


          The Series Finale of The Money Shot...        
Well, we did it.  This is the 2,385th and final post at The Money Shot.  February 4th, 2015 is probably going to be talked about more than 9/11 and Pearl Harbor combined when the new history books are written.  As I've mentioned over the past week, this day was coming at some point--I just did not know when.  Now that we are here, I'm strangely at peace.  It just seems right.  Helping ease the powerful feels is the next chapter of our internet lives anyway but we'll get to that later.

I started The Musings of GMoney (nice name, douche) in July of 2006 while I was living in a one bedroom apartment on the east side of Cleveland.  The idea was sprung on me by a current college football DL coach who thought that I could carve out a decent niche on the worldwide web with my unique opinions, brash style, and gorgeous looks.  Ironically, the plans for this site were hatched at the wedding reception of Ace's basketball coach cousin.  Dickhead was actually there when this site was mentally born and he didn't even know it.  Hell, we probably didn't even know each other at that point.  Either way, solo living isn't easy and I started randomly writing to get through the boredom and loneliness (very little of it was any good though).

Once I moved to Columbus, I started doing this daily.  I'm not sure if anyone remembers this, but I used to write posts as soon as I came into work every morning.  How mad would you jerks be if I was posting at 9 am every day still?  LOL SO MAD BRO.  We eventually started to build a following whether it be through lifelong friends from Nap, through message boards/links, or picking up losers off the scrap heap (Drew).  We added Mr. Ace along the way to lessen my burden and then he quit.  After a high stakes contest to replace him, we gained an Iceman.  Iceman then eventually died out of stupidity, came back as someone else, killed that guy off, and then became a born-again Iceman.  Never forget that this was all necessary because he is an idiot.  Then Mr. Ace came crawling back again and we had a threesome that was loved and hated and lusted after by all.  We developed our own played out words and phrases.  We LOLZed.  We cried.  We got erect. We got married.  We had kids.  We had incredible discussions about pornography.  It was everything that I ever wanted.

Over the years, and especially recently, people have asked what the goal was for The Money Shot.  Did I have bigger aspirations for the site?  To answer that question as plainly as possible.  No.  This is exactly what I wanted it to be.  I didn't secretly want to work at The Dispatch or whatever.  I can only imagine submitting this site as a writing sample and the sports editor saying, "Have you seen how this guy uses the word 'faggot'?  Incredible!  Let's put him on the Crew beat post haste!" I wanted a relatively small and tight-knit group that I could see myself arguing at a bar with over sports and life or whatever only doing it every day on the internet.  I had no intention of making it big as a blogger (LOL).  The only thing that I wanted from this was a distraction from work and/or life.  I love talking about sports and I REALLY love being right.  That's all that I've ever needed.  Finding a group of assholes with the same zest for internet life was all that I required.

No one has ever asked, but I do have two big regrets here.  It's nothing major but there were two stories/concepts that I wanted to address but never got around to it.

*Big Boy Work Stories - In high school, I was a server for six months or so at Big Boy.  Burke was a cook and a handful of our bros also worked there.  It was seriously the worst restaurant ever.  We picked on the mentally challenged dishwasher (she threw a butter knife at me once!), fucked with nearly everyone that tried to order via the drive-thru (I will never forget one guy screaming at the top of his lungs, "I WANT A GODDAMN PEPSI WITH NO ICE"!), and who could forget the fake shit.  I will tell that tale really quick.  Juan Negro and myself were the only servers on the floor one night and it was about an hour before close.  The only people in there were the regulars that just drank coffee and smoked a lot.  We see a car pull in and neither of us want to deal with them.  Black decides to put a lump of the plastic fake dog shit on the floor mat so it is the first thing that you see when you walk in.  This foursome opens the door, I smile at them, they look down, and then immediately retreat back to their car.  LOL!  Black and I went back to working on our Paul Bearer impressions probably.  There are so many good stories from that dump and I wish I had dedicated more time to telling them.
*The grandest finale - For YEARS, I had my exit planned.  It just didn't work out due to laziness.  It was going to be an incredibly high concept week-long post in the style of Vh1's Behind The Music.  Prime, Ape, Iceman, and myself would have formed a rock band and everyone who has contributed here in the past would have played some role in our story.  One day would be the rise then the break-through then the peak of popularity then the fall and to end with the redemption story.  It was going to be great.  I was mentally writing this thing for three years.  But it would have taken forever so I just never started.  SPOILER ALERT: Ape lost an arm in a fight with his savage dogs, Prime was murdered by Boogie Cousins, Iceman became addicted to ribs and was living inside a smokehouse, and I left the band to do acoustic sets under the backdrop of old Peter King columns called "Ten Songs I Think I Sung".  I was the one with the gigantic ego OBVZ.  And it would have ended with all of us burying the hatchet and going on one final Prime-less tour with each of carrying 50 pounds of fat on our frames just like every band.

So what happens now?  Where do we go from here?  I believe that I promised some sort of message board option?  To quote the great Walter White, "you're goddamn right".  Starting RIGHT NOW, the next chapter has begun.  When one door closes, another one opens.  That door has a big sign on it that reads ELITE TAKES.  Yes, ELITE Takes dot com is now your source for 24 hour smack talk and comment accountability.  It is intentionally a bare bones site.  No site banner that screams "not appropriate for work".  No spam.  13 threads and nothing but the best.  I have asked so little from all of you over the years (outside of Iceman and Mr. Ace).  I do ask that you register for the board and give it a chance.  What are you going to do?  Work?  Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!

That is it for us here at The Money Shot.  The comment section will be open until about 4 pm today until I shut down comments for good.  That will be sad.  The site will remain forever though because I am still very proud of what we have done and also because people need to be held accountable.  We've done some great work here, people, and you should all be pleased with what you've added.  I wanted to close with a quote from one of America's finest poets:

Not about to see your light
And if you wanna find hell with me
I can show you what it's like

--Glenn Danzig

LOL!  Iceman thinks that he's hot.  Never forget.  Enough of that though.  One more time, thank you all for your support over the years.  We could not have done it without you.  Nine years is a long time.  Hell, this site can officially try out for Little League.  But it's time to send it out to stud and move on.  Adios, Money Shot, your services were always beloved by all yet are no longer needed.  We will love and miss you forever.  Goodbye.
          Placinte de cartofi la tigaie        

Placinte de cartofi la tigaie, cu sunca si cascaval, reteta simpla si rapida Pentru o gustare sau un pranz simplu si delicios, va propun aceste placinte de cartofi la tigaie, umplute cu cascaval si sunca. Noi le-am mancat cu salata, dar la fel de bine se pot servi simple, calde sau reci. Cateva placinte au ramas dupa masa de pranz, le-am pus in frigider, acoperite cu folie de plastic alimentara si le-am devorat cu pofta la micul dejun. Au fost excelente! Umplutura poate varia in functie de preferinte. Le putem face doar cu cascaval sau doar cu sunca, iar daca nu va tenteaza deloc aceste doua propuneri, nu le umpleti cu nimic. Le decupati cu o forma rotunda si le frigeti in tigaie usor unsa cu ulei de masline. Sunt un deliciu, iar reteta este foarte simpla. Placinte de cartofi la tigaie – Ingrediente (6 placinte umplute) 500 g cartofi fierti si curatati (cantariti dupa ce ii curatam) 100 g faina... Citeste tot

The post Placinte de cartofi la tigaie appeared first on Laura Adamache.


          How to Clean CDs with Toothpaste        

Despite the charm and old-time cool that CDs have, it is undeniable that they can be difficult to maintain. As they are made of a thin, specialized form of plastic, they are generally easily scratched. Unfortunately, as many CD owners probably already know, even just a single scratch on a CD can cause its contents […]

The post How to Clean CDs with Toothpaste appeared first on Interior Decorating Tips.


          My 10 Favorite Things About Living and Teaching in Korea        
I'm two days away from leaving Korea. In two years of living here, I have developed deeply ambivalent feelings about both my experience here and the society itself. A couple days ago, I was re-reading The Prophet, and I was surprised to find a section that echoed my feelings about leaving Korea:

The hero has been in a strange land for twelve years and upon seeing the ship that will return him to his homeland...

"the gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea. And he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul.

But as he descended the hill, a sadness came upon him, and he thought in his heart: How shall I go in peace and without sorrow? Nay, not without a wound in the spirit shall I leave this city.

Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?

Too many fragments of the spirit have I scatterd in these streets, and too many are the children of my longing that walk naked among these hills, and I cannot withdraw from them without a bruden and an ache.

It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands.

Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.

Yet I cannot tarry longer.

The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.

For to stay, though the hours burn in the night, is to freeze and crystallize and be bound in a mould."

A bit dramatic perhaps, but it really nails how I'm feeling. But, moving along... last week I posted my 10 least favorite things about living and teaching here, and here are my 10 favorite things about living and teaching here, plus a few runners-up.

Runners-up

Ice cream bars -- This didn't make the top ten because it has been absolutely disastrous for my fitness. At every convenience store, and they're everywhere, there is a freezer full of delicious ice cream on a stick in every flavor you could imagine and more (one of my favorites is a chocolate bar on a stick, surrounded with "nano-silver vanilla", coated with chocolate and peanuts, another is melon, another still is watermelon flavored and shaped ice cream with hazelnut seeds). A full price bar is 700 won ($.55), and most places sell them at half price. I don't know how that can be profitable (and I probably don't want to), but it sure does make for a delicious, fattening summer.

Elders' robustness -- Before the monsoon came with its endless days of rain, I was playing tennis every morning with a 64 year old man that was in nearly as good of shape as I am. I never saw him eat an ice cream bar. On my way to school, I routinely see 80-something year old men and women hunched over working in the fields, digging up potatoes or planting chili pepper plants. I've never seen them eating ice cream bars either.

Lack of zoning -- Where I come from, an area is either commercial or residential, so people end up driving a lot. Here, everything is mixed together, so people walk. On one level, it's nice to have a convenience store (with ice cream bars) in the same building as my apartment. On another level, it gets people out in the streets and creates a mixing of people and a sense of community involvement that I think we could use more of at home.

Free time -- I am ambivalent about this. Every single day here, I've had hours of free time. I play guitar, watch TV, read, watch movies, cook, paint, play online games, meditate, etc. I have learned a lot from the reading I've done, I'm a better guitarist and singer and cook, and I'm a champion of Settlers of Catan (my online game of choice), but I'm also bored a lot and frequently feel like I'm wasting my life away. It is that feeling that compelled me to take the plunge into grad school at the end of my contract here.

Now, to the top ten....

10. Gardens everywhere --
This province, Gangwon-do, is notorious in Korea for being difficult to grow food. The people respond by growing food absolutely everywhere. Any land that is less than a 15% incline and is not paved over is growing food, without exception. That's true whether it's someone's front yard, a triangle of dirt between a bridge and road, or way up in the valleys that surround the towns. They're not farms, much more like what we think of as gardens. They grow chili peppers, corn, soy beans, onions, garlic, potatoes, greens, grapes and on the occasional flat section of land, rice. This is this old couple's yard. It's worth noting that it's September and they're planting, probably the third crop of the year. I'm certain they would think we are insane for the money, effort, fertilizer and pesticides we put into grass.

9. Jjimjilbang -- These are combination health club, sauna and recreation center. Admission is about $5 and for that you soak in hot tubs infused with jade or eucalyptus or whatever, sweat in the saunas and steam rooms, and get a sports massage or a scrub down from an old Korean man wearing nothing more than briefs. There are restaurants, but for reasons that escape me Koreans seem to prefer to pig out on hard boiled eggs at these places. There are barbers and televisions and computers and massage chairs and cold and hot rooms and salt rooms and charcoal rooms and oxygen rooms. A great place to hang out and warm up in the winter or sweat out in the summer.

8. Outdoorsiness -- Koreans love the outdoors, whether eating squid jerky and drinking rice wine behind an apartment building, or hiking through valleys (which they have done an excellent job of protecting by concentrating in the cities the population of 50 million people in a country the size of Indiana). I love the tendency toward the outdoors, especially in summer, when restaurants pull out their plastic tables and the dining room floors spill out into the streets. The images of dozens of Koreans eating, drinking and laughing in a courtyard on a warm summer night will stay with me for a long time.

7. The sweet kids --
Not all of them were, but the ones that were sweet were the cutest, kindest, funnest kids I've ever known.















6. The restaurants & the food -- A lot of foreigners here complain about the cuisine, and while I admit the flavors can get a bit monotonous (sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic and chilies), I love the food, even though much of it is off limits to me as a vegetarian. Restaurants typically specialize in just a few dishes, are usually owned and run by an old lady who might work with one other old lady to prepare the food, serve the food, clean the place and everything. My favorite restaurant in town is a place where a 4' 6" 60 year old lady serves grilled fish lettuce wraps (I'm a quasi-vegetarian here) and seems to rotate through being amused, confused, appreciative and fed-up with the foreigners that frequent her place. The prices, and there's no tax or tipping, so what you see on the menu on the wall is what you actually pay, for a typically quick meal might be $3, and unless it's a very special dish (or foreign food or drink), meals rarely exceed $10 per person.

Every meal comes with bancheon, side dishes, that always include kimchi and usually other fermented vegetables. In a cheap place, you might just get three little kimchis, in a nicer place, it's not uncommon to get over ten bancheon, and they might include fried fish or raw octopus or other treats that can be even better than the central meal itself. In most cases, everything is shared with everyone at the table. In fact, when eating with Koreans, even glasses are shared -- it's a neat little social device... if you see that someone is bored or if you want to chat with someone that you're not sitting near, you take them your empty glass and a bottle of soju (chemically fermented rice wine) and pour them a shot, and in that manner, over a meal that might last a few hours, people move around (everyone sits on the floor) and everyone talks with everyone, everyone shares germs and everyone gets drunk.

5. Community focus -- This is the highest ranking item that is really about Korean society, as the next four each have to do with my position here. On the whole, I'm not a big fan of Confucianism, at least as it operates in modern Korea. However, the focus on social harmony is really nice, and something that I think we North Americans could learn a lot from. Where I is the dominant pronoun in the US, we is here. Studies have shown that the different mindsets actually affect visual perception, such that Asians are more inclined to view ambiguous situations from a removed, more holistic perspective, whereas Westerners are more inclined to view the same situation from inside it, from a first person perspective. Unfortunately, because of the xenophobia here, foreigners are not always considered part of the community in the same way Koreans are, which I think makes being a foreigner here harder than it would be in a more individualistic society like the US. But, while I'm sure my Korean friends still think I'm terribly obstuse and inconsiderate, this mindset has implanted itself in my head, and I'm glad for it. I hope it stays with me through the years.

4. Income:expenses ratio -- The salary foreigners earn teaching in Korea isn't anything special, except that foreign teachers' apartments are paid for by employers, as are airfare here and home and immigration costs. Food is cheap, entertainment (at least out here in the boonies) is scarce, and buying stuff doesn't usually make sense when you know you have to fit everything you own into two suitcases at the end of the year. Health care is nationalized and very inexpensive and the tax structure is very progressive so even those who aren't exempt pay less than 4% income tax. I have been saving almost 80% of my salary, and on top of that I'll receive about two months' bonus pay at the end of my contract. No one has gotten rich doing it, but especially for folks right out of college or when the job market at home is what it is right now, it can be a very solid financial move.

3. Vacation time & neighboring destinations -- While I've been here, I've spent time in China, Vietnam, Laos, Japan, Thailand, and Thailand again. Spending almost the entire month of February in Thailand is about as good as it gets. And it was a relatively quick flight on a lovely Asian airline to get there.

2. Novelty in everything -- Living here is a bit like being a child. You never really know what's going on, you don't have responsibilities the same way you would at home, you're easily surprised, and routine events are novel and exciting. It's incredibly frustrating, but also really enjoyable.

1. Anonymity & outsiderness -- There is something comforting about knowing that no one knows you, and that no one can. If people are going to stare at me as I walk down the street, I might as well wear shorts and flip-flops and sing as I walk. If my students are going to think I'm a weird foreigner anyway, it's much easier to engage them with silly foolishness that I might hold back at home. At home, as soon as you see someone, you thin-slice their age, sex, body language, clothing, and a thousand other things and make a judgement about who they are and how they relate to you in society. In a culture as foreign as this, that's impossible. Advertising doesn't affect you, because it is designed to take advantage of the human mind's inability to stop thin slicing. And not understanding what that 16 year old girl on the bus won't stop talking about can be really nice.

I couldn't have named this at the time, but this is what brought me back to Korea for a second year. When you remove a person from their native culture, you force them to examine themselves in way that is otherwise impossible. We define ourselves by our relations: to our jobs, our achievements, our friends and family, our hobbies, and the culture we consume (and, less often it seems, create). Take away all those things and one has to look internally for a sense of identity. That transformation started for me in my first year here, but it didn't have time to run to completion. When I got home, I didn't identify in society as I had previously, but I was still looking to things like my friends and my job to define my position in society, my social identity, especially since it had been upended since I had left. I ended up feeling lost and floundering around for quite a while before returning to Korea. I don't know if that transition ever really reaches completion, but I know that I am going home with a much stronger internal compass than I had before I came to Korea, in addition to a much broader perspective on culture, politics and the world.

          School Festival        
In Korean public schools, it seems classes and whole days of classes are canceled as often as not. Last week, of the sixteen classes I normally teach at my primary school, I taught a total of six. Fine with me, though I wish that I had a private office to sit in during those canceled classes, instead of a desk in the room where the teachers and administrators come together in a cacophonous mess of 70 decibel Korean every ten minutes.

Anyway, Friday was School Festival Day, and the classes were gearing up for it all week, and even the week before. Each class got a five minute slot in which to perform, usually some sort of song and dance.

There were trucks in the parking lot of school selling cotton candy in cups and various plastic, flower bouquet-like contraptions. Many of the students were done-up in there traditional Korean best make-up and dresses. The librarian had been cutting out giant Korean characters for days. Anticipation was in the air!


The mothers, and their cameras, came out in hordes!



Two of my favorite students dressed up as bride and groom to play emcee.


One of the cutest little girls I've ever seen, performing a song with her first grade class.


Deep concentration was required by all. (don't think about cookies.... don't think about cookies....)


The whole thing was a giant whirl of colors!


This guy, who was clearly someone important, based on the greeting he got from the principal (whose ear is on the right), did what many high-status Korean men do -- ignored the hundreds of people behind him (and the zoom button, apparently) to get what he wanted.


One of my sixth grade classes performed a lovely enactment of "The Tortoise and the Hare" (in English), including this fight scene. I edited the script. Where I suggested that "the lesson of the story is..." should be maybe "the moral of the story is..." the final line of the play was "Maybe the moral of the story is..." Oh well, they like humility here. Maybe telling your elders what the moral of a story is would be presumptuous.

Then, unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died, so I have no pictures for you of the very cutest student of all, the amazing dance of Korean dragons to traditional Korean music, or the animated show my fifth grade class put on using 24 sketch pads held together in a giant square. Next time, charge the batteries the night before a big event!

It was a very entertaining afternoon. It was really fun to see the students so excited and to meet some (though too few) of their mothers. On the down side, it was followed by dinner at a grill-your-own-pig-meat-at-the-table restaurant, so we got home at 7:00 hungry, annoyed, and smelling like burnt pig flesh. But that's nothing that a change of clothes, a big bowl of popcorn, and an in bed screening of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? can't cure.
          Bleary-Eyed and All Chewed Up        
My humans have forgotten what it's like to have a puppy at home. After all, it's been more than 11 years since they've had a puppy in their home! So, the title of this blog post talks about two of challenges of having a puppy.

1) Bleary-Eyed - You can kiss sleeping in goodbye!
"When a puppy takes fifty catnaps in the course of the day, he cannot always be expected to sleep the night through." Albert Payson Terhune
 
Since Mia became part of our family last August, my humans have not been able to indulge in sleeping in. It's actually a lot better now as Mia does sleep through the night, compared to when she first came. Back then, she used to wake at around 2 to 4 am and my humans, worried that she might need to pee (puppies do have small bladders), have to wake up and take her out to relieve herself. They used to do the same for me too when I was a pup!
 
However, Mia is an early riser, and so anytime between 5.30-6.30 am, there will be sounds of pitter patter on the floor as Mia wakes (which means our whole household wakes up too). Personally, I don't mind because that means I get to eat breakfast early, which in my books, is a good thing. But for my humans, that rules out any hope of sleeping in at home on weekends.
 
2) All Chewed Up - This described the state of Mia's toys, our furniture, our shoes, our bags, etc, etc
 
It's a fact of life - you can't have a dog and a perfect house. My humans acknowledge that fact, having gone through that experience with me. Back when I was a pup, I used to love my human's high heel shoes. The heels fit perfectly in my mouth and makes for a good chew. The thing is though, I never chewed on a pair of shoes, instead, I like the variety and would pick a side of two different pairs of shoes, which to my human's chagrin, means two pairs of ruined shoes! I've also chewed through quite a few of my beds - woven basket, plastic beds, you name it, I've chewed it!
 
I'm pleased to say that Mia is following in my footsteps. She has chewed through numerous pairs of slippers, quite a few doggie toys, her bed (and mine), any sharp angle bits on furniture and floor trims, end bits of floor mats and my human's precious Longchamp bag. Here are some of Mia's chew "victims":
 
Victim #1:
One of Mia's first toys, a fluffy duckie from her original home. The duckie has since been put to rest - headless and stuffingless.
 Victim #2:
The Kong tennis ball with rope is now without its fluff covering and rope.

 Victim #3:
My humans carelessly left the remote on the coffee table. The picture speaks for itself.

 Victim #4:
A selection of Mia's chewed up toys. Note the fluffy cow which was bought to replace the fluffy duckie. In this picture, Mr. Fluffy Cow is still intact.
 
 
 
 Victim #5:
Headless Mr. Fluffy Cow.
 Mia has moved on to Ms Japanese Fish, which unfortunately did not survive for more than 5 minutes once Mia got started!

 Victim #6:
My human's bag (she is still trying to figure out if the bag can be saved with some creative patching!)
 Victim #7:
My other human's slipper
 
This is probably one of the only toys that my humans bought for Mia that still survives! Meanwhile, my humans are patiently waiting for the chewing phase to pass. Meanwhile, bags are kept away in cupboards and TV remotes are kept away from the coffee table!
 
  
 

          Valterra T1005-2 2 Inch Slip Hub Camper Trailer RV        

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          Solid Concepts is the 2nd Largest FDM Service Provider in North America        

Solid Concepts, a custom manufacturing company, continues to grow capacity to meet customer demand for additive manufactured products. Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, is excellent for prototypes and end-use products because it builds with production-grade thermoplastic material.

(PRWeb February 28, 2013)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/3dprinting/FDM/prweb10473243.htm


          In praise of the BBC        

This blog does its fair share of whining about daft things on the BBC, especially its website (“constructive criticism.”) There are disturbing current plans to cut back on everything good about the BBC, with a loss of 2,500 jobs. According to last week’s Guardian, the BBC’s high-profile serious journalists, such as Paxman, have been told not to express their criticisms of this sort of stuff on air.

The director-general has been quoted voicing the sort of Dilbert-speak that bodes ill for any organisation, from the perspective of both staff and customers. For example:

….his plan would deliver “a smaller, but fitter, BBC” in the digital age.
The six-year scheme, called Delivering Creative Future…..

Over the past few years, the BBC has expanded from being a public-service broadcaster – worthy enough in itself, to providing an almost unequalled Internet news resource. In the face of a general dumbing-down of television to a level that the average pet tortoise would find intelligible, the BBC still provides some tv and radio of amazing quality .

Well, it seems this all has to stop. The new plan is for more repeats, cuts to the television news, fewer current affairs programmes, fewer non-commercial kids’ programmes, ads on international stuff..

The editors’ blogs sound like it’s all an exciting new opportunity. Well, wouldn’t you, if you might be facing redundancy and criticism wouldn’t keep you out of that media dole queue?

…standing still is not an option because our audiences are changing and we must change with them….

Changing? More than normal changes then? In what ways? Granted most people have cable or satellite. I admit to watching minimal terrestrial tv, but that’s not because it’s over my head. It’s because most of it is hopelessly poor:

  • Soaps that should be poured down the plughole.
  • Reality shows that would make you want to Columbine the whole human race, if they actually bore any relationship to “reality”
  • Home / clothes / lifestyle makeovers, all aimed at a general transformation of the UK into a giant open-plan Stepford.
  • Programmes about raising children that make B.F. Skinner look laissez-faire
  • Plastic surgery programmes that actually promote it
  • Programmes about celebs and their weight problems
  • 100 greatest/worst adverts for car wax, or similar. With slightly recognisable talking heads discussing the choices
  • “Programmes” with a chirpy talking head and a screen puzzle designed to keep the drunk or mentally ill phoning in to “answer” trick questions at £300 a nanosecond

Basically, tv that would make the choice between watching it and gnawing off your own arm quite a difficult decision.

Is it the changing audience that’s driving this? If the audience is changing to be made up of the bedbound with broken remote controls, then maybe.

The BBC, although not blameless, is the least offender in this crap. It still represents so much of what is worthwhile in British culture. Cuts in its budget, cuts in its real staff….

Argh. That was the crunch of tooth on right arm flesh.


          Comments: Акции, распродажи, купоны на 07.08-13.08.2017        
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          Mourning and Celebrating Earth Day        

In my part of the globe, Earth Day, April 22nd draws to a close. While it was gratifying to see it recognized by so many and varied entities, among them Time magazine honoring it with a “green border”, Google with a moss encrusted landscape, my twitter friends using it for an avatar with monkchips and yellowpark creating a @earthdayavatars visualization for “ambient community” display and my colleague Craig Cmehil creating/supporting an eventtrack to aggregate all the earth day tags in flickr, technorati, and twitter, I still can’t help thinking that this isn’t just a day to celebrate earth but to mourn it as well. So unless there is some very powerful innovative and restorative activity happening and very fast, all the wearing of the green will have little more effect than it did when I dressed up for St.Patrick’s day in junior high. Lots of sentiment and identification but it didn’t at all make me Irish.

This I mourn deeply: since 1970, the first Earth Day, almost no real perceptible change.

“After Earth Day, nothing was the same,” environmental writer Philip Shabecoff said. Earth Day brought revolutionary change and “touched off a great burst of activism that profoundly affected the nation’s laws, its economy, its corporations, its farms, its politics, science, education, religion, and journalism…” It achieved Nelson’s long-sought goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s political agenda. “Most important, the social forces unleashed after Earth Day changed, probably forever, the way Americans think about the environment.” Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 114.

Is nothing the same? That would be cause to rejoice. But alas, if this is our "new" political agenda, why is it that the conference sessions seem recycled and stale. Recycling earth day translates into a stagnation which can only make its meaning toxic plasticity. It will take some very engaged, determined and creative minds to bring it back to vibrant life. That would really be a day to celebrate.


          Hoe het brandmerken van groente het milieu een stapje vooruit helpt        

Waarom zou je plastic gebruiken als het ook anders kan?

Het bericht Hoe het brandmerken van groente het milieu een stapje vooruit helpt verscheen eerst op Vance.


          (291200) ROS P 35 Pipe Cutter For Plastic And Multilayer 0-35mm Dia        
(291200) ROS P 35 Pipe Cutter For Plastic And Multilayer 0-35mm Dia

(291200) ROS P 35 Pipe Cutter For Plastic And Multilayer 0-35mm Dia


          1 1/2" Basket Waste Strainer with Round Outlet        
1 1/2" Basket Waste Strainer with Round Outlet

1 1/2" Basket Waste Strainer with Round Outlet

Stainless steel and plastic basket strainer. Does not come with overflow


          1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer        
1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer

1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer

Stainless steel basket with white plastic body.


          1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer with Overflow        
1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer with Overflow

1 1/2" Sink Basket Waste Strainer with Overflow

Plastic bodied waste with 1 1/2" BSP. Basket and flange. Stainless steel with white body. Excludes overflow.


          10/4 Expansion Tank        
10/4 Expansion Tank

10/4 Expansion Tank


          10/4 Gal 45/18 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits        
10/4 Gal 45/18 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

10/4 Gal 45/18 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

Tank pack contains lid,jacket,byelaw30 kit,ball valve pack & backing plate, no tank is included Tank size Height 305mm, width 296mm, length 442mm Rectangular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular tank designed to allow efficient stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage  


          110mm single socket soil pipe 3m SP3        
110mm single socket soil pipe 3m SP3

110mm single socket soil pipe 3m SP3

110mm Ring Seal Soil System BS 4514 FloPlast 110mm Ring Seal Soil System is Manufactured in PVC-U (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) to BS EN 1401-1: 1998 / BS4660: 2000. System Features: Provides an efficient means of waste water drainage and foul discharge from appliances.   Manufactured in PVC-U to give a strong and durable product, lightweight and easy to work with and suitable for high temperature waste discharge.   Fittings have an aesthetic modern look, are compact in size yet remain within the British Standard specification.   Push-Fit joint through an innovatively designed seal and snap cap system.   Comprehensive range of fittings to suit most installations and which integrate with all FloPlast Above and Below Ground Drainage Systems.     Colours Available: White, Black, Grey.


          110mm Soil Double Socket SP105        
110mm Soil Double Socket SP105

110mm Soil Double Socket SP105

110mm Ring Seal Soil System BS 4514 FloPlast 110mm Ring Seal Soil System is Manufactured in PVC-U (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) to BS EN 1401-1: 1998 / BS4660: 2000. System Features: Provides an efficient means of waste water drainage and foul discharge from appliances.   Manufactured in PVC-U to give a strong and durable product, lightweight and easy to work with and suitable for high temperature waste discharge.   Fittings have an aesthetic modern look, are compact in size yet remain within the British Standard specification.   Push-Fit joint through an innovatively designed seal and snap cap system.   Comprehensive range of fittings to suit most installations and which integrate with all FloPlast Above and Below Ground Drainage Systems.     Colours Available: White, Black, Grey.


          110mm Soil Offset Top Bend SP440        
110mm Soil Offset Top Bend SP440

110mm Soil Offset Top Bend SP440

110mm Ring Seal Soil System BS 4514 FloPlast 110mm Ring Seal Soil System is Manufactured in PVC-U (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) to BS EN 1401-1: 1998 / BS4660: 2000. System Features: Provides an efficient means of waste water drainage and foul discharge from appliances.   Manufactured in PVC-U to give a strong and durable product, lightweight and easy to work with and suitable for high temperature waste discharge.   Fittings have an aesthetic modern look, are compact in size yet remain within the British Standard specification.   Push-Fit joint through an innovatively designed seal and snap cap system.   Comprehensive range of fittings to suit most installations and which integrate with all FloPlast Above and Below Ground Drainage Systems.     Colours Available: White, Black, Grey.


          110mm Soil Pipe Clip SP82        
110mm Soil Pipe Clip SP82

110mm Soil Pipe Clip SP82

110mm Ring Seal Soil System BS 4514 FloPlast 110mm Ring Seal Soil System is Manufactured in PVC-U (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) to BS EN 1401-1: 1998 / BS4660: 2000. System Features: Provides an efficient means of waste water drainage and foul discharge from appliances.   Manufactured in PVC-U to give a strong and durable product, lightweight and easy to work with and suitable for high temperature waste discharge.   Fittings have an aesthetic modern look, are compact in size yet remain within the British Standard specification.   Push-Fit joint through an innovatively designed seal and snap cap system.   Comprehensive range of fittings to suit most installations and which integrate with all FloPlast Above and Below Ground Drainage Systems.     Colours Available: White, Black, Grey.


          110mm soil single socket SP124        
110mm soil single socket SP124

110mm soil single socket SP124

110mm Ring Seal Soil System BS 4514 FloPlast 110mm Ring Seal Soil System is Manufactured in PVC-U (unplasticised polyvinyl chloride) to BS EN 1401-1: 1998 / BS4660: 2000. System Features: Provides an efficient means of waste water drainage and foul discharge from appliances.   Manufactured in PVC-U to give a strong and durable product, lightweight and easy to work with and suitable for high temperature waste discharge.   Fittings have an aesthetic modern look, are compact in size yet remain within the British Standard specification.   Push-Fit joint through an innovatively designed seal and snap cap system.   Comprehensive range of fittings to suit most installations and which integrate with all FloPlast Above and Below Ground Drainage Systems.     Colours Available: White, Black, Grey.


          113810 Reg Deburring Tool 10 - 42mm        
113810 Reg Deburring Tool 10 - 42mm

113810 Reg Deburring Tool 10 - 42mm

Quality, heavy duty outside/inside pipe deburring for pipes 10-42mm for manual or electric operation. Suitable for copper, brass, stainless steel, brass, aluminium and plastic. Quick and easy deburring thanks to 4 specially ground and hardened deburring blades. All metal design.


          113825 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring For Pipes 8-35mm        
113825 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring For Pipes 8-35mm

113825 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring For Pipes 8-35mm

Heavy duty inner/outer pipe deburring through multiple blades. Size 8-35mm. Suitable for steel, copper, brass, aluminium and plastic pipes. 


          113835 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring 10-54mm E        
113835 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring 10-54mm E

113835 Outside/Inside Pipe Deburring 10-54mm E

Heavy duty inner/outer pipe deburring through multiple blades. Size 10-54mm. Suitable for steel, copper, brass, aluminium and plastic pipes for drill/ screwdriver.


          115312 Solar-Push K 60 Electric Filling And Flushing Unit (110 or 230 V)        
115312 Solar-Push K 60 Electric Filling And Flushing Unit (110 or 230 V)

115312 Solar-Push K 60 Electric Filling And Flushing Unit (110 or 230 V)

Powerful electric pump for fast filling, flushing and venting of closed systems. Ideal for solar powered systems, underfloor heating and ground source systems. Transport capacity at 40m pumping head 16 litres/minute. Transport volume 36 litres per minute. Transport pressure 5.5bar/0.55MPa/80psi. Max pressure of transported media 60°c. PH value of transported media 7-8. Powerful electric unit on sturdy tubular steel frame with 2 pneumatic tyres for easy transport. Lightweight unit weighs just 19kg complete with practical hose holder and sturdy 30 litre removable plastic tank with filling indicator and large opening for easy filling. 3/4" return connection helps to avoid foaming of the media while tank is being filling. Stop tap for easy cleaning or changing of the tank when using different media. Supplied with 2 x temp resistant PVC fabric hoses each 3m long for pressure and return each with 3/4" screw connections.


          12" U Gauge Manometer        
12" U Gauge Manometer

12" U Gauge Manometer

Standard U-Gauge Manometer Produced in a durable plastic casing with a clearly marked scale in millibar. New design incorporates magnetic strips for securing to boiler cabinets while in use Adjustable velcro strip to vertical hanging during use Made in UK


          130002 Eskimo Pipe Freezing For Pipe Diameter 10-60mm        
130002 Eskimo Pipe Freezing For Pipe Diameter 10-60mm

130002 Eskimo Pipe Freezing For Pipe Diameter 10-60mm

Quick, easy freezing of pipes that have not been drained using CFC-free refrigerant carbon dioxide. For maintenance, repair and extending systems. Suitable for all pipes 10-60mm. For steel, copper, plastic and composite material pipes. Freezing capacity up to -79°C (-110°F).  Set includes 10 pairs of freeze collars 1/8"-2" - 12mm-60mm, bottle connector with T-distributor, 2 x hand piece injector, 2 x high pressure hoses, closing nut and heavy duty carrying case. Extremely fast freezing of pipes e.g 3/4" pipe in just 5 mins.


          131011 Frigo 2 Electric Pipe Freezing Unit for Pipe Diameter 15 - 42mm        
131011 Frigo 2 Electric Pipe Freezing Unit for Pipe Diameter 15 - 42mm

131011 Frigo 2 Electric Pipe Freezing Unit for Pipe Diameter 15 - 42mm

Electric pipe freezing unit with closed refrigerant circuit suitable for steel, copper and plastic 240v. 2 x refrigerant hoses, heads and tightening straps suitable for 1/4" - 1 1/4", 15mm-42mm pipework. Supplied in sturdy sheet metal housing. Fast easy freezing of pipes that have not been drained. Comes complete with enclosed refrigerant circuit which means it can be used anywhere, even in enclosed rooms. Compact and robust, weighs 23kg making it ideal for site use. Small freezer heads make working in confined areas possible. Single or double head freezing. 


          140100 Spezial 5L Can Thread Cutting Oil        
140100 Spezial 5L Can Thread Cutting Oil

140100 Spezial 5L Can Thread Cutting Oil

High performance, high alloyed, mineral oil based thread cutting oil. Suitable for all materials including steel, stainless steel, non ferrous metals and plastic. High lubricating and cooling effect. Can be flushed out with water. Specially developed for threading and cutting, high cooling and lubricating effects are essential for clean threads and prolonged tool and machine life. Approved by expects for easy working.


          140105 Spezial Spray Thread Cutting Oil 600ml        
140105 Spezial Spray Thread Cutting Oil 600ml

140105 Spezial Spray Thread Cutting Oil 600ml

High performance, high alloyed, mineral oil based thread cutting oil. Suitable for all materials including steel, stainless steel, non-ferrous metals, plastics. High lubricating and cooling effect. Specially developed for threading and cutting, high lubricating and cooling effects are essential for clean threads and prolonged tool and machine life. Approved by experts and pleasent to work with, easily flushed out with water.


          15 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits        
15 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

15 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

Height 457mm, width 483mm, length 660mm 2/3 Days Delivery Tank pack contains lid, jacket, byelaw30 kit, ball valve pack & backing plate Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Height 457mm, width 483mm, length 660mm Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficient stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight  


          150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits        
150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

Height 787mm, lower 938mm, upper 1041mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits        
150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

150/100 Gal 682/455 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

Height 590mm, lower 644mm, upper 1790mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexibl  


          153029 Swing Set 16-20-25/26-32 One Handed Pipe Bender 10-32mm        
153029 Swing Set 16-20-25/26-32 One Handed Pipe Bender 10-32mm

153029 Swing Set 16-20-25/26-32 One Handed Pipe Bender 10-32mm

Includes 1 x universal crossbar with sliding pieces and 1 x case. Practical hand tool for pipes upto 32mm. For bending tubes . Suitable for brass, copper, aluminium and plastic pipes and also coated pipes.


          175008 CamSys S-Color 10K Endoscope Camera Set        
175008 CamSys S-Color 10K Endoscope Camera Set

175008 CamSys S-Color 10K Endoscope Camera Set

For pipes 40 - 150mm, drains, shafts, stacks and other cavities. Docuimentation of photos and videos on SD card with specification of date and time. Controller unit in microprocessor technology with 3.5" TFT-LCD colour display, SD card slot, USB port, integrated Li-ion battery 3.7v, 2.5Ah. In sturdy, impact-proof plastic housing, spray protected.  2m connecting cable from the controller unit to the camera cable set, voltage supply/ charger 100 - 240V, 50 - 60Hz, 13W, SD card 2GB, USB cable, video cable and sturdy case.


          20 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits        
20 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

20 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

Height 508mm, width 508mm, length 508mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          22*28mm Straight Tundish Black Plastic        
22*28mm Straight Tundish Black Plastic

22*28mm Straight Tundish Black Plastic


          290050 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 10 - 40mm         
290050 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 10 - 40mm

290050 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 10 - 40mm

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe 10-40mm Diameter. High quality pipe cutting tool with pipe adjustment. Suitable for wall thickness up to 7mm. Solid metal U shape design. Sturdy long spindle guidance and specially hardened back rollers provide exact pipe alignment, easy, precise cutting.


          290100 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 50 - 110mm        
290100 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 50 - 110mm

290100 RAS P Plastic Tube Cutter 50 - 110mm

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe 50-110mm diameter. High quality pipe cutting tool with pipe adjustment. Suitable for wall thickness up to 11mm. Solid metal U shape design. Ergonomica, handy metal operating knob for easy use and long service life.


          290200 RAS P 110 - 160 Pipe Cutter         
290200 RAS P 110 - 160 Pipe Cutter

290200 RAS P 110 - 160 Pipe Cutter

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe 110-160mm diameter. High quality pipe cutting tool with pipe adjustment. Suitable for wall thickness up to 16mm. Solid metal U shape design. Ergonomica, handy metal operating knob for easy use and long service life.


          291000 ROS P 42 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter         
291000 ROS P 42 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter

291000 ROS P 42 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe 0-42mm diameter. High quality pipe shear for fast clean cuts of plastic and multilayer pipes. Blade is guided on both sides to supply an accurate, right angled, burr free cut.


          291220 ROS P 35 A Automatic Pipe Cutter 0-35mm        
291220 ROS P 35 A Automatic Pipe Cutter 0-35mm

291220 ROS P 35 A Automatic Pipe Cutter 0-35mm

Suitable for plastic and multylayer pipe upto 35mm, One hand operation. Handy quality tools for clean fast cutting of pipe. For thin walled tubes. Right angle, burr free cut through exact pipe support and guided blade on both sides. Chipless cutting.


          291240 ROS P 26 Pipe Cutter 0-26mm Diameter        
291240 ROS P 26 Pipe Cutter 0-26mm Diameter

291240 ROS P 26 Pipe Cutter 0-26mm Diameter

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe up to 26mm. High quality, lightweight manual pipe cutting tool for single handed operation. Fast cutting thanks to the specially hardened and ground replaceable PTFE coated blade, Burr free, right angle cuts with the aid of the pipe rest on both sides and chipless cutting leaving no debris within the pipe.


          291250 ROS P Plastic Pipe Cutter 0-42mm        
291250 ROS P Plastic Pipe Cutter 0-42mm

291250 ROS P Plastic Pipe Cutter 0-42mm

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe 0-42mm diameter. High quality pipe shear for fast clean cuts of plastic and multilayer pipes. Sturdy aluminium design. Specially hardened. Rplaceable blade. Blade is guided on both sides to supply an accurate, right angled, burr free cut. Chipless cutting. Quick reverse saves time and effort.  


          291270 ROS P 63 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter        
291270 ROS P 63 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter

291270 ROS P 63 PS Plastic Pipe Cutter

Suitable for plastic and multilayer pipe up to 63mm. High quality pipe shear for fast clean cuts of plastic and multi-layer pipes. Blade is guided on both sides to supply an accurate right angled, burr free cut. Chipless cutting.


          291310 Akku ROS P40 Cordless Pipe Cutter        
291310 Akku ROS P40 Cordless Pipe Cutter

291310 Akku ROS P40 Cordless Pipe Cutter

Cordless pipe shears for cutting plastic and multilayer tube up to 40mm. Up to 200 cuts per battery charge. Extremely powerful (20mm composite pipe in 4 seconds). Powerful 9.6v 70w motor. 9.6v 1.0Ah Ni-MH battery. Maintenance free gearbox. Supplied complete with battery, charger and cutting blade.


          30/20 Gal 135/91 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits        
30/20 Gal 135/91 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

30/20 Gal 135/91 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

Height 600mm, width 1150mm, length 665mm 2/3 days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          3405 Plastic Stoptap        
3405 Plastic Stoptap

3405 Plastic Stoptap

48 hours delivery Ideally used for conveying water and other fluids in urban and inter-urban infrastructure, industrial, mining, landscape and farming applications WRAS approved Tested to withstand pressure up to 16 bar


          3407 Plastic Stoptap Compression Ends        
3407 Plastic Stoptap Compression Ends

3407 Plastic Stoptap Compression Ends

48 hours delivery Ideally used for conveying water and other fluids in urban and inter-urban infrastructure, industrial, mining, landscape and farming applications WRAS approved Tested to withstand pressure up to 16 bar


          40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits        
40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits        
40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

height 395mm, width 485mm, length 1120mm 2/3 Days Delivery All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits        
40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

40/25 Gal 182/114 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

Height 533mm, width 584mm, length 736mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T        
42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T

42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T

Plastic Pipe Cutter Strongly made with ratchet for most plastic pipes in the plumbing and electrical trades. (42mm) Very effective on PVC, polybutylene, MDP, polyethylene, HEP2O®, plastic overflow pipe, plastic electrical conduit, supertube, mini trunking, rubber hose, pneumatic pipe, electrical sleeving Max cut size 42mm Ratchet action Effective on PVC, polybutylene, MDP, polyethyleneelectrical sleeving Easy to use Plastic coated handle sleeves Display pack


          560040 Cat ANC VE Reciprocating Saw 110v         
560040 Cat ANC VE Reciprocating Saw 110v

560040 Cat ANC VE Reciprocating Saw 110v

Powerful handy electric saw for universal free hand sawing, dismantling and repair. Cuts steel pipes up to 160mm and timber up to 250mm. Ready to use almost anywhere, free hand and overhead and in confined areas. Powerful, versatile and efficient. Suitable for wood, metal and plastic. Saws through most items including pipes, pallets, boilers, tanks, tree branches, window frames etc. Extremely robust and light weighing 3kg.  Powerful motor 1050w.


          60/40 Gal 270/182 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits        
60/40 Gal 270/182 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

60/40 Gal 270/182 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

Height 590mm, width 610mm, length 940mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits        
70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Circular Tank and Kits

Height 610mm, lower 748mm, upper 838mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits        
70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Loft Tank and Kits

Height 485mm, upper 1120mm, lower 485mm 2/3 Days DeliveryRectangular and circular tanks Manufactured to BS42132004All Tanks are WRAS approved. Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw. Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage  B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch 


          70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits        
70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

70/50 Gal 315/227 Ltr Rectangular Tank and Kits

Height 600mm, width 635mm, length 1150mm 2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible style to allow passage through the loft hatch  


          7750 Plastic Wallplate Elbow Female Parallel        
7750 Plastic Wallplate Elbow Female Parallel

7750 Plastic Wallplate Elbow Female Parallel

48 hours delivery Ideally used for conveying water and other fluids in urban and inter-urban infrastructure, industrial, mining, landscape and farming applications


          845X02 Cento Basic Pipe Cutting Machine With Free Cu-INOX Cutting Wheel        
845X02 Cento Basic Pipe Cutting Machine With Free Cu-INOX Cutting Wheel

845X02 Cento Basic Pipe Cutting Machine With Free Cu-INOX Cutting Wheel

Light portable compact machine. Universal for cutting pipes and tubes. Stainless steel pipes of press fitting systems, carbon steel tubes, copper 22-108mm, steel pipes DIN EN 10255 (DIN 2440) DN (10) 20-100, (1/4) 3/4-4", cast iron pipes (SML) DN 50-100, plastic pipes, multilayer composite pipes. Wall thickness <7mm (10) 25-110mm. Rems Cento - cutting up to DN100, 4". Super fast. Right angled. Chip free. No outer burr. Dry cutting. Universal for many pipes.


          845X03 DueCento Basic With Free 3 x Machine Cutter Wheels        
845X03 DueCento Basic With Free 3 x Machine Cutter Wheels

845X03 DueCento Basic With Free 3 x Machine Cutter Wheels

DueCento basic pipe cutter 40-225mm. Cutter for cutting a rectangular pipe with a diameter between 40-225mm without outer burr. Suitable for stainless steel, carbon and copper 54-225mm, steel pipes 50-150mm, plastic pipes with wall thickness up to 21mm.


          9 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits         
9 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

9 Gallon Galvanised Replacement Tanks and Kits

Height 381mm, width 432mm, length 635mm  2/3 Days Delivery Rectangular and circular tanks manufactured to BS42132004 All tanks are WRAS approved Full range of Byelaw 30 and 60 kits available to allow compliance with water byelaw Snap fit lids available for all tanks Innovative design avoids use of metal reinforcing bars eliminating corrosion 500 hour hot water tested at 95°C Rectangular and circular tanks designed to allow efficent stackability and nesting Wide range of capabilities and sizes Lightweight Single piece moulding Ideal for domestic water storage B25 gallon circular and B50 gallon circular supplied in flexible  


          9 Piece Hole-saw Kit        
9 Piece Hole-saw Kit

9 Piece Hole-saw Kit

HSS Bimetal Hole Saws   Suitable for carbon steel (up to 700 N/mm2 strength), non-ferrous and light metals, plastics, plaster, light construction, fibre, plywood and wood processing


          Angled Plastic Service Valve Tap Connector        
Angled Plastic Service Valve Tap Connector

Angled Plastic Service Valve Tap Connector

DescriptionPush-fit valve for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. The valve allows the user to stop the flow of water to a tap in case of emergency or repair via a 1/4 turn of a screw on the valve there is a 90 degree bent nut which can be  tightened on to a side entry tap, toilet or male thread. Simply push the valve fully on to the pipe and connect the tap connection  to the thread. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods. Features Not suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections Lead free and non toxic No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.       


          Appliance Tap 15APT        
Appliance Tap 15APT

Appliance Tap 15APT

Description Push-fit fitting for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. The valve allows isolation of appliances such as a washing machine or dishwasher for maintenance or installation. Simply push the valve fully on to the pipe and thread the appliance hose on to the valve. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features Not suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections Lead free and non toxic No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.       


          Appliance Tee APT2        
Appliance Tee APT2

Appliance Tee APT2

DescriptionPush-fit fitting for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. The valve allows isolation of appliances such as a washing machine or dishwasher for maintenance or installation. Simply push the valve fully on to the pipe and thread the appliance hose on to the valve. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features   Not suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections Lead free and non toxic No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved   Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.       


          Ballofix Isolating Ball Valve With Plastic Lever CxC 15mm        
Ballofix Isolating Ball Valve With Plastic Lever CxC 15mm

Ballofix Isolating Ball Valve With Plastic Lever CxC 15mm

Ballofix isolating ball valve, straight pattern. Compression ends. Black plastic lever operation.


          Ballofix Service Valve Straight Swivel Pattern Plastic Lever 15mm x 1/2"        
Ballofix Service Valve Straight Swivel Pattern Plastic Lever 15mm x 1/2"

Ballofix Service Valve Straight Swivel Pattern Plastic Lever 15mm x 1/2"

Ballofix service valve, straight swivel pattern. COmpression x BSP union nut. Plastic lever operation.


          Bend guide 90° Ø14-17 mm - (Cold Forming Bend)        
Bend guide 90° Ø14-17 mm - (Cold Forming Bend)

Bend guide 90° Ø14-17 mm - (Cold Forming Bend)

Heating pipe protective bend 90° Plastic, for protection when passing through surfaces or joints with manifolds suitable for pipes: 14-17mm


          Bent Tap Connector        
Bent Tap Connector

Bent Tap Connector

Description Push-fit plastic fitting for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. Simply push the fitting fully onto the pipe and twist the plastic nut clockwise to lock in place. Should the need arise to demount the connection unlock the nut and push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release.  The fitting ensures an easier working environment in confined places and removes the need for hot works on site. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods. Note: With all plastic pipes the relevant manufacturer’s pipe insert is required. Features Push-fit and demountable connections Suitable for hot and cold water and central heating systems Grip and Seal connection Lead free and non toxic No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.       


          Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Die-Cast)        
Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Die-Cast)

Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Die-Cast)

Remote mounted push to break contact/ twist to reset switches for emergency use. Plastic wall mounting box, with or without key switch operation. Screw fix to flat surface. Connect electrical supply through single pole switch block via screw terminals.


          Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Plastic)        
Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Plastic)

Blacks/Teknigas Powersev Emergency Stop Button (Plastic)

Remote mounted push to break contact/ twist to reset switches for emergency use. Plastic wall mounting box, with or without key switch operation. Screw fix to flat surface. Connect electrical supply through single pole switch block via screw terminals.


          Brass Service Valve        
Brass Service Valve

Brass Service Valve

Description   Push-fit brass valve for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. The valve allows the user to stop the flow of water to a tap in case of emergency or repair via a 1/4 turn of a screw on the valve. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features   Suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.           


          Bye-law 30 kit for Tanks        
Bye-law 30 kit for Tanks

Bye-law 30 kit for Tanks


          Chrome Plated Ball Valve        
Chrome Plated Ball Valve

Chrome Plated Ball Valve

Description Push-fit brass valve for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. A must for any dwelling. The valve allows the user to stop the flow of water to a tap in case of emergency or repair via a 1/4 turn of a screw on the valve. Simply push the valve fully on to the pipe and connect the tap connection on to male thread. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features   Suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.           


          Chrome Plated Service Valve        
Chrome Plated Service Valve

Chrome Plated Service Valve

Description Push-fit brass valve for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. A must for any dwelling. The valve allows the user to stop the flow of water to a tap in case of emergency or repair via a 1/4 turn of a screw on the valve. Simply push the valve fully on to the pipe and connect the tap connection on to male thread. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features   Suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.    


          Chrome Plated Service Valve Tap Connector        
Chrome Plated Service Valve Tap Connector

Chrome Plated Service Valve Tap Connector

Description Push-fit brass valve with chrome plating for the connection of plastic and copper pipe. Designed, manufactured and assembled in the UK by John Guest Speedfit. Should the need arise to demount the connection push the collet towards the body of the fitting and pull the pipe to release. Installation can be reduced by around 40% against traditional fixing methods.   Features Suitable for central heating systems Push-fit and demountable connections No scale build up and Corrosion Free BSI and WRAS approved Accreditations The strictest control is maintained by virtue of the fact that design and manufacture is carried out in modern purpose-built manufacturing centres in west London and at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Maintaining control over the whole process from initial tool design and tool making through to final assembly and testing ensures that only products of the highest quality are produced. The company believe that it is this commitment to quality that has led to it receiving awards from many of the world’s leading testing and approvals organisations.       


          Circular Tank Includes Bye-law Kit        
Circular Tank Includes Bye-law Kit

Circular Tank Includes Bye-law Kit


          Cleaner F3/F5 Test Kit        
Cleaner F3/F5 Test Kit

Cleaner F3/F5 Test Kit

Simple and accurate on site testing. Supplied in a heacy duty outer plastic case. Suitable for testing all fernox cleaners. Gives added security to diagnosis and treatment.


          Clip Rail for Pipes 16/17mm x 2M        
Clip Rail for Pipes 16/17mm x 2M

Clip Rail for Pipes 16/17mm x 2M

Made of plastic for securing heating pipes  For 16-17mm heating pipes, rail 2m long


          Concentrate Filling Kit        
Concentrate Filling Kit

Concentrate Filling Kit

A range of adaptors to allow concentrates to be quickly added to a domestic central heating system. Contents (contained in a plastic storage container)


          The clones were bad in that they were late        
A lot of things didn't happen quickly enough at Apple because Steve Jobs wasn't there any longer. Yes, he's a bad manager, pressing people for excellence, and far too quickly and far too vocally. We can see however, in his absence, that things became a bit too relaxed and almost killed Apple. Had Apple entertained the idea of clones after the first