Thursday, May 26, 2005
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Lime green tresses
Blossom drifts as snow
Days of Spring
Monday, May 23, 2005
rush hour blues
On Friday night I found myself, and Dan, over at the Symphony Hall once more for the rush hour blues, though I am not so sure why its called blues as its commuter jazz.... Anyway, Quintet Singh were playing and it was quite a treat. They played in the phrygian mode on guitar, sitar, tabla, percussion and flute. I haven't as yet found more about them but I'll update as and when. Post concert we wondered around Cornwall Street admiring the buildings and then pottered on to St. Paul's in Hockley. We perused many menus but settled on Locanta - a spread of mediteranean fair. The meze were delicious as was my aubergine and hellimi conncotion in pepper and tomato sauce. We were entertained by a guitarist - I had heard him before in Pasta di Piazza in Acocks Green - he had the whole restaurant singing along again!
After a Eurovision interlude at Liz and Ethan's on Saturday night (we wanted Moldova to win) I met up with Sally, Catherine, Martin, Vicki W, Rob and Nick to see the latest in the Star Wars movies. A fine film but I am sure to forget the plot like I did with the others very quickly. Dan met us afterwards and we all headed up to Heweli in Bearwood for curry, the paneer masala was 'finger-lickingly good', as was the newly renovated interior of the restaurant.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
lime, chilli and ginger jelly
Since joining the wonderful blogging world I have found the fabulousness of the food blog - there are lots out there and I am sure to mention some of them in the future. I became aware that there is a shared event about once a month called Is my blog burning? a fantastic invention of Alberto of Il Forno . So when I saw that this month the topic was 'Has my blog jelled?' (hosted by Elise of Simply Recipes) I just had to join in. Last month on a wee trip to Evesham I bought 6Kg of rhubarb and made a rather soft jam - very tasty but with a tendency to slither off the knife (or spoon - I have taken to eating out of the jar on its own!). So in order to get the set right I purchased a sugar thermometer yesterday morning, along with 16 limes, a bag of 6 unwaxed lemons, 5 red chillis and a hand of ginger. I fancied having a go at a 'savory' jelly. My last lot of lemon marmalade set like iron so I thought I would be in with a good chance of set jelly.
I squeezed the juice from 14 limes and 2 lemons. This came to about 500ml of liquid, which I put in my heaviest based pan (an iron casserole) along with 750g jam sugar and gently dissolved the sugar. Then I brought it up to a simmer, added the shredded zest of half a lime and waited until it got to 105°C on the thermometer. I also checked if the jelly would set on a plate, which it did. It must have taken about 20min, then threw in three deseeded and shredded chillis and about a thumbs worth of ginger, peeled and shredded too. Stirred the strands through and then ladled the hot syrup into sterilized jars, that had been washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and baked in a 100°C oven while I was making the jelly. I now have 5 beautiful little jars on fairly fiery jelly sitting on my window sill (though they'll go into a nice dark cupboard soon) that has set perfectly.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I had a baci chocolate the other day, they come with a little note of love inside and mine had a quote from Mr Shakespeare inside as you can see. It turns out this is from Hamlet Act 2 scene 2 and in the 1623 First Folio it reads as
Doubt thou, the Starres are fire,
Doubt, that the Sunne doth moue:
Doubt Truth to be a Lier,
But neuer Doubt, I loue.
Now, this is all very sweet but what piqued my interest was what was the view of stars being on fire and the movement of the Sun in the 17th century. As Martin Porter points out there was great interest in the movement of the Sun relative to the Earth at this time as he discusses the lines by Shakepeare. We are all very familiar with the idea that the Earth orbits the Sun and not vice versa and this is illustrated beautifully both by computer modeling and by copies of plates from books by both Copernicus and Ptolemy. So they were probably split as to whether the Sun moved or not, and the view that the Earth circled the Sun may have indicated that the Sun didn’t move but now we know that it is moving through space with the planets orbiting it too.
This was all fairly easy to find and seems to be well documented but finding out what was thought about the Sun being on fire was a wee bit harder. Back in the 6th century Heraclitus explained that the sun and stars were flames inside bowls turned with their hollow sides facing us and that eclipses occurred when the bowl turned the other face to us. Fascinating – what stops the fire falling out of the bowl?
The real energy within the Sun comes from nuclear fusion reactions and they account for 85 percent of the sun's energy. The rest is emitted in various forms of light and energized particles that make up the solar wind. It’s this energy strikes Earth, where it warms the planet, drives our weather and provides energy for life. Nuclear fusion was first realized by Albert Einstein in 1916, who was named man of the century and this year is dedicated to him as the Year of Physics. Einstein has always held a certain fascination for me as I share his birthday (rather than his birth date – I’m not 126!). Other funky things I found were the sun cam and the Galileo project.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I have just finished reading ‘Intelligence A Very Short Introduction’ by Ian J. Deary. It’s a fab little book, which can be slipped easily in your back pocket and with pleasantly short chapters. It’s written in a lay style meaning it’s also very accessible. Deary covers what kinds of intelligence there are, the effects of ageing on intelligence, how intelligence works, the effects of genes and environment on intelligence, if intelligence testing matters at job selection, if intelligence is rising in each successive generation and lastly what exactly the research community believes is true (which doesn’t seem to be all that much!). The chapter on the old chestnut of nature versus nurture is possibly the best in the book. In the previous chapters Deary has demonstrated that intelligence withstands any of the battery of tests that can be used to measure it and generally if you’re bright you are across the board. He uses twin studies to demonstrate that intelligence is highly correlated to that of your parents and identical twins separated at birth will have very similar IQ scores. More fascinating is that adopted children have scores that correlate with their biological mother more highly, even though they had no contact, than their adoptive mother. So the old assumption that family environment makes a big difference is quite astray. All-in-all a brilliant introduction. Its number 39 in a series of very short introductions published by Oxford University Press, I hope that the others are as good!
Monday, May 16, 2005
Saturday night was a big night for City choir - they performed Rachmaninov's The Bells, with words (sung in Russian) from a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. They were excellent, a slight glitch in the middle but otherwise pretty perfect. They also did Poulenc's Gloria and the CBSO played Rachmaninov's rhapsody on Paganini and Arvo Part's cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten (which, sorry choirsters, I have to say was my favorite part of the evening).
Last night I rounded off a superbly toasty day by cooling off in the cinema - I went to see The Interprter - a brillant Sydney Pollack film. I was totally captivated and though Dan (who was being cynical) decided the ending was terribly predicatable, I found it gripping. Its difficult to review without giving away the story - but I definitely put it on a par with Lost in Translation , which I thought was fantastic!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
While I am prattling away about music I can't recommend enough Juliet Turner - Susan introduced me to Burn the Black Suit about six months ago and now I have all three albums! If you don't know her songs - go and check her out - there are snippets on the website.