Who is the Stig?

A mystery that has plagued me for a while is still an enigma- still, there are many hypotheses. Likely suspects include Russ Swift, Damon Hill and Tiff Needel, but super sleuth vcjester posted his/her theory that it is Ben Collins on the Top Gear forums. Ben Collins is listed in Richard Hammond's accident report as having been used as a motor sport expert by Top Gear, a role he had not occupied before- i.e. he has previously worked for Top Gear. Also, apparently the height of the Stig, in comparison to the height of Lewis Hamilton, roughly fits with Mr. Collins. Intriguing!


Earl Grey Ice Cream...

... is a success! I made it with two extra normal tea bags for a really strong flavour. I also bought the wrong type of cream for whipping- I didn't read the whole recipe before starting (I know, poor technique). Even so, I'm delighted to say that it froze amazingly. I don't own an ice cream machine so I just took it out the freezer every half hour and gave it a mix. The taste is strongly of Earl Grey, and is very delicious! And it's not overly sweet either which is what I was worried about. Thinking along the lines of how people taste tea, I think a lemon mousse or shortbread would be a good accompaniment- not sure a cucumber sandwhich would fly!

On another note, I am hopeless at meringues. I tried to make some with the left over egg whites but my mixture wouldn't thicken- no soft peaks for me. in retrospect, this is probably because I didn;t have any icing sugar which probably made my mixture too thick. In the end, I poured it into little ramekins and shoved them in the oven. They rose beautifully, but weren't crunchy- very soft. Also, at the bottom of the ramekins an layer similar to the white of a fried egg had accumulated. In the end I scooped out the tasty bits from the top of each pot and ditched the rest- I'll make some Eton mess or something. Oh well.


Welcome to the Jungle

Well, not strictly speaking, but savannah in the title doesn't work so well. Keepers at West Midlands Safari Park have discovered that to stop their juvenile male elephants throwing tantrums, the best technique is to play them rock music. Apparently, more soothing music doesn't work. Rock on!


Ice Cream Tea

A delicious looking recipe for Earl Grey tea ice cream that I must try out. I'm beginning to get more and more interested in the health effects of tea- this stems from another intrigue in wine (namely, the French Paradox). Both wine and tea contain antioxidants, which mop up cancer causing free radicals. However, the health effects are not proven, possibly due to the fact that other factors will probably have an influence- among other things, it'd be quite unethical to make someone drink solely wine or tea! Anyway, here is a summary of what is known.

For the time being, I'm just going to eat the ice cream.


Trapped in the Closet...

... full lyrics. This person must LOVE R. Kelly. In addition, Trapped in the Closet relationship map (via).



A panda in Qixing Park in southern China has bitten a student who tried to get a hug. The 20 year old said the panda, named Yang Yang, "was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack."

In the same article, another panda attack on a drunk tourist in Beijing is mentioned- the tourist "broke into his enclosure and tried to hug him while he was asleep", only for the panda to bite. The tourist retaliated by biting the bear back in the back. Nice!


National Kick a Ginger Day

Most hilarious. My favourite bits are how "National Kick a Ginger Day fell during Canada's bullying awareness week" and how the opposite group (Who Thinks Kick a Ginger Day is stupid) "has attracted just 365 members".


iPhone Ocarina

My curent mobile is a nokia 3210. It's a perfectly functional phone that I've become rather fond of- I've no need for any of the fancy bells and whistles that come attached to so many of the flimsy things released these days. In addition, if I get mugged I could hit my assailant over the head with it. And I thought I was happy with it...

Until the iPhone got released. Now, I don't care too much for internet on the go or ubermegapixel cameras, or even the touch screen keyboard (which, whenever I use my flatmate's iPhone, make my fingers seem too fat). It's the ability to download apps which puts it a cut above the rest. Aside from the classics (e.g. the star wars lightsaber effect and iBeer), from the rest of my favourites, first there was Super Monkey Ball. This is just nifty- great graphics and brilliant use of the accelerometers. The only annoying thing is how sensitive it is, and how addictive- cue hours of monkey fun followed by hours of wrist pain. My other favourite was Catch the Egg. It's remarkably realistic in that if you really imagine you're catching an egg you'll probably win. The required rapid arm movement does make you look like an idiot in the pub though.

The latest is the amazing iPhone Ocarina. This has got to be the cleverest app that I've come across so far- fantastic use of the microphone. It's customisable to every key and even the instrument's sound can be altered in style (my favourtie is 'zeldarian'). We've also discovered that moving the iPhone down (i.e. shaking the accelerometers) makes the sound vibrato- a nice touch! Add to that the ability to listen to other Ocarina players from across the world live and an active forum with new song scores going up every day makes this a true joy to play with. I've put a video of some kid playing 'Amazing Grace' below- I love the way he shuts his eyes and plays it like he means it!

Whether I switch to an iPhone or not is going to be a close call. Still, I couldn't use one to hit a mugger with.


Ca$h In My Pocket

Wiley's latest video is pretty damn cool. I didn't notice it first time round, but it's all one shot, which makes it all the more awesome. What I really want to know is how they co-ordinated the Japanese guy on the TV at 2.27 to say the lyrics at the same time as everyone around the table, unless it really was a live link up. Anyway, amazing.

Stealth Cat...

... is stealthy.



Brilliantly fun running game. It's going to be one those easy to learn, difficult to master type things. I'm not sure if the creater could be regarded as have subconsciously done a little bit of racial stereotyping though! My record so far is 7.9m- I challenge anyone to get any further.

UPDATE: New record- 25.5m 36.7m 45.6m.


The Triple Triple

Tonight, a monumentous event occured- I scored my first ever triple triple whilst playing scrabble. My move was BACTERIA downloads from the top left, using an 'R' from the previous move. I scored 167 points! Admittedly, I did have to convince my sister to play RAFT instead of something else (the difference was only 1 point), but it's a sweet move nonetheless. A proud day for me.


Rillette: Take One

My latest culinary attempt came in the form of pork rillette. I followed a recipe on the brilliant eat-me-drink-me blog, except, being an impoverished student, I only used pork belly and I altered the herbs a little. It came out very tasty (if a little too thyme-d), although the lack of extra fat means that it doesn't spread too easily. Also, it has a layer of jelly on top and I don't know why. All the same, eating it on toast is delicious- screw cholesterol, I'll die happy!


Lonesome Pingu

A starved penguin named Pingu at the 'Living Coasts' attraction in Devon has been bought a stuffed toy from the gift shop to keep it company. One of its siblings kept eating all the food, so keepers had no choice but to rear it seperately. Pingu will be returned to the colony when it's big enough to compete for food. Sweet, but it may get confused about the puffin!

The Yorkshire Pudding Formula...

Strange stuff the RSC is throwing up recently. First of all, I found this release about gellan (which, in retrospect, I reckon may just be sodium alginate). Then today, I open up the paper to discover this article- crazy, non? Perfect puddings must be "no less than four inches (10 cms) in height", and Dr. John Emsley, the author, says that unless the cook is actually from Yorkshire they just aren't as good- "it's in the blood and instinct of people born and raised there" (guess where he's from!). Interestingly, the quest for the perfect recipe (below) started because an expat in the Rockies couldn't get his puddings to rise. The Society is investigating the effect of pressure on rising. Apparently, this all came about in advance of the RSC's food theme next year. I'm well excited!

The Royal Society of Chemistry Yorkshire Pudding

Tablespoon and a half of plain flour
1 egg
Half milk, half water to make a thin batter
Half a teaspoon of salt

Put flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, add the egg, stir until the two are combined then start gradually adding the milk and water combining as you go.
Add the liquid until the batter is a smooth and thin consistency.
Stir in half teaspoon of salt and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Put beef dripping into Yorkshire pudding tins or into one large tin but don't use too much fat.
Put into hot oven until the fat starts to smoke.
Give the batter a final stir and pour into the tin or tins.
Place in hot oven until well risen - should take 10 to 15 minutes.

Always serve as a separate course before the main meal and use the best gravy made from the juices of the roast joint. Yorkshire housewives served Yorkshire pudding before the meal so that they would eat less of the more expensive main course.
NB: When the batter is made it must not be placed in the fridge but be kept at room temperature.


Cooking to perfection

Really nice article from the RSC on Heston Blumenthal's cooking techniques and molecular gastronomy in general. It features a tasty looking recipe for green tea sour mousse (sadly, I don't own a foam canister or have liquid nitrogen readily to hand so I may have to put it on the shelf for a bit!). It also explains a lot about 'gellan', a type of gum used in low fat jams and the like. Heston uses it to create "pea-sized gels that revert to liquid when subjected to a sheer force"- that is, when you bite it. Upsettingly, I can't find a recipe anywhere for that; I'm still gunning for sodium alginate/calcium chloride ravioli. I did, however, find this page, which reveals how to make an almond fluid gel, so that might be tweakable (also has many other delicious looking ideas). Oh, and this chap worked out a gellan recipe for heat resistant jelly- pretty good. His tomato gel looks like it has a really nice texture.

I think I need to brush up my cooking skills a bit.


Fact of the day

Sean Paul, superstar rapper, played water polo for Jamaica between the ages of 13 and 21. "I actually still play water polo sometimes,” he states. FACT.

More sweet watches...

...by Flud. My favourites are these ones- turntables and a boombox. Totally awesome!

Coolest. T-shirt. EVER.

I would be on Local Celebrity t-shirts so hard if the shipping didn't cost double the price!


Liquid Ravioli

I've known about this for a while but never before have I found a working recipe- it's a closely guarded secret! Looks awesome- must try. Now to get me some calcium chloride and sodium alginate...


Traffic Beating Ants

So it turns out ants are smarter than humans when it comes to traffic, despite their tiny, oh-so-squishable brains. Dr. Helbing of the Dresden University of Technology set up two 'ant highways' leading from a nest to some sugar syrup. One was shorter than the other but narrower. When the thinner route got congested, a returning ant would bump into one just setting off from the nest. This would redirect and lead all the ants following it onto the other path until congestion eased. Based on this, the research team set up a computer model of a more complex network and found that the ants, even though they sometimes took a longer route, still were pretty much as efficient as they could be.

Pretty cool, but I'm not sure it'd work on our roads- when cars bump into one another it's usualy fairly disastrous.


Bonfire Night!

So I was reading the Metro today- apparently there's a condition called 'hyperekplexia'. Sufferers experience a startle response when in distress and explerience a sort of temporary paralysis- such as when hearing loud noises on Bonfire night. Not good, expecially for Andy Latham.

On another note, I recently made a post about colourful coffins. There was another piece in the paper about the funeral of the family who were tragically killed in a pile up on the M6. Imagine my surprise when I recognised the tardis coffin! The picture actually seems very poignant, so for children, I think I change my mind. I'm still unwavering on adult coffins though.

The New Routemaster

I'm very much looking forward to the unveiling of the new Routemaster design. This mainly stems from my hatred of the bendy bus (based on countless bad experiences on the 29) but there's a nostalgia there too (odd, since I've only properly lived in London for a year). I gather there are many submitted designs; however, the most prominent seems to be the so-called smiley bus. I quite like it; however, I bet one day I'll be revelling in melancholic grumpiness and will flip out when I see the bonny bonnet. It will only serve to enrage me more. Other than that, I'm all for!

I also really like Time Out's suggestion for a 'crime-fighting Routemaster'. "Pros- combines two pledges with a Routemaster that transforms into a knife-crime-fighting robot. Also features disabled access. Cons- potential writ from Hasbro."


Palin Pranked...

... by a comedian posing as Sarkozy. Marc Antoine Audette and Sarah Palin talked about topics ranging from the US election to hunting, saying "I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun" and inviting her on a trip. Palin was "mildly amused."


The Case of the Mysterious Lego Man

Where he has come from, nobody knows. Where he is going to, nobody knows. What his purpose is, again, nobody knows (well, probably someone does, but that's beside the point). All we know is he looks so awesome and I would so like one to keep!

On another note, a page of mostly awful Lego themed jokes.