Archive for May 2014
A great Memorial Day sale yields an early birthday present, and an upgrade for commuting. I may post a review in a month or two.
The gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin famously said “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are.” Food can be a defining characteristic of a culture, and a great portal into it. It is reflected in the ingredients available to a people, how they cook it, or the history tied to a food. When I try something new–even things I’ve eaten but not started making myself–I often find myself down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, learning of a food’s origins.
Case in point: when I posted about World War Two Oatmeal Molasses Cookies, fellow blogger Aussie Emjay commented that they reminded her of ANZAC biscuits her grandmother made. I skimmed the recipe she linked to (“Anzac biscuits, No 2”), and saw I needed golden syrup, a cane syrup popular in Australia. Once I got some other baking done and eaten, I took on the challenge.
ANZAC biscuits are associated with ANZAC Day. Observed on April 25, this day commemorates the sacrifices of the military of Australia and New Zealand during all wars. It is tied to the start of the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War. This campaign saw major casualties for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (the acronym giving birth to the term “ANZAC”). The biscuits are often sold to raise money for veterans’ charities.
I had to explain to my daughter that, in the British Commonwealth, “biscuit” doesn’t refer to the southern style quick bread I make for breakfast, but for what we, in the United States, call a “cookie.” In Australia, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs controls the commercial use of the term “ANZAC biscuit,” ensuring the recipe is consistent with tradition, and referred to as “biscuits.” I’ll honor that convention.
As I said, the key unique ingredient is golden syrup. It is a cane, rather than a corn or maple, syrup. Straight up, it reminded me a bit of corn syrup combined with honey and a dash of vanilla. This was mixed with coconut, sugar, oats, and flour. The dough was surprisingly dry, but I could get a solid mass as needed by squeezing.
The recipe called for a moderate oven, and didn’t have a clear cook time. Cross referencing other recipes, it tending to be 15-22 minutes in a 350° F oven. My first batch was baked towards the high end of that time, and, for me, was a bit long. Once cooled, they were very hard, but several seconds in a microwave got them to a softer texture. The second batch, cooked for 15-17 minutes, stayed reasonably soft, though warming them was still nice, as is usually the case for all cookies.
The flavor is quite good. As I was preparing the dough, I thought chocolate chips would be a good addition, but once out of the oven, I felt they were plenty sweet. It reminded me a bit like granola, only sweeter. It almost tasted healthy. Almost. It was very good.
As I said, food is a good gateway into a culture. Making the ANZAC biscuits inspired learning more about these nations’ role in World War One. I’m sure their unique flavor will find their way into future goodie boxes. Overall, it was a fun thing to make.
I took the day after TOSRV as PTO. My wife had the afternoon off, and after lunch, we decided to pop into the Cincinnati Zoo. It was very spontaneous–I didn’t have my DSLR, but I had my iPhone. The perfect camera is the one you have with you.
It was Nubo’s birthday, so we stopped over to wish him well.
All in all, it was a fun afternoon at the zoo.
It’s a real tie…a Science Guy taught me how to tie it.
my The Doctor would tell you, bow ties are cool.
I’ve commented in the past that, for me, a “distraction free writing environment” involves actual pen and paper. It seems that I’m not alone in this. I’ve read many studies which show that the brain processes things differently when handwriting than typing. I think the unitasking nature of pens combined with an inherently slower speed forces more thoughtful writing–be it in composition or note taking.
A new blog, The Cramped, celebrates folks who write with analog tools. It’s less tool-centric, unlike other pen blogs (which feature pen, ink, and paper reviews). rather, it looks at how paper is integrated into workflows and how it affects the creative process.
(I use “creative” quite broadly. As expected, a painting, poem, or story is a creative pursuit. However, any form of writing qualifies. Synthesizing data into a report, paper, or argument certainly qualifies as creative. It is simply more functional than philosophical or aesthetic.)
Reading the posts, I’ve become inspired. I’m creating a new category for this blog, “paper draft first.” This will be for posts where the first draft is on paper. I already do this informally–my journal is, and will continue to be, the place where the first seeds of some ideas are planted into the world. However, I’ll also start to write them out into something more closely resembling the final form.
Beyond simply being another excuse to use my pens, I want to see if this improves the quality o the longer written posts. There will still be plenty of posts–especially photo-heavy ones–that will be digital only. IN fact, I expect there to be revisions between the paper and the final post. This is a draft after all. After a time of this process, I’ll post follow-ups, to share thoughts on this method.