Silicone bakeware

March 21, 2009

silibake

I’m not sure when I first noticed Silicone bakeware in cooking shops. Kingston (upon Thames) has two department stores – John Lewis and Bentalls (now part of Fenwick). The latter is the larger store, but also is often ahead of JL in the type of stock, as in this case.

Bentall’s often stock “Americana”, such as Heinz “Chili Sauce” (actually barely distiguishable from their Tomato Ketchup, in my opinion), or items that are clearly marketed for the US, and some brought over here. This is a case in point. The round silicone mat (although JL and Waitrose now stock this as well), as well as the four finger hot item grabber are clearly US branded – but I think made in China.

In fact the first item I purchased – the mat – was to help give me greater grip in opening jam jars and the like, as due to a continuing hand-injury, I now struggle with jam-jar lids, lemonade bottle tops and the like, and this does help. I got the idea from a colleague who has an old thin, round rubber mat for the same purpose.

JL do now stock some silicone bakeware, such as a range of A4 sized sheets with moulds for – for example – muffins, yorkshire puddings etc.

Today in Bentall’s I came across individual silicone muffin cases (as opposed to paper, or a multi-cake sheet). These are also in the picture above (UK branded as well, I noticed), and come in sets of different colours (range of six colours).

Muffin, cup-cake, fairy cake. I know them by the latter name, but the “Americanism” have brought the first two into prominance – perhaps they are better named. As well as whole books on the subject of recipies, there are now whole blogs, such as this American based one on the net.

Moreover, you find this bakeware in usual places, such as Lego brick shaped cake moulds The reviews are not so complimentry though…

Muffins and the like have a resonance from my University days. A New-Zealander I knew and worked with would often have a “brew” of Muffins on the go, but it was another aspect, which I have faintly alluded to above, which made me struggle – namely the LMTO model.

LMTO stands for “Linear Muffin-Tin Orbital”, and the idea is that atoms in a crystal look like an up-side down Muffin-tin. OK, do need to adjust for spacing, and layout, but that is the general idea. From this hypothesis, one worked out (using a computer working overtime in those days), the “band structure”, from which you could predict the properties of the crystal.

This is in fact far more important than it might sound, for example in the semi-conductor industry, such work has resulted in light emitting diodes in all colours, and now “white” ones bright enough to be used in torches (and coming soon – as main lighting in houses).

Red Cowslip update

March 8, 2009

redcowwk10

Not much to report from the greenhouse today, but here is a progress shot of the red cowslip.

Saturday Evenings

March 7, 2009

My Saturday evenings have been mixed over the years. If I’m not doing a concert or other event, there have been a number of different programmes. To highlight a few.

About the Mid 1990s. This was a time when Radio 4’s Saturday lineup was very good. Friday night at 23:00 had Weekending – was it repeated Saturday early evening, I cannot remember for now.

The mid evening layout that I recall with some pleasure was typically:

20:00 An omibus edition of On this day news stories from the archives, 50 years previous, for the end of the war and the early peacetime. This eventually evolved into “The Archive Hour”, which has recently changed to Archive on 4 to reflect a new, 45 minute Monday repeat.

After this, a radio series, perhaps called Northwich Victoria, about a small railway station at the turn of the century. I cannot find any reference to this series on the Web. The music used was by Sir Arthur Sullivan, and had a railway connection (I think, again no reference on the web).

There was then a 40 minute programme of light classical music, introduced by Brian Kay. This was the last regular classical music slot on Radio 4.

During all of this time I would be cooking in the kitchen, usually making some meal in bulk, with the aim of freezing some for use in the following weeks.

I recall one week coming back from the continent where I had been for work – Utrect in Holland. I remember one point, slightly lost on the Friday evening, finding myself overlooking a dyke, with “The Archers” on the radio (LW). I was in my late Uncle’s Vauxhall Astra, for a reason I’m not now entirely sure of. The next day, having spent some time wandering around Breda, I got the shuttle back, and remember listening to the above set of programmes as I came up from Leatherhead towards Kingston to Richmond.

Then my Brother moved to London. After a short time staying with me, he found a place in Ealing, then later in Putney. We’d go out to the cinema, or a play, most Saturdays for the first year or so he lived in London. But that’s another story.

The thing is, Radio 4 on Saturday nights has become so boring. Let’s have a look.

After Loose Ends, which can be awful sometimes, there is Saturday Review. I have written in and complained (it was broadcast), that so many of the items reviewed here have already been reviewed in Front Row, The Film Programme and other such programmes, so not much new there.

Archive on 4, formerly “Archive Hour”, now seems on a deep trawl of not very interesting subjects at all.

Classic Serial, repeat of Sunday.

Then, after the news, something like a repeat of The Moral Maze.

So a number of repeats and a host of middle quality programmes.

sativuswk09

The only flower so far...

It’s early spring, there are crocuses in gardens all over the land. Well, yes. But this is Crocus Sativus, the Saffron crocus, that flowers in the autumn. This is in the same pot as the one I took photos of during the Saffron harvest last year. So spotting this one was doubly unusual; firstly as they are now not in a prime viewing spot, they are in a place to build up their strength for flowering this autumn (one can hope), and secondly what crocus must believe it is autumn after the coldest February in 20 years…or does it know something we don’t?

The picture shows that here, too, I am behind with the weeding.

Shopping in Waitrose today was interesting. As for the cook-chill means I get, there were plenty with long sell-by dates, so able to stock up Mother’s fridge for the week without the worry of her missing a meal and then the care workers binning it as then being out of date.

But round the corner there were shelves of one (or a very small number of lines of) stock, all massively reduced. Last week it was litres of orange juice, down to 10% of normal price. This massive overstock must have been at least area wide, as I saw it in Richmond and the following day in Beaconsfield.

This week I cannot say about Richmond, as I had other things on, but the overstock was of
Gu desserts
, in glass ramikins. (the other chilled to eat puddings should also show up here) These were at 25% of normal price, with three days left on their best before dates. I can understand the odd few needing a reduction to sell them off, but shelves of the stuff – what’s going wrong with stock control?

Back to Mother’s place. Pride of this week’s greenhouse pics is the red cowslip that has come on a long way from last week:

redcowslipwk09

This pic shows that what was one plant can now easily be divided into two, but I’m not going to do it at this moment in time. Unfortunately this pic also shows how much the greenhouse needs a good clearout, something I don’t get a lot of time to do…

Other items will be blogged over the next couple of days.