Liqueurs

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A request for a post about making liqueurs…

First off – a disclaimer…

I’m no expert. I’ve made a few and I’ve been very pleased with the results. That said – I’m sure there is a lot of room for improvement and also many other ways to make delicious sweet alcoholic drinks:) So – what I do and say is only part of a large world and you need to make your own choices:)

Second – health and safety…

Not because I want to put a downer on anything – it’s more about making sure you don’t poison or infect yourself…

You are dealing with alcohol, fruit and sugar. You are extracting oils and chemicals from ingredients that aren’t in the regular stream of “home cooking”. Make sure everything is clean. Make sure you sterilize any equipment and jars etc that you use. It’s true that alcohol above a certain %’age will kill (or at least stop bacteria from growing) but there is always a chance.

Now – the downer stuff is over – time for the fun to begin…

What is a Liqueur?

Really it’s alcohol with an infusion of fruit and or other stuff and sugar in the range 15% to 30% alcohol by volume but not always:) There are a number of exceptions to this.

Image result for liqueur glass"

How do you make?

Get some alcohol, get some flavor base, get some sugar, mix in various ratios and leave for a while. Alcohol is a string solvent and so will extract all the oils and taste from the flavor base. The sugar helps make the thing a little more balanced for taste. You don’t even have to leave the thing for years to improve the taste (although this can help with some).

Orange liqueur in the making

How to drink?

Usually cold, either as an aperitif or a digestive. Or whenever you want 😉 Mix with other things for cocktails.

Ok – so what about the alcohol thing – what can I use?

Typically, you use a neutral tasting alcohol as a base. So, vodka is a good start. Use as good a quality as you can afford and always where possible, a minimum of 40% ABV. It maybe that for somethings you can only get 35% (Dutch Jenever is an example). Thats ok – just be aware that if you add water to it – you need to add not so much.

But of course – you can also use whiskey, cognac or whatever as a base. It’s your choice.

Why not add too much water to the mix?

Many liqueurs are good drunk from the freezer. If there is lower than say 30% ABV in there, the liquid will begin to freeze and separate out. You will end up with slush puppie. Maybe not a bad thing but probably not whats intended. So – be careful with adding water.

Another reason is that if you have solid fruits in there – the alcohol needs to be above a certain concentration to prevent nasties growing. Does that mean more is better? Nah – not always. Too much and it will be undrinkable for most. Also, to be fair, quite dangerous as you won’t know just what you are drinking and that can lead to “issues”.

So – it’s legal, right?

Generally, yes. But I’m not a lawyer – so -check your own locations laws. Making liqueurs should be not problem. What generally upsets governments and agencies is making your own pure alcohol (aka moonshining). Many countries won’t allow the use of even personal stills. It maybe legal to sell them but to use them for alcohol; nope.

Image result for small still"

There is a grey area here as many little stills are used to also concentrate oils from herbs (and other things).

What equipment do I need?

  • Big wide mouthed jars with a easily removable air tight lid.
  • Ingredients
  • Pan to make sugar solution or extract juice
  • Strainers
  • Cleaning/Sterilizing stuff

General kitchen stuff in other words. Nothing special. But if it says BIG jars – use big ones. As a rule of thumb – a jar should be one and a half to two times the volume of liquid you but in.

Why? Because when you add fruit and sugar – these take up room as well. And you need a bit of space in the jar so you can shake it up properly.

What do I do?

Start off with using recipes and instructions from books and/or internet. Stick with them before you start messing around. Then, once you have experience, you can start tweaking and creating your own. Just like any other thing. Get a bit of experience first and then expand.

What can I do with the end product?

Well – other than the obvious “drink it”, you can use it as a basis for cocktails, as an ingredient for cooking, a present or any one of a number of other things.

Many online stores have fancy bottles for putting your finished product in. Label it and put a fancy ribbon in it; Bingo. A great personalized birthday present.

But I have other questions?

Send an email or leave a comment below – lets see what we can do:)

New Tent!

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There you are, browsing Amazon, looking at new kit that you won’t buy, you wonder how much postage is going to be, you click the buy button to go through the process to check just how much it WILL be and then…

Oooopsy

You hit the button that you think changes currency but is actually the Buy Now button.

And thats just exactly what sort of happened to me;) Well kinda.

I was wanting a new one person tent, and I had found a great deal and well…

ANYWAYS…

Here’s the tent and the offer:

Snugpak Ionosphere
A fantastic deal at that price.

What’s so great about it?

It’s small and light but pretty roomy inside and very well constructed. The material it’s made from is durable ripstop nylon. The poles are well formed strong aluminum and it even comes with it’s own repair kit! Simple and quick to put up. What’s not to like?


Not a lot really. Maybe that it pitches inner first (not always an advantage in Northern Europe) or the pegs (which are a little bit hazardous with sharp bits).


I’ve spent two nights in it so far, two very comfortable nights. 

The temperature was around 2 degrees above freezing and damp. First night was just the tent and a inflatable thermarest sleeping pad with a sleeping bag rated for -10 (apparently). It got a little chilly but not insufferable. Second night I used a good space/survival blanket and that made a big difference. 


What else about it?

It’s fun to get in and out of. But once you get used to it, it’s not too bad. What I would be tempted to do if using for extended trips is to take a small tarp and use that as well.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely. It’s light, packs to more or less nothing and is very comfortable. 

Longer term? Well – time will tell. My feeling is that my oopsy purchase will be a bit of a winner.

My iPad Mini 4 update…

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Because I’m over 40 and the Internet is not genetically programmed within my psyche I forgot to post the thing I’d just written about my iPad mini 4.

That’s ok because it’s a quiet Sunday morning and there is just me and the dog so I can add a bit more about the thing – after using it for a number of weeks.

Basically, if you are looking for a tablet or new laptop or new computer and you can’t decide then my guess is that the mini will do all the work you need. In a nut shell it’s truly amazing. It out performs similar classed laptops (with the exception of gaming type graphics). It runs Microsoft Office. It has a great camera. The battery lasts for a long time. The speakers are very good considering the size of the thing. The screen is great. Etc….

What’s not to like?

Some of the apps are expensive compared to Android. If that is a problem I don’t know. Stability and security are important. Paying for stuff is a way to help developers build better solutions.

I use an external keyboard that cost an extra 90 Euros (a Logitech key case type thing). This makes using the tablet more into a laptop experience if you have a lot of typing to do. Is this a downside? I don’t know – some folks would say that it is. I found the regular Apple onscreen keyboard fine but maybe not for masses and masses of text.

There is no external storage. Again – I’m no sure this is a relevant argument. This little box has 64Gb storage – certainly needed. That’s enough to store a load of music, games, pictures and movies – certainly enough for a long flight and business trip. If I needed more – well – there are some nice little options that will allow you to use either wifi or an SD card etc. 

Sometimes there are some little idiosyncrasies with app functionality. Navigation may always not work the way you think. This though is symptomatic of all apps on all platforms. 

Other than that – and of course it’s apple and as such a premium is paid on the brand – what’s not to love:)

Get one.

My IPad Mini 4…

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also known as My New Toy.

Not so long ago I was determined to not like Apple products. They were overpriced, trendy and generally just “not my thing“. Oh how times have changed.
I’m a hacker and a tinkerer. I love to play with technology and make it work differently. A big Linux advocate and occasional programmer, the iPad and iPhone were the antithesis of everything holy. What was wrong with beige? What was wrong with the command line? Why do I need a smart phone?

What happened?

We moved from Blackberry to Apple. I lost my faithful Curve with it’s keyboard, work anywhere and 5 day battery. I got an iPhone 5S. I tried to hate it, I really did. I tried to put it down, to look for faults but I just couldn’t. Even the 24 hour battery on a good day I can’t complain about. Maybe I should just move to Cairo and live on that river (denial – say it out loud, you’ll get it) but nope, I’m now an advocate. That’s not the same as a fan boy – honest. But certainly if you were to try and pry my iPhone or iPad from my cold dead hands you would have a struggle.

So why the change?

In short – “It just works

The build quality is excellent, the kit just feels good. The software (I’m not going into technicalities) similarly just works. You can install an application, find you don’t like it and then remove it without any problems. If you want to buy something you can, and yes, the apps may be more expensive than Google Android but they also tend to be of a better build and design quality. 

Connecting to wifi, it’s a breeze. Select which network, type the password and go. No messing with having to remove the old one for whatever reason.

Sound from the little speakers – considering the size – great volume and clarity. The phone comes with earbuds that similarly sound good. It’s true that they are not the best in the world but by no means are they the worst and they come included.

The screen is just so clear. On both iPhone and iPad – clarity is awesome. Responsiveness of the touch screen is snappy and accurate. 

Smoked chicken, the soup…

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The meal that keeps on giving…

Got the carcass. Cut it up. Made sure all long bones cut in half. Throw in a plan with maybe a litre of water. Chuck in the skin and boil for a couple of hours. Use a sieve to separate the bones and junk from the liquid.

The result…

Great soup with a wonderful smoky taste. No pictures cos it was eaten too quick🙌

Google Plus, do no evil?

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I like Google Plus, much more than Facebook. It’s more secure and is security model is more useful. Additionally it sort of integrates with the other Google apps. This on the face of it is a good thing.

So, what’s the problem?

I took some pictures on my phone, these are set to sync to my Google Drive for backup and reuse. Now, I may publish these from G+ or I may want to do whatever with them. This you would think it’s a fair thing to do.

I also prefer to use a tablet or phone at home rather than laptop, even for map and such, including WordPress.

This morning I go to write something based op one of the pictures I took and stored on G+.

Could I find a way to download on the tablet from G+? Could I not! It just doesn’t seem possible. Maybe I need to look more info this but seeing as this stuff is supposed to be about creating content and making it easy to do so, it all seems rather strange.

Of course, if it’s simplicity itself to publish within the Google ecosystem but to get things outside?

I could, I guess, link into the picture on G+ from here but that would be advertising for Google and also maybe I don’t want to do that? Maybe I don’t want to let folks know what my G+ account is? Privacy and all that.

Google benefit from this behaviour, it helps people stay locked into their stuff. Trying to move from a ring fenced environment outside has been made deliberately difficult to serve the advertising and data mining frenzy that is Google.

A call to arms?

Certainly.

Stop using Google? It may be the only way but I don’t think effective. Probably best to do what everyone else will do and sync upto Dropbox instead and forget about flexible content delivery and management systems.

Do no evil ? Maybe not but low grade annoyance seems okay.

Day off…

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So – kid can’t get to school ‘cos of snow. I takes a day off to look after said kid. Then what?

Turn on laptop to send mail to say I have to take day off. Find I have a little time to look at a problem that has been bugging me, work on problem, talk to very nice problem helper in Houston, problem becomes solved and no longer a problem. Time is now morning +4 hours and become lunch.

Bugger.

Moral of the story is?

Sometimes it’s good to fix things when you are supposed to be not fixing things:)

Happy nowBig Smile

I like this guy

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For some reason and I don’t care if he’s a good president or not – I like this guy:

Jose Mujica

As leader of a country that I know little about or indeed would be a “power house”, this guy I think has a lot to offer other world and probably industry leaders. Share wealth, enjoy life. His life story is fantastic and probably will end up being made into a movie.

Mr Cameron, Mr Obama, Ms Merkel et-al – have a look at him. Talk to him, understand him. Maybe tell your cabinet to do same. Maybe tell your captains of industry that they could learn a bit as well.

Ok – I’ll get off my soap box but maybe even if we tried to be a little more like this guy…

Time for tea?

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This was seen on Facebook, posted by George Takei and I have no original source but I thought it too good to ignore…

image

If anything, Earl Grey would appear to make you younger.

The Death start, and official US Government statement.

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Well, I its official. The US Government publicly states that they will not be building a deathstar. This is in response to a request by more than 34 thousand citizens who felt such a device was needed…

Death of deathstar.

The reasons given make sense but I just don’t know. Maybe this is a bit of an oversight on the behalf of the human race. Currently we have only limited ability to blow up planets, nuclear bombs only scratch the surface and the hings coming out of CERN, well they might destroy us but not in that spectacular fashion we are really wanting. I mean, just disappearing into another dimension or collapsing in on ourselves, it’s a bit wimpy to be honest.

No, what we want is a real boom…

And now, sadly, the government penny pinchers and so called scientists just fail to deliver.

How bad is that?

😉

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