Wednesday 15 November 2017
Dinner tonight was burger and chips. More or less…
I took my inspiration for the burgers from a recipe book Jane has out of the library at the moment called Meatless. Admittedly it called for brown rice and chickpeas, neither of which were in our cupboards but I knocked up something in that range using red rice and white beans. Mixed with chopped shallots, garlic and parsley and bound together, it was formed into patties to fry. The mixture didn’t hold together brilliantly but had a decent taste. Something to experiment again.
Chips were from sweet potatoes, peeled, chipped, parboiled and roasted and pitta bread stood in for a burger bun (or lettuce as the suggestion from the book). Not quite as described but actually decidedly tasty and enough to keep me going until (dead animal based) sausages for breakfast tomorrow!
Tuesday 14 November 2017
If I don’t have a particular idea in mind as the next thing to paint, I find it useful to spend a bit of time just playing with the pigments. Here is a session from Saturday in Schmincke Pthalo Blue and Royal & Langnickel Crimson Red Lake:
Playing with Blue and Red
As it dried, it put me in mind of my earlier attempt to work up clouds at sunset (see The Other Side) and so I set out to experiment. Using a small test sheet, I painted two rectangles of water. On the left, I filled it entirely with Pthalo Blue before dropping in streaks of the red; on the right I left gaps to apply the red in the same pattern, which is why the colour appears more vivid. You can see the dampness of the paper at the point where I decided to leave it:
Sky Test – Wet
For comparison, here is the same sheet completely dried:
Sky Test – Dry
I expected the patches of water at the bottom of each to possibly form a heavier patch of colour but, left flat, the water seems to have migrated back into the picture, pushing the pigment before it.
Which one will work for the picture I have in mind? Probably both: red over blue near the top and then red dropped into white spaces where I want the colour to be more intense near the bottom of the piece.
Monday 13 November 2017
Do you remember the scene in Crocodile Dundee (1986) when the eponymous hero is faced by a mugger with a knife and, quite unfazed, chuckles and pulls out a massive hunting knife with the immortal line “… that’s a knife”? That is what came to mind when I saw photos of the newly opened library in the Binhai Cultural District of Tianjin, China:
That’s a library! The figures given some sense of scale but it still looks huge (and perhaps a bit precarious for the higher runs of shelving!). I wonder what they keep in the central sphere? More photos on Bored Panda.
Sunday 12 November 2017
The new brew I mentioned yesterday is another one based on Flowers IPA, from Graham Wheeler’s recipe in Brew Your Own British Real Ale. I’ve used the recipe a couple of times before (Summer Flowers and Slow Flowers), both of which turned out well, but it is almost three years since I last cooked up a batch.
For this one, I’ve adjusted the ingredients to scale around 10 litres of water in the pot to begin with: 900g pale malt, 80g crystal malt and 7g black malt. After mashing that for 75 minutes at about 66°C, I brought the wort to the boil and added 90g brewing sugar and 16g Target hops. The recipe calls for a small amount of Target but my pellets were fairly old and so I figured I’d be generous. As an aside, I tried brewing up the rest with hot water and even with several teaspoons of sugar, had to decide that the result was undrinkable so I don’t think they had lost all their bittering power!
After a 60 minute boil (with 2g fresher Fuggles hop pellets standing in for Styrian Goldings and a pinch of Irish Moss ten minutes before the end), I put it into my plastic jerry can and left to cool overnight. This afternoon, I’ve checked the gravity, which read 1.036 – 1 point over target, which is close enough for the accuracy of the measurement I’m able to make. Once I post this, the yeast (5.5g Safale S-04) will have finished rehydrating and I’ll combine that with the wort and set fermenting with a brew belt being used to keep the temperature at about 17°C. Right, time to press the button…
Saturday 11 November 2017
Malt for brewing comes in a wide range of varieties. Most beer recipes call for some form of pale malt as the main ingredient – barley that has been malted and roasted enough to dry it but not to give it much colour. If you cook the barley too long or too high, it starts to destroy the starches and enzymes that produce the sugary extract required to create a brewable wort, but smaller quantities of darker grains can be added to adjust the flavour and colour of the final beer.
One of the darkest is black malt; a common additive but one that is only used in small quantities. I bought a kilo of uncrushed black malt about 3.5 years ago and I’m still using it! Fortunately, sealed up and uncrushed, malt keeps a reasonable length of time but, when I finally finish it, I’ll see if I can get a small amount next time. However, I may have found another way to work through my stock.
I’m doing some brewing today and needed a whole 7g. It wasn’t worth getting out my mill for such a small amount so I decided to grind it my pestle and mortar. I’ve got a wooden one so I normally dust it out rather than wash and dry it; to avoid the brewing malt getting potentially contaminated with any salt and pepper dust left over from last night’s cooking, I ground a small batch first before the 7g I needed for the brew. Then, in a waste not, want not mood, I brewed the first lot up with some hot water.
I have to say that it isn’t a bad way to drink it. I can see myself trying that again, certainly on brew days. It was a bit peppery, so it probably was just as well to clean out the mortar. More on the beer itself, Winter Flowers, after I’ve got the essential measurements tomorrow.
Friday 10 November 2017
Violas, which includes the flowers given the common name ‘pansies’, are a large family of hardy flowers that often feature in late and early bedding schemes. They come in an abundance of colours but the classic combination, to my eyes, is yellow and purple. Those were the two colours I chose to use in a recent series of watercolour painting experiments – partly because they work together beautifully and, more prosaically, because I had those two colours occupying large slots on my palette and I wanted a creative way to use them up. Here is one of the results (click it to view on Flickr, where you can see its two neighbours):
Viola – 2
You can see that there is no attempt to echo the form of the flower – even Viola – 1, which is the most, erm, petallic (petally, apparently based on petal shapes) is simply a joyous exploration of how the two colours can be encouraged to flow, merge and influence each other. Both are warm colours in their category and so, although technically opposites on the colour wheel, they tend to create mixes between orange and sepia rather than neutralising to a gray. A cold, lemon yellow would have a different effect; I do have some of the purple left so perhaps that should be my next experiment?
The paintings were scanned in on my Canon TS8050, a multifunction inkjet device which is proving very useful. I then used The GIMP to crop and resize the images and to apply a little sharpening. I used the unsharp mask function on fairly restrained settings over a duplicate layer and then toned it down further by reducing the opacity of that layer to about 25%. This has worked well to suggest the textures you can observe in the original pieces without loosing the fluidity that is characteristic of the medium. I particularly wanted to preserve that because the destiny of Viola – 2 and Viola – 3, painted back to back on the same piece of paper, is probably to be sliced up and laminated into a set of bookmarks; always the intention and probably what encouraged me to paint loosely and freely in the first place.
Thursday 9 November 2017
We had a question at our home group tonight about whether there is a way to see how the same story is told in the four gospel accounts in the Bible. The answer to that is an emphatic yes. Many editions of the Bible include cross references as part of their study appurtenances but, even easier, is using a parallel version. I’ve seen these in print editions but a quick search turned up a a free online version at Bible Hub.
What you can’t easily do with this version is find a particular passage and its parallels – unless you can guess how it is described and where it falls in the general flow of things. There is uncertainty over the order of certain events and so you have to accept that there is a certain degree of guesswork in the path that is followed. However, it fulfils the core task and lets you compare different stories. You can look for similarities and differences. What does it tell you about the events? What about the author? And is it fair for me to suggest that they add up to four tracks based on eyewitness accounts, which is certainly the general thrust of most evangelical views on the matter?