Stuff & Nonsense

04 August 2014

TARDIS-Blue Punch & Ice Rings

A good cuppa may be very Whovian, but it can be a bit fiddly if you're dealing with dozens of people at a stand-up do. Also the library owns something like four punch bowls and only one hot water urn that doesn't leave your tea tasting like coffee. No surprise then that we had pitchers of ice water and a big bowl of punch at our Whovian social.

TARDIS-blue punch with ice ring. It's lemons all the way down.

The punch was simply one gallon of Berry Blue Typhoon Hawaiian Punch to one gallon lemonade, plus a generous squeeze of blue food coloring to deepen the overall color. We had seventy(ish) people and I refilled the punch bowl three times, but didn't add the food coloring when I did the refills so the colored steadily lightened over the course of the evening. I could just as easily have skipped the food coloring altogether, obviously, but it seemed important that the punch should be as TARDIS-blue as possible. (I get very detail-driven when I'm worried about a project and the Whovian social made me just a wee bit obsessive).

I am ridiculously proud of that ice ring. I constructed by layering and freezing. A layer of thinly sliced lemons, with blueberries scattered over to fill the gaps, covered with just enough lemonade (spiked with blue food coloring until it was almost navy) to make sure the fruit was wet, but nothing was floating. Froze it. Repeated the layer. Froze it. And so on until my small bundt pan was full.

To thaw the ice ring enough so that it would slide out from the pan, I set the bottom of the pan in a dish of hot water for a few seconds. It slide right out.

How did the punch taste? Sweet, obviously, but the lemon slices helped cut that as the ice ring melted.

01 August 2014

Edible Ball-Bearings. Genius!

We threw a Whovian social at work recently and, since it was my baby, I brought the cupcakes. And the Jammie Dodgers. And the bananas. And the satsumas (actually clementines, because SEASONALITY).

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and silver Wilton sugar pearls.

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and Bananarama candies.

Being pressed for time, I bought these cupcakes from our Price Chopper and decorated them at home. I loved the Bananarama candies (found them at Sweet Factory, one of those pick-and-mix candy stores) as they actually tasted like proper bananas and not the hideous approximation of banana-ness I expected. The Wilton pearls were, however, slightly disappointing as I thought they looked more steel grey than silver. But, you know, supposedly you can't buy the real silver ones here anymore because of some (perhaps overly cautious) food regulations.

Fun With Birds @ ELCCT

Last month, I took a "deck birding" class through the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut. I'd just happened to see the event posted online a few days before the event and, since I'm a big ol' bird nerd, I thought I'd give it a try. It was all about birding by sound, rather than sight.

There were only four of us there, plus the two instructors, and it was a really pleasant way to spend a morning. We learned that most birds have not just one song, but a repertoire of sounds. Some are territorial or mating songs only heard at specific times of the year or are shorter informational calls about predators, food sources, or simply "here I am." One bird can make vastly different sounds and some birds don't make sounds we'd think of as "bird song" -- seriously, the Pileated Woodpecker sounds like a monkey, to me.

Because I must Know All The Things, I borrowed Birding by Ear: A Guide to Bird-Song Identification, Eastern and Central North America through my library system. It's a three-disc audiobook with a small paper guide and can be used on its own, although the guide recommends the set be paired with Peterson Field Guide to Bird Songs.

Anyway, in the last month, I have learned just enough become annoyed with birdsong because, while I can remember I learned on Disc 2 what bird sings the song I am currently listening to, I can never actually remember the bird's name. However, I am reasonably sure it's a Wood Thrush singing outside our bedroom window most mornings.