trixtah: (Default)
So I just made myself a G&T nightcap (I don't normally drink this kind of thing just before bedtime, but what the hell), and observed the fact I have no less than three different kinds of gin to choose from. I also have no less than four kinds of rum, two vodkas, and only two whiskies (one Irish, one Scotch. I normally have two kinds of Scotch whisky). Then there's tequila, Grand Marnier, and sherry. And four beers in the fridge. I finished the wine I bought on Friday last night.

So, I wonder if someone walks in the door - my booze is sitting prominently on the first bookshelf as you come into the lounge - and thinks I'm a complete alkie? Oh well. This stuff sits around for literally years: I bought the Scotch when I was in England in June 2008, and it's still half full. I like variety, and not necessarily quantity. Also, how can you make decent cocktails or ensure that all potential tastes are covered without the basics¹ around? :-)

¹(Except ouzo or sambuca. Sorry to those anise-lovers!)

trixtah: (Default)
I cracked the first of my ginger beers today, and should probably have done that a few days ago - the results were fountainous. Oh well, my kitchen floor (and bench, and sink, and splashback) needed a wash anyway. Thank god for the Grolsch bottles, because they didn't break of themselves. I've depressurised all the others, and have lost about 1/4 of the contents in the process.

The one I've drunk is ironically not quite as fizzy as I would like, undoubtedly due to the nice bubbles exhausting themselves everywhere else but in the glass first. ETA: the second one has perfect fizziness, with the bubbles having a chance to recover a bit in the next bottle.

Also, not quite as gingery as I would prefer - I started off with fresh ginger, but supplemented with fairly old powdered ginger, which was probably not the best thing to do. Maybe a tad less lemon as well (I'm amazed at that - I like lemon), but I got the sweetness exactly right - i.e. I used only 2/3rds of the recommended amount of sugar.

Still, it's very refreshing and nom. When I refine the recipe a bit further, I'll post it up.

trixtah: (Default)
I forgot to post my sangria recipe on the weekend. It's pretty standard, but I do like it fairly dry and without fruit overload, and I like it more refreshing than intoxicating. Some people make sangria into a fruit punch, but I wonder why they bother calling it "sangria" then.

Juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 whole lemon and 1 whole orange, medium-sized, and a lime if you have one
1/4 cup sugar (fine/caster is good. I prefer raw sugar myself - there's a nice fine organic sugar I use)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or Triple Sec would probably work too)
200-400ml (1-2 cups, depending on the strength of the wine) sparkling mineral water/soda water (if you have a sweet tooth, use lemonade and reduce the sugar... or not)
1 bottle of red wine - rioja is nice, or tempranillo. Shiraz is fine too, but in that case I'd use more rather than less water. Some people like sparkling shiraz. I first made sangria with Tyrell's Long Flat Red, but it looks like Tyrell's isn't making that any more!
Some people like to add chunks of apple, peach or pineapple - go ahead if you want to

Thinly slice the lemon, orange and lime - you can also cut them in halves or quarters. I think halves look nice in a glass. Put the fruit into your serving jug - 3 litre capacity is good - with the extra lemon and orange juice, the sugar and the liqueur. Add a slosh of the wine if some of the fruit isn't covered by liquid. Mix, cover, and allow to macerate for at least ½ an hour. I don't macerate in the fridge - a bit of room-temperature warmth is great for extracting the goodies from the fruit. You should have your red wine and sparkling mineral water chilling while that's going on.

Once everything is nicely macerated, add the cold wine and mix well. Return to the fridge until it all chills to drinking temperature - at least another half hour or more. Longer is better. When ready to serve, add the sparkling mineral water/soda to taste, and throw in some ice cubes. If there isn't quite enough room to add the amount of water you want, ditch some of the fruit (but not the liquid!). Drink and enjoy.

I personally don't mind if I don't drink it all at once and the sparkle dies off; it's still refreshing. If I know it's going take a while to consume, I just make up the wine and fruit mixture, and top it up with sparkling water in the glass.
trixtah: (Default)
I went up to the Hippo Bar this evening, because I am over this week, over this month, and over this fucking year, already. So a margarita was definitely on the agenda. For all the queer-orientated and andro/butch-appreciating ladeez in the audience, there is a very cute new (in the sense I hadn't seen her before, but I haven't been for months) bartender who knows how to make a damn good margarita with Herradura tequila and Grand Marnier. There was no fucking about with blenders or fruity additives - just the pure rendition in a chilled martini glass with salt. She reminded me of a thin tomboyish combination of Stan Campbell and Dayna from Blake's 7, and looked just right in a waistcoat. Alas, about 20 years too young and not girly enough to be true eye-candy for me, but it's nice to see appealing potential members of the sisterhood about.

And it really is useful that alcohol cheers me up in general. It'd be horrible to be one of those people who got morose when they were slightly squiffy. After the margarita, I had a pleasant walk home, despite the humidity (more on that shortly). Up at the IGA in Lyneham, I found some new beer, by Knappstein. They're a winery that does a very tasty riesling (and other wines), and it seems they're branching out. I'm pleased to say that this is the best beer I've had in ages. It says it's a "distinctively fruity and floral beer" (and slightly wankily), with a "distinctive wine-like balance". It's not nearly as sweet as it sounds, although it does have a kind of honey note, and it contains enough alcohol - 5.6 percent - to carry off the rich, but not cloying, flavours. The good hop balance gives it a fairly clean finish. It's reminiscent of good Belgian beer, but not in the slightest bit fungusy or as over-powering as many of those can be. The website says it's a "Bavarian-style lager", but honestly, it's more flavoursome than most of those. So, yum. Yay.

I also found some fun things today about temperature averages - yes, I know I'm obsessed by this topic - since the relative level of humidity today reminded me of Auckland at this time of the year. In fact, the temps and humidity (70-ish percent) were very similar there and in Canberra. I also found the Beeb site that gives a nice rundown on average temperature ranges by city across the year.

blah blah blah city temperatures )

So, yes, I'll be sticking to my cool sub-tropical/moderately-warm temperate climates where I can, thank you very much.

trixtah: (potter)
I'm at home (yay NZ) and it's very very nice here. It's warm for starters (15°C), and a wee bit of rain is not bothering me in the slightest. In fact, the humidity is nice. It's annoying to realise just how much I'm a creature of my climate-of-birth. Also, yay greenery.

I had been expecting to do some clothes shopping in the UK, but it didn't happen. It IS happening here. I actually spent an enjoyable day shopping, which is the first time ever in my entire life. I've also spent over a grand, bad bad bad me. However, I have a new paisley shirt, two three new pairs of trousers, a new dress-yet-casual jacket, and, um, a piece of art. Regarding the latter, I was walking past the gallery, spotted what was inside, and my tongue nearly fell out of my face. The guy takes photos, prints them on art paper, and then waterpaints the print. They're utterly atmospheric, and I fell in love at first sight. Obviously, I liked some works more than others, but I managed to keep myself away from the $850+ (unframed) jobbies. Yay art.

With my clothes shopping, I found that the designery shops around High St are currently having their winter sales. I was pleasantly surprised at the fantastic customer service I got. These are moderate-to-pricey shops, I was looking at the menswear sections, and each time I got prompt and friendly service. While I'd like to be cool and groovy and be able to stroll into any shop and look at what I damn-well please, I need to be in a particular mood to do that in challenging circumstances (ie. not very often) - not having to contend with uncomfortable, disdainful or hostile assistants makes shopping an order of magnitude more enjoyable. Not to mention the fact I found cool things to wear. Now I just need to get all the trousers and sleeves shortened.

I've also been pigging out on nommy Japanese and fusion fuds, and I've had two cocktails and three coffees. I'm glad my stomach appears to be 95% recovered; there have been no ill-effects so far. Heh. Oh, one of the cocktails was from Mea Culpa, which has a supposedly signature variation on a Moscow Mule, with lime, wasabi and ginger ale. I could taste the wasabi, but the rest tasted like a sweetened rendition of the cucumber slice that was used to garnish the drink. Too sweet, no lime or ginger discernable (if there was ginger ale/beer in it, it must have been Bundy). Very disappointing. The ridiculously sky-blue Sapphire Surprise at Honey was much nicer.

Onto all the wild socialising tomorrow!
trixtah: (Tattoo)
...that drinking proper tea makes me very happy.

That is all.

PS. And I'm rereading Lorna Doone, which still holds up well, despite the fact I'm no longer a teenager. I like the sly humour, and, especially, the descriptions of nature.
trixtah: (Fem-uh-nist)
(Thank you to whomever sponsored the wee v-gift celebrating it - I've still got it proudly in my profile)

I've had three cocktails in quick succession this evening, and I'm not the slightest bit schnackered (I did eat first), but I'm feeling much more human. Maybe mildly tiddly. Yay mood-altering substances. Thank god. My day had reached an extra dimension of vileness late this afternoon, which involved me being somewhat less than my "make nice to management" self with the customer services manager in a moment of stress. Oh well, he hasn't fired me yet (he's three levels up and one to the side). Cocktails made me happier.

I've been ID'd as male three times this week. I was called "sir" at lunch with [personal profile] saluqi on Tuesday, I was referred to collectively as one of the "gentlemen" at a meeting today (they normally pull themselves up when I cough and do the wiggly-eyebrow thing - it didn't work), and this evening some chappie called me "mate" when he wanted to nick some chairs from where I was sitting with my cocktails.

I mean, hello, I don't look that male. There're these large objects sticking out of my chest, if you choose to ignore my way-less-than-manly jaw, and my decidedly female voice. Times like this I realise what a small town Canberra is in some ways, although maybe I'm just being a little more testosterone-filled than usual. Hm.

Bizarre... I thought that since I'm rounder and somewhat dressier these days (when I'm in my work clothes), I'd blend a bit more into the general idea of what women are apparently supposed to look like. Apparently not. *evil leers*

Also, today I found some modern Aussie psychedelic-style rock - a band called Wolf & Cub. I like. I really can't make any sense at all of my musical tastes. What, really, is the difference between that and prog? Anyone?
trixtah: (Default)
#1 - Invent a Cocktail
  1. Grab Jameson's whisky (or other blended rubbish - I might try it with something better) and anejo rum (ie. golden, not white or dark) from your babe magnet liquor cabinet (ie. the cupboard above the fridge).
  2. Inspect your fridge and remove fresh ginger, chilli and a lemon from its innards. Realise you need a mixer, and go to the shop for apple juice.
  3. Excavate the cardamom from where it was hiding - deliberately! - behind the cloves.
  4. Crush 1½ - 2 tsp of ginger with ½ a tsp of chilli (more if you're not a wuss like me) and the seeds from two large cardamom pods. I used my mortar and pestle.
  5. Briefly wonder what happened to the silver-plated cocktail shaker you definitely had two countries ago, and scrape the chilli/ginger/cardamom paste into something with a secure-fitting lid. I used a measuring beaker that came with my blender.
  6. Pour in two-three shots of whisky and one of rum (or whatever the capacity of the screwtop on the whisky bottle is).
  7. Add about ½ a shot of lemon juice, or a good squeeze of a small wedge.
  8. Pour in about 150ml of apple juice. I couldn't find the cloudy type, but that would be better, I think.
  9. Consider crushing some ice, decide the hell with it, and throw in about 4-6 cubes.
  10. Shake it to buggery, until the icecubes are somewhat smaller, and then strain into a glass. A teastrainer is fine, but a larger gauge strainer allows more interesting bits to float around in the glass.
  11. Drink and enjoy.
  12. I should think of some interesting garnish - a few finely sliced threads of chilli and lemon zest? There you go.
Anyone think of a name for it? It's yummy, actually, with the smokiness of the cardamom nicely complementing the whiskey and ginger. But I've just run out of inspiration. :-)

Le weekend

May. 28th, 2006 08:52 pm
trixtah: (Default)
Well, I had a delightful weekend. Bought some new jeans, very exciting. Although they only seem to do black jeans with the stovepipe legs these days. Since I'm not a boy with hips narrower than my waist, I had to forgo them. Still, the kind of not-quite-black bootcut boys' jeans I ended up getting are pretty comfy. I just have to get 6 inches of excess trimmed off the bottom. *sigh*

I also bought some foam to stick under my fucking useless futon mattress. If you're after a good-quality, 5-layer futon (wool/cotton/foam/cotton/wool), do not go to Futons Express in Canberra (no linkie for them). The super-duper expensive "sumo" mattress hasn't even lasted a year - I can feel the slats when I lie on my side. And yes, I turn it every week and give it a thump.

Actually, I just looked at their site, and they do have a diagram of the 8" sumo mattress. There is only 2 inches of foam (which must be the crappiest kind), "4 layers" of cotton, and what looks like a miniscule layer of wool (an inch in total)? I didn't see that diagram before I bought it, or else I wouldn't have got it. Serves me right for not asking at the time.

When I got it, I was thinking of a certain brand of futons they sell in NZ, where the primo 6" mattress has a 2" coco fibre core, surrounded by an inch of latex on each side, and then an inch of  wool for the final layers. Maybe I should just get another bed - and I've found a new shop in Canberra that appears to do decent bases, with rubber mounts for the slats - but the only decent mattress manufacturer here appears to be in Melbourne. I'll try the shop in Sydney next time I'm up, but they look as dodgy as the Futons Express ones.
Cut for Saturday night date trivia )

Today, I drove around some obscure country towns - I felt like a scenic drive - and went to see X-Men, which wasn't quite as fun as I was hoping it to be. The ending was frankly stupid - I don't know how they got from the chaos of the 5 minutes before to all the lovely hearts and flowers at the end. What was stuck in as "light relief" was irritating, and Vinnie Jones should hold his fucking head in a bucket of water (or perhaps concrete would be better) for at least the next decade or so. There was maybe 15 minutes' dialogue in the whole thing? No character development to speak of, except Jean's (and "development" is kind of relative, here). Although I laughed at the part with the Golden Gate Bridge. Hm, entertaining, but I liked the last one better.

Also, the person the row behind me who ate her fucking popcorn with her mouth wide open throughout the entire movie - one kernel every 20 seconds, audible in the noisy parts, like a fucking overgrown rodent nibbling celery stalks - should be forced to eat it through her nose next time. God, it was irritating, and something I couldn't tune out. She'd eat faster in the exciting bits. And in the few times there was dialogue, she would punctuate it with her fucking crunchcrunchcrunch. Oh, and to all the people who laughed uproariously at the promo for the sexist retro bullshit that's Adam Sandler's latest vehicle (Click)? You're all fuckwits. So there.

But, you know, I had a great weekend.
trixtah: (Default)
It's at this time of the year I feel like cooking (and eating, of course) more. I bought a mortar and pestle the other day from an Asian grocery, and used it to make my famous green curry. Yum! Now I just have to lure round the WLI (Work Lust Interest) and get her to sample my hot spicy Since she professes to like green curry that isn't HOT. And, since I don't make it with coriander (I appear to have a mild allergy or perhaps just a strong physical reaction to the taste), my green curry is mildness itself. But still tasty. If I do say so myself.

But the mortar and pestle also facilitate making my equally famous chai from whole spices. Here is my recipe, for the sake of posterity.
Trix's non-authentic, but bloody tasty chai

3/4 cup milk (I use soy, since I most definitely have a cow's milk allergy)
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon (non-Australian, ie. 3 tsp) sugar (raw or unrefined, by choice - mine)
4 cloves
1/2 thumb size fresh ginger (actually, chai is a great way of using up the mummified ginger residing in the back of the fridge. But perhaps double the quantity, in that instance)
6-8 cardamoms (or more, yum!)
1/2 cinnamon quill (about 3-4 cm long)
3-4 mace
1/2 a nutmeg (coarsely grated)
4 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla essence, or one vanilla pod, you lucky devil
2 tsp of decent India/Sri Lankan tea (I like Assam), or a decent tea bag, if you must, but that does not include Lipton, or pissy Earl Grey (well, EG might be alright for a change, but not for this. And half of it is China tea. So there.)

Heat milk, water and sugar in an appropriately-sized saucepan. While it's heating, chuck all the dry spices into the mortar and grind the hell out of them. The spice mix can be fairly chunky, though, don't worry about being too earnest. It's just to break them down and release the oils a bit. Alternatively, whizz them for a couple of seconds in the coffee grinder (and give your next few coffees a nice taste). Alternatively, just use the ground spices in jars, but you'll have to guess a lot about your proportions.

When the milk mixture has come to a rolling boil (don't let it boil over! It is milk!), throw in the spices and turn down the heat to a bare simmer. Put in your vanilla essence if you weren't fortunate enough to have a pod. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. At this stage, you should see that the spices have infused into the milk, and it looks thicker. Briefly increase the heat to bring to a rolling boil again. Put the jug on, too. Once the milk and spice mixture is really boiling, turn off the heat and throw in the tea (or tea bag). Allow to steep for a couple of minutes. It doesn't take long, because the milk mixture is HOT.

Strain (carefully!) into your mug. Top up with boiling water from your jug if needed, and check the sweetness. Add more sugar if needed. Enjoy.

You really need to have the sugar, as the spices are quite pungent, no matter how you normally have your tea. Try and imagine Xmas cake without sugar. And, I know it looks like a LOT of sugar, but really, you may well find yourself adding more at the end (I do, and I generally have one spoon in normal tea). Honey is fine too, but it gives it a pretty different character, but I like that.

You can make up a ton of the milk and spices mixture and refrigerate for a few days (haven't tried freezing, but I'm sure that would work too. mmm, chai-blocks. And hey, chai-flavoured ice-cream! Don't forget, I invented it here!). Just bring it to the boil when you want another cup, and add the tea then.

Other people will add fennel, coriander and/or caraway seeds to their spice mix. Since I can't stand the taste of any of these, I don't have to. But it might be nice to try if you like those flavours. A wee bit of chilli is quite nice, as is cayenne pepper. But I really prefer black pepper here, as it has a woody warmth that goes better with the woody spices. IMO.

The main thing is to experiment with the proportions yourself. I like it fairly spicy tasting. You might like it a bit more subtle, so you'd want to reduce the spices by half. If you like cinnamon lots, then put a whole stick in. But try not to drown the taste of the other spices, because it really should be a true mélange
trixtah: (Default)
After managing to lose my keys (after a loooong day), and having to traipse all the way back to work to get them, I'm now happy at home, drinking Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale (Coopers (agh agh, no apostrophe!) Beer really is one of the best things about Oz), listening to vintage Massive Attack (now that I finally have my stereo - sometimes a Walkman isn't enough), and I've heard just that I might be able to buy a vintage HT Holden! Currently registered! Just down the road! For a grand! I'll be going to kick its tires on Sunday.... eeeeeee!!!
trixtah: (Default)
Make My Chai


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