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In March 2013, the Royal Mail will offer a set of eleven first class (and four second class) stamps, which will be of interest to one or two friends. Yes, eleven. =:) The official page is here, including the option to register for updates, and a "chance to win". And also as part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations, it seems there'll be a series of events at the BFI, including Q&A sessions with current and former Doctors, though perhaps not with William Hartnell, as the ContactMusic article claims. ^_^;

If you've been holding off supporting Elite: Dangerous for want of a Mac version, well, here you go. ^_^ But first, it needs funding! Nudge your existing pledge up, if you can - there are a few new pledge levels available, too. Spread the word! (Encouragingly, the trend has been nosing upwards lately, despite Christmas right in the way!)

If you're in the UK, and haven't yet seen Safety Not Guaranteed, it apparently finally has a UK release! Well, of a sort - looks extremely limited, given Odeon lists a mighty four locations, as an example: Covent Garden, Manchester, Kingston, and Norwich.

The New York Times' paywall appears to be working. Whilst advertising revenues continue to decline, subscription income is rising faster.

If you've wanted to strip the DRM from iTunes video purchases (in our case, to play on the 42" LG TV in the main room, without the need to hook Dandelion up), I recently discovered you can - just search for "Requiem 4.1", the current version, and possibly the last. (The author's moving on to other projects, but with the source being open, it's entirely possible others will take over) I should note that, unlike many other ersatz utilities, this introduces no loss in quality - it doesn't re-encode, only removes the DRM, so the encoding itself is left untouched.

Points to note:
- it's available as pre-packaged OS X and Windows applications, and the Java source.
- as 4.1 was released before iTunes 11, the application's unaware of 11 and conservatively says it's unable to help with that version. Reportedly, it does still work fine with 11, but you need to run it from the command line.
- if it's launched by a double-click, it assumes behavior I personally wouldn't expect: it doesn't wait for files to be given to it, but rather, performs a search for all affected files, and queues them up for processing. As this can take around four minutes per episode, this might take a significant amount of time. You may well prefer, as I do, to leave it in the Dock, and just drop a file or directory onto it when desired - that'll cause it to only work upon those files.
- on a local (rather than AppleShare) volume, the original files are automatically moved to the trash. I haven't experienced any failures in the process, with several 1080p TV shots and films processed, but you might want to run a quick check on the output, just to be sure, before finally deleting the originals. (Though, I suppose it's easy enough to re-download them if necessary)

The other night, we watched one of the Blu-Rays I'd given the housemate: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, a Chinese action adventure/mystery/wire-fu epic. It was, unsurprisingly, much fun. ^_^ The cinematography was frequently stunning, although the lighting in the second half often fell short, with a distinctly "video" quality.

I made bread! Again. ^_^ As ever, using the recipe ionotter offered up a while ago - very easy, and so worthwhile. In brief, the four ingredients you need are:

- 500ml water, about body temperature
- 1100ml flour
- teaspoon of yeast
- teaspoon of salt

(The proportions aren't critical - basically, a measure of water, and a little more than double that of flour)

Mix the yeast into the water first, if required. (Most do, some are fine with just mixing straight in; whatever the instructions recommend) Combine everything to make a fairly stiff dough - it shouldn't be too wet, else the bread'll be too moist after cooking, leaving it heavy. (As long as you can shape it into rolls or whatever you're wanting, it's fine) Once you've got it all into a dough, leave it somewhere on the warm side for a couple hours - it ought to be able to rise quite nicely, so be sure you've used a bowl it's not going to make a dramatic escape from. =:)

At this point, you can either bake it straight away, or pop it into the fridge for up to a few days - it'll keep quite nicely until you're ready. Prepare a tray with some sprinkled flour or cornmeal, to help get the bread off after baking, and set the oven for about 230C (220C if fan-assisted), or 450F. If you want a particularly good crust, also put another tray into the bottom of the oven now, and get half a mug of water ready.

Once it's up to temperature, pop the dough in; and for extra crustiness, also toss the water onto the lower tray, to bring up plenty of steam during cooking. It'll be done after about 30 minutes. You'll want to leave the bread for a few minutes before trying to get it off, let alone eating, but it'll soon be ready and waiting. ^_^

Now, that's just for a basic bread - as you'd expect, you can add all sorts of extras, if you want to. Garlic and rosemary's a great combination, as is simply a good bit of mature Cheddar. One that I found worked surprisingly well was some cheap ham, chopped up very finely, and Cheddar. =:9 Whatever you add, you'll probably want to play with the proportions, to get it to just the right level you like. (It can take a bit more than you might expect, so you don't need to be too sparing) Bear in mind you can make this bread very crunchy, so.. be prepared to get what you wish for, as they say. =:)
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Oh, cool beans! Yes, it's definitely one to enjoy with a good sized TV, and an adequate audio system. ^_^ I also rather liked the combat, even - the choreography was such that it was never confusing following what was going on, despite some quite furious action at times. (As opposed, to, say, Michael Bay's method of throwing every actor and CG element onto the screen and letting that convey REAL BIG EXCITEMENT ARE YOU FEELING IT *cough*)

FWIW, another flick we enjoyed the other day was courtesy of actual broadcast TV: Miss Potter. Absolutely charming. Of course, I'm particularly prone to her magic, but given the story to be told, and the locations involved, it couldn't really help but be engaging, touching, and a delight to look upon. Just like her subjects. ^_^
Sounds like a nice bread recipe. I may have to try that.

For letting the dough rise, it's been recommended to me to put a kitchen towel or so on top of the bowl you're using. Not sure if that's really doing anything, but I suppose it can't hurt. :)
The towel, aside from being essential equipment for any hoopy frood, is meant to keep the dough from drying out, and to keep flying insects off it. Not all your dinner guests will accept that those little black specks are "poppy seeds."
Ah, interesting! I never knew about those beetles.

(Quite a few local shops and bakeries are selling "protein bread" here these days. Makes you wonder what's in that.)

Not to mention extra mozzarella. =:)

I was slightly surprised, but gratified, to find the bit of drying out when the dough rose in the airing cupboard last time had no effect. ^_^ I just shaped it all into long rolls, and the light crustiness of the dough just vanished in the baking.

So good, though. I made it a bit thicker a dough than I sometimes used to, which worked out distinctly better, leaving the final bread lighter. Coupled with the crust working out especially nicely, despite doing nothing more than the addition of steam, it made for a great munch the other night, with rolls hot out of the oven, with some great cheese and Parma ham to enjoy with it. And it's all so easy! =:9
Oh, absolutely. At worst, it's just a bit of extra washing, at best, it'll help.. well, I'd say keep airborne uglies out of the way, but they're probably going to be a good deal smaller than a tea towel's fabric matrix. It could help keep the warmth in, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

There's obviously a world of variation possible, of course, even without particularly changing the recipe - different herbs and suchlike, or making loaves rather than rolls. I'm tempted sometime to try putting meat inside, along the lines of Chinese steamed buns - I'm not sure what effect that would have on the baking, but I'd enjoy the experiment. ^_^ Maybe a bit of nicely spiced lean ground beef and onion, perhaps even with a half teaspoon of cream cheese, inside a roll.. coming straight out of the oven, there'd seem to be some delicious possibilities. =:9
Ooh, yes, that sounds rather nice! ^^
Yay! Glad you liked it, and glad it worked so well for you. I've been using a bread machine for my bread lately. Heh! I picked it up off Craigslist a few years ago, and it's trooping along nicely. Then I found another of the same model, just newer, in the charity shop. $7.00, no less!

BTW, did I make the metric conversions for you? I think I might have, not sure. I've since switched over to doing all my breadmaking measurements by weight (grams), rather than by volume. My results are much more consistent that way.

Edited at 2012-12-29 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's been serving me well. ^_^ I'll afmit this is the first time in a while, though, as it's difficult to justify putting the oven on just for myself, but with the housemate now as well, and currently a guest too, it's the perfect opportunity to again enjoy really fresh, warm bread.

Can a bread machine manage a really crunchy crust?

I worked out the conversion, but it doesn't seem terribly critical, with the caveat that the dough oughtn't be wet - it still works out, but the bread's predictably very moist. This time, I wound up with a stiffer dough than sometimes in the past, to very good effect. Though, I'd still love to create a genuine baguette - but aside from anything else, that'll likely require authentic French flour, for one thing.

Makes sense, I suppose, going by weight - volume's a bit uncertain with powders, though I suppose the kind of flour will require some tweaking of the proportions anyway.
Oh, homebaked bread! I'll have me some of that :D A fiar majority of British bread seems to suffer from the dreadful Chorleywood curse, so any breddie that different gets a definite thumb up ^^
Chorleywood curse? Dare I ask? ^_^;

It's such an easy recipe, too! And, of course, being home baked means you can make it nice and *crunchy*, which is a challenge seldom accepted by British bakers. This round came straight out of the oven and onto the table (after a few cooling minutes), accompanied by a couple hams and cheeses.

If you've got the fridge space, it's arguably better to keep the dough for a few days, to let it develop a bit of a sourdough nature. If you do so, be sure not to seal it airtight - you want to permit it air.