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Over to you!

What’s on your mind today?


Thought for today

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it!

I don’t understand philosophy so my philosophy is to do my best to avoid it. 🙁

There’s quite a difference between being philosophical and being a philosopher.

Very true Vynor. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Everyone see things differently, and frequently thinks philosophically without being aware of it, whereas, because a philosopher is consciously aware of that fundamental truth he/she decides to study it, often to their own detriment as paradoxically, it frequently creates more questions arising from answers.

In concrete terms being philosophical is usually a state of mind where one accepts things as they are and tries to live as best one can with them. A philosopher usually challenges the status quo and debates the alternatives. That is not to say that the philosophical person hasn’t thought about things, but it is probably true that he/she has reached a conclusion where as the philosopher is still on that journey. It is also possible to be philosophical on the one hand and a philosopher on the other, but usually the subject matter differs in its content.
Of course we are all philosophers, but those who take the art/science seriously and look at things in the abstract as a matter of course may claim the title more justly than those who just (as an example) wonder whether to stir the soup anticlockwise to mix it better.

A philosopher’s stone is reputed to turn base metals into gold. It would be interesting to explore the reverse reaction, which might have been overlooked in trials.

Base metals are often more useful than gold.

Indeed, but not as an investment.

Base metals offer investment potential, just like gold and other precious metals. Prices go down as well as up for all of them.
Gold Price All Time
Current Price £1,273.95
Alltime High £1,574.37
Alltime Low £14.48

It was intended as humour, Malcolm.

🙂 Buy mercury in stormy weather. It will inevitably rise.

Em says:
4 May 2021

I don’t get the all time low gold price. Surely a (troy) ounce of gold used to cost 4 guineas (£4.20) in new money?

It was a bit tongue in cheek, Em, taken from here https://www.gold.co.uk/gold-price/gold-price-history/. I wish I had bought a few ozs in 1970. When we were on the gold standard a sovereign – £1 – was 1/4 oz I believe so the gold price then was effectively £4/oz, and a guinea would be 0.275 oz so 4 would be £4.40. I don’t remember back that far but I do remember when silver coinage was silver; I still have some 3 and 6ds.

Sorry, correction, £4.20 as you say Em.
“… WHIM-EYS FIVE GUINEA TAILORING SERVICE will give a West End style, fit, and finish that will satisfy the most exacting of well-dressed men FOR the moderate 0 price of five guineas you may now have a high. grade bespoke Tailoring , b – 7 Service that …”. If only we could turn the clock back……..

Some interesting (maybe) information on guineas and sovereigns https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-69044,00.html

Do you know:
If you buy 25 self-adhesive 1p stamps online from Royal Mail, it costs 25p for the stamps and £6.85 for standard delivery? ☹️

I wasn’t actually after 1p stamps, but it was the worst example I could find.

Although I found enough stamps today, I was looking for the postage I will need for a another large letter up to 250g.

Has anyone purchased postage online that you print off yourself? Can you cut it out and stick it on the package with sellotape?

Sticking 3 x 66p second class stamps to cover the £1.83 on a large letter going 1st class doesn’t feel quite right.

I’m sticking to traditional postage stamps bought from the traditional post office. I carry a book of twelve around and currently have four heavy stamps as well for larger mail. These days I don’t have a clue what a stamp is worth or how many of one type makes up one of the bigger ones. That’s because the clever post office, many years ago, decided to stop putting the value on the letter stamps and could increase the price more easily. If it really mattered I’d look it up, but when I write to someone the stamp is just something I use to make it get there. Lazy or what?

When stamps had the value on them and the price of postage went up you had buy others to pay that extra cost. But if you have a stock of 1st or 2nd class stamps now and the price goes up you can still use them.

Not only did I walk up to the post box the other day but my letter included a cheque. I like to keep traditions alive. I had an email today to say the cheque had been received.

As long as the barcode is legible there should be no problem, Alfa.

Thanks wavechange.

”Which? is urging the government to urgently address the problems currently affecting the PCR testing market with regard to availability of information, accreditation, pricing and accessibility of tests, as well as the poor quality of service by some providers. It must also ensure there are effective consumer protections in place for travellers in the event of any problems with testing, ahead of reopening travel after 17 May. “
https://press.which.co.uk/latest-news/ “UK travel testing system at risk of collapsing when mass travel restarts, Which? warns”

Which? seem to devote a good deal of energy trying to persuade the government to get people on holiday as easily as possible, putting us all at risk from virus variants being brought back here, and criticising those providing testing services for their poor quality of service.

Perhaps they could devote a similar amount of effort to other UK perpetrators of poor customer service, like Currys PCW, and, rather than helping expose holidaymakers to unnecessary risk, protect all consumers from other risks like buying dangerous products, by pressing for an effective Trading Standards system.

Patrick Taylor says:
29 April 2021

Yes there does seem to be a mismatch in application of effort by W? with so much being printed on the problems for travellers.

What I have been wondering is whether W? will ever do something on explaining that big business is not your friend and that it can be evil. I realise under the Which? Ltd guise the charity is effectively been run by senior business people who may take a dim view of perhaps a history of how businesses have been anti-consumer beyond what might be considered normal business.

Education is one of the stated aims of the charity and yet it has shown over the last decade at least a blindness to bad practices. This could of course be something simple like explaining white-labelling and why it is indulged in and whether it is beneficial in any way to consumers.

It would be educational to list some of the actions of the pharma companies that are definitely beyond the pale. Particularly relevant if one has concerns for the NHS and the US influence.

Personally I would like a nice article explaining Mr Midgely as one of the leading liars who damaged several generations of humans and killed some more rapidly.
I have seen written that ethanol would have accomplished what the lead was being added to petrol for – but it was not patentable so it was buried research.
Two giant corporations used their muscle to make leaded petrol an acceptable poison.

You might say that it is not W?’s role to highlight bad behaviours be it housebuilders, pharmaceuticals , etc but if you look at the Articles it does fit into the concept. Consumers need to be educated as to the way they are manipulated and that compared to thousands of corporations and their advisors and focus groups the balance of power has shifted hugely since W? was set-up.

W? at one stage seemed to have decided to copy big business by sticking its brand on various things in pursuit of money and lost £40m. You may well think that the money could have been deployed more effectively and perhaps sharpened the perceived role of the country’s consumer champion rather than a diffused body that seems happy to plaster its name on many different things mostly to do with it getting income.

Is it a media outlet concerned itself with consumer matter mentions in other media or is it truly a champion addressing the wrongs – not only at personal levels but a champion who examines the problems and looks for solutions using and informing its membership what it is trying to achieve. Then it might well use the soft power of its members to lobby MP’s if necessary.

Fundamentally I think once they killed the reader reviews of products they removed much of the value of the charity as we the members were the long-term testers of the products and the type of comments provided are the thing has made Amazon so popular.

W? could have chosen to make its comments and products more useful but basically could not be bothered and killed it’s standout feature. It was not as though members had not explained to them the ways it could be improved safely, made more rigorous, and highlighted the failings of the Amazon system.

I was stunned to be told by a W? staffer that only people who had purchased products through Amazon could write reviews. I proved that was piffle with 5 minutes. And most aware people realised full well that the Amzon system was gamed and not policed.

An interesting post Patrick but, sadly, no one from “above” will reply here and life goes on merrily at Which H.Q. I subscribe for what Which? gives me and generally don’t take time to look at the shortcomings since there doesn’t seem much point. I enjoy reading Which? (with less reverence than before) but it could be so much better with a little thought and informed member inclusion. As regard Amazon, I go there with eyes wide open. It is, after all, just a shop selling things and everything has to be tempting to the potential purchaser. There is no doubting its success, – we all use it – but that doesn’t make it less of a biblical altar where the sacrificial lamb can get fleeced if it doesn’t look where it’s going.

Thought for today

A camel can work all week without drinking.
A man/woman can drink all week without working.

What about all the liquid? Will they get time off in loo?

I suppose that is the only real difference between a camel and a human being.

Dunno. I get the hump occasionally. Or is it two….?

When you listen to a bell being struck and then hear its overtones, how long is it before it actually stops ringing and your brain registers the fact? For how long is it that you are hearing a silent sound?


I think it would depend upon each individual brains neurological receptive system Vynor.

Maybe John Donne’s famous poem can shed some light on your question.

No man is an island
entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent
a part of the main
If a clod be washed away by the sea
Europe is the less
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend
or of thine own were
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for
whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.

John Donne (1572-1631)

Thought for today

If mummies are from Egypt, then where are daddies from?

Good question. I do not know the sauce of daddies either.

And why do daddies have long legs?

To escape from the mummies?

We’ve always called them Jaggybagglers. Don’t know where that came from.

Beryl, your comment reminds me of the boyfriend’s response to his girl friend’s father, whose daughter he’d made pregnant. “ Now, my boy, what steps are you going to take now my daughter is expecting your child.” “ Great big ones!”

Is that so? Malcolm there are always two sides to every story 🙂

Watch: youtube.com – Is that so? (Wise Shorts Ep) #1 – self help robot

It doesn’t look as though the baby was well fed. It hadn’t grown at all in the first year. Is that so? 🙂

Not philosophy but Magazine Wrappers. ‘Which’ magazine wrappers using potato starch are a laudable concept, BUT they do NOT compost. I can show the results of many types of ‘compostable’ wrappers that have been in my composter for 18month. They have not composted. Please go to paper wrappers. They do compost or they can be recycled. Now all my so-called compostable wrappers go in the waste bin for incineration.
If this in in the wrong topic area, please redirect.

Potato starch wrappers are generally regarded as home compostable but the effect of composting is very much dependent on conditions, as you have found out. Industrial composting is more effective but many councils including mine does not permit wrappers in green waste, probably because some residents might not distinguish between compostable and other plastic wrapping. They do allow the green potato starch food bags and even provide them on request. Maybe the answer is to make all compostable bags green and tell councils to accept them in green waste.

One of the other magazines I receive moved to potato starch envelopes and now uses paper. Paper does not necessarily compost well but at least it will be accepted by the council.

I have been browsing through some humour in old issues of New Scientist before recycling them. I thought I would recycle some examples of humour from the Feedback column.

A can of deodorant was labelled: “Proven to work at 58°C, the hottest temperature recorded on Earth.”
In the small print: “Protect from sunlight and do not expose to temperatures exceeding 50°C”.

Thought for today

If we get rid of all the margarine, the world would be a butter place.

I think Popeye the Sailor Man would have something to say about that Beryl, and Olive Oyl would get Bluto to deal with it.

This is helping me with my online order. Butter, olive oil…

The mystery of the bed that doesn’t exist. When replacing a bed that I’ve had since the nineteen seventies I visited a local showroom and came across one artfully named Clarisa – with one “s”. The showroom had a suite of matching furniture in the same range. These, it would appear, are made by one of the manufacturers this shop buys from, but they couldn’t remember which they were when I asked. They thought it might be Windsor. This particular ash framed bed had a padded headboard that looked more comfortable than the majority of slatted boards on display.
Later on I went on line and wasted an hour looking for it. Not only does the local shop website show no existence of their Clarisa range no one else out there has heard of them either. One site had some Clarisa furniture that bore no resemblance to the pieces I saw on display and several sites wanted me to sample their Clarisa ranges but had none to offer when I got to them. Clarissa was, of course, everywhere and the web kept telling me that my spelling was up the creek. I refuse to believe that my local store has the only Clarisa bed in existence, but until another turns up I still wonder how they got it. Naturally it makes price comparisons impossible, probably deliberately so. I gave up after the thousandth bed frame had crossed my screen and remain in virtual ignorance. I wonder if anyone else has invited Clarisa into their bedrooms?

Vynor – It can help to use parentheses in web searches, for example to search for “clarisa beds”.

Did you do that search wavechange? Kaspersky says the only result is an unsafe website !!!!

Vynor – We have a bed and mattress made by the Windsor company [bought in 2007] and it has been very good. It is very well made and the mattress has proved to be extremely durable but comfortable. It shows no sign of deformation. The bed is a divan style with no visible framing or footboard and has a detachable headboard. Clearly, there could be a range of qualities available but if you can find the genuine maker’s label then it might be worth giving it further consideration.

An ash frame would be the best in my opinion. It is a resilient timber extremely suitable for a bed, unlike oak which is too heavy and too rigid. Pine is of variable quality and not firm enough at the joints – usually an economy grade.

Vynor, did the showroom say how long delivery would be? If about 12 weeks, then they might be ordering directly from China then shipping by boat which might explain the name not found elsewhere.

That is how we got our leather sofa. It was a third of the price of anything else we could find at the time, we saw it in the showroom, the shop were up-front with where it was coming from and how long it would take to arrive. Luckily for us it missed the boat, as it was the time when we had no kitchen and no space for the new sofa.

Alfa – I had not checked “clarisa beds” but as you know, using parentheses can often be helpful in searching. Bitdefender indicates that the advertising sites that it turns up are safe. Unfortunately they are not useful.

Using an Advanced Search is useful, especially to computer novices: https://www.google.com/advanced_search

Many thanks all. China? I might have guessed, they make everything else, why not beds! The salesman was pessimistic and told me it might take 16 weeks. Windsor don’t show this bed on their site but who knows if they even know about it. I didn’t know about parentheses, and thank you for a useful search tip for future web browsing.

We got different results then wavechange. ‘massage’ is one of only a few words that are repeatable here.

I see that one too but it’s fairly obvious that it’s not relevant to choosing furniture.

I am not having a good morning. 😭😢😪

I had to make a loaf of bread today, so put all the ingredients into the bowl, turned it out to knead and then wondered why it was so wet?

On the draining board, I had got out the non-nested glass jug, noticed it wasn’t clean, so left it to soak with water from the hot tap and maybe added some washing up liquid. I measured out some more water in a similar but nested-handled jug and . . . . left it on the draining board in the usual measuring water corner. After gathering the other ingredients, put a jug in the microwave to bring it to tepid temperature.

I then realised I had used the wrong jug of water. GGRRRR!!!!

After a very quick knead, the dough was put in a spare loaf tin, is already cooking and will be offered to the foxes. I have often wondered what the texture would look like with a lot less kneading and proving !!!!

Bad luck Alfa. Who knows you might have invented a new loaf and the cooking might just eliminate the soap. I have just had my batch of fresh Hirondelle yeast from the Bertinet kitchen in Bath. They do bread making courses. I shall use my new oven to see if it will bake some loaves now I also have the bread flour to work with. My grandmother’s tins will come out of storage at last! I’d love to share with you, but I’m afraid it would have to be virtual and, unlike you Alfa, I am not clever enough to put visuals on this site, yet.

Thanks Vynor. Perhaps you can help me with something . . .

Foxes loaf looks perfect, although a little lower than usual that was intentional to tell the loaves apart. It just had one very short knead.

After my dough has had its first rise, I always seem to get creases in it that are hard to get out. I have tried various ways of punching out/removing the air for the second rise, but I still get creases. Sometimes they cook OK other times they are apparent in the loaf. I have hay-fever today, so am not expecting perfection !!!

My mistake today was to do some watering because the forecast showed no sign of the drought abating. I had to abandon my efforts when heavens opened. I don’t know whether to be annoyed or pleased that my task has been completed for me.

That reminds me that I am due to make some 100% wholemeal bread with added gluten.

Wavechange, before you increase your gluten intake, please watch the following: YouTube.com – Is gluten that bad for your health/The Science.

Thanks Beryl. I’m just doing an experiment to see if adding gluten does improve the bread and only have enough gluten for two loaves.

I know two people who have to follow a strict gluten-free diet but have not seen clear evidence that this would help others, like me, who have no symptoms. It’s good that the video mentions that a GF diet can be deficient in certain nutrients so anyone who follows it needs to be more careful about what they eat, as they would if they ate a vegetarian or vegan diet.

My approach is perhaps (typical of me) a little unorthodox. I mix the dough in the bowl until it has all combined and most has come away from the sides and my fingers. I mix it quite dry and add liquid a little at a time until it is pliable. Initially half a jug of milk and one and a half jugs of warm water go in as I know that’s not enough. Then I add water until the Goldilocks moment is reached. I then turn it out onto the table and bash it around for another five minutes or so, stretching the dough out a couple of times to stretch the gluten. Once it is in a roundish lump I lightly grease the bowl and replace the dough, covering the bowl. With my mix and my bowl, the dough has to rise to the top edge of the bowl and dome above it slightly. Usually this is between half an hour and forty five minutes depending on room temperature and the yeast. I then turn out the dough onto the table and make it into a sausage to be divided into the six loaves. I slice each chunk of dough and mould it in my hands for a moment, mixing the dough, before putting it into the greased tin. Here I shape the loaf by pushing the dough down each side of the tin and leaving a dome shape in the middle. I cover my six tins. Twenty minutes later and they are oven ready and fill the tins. I think the secret of a smooth crease free result is what you do with the dough as it goes into the tins. It has to be smooth and pressed well down in the tin. It has to be shaped in the tin when putting the dough in or the loaf will look flat when it is baked. Once you have a smooth dough to work with there shouldn’t be any creases. The first dough mix is ready when it doesn’t stick to anything and is a smooth soft texture. The yeast makes the bubbles inside the dough as the bread rises. Shaping the dough for the tin is roughly the same as “knocking back” the dough in the bowl, but I do it a loaf at a time instead of all at once.
If you don’t have the luxury of fresh yeast do remember to keep the salt and the dried yeast apart -they don’t like each other until the dough is mixed. Dried yeast takes longer to work. I don’t have much experience of it, but it may be possible to energise it in warm water and a little sugar before putting it in the mix. The bakers I’ve seen on courses, use it dry . My fresh yeast is put in a mug with warm water and a little sugar. It begins to froth to tell me it’s woken up and I give it a final stir before adding it to the bowl.
Hope this helps.
For the record I use a bag (1.5 kg of strong white) and a bag (1.5Kg of strong brown) flour. Three teaspoons of salt, roughly four ounces of yeast, a few lumps of “Vitalite” spread (seems to work for me and I also use it to grease the tins.) and half a pint of milk and about two and three quarter pints of warm water. My bowl is big enough to hold the dough about a third full when mixing and full up when risen. That makes me six two pound loaves of bread though some can be bigger than others. If you divide this mix by half, you should get three loaves out of it.

I’m impressed to be reminded that you batch bake six loaves at a time, Vynor. I presume that five go in the freezer and wonder how long home-made bread stays in good condition when frozen.

It’s eaten before it goes off!

Like my individual loaves made in a breadmaker. 🙂

Thank you for your very detailed insight Vynor.

These are the images of the 2 loaves I made yesterday. I added some white flour to the Foxes dough and only kneaded enough to absorb the flour and press it in a bread tin.

The other dough, I kneaded for about 8 minutes first time, then knocked it back, tried shaping to get rid of the creases then pressed it into the bread tin. You can see from the image I wasn’t too successful.

I am still fairly new to baking bread by hand, so am wondering if I over-work it. Foxes loaf almost looks better than the second loaf that was given the care and attention I thought it needed.

I measure all the dry ingredients (500g flour) into the bowl keeping the yeast separate from the salt. I then mix it just before adding tepid water and olive oil (instead of butter). My kneading method is to push the dough away with the palm of my right hand, turn with the left hand and repeat. Stretching never seems to work too well for me, (maybe more strength and more dough works better?)

The dough goes into my small oven to prove on 34ºC. I then turn it out, knock out the air, form a sausage then bash the dough into the bread tin, but don’t make a dome on the top, so will try that.

My last few loaves have not risen as well as normal. The above 2 loaves were made with different flour, one M&S, one Marriage’s both well in date. (M&S was Marriage’s flour last September, but may have changed now). Although the packet yeast still has 2 years on it, I am wondering if that is the culprit and will try another packet next time.

I can sometimes get fresh yeast from Ocado and a recent tip from there was to put the yeast in a bowl, sprinkle a little sugar over it and mix until it turns into a liquid. I did try freezing some once, but it didn’t do anything when I defrosted it (turned to liquid) and put in a jug with tepid water. Not sure if I added sugar (should I have done?) The last fresh yeast I received had a date of just 2 days but kept at the back of the fridge in a sealed container worked for nearly 2 months.

I notice the difference in texture between the bottom and top of the loaf on the right. It might suggest the oven was not heating evenly. Or, that might be because it didn’t have enough time rising in the tins before baking, or, most likely, the bottom half was colder in the tin when you left it to rise. Where were the tins at that time? I don’t promise a completely smooth crust, I get marks on mine, but I am very careful handling the tins when putting them in the oven so as not to disturb the risen dough. A thumb print at that stage usually stays there. The crease you show seems likely to be more about the rising than the baking. The dough should be an even texture throughout before it goes into the tins.

I am also very careful when transferring the loaf to the oven, as it doesn’t take much for the rise to fall. On this occasion, I might not have left the bread to rise long enough the second time as it was required for lunch and was late. It might also be because that pan is thicker, so will try the other same size pan next time.

What temperature do you cook yours at? I have tried different shelves and temperatures, fan and no fan. The above were 20 minutes on fan 200ºC, bottom shelf.

Interesting you should mention the colder bottom half. I have had that feeling which is why I cook on the lower shelf as I think (not sure) there is a heating element at the bottom of the oven. More than a few times, I have turned out a loaf, think is not cooked properly at the bottom, quickly heated up a flat tray and put it back in the oven.

I haven’t tried the new oven yet for bread but in the old one I used the fan setting and put three loaves on each shelf just about avoiding any vertical contact with the shelf above and the oven roof. I set the oven to 200c and left the bread for half an hour. Tapping the bottom of a loaf, it should sound hollow when cooked. I raised the dough in the tins using the grill door of the old cooker and covering them with a cloth. I can’t do this with the new cooker, so I shall have to work out a way of keeping them out of a draught. I might place them in the square oven on a very low heat to prove and then use the other taller oven to bake them two to a shelf.
You will know if the kitchen is warm enough by the way the first dough mix rises in the bowl -or sulks. They say an airing cupboard is good, but mine is full of sheets and towels and it’s upstairs.
The dough in the tins should have risen evenly before they go into the oven and that means an even temperature round the tins when they are proving in the kitchen.

Alfa asked about adding yeast. Fresh yeast will not contain sugar, nor will dry yeast unless the ingredients say so. Flour is unlikely to contain fermentable sugars, so it’s necessary to add sugar to promote sufficient carbon dioxide formation but not enough to produce large holes in the loaf. Vynor is right about the need to have an even temperature during proving because temperature affects the rate that yeast produces carbon dioxide.

The bread mixes available from supermarkets contain the correct amounts of yeast and sugar.

Fresh yeast goes off in the fridge after about a week to ten days. It is not worth trying to revive it when it looks brown and crusty. Frozen yeast will revive and I usually leave it out in the kitchen for a few hours before adding warm water to the container as usual. I give it time to begin to froth so I know I haven’t killed it in the freezer. Even so it is not as active as it was when bought fresh, it just takes a little longer to raise the dough. Mother was a wonderful bread maker and I used to watch her baking with anticipation. I don’t remember a time when I haven’t baked my own, (for coffee evenings I used to do four batches in a row and sell the lot) but this last year that has been impossible until now. Forgetting the salt is a disaster, eating a hot crust from the oven is bliss.

It’s amazing how yeast – a living organism – can survive in a fridge, effectively deprived of food and be able to become active again so quickly.

Fresh yeast will store well in the freezer. It’s best to freeze portions because it will not take kindly to being frozen more than once, which is too much abuse for this living organism. 🙂

In the old days of cathode ray tube television sets which gave off quite a bit of heat I found that a tray on top of the TV cabinet was a good place to prove bread.

I have added some fresh yeast to my food delivery later this week as it is back in stock. 🙂

It is KronJast that comes in 4 blocks of 50g (2 blocks would be better and probably less wasteful for the home baker). I wasn’t sure how much to use, so after reading the reviews, tried a third of the block that seemed to work well. A quarter probably also works but I didn’t want to take the chance of using too little and the third didn’t seem like too much, so stuck with a third of a block for 500g flour.

It is impossible to use 200g of fresh yeast before it goes off, so will try freezing some again. Helpful reviews suggest flattening it into portion size and wrapping in greaseproof paper or tinfoil will help it defrost quicker. So will try both and store them in the freezer in a glass food container with a clip-on (airtight?) lid.

Vynor you didn’t mention how much sugar you use in your recipe overall.

I suggest wrapping yeast blocks in foil and freezing them quickly as possible. Slow freezing produces large ice crystals inside the yeast cells, which can kill them. Once frozen the blocks can be put in a suitable container.

If unwrapped yeast blocks were placed loose in a food container, moisture would be lost (through sublimation) and you would see ice on the inside of the container. This process is what we know as freezer burn.

Em says:
3 May 2021

@alpha – difficult to be sure from the photo, but it looks like the cut creased loaf has a sagged side. If that is the case, then the dense crumb structure in the lower half of the loaf is a result of the weight of the upper half collapsing down onto it.

All sorts of reasons for this to happen. Over-proving the dough, oven not hot enough to quickly kill the yeast and set the structure, uneven heat, knocking the tin. Leaving the bread in the tin too long after removing from the oven can also cause this – steam can’t escape and the crust goes soggy.

Em says:
3 May 2021

Sorry – @alfa!

Let’s see what that does. This is what I made this morning.
I only use a small teaspoon of sugar in the yeast. I use a mug, put the yeast in, add the sugar and warm (not hot) water. That’s it for sugar, none in the dough. My guess is to try an ounce in your mix (500grams) to start with.

@ Alfa I’ve got a post in moderation to answer your question. To clarify, I mean an ounce of yeast not an ounce of sugar. Good luck.

Yes – don’t overdo the amount. Everything in moderation.

Moderation is not the moderation of caution it’s the moderation of moderators who are currently moderating what I have moderately modulated following Alfa’s instructions. Watch this space.

The moderate moderators have risen to the task and delivered the image of your loaves, proving your expertise. I heard that five loaves and two fishes can feed thousands.

Thank you Alfa. Not quite on the page here yet, but close enough for now. Your instructions were accurate to follow and did what you said they would do. Another move into 2021 from the stone age.

Lovely looking loaves, Vynor.

Thank you for giving us this day our daily bread . . . but lead us not into temptation.

Brilliant Vynor, glad that worked for you.

Nice looking loaves too although I don’t see an end cut off to eat warm with melted butter 😋.

John’s turn. 😈 If you need an assignment, you could take photos of white cabbage the next time you are in M&S. I am interested to see if they are the same rubbish quality as on Ocado.

Em, (spelling forgiven, one day I will be able to change my avatar back). I think the sag is down to the self-appointed bread slicer 😘 who refuses to think we might just need a new bread knife cutting the loaf when it was just out of the oven.

Your other suggestions: Over-proving – not sure; Oven not hot enough – maybe; knocking the tin – no I am careful and I always remove the loaf from the tin straight away and place on a wire rack.

Sorry, Alfa – I don’t do photographs.

Em says:
4 May 2021

On the general subject of sugar, salt, yeast, etc.

Sugar is not necessary for fermentation. This is why alcohol can often be made from plants containing starch – grains, potatoes, etc. The starch in flour (amylose – a chain of glucose molecules) is converted by various enzimes and a series of chemical reactions to make glucose, which the yeast feeds on to make alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The enzymes necessary for these reactions are already present the flour or yeast. Adding sugar (which is not itself pure glucose) just short-circuits the chain and can get the yeast working a bit faster. I generally add 1 tsp to 1kg of flour, and 1 tbsp for flavour to the final mix, but some savoury breads like ciabatta and pizza dough don’t need any.

However, too much sugar concentration can destroy the yeast. I’ve never understood the process of creaming yeast with sugar – a generally bad idea. This is because the yeast cells are left dehyrated and can be ruptured through osmosis in high concentrations of sugar – or salt. There are special osmotolerant yeasts available for making sweet breads like panettone, Saf Gold, for instance. (If you have never heard of them, Lesaffre invented instant yeast)

The standard proportion of flour to yeast is 100:1 – 10g of dried or instant yeast per 1kg of flour. Double that for fresh yeast, i.e. 20g / 1kg flour. Some breads may need more, but the yeast multiplies fairly quickly. It really just affects the time it takes for the first rise – as does temperature. With bread making, patience is a necessary, but often omitted ingredient.

Another assumption is that yeast needs to be kept warm to get it to work. Not so. I generally start my bread off in the morning in a cool kitchen with cold tap water. It’s ready to shape by tea time. You can even complete the first rise in the fridge overnight. Just make sure the bowl is big enough so it doesn’t escape.

The final rise does need to be done at about 30 degrees, but by then you have a batch of healthy, invigorated yeast and you want it to inflate quickly and uniformly without relaxing and collapsing back on itself.

Salt is not necessary, other than for flavour, but it can help to develop the gluten structure. I generally add no more than 10g per 1kg of flour. If you are on a low sodium diet, just leave it out. And keep it away from the yeast in any concentration for as long as possible. Like sugar, it can inhibit growth.

Final tip: I make my daily bread with 100g of olive oil per 1kg of flour. It is a bit of a luxury, but the bread stays fresher longer, and if you are on a low fat diet, healthier than butter. It also makes beautiful toast for breakfast. Almost like toasted brioche.

I agree that yeast can ferment starch (in brewing and baking) but sugar helps get the process started.

Bread can contain a considerable amount of salt without tasting salty. I use one of the low sodium alternatives to table salt. As we are frequently reminded it’s important to avoid overdoing sodium in our diet.

Thanks for all the input on bread making folks, it has been a very interesting discussion that I will mark for future reference.

Yes, and to think we used to eat Wonderloaf sliced bread.

I hold Mother’s Pride in particularly high disregard.

I just hope my foxes don’t read this thread and expect me to start feeding them home baked bread on top of all the other snacks that they get from me. Otherwise, it has been really good to read all these breadmaking tips and recipes – thanks everyone.

It was very interesting to read all the science behind the making of bread.

What I am in need of now is to find a loaf containing enough energy to energise me into making and baking one of my own. Meantime, I have to rely on the bread machine to perform this task for me, due to advanced years, as I do with other labour saving devices scattered around the house in times of isolation and separation.

Congratulations Vynor for achieving a double whammy and sharing your success with the Convo. I am very curious to know what you propose to do with all those beautiful loaves? You could try virtually distributing them to each one of the regulars, now you have exclusive access to virtual photography expertise!

I make a small loaf in the breadmaker two or three times a week. I can make bread in the traditional way but it’s so much easier to use the machine. Obviously batch baking is out of the question but I don’t see any other downside.

PHEV. With electricity bills pretty-much the same for January and February, March’s and April’s are interesting. I think I have charged the car four or maybe five times since I got it on March 16th (not always from empty) and looking at the increase in electricity used this has probably cost me about £9 in electricity. That’s the equivalent of about one and three quarter gallons of petrol. At 40mpg that would have taken a petrol car 70 miles. My odometer now reads 295 miles. Taking 100 off for petrol use, electric has cost me £9 divided by 195 miles which works out at 4.6 pence a mile. With petrol at £5. 70 a gallon a car doing 40mpg would have cost the owner £27. 79 in petrol for the same distance. So, I’ve saved £ 18.79 in fuel so far. The total cost to date is 100 miles of petrol – call that a round £17 (35mpg) plus £9 in electric = £26 in fuel.
295 total miles divided by £26 that gives a running cost of 8.8 pence a mile. £26 would have bought me 4.6 gallons of petrol. So I’m doing 64mpg.

EV owners, now and future, need to consider this. “Rishi Sunak eyes ‘pay-by-the-mile’ road pricing scheme ahead of £40bn tax threat from electric vehicle drive – report
The idea of “pay-by-the-mile” is back again as the Treasury seeks a way to gradually replace taxes lost through weaker fuel sales.”

I don’t see how the electricity for cars can be taxed without them all being on-board metered so a tax based on mileage seems inevitable. Quite how this will be applied to PHEVs I do not know.

Maybe Vynor and other recent purchasers of expensive TVs are contributing quite a lot in taxes, and no doubt the government is keen to see progress in the move towards EVs. We live in interesting yet unpredictable times.

Vynor – Before long you might benefit from a range of smart metering tariffs that will allow you to benefit from cheaper electricity overnight without the need for Economy 7/10, but from the figures you have posted I probably would not bother.

Having thought further about taxation of motorists there are various incentives to help guide our choice of the vehicles we drive. There is car tax, VED or whatever it’s called this week, which is higher for those vehicles with higher (official) carbon dioxide emissions, there is a supplement for vehicles costing more than £40k, except for battery electric vehicles and there is fuel duty that is a cost to everyone other than drivers of BEV. There are also charges for taking polluting vehicles into the London ultra-low emission zone and there is little doubt that similar schemes will apply in other cities with pollution problems. A mileage charge could help by encouraging drivers to cut down the distance they drive but maybe not for individuals and companies that are not operating on a tight budget.

I don’t agree with all these measures, especially the opportunity to pay to pollute, but accept that incentives will serve an important role in governing our choices in future.

All new car purchasers contribute quite a lot to taxes and those with petrol and diesel also pay high levels of VED. The government have always used personal transport vehicles as a large source of tax cash through a levy on petrol and diesel fuel. That will need replacing; taxing EV owners will be inevitable. This may moderate the number of private vehicles somewhat, reduce congestion, reduce pollution from brake and tyre dust, reduce the additional demand on electricity generation, reduce the energy use and pollution of manufacturing vehicles and batteries, and persuade the introduction and use of better public transport. I’m sure lots of justifications can be devised. But taxed they will be.

@ wavechange, if you have time to edit, change “tv” to “ev”.

No doubt the taxation will catch up with EV drivers in the future but at present it is a small incentive to switch to an EV. I’m too late to edit my post but thanks.

To reduce car levels is to change ways of life. No longer a quick trip to the shops, no longer taking the children to their drama/sport/music lessons/clubs, no longer going out in the evening when the buses are in their garages. No longer going out for the day on a whim to somewhere that doesn’t have a bus, or takes twice as long to get there and back. No longer going to the beach with all the clobber. No longer getting equipment to the parent’s garden on a Sunday. Millions of cars are going somewhere as I type this. Who is to tell those drivers to sell up and keep off the road? The point about pure EV’s is that they are supposed to make all our journeys less polluting. If people can’t afford them or they are taxed with a fuel replacement duty, society will react. This might be called evolution and happen naturally, but I doubt it.

I don’t see this as all or nothing. Reducing our mileage could be accomplished by making many journeys acceptable by public transport. Commuting must require huge mileages, often with single occupants; decentralise work nearer to where we like to live, and keep the work from home practice where possible. Taking the kid(s) to school in the family car could be substituted by the sort of transport available in my day, or by walking or cycling where appropriate; saves pollution and congestion. Use more home deliveries now we are used to the way supermarkets have adapted to lockdown needs.

As for other journeys that do need your own transport then that can still be used, or if it is infrequent, hired. Many who live in towns might choose the latter option.

The objective would be to find ways to reduce pollution and congestion. But it requires effort to provide viable alternatives.

I have always lived near where I worked. Initially I saw commuting as a waste of time and money but eventually the environmental benefits became obvious. The pandemic has helped us learn that there are many jobs that can be done from home, at least on some days of the week.

Before we had transport people had to live close to work. There are various good reasons why people prefer to commute every day rather than near where they work but I suggest that we should work on making living close to work a more attractive option. When I accepted my last job, one of the conditions of my contract was that I lived within a specified distance from the university.

I doubt that many drivers will wish to give up their cars but there are plenty of ways of minimising the impact on the environment and health. Car sharing is one option and trying to using one journey to visit several people or places is another.

Unfortunately the Covid pandemic has encouraged us to shun public transport and to make journeys by car. For the time being I’m not planning to take passengers even if I am allowed to.

Do not trust caller ID on phones: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-7229663/Is-voice-answer-bank-security.html

It might be convenient do store the phone number of your bank in your landline or mobile phone but do not assume that it is a genuine call if their name appears on the screen.

“In the UK, the current phone network (Public Switched Telephone Network) is being updated to a new system – Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP.

Mr Saunders says when VOIP is fully in place, with a target date of the end 2025, the industry will be able to stop number spoofing.”

It would be good to have some input about the benefits and potential problems of moving to VOIP, a system that is already in extensive use in business and other organisations.

Thought for today

If you think nobody cares whether you are alive, try missing a few payments.

Yes, but don’t spend the saving in case they discover you are alive and owe them some money.

I am indebted to both of you for the wise advice.

On many occasions in Convos dealing with scams, people ask why we cannot ban fake phone numbers. I have asked Which? to get expert input to explain just what can, and cannot, be done on our telephone network. That would help us all know what the limitations are and, when people do ask “why can’t” there would be an explanation to which they could be referred.

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, as far as I know Which? have never followed this up, or have I missed it? It seems a fairly simple question to answer. Will Which? find and publish something please?

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, thanks. The general point I have made before is to try to inform people in Convos when there are discussion points that can be cleared up. So when people, in this instance, suggest the telecom providers should stop such calls, an expert could explain the possibilities or not of doing this as an addition to the intro. They can then be referred to that. Otherwise the misunderstandings are perpetuated.

Self-isolation after being in contact with someone with Covid could be scrapped: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56958885

At present we are part. of a large experiment to find out the which rules can be relaxed and which are most important to maintain to keep Covid under control.

I assume a proportion of people will ignore the test result, if positive, even if they do test themselves, just as a proportion ignore self isolation when it was required. We cannot police such people, but I presume this non-cooperation will be taken into account when assessing the results. It is necessary to begin to relax restrictions but to take a properly monitored approach so that life can return to something nearer normal.

My major concern is importing infected people and new variants that could set back all the results of the efforts most of us have made over the last 14 months. I want unnecessary travel abroad banned still, and certainly no holidays, until we are sure the destination countries have the pandemic properly under control. Despite our outstanding vaccination programme we are only half way through the population. Risking the other half’s health and lives, as well as those 10 or 20% who have been vaccinated but not developed immunity, is quite unnecessary. There will still be airports and planes when Covid is over, and travel agents will still spring up again, unlike those who suffer the disease.

Bringing new variants of the virus is clearly the greatest risk but the government is not going to ban foreign travel for the foreseeable future even if that would suit you and me, Malcolm.

I hoped that requiring everyone returning to the UK to stay in quarantine hotels could largely remove the risk but it seems that this will not happen.

We have decided we don’t want to return all the way to the pre-coronavirus normal. We are now used to a simpler life with less social contact [much of which was contrived and insincere if I am honest], consuming only what is essential, becoming more self-sufficient, and generally reducing our impact on the planet.

The Oscar/Bafta season has given us a glimpse of the entertainment we can do without. We have been decluttering but still have more than enough of the clothes and household articles we shall need for some time ahead [and enough surplus to restock the local charity shops]. I can’t stop buying books but we now have a one-in-one-out policy. We have some redecoration still to do coupled with some minor alterations and will work with our regular experienced tradesman to bring them to fruition at his pace rather than in a rush to the finish.

We did our modest bucket list in the last decade and have no more desire for mass travel. We are fortunate to be ideally situated for days out to the countryside and the seaside. Pubs and restaurants will generally be daytime haunts in the future, and gardening and dog-walking will be the main activity. Any savings this will give rise to will be put into our ‘later life care’ pot.

Very laudable John and some of the things I think of doing as well. I think my plans for the Canadian Rockies and a trip across New Zealand are now confined to the television and new purchases will be replacements when needed. My recent refurbishment has decluttered the house quite well but sadly it is all now gathered in the garage instead. I look at some of the unused items out there and wonder why I ever bought them -quite depressing after a while so I come inside for a cup of tea. Do I get the charity house clearance brigade in? Yes, but there’s a brand new five hundred pound air conditioner, numerous kitchen gadgets, and much else besides that’s worth a bob or two. Am I going to a boot sale with it? No. Do I trust E. Bay? No. Can I be bothered with the local paper? No. Do any of my relatives want it? No. One day soon I’ll do the deed and have a clear garage for the car. I think I’ll feel a lot better when that’s done.
I don’t think I’d enjoy a foreign holiday at present even if one was possible. Do folk really want to go abroad that much just now? What is the temptation that drives us that way with so many obvious viral complications to cope with?

Vynor – We are thinking along the same lines as you on the disposal of good quality goods. Have you thought of putting your better surplus goods into a general household sale at a local auctioneers?

For various reasons I have been through this exercise several times and have always been reasonably satisfied with the results of auction sales and it’s all done quickly with none of the hassle of using on-line sites.

That’s a thought. Thanks.

Hi Vynor,

If you would like to upload images here, this is one way of doing it . . .

Patrick Steen recommended Imgur some years ago which is what I use:

You will need to register and accept cookies etc.

Firstly, your image will probably need shrinking and be in JPG or PNG format. As a rough guide, I aim to get files under 1MB with a maximum width of 700 pixels or 185 mm.
(The bread image above is a PNG file, 700 pixels wide, 1.01MB disk space).

The front page is where your images appear that people vote on if you don’t make them hidden. People have very strange notions of what is good or bad so I always hide them.

Once logged in, click on your User name in the top right-hand corner then images in the drop-down list.

Agree to their ‘We value your privacy’. (They do ask a few times)

Top left-hand corner, click on New post then Upload images in the drop-down.

You can drag and drop an image from a list of files or upload it from your file manager.

Give your post a title, then click on Hidden

Up pops a box where you can copy a link to your image, just come out of it.

Click on your user name in the top right-hand corner then images in the drop-down list.

This takes you to all your images.

Click on the image you want.

Click on Copy under Direct Link

Paste the link in the convo.

Posts with images from registered, known and trusted users will appear instantly, the rest will be put in moderation and wait to be authorised.

One day Alfa, one day, but thank you anyway. I might surprise everyone including myself. I’ve copied and pasted your post for future reference.

I look forward to seeing them Vynor (and maybe JW?) 🙃

Thought for today

A philosopher tells a friend she’s recently had a baby. The friend says “Congratulations, is it a boy or a girl,” the philosopher says “yes.”

A philosopher never sits down at work. Stands to reason.


Thought for today

I always eat the broken biscuits first because I feel sorry for them.

The reason I eat them first is that they are always the first out of the packet whichever end you open.

We used to be able to buy broken biscuits – cheap. I think Carrs or Peak Freans sold tins of them to our local grocer. Remember when, like sweeties, you could buy them loose? In the days when Weston’s Wagon Wheels were big.

You can still buy broken biscuits; Sainsbury’s do several lines but for food safety and hygiene reasons they now enclose them in a tight non-recyclable wrapper.

I first eat the broken/damaged biscuits too, leaving the undamaged ones in case I have visitors. Then I eat them and make some more. The cycle repeats…

John wrote: “You can still buy broken biscuits; Sainsbury’s do several lines but for food safety and hygiene reasons they now enclose them in a tight non-recyclable wrapper.”

Crumbs. I suppose that it’s no worse than unbroken biscuits and saves waste.

I never have to order broken biscuits, I just rescue a packet from underneath the potatoes in my online Ocado delivery. Maybe I should include some jammy dodgers in my next online wish list?

PS Robots probably have more consideration for a bottle of olive oil or a tub of lard even 🙂

Em says:
4 May 2021

A tip to help do your bit for the environment and avoid extra non-recyclable wrappers. Just buy any ordinary pack of biscuits and give it a good whack on the countertop when you get home …

No need for non-recyclable wrappers if you make your own biscuits. Help yourself:

It’s a pity that one of the ingredients was in a non-recyclable packet. 🙁

Edit: I see that our zero waste shop will get round that problem.

If they taste ad good as they look Wavechange you might include the recipe, especially if includes some ginger.

They do to me, Beryl. They are usually more evenly cooked than that but one tray was left in the oven for too long.

https://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/g/ginger-spiced-crunchbiscuits.html I adapted this Waitrose recipe by adding some chopped up crystallised ginger (experiment with the amount), half a teaspoonful of nutmeg and reducing the amount of ground ginger to a tablespoonful.

Thanks Wavechange, i have all of the ingredients, although the stem ginger is of Italian origin and a little on the strong side, so some experimenting may be necessary initially.

I apologise if my comment about the broken biscuits delivered by Sainsbury’s didn’t quite contain the correct amount of irony to satisfy all tastes. Will try harder next time.

I do love the humour on Convo.

Tempting, very tempting. I’ll copy the recipe (and your additions) and put in my cookery file. Thanks for putting this here, Wavechange.

As a child, our local grocer also used to supply my mum with boxes of broken biscuits. They were often stale, but none were wasted.

Beryl, I concur with delicate items under tins and potatoes. Our groceries might be picked by robots, but according to film clips I have seen, they are packed by human hands. I rarely email them about deliveries these days, but in the past they have mentioned retraining the packers.

Wavechange, do you add 3 tsp or 3 tbsp of ground ginger?

Thanks Vynor. I think I might try adding stem ginger to gingerbread.

Alfa – I use a tablespoonful of ground ginger. I assume that there is an error in the recipe and someone has commented about this below the recipe.