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||I had to write in about the work mug thing. I am a police officer and you would think that a police station is a relatively safe environment for personal mugs to be left lying around and for other people not to steal them, use them and then hide them away for the next time that they want a cuppa.|
Well, you would be wrong! It has got to the stage that people are having to lock their mugs away and everbody has brought in mugs with their names on them, I have one slight problem, i can't find a mug with Faye on it. Therefore I'm resorting to going to one of those places where you paint your own mug and I am making myself a specific work mug!
I am funny about mugs at the best of times I can't enjoy a Tea fully if it is in a mug that I find offensive, hopefully having a Faye mug at work (considering that I am the only Faye at the station) will improve things for me.
What lengths we go to!
P.S What a fantastic site. Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: Faye,
I'm sure there are any number of smart and satirical replies to your message, however I will leave that as an exercise for our readers.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Arnotts vs Maryland Review
|In your "Chocolate Chip Cookies Arnotts vs Maryland" you had inquired about the origin of Maryland's name. After poking about on google,I found a passage in the State history which observed how the state was named. Basically, it read that King George I had given the colony north of Virginia to George Calvert, who was the First Lord of Baltimore. Well, after his death, his son Celius, the second Lord of Baltimore, named the colony "Terra Maria," or "Maryland" in honor of the king's wife, Queen Henrietta Maria. Not quite fascinating, but at the least it's informative.|
History aside I would have to argue that the best chocochip is the one made in one's own kitchen. It's the sort of thing that simply tastes better when you have your own degree of control over the process, and the simplicity of baking them requires no more than three failed attempts before they come out proper.
|Nicey replies: Cheers Clark,
That helps out a good bit, I wonder what the 'working title' for the colony was before the second Lord of Baltimore got involved. It could also have wound up being Henriettaland perhaps.
||I've always gone by the mantra that cakes have eggs in them whilst biscuits don't. Things like scones qualify as cakes because they are bound by an egg (although some tight people use milk), whereas biscuits are a combination of sugar, butter and flour in varying quantities and with ingredients like chocolate, nuts etc to provide the interest. I was taught the basics of baking from childhood and have found that this rule has stood me in good stead when negotiating the often confusing world of teatime snacks.|
Perhaps the lack of eggs is what makes biscuits snappable (Colin's theory) and cakes softer. Maybe the hardening of stale cakes is due to the eggs drying out, and the softening of stale biscuits is due to moisture in the air permeating the hard butter/flour/sugar mix, and the end result in either case is the texture of the base of a tunnock's teacake....mere speculation but I believe it could be scientifically proved.
Of course things would all be simple if it weren't for modern industrial recipes - hydrogenated fats, whey powder, dried egg type stuff - these are the ingredients that turn jaffa cakes into either soft biscuits or dry cakes (althought they are clearly cakes).
I entered this debate to help provide answers, but now I feel drained and confused thinking about
|Nicey replies: Oh yes the inclusion of eggs is yet another fairly sound way marker, on the road between biscuit and cake. There are some exceptions as always. The garibaldi has an egg glaze, and there is the occasional biscuit with some egg in its dough.|
Have you ever discussed the problem of flavour cross contamination?
There's a chap in our office who kindly offers biscuits to the needy employees and although this is usually a pleasant experience there are times when the combination of biscuits in his - I'm sorry to report - plastic container produce mutant biscuits which can taste rather bad.
So this leaves me wondering whether there are any biscuits which can survive being in close company with stronger flavours and also which biscuit can keep it's own flavour intact for the longest.
Ginger Nut vs Minty Viscount might be an interesting battle for although the ginger nut is strong the silver/green armor of the viscount may provide sufficient protection whilst it mounts an attack of its own.
Perhaps others have recommendations of how not to mix biscuits?
|Nicey replies: Chris,
First recommendation is not to keep strongly flavoured biscuits in a plastic container, as they trap flavours. The second is to keep really strong ones in their own tin possibly with other related biscuits. Either way maybe you should get a couple of tins of biscuits in for Yuletide then you'll have something decent to put biccies in come the New Year.
As luck would have it I found this picture of you.
As I'm sure you are aware the cake/biscuit controversy raised its head on the BBC TV program QI last week. Their definition being biscuits get soft as they get old, cakes get hard as they get old. This was apparently used by McVities in a test case to prevent them having to pay tax on Jaffa cakes! This cannot be a complete definition as this allows in such interlopers as crisps and quavers which are definitely not biscuits.
A workplace challenge has forced me to come up with my own definition. I am still working on it but it has to do with being able to "break" a biscuit i.e. there must be a fracture line when applying a breaking strain. The definition should also include compound biscuits i.e. biscuits that are joined by some other non biscuit glue as in custard creams and bourbons. I am having problems with excluding such non biscuits as toffee which under the right circumstances will break in this way but is obviously not a biscuit, this also hovers dangerously close to brandy snaps which I suspect many will consider to be biscuits. Perhaps all biscuits must contain a certain proportion of cereal as in flour, oatmeal or similar. This takes us down the slippery slope of the poppadum/rice cracker debate. Are they biscuits? A colleague say no because they are eaten with a meal (this is spurious as this would debar cream crackers and water biscuits which are definitely biscuits).
Other suggestions include a sweet/savoury split, excluding all savouries. I cannot agree with this as biscuits designed to go with cheese are definitely biscuits but are savoury.
There is always the dunking argument. All biscuits must be "dunkable", this would exclude the aforementioned poppadoms but might let in the dough stick or doughnut. Dough sticks possibly could be considered to be biscuits, they certainly have the right texture. If disallowed because of size then what about mini dough sticks?
Basically Helpppppppppppp! Can you please provide me with an "official" definition of a biscuit as the controversy rages on in my place of work.
|Nicey replies: Colin don't get yourself in a state over this.
Yes we saw the bit on QI, which was fairly well informed, but did slightly play down the technicalities. The soft/hard argument has many exceptions, which is why the tribunal hearing for the Jaffa cake wasn't a simple open and shut case.
If it was that simple I wouldn't have been able to write a book on it. The really big Venn diagram in the book goes some way towards helping at least bring some form of order. However, there simply are no hard and fast rules rather a whole series of continuums upon which things find themselves, and a truckload of annoying exceptions. I find the Venn diagram is the best way of representing these issues, and you can place things on it using all the sensible rules you have devised. The beauty of the Venn diagram is allows things to more than one thing simultaneously depending on how you look at it, which often solves the problems. For instance the Doughnut sits in the union of cakes and bread all be it closer to the cakes. All the crackers you mention sit simply in crackers, and those Hovis digestives sit in the union of biscuits and crackers, again albeit closer to biscuits than crackers. Don't worry about Poppadums.
The fact is that all of these things exist and what's often more important the names we give them is their relationships with other baked goods. Through this we learn that its how things are made and how they are eaten is often the key to working out where they belong rather than their physical properties.