Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Penta-Pretzels DIY

 I had this idea for ages, ever since being in Germany and eating so very many delicious Brezeln, and wondering if I could make them a different shape. Over there you can buy them unbaked and frozen in the supermarket in big boxes to bake at home, and I'd thought about just thawing those out and reshaping them. But no, that would be cheating, and it turns out they're exceedingly easy to make, and this recipe tastes exactly like the authentic thing. I didn't take this exact recipe from anywhere in particular, but rather watched a bunch of videos in German and read several different German recipes to get the gist of how they're made. These are awesome for picnics or parties. You can use a different amount of dough to make them larger or smaller to your liking. You can of course use this recipe to make pretzels in the traditional shape, but because we're weird, let's make them pentacle shaped.

Video:


Ingredients/Zutaten:

  • 3 1/2 cups (500g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) warm water
  • 1 Tbsp dry active yeast or a cube of fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 25-50g butter
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda

Method/Zubereitung:
  1. Put flour into a large mixing bowl (or bread machine if you're lazy like me) and make a little well in the centre.
  2. Into the well pour your warm water. You can also use slightly warm milk instead of water. 
  3. Sprinkle the yeast onto the water (or crumble if using fresh yeast), then add the sugar. Give it a wee stir.
  4. Having ideally let it soften first, add the butter.
  5. Knead the dough until well mixed. Leave the dough to rise for about 20 minutes, it should hopefully double in size.
  6. Divide the dough into about eight equal pieces, but this will depend on how big you want your pretzels to be.
  7. Between your hands, roll the dough out into very long, thin sausages. The part for the ring should be thicker, but the star part shouldn't be much thicker than a pencil.
  8. Make a ring and twist the ends together. Carefully lay the thinner sausage over the ring in the shape of a five-pointed star. Pinch the corners and mush the dough carefully into the ring to ensure a good shape and a good stick.
  9. Be careful here! Boil a litre of water in a pot. Add three tablespoons of baking soda to the hot water, and turn down the heat so it stays hot but not boiling. If you are making a big batch, remember to use three tablespoons of baking soda per every litre of hot water. 
  10. Gently place each pretzel into the water, and leave it there for 30-60 seconds. Make sure the whole thing gets wet. This process is what gives the pretzel its lovely brown exterior. With a slotted spoon or similar, lift the pretzel from the water and place it on a baking tray.
  11. While wet, sprinkle thick chunky salt on. You can use other toppings too if you really want.
  12. Preheat oven to 180˚C (360˚F) and once heated, bake your pretzels for 20-25 minutes. They should be brown and properly baked. 
  13. Best enjoyed warm and fresh, but they'll keep for a day. Guten Appetit!

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Makeup, Music, Gore - Favourites!

 Hi! It's been ages since last I did a 'favourites' vid, just mentioning a few holy grails from across the board. Watch the video, and below is a list of everything I mentioned, with links if I could find them. Enjoy :3 



Here's the stuff I mentioned if you wanna go have a look:

Thanks for watching, see you next time!

Saturday, 4 September 2021

BIG Korean Skincare + Beauty Review

Phew! I fell down the Korean skincare rabbit hole and I can't get out. But that's ok 'cause I don't want to. Here's a review of lots of products that I've been trying over the last few months, plus a few cute things I haven't opened up yet! Korea seems to be very strict on what is allowed in skincare products, and there are online resources to check the safety of all ingredients. I used to have a "less is more" approach to skincare, but since discovering and going fully into Korean skincare, I've resolutely switched to "more is more" and my skin has never been happier. Maybe it's a bit excessive, but I've really been enjoying it, and a lot of people I know swear by it too. Watch the video, then below is a list of everything I showed you, separated by brand. 

Tony Moly:

CosRX:
Some By Mi:

G9Skin:

BadSkin:

Etude House:

Others: 

See you next time!

Friday, 25 September 2020

Korean Skincare Haul

Hi! I was so looking forward to this parcel arriving that I wanted to share my excitement with you when it finally came. Wanting to try a 10 step Korean skincare routine, I picked up everything I couldn't find locally from a most excellent and highly-recommended website Jolse. I had originally ordered a bunch of stuff from another site, Stylevana, but unfortunately they don't ship to New Zealand or to PO Boxes, so I had to cancel the order and get a refund. I also had a good look through YesStyle but couldn't find everything I wanted. Fortunately, I discovered Jolse which was probably even better. Join me opening a box of carefully chosen skincare products from Korea! Links to everything under the video!

 Here are links to the items I showed you:

Bonus:
Going to make a video after a full month of using a full Korean skin care routine every day and see how it went! Until then, thanks for joining me, cheery-bye! x

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Latest Greatest Books

I've really got back into reading this last few months, I suppose many of us have due to being quarantined at home. I'm a very slow reader so many books I "read" by listening to them on Audiobook. I've become a loyal fan of Audible for this reason. I was also fortunate enough to find loads of good books at second-hand shops recently. I'm always looking for recommendations, and supposing you may be too, I've decided to henceforth share with you which books I've recently read which turned out particularly topping. 


If you're a word nerd then this book is for you. It's not long, easily-digestible, and thoroughly enjoyable. Reading The Etymologicon is like listening to a long string of consciousness from someone who is really, really interested in etymology. It beautifully links one word to another to another until you've come full circle. You may find yourself uttering an "oh" aloud many times as the interesting origins of so many English words are revealed. Not only is this book fascinating, it's also very funny. For example it has a chapter called 'Sausage Poison in Your Face'. I wouldn't call it particularly educational, but more entertaining than anything. The audiobook version has a great narrator, Simon Sherpherd, who expresses the humour perfectly.



Also from Mark Forsyth, as I was so impressed with the above, I also got Elements of Eloquence. It's wonderful and important. Once upon a time everyone was taught the art of rhetoric. For some reason this stopped being a thing, despite it being an important part of speech. This book explains why we think pretty words are pretty. Why memorable phrases are memorable. It also touches on prosodic metre, if you're into that sort of thing. I don't imagine this sort of book would excite everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and now know the difference between anaphora and anadiplosis, thank goodness for that. Simon Sherpherd narrates the Audiobook once again, and again perfectly expresses the humour. It's very funny as well as educational. Perfect for the poet, writer, or orator in your life. 


I knew I would like this because I know historian Ruth Goodman from many BBC history documentaries. She's super sweet and extremely knowledgable. This book is very thorough. It covers pretty much every element of life from dawn til dusk and beyond in the British Victorian period. What I like most about it, is unlike other history books which tell tales of Kings and noble courts and battles, this describes the ordinary people. The everyday man and woman and the intricacies of their everyday existence. Food, clothes, medicine, childcare, work places, and more, How to be a Victorian breaks all these things down and talks about them at length. I can't wait to read more of Ruth Goodman's books.
£13.56 on Book Depository 



Lastly, something non-non-fiction. Made into a (rather excellent) film in 2012, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is surprisingly believable. It mixes real life events and people with supernatural gore. It's easy to imagine Lincoln saying and doing the things he does in this book, and I expect the man himself would have found it pretty funny. Like all of Seth Grahame-Smith's books (I've not read others but heard nothing but praise), it's a shining example of good historical fiction. The story is exactly as the title states; we follow the life of Abraham Lincoln from his boyhood to his death, not only his political career, but his deadly mission to rid America of evil vampires. It's not a long book, even a slow reader like me can get through it fairly swiftly. 
£17.67 on Book Depository




Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? Feel welcome to suggest books that you think I or any of our Belfry Bat family might enjoy, or just anything exceptional you've discovered lately. I've linked to Book Depository as well because it offers free international shipping, and is usually where I buy books from, being that Amazon is not available everywhere. 




Thursday, 27 February 2020

Store Spotlight - Sick Soaps

Sick Soaps brings new meaning to the words "hand soap". If everyday soap is not gruesome or creepy enough to match your home or personality, then you might enjoy some of the horribly cool creations to be found in this store.

Severed hand soap, lavender scented.
Horror and slasher film fans will appreciate the soaps themed after their favourite movies, such as The Exorcist, Halloween, or IT. Lovers of curios and gross stuff in bottles as decor will enjoy the encapsulated brains, fetuses, teeth, and bloody body parts. As they look so amazing, and many of the reviews say that the photos don't do them justice, I think these soaps might fall into the category of "too beautiful to use." There's something so sad about gradually destroying something so cool looking, but these soaps are intended for everyday use. They're full of lovely scents and moisturising ingredients too. Why bring a boring bottle of soap into the shower, when you can have a fetus in a popsicle instead?



Strawberry & champagne scented serial killer soap
There's also a category dedicated to the Haunted Mansion, plus lots of other dark Disney. And it's not just soaps, there are sugar scrubs, body and room sprays, scented oils, and dishes to store your creepy creations.

I have yet to try them myself (I definitely will be) but more than a thousand reviews singing Sick Soap's praises can't be wrong. I'm so keen on trying the 'curio' looking ones. The prices are reasonable compared to other fancy handmade soaps I've seen at markets and such, and as these are individually handmade, one can imagine how much time and work goes into each. Definitely not the sort of thing you will find in any normal bath and body section.


Coconut, lime, & verbena scented brain specimen soap



Every time I visit this shop to oogle, there seems to be even cooler designs than ever. The large coffin soaps with removable lids have to be the most sophisticated soaps I've seen in all my life.

So if you're looking for a gift for the weirdo in your life, or maybe just your wonderful weird self, visit Sick Soaps and have an oogle yourself.













Saturday, 25 January 2020

17th Century Sack Posset

If you start talking about the 17th, 18th, or 19th centuries with me, you'll find I won't shut up for ages because I love those periods so much. For years I've done research on historical medicine, food, fashion, industry, traditions, politics, weapons, daily life, diseases, everything I can find to read or watch. Most of my research has hovered between 1650 - 1750 Britain and Europe, as this is when I've set my (I swear I'll finish it someday) novel. Also, several other writing projects in my giant unfinished pile are set then, and I like to be as true to history as possible so must therefore know everything.

Nearly every resource I've read on the 17th century references the diary of Samuel Pepys, so I thought I would just have to read that. And so I have been. Well, listening to it on audiobook through Audible, that counts as reading, does it not? It's 115 hours of listening, it's not a small undertaking. Everything mentioned in the diaries that I wasn't already familiar with, I looked up, and one of those things was "sack posset". I'm so glad I did. I think the mildly amusing name attracted me most, but I looked up as many recipes for sack posset as I could, written at the time. No two were exactly alike, so I combined the essential ingredients and rough ratios from every recipe I saw, and had a crack at making it. It was amazing. Warming, soothing, delicious, makes you all cosy and sleepy. Sack posset is generally served in the evening after supper, the last thing you give your guests before they head home.



I made an enormous basin of it on Christmas day for Mr Owl's family, and everyone enjoyed it verily. It's to be drunk hot, and is best enjoyed hot, but on boxing day, a couple of Mr Owl's cousins biffed the leftovers into an ice-cream machine and it was lovely cold, too! It felt like a Christmas-appropriate thing to make, but sack posset isn't a special occasion thing. It's for any day of the week, all year around.

But the fuck is it, I hear you ask? What is sack? What is a posset? This which we are making is essentially hot booze-custard. Posset started its life centuries ago as a strengthening medicinal drink, and over time became a sweet night cap. It finally evolved into such familiar things as custard and eggnog. Sack is a fortified wine which no longer exists. The closest modern equivalent to sack is sherry.


So here is the recipe and method, it's quite easy and only takes about 15 minutes to make. Obviously this is 18+ or 21+ depending on where you live because of alcohol laws, but I've heard the sherry can be substituted for orange and lemon juice, though I haven't tried it. The mixture can be thickened with bread crumbs if you fancy eating it with a spoon instead of drinking it, but I've not tried that either. Some old recipes suggest adding mace, crushed almonds, rosewater, musk, or even ambergris. It's a flexible recipe, you could experiment with whatever ingredients take your fancy.

Let us begin! This yields about 3 coffee mugs full, but is best served in teacups. You can warm the cups beforehand if you wish.

Ingredients:
  • 400ml heavy cream
  • 300ml sherry
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground/sticks of cinnamon

Method:
  1. Pour the cream and sugar into a pot. Sprinkle a small amount of the nutmeg and cinnamon in, and stir. Some recipes called for a blade of mace, but mace is fairly expensive so I omitted it.
  2. Separate yolks and egg whites. There are several methods to do this, I like passing the yolk between the shell halves. You might have one of these doodads. Put the yolks into a large basin or similar. If you don't want to waste the leftover whites, you could turn them into meringues.
  3. Crack two whole eggs in, whites included.
  4. Add the sherry to the eggs and whisk together until eggs are beaten. 
  5. Boil some water in a pot that will comfortably sit the basin atop it. Place the egg-sherry mixture over the boiling water. If exposed to direct heat, the eggs will cook, yuck! Stir it continuously and test the temperature with a knuckle.
  6. Put the cream-sugar pot on the stove at a medium heat. Stir this regularly too. The cream should be taken off the heat just before it starts to boil.
  7. Once the egg-sherry mixture is warm, take the basin off the boiling water.
  8. Carefully pour the cream into the eggs, pouring a little at a time, and stirring constantly until all is combined.
  9. Ladle into teacups and enjoy!
I read that cushions were placed around the basin to keep it warm. It's important that it doesn't get too hot or else you'll end up with scrambled eggs, you want it at a warm, drinkable temperature. It's quite filling, you'll probably find that a couple of teacups is loads!

Watch the video:


Let us know in the video comments on YouTube if you try this out, and how it goes! Thanks for joining me, see you again soon! x