It’s been an exciting and busy week here in London with all of the Olympics stuff going on. It doesn’t seem to have caused all of the disruption that everyone was warning it could. Oxford Street hasn’t even been as busy as normal, I think. What I have noticed is that our Internet and cellphone service has been struggling to deal with all of the extra traffic. Yesterday and Thursday my Internet connection was out for several hours. So, that’s the not so cool fallout from the Olympics being in my town.
Rowse Pure and Natural Clear Honey – I never knew there was so much honey variation until I looked at the Rowse website. The honey at Costco falls into the everyday range from Rowse. They give it a strength rating of 3, which places it right in the middle of their 1-5 strength rating scale. So, it’s a medium honey. It has a nice fruity flavour that is great in my tea or on toast. It is much runnier than the Sue Bee variety that you’ll find in the big bottles at Costco US. However, it is the perfect viscosity for all of your honey needs. Honey is great because you can use it to replace sugar in all kinds of recipes and end up using a lot less sweetener. Of course a shot of it is great in a cup of hot tea, however, it’s also great for sweetening things like smoothies, spritzer type drinks, and even lemonade. Honey’s usefulness doesn’t even remotely stop with drinks or even desserts though, it’s great for salad dressing, dips, or sauces, breads, and as part of a marinade for beef, pork, or chicken. You can also brush a little on shrimp that you pan sear or grill to get a nice caramelization. My favorite honey heavy item is baklava though. I make it a few times a year even though my Wii Fit tells me I shouldn’t. Despite the fact that this is a big thing of honey, you do have quite a while to consume it if you store it properly in a dark, dry place; moisture is not a friend to honey. Just don’t ever feed it to your baby! Fun honey fact: it has great antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make it useful for a variety of medical purposes. 1.36 kilogram bottle for £5.29 (US: $8.27). Item #: 0107624.
Digital Photography Bookzines - I bought two different magazine books on digital photography that are just the perfect quick little guides. I really think that the magazine format is perfect for topics like photography where you need to have lots of images on the pages but there isn’t necessarily tons of text that needs to go with those images all the time. One of the bookzines is just on the basics of digital photography, “Getting Started in Digital Photography.” I’m in the market for a better digital camera, something beyond the point and shoot that I have now. And since I’m not up on all of the latest fancy things that are going on in the digital camera world, I thought this might be a good way to get up to date and figure out what I want or need from my new camera. But there’s also lots of information on all of those settings that most of us don’t use or don’t really know why we would use them. There is also very good coverage of various photo techniques that can help your photos go from so-so to outstanding. One thing that they talk about is how to take better portraits. I’ve never been very pleased with my results in this area, so I’m hoping this will help me out in that area.
The other bookzine that I bought is on an area I’m more at ease with: “The Essential Guide to Landscape Photography”. I do a lot of botanical and landscape photography and thought this might be a good book to help to expand my skill set or get some new ideas. I’m really interested in their section on the wide angle lenses because it’s been a while since I’ve had a camera with a decent wide angle lens (like back in the stone ages where people used film and not an SD card), so I need a refresher. I’m also looking forward to trying out some of their suggestions on how to shoot moonlight in landscapes because this can be very tricky but can lend itself to beautifully dramatic photos. So, I expect to be fully kitted out and taking pictures like a pro in no time now. I’m still on the fence about which camera to buy but this will definitely help me decide. £4.99 each (US: $7.81). Item #: 0131975.
Loch Fyne Scottish Cooked Mussels – These were really good, much better than the ones in the freezer case, for sure. In the box at Costco you get two vacuum packs of cooked mussels with a creamy sauce of white wine and cream. Since the mussels are already cooked by the time you get them, you don’t have to be as worried about how to cook them or if they’re bad or not. It seems that they have already taken care of weeding out the bad mussels when they produce these because in the two packages we had, we didn’t have a single mussel that was bad or even suspect. And we only had one that had a broken shell but I’m quite certain that happened when I was pouring them out of their little package. There are two things that I think are really great about these mussels. Firstly, they come in their own sauce and can be microwaved in less than 10 minutes. When you combine them with some spaghetti, like we did, you get a meal that is super delicious and just about the easiest thing to make. All you need to do to make the mussels it to put them in a microwavable container and heat them up for about 3-4 minutes and they are good to go. So fuss free for a weeknight meal! Secondly, I like that the mussels come in two separate vacuum packs. This is great because one if enough for our two-person dinners and then the other pack is completely unopened and waiting for us in the fridge. Unfortunately, these aren’t suitable for freezing. But you’ve got a few weeks to use them and it shouldn’t be a problem because once you eat some, you’re going to want another one. Since the mussels come with their own delicious creamy sauce these mussels are also great for a really simple meal with just a nice fresh baguette; you need something to sop up all that yummy sauce. And if you aren’t aware, mussels are really quite healthy. They are low in fat and calories but high in protein and iron, vitamin B-12, manganese, and selenium. Plus, they taste good too. I’ll definitely be picking these up often on future trips to Costco. 2, 450 gram packs for £3.99 (US: $6.24). Item #: 0112826.