Treacle, or, what not to put in the refrigerator

Posted by me on Saturday, the 28th day of July, anno domini 2007 at 12:47 AM, local time.

So, last week, Jim and Pam held a pot luck at their place to bide the time until we all tromped down to the Galleria Barnes & Nobles to wait in line and buy our Harry Potter books. The thought was that people should bring Harry Potter related dishes to the pot luck. I don’t know that a whole lot of them were really mentioned in the books, but there was Butterbeer, Shepherd’s Pie, ice cream, etc.

I attempted to make Treacle Tart, which, is apparently Harry Potter’s favorite desert (or so the books lead us to believe). First of all, for those of you who don’t know, treacle is a byproduct of the sugar making process, also known as molasses. However, as it turns out, the Bri’ish make Treacle Tart not from molasses at all, but from another byproduct of the sugar making process, Golden Syrup.

After a lot of searching around town, I finally found some golden syrup at the local Hy-vee. Great place, that Hy-vee. Anyway, right on the jar in big letters it says: “Do not refrigerate golden syrup!” With the exclamation point and everything. (That’s a lie. There is no exclamation point… But it should have one!) So, I was mixing everything up and it was going great, except that I was late for the pot-luck. So I walked over to Jim and Pam’s house and baked the tart in their oven, as they are nice understanding people and weren’t currently using their oven anyway. After it finished baking and cooling, before any of us thought to eat it, it was time to go get book wristbands (trip 1 to Barnes and Nobles that night). Not thinking at all, before we left, I was like, oh I should probably put this in the fridge till we get back…

Well, when we did get back, we completely forgot to eat the tart. Then after trip 2 to actually go wait in line and get our books, I don’t think it was on anybody’s mind to eat anything more when we got back, and so it slipped my mind again.

Three days later, it was still in Jim and Pam’s fridge. We tried it. Rock solid. With some prying and sharp knives, we managed to get some out of the pan and try it, and it wasn’t too too bad, but I don’t think it was quite what the Bri’ish, or Harry Potter, usually ate when they ate Treacle Tart (for a variety of reasons, mostly mistakes on my part, including the refrigerator bit). Anyway, later when I was trying to clean out the dish, I almost gave up. Some of that stuff was almost permanently embedded in the glass pie pan.

Long story short, don’t put treacle in the refrigerator. It’s just not a good idea.

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Harry Potter, with a few days to think about it

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 25th day of July, anno domini 2007 at 12:18 AM, local time.

So, I told myself I would blog today, since I’ve been rather bad about it lately. And so here I am.

Harry Potter. That’s all one seems to hear about these days. That’s fine. I’ll contribute :) Warning: If you havn’t read the last book yet, and you plan to do so anytime soon, please proceed with caution. Things may be revealed below that you would rather discover through your own reading of the book. But seriously folks, you’ve had like 3 or 4 days already. Plenty of time to finish it!

Moving right along, halfway through chapter one of the last book, I almost stopped reading to blog/complain about how disappointed I was in some of Harry’s actions and thoughts, but I figured it would be better to finish the book and present my reactions fully tempered by time and results.

After finishing the book, I still can’t say that I am completely happy with all the choices Harry made, and I still think he is too hot-headed and doesn’t think things through enough to fully garner my respect. And the movie that just came out (The Order of the Pheonix) portrayed Harry at that stage in a very similar light, where at some points I almost hated what Harry had become. Now, I grant that he was quasi-possessed by Voldemort, but still. Your friends are there to support you and help you through these difficult times. You don’t turn your back on them when they offer to help! In the book, I don’t think I was as angry with him at the time (during book 5, this is), but in the movie they had to cut stuff and tweak things and what resulted is a slightly different piece.

Anyway, enough about Harry’s childishness. The other thing I can say after finishing the last book is that in no way was I displeased with how things turned out. Going into book 7 the way things were, I could not have asked for a better outcome, really. Given the constraints of how I knew Ms Rowling was going to have things go in terms of Ron and Hermione (seriously, Ron? Ron is a dufus for six and a half books, then becomes a jackass, and then some great leader. I don’t buy it. He still isn’t good enough for Hermione.).

Though, I must say that when Ginny was first introduced in book 2 or 3 or whatever, I wasn’t very impressed with her either. She seemed, at the time, a very week character with no interesting qualities who hero worshiped Harry to the point of embarrassment. But, by the time we got the book 5 and 6, I was completely happy with how she had developed, and her strength of character was very encouraging. Despite Harry’s faults, he is still the hero of the series and does deserve to live happily ever after at the end, and since Ms Rowling deemed fit to occupy Hermione with lesser interests, Ginny is certainly someone who could be lived happily ever after with.

A few more items here in short:

Snape. Best possibly way that all could have been worked out. Very predictable, but altogether good. I’m glad they didn’t spend 7 books making us hate his actions but learn surprisingly good things about him for no reason whatsoever.

Malfoy. In the end, I didn’t need him to live, but it did allow a few more things to play by doing so. I’m ok with it.

Fred. Eh, there were already two of them. How many jokesters do you really need in a fictional universe? His death served a purpose and throughout the story, while he and George were humorous, I never really got attached.

Kreacher and Dobby. Good show. The redemption of Kreacher made the death of Dobby kind of balanced. Maybe? I know a lot of people were torn up when Dobby died. That’s fine, that’s fine. It was a noble sacrifice. I can’t claim that eye moisture didn’t increase at that point. But people do die in wars. House elves included.

Dumbledore. This goes back a bit to Harry’s irrationality at times. Seriously, nobody is perfect. And imperfect people in the spot light can get misrepresented by the malicious media. It happens. Harry should have been more open minded in the beginning, allowing both for imperfect friends and for malicious journalists. But anyway, I am glad that Dumbledore got the chance to explain himself a bit to Harry. That was nice, if only for Harry’s peace of mind.

Neville. Yeah Neville! I only hope that he and Luna got together and had some very interesting children. Ms Rowling didn’t deem fit to tell us about anything on the Neville-Luna front, and that surprised me, seeing how pat she laid everything else out. I’ll just have to assume, I guess.

The Nineteen Years Later Bit. I liked it. I was quite glad she put it in there actually. I know, I know, maybe now its harder for her to write more books in the series, but really, its not. There is a large gap that can be filled in there, and seriously. Its not like they die after 19 years. More stories can be told afterwards as well! Some might even be really good if they skipped another 10 years and told some stories from the adult point of view of Harry and Ginny’s and Ron and Hermione’s (and Neville and Luna’s !) kids. But I digress. Anyway, I was happy that I didn’t just have to wonder and hope that the right people got together, or that they got to have children, or that they were trying to raise their children properly in a post-Voldemort world, or that Hogwarts was still up and running and producing well-rounded and well-respected young wizards and witches.

Wow. I keep meaning to stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up. So, here I will stop and say that anyone wanting to discuss more is free to bring it up.

I was just saying the other day that I think that even with no more stories in the series, and nothing else whatsoever to talk about, people could discuss this universe and the people in it for probably the rest of their lives. Discussion of motives, actions and reactions, logistics, really cool objects (seriously, I am a very hetero guy over here, who never once has considered carrying a purse or handbag or merse or what-have-you, but when I was reading about Hermione’s magic bag that occupied essentially no room but could expand as big as needed to fit whatever you wanted into it… woah. I’ll take two please. And Hermione’s choice to fill it with books was pretty much exactly what I would do, I gotta admit.), etc, etc, can continue for a long time. People are still discussing The Lord of the Rings, for crying out loud, and that’s only 3 books (or so… plus prelude, histories, legends, notes, letters, etc., etc.).

Anyway, as an emergency session of book club was called for later this week specifically to discuss the completed Harry Potter series, I should leave some of that near-infinite well of discussion topics for that time!

Good night!

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Harry Potter, Quick and Dirty

Posted by me on Thursday, the 19th day of July, anno domini 2007 at 11:45 PM, local time.

So, just a quick note to all of you out there scrambling like me to catch back up on the happenings in the Harry Potter series. I determined I didn’t quite have time to reread all the books (since I thought about it last weekend), but I found a site online that had some pretty good but short chapter summaries for the entire thing thus far.

However, the single chapter per page was getting annoying, especially since the site uses frames and whatnot. So, rather than waste my time clicking next every 20 seconds, I wasted it writing a quick script to simple collect all the data and reformat it into an RSS feed, suitable for Google Reader and the like. Point your favorite feed reader at

No this is not actually the script. This is a copy of the output of the script. I thought I would be kind to my web hoster and not make it regenerate the same list every time somebody requested it. Since this was intended as a quick job so I could more efficiently read the summaries in time for the release of the book tomorrow night at midnight, any niceties you might wish from the interface to that feed are simply not there, nor are they likely to be added. Each chapter is an RSS entry, and each chapter was “released” into the feed on the chapter-th minute of each hour, and each hour starts a new book. Completely nonsensical, but RSS made the times all be different and this was a simple way to make them unique. :-)

Anyway, let me know if it is giving your reader too much trouble, I could probably break them down into per-book feeds if there was really that much desire for such things in the next 24 hours and 15 minutes.

* Quick Update *
If you just use firefox (could be my old version) to click on the link above to the feed, it appears to only give you up through book 5, chapter 21. I’m not sure why that is, but if you view the source, it shows you up through book 6, chapter 30 (as it should). Also, google reader gives you all chapters as appropriate, too. Just grab the source and edit out the top bits if you think firefox just doesn’t like the 162 entries in the feed and needs to have fewer of them.

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