Frost

Frost – in one sense it’s weather. As what happens to dew when the temperature is cold enough to freeze it. But, there are a number of interesting linguistic and cultural features using “frost” or a derivative in English.

Jack Frost – an anthropomorphic nature spirit; a representation of winter with a number of spin offs from beer to cartoon characters , and films to games. You might say – “watch out for Jack Frost tonight” – if you think it will be cold.

Jack Frost wikimedia

image via wikimedia

Frosted – adjective used in baking. When there is a thin layer of something (often sweet) on the top or even outside of a baked item. The layer is thinner than icing but more than just a glaze. The cupcakes were frosted with crystallised sugar.

Frosting – noun used in baking. See frosted.

Frost Nixon – a 2008 film directed by Ron Howard. This is a fictionalisation from writer Peter Morgan of the interviews between David Frost (a British journalist and presenter)and Richard Nixon (a former US president with a mixed reputation following the Watergate Scandal).

Touch of frost: expression meaning that there is some frost but not a hard frost.

Hard frost: a very severe frost, many gardeners dread predictions of a hard frost once the spring growth has started. It can be very damaging for many plants.

A frosty reception/welcome: a greeting but without the normal and/or expected warmth. We got a frosty reception at the hotel; despite booking on their website it appears they were closed for renovations so we had to stay somewhere else.

Touch of Frost  – TV programme. Starring David Jason as the eponymous Detective Inspector Jack Frost a determined if not always organised police detective.

A frosty smile/look: When someone looks unfriendly or even hostile despite outwardly seeming normal. I’m not sure we should leave Dave and Simon alone. Dave gave Simon a really frosty look when he arrived I think he’s still upset over losing the poetry prize to him.

Frosty the Snowman – A kid’s song often sung in winter or even as a non-religious Christmas song.

Frostbite – the name for the medical condition where part of your body (starting with the skin freezes. Fortunately, this is very rare in the UK but can be a serious danger in countries that get more severe winters.

Frost Maiden/Queen: a woman who is or seems frightening and/or intimidating and/or unapproachable because of manner, but also one who is logical and unemotional at all times. I’m aware that she seems like a bit of a frost maiden at first; but trust me she’s really very nice just a bit shy around people she doesn’t know. You might be surprised to find that this is a case of sexism in English but there is no male equivalent.

The Year of the Monkey

The year of the monkey is here.

Capture monkey

This week we’re celebrating the year of the monkey which started on Febuary 8th. Traditionally celebrations last 15 days, but we’re only a few weeks into our second semester so we’re not ready to have a big break yet, so we made do with a half day on Wednesday to celebrate together.

Enjoying the food MandyJ

Guests at the Chinese New Year party enjoying the food. Photo: M. Jones

The monkey is the 9th of 12 astronomical symbols and all the years of the monkey are divisible by 12. People born in the year of the monkey tend to be active often out of doors and generally very healthy. Monkeys (as people born in this year are often called) are seen as clever and often inventive, but also witty, flexible, social, and kind. Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Dickens are two European ‘monkey’s that fit this description well.

Capture Lion J Huang

The Lion Costume/Puppet. Photo J. Huang

It’s sometimes said that your birth year (when you are 12, 24, 36 etc.) is a potentially unlucky year for you so you should be doubly careful about new businesses or relationships in that year.

Monkey_2_svg Wikimedia

Image via wikimedia

While not all predictions are positive (and more specific predictions depend on when (exactly) you were born)  we wish you all a prosperous healthy and happy year of the monkey.

Pancake Day

Today is ‘pancake day’.

Wait a second what does that mean?

Well ecclesiastically we are entering the season of Lent where traditionally in the Christian calendar people fasted or gave up rich foods, such as cream and eggs, or meat  most frequently on a Friday but for some throughout the season.

However, in contemporary Britain you’re more likely to find someone giving up chocolate,  sugar; fizzy drinks; wine or even Facebook or supermarkets.

With that in mind how do you make pancakes?

Well it’s actually very easy but a little practice makes perfect.

pancake -wikimedia

image via wikimedia

For North-American (sweet & fluffy) pancakes you need:

  • 1 cup (284 ml) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (284 ml) of milk (full fat is nice but if you’re lactose intolerant water will work but you might need a bit more egg to help bind it).
  • 1 egg

Optional Extras:

  • A table spoon of sugar (Soft Brown sugars are especially nice here but anything works this helps the pancake to caramelise slightly).
  • Some Cinnamon and/or Vanilla (Personally I’d only use one or the other here).
  • Baking powder (especially if the flour isn’t self-raising/or isn’t that fresh)-(or you want to make them extra fluffy).
  • Cut fruit banana is a favourite of mine berries are also very nice but I’ve known people use chocolate chips here as well.

To make the batter: mix the egg, flour, milk, sugar, flavouring & baking powder together.

Fry on a medium high heat in lots of butter (the secret ingredient)-(margarine or oil will work here but may produce a slightly greasy pancake that you may wish to place on/pat with a piece of kitchen paper briefly before eating).

Pour about 100 ml or a third of a cup of your batter into the hot pan.

Add the slices of fruit etc.

When the bubbles on top are popping and leaving a little hole in the upper surface flip the pancake over. Unless you have lots of practice use a spatula or fish slice, flipping pancakes with a twitch of the wrist is a skill that requires work to master… and is only really good for showing off.

Serve with maple syrup, (golden syrup or honey work nearly as well) alternately jam and whipped cream.

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image via wikimedia

For British savoury pancakes substitute water for milk and plain flour for self-raising (and don’t add the baking powder). The pancake will also cook more quickly and can be served rolled with a variety of fillings. Ham & leek is a personal favourite and nice both with and without cheese, but experiment as lots of things work very well. You can substitute sour cream for the whipped variety as well. Be careful not to overfill them, especially if you plan to try and eat them like a burrito.

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