Does Alcohol Really Boil Away In Cooking?

"Don't worry, there's no alcohol in this red wine sauce — it's cooked."

Heard that before? It's the accepted wisdom about hot food made with alcoholic drinks. However, all is not as it seems — the accepted wisdom is wrong.

In this article, it's explained that baking or simmering for 15 minutes leaves 40% of the alcohol. 1 hour of cooking leaves 25% of the alcohol.

The raw taste of the alcohol very quickly fades when the food is heated, but a large amount of alcohol remains.

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Creating a self-signed SSL certificate

There are some really long-winded ways of creating a self-signed SSL certificate for Apache out there on the Intarweb. Most I don't understand well enough to implement, and the few that were simple enough to implement didn't work.

I'm not sure that this is worth shouting from the rooftops, but I'll stand at a fairly high window and say,

It's really simple, people. The Apache documentation tells us to do this small thing, and it Just Works.

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Never Smint your dog

I've just been reading about Xylitol, the sweetener used in Smint, Orbit Complete and lots of other sweets and chewing gums. It's a bit like the aspirin of the mint-world. It helps re-mineralise teeth, improves bone-density in osteoporosis sufferers and helps prevent ear infections. It has no known side-effects, other than a mild laxative effect at high doses. Unless you're a dog. Even small doses can cause hypoglycæmia (low blood sugar levels) in dogs, which can be fatal.

Charlie says, "Don't play with matches and keep your Smints off the floor."

[Updated to add: Paracetamol is equally dangerous to cats. In case you were interested.]

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How long should I keep my financial records?

I've got stacks and stacks of statements at home, because I thought I had to keep them, for tax assessment purposes, for seven years. I've just done a little research, and found that I can recycle rather a lot of that pile.

How long must I retain my records?

Individuals not carrying on a business who are required to complete a tax return will normally have to retain their records for at least 22 months from the end of the tax year to which they relate.

There are a couple of exceptions, which make it prudent to keep them for a bit longer. I'm going for three years, and I'll keep all my P60s too, but that'll really be a weight off my shelves!

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No smoke without... cigarettes?

An article from Ananova about a smokeless cigarette says:

The smokeless and tobacco-free cigarette uses a rechargeable heating coil in a plastic cigarette-sized stick to dispense nicotine without smoke.

The company promises that dragging on it releases “a similar taste” to cigarettes without the health issues from tar, arsenic, cadmium and formaldehyde that a normal cigarette contains.

The question raised at the end of the article is, “Which aspect of cigarette smoking is bad?” Is it the addiction to nicotine, or is it the harmful chemicals that go along with that?

If it’s the life-threatening effects of tobacco – the carcinogens in the smoke and so on, then if smokers will accept the substitute (and it is affordable) then there is every reason to use a substitute.

The obvious way to reduce smoking related disease is to reduce the number of people who smoke. However, despite plenty of effort from the government, among others, stop-smoking campaigns are not working. We are creatures of habit, and while we dislike change, we are even more hostile to change that’s imposed upon us. This may be borne out by research that shows that approximately 40%-60% of patients with a smoking-related disease ...

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I shall be getting baptised this Sunday. I’ve been a Christian for many years, but haven’t yet done this. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate my faith and the way that God has made me right with Him. The symbol of washing away my sins, leaving me clean and unblemished is a powerful one. Baptism is also clearly necessary. Jesus is baptised, and we are told to be baptised too.

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Three Minute Silence

Yesterday, most of the country paused for three minutes at twelve o’clock to remember the victims of the tsunami and earthquake disaster.

UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said: “This is to commemorate the victims of the catastrophe in south east Asia and is in solidarity with the people of the affected countries.” (Source: BBC News)

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the disaster, and with those who are part of the relief effort.

Is a three minute silence appropriate? I’m not entirely comfortable with it. The feelings of shock and horror at the scale of the disaster, sympathy for those whose lives have been shattered, and a desire to help are all commendable, but I’m concerned about the motivation behind holding the silence – what are we remembering, and why?

The two-minute silence was first observed in Cape Town, South Africa in 1916 following the publication of South Africa’s first casualty list of World War I. Sir Harry Hands, the Mayor of Cape Town, ordered a two-minute silent pause, to follow the firing of the Noon gun, in commemoration of those lost. (Source: Wikipedia)

In this country, King George V requested a silence to ...

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Big plans

The wonderful news of the last few weeks is that Lisa and I have got engaged! I proposed on Saturday, 22nd March, and Lisa said yes about 1.2 seconds later, which makes me a very happy man.

So you can see why I've been rather busy, these last four weeks.

Never a man to do anything in a hurry, I've been surprised at just how quickly everything has fallen into place, now I've met the Right Girl.

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