The Shrimp of the British Coast

Shrimp are served in at least four out of every five restaurants, and, sold in a vast variety of convenience meals, it is now Britain’s favorite seafood. Their popularity extends worldwide. As many as sixty countries fish or farm as many different species, and most of those we eat are imported. Some species are more correctly called “shrimps”, but tend to be known to the British public as “prawns”.

Without being a considerable expert it would be extremely difficult to know the life history of those shrimp which end up in your curry or cocktail. The best quality shrimp, often sold shell-on, are caught in cold Arctic waters. Many others are fished out of warm seas in the Far East, or off the coast of South America. And you might well be cooking farmed shrimp when preparing most of your shrimp recipes.

Shrimp farming thrives in Asia; many of these farms trap young shrimp, newly emerged from their larval stage in the sea, and fatten them up in ponds. Now a new industry is emerging which hatches and grows the shrimp from eggs. There are more than fifteen hundred hatcheries in Taiwan alone.

At present, however, most of the world’s shrimp are still fished from the sea, in vast quantities, and meet their ends by a diversity of methods. Some are boiled alive in sea water, some are immersed in cold brine and frozen, others are air-blast frozen.

Can shrimp suffer pain? There is no reason to think not. Crustaceans do have nervous systems, though less sophisticated than those of fish, and respond to noxious stimuli. There has been little research in this area, but all experts are agreed that a small creature, like a shrimp, will die much more quickly than a large creature, like a lobster, when subjected to a change in body temperature. Shrimp are thought to die “near instantaneously” or in a few seconds in boiling water. Death by freezing may take longer, but could be less cruel. Researcher find that temperatures below normal slow down the systems and movements of sea creatures, and could induce a state of torpor.

The ubiquitous “scampi”, now as common a feature of many homes, is a creature called the Norway lobster – or sometimes the Dublin Bay prawn. In size it measures midway between lobster and shrimp, around four inches.

The Norway lobster lives free in the sea around British coasts and is captured in large quantities, mainly off Scotland. Most are caught in a specially designed light trawl, other are netted along with other fish, and some of the larger specimens are trapped in pots, like lobsters.

Although the French suck out the contents of the heads with great gusto, only the tail of the Norway lobster is usually consumed. This, along with its tendency to discolor rapidly and to develop off-flavors if left intact, dictates a different fate to that of most captured crustaceans. The head and shell are usually twisted off by hand, on deck, leaving only the tails to be landed.

The British brown shrimp tends to live close to shore and is often abundant in estuaries. Most are trawled, either by boat or tractor at low tide, from the Wash, the Thames Estuary, the Solway Firth and, of course, Morecambe Bay. Technically, many of the prawns the British eat are more correctly known as shrimps, but this small brownish crustacean, laboriously prised form its shell by the patient seaside holiday maker, is most commonly known as such. One shrimp provides precisely one calorie. Multiply this by vast numbers if you pot it in lashings of butter.

A Cupcake Stand Makes Any Birthday Party Easier


There are a lot of variables that go into a birthday party, and a simple way to add some control to a couple of those is to use a cupcake stand.  It might not seem like a big deal, but when you have something that takes care of displaying and serving the dessert at the same time, you are free to take care of other things.  In this post I want to share with you how to pick out the perfect stand, and some tips for having cupcakes at your next birthday party.

Shopping For A Cupcake Stand

Before shopping for a cupcake stand, you have to know a couple of things.  First, you need to know how many cupcakes you plan on baking so you can determine the size of stand needed.  Also, you have to decide whether or not you want this stand to be something that you use again in the future.  That will determine the style of stand you pick.
Getting the right size cupcake stand is pretty easy, just get the one that’s suited to hold as many, or a little bit more, than you have to bake.  As for the style, should you decide that you want to be able to reuse the stand, it’s best to go with something that has flat tiers (as opposed to metal wire).  Flat tiers allow you to be flexible in the number of cupcakes that are loaded onto it.  If you were to choose a wire stand instead, these are designed to hold a static amount of cupcakes and look odd if they are not fully loaded.  The only remedy to that is to bake the same number of cupcakes each time you throw a party!

There are tons of different size and shape cupcake stands, so there will be a few to choose from once you have the basics above planned out.  Another thing to consider is the level of decoration you want to be able to add to it.  The more basic and plain the cupcake stand is, the more freedom you are going to have to decorate it.  With that extra flexibility it will definitely get more use since its style can be adapted to whatever your occasion may be.

Throwing The Cupcake Party

If the birthday party is going to be somewhere other than the place the cupcakes are baked, there is another tool that is very necessary.  A cupcake caddy is like big, domed Tupperware box that is designed to transport cupcakes without messing up their decoration.  They are very affordable, and come in a few different sizes.  Cupcake boxes are also useful, but cannot be reused like the caddy can.

Once it is time to set up the cupcakes, loading the cupcake stand is extremely easy.  Be sure that you spread the weight of them evenly throughout the stand if it’s not being fully loaded.  Ideally, you’ll have the stand decorated before arriving if it is to be.  Trying to decorate something while a ton of screaming kids are running around will be tough.

On the top of screaming kids, it’s a good idea to have someone serving the cupcakes out from the stand if there are a bunch of little hands wanting to grab them.  Cupcake stands are very sturdy, but it wouldn’t take much of a push from a grabby kid to knock it over.  Serving is as simple as handing the cupcakes out, so this job could even be put on an older sibling since there aren’t any knives or utensils involved.

Having a cupcake stand for your next birthday party is a great way to simplify things.  There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a decorated cake and no cutlery involved.  It’s the simplest way to feed a lot of hungry mouths at a birthday party!