Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pizza Whatever

Been working on a grain-free pizza. Last night I did this:

Oven to 3500 f.

Saute half an onion in olive oil or lard. Add garlic, sliced mushrooms, peppers, whatever. Add herbs and spices you like in a red sauce and a small can of tomato paste. Add a bit of liquid if needed, or use tomato sauce if you prefer.

In a bowl knead a pound of hamburger with a half cup almond (or other nut) meal, an egg, celery seed, cayenne, black pepper, etc. Press over oiled pie plate, or casserole, to form a crust. Fill with sauce. Add diced or grated mozzarella and/or other cheeses. Add sliced tomatoes or whatever. Bake on a tray for forty minutes or until the sauce is bubbly under the browned cheese.

Serves four for dinner or one teen for a snack.


Variation: Do a white clam sauce, instead. That would be sauteed onion, garlic, clams, cream, celery seed, cayenne tarragon and gated parmesan, asiago, and so forth. whatever.


Saturday, April 29, 2006


Yesterday slipped past the first year into the second.
Not so many posts as I would like, maybe.
But one or two that sparked some interest. ...
And, again.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Conventional Wisdom Digitized to Foolishness

Conventional wisdom: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Hmm. A thousand words. That's about a kilobyte, right?

How many megabytes is that Jpeg?

Worty Dirds

Eschaton complains at the unfairness of it all. Uncivil is mere naughty words rather than words that incite hateful actions.

Wondering through the dictionary reveals a lengthy pedigree to this attitude that bothers Atrios. Most of the naughty words of the English Language just happen to be derived from Saxon originals. The Saxons, through dull plodding, took most of the island of Britain from the more quicksilver Celts. This gave rise to the unicorn and lion symbols for England. Until 1066 four letter Anglo-Saxon was, not just accepted, but demanded.

Then came Bill Conq and his Norman pirates to do a major land grab. They rather looked down on the Saxons. They frowned on those succint, emphatic, four letter words. So the more delicate petomane describes the yeoman's fart. The sophisticate says merde vice shit.

Then came the Protestant Reformation and the counter reformation. As proof of their moral superiority both looked down upon all such honest expressions of feelings. They resisted the reality of anger, hurt, surprise and laughter to honor suppression and sublimation. To this day American culture suffers from this hypocrisy. And uses it for political advantage.

Natural feelings have pushed back of course. Scatology is the native language of teen agers to name only one repressed group.

George Gobel's trademark spoonerism provides the title for this post. Gobel was only one of many to stand up for honest speech in the 1950's. See: BBC - Comedy Guide - The George Gobel Show.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Politician's Tale

Once upon a political campaign, my daughter and I went doorbelling with our (then) local Concressman Al Swift. We had a great time with a consummate politician. He told this story about his predecessor, Warren Magnuson:

Up in Bellingham there was a Norwegian who decided to take his skiff out to fish rather than go to work one day. He found the salmon running in one of his favorite spots and soon had caught a fair number. Then a fog bank rolled in and he decided it was time to quit. As he pulled for shore a large cabin cruiser materialized beside him and a gravelly voice inquired how he did.
-- Yust fine!
-- Have you caught any fish?
-- Oh, yes! he said, lifting one thirty pounder into view. And that's a small one!
-- Listen. I'm Warren Magnuson. My guest today is Harry Truman. He's on his way back to Washington DC from a conference and stopped here to relax. We've been fishing all day and caught nothing. Can I buy your catch?
-- Ya! Sure.
Soon the transaction was completed and our fisherman pulled for shore while the President and Congressman prepared for a good dinner.

On the way home the fisherman stopped into his neighborhood tavern to boast and have a drink. Of course such luck must be shared or it will dry up and blow away. And there were so many of his friend's just happened to be at the Tav that night.

At last he managed to cross his own threshold. There was his wife with her brows like a thundercloud above her folded arms.
-- Where's your paycheck? Says she.
-- Didn't go to work.
-- where'd ya go?
-- Fishing.
-- Where's the fish?
-- I sold them to the President of the United States and Congressman Magnuson.
That's when she started hitting him.

Al continued: That's the story Maggy told. But I added this line:

How hard it is to tell an improbable truth convincingly!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fundamental Questions Answered -- Or Not

From my Sunday Japan Times perusal comes this startling claim:

News photo
Modern Japanese variety
News photo

What's really 'Chinese' about fortune cookies?


Staff writer

Try this for fun next time you're in New York City: Walk into any sushi bar, eat your fill and then ask for a fortune cookie.

"Would that be a Chinese fortune cookie?" the waiter will likely respond a little loftily. "Sorry, but this is a Japanese restaurant."

"Exactly!" you might vouchsafe -- then launch into telling him how the so-called "Chinese" fortune cookie, that ubiquitous American snack that accompanies every order of General Tso's Chicken or Egg Foo Young, most probably came from . . . Japan, where near-identical tidbits called tsujiura sembei (crossroads-fortune crackers) have been enjoyed for generations.

But read on to discover all the details. Names are named. Clues are traced. Fingers are pointed(politely).
But, in the end, is asurety -- that which all academic types demand -- attained?
Or is it merely another frivolus Sunday passtime?

-- ml

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pashka Marin

My former co-worker Barbara Mastin gave me another great gift: her recipe for Pashka as she made it at her restaurant.
A Marin County Version of
a Russian Easter Treat
By Barbara Mastin
Cream 3 Lbs good cream cheese with 1 Lb unsalted butter until light and fluffy.
Sometimes -- for more tang -- I add a log of Montrachet Cheese.
Add 1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar.
Or to taste -- I like to leave it less sweet
because you will add berries or jam.
Add 1 tsp real vanilla extract.
Fold in 1 cup toasted chopped almonds.
Or more if you like.
Whip 2 cups heavy cream and fold in gently.
Then add 3/4 cup (or to taste) raspberry sauce
(or Smuckers low-sugar what-ever-they-call-it.
It tastes fresher than jam)
Add it in blobs and barely cut through them -- the way you would add dark batter to make a marble cake. You want it marbleized with pockets of berry -- not a uniform pink thing.

This combination makes a fabulous torta base to which you can add layers of sun-dried tomato paste and basil pesto: layer torta mix. layer tomato paste. layer torta. layer basil pesto layer torta. Chill 'til solid. Un-mold and top with roasted pepper; parsley and pine nuts (It's the Italian Flag!) Serve with Bruchetta for an appetizer.

This makes a lot but it freezes well.

Also toss it with hot pasta for a terrific sauce (add parmesean, Kalamata olives, sausage, chicken etc.) . or leave it vegetarian.
But I digress ...
Raspberry Sauce
by Barbara Mastin
Puree 3 lbs Raspberries in processor. Sieve seeds.
Add sugar to taste and juice of a fresh lemon to taste.
This gives it a very fresh flavor.
Lemon and Raspberry work magic together.
As debauched by Dum Luk's:
that's a crimmini mushroom there in the middle just because I could.
Sweet! Or savory.
-- ml

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Good Egg

How piercful grows
The hazy yon
How myrtle turtle thou
For Spring hath sprung
The cyclotron
How high browse thou
Brown cow?
-- Walt Kelly

What better symbol for a new (year, season, beginning) then an egg? Fecund Spring demands it. Nu, it's an aphrodisiac. Or, as a nurse once informed me: "It's a cheap source of protein."

Of late this wonder food that provides so much has been veiled with suspicion. Bureaucrats warn us of nasty bacteria. Manufacturers offer us substitutes that are "just as good only better" without half the stuff.
With a death rate of no more than five people per year, you take a greater risk driving to the store to purchase those eggs.
-- "The incredible, inedible egg"
The Chicago Tribune, June 15, 2001
(Pay for view)
The culprit in the egg affair is carelessness. Eggs are one of nature's most nearly perfect designs. Delicate yet sturdy. Moisture tight. Able to store its contents for a good long time provided:
  • The shell remains intact
  • It is not heated above shade temperature
  • It is not exposed to strong sun
Eggs a merchant set in the window, or next to a motor, grew salmonella. That is nasty stuff. But a little attention prevents its ingestion. It smells. It looks weird. A bad egg is obvious. Literally, if not always figuratively.

This time of year Del observed that soon the fish boats will head to Alaska for the summer fishery. Every one of them will have a crate of eggs stowed on deck under a ladder not too far from the galley. The ladder will shade the crate and the air will keep it cool enough to feed the crew all summer long.

My eggs live on top of the refrigerator, which is out of the sun. I have done this for over a decade and encountered one egg that was bad, no question about it. There were two others I threw away through being a nervous nelly, because I couldn't remember if I put that crack there just now, or I had missed seeing it at the store. The reward for this practice is how the eggs work in baked goods: light, high, delicate, because the mixing begins with room temperature eggs. (Legal counsel advises I remind you to read the caveats in the upper right hand corner.)

This holiday season presents the cook with the challenge of getting the eggs boiled correctly. Directions by noted authorities disagree. Some times violently. Some old world cultures simmer the eggs for hours and hours and flourish forth a perfectly cooked egg. I suspect this is possible only if your Gran trained you. New tech types attack the problem with thermometers, hygrometers, micrometers and chronometers. With a blast of the Ipod Voluntary (by Corelli) the result rolls out.

Either way its a crap shoot.

First of all, oh best beloveds, one does not boil an egg. We have no interest in boiled eggs. They are tough and rubbery with a slime green hue around the yolks. Instead we cook eggs. Here's how.
Place the eggs in a single layer in a heavy saucepan and cover with cold water by at least one inch. Add a teaspoon of salt. (If the shell cracks, this helps coagulate the escaping white more quickly.) Leaving the pot uncovered, turn the heat to high. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover. After 10 minutes, remove the cover and run cold water over the eggs for one minute. (For firmer yolks, leave the eggs to cool in the water for up to two hours.) Refrigerate up to one week.
To peel, gently tap each egg against the counter, turning to make a crackle pattern. Start peeling at the broad end, where there is an air pocket. For the best flavor, eggs, once peeled, should be used within a few hours.
--How to Boil an Egg: So Simple, but Not Easy
Julia Moskin, NYT, April 9, 2003
(Behind the wall)
As we approach the egg-laying-bun-rab season there are several strategies available to the dye averse.
  • Cook with natural colorants: onion skins, beets, and so forth
  • Crackle your egg shells and steep in tea.
  • Pickle them
I prefer the later and use my variant of a recipe a friend's Gran Brought From

Square Egg Maker

Cook the eggs as above. (Then I turn them into cubets. See pix) Mix, in a sauce pan, a pint of white vinegar, a half pint of water, three to six tablespoons of brown sugar, a tablespoon of pickling spices and whatever other whole spice you think tasty, as: star anise, cinnamon, clove-, mustard, or crushed red pepper. Add a sliced sweet onion and two or three beets, sliced or julienned. Heat to boiling and simmer until the vegetables are al dente. Add a dozen shelled eggs and simmer another three minutes. Put in a jar and cool. Wait a week.

I never make it a full twelve hours.

Fortunately, as you eat the good stuff, you can add new good stuff to the pickle juice and the next day its pickles!

Del once had property in Grand Forks, British Columbia. His neighbors included several Dukhabors. Del recalls sitting at their kitchen tables with large bowls full of dozens of exquisitely patterned and colored eggs at their centers. The men sitting at the tables would casually reach into the bowls and -- whack! -- smash those beautiful things to pieces with no more notice then I might use to break a cracker in two.

But the best part comes after the holiday. Per Jurgen Gothe of Disc Drive:

Friday, April 07, 2006

Too Good to Pass Up

John Scalzi mentions:
There's a saying out there known as the Napoleon-Clarke Law which states, in a twist on Arthur C. Clarke's comment on technology, that "any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

Thursday, April 06, 2006



How nice.

-- ml

Sa-a-a-a! As the Japanese say

Performancing, being a Firefox extension, does not have a spell checker.

Spellbound, being a Firefox extension, does not have a blogging function.

The two do not integrate flawlessly.



Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tempora Inconstans

Del spent a spring break at a college chum's home. This was a dairy farm. It was the weekend of the change to Daylight Savings Time. The Farmer was moderately annoyed by it.

"The cows don't like it. The hour delay in milking is painful for them."

So he spread the change over four days, a quarter hour each day.

Del approved. He also noted that the problem didn't occur in the fall since then the cows were milked an hour early, but only once.

-- ml

Kitchen Satori

My father-in-law, Bill, was visiting one spring. Before dinner I was trimming asparagus with my chef's knife. A twinkle danced into his eye as he spoke:

"Oh, Ho! There is something I can show you about asparagus. Rather than cut the stalk, grasp it at either end and break it in two. It will always break at the point where the stalk turns tough."

Asparagus -- great gift of Asia Minor -- are even better now!
-- ml

Cook's Colloquy

On a visit to my father's home in San Diego, I talked with him as he prepared dinner. With all the precision of his years of Chemistry training he poured, weighed and spooned using beakers, balance beams and graduates. I commented on the difference in our cooking styles -- I rarely measure anything more carefully than by eye, or hand, or smell..

"And both of us are just as likely to make a mess."

There is a life time of experience in that observation.
-- ml

Monday, April 03, 2006

Time is ...

The statement: "Time's just no thing." does not equal the statement: "Time does not exist."

Particularly is this true when the former statement was made in the context of Martin Buber's I and Thou. Buber was a philosopher of Hassidim, one of Judaism's more mystical points of view. Relational psychologists, particularly Carl Rogers, applauded Buber's ideas.
wiki: Chassidism
Carl Rogers, bio
Carl Rogers and informal education
Carl Rogers
Relational Psychology Test

Now that you're back...

Buber observed that people found in the world either things or others. Every one -- Every I -- chooses to relate to every other as either thing or other. Consequences flow from the decision, Treating others as things has limited, but real, usefulness. It is a closed system with predictable results. Speaking is more important than listening because expressing what I want, that the object addressed must provide, is the point. I is superior to the object. Although useful in very mundane ways, it is not satisfying.

For satisfaction my I must engage with your I that is: thou from my point of view. When I engages Thou much energy is required. Listening is of equal importance with speaking. I and Thou are equals. Both have significance to give to the other.

Such concentration has an odd effect on time. It elongates. Seconds fill with incredible detail. Details little noticed in our scurry to accomplish our object.

So, when I said Time's no thing, I meant that Time is not an object. Time is not a particular thing that can be held in anyone's hand as a stone might be.

Time, I said, is an idea. That idea is to use a rhythm to measure duration for useful (or not) purposes.

Time is perception. That, perforce, makes it idiosyncratic. For example: we both watch a film, you are bored out of your little pea brain. Only rigid training in social etiquette prevents you from rearing on your feet to cry out: "Boring! Stupid! and Dumb!" It takes for ever to reach the final fade to the credits. I, on the other paw, am utterly fascinated by the story, the performers, the implications, the technique -- in short it is a perfect film to me and so I am oblivious to time as the film unreels. No sooner begun than ended. The quartz crystals in a wrist watch will beat out the same duration for both experiences.

Update 4/6/6 to add hasidim link (yes it can be spelled all three ways) and sign it.