Saturday, June 24, 2006

Solstice Salads

Dorothy frequently made a Tomato - Cucumber salad this time of year. The cukes were peeled and thinly sliced. The tomatoes were cut in wedges. A bit of thinly sliced new onion and green pepper for texture and flavor. The dressing was just vinegar and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate for an hour or so.
I don't bother peeling the cuke. Some think the skin bitter. It seldom is in my experience and usually those are the long traveled winter cukes.
solstice party? A potluck of fresh seasonal salads including gazpacho!


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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Who 'Them' Are

From The Economist.

There were 8.7m people with liquid financial assets of more than $1m in 2005 and whose total wealth reached $33.3 trillion, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. Two-thirds of these “high net-worth individuals” are in North America (2.9m) and Europe (2.8m); most of the rest (2.4m) live in the Asia-Pacific region. But the report warned against breaking out the Clos du Mesnil just yet: it expects the growth in the number of super-rich to continue slowing over the next few years.

The mind reels.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Skagit June

The Berries begin their season so Dum Luk's is a jam session.
Set the containers to boil.
Top and slice a quart of field fresh berries into a wide pot.
Add one cup of sugar and heat, stirring.
Bring to a boil and seethe for three minutes.
Add a half cup of sugar and stir as it boils for another three minutes.
Add a half cup of sugar and stir as it bubbles away for another three minutes. Sometime during that three minutes, or shortly after, it will be done. Test it by dripping off a spoon (see any basic cookbook for illustration) or by dripping onto a saucer that has been kept in the freezer. This cools the syrup rapidly enough to show how thick it will be.
Fill your jars and seal. Makes about 24 oz. of jam.
Note that no pectin is used. The commercial operations like pectin because it is quicker and gives you more jam per quart of berries. But it dilutes the strawberry taste. Once tasted you will accept the greater cost as worth it.
Also there is a third less sugar in this version than in "Sally's Strawberry or Raspberry Jam" in Fannie Farmer which is my original model. You can vary the sugar to suit your taste and the berries. But considering how over the moon American's are about sugar, less works for me. Maybe for you to?
Once cool you can transfer the jam to a plastic bag via a vaccuum sealer for shipment to far flung relatives at far less weight. Use a sturdy corrugated box.
This recipe works for any berry you like jammed.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

All this Brains and Beauty Too

A new addition to the links list is mediatinker.
A designer, writer, filmmaker, cook, costumer, creator of tutorials that quickly get the student up and running, who lives in Tokyo.
And she's beautiful.
There were only two possible reactions: pure jealousy or abject admiration.
I chose the latter.

Daily Snark and Mystery

This past week I had the very great pleasure of reading the current draft of a first novel that promises to be very fine. It is a gritty, bitter crime noire featuring a heroine of small stature able to confusticate FBI, CIA, KGB and corporate goons single handed. And she does it very engagingly. Present title is The Fixer. the author is E. L. Green who blogs as Badtux the Snarky Penguin. His blog is now on the link list.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What Were We Doing?

Tom Allen, host of CBC's Music & Company, just remarked to the effect of:
Man has been farming for 7,000 years. Life began three and a half billion years ago. What the heck was he doing all those years before he started farming? We don't know.
Perhaps. But it sure looks like it took a couple of billion years for us to get stupid enough to belive we had to work for a living.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

New-Born Fresh Gaijin

Coping with the other.
We all do it.
We all remember hating it.
Except that it was so exciting ...
We loved it.

My grade school French has long since deserted me
reminds me:
Less than a month in Japan:
I stood, totally confused, on the platform of the Yokoama station looking for the Tokyo train. I was trying to find Ginza.
It was empty. The most recent train had left minutes before.
Overhead was a table-sign which offered gibberish and so did not register.
A sweeper appeared.
Hurriedly I consulted my faithful "Japanese - English" dictionary (I have it by me today) "Tokyo train wa doku desu ka?"
Which I thought meant: "Where is the train for Tokyo?"
He looked at me quizzically.
"Ou est la chemin de fer au Tokyo?" I blurted (Before the jargon was annotated).
Why did I think my inability to speak French would help me in my inability to speak Japanese?
The sweeper pointed to the sign board, which had appeared to be gibberish. There, clearly, in what had appeared to be gibberish, was the word 'Tokyo" followed by a list of times.

Subsequently I learned that 'Tokyo' was Romaji -- a rendering of Japanese vocables into symbols Latin familiars could read.

So I made it to the Ginza and much good followed.

But why did I try French? And why did the sweeper point to the sign -- which suddenly made sense -- in response?


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Marketing and ...

Eschaton comments:
STFU Amanda's been hitting this theme for awhile and it's good one. The idea that anything which is "natural" (whatever that means) is inherently better because... well, I don't know why, is just stupid.
Mostly it is marketing: a battle of the titans of Madison Avenue.

Yet: Take wheat flour. If you grind wheat grains without separating the germ and hull from the kernel you will get a nutrient rich but perishable, oily, coarse flour. It is very good for making a hearty, dark, "peasant" bread. In inexpert hands it may also closely resemble a brick -- the ones without straw that pharaoh demanded. For delicate pastry, it is not the first choice.
Sifting -- or bolting -- removes the husks and lightens the flour considerably. The absence of fiber makes the result better suited to cakes and pies, and less suited to your colon's health. But the nutritious oils from the germ still cause rancidity problems and heaviness in the product. The flour millers avoid this by removing the germ before they grind. Now the flour is "white", light, keeps well, and is practically valueless as a food. So the Flour manufacturers "enrich" the stuff. But they return only a scant amount of the nutrients they removed. That small amount is mandated by federal regulations. Enriched sounds better than not -- the opposite is true. That's marketing
So to some 'Natural' means a grown product that has not been deconstructed to improve its shelf life, or manipulated by man to improve its characteristics such as ship-ability at the expense of its consumer value such as taste -- think tomatoes.

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