Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 20th, 2008

More on the pepper sauce

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I am supposed to let the hot sauce sit for three days at room temperature to cure, then refrigerate. But I wanted to try it tonight, so I did. Amazing! It’s delicious! And though it’s hot, it doesn’t by any means make you lunge for a glass of water or even want a frequent drink of water—the cooking must have cooled down the habaneros, and a dried ancho (not very hot) was included in the mix.

But even though the maximum heat is easily bearable, its persistence is excellent: a slow, comfortable burn that lasts and lasts. And the flavor is remarkable: layered and tasty. I assume the use of different kinds of peppers and using both dried and smoked chiles and fresh chiles and resulted in the combination of flavors you can taste.

I did find in one bite a piece of a chipotle that survived the initial blending. Because of the simmering in vinegar, it was soft and easily chewed, but it made for a hot mouth.

Here’s a decent version of the recipe, incorporating what I’ve learned. Obviously, you can use any mix of peppers that you want. These are what I had (the dried peppers) and could  find (the fresh ones). Best of all would be to have your own pepper bushes so that you could have (for example) fresh ripe jalapeños.

5 fresh Fresno peppers
6 fresh habanero peppers
5 dried chipotles
1 dried ancho pepper

Destem the peppers and then put them (whole and with seeds) into a blender. (A food processor won’t work for this one, nor will an immersion blender.) Pour in white vinegar to cover, then add around 2 Tbsp salt.

Blend thoroughly, then pour into a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for a few minutes. Cover, and let it cool somewhat, then pour it back into the blender and blend again to ensure a perfectly smooth sauce. (The dried chiles will be softened by the cooking and any large pieces will be blended to smoothness.)

Use a funnel to pour the sauce into a bottle. The above made just a little less than a pint. Let it sit for a three days, then refrigerate. (I probably won’t refrigerate it: the vinegar and salt should, I think, act as a preservative.)

This simply cries out for variations, such as any or a combination of:

Use red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
Use a combination of white vinegar and fresh lime juice
Before blending the first time, add one or more of the following:

  • A pinch of ground cloves or cinnamon or allspice
  • A pinch or two of wasabi powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Paprika
  • A splash of liquid smoke
  • A splash of soy sauce
  • A splash of bourbon
  • A few cloves of garlic

This stuff is so tasty that it’s a natural to bottle up and use for gifts. And it’s dead easy to make.

I’m now thinking about a batch that’s totally from dried peppers of various types.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Andrew Sullivan on Obama’s invitation to Warren

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Sullivan is both gay and conservative, and he takes a very sensible position on Obama’s invitation to Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. It’s not a “slap in the face” to gays and lesbians (and we can’t drop that expression too soon for me), but rather an assumption that gays and lesbians are mature and rational enough to understand that Obama is trying to build bridges to move his program forward (and perhaps giving Warren a leg up to marginalize James Dobson and his ilk).

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 11:19 am

Speaking of food safety

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Bill Marler has posted the top food safety stories for 2008:

Food safety advocate and attorney Bill Marler (of Seattle foodborne illness powerhouse Marler Clark) polled his wide range of contacts in the food safety community, and assembled a list of the top ten food safety stories of 2008. Comments can be read (and made) at www.marlerblog.com.

1. Melamine in Chinese food products – where to start? With the kids, of course. We first heard about melamine in Chinese infant formula, resulting in heartbreaking numbers: 294,000 children sickened, hundreds hospitalized, and at least six infants who lost their lives. The crisis widened as melamine was found in candy, coffee, tea, and numerous other Chinese products, sparking recalls, bans, and now the US testing for melamine in our own products. It’s pervasive, it’s global, and it’s going to be in our food supply for a long time to come. In fact, the WHO has just announced first-ever “safe” levels of melamine consumption.

2. Salmonella Saintpaul in tomatoes—wait—peppers. A final count of 1,442 ill in 43 states, D.C., and Canada, and those are the confirmed illnesses. Using CDC math – which estimates that for every documented case of Salmonella in the US, another 38.5 go unreported – the total number sickened was probably closer to 50,000. In an outbreak that stretched for months without a smoking tomato, Americans got an inkling of what can go wrong in a global, mass-distributed food economy. The upside is that now there’s a lot of talk about increasing traceability.

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 10:26 am

Ezra Klein on the Employee Free Choice Act

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Very good post by Ezra Klein:

The Employee Free Choice Act fight is happening backwards. The argument is over the particular characteristics and implications of card check — the proposed solution. But you hear very little about the underlying the problem. This is the opposite of how most reform battles go, where there’s a focus on the problem — 47 million uninsured, or climatological catastrophe around the corner — and the solutions are left vague. The better to build support and consensus on the need for reform rather than splitting your coalition on details. If you can win the argument for reform, you get some sort of solution. If Labor loses the argument over EFCA, do they get anything?

It’s hard to see what they’d get. The discussion is almost entirely around the effects card check would have workplace democracy. Most of the union efforts are on defending card check’s procedures and provisions. But the problem is getting lost: “Employers routinely harass, intimidate, coerce and even fire workers struggling to gain a union so they can bargain for better lives. And U.S. labor law is powerless to stop them.” That comes from the AFL-CIO’s new web page on card check, which also reports the findings of Cornell scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner, who surveyed hundreds of organizing campaigns and found:

• Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.

• Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.

• Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.

• In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.

This is the problem. It’s possible there are other solutions than EFCA. But it needs to be solved, one way or the other. EFCA has its problems, but pretending that it’s somehow a perversion of workplace democracy as compared to a world in which 25 percent of organizing campaigns see a worker fired is absurd. It’s as if political candidates had the power to revoke your citizenship and take away your Social Security if you voted the wrong way. Would that really be a form of democracy worth preserving?

And here’s an excellent comment on Klein’s post.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 10:04 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Government

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Defense and the National Interest

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This is quite an interesting site. Take, for example, just this one post, which begins:

My good friend Pierre Sprey forwarded this amazing quote by Vice Admiral Bill Gortney. Pierre’s comments are in BLUE and Vice Adm Gortney’s comments are in italics. My comments follow and are so marked.

An utterly convincing testimonial, from an expert witness with flawless credentials, regarding the benefits of quality over quantity for the fleet:

“The U.S. commander in charge of the waters off Somalia, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, told CNN on Monday that he thought it would take a force of 61 warships to safeguard the sea lanes just in the Gulf of Aden, compared with the 14 international ships now patrolling off the Horn of Africa. If the U.S. Navy alone had to provide a force that size, it would take every destroyer and cruiser in the fleet, plus three frigates. ( Navy Times, 12/09/08 )”

Pierre continues: In other words, the USN’s pursuit of ever more “capable” ships has provided America with a fleet that is incapable of handling the Somali pirates.

Spinney’s comment: In January, it is my understanding that the Pentagon will request a budget of about $581 billion for its core budget, i.e., not including the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of the Navy’s share of this budget should be something on the order of $150-160 billion a year, yet Admiral Gortney is telling us that securing the Horn of Africa from a gang of rag tag Somali pirates will take every cruiser and destroyer in the Navy plus 3 or its Frigates. This means the Navy would not enough surface warships left over to configure the normal defense screen for even one carrier battle group. Since the United States is spending about as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, Gortney’s confession raises a basic question about about the Pentagon’s competence to do its job.

For those of you who are interested in understanding (1) the reasons why this ridiculous state of affairs is an inevitable product of business as usual in the Pentagon and (2) why a bailout for the Pentagon is guaranteed to worsen this state of affairs, I recommend …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 9:54 am

John Boyd’s insight

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Fascinating post by James Fallows, with particular reference to John Boyd (and the Wikipedia article at the link explains the basics of Boyd’s insight). All the links in Fallows’s post are worth exploring. For example, just read this one, in the light of what you now know about Boyd’s OODA insight (from the Wikipedia article). Extremely interesting, and I suspect the way the modern corporation is plundering our world (I’m speaking of the environment, though of course the plunder in terms of wealth gives the corporations just that much more power) ties in here in some way.

To take one modest example: Jeremy Piven’s getting mercury poisoning from eating food. And he’s not the only one. I read recently of a young boy (elementary school) who was diagnosed with mercury poisoning because he liked tuna salad so much that he had a tuna salad sandwich almost every day.

When I was younger, our food was not dangerous in this way. And you know, of course, that the mercury in the tuna is there because we (humans) put it there: burning coal with lots of mercury in the emissions pollutes the seas, and the mercury is taken up in the food chain and concentrated at the top. So that is what we are coming to: we are poisoning our own food, and we don’t seem to be able to stop. This is not a good trend. And what is weird is how accepting people are of the problems: “Oh, tuna is poison now? Okay, I’ll cut back on eating it.”

I’m reminded of when I worked in Iowa City with Mr. B. Our offices were in an old building where a dentist once had his offices. The upstairs toilet stopped working, so we called Barney, the maintenance man. He came over right away, checked the toilet, put a big sign on it (“Out of Order”) and left, never to return. That’s the way we seem to be handling the gradual poisoning of our environment and food: “Out of Order”, don’t eat it, and life goes on for a little longer.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 9:44 am

Physics lectures online

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One by Roger Penrose, no less. Actually, the two lectures described below are  only two examples of a very interesting series. Complete list here, along with links to the lectures themselves.

Roger Penrose on “Before the Big Bang” and Frank Wilczek on “Anticipating A New Golden Age” Are Now Available to View Online

Sir Roger Penrose and Prof. Frank Wilczek share their scientific views in two new presentations, now viewable online.

“Before the Big Bang: Is There Evidence For Something And If So, What?” features Sir Roger Penrose, Oxford, examining a great deal of evidence confirming the existence of a very hot and dense early stage of the universe. Much of this data comes from a detailed study of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – radiation from the early universe that was most recently measured by NASA’s WMAP satellite. But the information presents new puzzles for scientists. One of the most blatant examples is an apparent paradox related to the second law of thermodynamics. Although some have argued that the hypothesis of inflationary cosmology solves some of the puzzles, profound issues remain. In this multi-media presentation, Professor Penrose shows a very different proposal, one that suggests a succession of universes prior to our own. He also presents recent analysis of the CMB data that could have profound bearing on these issues.

“Anticipating A New Golden Age” with Nobel Laureate Prof. Frank Wilczek, MIT, begins with a Core Theory of matter (aka “standard model”), born in the 1970s, a Golden Age for fundamental physics.

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:51 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Congress ignored critical bailout oversight

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Why is our Congress so ineffective and inept?

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:44 am

Posted in Daily life

The South and the auto manufacturers

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Very interesting article on why the South, with its many auto plants for foreign brands, killed the attempt to bail out the Big Three US automakers. It begins:

It is just as well that Barack Obama is emulating Abraham Lincoln by traveling to his inauguration in Washington by train. As the regional politics of the automobile bailout controversy demonstrate, the Civil War continues. If the major U.S. automobile companies go under, it will be partly because timely federal aid for them was blocked by members of Congress like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, whose states have created their own counter-Detroit in the form of Japanese, Korean, and German transplant factories. The South will have risen by bringing down the North. Jefferson Davis will have had his revenge.

The most shocking thing about the alliance between the Southern states and America’s friendly but earnest economic rivals to destroy America’s most important industry is the fact that so few people find it shocking. Contrast the U.S. with the European Union. The nation-states of the European Union collaborate with each other in order to compete against foreign economic rivals, including the U.S., Japan, and China. By contrast, many states, particularly in the South, collaborate with foreign economic rivals of the U.S. in order to compete against other American states. Any British or French or German leader who proposed collaborating with Japan or the U.S. in order to wipe out industry and destroy jobs in neighboring EU member states would be jeered out of office. But it is perfectly acceptable for American states to connive with Asian and European countries in the destruction of industry elsewhere in the U.S.

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:33 am

LBJ accused Nixon of treason

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Interesting indeed. Video clip starts automatically when you open the post.

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:26 am

Posted in Daily life

Two satirical movies

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I watched two movies, both satires, last night. I liked both quite a bit. One was American Dreamz, in which Willem Dafoe turns out to be able to look very much like Dick Cheney. The other was War, Inc., with John Cusack—a near-future movie in which war has finally been completely outsourced to private companies. Both have an unmistakeable underlying anger. Both worth seeing.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:23 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Recent cooking

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First, as you can see, I did indeed make the pepper sauce—a rather thick version. I used Fresno peppers, some habaneros, a few chipotles, and a dried ancho chile. The immersion blender wasn’t up to blending them, so I used the regular blender, which did a fine job. As you see, almost a pint is now aging gracefully on my counter.

Last night I also made the Spinach and Lemon Soup with Orzo. I did use the entire egg, not just the yolks; I added some of the hot broth to the egg and lemon juice mixture and whipped it in, and then more and more until the mixture was quite warm, and then I poured it into the pot of soup, mixing well. It thickened the soup and remained smooth and creamy looking—it was odd to have such a thick, creamy soup with no dairy at all. And very tasty indeed.

The other night I tried the low-temperature, stove-top way of cooking a steak. For me, it didn’t work at all. Terrible. I’ll stick with this method.

For Christmas day, we’re going with a standing rib roast. Still to be resolved: how to get good roasted potatoes with it, since we usually use a low-temperature (250º) oven for the roast.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Florida Water shave

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Florida Water seemed to be right today (and the article at the link is quite interesting). The Omega brush brought forth a fragrant lather from Tryphon Florida Water shaving soap, and the Vision 2000 provided an exceptionally smooth and easy shave, nick-free and effortless. Finally, Murray & Lanman Florida Water as the after shave.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 December 2008 at 8:01 am

Posted in Shaving

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