Later On

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

Archive for October 2019

Another whole-food plant-based melange

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I like to record these so I can refer to them for ideas. This one used some vegetables from a Costco run, as noted.

I used the No. 12 Field Company skillet, which I heated in the oven to 350ºF before putting it on a hot burner.

While it heated, I chpped vegetables and put into a bowl, garlic in a little bowl, leeks and onions in another bowl, and the rest in a big bowl.

6 cloves Russian red garlic, minced – this will soon be gone for another year, alas
about 3/4 cup chopped leeks from Costco – better to buy whole leek and chop it myself
1 bunch large scallions, chopped including leaves
1/2 small delicata squash, seeded and diced
1 handful green beans, cut into 1″ lengths – Costco
1 handful asparagus, cut into 1″ lengths – Costco
1/4 head red cabbage shredded
3 large King Oyster mushrooms chopped
about 1.5 cups oyster mushrooms, chopped
about 1/2 cup diced carrot
about 1/2 cup diced daikon radish
about 1 cup chopped broccoli – Costco
12 mini-San Marzano tomatoes, sliced
4-5 ounces homemade tempeh, diced
4-5 ounces fried firm tofu, diced
about 1.5″ fresh turmeric, minced
1.5 tablespoons dried marjoram
1.5 tablespoons dried spearmint
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons horseradish
3 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

When the time came, I turned on the burner, turned off the oven, moved skillet to burner, and put the handle glove on the handle. I added:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
leeks and scallions

I cooked that for a few minutes then added the garlic and gave that about a minute. Then I dumped in the rest and sautéed for several minutes, stirring frequently and carefully: it’s piled pretty high, but as it cooks it shrinks in volume.

After several minutes of sautéing, I added the vegetable broth and began simmering it, still stirring frequently. As it cooked, I prepared:

2 lemons, ends cut off, halved at equator, and peel cut away.

I removed from the lemon halves the seeds that I saw, then put them in the beaker and used the immersion blend to blend them. This I poured over the cooked melange as a final touch to brighten the flavor.

The idea is to use a good variety of vegetables. I wanted to add a 300g block of frozen chopped spinach, but I’ll do that for another melange. It does make a good addition. I would have used a couple of jalapeño peppers, but I’m out (thus the crushed red pepper flakes). When I made this last time I had a summer crookneck yellow squash, so diced that and included it. Basically, you can use whatever vegetables you want. In my experience, the result tastes good and has a nice variety of textures.

I may have omitted a vegetable or two. If I remember any, I’ll update the recipe.

To serve it I put about 1/4 cup cooked kamut in a bowl, put on it 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast and 1 tablespoon ground flax seed, then about 3/4 cup of the melange and mixed it together. At the table I sprinkled some of this chili pepper on it.

I also have been using shirataki noodles (zero calories, in effect), and so far the Liviva brand. The “spaghetti” is good, but I’m going to get the rice-shaped since it is easier to mix.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 6:27 pm

Tech tips for National Novel-Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo)

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the National Novel Writing Month project, which challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel in November. NaNoWriMo, as it is known, is a nonprofit that supports creative writing and education. Those who sign up for the group’s free annual event get community support, progress tracking and motivational advice to complete a book draft.

If you think you have a novel in you, here is a quick guide to digital tools to help you along your way.

(And if the thought of cranking out an average of 1,667 words a day in the NaNoWriMo challenge doesn’t fit in with your schedule or you need more prep time — don’t despair. You could write it at your own pace.)

The NaNoWriMo site has useful writing guides and other material to help you map out your plot and develop your characters before you dive in.

Check your app store for software like Novelist (free for Android), which has a text editor function and templates for organizing plot points, themes and characters — along with tools for tracking word-count goals and backing up your work. Writing Shed ($10 to $14 for iOS, iPadOS and Mac), Bear ($1.50 a month for iOS, iPadOS and Mac) and Writer Tools (free to $5 a month for Android) are similar options.

For those serious about book writing, Scrivener is a full-fledged composition and manuscript-management program. It uses a clever interface to break long documents into sections so you can write, research and rearrange word chunks more easily. Scrivener runs on Windows, Mac and iOS systems; prices start at $20 with a free trial available.

If you’ve already done your prep work, fire up your word processor. Most common programs — including Apple’s PagesDropbox PaperGoogle DocsMicrosoft Word and Zoho Writer — work on computer and mobile devices. You can write on the screen you’re currently using and have the text update everywhere, although you may need an Office 365 subscription for syncing Word files. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Books, Software, Technology

The lure of secret passages and secret rooms

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The books I read in my youth fairly often feature a secret passage or secret room, and today there are companies that specialize in such things.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Daily life

Dahlia Lithwick: Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh

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Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

It’s been just over a year since I sat in the hearing room and watched the final act of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. I listened from the back as Christine Blasey Ford and then-Judge Kavanaugh each faced the Senate Judiciary Committee to tell irreconcilable versions of what happened in the summer of 1982. The morning was spent as I’d anticipated: all of us—the press corps, the country—listening, some clearly in agony, to Ford’s account. And then Kavanaugh came in and started screaming. The reporters at the tables around me took him in with blank shock, mindlessly typing the words he was yelling.

The enduring memory, a year later, is that my 15-year-old son texted—he was watching it in school—to ask if I was “perfectly safe” in the Senate chamber. He was afraid for the judge’s mental health and my physical health. I had to patiently explain that I was in no physical danger of any kind, that there were dozens of people in the room, and that I was at the very back, with the phalanx of reporters. My son’s visceral fears don’t really matter in one sense, beyond the fact that I was forced to explain to him that the man shouting about conspiracies and pledging revenge on his detractors would sit on the court for many decades; and in that one sense, none of us, as women, were ever going to be perfectly safe again.

Kavanaugh is now installed for a lifetime at the highest court in the land. Ford is still unable to resume her life or work for fear of death threats. And the only thing the hearings resolved conclusively is that Senate Republicans couldn’t be bothered to figure out what happened that summer of 1982, or in the summers and jobs and weekends that followed. In the year-plus since, I have given many speeches in rooms full of women who still have no idea what actually happened in that hearing room that day, or why a parody of an FBI investigation was allowed to substitute for fact-finding, or why Debbie Ramirez and her Yale classmates were never even taken seriously, and why three books so far and two more books to come are doing the work of fact-finding that government couldn’t be bothered to undertake. Women I meet every week assure me that they are never going to feel perfectly safe again, which makes my son somewhat prescient. Two out of the nine sitting justices have credibly been accused of sexual impropriety against women. They will be deciding fundamental questions about women’s liberty and autonomy, having both vowed to get even for what they were “put through” when we tried to assess whether they were worthy of the privilege and honor of a seat on the highest court in the country.

My job as a Supreme Court reporter used to be to explain and translate the institution to people locked out of its daily proceedings. I did that reasonably well for 19 years, I suppose. Years upon years of sometimes partisan, often political brawling, from Bush v. Gore to the Affordable Care Act to Obergefell—and abortion, yes. But always swathed in black robes and velvet curtains, in polite questions, and case names and at least the appearance that this was all cool science, as opposed to blood sport.

What I have not acceded to is the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Barack Obama in 2016 for no reason other than Mitch McConnell wanted it, and could. And what I have also not acceded to is the routinization and normalization of an unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand. And so, while I cannot know conclusively what happened in the summer of 1982, or at the sloppy drunk parties in the years that followed at Yale, or in the falling-down summer evenings at tony D.C. law firms, or with the gambling debts, or with the leaked Judiciary Committee emails, I can say that given Senate Republicans’ refusal to investigate, acknowledge, or even turn over more than 100,000 pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh, it is surely not my job to, in the parlance of Justice Antonin Scalia, America’s favorite grief counselor, “get over it.”

The American public seems to be getting over the Kavanaugh hearings. New polling certainly suggests as much. And, having spent the bulk of last term lying low both doctrinally and also publicly, Kavanaugh appears to be ready to emerge now, in the form of a soaring Federalist Society butterfly. By his watch, apparently, it’s time, and so he will be a featured speaker at the swanky Federalist Society dinner next month (tickets are $250 for nonmembers and $200 for members). William Barr’s Justice Department last week awarded the “Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service,” the department’s second highest honor, to the team of attorneys that worked on Kavanaugh’s nomination last year. It was a closed ceremony.

Two of the three female justices spoke out this summer to support their new colleague. They hailed him as a mentor to his female clerks or as a collegial member of the Nine and urged us, in the case of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, to look to the future and turn the page. It is, of course, their actual job to get over it. They will spend the coming years doing whatever they can to pick off a vote of his, here and there, and the only way that can happen is through generosity and solicitude and the endless public performance of getting over it. I understand this.

As a Supreme Court reporter, I am also expected to afford the new justice that same generosity and solicitude. As a journalist, I am finding it hard to do. After all, he is a man who has already publicly condemned his critics to suffer his wrath for embarrassing him. He is a man who has promised that his doubters and detractors will “reap the whirlwind.” He should know full well that after such behavior, he will be celebrated as a hero by some, and he should understand that for millions of others, the choice will be whether to let him back into the centrist, reasonable D.C. insider fold or to push him to become what Clarence Thomas became after his own hearings: a vengeance machine that neither forgives nor forgets. Nobody other than the most radical conservative wants another vengeance machine on the high court, not one who could otherwise be a fifth vote on occasion. So the name of the game is forgiveness and forgetting, in service of long-term tactical appeasement.

That is the problem with power: It incentivizes forgiveness and forgetting. It’s why the dozens of ethics complaints filed after the Kavanaugh hearings complaining about the judge’s behavior have been easily buried in a bottomless file of appeasement, on the grounds that he’s been seated and it’s too late. The problem with power is that there is no speaking truth to it when it holds all the cards. And now, given a lifetime appointment to a position that is checked by no one, Washington, the clerkship machinery, the cocktail party circuit, the elite academy all have a vested interest in getting over it and the public performance of getting over it. And a year perhaps seems a reasonable time stamp for that to begin.

The problem with power is that Brett Kavanaugh now has a monopoly on normalization, letting bygones be bygones, and turning the page. American women also have to decide whether to get over it or to invite more recriminations. That is, for those keeping track, the very definition of an abusive relationship. You stick around hoping that he’s changed, or that he didn’t mean it, or that if you don’t anger him again, maybe it’ll all be fine when the court hears the game-changing abortion appeal this year.

I wish we could have learned what Brett Kavanaugh has actually done, said, worked on, enabled, covered for, empowered. Perhaps the next book will reveal more. Perhaps the one after that. The collective public conclusion of the most recent book, by Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, seems to be that he was a sloppy, reckless, drunk youth who has largely become better, and that it is perhaps unfair to hold men to standards that we somehow always forgive when they are still boys. We didn’t get to have that conversation either. And the people who most deserve to decide whether he is, in fact, cured of these alleged acts of youthful carelessness, violence, and predation—the women who say he has harmed them—have, other than Ford, neither been heard nor recognized. I’m not certain they subscribe to the narrative that he was a naughty boy now recovered. He spent his confirmation hearing erasing them, and his boosters and fans have made their lives since unbearable. At any rate, they are also powerless, now, to change what has occurred.

It is not my job to decide if Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. It’s impossible for me to do so with incomplete information, and with no process for testing competing facts. But it’s certainly not my job to exonerate him because it’s good for his career, or for mine, or for the future of an independent judiciary. Picking up an oar to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 2:53 pm

Tempeh batch 6 in hand

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This is after 72 hours, and the gray and black spots are fine: the mold has just reach the stage of sporing. From Tempeh FAQ:

Under a microscope, the rhizopus mold looks like a tiny mushroom colony. The white mycelium is what holds the beans into a compact cake. The black spots are spores, similar to what is found on the underside of a mushroom. As the tempeh matures in the incubator, it begins its reproduction process, and starts to sporulate. The black or gray patches are completely harmless and actually indicate that the tempeh has matured to its peak of flavor. In Indonesia, where tempeh originated, some recipes call for overripe, or very dark tempeh.

If your tempeh has colors other than black, white or gray, please do not eat it. The aroma should be mushroom-like and texture should not be slimy. A very slight smell of ammonia is normal, as this is produced by the tempeh as it grows.

This is the slab taken from the dish and held in my hand. It has good structural cohesion and rigidity.

The experiment of just leaving it on the counter, loosely tented with aluminum foil in which slots had been slashed, worked fine. Next time I think I’ll move it to the counter after the first 24 hours, as the instructions suggest.

I had a little already. Yummy.

Update: Just has some more. I sliced off thin slabs and sautéed them in olive oil until browned, both sides. Delicious.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 1:33 pm

Fire Crackers, made from saltines: Sounds tasty (but I won’t eat)

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Just too much high-glycemic refined flour for me, not to mention the salt. But there was a time…

I do defend the right of people to choose their own foods, and this does sound tasty for those who eat this sort of thing.

Anna Hezel writes in Taste:

To most Americans, buying saltines is a little like buying paper towels. They’re there on the grocery store shelf for $2 a box when you need them, but they’re rarely a source of excitement or inspiration. Most of the time, we take the salty, flaky crackers for granted as a reliable source of calories on a sick day, or as the gratis two-piece packet alongside a bowl of chicken noodle soup at a diner.

But as many Southern home cooks know, you haven’t really had saltines until you’ve emptied a full box of them into a giant ziplock bag, poured in an entire pint of olive oil and a packet of dehydrated ranch seasoning, and then watched each saturated square turn from ivory to glossy, golden brown in the belly of a roaring oven.

“There is a long history of enterprising home cooks—Southern and otherwise—using crackers as ingredients in other dishes,” says Sheri Castle, the author of Instantly Southern. Castle’s version of this particular snack (sometimes known as fire crackers, comeback crackers, or party crackers) uses a seasoning blend of garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and ranch dressing mix.

Texas snack food company Savory Fine Foods has even capitalized upon the semi-homemade phenomenon by selling packets of “Party Cracker Seasoning” (to be mixed with the copious glugs of canola oil) in flavors like Sweet Bar-B-Q, Garden Dill, and Texas Chipotle. The recipe on the back of each packet tells you to skip the baking part altogether and start partying right away once the crackers have been marinated overnight.

Although Castle is hesitant to claim any regional ownership over the standby, she says, “Most old Southern community cookbooks and family recipe boxes include some version of enhanced crackers such as these.” Some involve wrapping crackers in bacon, spreading them with butter before baking, or deep-frying. “Ice water saltines” or “soufflé crackers” turn the rigid cracker into a warm, puffy, rich pastry by dipping it in ice water and then baking with plenty of butter. . .

Continue reading. There’s more that’s of interest, including the recipe.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Follow-up interview with Dr. Neil Barnard on “What the Health”

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What the Health, once free on YouTube, has been removed, though it’s still available on various streaming services, including Netflix. (BTW, if you’re looking for a film on-line, I highly recommend JustWatch.com as a search engine.) I found this interview with Dr. Barnard clarifying and interesting.

The movie documents the serious conflicts of interest that health organizations face when a substantial part of their funding comes from segments of the food industry (the beef council, the egg producers, the dairy lobby, and so on), many of which are allowed to write papers for the health organizations in exchange for their funding, something What the Health points out. This results in the sort of spin on research findings described in the previous post.

Watch the interview and see what you think.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2019 at 12:02 pm

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