Later On

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

Archive for May 3rd, 2021

Morning cooking: Rutabaga and yu choy sum — yum yum

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Yu choy sum and my Bob Kramer knife

I’m doing a little morning cooking. I started with 1 large rutabaga — only I guess it’s a regular-size rutabagas, which seem to come only in L and XL — and this recipe The Eldest sent to me:

2 lbs rutabaga, peeled and cubed
2 TBSP butter or olive oil (this is a third of the amount Julia Child used!)
3 c vegetable or beef stock
1 tsp brown sugar, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the rutabaga for 5 minutes in a dutch oven in boiling salted water. Drain. Return to the pan and sauté the rutabaga in the butter or olive oil for 5 minutes to brown lightly. Pour in enough stock to barely cover them. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the rutabaga is tender but retains its shape. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, you can remove some of the braising liquid and reduce the remaining liquid to a syrupy glaze by uncovering and boiling the remaining liquid down rapidly, adding a tsp. of brown sugar if desired. Alternately, you can drain all of the braising liquid and brown the cooked rutabaga under the broiler or in a hot oven, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Reserve the braising liquid for another use.

I used the rutabaga I had and enough olive oil to brown it. I did do the blanching step (using water), and then browned the rutabaga in olive oil and simmered it in vegetable stock. No brown sugar.

Once that was done, I set it aside to make the yu choy sum.

1.5 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
2 bunches large scallions
1 bag of yu choy sum (pictured above)
6 dried chipotles cut up with shears (1-2 chipotles for flavor, 3-4 for also mild heat, 5 or more – heat+flavor)
several dashes fish sauce

I chopped the scallions and cooked them with a pinch of salt in the olive oil until they wilted. Then I added the yu choy sum, which I had rinsed well and chopped. I do enjoy using that knife now; for a while, I was intimidated, like the person who buys a car they can barely afford and avoids driving it for fear of damage. I finally decided that I have the knife and I should use it, so now I use it frequently and enjoy it greatly. It’s carbon steel, so it does require immediate rinsing and thorough drying after use, but it takes a lovely edge.

I added the stock in which the rutabagas were simmered, covered the pan, and simmered 30 minutes.

After the yu ghoy sum was done, I added the rutabagas to them: Greens and Other Vegetable combined.

The finished dish  — dark vegetables are good (in general more phytonutrients than light-colored vegetables).

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2021 at 11:31 am

The sensible secret of Nordic happiness — not hygge, not the welfare state, not the drinking

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Jukka Savolainen writes in Slate:

Is hygge still a thing? The Danish concept of comfortable conviviality and all things cozy is supposed to capture the essence of Danish culture and has been marketed as the secret for happy living. A few years back, there was a surge of hygge-related books, articles, and household products. Journalists from around the world were touring Denmark to document various aspects of this unique lifestyle. The enthusiasm around Denmark was stimulated by the nation’s reputation of being the happiest country in the world. However, last time I checked, the designer store across the street here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had moved its selection of Hygge branded candles to the clearance corner.

If there has been a downturn in the hygge industry in recent years, it may be because Finland, my home country, has surpassed Denmark in the World Happiness Report four years running. Denmark occupies the third place, after Iceland, in the most recent edition, released in March, and its distance to Finland is growing. As reported by multiple media outlets, the Finnish spiritual equivalent to hygge is something far less convivial and much more difficult to pronounce: kalsarikännit, which translates as “pantsdrunk,” refers to the practice of binge drinking home alone in your underpants. If this is a secret to happy life, let’s keep it that way: a secret.

Nobody is more skeptical than the Finns about the notion that we are the world’s happiest people. To be fair, this is hardly the only global ranking we’ve topped recently. We are totally fine with our reputation of having the best educational system (not true), lowest levels of corruption (probably), most sustainable economy (meh), and so forth. But happiest country? Give us a break. As reported by a correspondent for the Economist, when a Cabinet member of the Finnish government was introduced at an international conference as “the representative of the happiest country in the world,” he responded: “If that’s true, I’d hate to see the other nations.”

Finland hasn’t always had such a blissed out international reputation. In 1993, when I was living in New York and still fresh off the boat, 60 Minutes featured a segment on Finland, which opened with this description of Helsinki pedestrians going about their business: “This is not a state of national mourning in Finland, these are Finns in their natural state; brooding and private; grimly in touch with no one but themselves; the shyest people on earth. Depressed and proud of it.” As far as facial expressions of the Finnish people, not much has changed since then. We are still just as reserved and melancholy as before. If happiness were measured in smiles, Finnish people would be among the most miserable in the world.

As it turns out, the World Happiness Report—the annual study responsible for these rankings—does not pay any attention to smiles, laughter, or other outward expressions of joy. Instead, the report relies on Gallup polls, which ask respondents to imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero to 10. The top rung (10) represents the best possible life for you, while the bottom rung (zero) represents the worst. The survey participants are then instructed to report the number that corresponds to the rung on which they are currently standing. In other words, you are deemed happy if your actual life circumstances approximate your highest expectations. No need to clap your hands or stomp your feet.

Given this emotionless definition of happiness, it is not so surprising why my compatriots score high on what should be described as average life evaluations. Compared with most other countries, objective living circumstances in Finland are very good indeed: the rates of poverty, homelessness, and other forms of material deprivation are as low as they get; people have universal and free access to world-class education and health care; parental leaves are generous and paid vacations are long. These are the kinds of factors most experts focus on when making sense of why Finland, Denmark, and the other Nordic welfare states dominate the happiness rankings.

But there is more to the story. We should not ignore expectations, the other aspect of the formula used in the World Happiness Report. Consistent with their Lutheran heritage, the Nordic countries are united in their embrace of curbed aspirations for the best possible life. This mentality is famously captured in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2021 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Psychology

Close-up on clay: From making wine to managing mine waste, clay is important for many industries

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In The Conversation Jason Ng and Andrea Sedgwick have an interesting article on clay, though oddly with no mention of its use in shaving soap. It begins:

The discovery and use of clays dates back to 30,000 years ago, making clays one of the oldest materials used in society. Clays are naturally occurring materials that were first used to make pottery and are now used abundantly in the manufacturing of goods, including ceramics, cosmetics and building materials. Clays also play an important role in the “terroir,” the features a wine develops based on where the grapes are grown.

Clay has unique properties that are useful in industries ranging from manufacturing to construction. But these properties can also pose a challenge in managing mine waste.

Clays and clay minerals are tiny particles with a unique plate-like structure less than two microns in size (for comparison, the average thickness of a strand of human hair is about 70 microns). The small size of clay minerals and their distinct structure give them unique properties, and different types of clay minerals can exhibit diverse characteristics.

Properties of clays

There are four main groups of clay mineral: kaolinite, illite, vermiculite and smectite. . .

Continue reading.

There are many varieties, though: Bentonite, Rhassoul, Hectorite, brown, red, green, black, talc, and others.

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2021 at 9:28 am

Bria Skonberg, excellent jazz trumpeter and vocalist

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Take a listen:

For more, see her interview in Classical Voice. And here’s a longer sample of her work:

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2021 at 9:23 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Tobacco theme

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The always-pleasurable Monday morning shave took a tobacco turn today. Wholly Kaw’s Merchant of Tobacco is a mighty fine soap. Its fragrance is that of a pipe tobacco, and the fragrance, though present, is not what I would call assertive: light but noticeable. The soap seems harder than some soaps — longer curing? — but lathered up handsomely. It’s a thirsty soap despite having no clay in its composition —  I added a little water three times during the loading.

The Rooney Style 2, once loaded, made a fine lather, and of course this stainless iKon slant did a superb job. It is definitely one of my favorite razors and even favorite slants.

Three passes later a totally smooth face emerged from the stubble, and a splash of Cavendish finished the shave. Cavendish, another pipe-tobacco fragrance, is much more present than that of the soap.

And now for a good week, eh?

Written by Leisureguy

3 May 2021 at 9:14 am

Posted in Shaving

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