Later On

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

Archive for June 2nd, 2022

Root Cellar haul and recipe thoughts afterwards

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When I’m at the produce market — and we’re fond of Root Cellar — I tend to impulse-buy and then after I get home try to figure out what to make. For example I bought the cayenne peppers (red and yellow!) because I never see cayenne peppers in the store. I’m not making pepper sauce, but I may return and buy a quart of them and make a batch of pepper sauce because cayenne peppers have a great flavor.

And I bought that little eggplant because it looked so good. The Meyer lemon is because I was actually looking for a bag of those, and the mushrooms were not needed for my fermenting experiment. Asparagus and scallions I generally will have around — scallions always, asparagus if it’s not too dear.

So I’m going to cook those together, along with some diced tempeh (pinto bean and khorasan kernel tempeh, which is what I have now). Seems like it will be good.

And I got my third booster (Moderna). 

Update on stew: In addition to the ingredient in the photo, I included a good-sized block of the tempeh, cut into large dice, some dried Mexican oregano, dried thyme, and dried spearmint, and a can of Ro•Tel Original Green Chiles and Tomato. Also, a pinch of MSG and several good dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce. 

I spooned about 1/4 cup spicy avocado-lime-cilantro sauce atop the bowlful I had.  It’s extremely tasty and satisfying. 

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2022 at 3:04 pm

Why Canada Races on Gun Policy When America Crawls

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In the NY Times Max Fisher has a clear explanation (gift link, no paywall) of why the governments of most of the advanced democracies are better able to get things done than the US government — and it comes down to the structure imposed by the Founding Fathers, who feared a government that could get things done. Fisher writes:

As Congress once more struggles through acrimonious and so far fruitless negotiations over gun reforms in the wake of a mass shooting, Americans may find themselves looking north in befuddlement.

Canada’s government has begun moving to ban handgun sales and buy back military-style rifles — dramatic changes in a country with one of the world’s highest gun ownership rates outside of the United States, expected to pass easily and with little fuss.

Ask Americans why Canada’s government seems to cut through issues that mire their own in bitterness and frustration, and you might hear them cite cultural differences, gentler politics, even easygoing Canadian temperaments.

But ask a political scientist, and you’ll get a more straightforward answer.

Differences in national culture and issues, while meaningful, do not on their own explain things. After all, Canada also has two parties that mostly dominate national politics, an urban-rural divide, deepening culture wars and a rising far-right. And guns have been a contentious issue there for decades, one long contested by activist groups.

Rather, much of the gap in how these two countries handle contentious policy questions comes down to something that can feel invisible amid day-to-day politicking, but may be just as important as the issues themselves: the structures of their political systems.

Canada’s is a parliamentary system. Its head of government, Justin Trudeau, is elevated to that job by the legislature, of which he is also a member, and which his party, in collaboration with another, controls.

If Mr. Trudeau wants to pass a new law, he must merely ask his subordinates in his party and their allies to do it. There is no such thing as divided government and less cross-party horse-trading and legislative gridlock.

Canada is similar to what the United States would be if it had only a House of Representatives, whose speaker also oversaw federal agencies and foreign policy.

What America has instead is a system whose structure simultaneously requires cooperation across competing parties and discourages them from working together.

The result is an American system that not only moves slower and passes fewer laws than those of parliamentary models like Canada’s, research has found, but stalls for years even on measures that enjoy widespread support among voters in both parties, such as universal background checks for gun purchases.

Many political scientists argue that the United States’ long-worsening gridlock runs much deeper than any one issue or the interest groups engaged with it, to the basic setup of its political system. . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2022 at 12:41 pm

Soybean and Rye tempeh

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1.5 cups each of soybeans and rye, measured before cooking and cooked (and dried) separately. The left photo shows the batch after adding 3 tablespoons Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar and a packet of tempeh starter and then putting the batch into a large Ziploc Fresh Produce bag, which is perfectly perforated for tempeh cultivation. I mix the vinegar in thoroughly, using a soft silicone spatula, and then I add the starter a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Getting an even distribution of vinegar and starter helps with the liftoff.

I don’t dehull the soybeans, though that’s the common practice in Indonesia. In Malaysia, however, where tempeh is also popular, tempeh is made with intact soybeans. (I also don’t dehull other beans I use: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and so on.)

On the right is the tempeh on a rack in my incubator — actually, on two racks. On the bottom is a raised rack to keep the bag well above the warming mat, and on top of that is the bag of tempeh on a flat rack. I found that when I tried placing the bag directly onto the rack in the incubator, it was difficult to keep the bag’s contents evenly distributed. So I now put the bag on a flat rack on the counter and adjust the contents until I have an even depth across the entire bag. Then I place that rack atop the raised rack in the incubator. 

For more details on making your own tempeh (something I highly recommend), see this post. With a little experience, the time required (in terms of active effort) is minimal — about 30 minutes total, I would say. Most of the time (simmering beans and grain, letting them cool, letting the tempeh grow over three days), I am not actively involved.

And by making your own tempeh, you choose what beans and grains to use. I have settled (for now) on 3-cup batches, equal parts beans and (intact whole) grain. 

After 24 hours

It’s well on its way after 24 hours in the incubator, so now it’s sitting on a raised rack on the table.

I’ll be interested to see whether once again Rhizopus favors beans over grain. In the previous batch (pinto beans and khorasan kernels), the beans were mold-covered well before the wheat berries.

By the time a batch gets well underway, as this batch has, my thoughts turn to what I might make next. I’m thinking of equal parts of chana dal (split baby chickpeas) and unpolished kodo millet (one of the good millets).

On the internet it’s possible to find reams of information, and unfortunately incorrect, misleading, or incomplete information is not uncommon (see various posts on Covid-19 and protective measures for it). Some posts and videos warn against millet because it is goitrogenic, inhibiting the absorption of iodine — like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. This does not mean that you should avoid those foods; it means you should include sufficient iodine (and selenium) in your diet — for example, by using iodized salt. I get iodine from a natural food source by eating two sheets of nori a day (don’t use kelp as a source: it contains too much iodine, though I will have an occasional seafood salad made with kelp), and I get selenium by eating 1 brazil nut a day. 

At any rate, the next tempeh will be chana dal and unpolished kodo millet.

Comparison: 24 hours after start and 29 hours after start

At 48 hours

At 48 hours (photo at right; click to enlarge), the slab is nicely covered and filling in to a good degree of solidity. Nevertheless, I will let it continue to grow for another 24 hours before deeming it done. 

This batch has gone quite well. Rhizopus seems to like rye more than khorasan, though khorasan adds a nice chewiness that is pleasant — for example, when a slab of tempeh is used to make a burger. 

Late yesterday afternooon/early evening the apartment became rather cool, so I returned the rack to the incubator box (though without plugging in the warming mat) for a few hours to let it warm up a bit. It seems to have fully recovered and is doing well.

After 75 hours, I call it done

Another photo of the finished slab in this post, along with some additional comments. Suffice it to say that it’s a perfect batch. I diced a little and fried it in a few sprays of olive oil, and it tastes good. 

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2022 at 10:51 am

Tertius and Hâttric went to a shave

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Lovely shave this morning after too little sleep. (Finishing a season of Unforgotten on BritBox — terrific series, and the music is wonderfully done.) My Maggard 22mm evoked that ultra-premium that some soaps deliver, Ariana & Evans among them. And the Maggard V2 open-comb on one of their handles makes a terrific razor — the head is a clone of the Parker 24C/26C head, but the stainless-steel handle is better than the Parker handles, all for about the same price.

Three passes left my face completely smooth, and a good splash of Hâttric (with a couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel) finished the job.

The tea today is Murchie’s Ode to Joy: “black tea, jasmine green, calendula flowers, elder flowers, and unspecified “natural and artificial flavouring”.”

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2022 at 9:03 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

The Search for Dark Matter

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Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2022 at 7:16 am

Posted in Science, Video

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