Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Recipes & Cooking’ Category

Transformation and a pot of soup

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Back from a short trip to supermarket (where I got the first of two shingles shots — I thought I’d get the shot before I got shingles), and I went to cook the green lentils I purchased — a little 1-cup container from the bulk foods section.

It’s very windy and somewhat rainy today, and somehow between the store and home the green lentils were transformed into green split peas. The transformation was complete even unto the label. So I decided that if life gives me a lemon (split peas, in this case), I will make lemonade (split-pea soup, in this case). The recipe at the link is very good. Since I have just 1 cup of split peas, I’m making a half-recipe (and without carrots and parsley, since those I don’t have on hand, but I do have the rest). I do use cayenne. Simmered peas are now cooling, and I’ll finish the first step this evening and enjoy the soup tomorrow.

Written by Leisureguy

24 October 2021 at 3:42 pm

My Canadian take on an Old Fashioned

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Making an Old Fashioned normally begins by filling an Old Fashioned glass with cracked ice (not ice cubes, not crushed ice — cracked ice). I have a canvas bag and a wooded mallet so that I can crack ice cubes (or, for a Mint Julep, beat them to a powder). Then one adds rye whisky, a teaspoon of simple syrup (the muddling of a sugar cube with the bitters is mere showmanship), and a dash of bitters — typically Angostura (because of its pervasive marketing, back in the day using cartoons by Virgil Partch (aka “Vip” from his signature). However, I often use Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters or Fee Brothers Peach Bitters (particularly if I’m having a Bourbon Old Fashioned). And over the last decade or so, many new independent bitters-makers have established themselves.

Tonight, In the aforementioned glass of cracked ice, I added 1 teaspoon amber maple syrup (in lieu of the simple syrup), a good dash of BC-made Moondog bitters (from Bittered Sling), and a couple of ounces of Forty Creek Barrel Select Canadian Whisky, which, while not 100% rye, does contain rye and is certainly Canadian. (BTW, Forty Creek also makes Nanaimo Bar Cream, something I don’t buy because I fear I would just use a straw and drain the bottle.)

From the link for the whisky:

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Whisky is crafted from rye, corn, and barley grains. Once the grains arrive at the distillery, Hall distills each grain separately through traditional copper pot stills. Then, the whisky crafted from each of the three grains is matured individually in American oak barrels. [This is the difference between Canadian blended whisky — separate aging of the spirits from each grain — and American blended whiskey — grains mixed and spirits distilled from the mixed mash. – LG] This process brings out the fruitiness and spiciness of the rye, the nuttiness of the barley and the heartiness of the corn. After the three whiskies have matured, Hall marries them together in casks that were previously used to mature sherry. During this secondary maturation process, the ex-sherry barrels contribute notes of dark fruits, toffee and berries to the whisky.

As a result, Forty Creek Barrel Select has an aroma of stone fruits, vanilla, caramel and roasted walnuts. Notes of toffee, white pepper and malt spices dominate the palate, and lead to a balanced and smooth finish.

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Whisky earned the Gold Medal at the Beverage Testing Institute Competition and the Wizards of Whisky Awards in 2014. In addition, it earned the Silver Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.

Despite tonight’s Forty Creek Canadian whisky, I often use Canadian Club 100% Rye or Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (90% rye).

I really like the classic trio of cocktails: Martini (made of gin, served up); Old Fashioned (made of rye whisky, served over cracked ice); and Manhattan (made of rye whisky, served up). I also like a Bourbon Old Fashioned and a Bourbon Manhattan, and even a Scotch Manhattan — aka a Rob Roy. Variants are always interesting — cf. the Scotch Martini, aka the Berlin Station Chief — but, as Jack Aubrey astutely observed, “The old ways are best.”

The Scotch Martini retains gin as the base spirit, adding a hint of scotch just as a flavoring. Another variant I like sometimes is using Amontillado or Fino sherry in place of dry vermouth.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2021 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drinks

New wrinkle in roasted squash

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A cold, rainy day like today sees an ideal time to roast a small buttercup squash. I just did that, and and this time I put the seeds into the 400ºF oven for 10 minutes, and then I removed the pan, added the squash (tossed with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, ground chipotle, ground cumin, and salt), and cooked it for 25 minutes more. The seeds came out better: more crisp and crunchier. I’ll do that from now on.

Written by Leisureguy

22 October 2021 at 12:46 pm

Chef Rick Bayless’ autumn squash mash

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From an NPR newsletter:

“At home, I split [a pair of] delicata squash lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, salt the flesh, wrap each half in plastic and microwave all 4 pieces for about 6 minutes, until tender,” Bayless said.

“I start with 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil in the skillet, add chopped red onion and apple and cook everything over medium heat until beautifully soft and golden. And since I like spice, 1 or 2 finely chopped canned chipotles make a perfect showing here. Season your apple “hash” with salt and plenty of black pepper.

“Stuff that mixture into the warm delicata halves, top with crumbled goat cheese (anything from feta to Parmesan will work here) and scatter on a few herb leaves. Cilantro is excellent, but so is parsley, basil and sage—so use what you have.”

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2021 at 1:30 pm

More buttercup squash, different spices

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Buttercup Squash before (left) and after (right) roasting.

Rainy day and buttercup squash: nice combination. I used only half a larger squash, though all its seeds, and I changed the seasoning somewhat.

Tossed the seeds and then the pieces with:

• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Diamond Crystal kosher salt
• Kala Namak Himalayan kiln-fired salt
• Ground cumin
Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika
• Piri Piri Chilli seasoning (at right))
• Garlic powder

I would have used smoked paprika if I had it. I need to get some.

I’ll roast at 400ºF for 25 minutes. I am also seasoning my Stargazer 12″ skillet at the same time. I heated the skillet briefly on the induction burner, applied a thin layer of Larbee, wiped out all I could, put the skillet upside down on the bottom rack of the cold oven, and turned the oven on to 400ºF. The skillet will remain in the oven until the oven’s cooled after cooking.

Once the oven’s come to temperature, I’ll add the squash, then remove it after 25 minutes, turn off the oven, and leave the skillet in the oven to cool gradually.

Update: I’ve updated the post to include before and after shots. And it’s extremely tasty. The additional seasonings added a lot.

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2021 at 11:12 am

Rainy-day buttercup squash

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It’s cold, wet, and rainy, so a good day for some roasted buttercup squash, with the oven helping to warm the apartment. Here it is ready for the oven. Seeds with extra-virgin olive oil and Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Pieces of squash tossed with EVOO, freshly ground black pepper, salt, and that Cape Herb & Spice Chipotle Chilli seasoning mentioned earlier. Be ready after 25 minutes in a 400ºF oven. 

That’s a quarter-sheet pan. And  you don’t peel buttercup squash — it’s like kabocha squash in that regard. Indeed, it tastes a lot like kabocha, but is, I think, a little sweeter.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2021 at 12:09 pm

Chili gathering

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I have some dark red kidney beans to cook, and to me that spells “chili.” So I gathered some things to use. I made a list off the top of my head. [Full disclosure: ingredient measures were done by eye, thus the “~”; counts, however, are accurate.]

Olive oil
1 large Red Onion (sort of hidden on the left, in front of liquid smoke)
2 Leeks
2 Jalapeño peppers
2 Poblano peppers
1 Anaheim pepper
1 Red bell pepper
Garlic (in front of canned tomatoes) – about 3/4 cup, chopped small
2 Turmeric roots (on top of Roma tomatoes)
~2-3 tablespoons Mexican oregano
~1-2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
Smoked paprika – turns out I have none right now; would have used it
~3 tablespoons Ground cumin
8 mushrooms, halved, then sliced thick
3 Roma tomatoes (hidden behind mushrooms), chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Ro•Tel original
1 small can Chipotles in adobo
1 small can no-salt-added tomato paste, plus enough water to fill that empty can
1 1/2 cups cooked unpolished kodo millet* — this I did measure, though 2 cups would be okay
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
~2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
~1 tablespoon liquid smoke
~1 tablespoon Red Boat fish sauce
~2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
lots of ground black pepper (for the turmeric)

* I used cooked unpolished kodo millet because that is the grain I happened to have on hand. You could substitute any cooked intact whole grain — kamut, whole rye, hulled barley, oat groats, wheat berries, etc.

I gathered the ingredients for a “before” photo and discovered I have no smoked paprika. Tomato paste not in photo because I decided later to add it.

Turmeric root is not a standard chili ingredient, but I like to include turmeric when I can because it has so many nutritional benefits.

5:20pm – It’s cooking now, and below is a photo of the finished (rather large) batch. It is making about 5.5 quarts, I would say. I forgot a couple of ingredients in the list, but I’ve added them now. After this cools, I’ll refrigerate what’s left — I’m having a bowl, natch — and then freeze a good part of it, using Ziploc freezer bags — probably multiple bags, a couple of servings per bag. 

7:00pm – It’s extremely tasty. I had a bowl topped with 1 tsp Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast (for flavor and B12). Nice intense warmth but without fiery pain or any anguish — just right. Deep flavor.

Written by Leisureguy

13 October 2021 at 10:14 am

Winter Tonic Stew

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I’ve not yet made the stew — I’m still doing the first creation, as Covey calls it — but I did gather the ingredients for a family portrait of the stew before I begin prep. My first step was jotting down a draft of the recipe (using the Notes function in Vivaldi, the browser I now use). As I gathered up ingredients, I added some I hadn’t thought of, and those are noted.

Winter Tonic Stew

• 1.5 tablespoons olive oil (I don’t measure; I drizzle it over the bottom of the pan until it seems enough)
• 1 large leek, halved lengthways, rinsed, and sliced (including leaves)
• good pinch of salt
• 1 large jalapeño, chopped
• 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• about 4″ spicy beef sausage, chopped – from a trip to a mideastern deli
• several cloves Russian red garlic
• 1 big turmeric root or 2 medium, minced
• 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1 carrot diced — found a lonely carrot in fridge and decided to use it
• 7 mushrooms, as it turned out — late addition; I just used the mushrooms on hand
• 1 qt no-salt-added vegetable broth
• 2 cups water (added later — 1 qt not enough liquid)
• 1/2 buttercup squash, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces; I’ll roast the other half (and seeds) later
• 1 cup cooked lentils
• 1/2 cup uncooked unpolished kodo millet (it will absorb stock and thus thicken soup)
• 1 bunch red kale, leaves chopped, stems minced
• 1 not quite fresh lemon, ends removed and then diced (with peel)
• good dash tamari
• 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
• lots of ground black pepper (for the turmeric)

I’ll first cook leeks, jalapeño, bell pepper, and sausage, then add garlic, turmeric, and crushed red pepper and cook a while.

Then I’ll add the remaining ingredients and simmer at 225ºF for, say, 45 minutes. 

I have not abandoned my whole-food plant-based diet, but I do occasionally venture outside it, and I was very curious about the sausage. Now I’m using it up, curiosity satisfied, and I’m back to non-animal foods as my standard fare.

After I make and taste the stew, I’ll update this post. The name is due to this paragraph from Michael Greger’s book How Not to Die:

Even just calling vegetables by different names can help. Elementary schools were able to double vegetable consumption simply by coming up with names that better appealed to the kids. Students ate twice the number of carrots if they were called “X-Ray Vision Carrots,” compared to when they were just carrots or generically called the “Food of the Day.” Are adults as gullible? Apparently so. For example, grown-ups reported “Traditional Cajun Red Beans and Rice” tasted better than just “Red Beans with Rice” … even though they were the exact same dish.

After I read that I started trying to come up with better names for the recipes I made up.

It’s cooking now. I decided to cook carrots and mushrooms with leeks, peppers, and sausage. Then I added garlic, turmeric, and crushed red pepper, and cooked that a while. Then I added the vegetable broth. — as noted below, that was not enough liquid, so I later augmented it with 2 cups of water. I think starting with 2 quarts of vegetable broth would be fine, and it would result in a soup rather than a stew. (For me, stew has a thick consistency and soup is more liquid.)

After that, I added the 1/2 buttercup squash, then chopped the kale, little by little, and added it, little by little, stirring it into the stew. Then I added the rest.

Once everything was in, the stew was simmering nicely, so I turned the burner, which had been on 4, to 225ºF and timed it for 25 minutes,, when I will check.

— I checked it after 10 minutes, and the liquid was low — absorbed by the millet, in part. I added 2 cups water and updated ingredients list above.

— A photo of the completed stew:

I did decide to add two spicy preserved lemons after all. I probably should have added them with the kale so they could have cooked with the stew. I think I’ll simmer it 10 more minutes to pull some of the lemons’ flavor into the stew. I cut them into eighths. Halved them, halved the halves to make quarters, halved the quarters to make eighths.

— It’s terrific. The millet was a good idea. I wish I had had two fresh lemons to dice into the stew instead of just one. Next time I’ll do that. The stew is reasonably spicy, but not too spicy. And I definitely feel its tonic effect.

A success.

Written by Leisureguy

7 October 2021 at 1:44 pm

The Myth of Regenerative Ranching

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Jan Dutkiewicz and Gabriel N. Rosenberg report in The New Republic:

When foodies sink their teeth into a slab of cheese from one of the historic dairy farms in Point Reyes, California, their minds probably run to grass-fed cows ranging free on the lush green oceanside hills of Marin County. Over 5,000 dairy cows and beef cattle roam the Point Reyes National Seashore National Park in full view of visiting tourists. Unlike the many dairy and meat companies that slap happy animals on their labels while sourcing their product from hellish factory farms, the dairy and beef farms at Point Reyes represent an agrarian ideal of ecologically and ethically sustainable animal agriculture.

“Pasture-raised” and “extensive” or “regenerative” grazing have been watchwords in the American foodie community since at least the 2000s, when celebrated food writer Michael Pollan presented sustainable, nonindustrial practices as a way out of the ethical morass of the American food system in his award-winning bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Everyone from progressive agrarians to libertarian ranchers to multinational food companies, and even conservation NGOs such as the Audubon Society, has thrown their weight behind the idea of replacing mass-produced meat, from chickens to ungulates, with a holistically raised alternative. While some environmentalists reject beef altogether for its contribution to climate changepollution, and deforestation, proponents of free-ranging beef have rallied under the motto, “It’s not the cow; it’s the how.” They argue that, done properly, pasture-raised cattle can replace the ecological functions of wild ruminants like elk and bison, produce food on “marginal” land that would otherwise be wasted, and eliminate beef’s carbon hoofprint (since well-grazed land can sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide). This would mean consumers could stick it to Big Ag, fight climate change, and help imperiled animals and ecosystems without actually changing their diets too much; they’d just need to eat a bit less meat and pay a bit more for the grass-fed option.

Whether these promises hold up under scrutiny is a subject of fierce debate. And in recent years, a series of lawsuits have argued the opposite thesis: that even “regenerative” cattle imperil the very ecosystems proponents claim they will “regenerate.”

This past June, the Harvard Animal Law and Policy Clinic, on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a number of individual plaintiffs, filed suit against the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, which manages Point Reyes National Park, alleging that cattle ranching is endangering the iconic tule elk.* It’s not the first such lawsuit that has been filed over the past decade against the NPS to stop alleged environmental damage from Point Reyes cows.

The National Park Service leases parkland to a number of “historic” cattle and dairy farms, which it has done since the park’s creation in 1962. The elk, native to the region but driven to near-extinction by hunting and human activities such as ranching, are protected by a 1976 federal conservation law and were reintroduced to the park in 1978. But to keep the elk from competing with cattle for forage and water, the NPS erected fences that confine the elk to select corners of the park with limited water and forage. This confinement has proved fatal during droughts. Drought in 2013–2014 led to 254 elk deaths. A current drought has already killed over 150 elk, a third of the once 445-strong herd that inhabits Tomales Point, all just a stone’s throw away from thriving commodity cows. Ranchers have even pushed for the right to cull elk outright to keep their populations in check, in part because they have also killed off the natural predators that would do so in a healthy ecosystem. The Harvard suit alleges that “the Tule elk are continuing to die horrific and preventable deaths” in clear violation of federal law.

Prior to the twentieth century, the tule elk were an important part of the Pacific coastal ecosystem and a major component of the diet of the Coast Miwok tribe, the native peoples who lived there. In fact, the NPS concedes that the region’s characteristic hilly grasslands were “the byproduct of burning, weeding, pruning and harvesting for at least two millennia by Coast Miwok and their antecedents.” These grasslands made a juicy target for white settlers arriving in the middle of the nineteenth century. They brought cattle with them, plundered the Coast Miwok lands, hunted large predators and elk to near-extinction, and then grazed their cattle on the hills instead. The intertwined processes of colonial and ecological displacement have continued into the twenty-first century: In 2015, the NPS balked at a proposed “Indigenous Archaeological District” that would have protected Coast Miwok heritage sites from damage from ranching. Even as it did so, it quickly approved a “Historic Dairy Ranching District,” over and against Miwok protests. Today, many Coast Miwok are opposed to the rancher-backed plan to fence and further cull the elk. “The Park Service proposal to shoot indigenous tule elk and promote ranching that harms wildlife, water and habitat is a travesty and contrary to the traditions of our ancestors,” Jason Deschler, dance captain and headman with the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin, wrote this summer in a statement opposing the cull.

The cows at Point Reyes don’t just compete with the elk. They also defecate about 130 million pounds of nitrogen-rich manure a year, which leaches into the soil and streams and ponds of the area. An NPS-funded study suggested that removal of the cows would benefit numerous native species, including butterflies, seabirds, frogs, and salmon. And yet the same study recommended the expansion of ranching. As a damning investigative report into the issue in the Marin County Pacific Sun suggests, the ranchers and dairy farmers have urged pliant politicians, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, to “pressur[e] the Park Service to prioritize the preservation of private ranching profits over environmental concerns.”

Point Reyes is a microcosm of a much broader anti-wildlife bent in American ranching, regenerative and otherwise. To protect their cows from predators and disease, or simply to ensure that they have access to food and water, ranchers across the country have supported wolf huntsvulture and wild horse culls, and the deployment of cyanide bombs. It is difficult to count the number of wild animals killed in the service of ranching interests by government bodies like the Agriculture Department’s secretive Wildlife Services, the Bureau of Land Management, and various state-level farm bureaus, but about a million animals per year is the federal government’s own estimate.

Unlike wild animals such as elk, ranched cattle are commodities in a global market. And the goals of commodity production run directly counter to those of a functional ecosystem. In the wild, . . ..

Continue reading. There’s more.

Humans know what should be done but refuse to do it — cf. climate change. I hold little hope for the species.

Written by Leisureguy

6 October 2021 at 12:12 pm

Autumn Seafood Special

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Strictly speaking, salmon and even oysters are not plants, but I occasionally diverge from a strictly non-animal diet. I used my Field Company No. 10 for this.

I prepped all the food ahead of time, so when the pan got hot, I was just adding and stirring. Sometimes I put a lid on the pan and let things cook a while.

I heated the pan, then added:

• about 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 bunches thick scallions, chopped
• a left over section of red onion, chopped
• 1 large jalapeño, chopped, including core and seeds
• good pinch of Diamond Crystal kosher salt
• pinch of kala namak

I sautéed those, stirring frequently until the onions softened and wilted. Then I added:

• 5 large cloves Russian red garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest

I cooked that for a minute or two, then added

• 3 large domestic white mushrooms, chopped
• 2 baby bok choy, chopped
• 2 small yellow pattypan squash, diced
• 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

That I cooked for a good while — probably 10 minutes, part of the time covered.Then I added:

• 270g/9.5-oz piece of sockeye salmon, cut into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears
• 3 large Pacific oysters, halved

I cut the salmon with shears because a knife doesn’t work so well: the fish is not firm enough.

I again covered the pan and simmered those, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, I added:

• 2 small preserved lemons, cut into eighths
• 1 good-sized Roma tomato, diced

I cooked for about 4-5 minutes more, then turned off my induction burner and covered the pan, taking a bowl of the stew every now and then.

It’s delicious. This is, like almost all of my recipes, just a description of what I did, and improvise as you want. My original idea was to have broccolini, but the store had none, so the baby bok choy was a substitute. The two little yellow pattypan squash I just happened to see in the store and thought they looked good and would be a good addition.

This would clearly be good on rice, or some other intact whole grain. (Black rice is very good.)

Written by Leisureguy

4 October 2021 at 3:45 pm

Buttercup squash was delicious

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I should have taken a photo, but it’s too late now: I’ve eat the half of the squash I cooked — and also the seeds, which I roasted with the squash. I cut it into chunks, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper (and just a little maple syrup) and then roasted at 400ºF for 26 minutes. The seeds I spread out a little, drizzled a little olve oil over them and stirred them, then salted them. The pan had seeds at one end and the squash everywhere else.

I have the other half in the fridge, and I’ll cook that tomorrow. Killing two birds with one stone, I put in the oven the Field No. 10 I used yesterday, freshly coated with Larbee, and cooked that with the squash to freshen up the seasoning.

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2 October 2021 at 2:33 pm

Middle-Eastern Greens today: Spinach with things from the deli visits

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Middle-Eastern Spinach after cooking

It was time to cook a new batch of Greens, and today those greens are spinach. I used the 4-qt stainless sauté pan.

• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, drizzled over bottom of pan
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• 1 good pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt
• about 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1 large head Russian red garlic, cloves peeled, chopped, and allowed to rest 15 minutes
• 4 enormous domestic white mushrooms chopped
• 2 300g packages frozen chopped spinach
• about 1 quart fresh spinach, chopped (from Costco run, left over after making salad)
• 3 spicy preserved lemons, cut into eighths (from the deli trip)
• 2 roasted red peppers, chopped (I have a jar of them from the deli trip)
• splash of brine from the jar of lemons
• splash of Bragg’s apple-cider vinegar
• splash of Red Boat fish sauce

I sautéed onions with the salt and crushed red pepper until onions softened, then added garlic and mushrooms and continued to cook, stirring fairly often, until mushrooms released their liquid.

I then added the rest of the ingredients and cooked covered at 225ºF for 25-30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2021 at 3:05 pm

Pleasantly meditative video on making Japanese curry udon noodles

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Note the size of the garlic cloves.

Written by Leisureguy

15 September 2021 at 4:21 pm

How the energy industry tricked Americans into loving a dangerous appliance.

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Rebecca Leber has a long article in Mother Jones that’s well worth reading. It begins:

Early last year in the Fox Hills neighborhood of Culver City, California, a man named Wilson Truong posted an item on the Nextdoor social media platform—where users can interact with their neighbors—warning that city leaders were considering stronger building codes that would discourage the use of natural gas in new homes and businesses. In a message titled “Culver City banning gas stoves?” he wrote, “First time I heard about it I thought it was bogus, but I received a newsletter from the city about public hearings to discuss it…Will it pass???!!! I used an electric stove but it never cooked as well as a gas stove so I ended up switching back.”

Truong’s post ignited a debate. One neighbor, Chris, defended electric induction stoves. “Easy to clean,” he wrote of these glass stovetops, which use a magnetic field to heat pans. [Induction is definitely best of all. – LG] Another neighbor, Laura, expressed skepticism. “No way,” she wrote. “I am staying with gas. I hope you can too.”

Unbeknownst to both, Truong wasn’t their neighbor at all, but an account manager for Imprenta Communications Group. Among the public relations firm’s clients was Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions, a front for the nation’s largest gas utility, SoCalGas, which aims to thwart state and local initiatives restricting the use of fossil fuels in new buildings. c4bes had tasked Imprenta with exploring how platforms such as Nextdoor could be used to engineer community support for natural gas. Imprenta assured me that Truong’s post was an isolated affair, but c4bes displays it alongside two other anonymous Nextdoor comments on its website as evidence of its advocacy in action.

Microtargeting Nextdoor groups is part of the newest front in the gas industry’s war to bolster public support for its product. For decades the American public was largely sold on the notion that “natural” gas was relatively clean, and when used in the kitchen, even classy. But that was before climate change moved from distant worry to proximate danger. Burning natural gas in commercial and residential buildings accounts for more than 10 percent of US emissions, so moving toward homes and apartments powered by wind and solar electricity instead could make a real dent. Gas stoves and ovens also produce far worse indoor air pollution than most people realize; running a gas stove and oven for just an hour can produce unsafe pollutant levels throughout your house all day. These concerns have prompted moves by 42 municipalities to phase out gas in new buildings. Washington state lawmakers intend to end all use of natural gas by 2050. California has passed aggressive standards, including a plan to reduce commercial and residential emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels by 2030. During his campaign, President Biden called for stricter standards for appliances and new construction. Were more stringent federal rules to come to pass, it could motivate builders to ditch gas hookups for good.

Gas utilities have responded to this existential threat to their livelihood by launching local anti-electrification campaigns. To ward off a municipal vote in San Luis Obispo, California, a union representing gas utility workers threatened to bus in “hundreds” of protesters during the pandemic with “no social distancing in place.” In Santa Barbara, residents have received robotexts warning that a gas ban would dramatically increase their bills. The Pacific Northwest group Partnership for Energy Progress, funded in part by Washington state’s largest gas utility, Puget Sound Energy, has spent at least $1 million opposing electrification mandates in Bellingham and Seattle, including $91,000 on bus ads showing a happy family cooking with gas next to the slogan “Reliable. Affordable. Natural Gas. Here for You.”

The industry group American Gas Association has a website dedicated to promoting cooking with gas.

The gas industry also has worked aggressively with legislatures in seven states to enact laws—at least 14 more have bills—that would prevent cities from passing cleaner building codes. This past spring, according to a HuffPost investigation, gas and construction interests managed to block cities from pushing for the stricter energy efficiency codes favored by local officials. In a potential blow to the Biden administration’s climate ambitions, two big trade groups convinced the International Code Council—the notoriously industry-friendly gatekeeper of default construction codes—to cut local officials out of the decision-making process entirely.

Beyond applying political pressure, the gas industry has identified a clever way to capture the public imagination. Surveys showed that most people had no preference for gas water heaters and furnaces over electric ones. So the gas companies found a different appliance to focus on. For decades, sleek industry campaigns have portrayed gas stoves—like granite countertops, farm sinks, and stainless-steel refrigerators—as a coveted symbol of class and sophistication, not to mention a selling point for builders and real estate agents.

The strategy has been remarkably successful in boosting sales of natural gas, but as the tides turn against fossil fuels, defending gas stoves has become a rear guard action. While stoves were once crucial to expanding the industry’s empire, now they are a last-ditch attempt to defend its shrinking borders.

Over the last hundred years, gas companies have engaged an all-out campaign to convince Americans that cooking with a gas flame is superior to using electric heat. At the same time, they’ve urged us not to think too hard—if at all—about what it means to combust a fossil fuel in our homes.

In the 1930s, the industry embraced the term “natural gas,” which gave the impression that its product was cleaner than any other fossil fuel: “The discovery of Natural Gas brought to man the greater and most efficient heating fuel which the world has ever known,” bragged one 1934 ad. “Justly is it called—nature’s perfect fuel.”

It was also during the 1930s that the industry first adopted the slogan “cooking with gas”; a gas executive saw to it that the phrase worked its way into Bob Hope bits and Disney cartoons. By the 1950s the industry was targeting housewives with star-studded commercials that featured matinee idols scheming about how to get their husbands to renovate their kitchens. In one 1964 newspaper advertisement from the Pennsylvania People’s Natural Gas Company, the star Marlene Dietrich professed, “Every recipe I give is closely related to cooking with gas. If forced, I can cook on an electric stove but it is not a happy union.” (Around the same time, General Electric waged an advertising campaign starring Ronald Reagan that depicted an all-electric house as a Jetsons-like future.) During the 1980s, the gas industry debuted a cringeworthy rap: “I cook with gas cause the cost is much less / Than ’lectricity. Do you want to take a guess?” and “I cook with gas cause broiling’s so clean / The flame consumes the smoke and grease.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, including serious and fact-based arguments against using gas ranges. No paywall.

Later in the article:

Beginning in the 1990s, the industry faced a new challenge: mounting evidence that burning gas indoors can contribute to serious health problems. Gas stoves emit a host of dangerous pollutants, including particulate matter, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. One 2014 simulation by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that cooking with gas for one hour without ventilation adds up to 3,000 parts per billion of carbon monoxide to the air—raising indoor concentrations by up to 30 percent in the average home. Carbon monoxide can kill; it binds tightly to the hemoglobin molecules in your blood so they can no longer carry oxygen. What’s more, new research shows that the typical home carbon monoxide alarms often fail to detect potentially dangerous levels of the gas. Nitrogen oxides, which are not regulated indoors, have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, along with asthma and other respiratory diseases. Homes with gas stoves have anywhere between 50 and 400 percent higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide than homes without, according to EPA research. Children are at especially high risk from nitrogen oxides, according to a study by UCLA Fielding School of Public Health commissioned by the Sierra Club. The paper included a meta-analysis of existing epidemiological studies, one of which estimated that kids in homes with gas stoves are 42 percent more likely to have asthma than children whose families use electric.

From my own direct experience I know that cooking on an induction burner is by far the best — I’ve cooked with gas and with electric coil burners, and induction beats them hands down.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2021 at 9:26 am

Other Vegetables, Chinese Style

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You see at the bottom of the photo a bitter melon, and above that a few Shanghai bok choy mue (“mue” seems to mean “really young”) and a chayote squash. To the right of the squash are a Nantes carrot (these are huge) and two Chinese leeks. Above and to the left are two Roma tomatoes (I ended up using three) and to the right a turmeric root and a head of Russian red garlic. The jar contains spicy preserved lemons (small: about the size and shape of a ping-pong ball).

I also included some olive oil, salt, a great quantity of ground black pepper, a handful of sultanas, a good splash of Red Boat fish sauce and a good splash of white-wine vinegar, along with some of the liquid from the jar of lemons (briny and spicy). The lemons I cut into eighths: halved, then halved again, then halved once more.

It’s simmering now. I think it will be good. Not the most common version of Other Vegetables, but good from a standpoint of variety. After some cooking at 5, stirring often, the vegetables wilted somewhat, so I reduced heat to 225ºF and cooked for 25 minutes, covered. Result:

In case you’re wondering: it’s very tasty. I’m having a bowl now, with 2 tablespoons of soybeans and 2 tablespoons of oat groats mixed. Definitely a spice kick from the lemons and preserving liquid — and the black pepper, as well.

Written by Leisureguy

11 September 2021 at 1:20 pm

Why the World Overlooked Canadian Whisky

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Dan Nosowitz had an interesting article in Atlas Obscura a little over a year ago that just came to my attention. It begins:

CANADIAN WHISKY IS ALL CONTRADICTIONS. It’s unknown and yet somehow incredibly popular. It’s critically dismissed but wins global whiskey awards. It’s blended, which whiskey drinkers have been indoctrinated to think means it’s inferior, yet blending is what gives it its quality. Canadian whisky is among the most fascinating liquors on the market. And yet, chances are, if you’ve bought some, you did it by accident.

“What shocked me the first time I wrote a piece about it was how big Canadian whisky was,” says Lew Bryson, a drinks writer and author of several books on whiskey. “It was like an iceberg. So much of it was below the surface, you never noticed it.”

Let’s start with the spelling. Canadians spell it “whisky,” Americans spell it “whiskey.” The former comes from Scotland, the latter from Ireland. Canada has a much larger Scottish influence than the United States does. In distillery-dotted Prince Edward Island, for example, more than 40 percent of the population claims Scottish ancestry, and Nova Scotia literally translates to “New Scotland.” Many of the country’s founding fathers—James Douglas, John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie—were either Scottish or Scottish-Canadian. In any case, the production of Canadian whisky is more similar to Scotch whisky than it is to Irish or American whiskey, so the spelling makes sense on several levels.

While American whiskey, especially bourbon, has lately carried the connotations of rural, traditional, authentic, and endemic, Canadian whisky largely doesn’t feel like any of those things. That’s probably due to the way the Canadian whisky industry began. The earliest Canadian distillers, which were founded much later than American distillers, in the 1830s or so, weren’t actually distillers, at least not primarily. Instead, they were millers. As a way to use up waste wheat, they fermented and distilled it into liquor. Canadian whisky didn’t start out with small craft distillers; it started with big companies. “It didn’t take long before spirits, whisky, became the major profit centers for these businesses,” says Davin de Kergommeaux, whose book Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert introduced the world of whiskey criticism to the wonders of the Great White North.

For the first century of Canadian whisky, there wasn’t really a Canadian style. Individual distillers went their own way; some were English, and a surprising number, including important ones such as J.P. Wiser’s and Hiram Walker, were American. When the American Civil War disrupted the entire American whiskey industry, Americans imported whisky from Canada, and Canadian distillers even brewed “American style” bourbons specifically for export. Soon Canadian whisky was the best-selling whisky in North America.

But in a continuation of the long tradition of Canada being buffeted about by whatever dumb stuff the United States was doing, the Canadian whisky industry was battered by American Prohibition. Many distillers sold for pennies on the dollar, and Canadian Club sold for less than the value of the whisky in their warehouses. A couple companies did sprout up or thrive by figuring out how to supply the bootlegging market—the Bronfman family of Montreal did it so well that they were able to buy Seagram’s, a longtime Canadian distillery, a few years before Prohibition ended.

While many American distillers and brewers returned to their pre-Prohibition recipes, Canadian whisky evolved, turning into something new. Although de Kergommeaux says there’s no documentation, and no specific date of its creation, the Bronfmans are generally credited with creating the technique of making what we now know as Canadian whisky. By the 1940s, there was a definable style, one extremely unlike American whiskey. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

To make American straight whiskeys, different grains are mashed together, then fermented, distilled, and aged. Canadian whisky is totally different. Instead of mashing all the grains together, Canadian distillers mash, ferment, distill, and age each type of grain separately. Then those finished whiskies are combined. That gives the blender an incredible amount of freedom—each individual grain can get individual attention.

Maybe you want to use toasted new barrels for your rye, heavily charred barrels for your corn, and very old barrels for your barley. Maybe you want to use a rye whiskey that’s been aged for a decade and a barley whiskey that’s brand new. It’s even permitted to add in up to 9.09 percent of finished other liquor. So if you want some sherry tones in your Canadian whisky, well, just add a percent or so of actual sherry. “There’s a lot more paint on the palette,” says de Kergommeaux.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts the vigorous activity of small independent craft distilleries in BC and the really excellent and unusual spirits they produce — not just whiskies, but gins, eau de vies, akvavits, rums, single-malt Scotch-like whiskies, vodkas, and liqueurs. It’s an amazing array of offerings and most of it is of exceptional quality and interest. They are distilled from corn, barley, honey (mead), and even fruit — like Kiss.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks, History

Red Kale Plus

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The supermarket had extremely fresh red kale in large bunches, so that’s what I’m cooking now. It looks good, and I think I got a nice combo.

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• 1 1/2 large carrots, diced (1//2 because it was left over from Carrot Cake in a Jar)
• stems from 1 bunch of Lacinato kale (used in yesterday’s soup), chopped small
• good-sized pinch of salt
• cloves from 1 head of Russian red garlic, chopped small
• 1 turmeric root the size of my forefinger, minced
• 10-12 medium domestic white mushrooms, chopped
• 1 lemon, ends cut off and discarded, diced
• 1 big bunch of red kale, stems minced and put in with onion, leaves chopped
• several good dashes fish sauce — about 1 tablespoon
• about 1-2 tablespoons Frank’s Hot Sauce
• about 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

The first thing I did was peel and chop the garlic and set it aside to rest, then chop the kale and put it in a large bowl so it also could rest (for 45 minutes). I didn’t cut out the stems, as I had done for the Lacinato kale, but just cut off the part of the stems below the leaves and minced that.

With the garlic and kale resting, I prepared the rest. I put the olive oil in the 6-qt pot. I used the large pot because, before the kale cooked down, it more than filled the pot — I had to add it a little at a time — but as it cooks it wilts, and at the end the pot is not close to full, as you can see in the photo above.

With the oil in the pot, I added the minced Lacinato stems, then diced the carrot and added that, then chopped the onion and added that. I minced the turmeric and put in the bowl where the garlic was resting, and then I chopped the mushrooms by cutting them in half vertically, putting a half on the flat side and slicing it into several pieces. I had a fairly good pile of mushrooms when I was done. 

I diced the lemon and added that to the bowl with the kale — the lemon is for flavoring and also, with the mushrooms, for some liquid.

Once the timer went off, I turned on the burner to 4 and started cooking. The kale stems, carrots, and onion in the pot I cooked for 5-7 minutes, adding a good pinch of salt and stirring frequently. When that seemed to have cooked enough so that the onions were transparent, I added the garlic, turmeric, and mushrooms and cooked thos for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms started to give up their liquid.

Then I added the kale and diced lemon — put a handful in the pot, stir it, lifting up what was on the bottom of the pot to put it over the leaves. As the leaves collapsed, I added more. 

About halfway through that, I added the fish sauce, pepper sauce, and ground black pepper. I add pepper toward the end because in a hot pan, pepper can burn and get an off taste. Once there’s liquid in the pot, burn risk is gone. 

I covered the pot, set temperature to 225ºF and timer to 30 minutes, and let it cook. A couple of times I went in to stir and verify that there was still liquid in the pot — I could always add some water if it cooked dry, but there was ample liquid to steam the kale.

Photo above take right after it was done. Colorful, eh? This I will count as Greens, although of course it does include some Other Vegetables.

Written by Leisureguy

6 September 2021 at 12:59 pm

Soup with Lacinato kale, white bean, and Calabrian pepper paste

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I’m making this soup again, but this time I’ll use regular shallots (as called for in the original recipe), but instead of ‘nduja, I’ll use Calabrian pepper paste. Calabrian peppers are what give ‘nduja its color and taste, so it should work fine as a substitute. I’ll update this post along the way. I’m following more closely the original recipe, except I did add some marjoram and basil, as much for the antioxidant value as the taste. No tomatoes, though I did include 1 cup cooked oat groats.

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2021 at 2:13 pm

Cultured Carrot Cake in a jar

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Right after all added to jar.

So today I made this recipe from Cultured Food Life:

2 cups carrots, shredded
2 whole apples, shredded – [I went for 2 cups of shredded apples, and the 2 apples I had did the job – LG]
4 whole dates, chopped
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8  teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon Cutting Edge Cultures

Instead of the culture, I’m using about 1 cup of juice from sauerkraut from the refrigerated section (i.e., unpasteurized sauerkraut in which the culture is still living).

You can read the remaining instructions at the link, but basically you mix althat well in a bowl, and put into into a quart wide-mouth jar. A canning funnel is a big help for that. Cover the jar in a way that keeps air out but lets gas escape, and let it ferment for a few days. I’m using a canning jar and I’ll put a small weight on the lid. That will hold it down to keep air out, and as pressure builds up the jar, the gas can burp out.

UPDATE: During the night after I packed the jar full and set it on the counter to ferment, it occurred to me that the carrots and apples would likely expand, causing some overflow. I therefore put the jar in a bowl, and this morning around noon I did find liquid in the bowl. I tasted it, and it does indeed taste like carrot cake.

A process like this fermentation roughly follows an exponential curve: initially very little visible activity, but then things speed up. I expect that tomorrow (the second day of fermentation), fermentation will be visible, and certainly on the third day I will see activity. 

So far, so good. /update

UPDATE 2: It’s extremely tasty. I thought it would be sour (like sauerkraut), but it’s just somewhat tart. I’m definitely making this again, and I think I’ll try using a packaged starter culture. And I’ll also try these airlock fermentation lids. (I didn’t want to buy supplies until I knew whether I liked it.) /update

Written by Leisureguy

5 September 2021 at 1:56 pm

Cacao chia pudding with berries and/or nuts

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I blogged this previously, but it was hard to find because title doesn’t include the recipe name. And I did have a couple of enhancements. Here it is, tested and with enhancements to the original recipe:


• 2 1/4 cups water
• 1 cup raw cashews
• 5 soft dates (preferably Medjool), pitted and chopped
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (or use regular unsweetened natural (not Dutch process) cocoa powder)
• 1/2 cup chia seeds (white or black)
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup –
• 1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or mixed berries or 1 cup walnuts or both

If the dates are hard, soak them in hot water for an hour to soften, then drain before chopping.

The pudding must be chilled for 2-3 hours before serving. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. It never lasts that long for me — and not because it spoils, if you get my drift.

Put into a blender the cashews, dates, vanilla extract, maple syrup, salt, and chia seeds and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water and puree until very smooth. Add cocoa power and the remaining water and blend to mix thoroughly.

Pour into a glass storage container and mix in the berries and/or nuts. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until set

You could chop the walnuts, but since I buy “pieces and halves,” quite a few are broken halves, so I just use them as is. A good chunk of walnut is not a bad thing.

Really tasty. But the total recipe is 77 WW points, so small servings work best.

Written by Leisureguy

4 September 2021 at 2:19 pm

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