Saturday, July 31, 2010

Or did I imagine it?

I distinctly remember this symbol was around when I was a kid. (The æ with the ring around it. Or, I should say, the ea with the ring around it.) I would call it the "each symbol" or the "at each sign."
Or is my mind playing tricks on me? In any case, I don't think it's on the internet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Return of More Shocking Dip

omemade chili barbecue sauce is what I had in a glass jar with a metal lid, in the fridge.

A labor of love. I made it last week by cooking, after cleaning, a few different varieties of dried Southwestern-style chilies from cherry-sized to big, and onion, a trace of tomato in the form of ketchup; garlic and oregano and vinegar and mustard, with molasses. (The vinegar included some homemade vinegar I made from homemade Chilean red grape wine, which I made specifically from leftover grapes to make vinegar from.) I strained the sauce through a strainer after I pulverized it in the blender after cooking.

So that's what I dipped the tilapia in before breading it in half self-rising flour, half cornbread mix. With black pepper and some salt. And fried them golden brown in canola oil in the iron skillet.

On the side to fill the tacos with is a mix of fine slivered iceberg lettuce with an equal amount of fine slivered cabbage. With red vinegar and lime juice squirted on it, lightly salted right before adding it to the fresh Mr. Stripey tomato picked a few hours ago, washed, chopped lightly, and lightly salted. And a pile of similar sized avocado chunks, with salt and lime juice. And the chopped jalapeño.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bruiser Bites Off More Than He Can Manage

The horror. Went to lot of trouble making bread; weighed the ingredients vs measuring (the first time I'd done this), used sponge letting it get feisty all yesterday afternoon, assembled and kneaded by hand for full 6 minutes by timer, let dough go overnight, turned out and made two French-style loaves, and set them out on the breezeway to final rise in the afternoon heat. A mere twenty minutes later, ready to bake them, I went out and - no loaves in sight. Examining my dog, and chastising her for this theft, I nevertheless knocked on my neighbor's door to see if her dog Bruiser had done the deed. Apparently not. Neighbor said so, and I didn't see him around either before or after.

My dog , I assumed, toppled the tabletop and ate both raw loaves. I hoped she would know why she would be getting a very bad stomach ache soon. But I was concerned, too, that she might burst.

I soon began to doubt it was my dog; her belly was quite trim. I even suspected a shockingly bold coyote, or more likely the red, foxy chow from up the street who regularly comes by, the temptress, to lure away her pal Bruiser, the boxer next door. But it wasn't her.

It was Bruiser. His window of opportunity had been narrow - very narrow. But he took advantage of it, seemingly inhaling the loaves of dough in mere seconds before returning to his owner's side. A heist worthy of Simon Templar.

He later, I was finally told, expelled a quite monstrous mass - his owner, alerted previously but theretofore having no knowledge that it was him, described it as a "large perfect loaf of dough" - although it was two - (I thought then) - from his mouth. That seems to have solved any remaining problem of mine. His owner had a different problem. But that problem too had been already dealt with by the time I learned the whole story.
All's well that ends well. I even shopped for more King Arthur's flour - it's made from hard red summer wheat - and made two more new loaves in time for dinner. For the record, I let the loaves do their final rise in the cab of my truck with the windows up. Dinner, by the way, was slow cooked pork roast with a paprika bark, sweet potato, corn on the cob, and the hot bread.
I gave my dog a bit of the pork as an apology.

As it turned out, however, Bruiser had not expelled the first loaf he ate. In the middle of the night, he became quite ill. Vomiting and diarrhea. Staggering and whimpering with pain.

Update, many months later: It seems the fermentation of the bread dough in his guts was making him dangerously drunk; alcohol poisoning sufficient to endanger his life. His owner had to make an emergency trip to the veterinarian in the wee hours. They had to put him on I.V. life support. It was bad.

I wrote the majority of this the evening before when the sequence of events was unclear and all we foresaw was a stomach ache for the poor fellow.)

I feel the bread dough arising.
I feel burping on the way.
I feel stomach aches disquietin'.
I feel bad bloats today.

Don't come near tonight,
It's bound to be a fright,
There's a dog with a sad surprise.
(Thanks to Talitha for the song!)

Bruiser survived with not more than a bad hangover. He and I are now good buddies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Value of Retrograde Motion

As a chess player, I learned it is good to be able to return to earlier lines of thought. One studies the board, comes up with some lines of play, but continues study: I will get back to that other good move and use it, if there is nothing fruitful in my further ruminations. So before the clock runs out it's best to keep organized.

I noticed also, long ago, how conversations seem to take side-detours. Whether a conversation is a delightful one has little to do with its final map, of course; it usually depends on the quality of the company. As an experiment, I cultivated an ability to backtrack in conversation. To be the guy with the most skill in bringing back what was set aside or even lost; to return the thread to its place. All the while, surely, being tongue-in-cheek about the often unimportance of actually doing so. But often this satisfies both me and my partners in conversation. In the cases of more utilitarian conversations, it's even more useful to return to the main track until it concludes, I think. Even there excursions are useful and do happen, of course.

When I first got a good internet connection, after a hiatus in the '90s, nearly some 12 years ago, about the time Google came along, I was like an untrained chess strategist or conversationalist.

Oh, I wheeled and soared and swung and chased the shouting wind along, through footless halls of data.

I would explore and take twists and turns, and test the equipment, and revel in it all. I just never seemed to get anything done during these fanciful explorations. Sure, my productivity expanded with email and word-processing and amassing actual useful files, and organizing my life. And organizing my ephemera.

But the actual surfing was wild and distracting. Used this way, nothing holds the attention for long. But I finally learned how to track back and then keep going from there. When I needed to, which was often enough.

This is what I think is affecting those current writers of the thesis - you've read it - that computers and the internet are making us unfocused. I don't think so. No, I think we are witnessing newbies, newcomers to the internet, getting lost. Who are they? Why are they late? We have all dealt with them, I think. Especially in general business management, and the newspaper business, in particular, who scoffed at the internet for years. Technophobes, or some who got burned from a lack of skill at separating wheat from chaff. The usual suspects.

I expect they will get over it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Giant Squash

Here are some huge volunteer squash plants, likely offspring of butternut squash, which arose from the composted kitchen scraps. The leaves, however, I have only seen associated with pumpkin varieties, on the internet. I have not had much luck in the past with winter squashes, as they tend to sprout early and reach maturity far earlier than the recommended October harvest time. I don't see how varmints won't find these monsters before then.

What I have read says when the stem dies, then it's time to pick. Also they reportedly need a few weeks of aging after picking to reach maximum flavor. I can do that this time.

See some earlier posts on squash and pumpkins.

UPDATE: August 27 2010 They have all turned the delicate cream color they are supposed to be. I have eaten one, mostly, but still have pie remaining from it. The big one in the picture I harvested a few days ago, and it's hardening up in the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sqirlz morph