Sunday, September 19, 2010

Volunteers of America

Butternut squash from volunteer plant. Got about eight this size from one plant. Most still on the vines.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pumpkin Pie for Grown-ups

First off, I use butternut squash instead of "pumpkin" because I like it, and I have a large crop of huge butternuts in the garden this year. (There is also a smaller crop of Orange Hubbards which sprang up, like the butternut squash plant, as volunteer from the compost.)

This recipe includes two caramelized onions, and has half the sugar of many recipes. I made a whole wheat crust. I would rather use stone ground graham whole wheat flour, more like a typical graham cracker crust, but I had none and substituted whole wheat bread flour. Not perfect, but not bad either. I tried to not overwork it; I didn't want gluten to develop.

I chopped two onions and caramelized them overnight on "low" in my crock pot, which has "high" and "low" settings only. I added a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar before beginning. They were the color of peanut butter by morning; just right.

  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, cut up, and microwaved to softness
  • ½ cup sugar, and enough molasses to make it into "brown sugar," about 2 tablespoonfuls.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk with 1 cup of dry milk added to it
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala powder
(I modified a recipe which called for 1 cup of half-and-half plus 8 oz. cream cheese; that's why I modified the milk and added the cheese.)

I blended everything very well in the food processor except for the onions, which I then folded in by hand.

I don't like it when cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. overpower the delicate taste of the squash or pumpkin. I tried twice before I got the amount of garam masala low enough. Mine has ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom.

I made a crust from whole wheat flour, cold grated butter, cold water. Rested in refrigerator, rolled out, put it in buttered pie pan, and pre-cooked it for 7 minutes in a 375º F. oven. In a few minutes I then filled the crust with the filling. It was very full; a high dome of filling in the center stood an inch above the height of the edges of the crust. Afraid it would slowly flow, I put it in the oven immediately and baked it at 375º for 10 minutes, then 330º for 40 minutes. Perhaps 350º would have been better. It wasn't done in the center so I gave it another hour at 280º. Perfect top and crust.

This is a good pie for me and others who don't need overwhelming sweetness in a pie, yet want some little bit. The caramelized onion added some complex sugars too.

By the way, I roasted the reasonably large seeds in salt and butter after I cleaned the squash. A fine snack. I just chew the shells along with the seeds inside; they are tender enough. But that's just me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look Away

Mr. Bebbin of America visited our village and he told us. He sold us many things but they always stop working right. And his things always bound up in papers and wraps and boxes we can't use. Mr. Bebbin said no thing lives forever. We need to learn how to throw things aaway Mr. Bebbin say. Mr. Bebbin say we live in our own shit.

We act like we know what Mr. Bebbin say. "Aaway." We repeat this word "aaway" in our prayers. We think of throw "aaway" like a magic place. Mr. Bebbin said "aaway" is in the bushes a few steps from his tent. He never went there. Soon it made a big hill but then the wind and rain put it back in the village.

So Mr. Bebbin made us dig a big hole. We put the "aaway" in the new hole and covered it up. The water in the old drinking hole started to taste like "aaway." We asked who would help us because we didn't know the "aaway" would ruin our land. Mr. Bebbin said we had a "contract" and he said he didn't know we had made a mistake. Or I think he said that.

He say he would take the "aaway" away and make it gone, but we couldn't afford his price.

The Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him." (John 1:1-3))

That's a very provocative statement. (The Greek word "logos" is usually translated as "word," but also as: account, cause, communication, doctrine, intent, preaching, reason, saying, or tidings.) I don't believe any of them. Except "word."

"In the beginning was the word, and the word was a number and the number was One" - anon

"Before the beginning was 'The' or 'That' (no nouns or verbs, only indefinite articles) and this became a word, so the system began and the system was God." - anon

I think now we're getting somewhere. I'll cut to the chase: In the "beginning" the word for "word" finally got invented. And having a symbol meaning "symbol" changed human thought incredibly, irreversibly, and multiplied the power of speech and thought almost inconceivably. In other words, the human concept of self, and self-awareness itself, and awareness of self-awareness, perhaps all derived from having a word for "word."

This implies a historical phase once existed somewhere in between modern consciousness and nonverbal consciousness. To say that beasts had no words at all, (although certainly they have no word for "word") may not be so true. After all, animals have calls of alarm, and make noises of pain, and yips and grunts of pleasure, such as puppies and pigs; and birds singing lustily atop
a pile of hemp seeds. Perhaps the primate protohuman speech progressed somewhat above that, but not much.

What goes on in a dog's mind when he heads for the comfortable spot near the rock? I suggest there are symbols representing this spot in the dog's mind. The memory of the feel of the earth in that dug-out burrow, a memory too of the smell of the nearby plant varieties.

What goes on in a near-modern human mind using words? Here is the mystery, for pre-written languages left no clue to their structures. It's all guesswork on our part. Except for observing chimpanzees in the wild; and as far as determinable, they have gestures, but no known words for anything and no grammar at all. (Chimp communication)