Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Forty signs of rain

An author I have a lot of respect for, Kim Stanley Robinson, has published the first two books in a series on the potential effects of global climate change. In the first book, Forty Signs of Rain, Robinson postulates the stalling of the Atlantic Current as the trigger for abrupt change in global weather patterns. Now, British scientists say that a slowdown may already be under way.

But, of course we all know that Michael Crichton is the expert fiction author on the topic of climate, right?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Another recipe

I'm not going to post this recipe as it appears in the magazine, because I altered it pretty significantly. This is my version:

Phyllo Turnovers with Roasted Squash and Chiles

2 cups delicata squash, cut into 1/2-inch by 3-inch strips (you can leave the rind on) or
butternut or kabocha squash cut into rough cubes
1 bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or green) halved lengthwise and seeded
2 pasilla peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add squash and peppers and spray with cooking spray. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool; peel peppers and squash and chop.

For turnovers you need:
1 package phyllo sheets, defrosted and set out at room temperature
clarified butter or warm olive oil

Prepare filling:

2 leeks, chopped
olive oil
2 tblsp chopped cilantro
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
spices to taste (chili powder, cumin, oregano, mild curry powder)

Cook the leeks in a little olive oil until tender. Add roasted chopped squash and peppers, cilantro, feta (if using) and spices, and stir until mixed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a working area with half the phyllo sheets opened up but covered with a few thicknesses of moist (not wet) paper towels, the butter or oil, a pastry brush, and the filling. Have some baking sheets ready, coated with cooking spray. To make turnovers, uncover the phyllo, remove a sheet and put it in front of you; re-cover the remaining sheets while you work. Brush half of the phyllo sheet lengthwise with butter/oil, and fold it lenthwise. Repeat. After folding the second time, you should have a sheet about 3 inches wide and 14 inches long, 4 thick. Place about a tablespoon of the filling near one end of this length. Pick up one of the corners nearest the filling, and fold it over the filling to begin forming a triangle. Pick up the corner and fold the sheet plus filling back, sealing the filling in. Keep folding until you reach the end, tuck any extra phyllo underneath. Brush lightly with butter or oil, and place on baking sheet. Continue until you either run out of filling or phyllo.

Bake turnovers at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until crisp.
I usually use chili powder (about a tablespoon or so), a little cumin, and oregano to season these, to give them a southwest flavor. But you could also give them an Indian flair with curry powder and cumin, so be creative. The original recipe calls for 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in the oil before adding the leeks, and a little salt and pepper. It is also served with a cilantro and mind raita, which you really don't need if you don't make them too spicy (the original recipe called for 3 pasillas - I use fewer because we have spice-wimps in the house).

The original recipe also calls for adding artichoke hearts with the leeks; I forgot them the first time I made the recipe, and I just leave them out now, they taste just fine without them. It also calls for cooking the pasillas with the leeks, but I roast them as well - it makes the flavor mellower and sweeter. As I said, I changed the original recipe around quite a bit, but I think these are delicious as I make them.

If you use olive oil to brush the phyllo and omit the feta, this is a very tasty vegan course, hearty enough for Thanksgiving.

For Bill!

I was asked by a visitor from Eschaton to share a couple of the recipes from my Thanksgiving menu. So, I thought I would post them here, then anyone who might be interested can print them out and try them. Both of these recipes come from the November 2004 issue of Cooking Light magazine; I have adapted them somewhat.

Kabocha Squash Soup

2 1/2-lb kabocha squash
1 tblsp butter
1 cup chopped leek
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 tsp peeled and grated ginger
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece lemongrass, crushed
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind
green onions, sliced diagonally
chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half, clean out the seeds. Place the squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes or until tender; cool. Scoop out pulp and put aside.

Melt butter in a larege Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in leek, onion, ginger, pepper and lemongrass. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 5 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in squash pulp, broth, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Place some of soup into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a large soup pot. Process rest of soup in batches, and add to pot. Return to heat and add coconut milk and lime rind. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Serve sprinkled with green onion and cilantro.
Notes: First, since even a fairly small kabocha is about 3-4 pounds, I pretty much double everything, except the sugar. I usually use most of a stalk of lemon grass, an entire leek, and a good 1-inch piece of ginger, most of the lime rind, and a whole can of coconut milk. I adjust the water and broth volume to taste. After making this soup the first time, I figured out a really good way to make this soup - do everything up the the pureeing the night before, then put it in the fridge. Continue with the cold soup before serving. Then you won't burn yourself when you process the soup, and it takes only minutes to serve. This soup is really delicious; substitute a margarine with no trans fats and you have a completely vegan soup which will knock out all your gourmand friends (what? no chicken broth?) Speaking of broth - use either the Swanson's canned vegetable broth, or you can get "Better Than Bullion" vegetable bullion (a paste that comes in a jar). Or make your own. I don't like a lot of the other vegetable broths that are sold, say, the organic ones that come in the cartons - to my taste they are really too strong and have an "off" taste.

restaurant ethics...

I found this article on restaurant behavior interesting, and mostly agreed. Until I got to this:
9. Don't even think about leaving a penny tip to show your scorn for a disappointing experience

Instead, promptly relay your specific complaints — including but not limited to mediocre food, slow or rude service, uncomfortable seating arrangements, annoying music. Ask to speak to the owner or manager and politely and privately describe, in detail, what got your goat. If circumstance keeps you from doing so (perhaps you were romancing a date or schmoozing a client), call as soon as possible to voice your displeasure.

The GM speaks — (Karen Binder): "It's a cliché but it's true. A happy patron will tell one of his friends, but an unhappy patron will tell all of them."

Ummmm, sorry. But that's the point, isn't it? I'm not getting paid to relive the unhappy experience. Its different at a restaurant where I am a regular, and can see when something didn't go right. But if I go to a restaurant the first time, am expecting a nice experience, and they screw it up, they shouldn't expect to see me again, and they shouldn't expect me to have good things to say about them. No, I don't 'punish' the waitstaff with a poor tip if the food was the issue but the service was fine. I've been to restaurants that local critics raved about where the food didn't impress me one bit. I left a good tip if the service was good, and have learned not to rely on restaurant critics so much for recommendations.

But if the service sucks, I really don't see anything wrong with this, when I don't plan on ever setting foot in the door again anyway. At least I'd get a little bit of satisfaction out of it.

Thanksgiving menu

This is what we're having for Thanksgiving in our house:

Nibbles: crackers with exotic cheeses (a blue cheese from Spain, a triple-cream from France, a smoked gouda-like cheese from Greece).

Soup: Kabocha-leek soup with lemongrass and coconut milk.

Main Dish: Phyllo triangles filled with roasted butternut squash, roasted pasilla chilles, and sauteed leek, seasoned with cilantro and curry.

Sides: Sauteed fennel bulb, green beans with almonds, mashed potatoes with sour cherry and port sauce.

Dessert: Fresh fruit, apple pie (I bought a "rustic" apple apie for the omnivore and I to try, but is isn't something I baked myself).

All except the nibbles and mashed potatoes are vegan. I don't think I'll hear any complaints from the carnivore in the house, though. [Our house is definitely a mixture - one omnivore (who actually doesn't care for vegetables that much, except when I'm cooking), one strict vegan, and me (mostly ovo-lacto)].

Yes, I will be busy in the kitchen tomorrow.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. If you are stopping by, please let me know what's on your Thanksgiving menu.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Too true.....

Billmon makes a sad point:
And so now we have Iranian-backed Shi'a death squads hunting their political enemies through the slums of Baghdad under the pretext of fighting the insurgency, while Sunni Baathists (and/or their jihadist allies) blow up Shi'a mosques at prayer time under the pretext of fighting the American occupation.

So, so sad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Southern resident orcas listed under ESA

The southern resident orca population (J, K, and L Pods) has finally been listed as an endangered species under federal law.

Wow. It is going to be very interesting to see what happens now. This has the potential to affect a lot of areas - shipping, tourism, fisheries..... (though I'm not holding my breath, as so many salmon stocks are already listed, and it hasn't slowed development around watersheds one little bit).

As far as I know, the military is still subject to the ESA as well, so this may be an end to their use of low-frequency sonar in Haro Strait, given the reports of panic reactions by resident killer whales by several whale researchers and observers when the Navy last used it in the Strait in 2003.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More Fundie moral values

Brother Of Fugitive Polygamist Leader Nabbed In Colorado

The younger brother of a fugitive polygamist leader was charged in Colorado with harboring a wanted person after the younger sibling was found with $140,000 in cash and prepaid credit and cell phone cards -- items that authorities say are generally used to help wanted people evade capture.

Seth Steed Jeffs, 32, of Hildale, Utah, was charged in federal court in Denver with harboring and concealing his brother, Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, officials said Monday.

The money and prepaid credit and cell phone cards were found Friday after Seth Jeffs and another man were pulled over in traffic stop in Pueblo, Colo.

Seth Jeffs was arrested for prostitution and solicitation after the other man told authorities that Jeffs hired him for sex.

No, I don't think sex between consenting adults is immoral. Saying other folks will burn in hell for some activity, while secretly engaging in it yourself, however, is.

Oh, and can they just arrest Warren Jeffs, already?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Okay, fish folks!

14th Western Groundfish Conference
Jan. 30 - Feb. 3, 2006
Newport, Oregon

The WGC web page has information on previous WGC meetings. This page contains the abstract submission page, the registration page, and additional information on the venue, student travel awards, and other details relevant to the conference.

The Western Groundfish Conference is a unique biennial opportunity to review current research on groundfish science and management on the west coast of the United States and Canada. Topics include stock assessment, survey methodology, fishery monitoring, ecosystem analysis, conservation, marine protected areas, habitat classification and general fishery biology. The conference will include plenary, oral, and poster sessions and workgroup sessions. The atmosphere will be informal to encourage presentation of ongoing research and sharing of ideas.


Because, if you don't, you have no right to complain.

Friday, November 04, 2005

But isn't that, ummm, illegal?

DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity

I guess IOKIYAR.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senator Reid has a posse

Meet Harry and his crew:

Love the halo, and the look on Schumer and Durbin's faces.

Give 'em hell, Harry!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Well, I took delivery on my new car on Saturday, at about noon. All I can say is - wow! It sure is fun to drive. Even though it has been raining steadily since Sunday!

I have been busy the past few days buying things for the car. Car wash and wax, a chamois, window cleaner and protectant, a cover, that kind of stuff. I still need some microfiber towels, some protectant for the soft top, and some Hide Food for the seats. I have some cool license plate frames, a Badtz-maru to hang from the rearview mirror, and an iPod should be arriving tomorrow. I put off getting one until now. I'll probably buy a Neo adapter for it so I don't have to fiddle with the FM transmitter things and still be able to get all those CDs out of the trunk.

Right now life is good.

Who says women can't do math?

Here's a woman who is a better mathematician than 99.99 percent of y'all.

You should read this if you are interested in women in science, or if you are at all interested in string theory and other attempts to puzzle out the Universe.