Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

March 26, 2020

Piñones 2: The Lemonade Stand Rule

Bagged piñon nuts for sale by a roadside vendor.
The "Lemonade Stand Rule" originated when I was driving one time on US 20 across western Nebraska. I went through a little town — Rushville? Hay Springs? —  and saw two little kids selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of a Victorian house.

It was a picture-perfect small town scene. I was trying to be a photojournalist and to build up my stock-photo portfolio. But I knew that if I stopped to photograph them properly, I would have to track down a parent and get a signed photo release, which would mean some explaining— and did I really want to do that when I had an interview scheduled with this USFWS guy at Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (further east) later that afternoon?

I eased off the gas, thought for moment, and then drove on. But I soon berated myself on two counts: "You dummy! There were those kids alone under a big prairie sky. At least you could have bought some lemonade to cheer them up! And why didn't you take the time to get a good clear photo? You'll never be a professional!"

The Lemonade Stand Rule (LSR) states that unless I am extremely pressed for time or the traffic is impossible, I will always stop for kids' lemonade stands. In this over-regulated age, selling lemonade is a sem-Free Range Kids things to do, and the sellers should be supported.

(There should be an Oshá Stand Rule too, after the time I failed to stop at a table selling oshá root down in San Luisand something bad happened.)

What about piñon nuts (piñones) then? 

Last January I was driving and saw a pickup parked by the side of the road with a sign advertising piñon nuts. I applied the LSR, made a quick left across the oncoming traffic and pulled up behind it.

I got to talking with the vendor—he was a re-seller, a local guy—and we were trading a little basic info. He said he lived in the Wet Mountains, and I said, "Oh, up on XXXX  Creek?" and I was right. We had some things in common, and when he volunteered that he had done a little federal prison time (for a nonviolent offense nearly twenty years ago), I knew exactly what that had been about.

The nuts were not cheap. My last post explained why that is. But I bought a small bag and got back in the Jeep, thinking, "I must have lived here for a while."  (I have the photos too, but I am not using them here.)

Please stop for lemonade stands. Fight the Machine.

March 23, 2020

Piñones 1: Smart Birds — How Do They Know?

Some  late-season pinon cone with some nuts. You can see where the birds (jays?)
chopped out other nuts, so why did they leave these? Maybe they knew something.
The white droplets are sticky resin.
Where we live is a sort of a mash-up of the piñon-juniper forest (also known as "the PJ") and the montane forest of ponderosa pine, douglas fir, gambel oak, and yes, three kinds of juniper.

There is one big piñon pine near the house, but we have ignored harvesting from it — that's a messy job (see below) — preferring to just leave the nuts for the birds.

On the other hand, as wild-food chef Hank Shaw  (You will see his blog in the sidebar under "Elsewhere") writes,
If you’ve ever bought pine nuts in the store, chances are you’re eating Chinese imports that are often of dubious origin. And even if you are vigilant about where your pine nuts come from and buy, say Italian pine nuts, you may get high quality, but you pay for it through the nose.

Why aren’t there American pine nuts, you ask? Well, there are. You just have to go find them yourself.
Shaw offers a method for gathering nuts that begins,
First, buy a cheap pair of gardening gloves. The cones are coated in pitch, a sweet-smelling sticky resin that will get on everything. It happens to be one of the most lovely smells in the world, so it’s not all bad. But your gloves will get wrecked, so be prepared for that.
Not gathering pine nuts.
Alternatively, you spread sheets out and knock the cones off with sticks, sort of the old medieval "by hook or by crook" method.

M. was out walking in the woods lately and noticed cones with nuts still on one tree. Odd. She brought some back. We cracked them . . . and almost all of the nuts, while they looked good, had no "meat" inside them.

Which makes us wonder, how did the jays know to leave those alone? They looked normal. Smart birds!

Empty nuts!
The sticky pitch, which hangs in white blobs off the cones in the photo, was a handy glue for ancient people.

I just imagine some woman of the old Southwestern Basketmaker culture who has spent all day smearing the stuff inside a basket to waterproof it. Did she say, "Oh no, I don't have hands anymore, I have flippers!" She probably used some kind of little paddle to spread it.

March 02, 2020

Please Don't Put Oshá on my Cookies

Biscochitos, official state cookie of New Mexico.
This post starts with foragers, but be patient, the Southern Rockies part is coming.

First, from Vice magazine, a piece on rural wild-food foragers in England, which includes this observation:

The pair's foraging ethos sits between the Bear Grylls-style of wild food ("forcing yourself to eat something that tastes horrible") and the "hipsterized" trend to add a foraged element as a garnish, rather than incorporating it into the dish itself. 

So then my wife is reading New Mexico Magazine, and naturally she is drawn to an article about forager-restauranteurs Johnny Ortiz and Afton Love, who operate a tiny restaurant called Shed:
Donning their muddy boots and with recyclable tote bags in hand, they probe the landscape for the edible plant life that a majority of Westerners have long been estranged from, owing to the rise of food monocultures. Ortiz’s food philosophy revolves around foraging and thus maintaining wild plant and animal ecosystems, as well as farming and raising animals, plus digging clay to make much of the ceramic ware in which his meals are served. Shed’s dinners, which consist of a prix fixe menu of 12 small plates, are but the “fruiting body” of an entire ecology.
And, wouldn't you know,
The dishes demonstrate the metaphor: a wafer-thin whole wheat bizcochito [sic] seasoned with fennel, covering a ponderosa pine bark ice cream, sprinkled with piñons shelled in a tortilla press and served in a black micaceous clay bowl made from earth he harvested at a “Taos Pueblo spot where my ancestors would’ve dug from.” There’s osha sprinkled on top.
Oshá, a root, is definitely medicinal — I went through several bottles of the tincture while fighting a virus with a lot of bronchial congestion earlier this winter.

Sprinkling it on a biscochito (essentially a sugar cookie), however, to me is like sprinkling turpentine on vanilla pudding. The taste is not exactly dessert-alicious. Maybe it is "hipsterized." I admit to not having tried it.

September 21, 2019

Where Is My CBD-infused Green Chile?

Some shots from this year's Chile & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo, still going on through Sunday. My visit was early, while the sun was still up and before the bands started playing, so it was a sort of sparse crowd.
It's more or less a celebration of every Southwestern street food
to which Pueblo County's Mirasol green chiles can be added.


And there were a lot of CBD (cannabidiol) products as well.
I foresee a certain convergence, a synergy if you will.
Yes, every kind of fast food and finger food.
Loaded-up fry bread ("Navajo tacos") is all right once a year.

The "Pueblo Chile Beer" is from Walter's, an old label that has been revived by craft-beer aficionados.
"Pueblo chile beer" is not one of their pre-Prohibition recipes, however.


These men are examining ristras of red chiles (sorry about the sun flare).
They were for sale along with many varieties of powdered dried peppers.

But what you could not buy were fresh-roasted Pueblo green chiles. Evidently the vendors don't think that anyone wants to walk around with a ten-pound sack of peppers, even though they are the best. 

Next year: CBD-inflused green chile beer. I will bet you money.

August 02, 2019

Driving Around Looking for a Farmers Market

Farmers market in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few years ago, we had a membership in a CSA farm on "the mesa" outside Pueblo. In the summers, we planned our weekly shopping/library trip to coincide with the day when we could harvest or pick up our fruits and vegetables.

Then "our farmer" had some life changes and closed his operation, scattering his interns to the Colorado winds.

Vegetable gardening here in the foothills is a tricky operation, so for more volume and variety, we relied on farmers markets.

Only most of them that we see are only about 10-percent fresh food to begin with. The rest are selling crafts, preserved foods (jellies, etc.), burgers, brats, tamales, homemade soap, CBD products, house plants, fabric thingies, wooden thingies, adoptable dogs . . . you name it.

We made a circuit of four or five markets in a three-county area but more or less settled on the Saturday market at El Pueblo History Museum. In June the Pueblo Chieftain proclaimed,
The grounds of El Pueblo History Museum will soon be inundated with farm-fresh produce, crafts made by local artists, popular Pueblo food trucks, and countless other locally made goods as the museum gears up for the annual El Pueblo Farmers Market.
"Inundated" is not the word I would use. Yes, there were food trucks, but some food vendors that had been there last year had disappeared. One organic-grower couple whom we called "the Ravens" were back, but with less than usual. On our first visit, the third week of June, we bought some veggies from them and from Arkansas Valley Organic Growers. AVOG's radishes were too woody to slice, and their mushrooms were about a day away from rotten.

M's very favorite grower was not there that day or subsequently. Meanwhile, the museum's market day had shifted from Saturday to Friday, putting them in head-to-head competition with another one in town. In an editorial titled "Dueling Farmers Markets," the Chieftain noted,
Obviously, it will be tougher for shoppers who work regular weekday schedules to make it to either market, unless they can find time on their lunch hours. Trying to spend any significant amount of time browsing at both markets on a lunch hour would pose a significant challenge. . . .  it seems logical that at least some of the vendors would like to hedge their bets by selling at both markets. For small mom-and-pop operations, that will be difficult, if not impossible, with the conflicting dates and times.
In Fremont County, the Thursday market in Florence seemed sparser than ever in terms of actual food. One significant organic grower had dropped out two years ago for unspecified reasons, while another, smaller operator decided that he was better off selling from his own farmstand two days a week.

In Custer County, the Westcliffe farmers market was the healthiest of the bunch, in terms of producers' offerings, which (being Westcliffe) included local grass-fed beef and too-sweet Amish cakes and breads. My favorite tamale vendor was there too.The county's population triples when the summer people arrive, and there is a distinct vibe of said summer people wanting to shop there in order to participate in local culture. (I have no problem with that.)

Also, there is live music, although you have to wonder if "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" is music for food-shopping.

M. and I weighed the reasons why we visit these different towns, and in the end, we started planning some errands so that we could visit the farmstand. No more chasing the perfect farmers market.

But I still need to buy and freeze more tamales.

July 22, 2019

Who Says There Is No Gain in Reading?

I was reading The Raw and the Cooked, a book of food-related essays by Jim Harrison that appeared mostly in Esquire magazine in the 1980s and 1990s, when a partly full packet of 34¢ postage stamps fell out. That price dates them to 2001, the year of publication.

Who says there is no gain in reading?

It was a used copy bought in Taos last June, and it had been sitting in the bedside pile atop the dog crate.

When Harrison died in 2007, several of my friends and I all independently turned to one of his poems, "Barking."
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn't die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there's no chain.
I should go thaw some venison, make some chimichurri sauce or at least a cheese sandwich, stop staring at those words.

April 27, 2019

Trendy Chefs, Libertarians Discover Roadkill Cuisine

A presentation of raccoon meat resembling the scene of roadkill created by the late Moto executive chef Homaro Cantu and Chris Jones, chef de cuisine, at their now-closed restaurant at Fulton Market on the west side of Chicago, Illinois. (Alex Garcia/MCT/Newscom, published in Reason magazine.)
Once when I was working at an outdoor magazine, the executive editor and I daydreamed a whole series of events for a sort of Redneck Olympics.

One of them was the "roadkill pickup," inspired by the time when, while following him along US 50 in Cañon City, I had seen another car smack into a cock pheasant near Colon Orchards, and I had stopped, hopped out, grabbed it, and driven on as though someone were standing behind me with a timer.

His wife cooked it that evening. It was fine.

At Hit & Run, the blog of Reason magazine, food lawyer Baylen Linnekin applauds laws (including Colorado's) that liberalize the collection of road kill.
Bizarrely, though, many states prohibit the practice. In fact, as I detail in my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, nearly half of U.S. states prohibit harvesting roadkill. Nevada, for example, conflates roadkill harvesters with poachers. Last year, a Louisiana man faced a fine of up to $750 and up to a month in jail for harvesting a dead fawn.
But help is on the way. Oregon's roadkill law, which I discussed in an earlier column, was adopted in 2017 and took effect this January. Subject to certain conditions, the law allows anyone who obtains a permit to harvest a deer or elk, which a person can eat, share, or give away. (Sorry, no skunk meat; though it's fine to harvest stink steaks in Idaho.)
Then there are the "concern trolls":
"Our concern really is where people might intentionally hit animals for trophy or food," says John Griffin, senior director of urban wildlife programs with the Humane Society of the United States. "Like an elk or something large. It's incredibly dangerous. For both species."
Does John Griffin know what hitting an elk does to your car, and maybe you?  How many people would sacrifice a minivan or SUV for a free meal? He just does not want anyone eating wild game under any circumstances, that much is obvious.

December 17, 2017

Why Are Avocados So Expensive? You're Buying These Guys' Ammo

M. has been fuming at the grocery store. Avocados, $2 apiece. It seems like a lot — and I know that many are just thrown away or, sometimes, end up in the donations for the bears at the wildlife rehab center. (We watch the cartons unloaded with undisguised envy, but those furry guys need the calories!)

There is drought. And there is organized crime. (I am surprised no one is talking about "blood avocados.")

From the BBC: "The Avocado Police Protecting Mexico's Green Gold."

"Police" is a bit of a misnomer: These are local growers' militia, or autodefensa as they say. Some apparently receive official support on the municipal level, so I suppose that makes them "police."
Mexico produces about 45% of the world's avocados and Michoacán is Mexico's largest avocado-producing state.
From here alone, nearly two billion avocados are shipped to the US every year.
And because the industry is a lucrative one, it has been the target of organised crime.

As you enter Tancítaro, there are a series of checkpoints. They are known as filtros, or filters, by people here.
Some are more informal than others. One has a few sandbags and some elderly men sitting on a broken car seat outside a hut.
We pass another one with several pickup trucks standing outside. I notice a man with a rifle across his back. This is a well-armed town. . . . .
The police force is part-funded by avocado producers, who pay a percentage of their earnings depending on how many hectares they own (emphasis added).
Oh, didn't you know that Mexico has very strict gun control? Why, there is only one legal gun store in the entire country! Yet Tancírito is "well-armed." Imagine that.

What Tancírito must have is a public relations agent, because here is a very similar story by a different report on another site! "Mexico's Vigilante Groups Are a Force to Reckon with for Drug Cartels and Army."
The autodefensas have been returning houses and farms to the original owners or their families, because in many cases they were murdered after signing a deed at gunpoint, leaving the farms to the criminal bands' leaders, who assaulted the properties bringing a public lawyer, who many times also by gunpoint validated such operations.
Think of all this when you're in the vegetable aisle at Megafoods.

April 14, 2017

MOAB (Mother of All Bison) and Other Links

Steppe bison were the ones painted at
Altamira Cave in Spain (Wikipedia).
Research suggests that all North American bison (buffalo) are descended from one steppe bison, or Bison priscus, an ungulate that roamed Europe and Asia for millions of years.

And they were a lot bigger in the good ol' days:
"The scientists compared the mitochondrial DNA from the fossil found at Ch’ijee’s Bluff [Yukon] to that taken from 45 other bison remains, including one of the oldest and most interesting specimens, the fossil of a giant, long-horned bison — belonging to the species Bison latifrons — found in Snowmass, Colorado.

Bison latifrons is an interesting beast,” said Dr. Duane Froese, a geologist with the University of Alberta, in a separate statement.

“Its horns measured more than two meters across at the tips, and it was perhaps 25 percent larger than modern bison.”
All the kool kidz will be using these on their desert campouts soon. The Burners will have to have them. 

• Another illusion shattered. Human flesh may not be as nutritious as you thought.

January 18, 2017

Eat Peppers, Live Longer? Also Prehistoric Cattle and Stuff.

Portuguese Maronsa, part of the gene stock (CNN).
Some people found these boots' tracks to be offensive. The designer has been sent to a social-justice re-education camp. Or would have been, but is probably in China, where they just move on to the next knock-off and counterfeit.

¶ If I can't have mammoths in Arizona (They used to live there), I will accept aurochs in Eastern Europe. I have seen some negative comment on the Tauros Programme though, although this CNN story claims,
The animals get closer with each generation, and the team have the advantage of being able to test the offspring's DNA against the complete genome of an auroch, which was successfully sequenced at University College Dublin.
¶ "Eat Peppers, Live Longer?" Well, yes, sort of, says the New York Times. Duh.

¶ In firewood, fat is good.

October 16, 2016

A Café without Pretension

A customer (not me) wonders why the cafe is closed when its posted hours say otherwise.
I picked up a "travel mug" ( or "auto mug" if you prefer) at the local cafe here in [Small Town], North Dakota, today. It carries the inscription, " [Blank] Cafe: Where Great Food & Great Friends Meet.'

It might be more honest to say, "Where average food and the people you can't avoid seeing every day in the town's only cafe meet."

For this place, a corporate account with Sysco would be a step up. The idea of chefs working themselves into madness is as remote as Alpha Centauri.

Self-service coffee? At the [Blank] Cafe, it's "self-made coffee." As in there are coffee pots sitting empty over there —  fill one with water, put coffee and a filter in the machine, and hit the On button. You're not too special to make your own coffee that you are paying for, are you?

Part of it is just that eastern North Dakota Scandinavian thing: You don't want to act like you are too special. It's hard to tell the truck driver from the farmer who is actually worth several million dollars — until the farmer goes on an expensive vacation, or you watch who is buying what at the auction house.

December 17, 2015

Chile Thoughts on a Cold December Night

Not my stove (via Preservation Archaeology)
Last night I was roasting some poblano chile peppers on the gas stove because I came across a recipe that I wanted to try, from Jacques Pépin of all people — I did not know he was into Mexican food.

That got me musing about a dish that I made years ago when we lived in Cañon City. It was supposed to be a post-Civil War Army recipe from the days of the Indian Wars — real stark, basically beef and red chiles, lots of them. Maybe onions, no beans.

And then I went down the Internet rabbit hole looking for it.

My Army recipe might have been something like this one, from an article in True West:
But the army’s official chili recipe was not published until 1896 in its The Manual for Army Cooks, says John Thorne, chili [sic] [1] scholar and e-zine publisher at outlawcook.com. Labeled “Chile Con Carne,” the recipe calls for round beefsteak, one tablespoonful of hot dripping, two tablespoonfuls of rice, two large, dry red peppers, one cup of boiling water, a half pint of boiling water and salt, onions and flour. The time hadn’t yet come for garlic and tomatoes to be added to the mix.
I don't remember the rice, but years have passed.

Speaking of which, I will always think of jackrabbit chile as "poverty food," remembering those years.

If you want to make chile con carne for 100, here is a more contemporary Army cooks' recipe (PDF), involving canned tomatoes and beans.

Here is a Texas-centric history of chile, including some home-boy bombast from that master politico, Lyndon Johnson. Treat it with the skepticism that you normally bring to writing that includes phrases like, "According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend. . . " [2]

New Mexico has its Official State Question, "Red or green?", but here in the northern fringe of the fictive province (not the state) of New Mexico — south of the Arkansas (Nepeste) River — the question has already been answered for you: "Green."

I know I am somewhere near home when I can ask for a side dish of green chile with my meal, and no one bats an eye — even if it is canned stuff off the Sysco truck, which happens.

Jacques' recipe is simmering in the big iron pot, meanwhile, and there is some venison sausage that might go in later.


1. Father, forgive them, for Texans can play football, but they know not how to spell. Also, the website has changed at bit.

2. Or to anything written on Texas history.

September 13, 2015

What They Drank at Chaco Canyon

Pitchers from Chaco Culture National Historic Park
Via Western Digs, more study of Anasazi pottery residue shows that people — at least some people — were not only drinking cocoa, but also the "black drink" associated with the Midwestern and Southern tribes.

The latter has caffeine, the essential ingredient for civilization — like at Cahokia.
Moreover, making both cocoa and ‘black drink’ required plants that grew in far-off climates, researchers say, indicating that the Southwest was part of an ancient ‘caffeine trade network’ that extended from the foothills of the Rockies to the heart of Mexico.

“There are no known plants in the Southwest or Northwestern Mexico that have caffeine,” said Dr. Patricia Crown, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico who led the study.
  Kakawa in Santa Fe serves various cacao-and-chile drinks. How long until they add Yaupon holly-based "black drink?" 

Just don't use the botanical name, Ilex vomitoria.

I still think that the ancient Pueblo cuisine was pretty grim. How do you want your corn today, fresh mush or refried mush? 

August 06, 2015

But You Already Knew This: Chiles Are Good for You

At the Horseman's Haven Cafe, Santa Fe (New York Times)
You might bookmark this New York Times blog piece to send to the chile-phobic, however.
After controlling for family medical history, age, education, diabetes, smoking and many other variables, the researchers found that compared with eating hot food, mainly chili [sic] peppers, less than once a week, having it once or twice a week resulted in a 10 percent reduced overall risk for death. Consuming spicy food six to seven times a week reduced the risk by 14 percent.
 Now pass the hot sauce.

March 09, 2015

Blog Stew: I'll Eat my (Coyote Brown) Boots

 I have so many links to offer. Does anyone still click on hyperlinks? Here is a start, anyway.
Note crucial color difference.

• The Army is switching to "coyote brown" boots, just so you will know. "Desert tan" is just so Operation Enduring Freedom. Having the better boot color will aid the fight against Islamist terrorists.

• "Guntry clubs" — apparently this is a "thing" now, as people say on the Internet. "Savvy investors" are interested, says the Washington Post.

The average age of new target shooters is 33, while 47 percent live in urban or suburban areas, and 37 percent are female, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry.

Me, I will stick with the Blood of Christ Shooting Sports Club.

• Hunting-angling-food blogger Hank Shaw on the dangers of trichinosis, particularly from eating bear meat.
It is a fact that bear and cougar meat are the most prominent vectors for trichinosis in North America. Pigs, which are what most people think of when they think of trich, are actually not commonly infected.
This is a link that you definitely should click.

January 17, 2015

Would You Have Eaten What George Melville Ate?

Jeannette's boats are separated in a gale. Illustration from "In the Lena Delta"
In July 1879, the USS Jeannette, a former Royal Navy gunboat with both sails and a steam engine, left San Francisco Bay for the Bering Strait and the Arctic Ocean beyond.

Its purchase and outfitting expenses were chiefly covered by newspaper tycoon James Gordon Bennett, Jr.,  sort of the Ted Turner of his day, with the ship being commissioned by the US Navy and given a Navy crew—plus two native Alaskan dog handlers and a veteran whaling captain to serve as "ice pilot."

For two winters Jeannette explored northeast of Siberia, looking for a hypothesized open water projected — by eminent geographers— to exist north of the band of pack ice. For most of the time, of course, the ship was stuck in the pack ice, carried along by the polar drift while the crew carried out scientific observations and visited some hither-to unknown islands.

In June 1881 Jeannette was released by the ice—but then re-caught by moving floes. Despite the hull reinforcements added in preparation for the voyage, this time the ship was crushed. The crew had warning and had evacuated many supplies, sleds, dogs, and three of the ship's boats.

And then the hard part started. The story of Jeannette, the sinking, the horrible sled journey south, south, south, and the open-boat voyage toward the Siberian cost are told in Hampton Sides' book In the Kingdom of Ice, and if you like stories of adventure and endurance, you will devour it like a starving sailor eats raw fish.

But there is more. When the story shifts to the struggles of the castaway sailors and the search for the missing, Sides relies quite a bit  on In the Lena Delta (1884), an account written by the senior surviving officer, George Melville, the ship's engineer. So I had to get it.

Only two months after being rescued by some native Siberian Yakuts and still suffering from frostbite and malnutrition, Melville organized a November dogsled expedition to look for more survivors beyond those already found. (He did receive significant assistance from Russian imperial officials, once they learned of the castaways' existence.)

At one point, in the middle of howling winter gales, Melville and his Yakut guides (who always lived on the ragged edge of starvation anyway) ran out of food and were reduced to eating bits of leftover frozen reindeer and bones that the Yakuts cached here and there on their trapping routes. He writes,
With an axe the rib pieces were soon severed from the back-bone, and then from the inside of these the natives cut strips with their sheath-knives and handed me a chunky moral from the loin, as breakfast. I bit into it without any ceremony, while the dogs clamored frantically for a share. So long as it remained frozen the meat did not exhibit the vile extent of its putridity; but directly I had taken it into my mouth it melted like butter, and at the same time gave off such a disgusting odor that I hastily relinquished my hold upon it, and the dogs captured it at a single gulp. The natives first stared in genuine astonishment to see me cast away such good food to the dogs, and then burst forth into hearty laughter at my squeamishness. But I was not to be outdone, much less ridiculed, by a Yakut, and so ordered some more, perhaps a pound of the stuff, cut up into little bits. These I swallowed like so many pills, and then gazed on my Yakut friends in triumph; but not long, for in a little while my stomach heated the decomposed mess, an intolerable gas arose and retched me, and again I abandoned my breakfast — my loss, however, becoming the dogs' gain.

At this the natives were nearly overcome with mirth; but I astonished them by my persistence, requesting a third dose, albeit the second one had teemed with maggots; and swallowing the sickening bits as before, my stomach retained them out of pure exhaustion.
Remember this the next time you notice that the package of meat in your refrigerator is past its expiration date.

And In the Kingdom of Ice is a great cold-weather read. Unless you are in Yakutsk (a locale that figures in the story), it will make your winter seem like balmy spring.

October 24, 2014

Opponents of Colorado GMO-Labeling Offer Nothing But Scare Tactics

Colorado's Proposition 105, on the current ballot, would require labeling of certain foods containing "genetically modified organisms" (GMOs). Vermont started requiring such labeling earlier this year.

The "no," anti-labeling forces have spent $11.2 million, filling my mailbox with billboard-size brochures. The "yes" group, "Right to Know Coloradohas spent less than $500,000.

The "no" people would like to say two things, but there is a slight contradiction between them.

1. "Genetically modified foods are perfectly nutritious and represent an advancement in agriculture."

2. "You — the person who buys and eats them — should not be informed that you are indeed eating them, because . . . . "

 . . . exactly why,  they can't really say, so there is a lot of smoke and mirrors and hand-waving and "Look over there!" coming from the people with the millions to spend.

Watch out! Requiring an extra line of type on the label will require a "huge bureaucracy." It will represent "unreliable information" (Like, how?) It will be "arbitrary" (Aren't all laws arbitrary?).

And so on. Look over there, here comes a huge bureaucracy!

No information. No argument based on logic. (You will find the nearest thing to that in the comments here.) Just scare tactics. And lots of Monsanto money.

June 02, 2014

Blog Stew with Distributed Ticks

¶ It's hard to improve upon this summary: "A problem with northern New Mexico written all over it: Go organic, cause a nuclear waste accident."

¶ What tick bit you? If you find a tick on your body (or someone else's), are you interested in determining the species? If you were in Missouri, it probably was not a Western black-legged tick, for instance. But brown dog ticks are everywhere in the continental U.S. Check this map of tick geography. Your tax dollars at work.

¶ In a move toward civilization, dogs are now allowed in the patios of bars and restaurants in Denver if the establishment permits.
Any food service establishment with a patio of 400 square feet or larger qualifies. Dogs must enter from the street or sidewalk, and at least half the space must be reserved for customers who may prefer not to dine so up close and personal with others' dogs.

March 31, 2014

'Brown Spirits' Are Back!

M. and I stopped at the liquor store on Thursday, and the #2 guy was asking me what kind of whiskey I liked.

Mainly bourbon and rye, I said. (I've been trying to perfect my Sazerac cocktail recipe lately.)

And he scurried off to the back office to photocopy some article from a liquor-trade magazine about different bourbons and their grain mixes, which was kind of him.

He also pointed out that the store's clearance bin contained a lot of tequilas.They were cutting back on tequila and vodka and ordering more whiskeys, he said. (Although they did not have any rye the last time that I looked, which is why I had to buy some in Colorado Springs.)

Then I remembered reading some business-journalist's article a some years ago about how "brown spirits" were a declining market share. Only old people drank bourbon. Tequila and vodka were where it was at.

Now we have these craft distillers popping up. Among others in Colorado are Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey (not bad, I've had it) and, in my bioregion, Deerhammer's "white whiskey," which is to say more of a moonshine recipe, not aged in charred barrels. Makes a decent Old Fashioned though.

So it's all about fashion, but I will enjoy this little whiskey renaissance while I can.