Wednesday, 25 February 2015


I made another tourtière using the rendered lard. Turned out OK. The lovely yellow tint is an egg wash.
For the culturally backward, the maple leaf, telephone, and airplanes are an obvious reference to Alexander Graham Bell.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Render this

We bought half a pig, all nicely cut up and stashed in the freezer. That includes a fair amount of lard, which the butcher gave us in its original form:

Before one can make it into tasty baked goods (see the Tourtiere from a few years back), you have to render it. So first you grind it into tiny shreds:
Then you put the tiny shreds in a heavy pan in the oven at very low heat, like 275 F, for a few hours. The recipe said to stir it to keep it from scorching, but with the heat that low in a convection oven with no heating element under the pan, that didn't seem to be a problem. The fat quickly melted, and started bubbling as the water boiled away. Eventually the bubbling stopped and the cracklings sank to the bottom.
So I took the pan out of the oven and poured off and strained the liquid fat, leaving the cracklings, which focused our dog's attention like nothing ever has before.

The liquid lard was fairly yellow, but they promised it would turn white after it cooled in the fridge.
Once it's chilled overnight, I'll see how it works in a pie crust.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Progress in e-mail

The Atlantic Monthly published a fine article Email is Still the Best Thing on the Internet, laying out all the reasons why e-mail, no matter how often people have claimed it's dead, is still thriving.

On page 2 of the article is a picture of what mail looked like in the 1990s, pointing out how much it's advanced since then.  By golly he's right. Here's his picture of 1990s mail, and a screen shot of the mail program I use every day:

Friday, 4 July 2014

Applying the Hobby Lobby decision

A friend notes:
The company simply does not want to be forced to pay for something to which it objects.
Since it's the Supreme Court, other courts have to apply this ruling in future cases.  So here's a few:
  • I'm a Christian Scientist, and believe that all conventional medicine is wrong.  Does my company have to pay for any of my employees' healthcare?
  • I'm a fundamentalist Mormon who rejects Spencer W. Kimball's 1978 revelation and believes that black people are cursed with the mark of Cain.  I don't like EEO law, but understand that my company has to hire qualified black people. Does it have to pay for their healthcare?

Sunday, 22 December 2013

At least they're warm blooded

Seen in Slate, the online magazine:

Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.

(The article isn't bad, though.)

Friday, 11 October 2013

The Velikovsky Rule

Immanuel Velikovsky wrote a 1950 best seller called "Worlds in Collision." In it he argued that legendary events such as the parting of the Red Sea were due to close encounters by the earth with other planets. These theories were, to put it mildly, highly contentious.

Velikovsky lived in Princeton NJ, which at the time was a small town where everyone knew everyone else, at least in passing. The head of the Princeton University astronomy department told me that one time he was talking to an anthropologist and Velikovsky's book came up.

"The astronomy is nonsense, of course," said the astronomer, "but the anthropology is really interesting."

"What a coincidence," replied the anthropologist. "The anthropology is nonsense, but we think the astronomy is really interesting."