Bibimbap Sunday

Every now and then I make bibimbap with the kids on Sunday afternoon. It's labor-intensive, but a good family activity. At this point I can con my kids into doing most of the hard work.

Bibimbap, often called Korean comfort food, is simple in concept: a bowl of rice with some meat and vegetables on top, which one vigorously mixes together into a satisfying mash. But as with American comfort staples like mac and cheese, the variations are endless. Even though it's time-consuming, it's simple, and most kids who can be trusted with sharp implements can make it.

Here's how I did it this time. Purists will find it Westernized. I prefer to think of it as fusion.

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A Purely Local Bummer


Today I learned that my favorite local diner, the Rocky Cola Cafe in Montrose, is closing down.

I've been taking the kids to Rocky Cola for spectacularly unhealthy and classically American weekend breakfasts for years. It's an agreeable arrangement: they greet us by name, the kids have their favorites, they bring me my drink without asking, and I cheerfully, massively overtip. This leads to a feedback loop where they bring the food even faster and I overtip more, towards the theoretical zero-point where they'd be shoving the Kitchen Sink Omelet into my face before I'm all the way out of my car and I just deed my house over to them.

I'm going to have to find somewhere else to pacify children with mountains of hash browns, and make new memories.

Not Looking Forward To The Dothraki Recipes, Quite Frankly

I have resisted what amounts to a dare by Patrick to geek out in front you all over the progress of the HBO series Game of Thrones, which has had two episodes now. Suffice it to say: I am rereading the series (in my iPad this time) in preparation for the 5th book in July, I am faithfully watching and enjoying the series, I am attempting to keep my dear wife (Happy Anniversary, dear) interested in it, and I am using it to think about the necessary differences between art forms. But I am reserving the more effusive geekery to other locales, so as not to embarrass Patrick. It's really the least I can do.

That said: one of the great things about this series of tubes is its ability to deliver to us not only pure geekery in its unrefined form, but geek fusion, in which different types of geekery are combined in new and exciting ways. In that spirit, via the man himself, I give you The Inn at the Crossroads, a blog that documents attempts to re-create both medieval and modern versions of the foods described in GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire series.

I am so making the hot spiced wine this weekend.

The Terran Federation Needs YOU! (To Work As A Farmhand In A Chinese Rice Paddy)

Something tells me that all of the Chinamen who've been struggling to get out of the rice paddies aren't going to be too happy to hear what the United Nations, and the New York Times, have in store for their future…

The oldest and most common dig against organic agriculture is that it cannot feed the world’s citizens; this, however, is a supposition, not a fact.

Do you see the reversal here?

The Times is advocating for a return to "organic" agriculture, meaning no pesticides, no chemicals, no fertilizers, and no machines. That would be a pretty radical change from what the green revolution has wrought, but the Times puts the burden of proof on those who believe that a complete worldwide upheaval, and rejection of a century's technological progress, on those who don't see the need to upend world agriculture just yet.

A more accurate statement would be:

"Advocates for non-technological farming, or as they put it, "sustainable agriculture," state that the world population of six billion can feed itself using no pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers, or machines; this, however, is a supposition, not a fact."

In fact it's science fiction. Or perhaps fantasy:

Yet there is good news: increasing numbers of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic — perhaps best called “sustainable” — can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm.


Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the Right to Food, presented a report entitled “Agro-ecology and the Right to Food.” (Agro-ecology, he said in a telephone interview last Friday, has “lots” in common with both “sustainable” and “organic.”) Chief among de Schutter’s recommendations is this: “Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just.”

Sustainable means no pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals, or machines. We get that. Socially just means…


And how? Oh, here's how:

Agro-ecology and related methods are going to require resources too, but they’re more in the form of labor, both intellectual — much research remains to be done — and physical: the world will need more farmers, and quite possibly less mechanization.

In other words, it's going to require science fiction. Scientists are going to have to invent a way for agriculture to feed six billion people, without technology. Without the pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals, and machines that they've used so far to enable people to feed themselves. And without genetic modification of crops, because that's wrong too.

The United Nations, and the Times, are essentially advocating the methods demonstrated by Monty Python forty years ago in "How To Do It":

Just invent a way to feed six billion people without pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals, machines, and genetic modification of crops, and you're all set. This rather remarkably resembles my plan to make the world energy independent by inventing a means of magnetically contained hydrogen fusion, which I'll unveil any day now. I'm just waiting until after the United Nations, and the Times, reveal their method for revolutionizing world agriculture without technology.

Oh wait. They have. In the here and now, there's brute labor and price controls.

Forty percent of the world's population is in India and China. To farm sustainably, and without technology, the Indians and the Chinese are going to have to leave the cities, where for some reason they prefer to be, to go back to the rice paddies they've spent the past two decades trying to escape.

Has the United Nations told them? Has the Times?

Do they know what the United Nations of the far future has planned for them? And what would they think of it, if they knew?

What Exotic Things Will I Be Eating In 2046?

36 years ago, a local paper ran a seasonal puff piece about the holiday traditions in my maternal grandmother's home. In addition to discussing the German and Dutch traditions handed down from my great-grandparents, it offered an array of German recipes, a purloined "secret" cheesecake recipe the publication of which remains a scandal nearly four decades later, and an array of recipes that illustrate just how much our palates have changed in that time. One of my favorite signs of change:


Butter a flour tortilla and place in hot frying pan, buttered side down. Cover with grated Tillamook cheese, chopped Bermuda onion and a chopped pimento. Butter a second tortilla and lay on top of the other, butter side up. When brown, flip over and brown other side. Remove to a warm plate and cut in wedges with a pizza cutter.

I'm pretty sure somebody associated with this whole affair knew that was called a quesadilla, but deemed that term inappropriate for a family newspaper in Orange County, California in 1974. Also, I had not previously appreciated the role of the pimento in easing culture shock.

My youngest aunt — still in the home at the time — reports that guests in 1974 found the "Mexican Hors D'oeuvre" remarkably novel and exotic. Now, of course, my kids have been eating quesadillas their whole life — along with sushi, tikka masala, pad thai, and sole in black bean sauce. What will they be trying to get me to eat 36 years from now, and feeding their own kids?

Thanksgiving Bleg

How about some recommendations for some tasty and interesting variations on Thanksgiving classics — with links, if possible?

The rules: (1) no food that is too fun to cook. In other words, no deep fried turkeys. (2) Only variations on classics. No strange shit.

Why am I so timid?

Well, it's not me. My lovely and much-smarter-than-I-am wife has a rule: if it ain't in Freedom from Want, we're not having it. Normally she permits me to cook adventurous things. Not on high holidays. This may be a form of PTSD remaining from our first Thanksgiving dinner together, eaten at my grandparents' stuffy and white-as-bone downtown club, where they served (among other things) lion, and where she was exposed to a is-she-good-enough-for-our-little-boy grilling from the relatives so severe that it makes Gitmo look like a spa day at the Plaza.

So if you have any recommended turkey brines and/or rubs, creative ways to do mashed potatoes, tasty gravies, etc., serve 'em up — I'm the chef on Thanksgiving.

More Evidence That Something Is Deeply Wrong With Me…

When I read that Maurizio Antoninetti (a serial filer of Americans With Disabilities Act claims) had sued a Mexican fast food chain for denying him "the Chipotle experience," my first thought was, "why the Hell would anyone want to undergo "the Chipotle experience" a second time?

But then, when I think of "the Chipotle experience," I associate it with this not-safe-for-work bit of humor:

Of course Antoninetti didn't actually want to feel "the Chipotle experience" even once.  As pointed out at the link, Antoninetti has sued at least 20 restaurants to which he never returned after receiving his ADA payout.

So Many Horror Stories, So Little Time

Things I've wanted to write about this week, but haven't been able to hit.  Fortunately, they've been well handled by other bloggers:

Just thought you'd like to know.

The Games We Played: BGGcon Part 2

So, the con itself started. Registration actually started 20 minutes early. I was pretty close to the front. You got some nice schwag just for showing up. A free copy of one of three Queen Games (I got Robber Knights, the least of the three) then you drew a ticket which either entered you in a drawing for some really great games, or guaranteed you a game from the free game room (full of a lot of good but not great games.) I got the free game, and wandered the room for 20 minutes trying to decide. I finally went with an expansion deck for my favorite party game Times Up. This time, all the cards are names of board games. Should be fun with my gamer friends. (Of course, part of the reason I chose it, was that it was among the smallest choices, and luggage space was at a premium.)

And so the con began in earnest. [Read more…]