Smoldering Sunset

In my neighborhood, the setting sun yesterday blazed right through the smoke from the Chevron fire in Richmond.

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Or Maybe It Just Needs the Word “Technically” in There Somewhere

OK, I’ve baked a lot, and I completely understand that you have to coat chopped dates in something, because otherwise they’ll stick together in clumps just as large if not larger than the dates were to begin with, and what would be the point?

In baking, one generally uses flour, because the muffins or whatever you’re baking are largely flour anyway, but I understand that if you are selling a package of chopped dates, you don’t want to use flour because the customer might want to use them for something other than baking (like, for instance, to mix into one’s bowl of yogurt for breakfast), and they’ll taste floury.

I don’t even really mind all that much that it’s dextrose the chopped dates are coated in. It’s not that much dextrose, really, and I eat plain yogurt which is sour to begin with, so a little added sweetness isn’t a bad thing.

But come on, good people at Sunsweet, how can you coat your chopped dates in dextrose and then in good conscience print on the front of the package the words “No Added Sugar”?

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Mustard and Ketchup

Neat article in the food section of today’s Contra Costa Times about homemade condiments — flavored mustards, mayonnaises, and ketchups. Mmm.

I don’t care much for mayonnaise, but I’ve been making homemade mustard every now and then for a long time now. It’s very easy, and you can even whip up a batch in about 90 seconds and use it on sandwiches at once; while it won’t be as yummy as if you let it sit for a while, it’ll still have a great, fresh, bright flavor. (Just grind some mustard seeds to a powder and add a few drops of liquid to make a paste. That’s it. Use yellow seeds or brown seeds — which are hotter — or a mix of the two, use whatever kind of vinegar or wine or sake sounds good at the moment, maybe add a pinch of salt and/or any other spice that sounds good with the sandwich you’re making. Improvise! Yum!)

I don’t like ketchup, at least not the commercial kind — it’s too sweet for my taste and if you look at the label you’ll find out why — but I’ve never tried making my own, and I suspect I might like ketchup a lot more if it were savory rather than sweet. Doesn’t sound that hard, though if you make it from fresh tomatoes instead of sauce it takes a long, long simmer. Maybe that’ll be a project for a weekend sometime soon.

Showing My Age

I just caught myself saying “Looks like we’re on the same wavelength” to a man who is easily young enough to be my son. My god, am I establishing myself as an old fart or what? Hey Grampa, that’s a ham radio metaphor! That is ancient technology!

Obviously I should have said “Looks like we’re on the same page”.

Random Thought on Looking at the News of the World This Morning

We all seem to be born with an instinctive hunger for an understandable view of the world.

The reality is that the universe is complicated beyond our fathoming and we don’t know very much about anything, and that’s scary. So out of the infinitely complicated raw data of our existence, we distill stories about the world that seem to make things understandable and make us feel less small and helpless and stupid.

Some of us have very simple stories that are a very poor fit for the universe, and some of us have very complicated stories that are a better fit, but I feel pretty sure that if we could perceive the grand scheme of things in its entirely, all these stories we have would be clearly seen as massively pathetic approximations of reality, and the difference between my worldview and the worldview of the most narrow-minded fundamentalist would from that cosmic viewpoint be seen as one of degree only, and an incredibly trivial one at that.

As we get older, though, some of us do get better at facing up to the fact that we really are small and helpless and stupid, and accepting that and learning to make the most of our lives anyway, and at realizing that the stories we make up in our heads are nothing more than that. And others of us seem to get more and more frightened and cling more and more to their stories.

My Poor Head

I was hit with the fourth bad headache in under a week last night. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. I can’t remember having this many so close together since those awful first months after the surgery over twelve years ago. But apparently there was a thunderstorm in the Bay Area (though not in my part of it) last night, which is the kind of weather that often seems to coincide with my bad headaches. Hopefully things will change for the better soon.