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  Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

—T.S. Eliot

  Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

An Essay on Man: Epistle I (excerpt)

Heav’n from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib’d, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed today,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flow’ry food,
And licks the hand just rais’d to shed his blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv’n,
That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heav’n:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, chang’d through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th’ ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees,
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent,
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect, in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns;
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.

Cease then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav’n bestows on thee.
Submit.—In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow’r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony, not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.

—Alexander Pope


  Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Meditation Two (Just as I am)

My feeling of solitude and my sighing in the night used to find no echo. It fell upon emptiness. I was alone. But now my sigh has found an echo, it reaches someone who hears it, someone I can neither see nor hear in the darkness. But I almost hear near me but within me, further within me than I am myself, his answering sigh.

And this someone is God. I understand your love and how you forgive me everything, because when I was in love before as much as you, I forgave everything, seventy times seven, and I know what your reactions are because I know what it is to be in love. My former loves have taught me what love is. I know how you love me because I too have loved, and I know what passionate and obsessed love is and what it is to be madly in love with someone. And God is mad about me.

He loves me with all my weaknesses, with all my inherited and acquired defects, he loves me as I am, with my idiosyncrasies and my temperament, my habits and my complexes. Just as I am.

—Ernesto Cardenal

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  Saturday, September 24th, 2016

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. The original animals were transported from Africa on ships as food for captured carnivores being brought to zoos; the survivors were then maintained in herds at those zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as pets and family milkers due to their easy maintenance and small stature. However, because of their high butterfat, they are also used by some dairies to make cheese. They are registered by the American Dairy Goat Association, the American Goat Society, and the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association.

They come in many colors: white, black, gold, red, cream and patterns such as buckskin (brown with a black cape over the head and neck along with other black markings) and chamoisee (similar to an Oberhasli goat), with or without white spots. Some have white “frosting” on the ears.

Their milk production ranges from 1 to 8 pounds of milk per day (one quart of milk weighs roughly 2 pounds), with an average doe producing about 2.5 pounds of milk per day. Production depends upon genetics, how many times the doe has freshened (given birth), quality and type of feed, and general good management. Since Nigerians breed year-round, it is easy to stagger freshening in a herd for year-round production of milk. Thus, they are ideal milk goats for most families. Their milk has a higher butterfat content than milk from full-sized dairy goats, averaging 6.5% according to the American Dairy Goat Association. Later in lactation, butterfat can go up to 10% or even higher. This makes Nigerian Dwarf goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.

Nigerian Dwarf goats are gentle and easily trainable. This, along with their small size and colorful appearance, makes them popular as pets. Some breeders bottle-feed kids, which makes them more bonded with humans. Others prefer to let their mothers raise them naturally, finding bottle-fed kids to be overly clingy. With either method, they can be very friendly (but also very mean) and can easily be trained to walk on a leash and some enjoy coming into the house with their owners. Adult goats should not live in the house, however, because as ruminants, they need to spend a large part of the day eating hay, pasture, or browse.

Nigerian dwarf goats’ small size also makes them excellent “visitor” animals for nursing homes and hospitals. Some goat supply houses even sell small harnesses and tiny wagons that fit Nigerian dwarf goats. As with all goats, does or neutered males (wethers) make the best pets, as bucks can have an objectionable odor. Nigerian Dwarfs, especially does and wethers, do well with children. Nigerian dwarfs also are easy birthers with very few birthing problems.


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  Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Cajeta

Cajeta is a Mexican confection of thickened syrup usually made of sweetened caramelised goat’s milk.

Mexican cajeta is considered a specialty of the city of Celaya in the state of Guanajuato, although it is also produced with the traditional method in several towns of the state of Jalisco, such as Mazamitla, Sayula, and Atotonilco el Alto.

Cajeta is made by simmering goat’s milk, or occasionally a sweetened liquid, stirring frequently, until it becomes very viscous due to evaporation of water, and caramelized. While goat milk is the most usual base, other liquids or juices may be used.

In September 2010, cajeta was declared the Bicentennial Dessert of Mexico, honouring its history, tradition and origin. Cajeta was born in the city of Celaya, Guanajuato, the state where the Independence of Mexico started back in 1810, with the famous Grito de Dolores by father Miguel Hidalgo. In Celaya, Hidalgo was named Captain General of America by his staff, making it an important element of the Independence War, as cajeta was easily stored and transported, and lasted for several months without decomposing, thus becoming an important food complement for the poorly fed troops.

Goat’s milk contains a high concentration of amino acids, with twice as much lysine and serine, in addition to more alanine, leucine, methionine, threonine, proline, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and valine, too.

Those are the specific amino acids scientists credit with producing flavor and aroma in Maillard browning, creating notes of caramel (lysine), almond (phenylalanine), persimmon (alanine), fried potatoes (methionine), fresh dates (serine), and rose (tyrosine). Cow’s milk has these amino acids, too, but at lower levels, so the specific composition of dulce de leche tends toward glycine (sweet), aspartic acid (fruity), glutamic acid (sour), and tryptophan (not assigned any flavor).

On top of that, goat’s milk has five times more cysteine, an amino acid associated with thermal stability and our perception of umami. So, compared to cow’s milk, goat’s milk is less likely to scorch or curdle, while doubling down on flavor and aroma and quintupling our sense of richness. In short, cajeta is everything you love about dulce de leche, but more delicious and easier to prepare.


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  Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Coriander

Coriander grows wild over a wide area of Western Asia and southern Europe, prompting the comment, “It is hard to define exactly where this plant is wild and where it only recently established itself.” Fifteen desiccated mericarps were found in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B level of the Nahal Hemar Cave in Israel, which may be the oldest archaeological find of coriander. About half a litre (a pint) of coriander mericarps was recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamen, and because this plant does not grow wild in Egypt, Zohary and Hopf interpret this find as proof that coriander was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians.

Coriander seems to have been cultivated in Greece since at least the second millennium BC. One of the Linear B tablets recovered from Pylos refers to the species as being cultivated for the manufacture of perfumes, it apparently was used in two forms: as a spice for its seeds and as a herb for the flavour of its leaves. This appears to be confirmed by archaeological evidence from the same period; the large quantities of the species retrieved from an Early Bronze Age layer at Sitagroi in Macedonia could point to cultivation of the species at that time.

Coriander was brought to the British colonies in North America in 1670, and was one of the first spices cultivated by early settlers.

All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking. Coriander is used in cuisines throughout the world.

The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds. The word “coriander” in food preparation may refer solely to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed, due to terpenes linalool and pinene. It is described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured.

It is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Roasting or heating the seeds in a dry pan heightens the flavour, aroma, and pungency. Ground coriander seed loses flavour quickly in storage and is best ground fresh. Coriander seed is a spice in garam masala and Indian curries which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin, acting as a thickener in a mixture called dhana jeera.

Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are eaten as a snack. They are the main ingredient of the two south Indian dishes: sambhar and rasam.

Outside of Asia, coriander seed is used widely in the process for pickling vegetables. In Germany and South Africa, the seeds are used while making sausages. In Russia and Central Europe, coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread (e.g. Borodinsky bread), as an alternative to caraway.

The Zuni people of North America have adapted it into their cuisine, mixing the powdered seeds ground with chile and using it as a condiment with meat, and eating leaves as a salad.

The commonest use of coriander seed is in curry powders, where it is the bulkiest constituent, often rough ground in India to give a crunchy texture. The seeds can be likewise used in stews and soups. They blend well with smoked meats and game and feature in traditional English black pudding recipes and Italian mortadella sausage. Coriander is an ingredient of garam masala, pickling spices and pudding spices and is used in cakes, breads and other baked foods. Sugared comfits made from the seeds are a traditional sweetmeat and breath sweetener. Coriander is a characteristic of Arab cookery, being common with lamb, kid and meat stuffings. Taklia, a popular Arab spice mixture, is coriander and garlic crushed and fried. Coriander with cumin is a common combination and features in falafel and in the Egyptian appetizer dukka, which consists of those spices plus sesame seeds, hazelnuts, salt and pepper, roasted and crushed. Coriander goes well with ham and pork, especially when orange is included. It enhances fish dishes and, with other spices, may form a delicious coating for spiced fish or chicken, rubbed into the scored flesh and grilled. Try frying a few seeds with sausages to add an unusual flavour.


  Monday, September 12th, 2016

Not Hard to Get

Yes, God is mysterious as fog,
but please, don’t give me that stuff
about God playing hard to get.
She is so into you
I can’t believe you don’t see it.
She’s flagrant about it.
She writes you the steamiest letters
in the colors of sky and leaf,
in stone and sea and child,
her hands are all over you,
she has moves that—admit it—
make you blush.
He’s in your dreams,
whispers to you when you aren’t listening.
You think those scriptures are some dry text
but it’s him, fawning all over you,
saying your name.
She wears the most revealing outfits,
struts her stuff, begs for attention.
They’ve always been like that.
Going on singles cruises,
trolling the skankiest bars in town,
hoping for luck.
She has no shame, no holding back.
I’d take her aside and talk to her
about decorum and such,
but golly,
I can’t even get in the same room with her
without her climbing all over me.
She’s yours, mate.

Yeah, it’s a little wild. Razor’s edge.
I get why you pull back.
But listen.
Secretly, so in the dark you don’t even know,
it’s your own heart that’s flirting
with everything that moves.
She’s the one
who’s holding you quietly, calmly, murmuring,
“Easy. Easy. I’m right here.
You’ve got me. It’s OK.”

—Steve Garnaas-Holmes


  Monday, September 12th, 2016

Holy Sonnet 14

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

—John Donne, 1572-1631

  Monday, September 12th, 2016

Only in our doing can we grasp you

Only with our hands can we illumine you.
The mind is but a visitor:
it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense its limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don’t want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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  Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Brebirousse d’Argental

Brebirousse d’Argental, from the Lyons regions of France, may look like a typical pink-skinned washed rind, perhaps a Taleggio or even an aggressive Bavarian Limburger, but looks are deceiving; the bright orange color comes from annatto rather than Brevibacterium Linens.

Brebirousse is actually a soft-ripened bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese, similar to a Brie although somewhat more pungent, vegetal and wooly in aroma and flavor thanks to its sheepy origins. The runny, creamy paste is buttery, sweet with a bit of brine, grassy, mushroomy and with a pleasing meatiness and tang.

Cheese folk often speak dreamily of bloomy rind or soft-ripened cheese, while your friends at the cocktail party chatter on about good old Brie. But in truth, they’re speaking the same language—what binds these cheeses together is their downy, edible white rind. In cheese techni-speak, it’s called a bloomy rind (or sometimes a soft-ripened, or even a surface-ripened cheese), and they’re some of the most delicious cheeses out there.

Brie-ish cheeses have a rind made of some combination of mold (Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti), yeast, or yeast-like fungus (Geotrichum candidum) that blooms like tiny flowers on the exterior of a ripening cheese. Over time, these patches of yellowish white fur are patted down to form a cohesive skin, or rind, on the cheese’s surface. This live rind breaks down the fats and proteins of a cheese, causing an increasingly creamy to runny texture over time. This is why you may encounter that glistening layer just under the rind, which is called the creamline. The moister a cheese is to begin with, the faster this breakdown occurs.

What gives Brebirousse d’Argental an ultra-spreadable texture is the ultra-filtration process the milk goes through, like the fromager d’affinois made by Guilloteau Fromagerie, which developed the process. As a result of this filtration, bacteria get filtered out, increasing the shelf life, and the milk is concentrated—there are more solids (curds) in proportion to the liquids (whey), and the cheesemaker gets to maximize her cheese. From what I understand, the process is not the same as pasteurization, so the milk isn’t cooked.


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  Monday, September 5th, 2016

Piel de Sapo Melons

Piel de Sapos are one of the most widely grown melon cultivars in Spain. Their name translates as “Toad Skin,” which is quite fitting nomenclature upon first glance: football shaped, Piel de Sapos have slightly ridged skin with a bright green-to-yellow gradient “undercoat” and darker green speckles on top. They certainly stand out visually among cream-colored melons, and their super sweet flavor and absolutely unique texture are on par with their notable visual appearance.

Cut into a Piel de Sapo, and you are in for a refreshing treat. Intensely sweet and juicy, their white flesh has an amazing texture that is rich but with an element of crispness to it. The result is a smooth sweetness finishing with a light—but satisfying—crunch. This is by far our sweetest melon—scientifically speaking, it is 14% sugar—but I personally think it’s this almost indescribable texture that makes them an all-around favorite.

Often called Christmas melons because they can last for several weeks, one year we discovered these hearty melons really can, given the right circumstances, last until Christmas. Or at least Thanksgiving. In late November, our farm owner Greg went out to a field he thought had been tilled—which returns the nutrients to the soil for next season’s plantings—only to discover a crop of Piel de Sapos, happily ripening in the November sunshine.


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  Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Mace

Nutmeg (also known as pala in Indonesia) is one of the two spices—the other being mace—derived from several species of tree in the genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia.

Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1.2 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or aril of the seed.

Nutmeg and mace have similar sensory qualities, with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts.


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  Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Sikh Philosophy

God is usually interpreted as being unfathomable, yet not unknowable.


  Monday, August 15th, 2016

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.


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  Monday, August 8th, 2016

Lost at Sea

Colette Colascione
2015-16
oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches