Monday, August 20, 2012

Too Hot for Bread


It has been too hot for bread over the last two weeks. The heat is ridiculous and I never want to turn on my oven. However, I have a bunch of sourdough starter languishing in the refridgerator. So I decided to make waffles.

Recently I've been on a big waffle kick. I started over the last 4 months or so making waffles on the weekends with my sourdough starter using a slightly modified version of this recipe from Wild Yeast. I usually half the recipe when I'm just making waffles for two people, but this time I doubled the recipe and made enough waffles to store in the freezer and toast whenever I wanted a nice crispy waffle. They are delicious!

Waffles on the Cooling Rack

Recipe for Sourdough Toaster Waffles:
  1. Make sure your sourdough starter is viable but also that it is young and sweet smelling like overripe fruit. If it smells wine-y or vinigar-y, your waffles will taste like vinegar. If it is not young smelling, refresh it and leave it out on the counter for a few hours until it's ready.
  2. Heat a waffle iron and grease it (I use a small amount of spray canola oil)
  3. Follow the Wild Yeast pancake batter recipe (I put in 2 tbsp of honey instead of maple syrup and I made the waffles half with whole wheat starter). The batter should be slightly thinner than muffin batter but thicker than crepe batter. I usually have to add a couple of splashes of nonfat milk to achieve my desired consistency. If you want a large stash, double the recipe.
  4. Ladle in enough batter for one waffle.
  5. Cook until it is cooked through, but not until it is crispy.
  6. Take out and let the waffle cool completely. Repeat this process until all of the batter is used up.
  7. Place the cooled waffles in freezer bags (air tight) and remove all excess air from the bag.
  8. Throw them in the freezer and stick them into your toaster as needed!
Bag of cooled waffles for the freezer

I have been really enjoying them. I'm planning on trying sourdough crumpets before the heat dies down.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Have Good News and Interesting News

So I have good news and interesting news.

Good news first.

Two of the seven kittens I'm fostering have been adopted! A fellow alumna from my high school feel in love with these adorable kittens and she's coming to pick them up sometime next week!
Calico and Smokey Adopted!
Check out the rest of the kittens here. They are incredibly adorable. My friend rescued them from almost certain death

Interesting news second.

I happened upon this story this morning in the New York Times. I found it, well, fascinating for lack of a better term. Read it, it's interesting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wine Snob: Chilean Red Wine Review

I have been warmly invited by Sulpicia III to review Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Santa Helena Shiraz Reserve 2008. I have never written a wine review before and.I hope it is informative and interesting.
Wines and Chicken Piccata

The name "Casillero del Diablo" means "the Devil's Cellar". Concha y Toro, an enormous wine manufacturer based, makes this brand in the Central Valley region of Chile. Once upon a time, so the marketing campaign goes, the owner of Concha y Toro suspected his workers of thievery. He fostered a legend that the devil lurked in the dark depths of the cellar. The Casillero del Diablo brand is very popular and commonly sold in my neck of the woods, yet I never tried it before. Is the wine horribly bad or hella good? (I apologize for the atrocious puns.) I was quite happy with it. It has a medium body and a ruby red color. It smells of fruit, specifically blackberry. The taste is likewise berry fruit, but more cassis than blackberry. The tannins are very strong. It has a medium length finish. The tannins leftmy mouth very dry after swallowing.

I also bought the Santa Helena shiraz (syrah). This winery prides itself on the fact that it is constantly experimenting, trying new (and old) techniques, alternating between modern and traditional methods. I suspect this might result in larger than normal differences between vintages from this vineyard, though I may be wrong. I'll have to (reluctantly of course) try the 2009 and 2010 to check. It is also entirely sustainable. Itwas heavy and dark red. It had less tannins (making it medium-dry) than the first wine but it had a (typically syrah) short finish. It smelled and tasted strongly of berries.
The slightly lower amount of tannins, heavier body and richer flavor of the Syrah made me prefer it. However, if you like longer finishes, lighter bodies and less berry flavor, choose this Cabernet Sauvignon. I let both decant for an hour. They cost more or less the same price here (around €9) but if you're lucky they are slightly cheaper in CA.

I later tried both of them with Sulpicia's famous Chicken Piccata and they went together wonderfully. If Sulpicia is good enough to allow me to have some writing space again, I will return with some more Chilean reds or perhaps some notes on Chateauneuf-du-Pape (another current interest of mine).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Star Trek and the Olympics: Topicality and Imaginary Universes

Egnatius told me that if J.J. Abrams did not make Kahn the next villain in his Star Trek movie, he's kicking himself. Immediately, I realized this was true.


Well, it should be obvious to the viewers of the Olympics. A few days ago, a 16 year old swimmer beat the time that Ryan Lochte swam in the 400m individual medly for the last 50m. This seems highly unprecedented and she's been dubbed a "supergirl." Immediately, commentaters said "doping," but my reaction was "genetic enhancement." And then I realized I'd probably just been watching too much Deep Space Nine.

However, today I read that I'm not the only one who jumped to this conclusion. The Daily Mail argued that some scientists are taking the genetic enhancement claim seriously. According to the same article, scientists have successfully tested genetic procedures using genetically modified viruses to improve the athletic endurance, muscle tone, and ability to gain weight in rats. I can imagine that an unscrupulous group of coaches, scientists, or both might be tempted to experiment on some athletes. I mean, athletes are already storing up liters of their won blood in order to put back into their bodies right before a match for increased endurance. Why not use a virus to genetically modify themselves?

What happens when one country can modify its athletes? Imagine, for a moment, that Ye Shi Wen is genetically enhanced rather than just incredibly well-trained. If China were to be successful with one athlete, they would probably try to modify as many as possible. As the technology is so recent-- the human genome was only sequenced in 2003-- the success rate would start off pretty low. In my same imaginary universe, they might start sweeping the games in around 2020 with athletic Frankensteins. At this point, things could start to turn ugly. Perhaps the rest of the world would band together in order to discover a means of genetic testing. Politics immediately become embroiled (as they already have in real life-- China claims that the world is biased against them). There might even be a low-level cold war type scenario-- the genetics wars...

Obviously this is a bit unrealistic, but it might just be real enough to help a box office smash. While I maybe a little unusual, this idea about genetic modification must be pretty widespread and will probably be discussed extensively in the press. While the Bourne Legacy, coming out this month, is about genetic modification and supersoldiers, it is a theme that has run through American cinema for a while and probably will not get a substantial topicality boost. However, the idea of a big blockbuster coming out about eugenics wars might make people think. There has been a rumor going around that Benedict Cumberbatch is set to play Kahn, the genetically enhanced supervillain from the 1967 episode "Space Seed" and the movie Wrath of Kahn was a tyrant from the Eugenics Wars on Earth, after which genetic modification was banned in the Federation (this is revisited in Deep Space Nine). While, in reality, we didn't sequence the human genome until 13 years after the Eugenics Wars were supposed to have began, at some point, genetic re-sequencing will become a massive political and ethical issue. And, if the seemingly absurd supposition that one of the Olympic athletes was enhanced turns out to be correct, the day might be coming sooner that we think. If Abrams did create a new Kahn movie, then he's right on the money (in more ways than one).