I don’t get it

Plastic straws will soon be banned everywhere, just like how putting chloroform in your coffee was banished to oblivion. But then I see this thing at a place that sold me food and drink for a nominal fee and it broke my brain:

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What the heck is this thing? It looks and feels like a plastic straw. But apparently it’s not. It’s made out of plants or something. So this thing will be legal, but the plastic straw will not.

I’m so confused, what precisely is the haters’ issue with the plastic straw? I thought it’s that it was plastic, and too small to be recyclable. So they want it banned.

But how is this plant based straw any better?

1) Uses plant material likely better used to feed humans or make compost or animal feed

2) Still takes up the same volume of space in the landfill/trash cycle as a plastic straw

3) Although the product claims ‘renewable and compostable’ what this really means in practice is it will compost in a landfill over 734 years instead of the 3,382 years that a plastic straw would take

4) Makes the ill-informed feel better about themselves when they actually should not

5) Illustrates the absurdity of feeling good instead of actually doing good

6) Is a hallmark of the future downfall of all Humanity as we struggle and bicker over foolish things while our culture, planet, and politics descend into the gutter

By the way, I’ve never used straws. I don’t get them. Just drink out of the glass/cup/whatever.

Please, help me.

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Jacques and eggs

Eggs are back in the hater aisle.  Once again some study by somebody says they’re bad for you, way more dangerous to you than driving, drugs, drinking, dragons, or druids.  I don’t pay attention to these things.  It always seems like a study that says something about [insert anything here] is made up.  Probably because it’s made up.

Never fear, Jacques is here to demolish such nonsense with facts, wit, and plain happiness.  Definitely worth the read.

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“Fortunately, for the sane cook, butter and eggs will never be passe, even if some moderation proves to be wise. The egg is just too perfect.”

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I always try and have eggs around.  I needed a short meal before my hike today.  So all I did is scramble some eggs with harissa.  Nothing else, just eggs and harissa in some butter.  Then I toasted some wheat bread and melted some French morbier cheese on it.  Simple, easy, win.

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“Until then, if you don’t like my defense of eggs, go ahead: Throw some my way.”

Oh don’t worry, Jacques, no problems over here.  I’m sure I’ve written it too many times on the blog by now, but man do I ever love Pepin.

Kamakura – Engaku-ji

Lost amidst the fervent nationalism that’s now the norm in the Western Pacific is how longstanding and deep the ties are between peoples.  From 1274 to 1281 the Mongols, alongside their Chinese and Korean vassals, conducted a series of invasions against Japan.  All failed for a variety of reasons, not least of which was a series of typhoons and the emergence of what would become the samurai warrior class.

In 1282 to commemorate the victories, honor the dead on all sides, and to push forward Zen Buddhism in Japan, the then shōgun Hōjō Tokimune ordered the construction of Engaku-ji.  He enlisted the help of a Chinese monk in Mugaku Sogen.  Zen became a huge part of the ruling culture’s psyche and was integral in the emergence of the samurai and what they were.

In the sense, Hōjō got exactly what he’d wanted.  He’s buried there.  And while the days of the Kamakura Shōgunate long passed it remained a key feature in Japanese Buddhism throughout history.  It’s a must see if you’re anywhere near Kamakura and it couldn’t be easier to get to via JR East’s Yokosuka Line which essentially drops you right at the temple entrance.

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The Sanmon, two story main gate, looking from it’s back towards the entrance.  As is typical for just about any ancient Japanese structure, fire constantly requires rebuilding.  The current version was reconstructed in 1785.

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Now walking up from the front of the Sanmon.

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Engaku-ji is still a functioning temple.  I didn’t get too close but there were folks practicing archery.  Note the target in the distance.

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Note the guy on the right with a typical Japanese longbow, as tall as a man (he is kneeling).  Despite the reputation of the katana, I suspect the real killers on most Japanese battlefields were the archers.

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I love the contrast in light on this shot.

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Find the fishy.

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The monk’s quarters.

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The Great Bell, Ogane, cast in 1301.  The largest temple bell in the wider Tokyo area.

rocket vinaigrette

This one’s pretty straightforward.  I made this for me Ma off the top of my head, but was not 100% pleased with it.  So when she asked me for the recipe I had to play with it for a few months to get it where I wanted.  Sometimes the simplest of recipes are the hardest to muck with.

The term ‘rocket’ is an inside joke known only to me, and seven other members of an obscure cult funded by a Yugoslavian oil baron who moonlights as a vampire slayer.  But otherwise, it’s not meant to indicate this dressing is somehow special.  It’s not, it’s just a simple salad dressing you can make in 43 seconds.

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Enjoy the journey, bask in the exquisite plate presentation generated by a drunk-jaded-elf, observe only the finest and most complex ingredients, bask in the stupidity of food posts and garbage-level-food-photography provided by the most degenerate of blog authors.  You’ll not regret it!

My last go I used this dressing over a salad with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, blue cheese, sliced apple, and tomatoes.  I like this salad combo, credit where credit is due, it’s based off an old Emeril recipe that for some reason is now gone from the Food Network website, my printed copy says it’s called “mixed green salad with diced avocado, peaches, crispy bacon, feta cheese, and champagne vinaigrette”.

Let’s begin!

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rocket vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp mustard

salt & pepper

dash hot sauce

Pour all the ingredients into an airtight container, seal, and shake vigorously.  Spoon over the tasty salad of your choice.

Store in the fridge for up to one week.  Shake again prior to serving.

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I enjoy how it all looks before shaking, it’s science, chemistry, and pretty colors all rolled into one.

Use whatever version of oil, balsamic, honey, mustard, and hot sauce you prefer.  If you want a sharper taste, double the volume of balsamic, mustard, and hot sauce, though this might be too much for most folks.

I used standard Tabasco in this version, but in other more insane versions I’ve used hot sauces that melt metal and it adds a wonderful adventure to your salad journey.  Salad is more exciting when the dressing tingles your lips with burning.

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Enjoy life!

stupid work potato salad

We had to pick a dish to bring for the work potluck.  I chose potato salad, because it was easier than telling work I don’t like them and refusing to play.  So we decided to spice things up and make a potato salad that nobody on the planet had ever had before.

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stupid work potato salad

8 strips bacon, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 lbs mixed potatoes, cubed

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

6 garlic cloves, mined

1 lemon, juiced

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 eggs

2 Tbsp mustard

1 cup mayo

2 Tbsp sriracha

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup parmesan

cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a saute pan until it’s nicely done, remove bacon and set aside; discard all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat from the pan; add the onion and cook until browned, add the brown sugar, lower the heat, and slowly caramelize the onions

preheat the oven to 375 degrees; wash the cubed potatoes in a colander, add them to a bowl and toss with the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 of the lemon juice, salt & pepper, paprika, and olive oil; dump the potato mixture on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and roast, stirring once, for about a half-hour until the potatoes are crispy but not overly brown

meanwhile, hard boil the eggs, cool them in the fridge, then peel and dice them

in a large bowl, add the potatoes, then add the mustard, mayo, sriracha, capers, remaining lemon juice, onion, bacon, eggs, and cheese, mix them all up until it’s a nice salad; serve immediately hot, or later on cold

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Let’s begin!

Cube the potatoes to a size you like and then wash them in a colander to get the starch off.  In a large mixing bowl douse the potatoes with the vinegar, garlic, juice of half the lemon, salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil.

Cut the garlic to a size you like.  I minced it because you never know how much folks do or do not like garlic.  But, if I’d been cooking for myself I’d probably just leave the garlic cloves whole and roast them as is.

Make sure you mix up the bowl really well.  You want the paprika, vinegar, and olive oil to really coat all the potatoes.  After that, aluminum foil on a baking sheet and bake them.

Do not pre-grease the aluminum foil.  As you stir them yes, they may tend to stick to the foil so don’t make the mistake of not stirring them at all during the roasting.  You want the potatoes to be brown but not overly done, just slightly still firm.  It’s potato salad and not true fully roasted browned potatoes.

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You’ve got regular old bacon and hard boiled eggs which are staples of many potato salads.  I add caramelized onions because I love them and want to share that love with all humanity.

When you’re done making the bacon, eggs, onions, and potatoes, it’s time to mix it all together with the remaining ingredients.

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Use whatever mustard and mayo you prefer.  The sriracha is flexible with another hot sauce if you want.  Go with what you like.  But please put some kind of sauce in there because it’s money and not boring.

The capers add a nice extra touch for my taste.  If you don’t like capers, you can skip this part.

As with before, make sure you really get a good mix in the bowl so all the sauces coat the potatoes all over.

You can serve this immediately while it’s hot, or chill it and serve later cold.

Be advised, this will not really keep in the fridge for more than about two or three days.  After that time, the moisture starts to separate from the potato mixture and the salad becomes dry and tough.

This is easily tackled by reheating the mixture in the microwave for about a minute to loosen it up again.  But, generally speaking, I’d eat it all within two days for max tastiness.

Enjoy life!