Friday, November 26, 2021

"Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings"
and "Venom": two-fer review

"Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," a 2021 action film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, tells the story of "Shaun" Shang Chi (Simu Liu), a man who's been trying to escape from his past. He currently works as a valet, but in his youth, he was trained by his father Wenwu (Tony Leung) to be a top assassin. Wenwu possesses the mystical Ten Rings, which grant him enormous powers, and he has been on a quest to enter the magical village of Ta Lo, where he is convinced he can reunite with his dead wife (Fala Chen), a former guardian of Ta Lo and mother of Shang Chi and his sister Xialing (Meng'er Zhang). What Wenwu doesn't know is that the voice he hears calling him from the beyond isn't that of his wife, but rather that of the Dweller in the Darkness, a trapped soul-eater looking to be released into our universe to wreak havoc. Shang Chi's friend Katy (Awkwafina) comes along for the ride as Shang Chi is forced to confront his past, his family, and a great cosmic danger.

Overall, "Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" wasn't horrible, but it also didn't cohere well as a story, and it was actually hard to figure out what the film's central conflict was. Was it Shang Chi versus his past? Shang Chi versus his father? Shang Chi versus the Dweller in the Darkness? Was the film's emphasis supposed to be on how Shang Chi was trying to find his own identity? Was it a parody of or commentary on Asian parenting, with the heavy expectations that Asian parents often foist onto their children? Hard to say. While often visually pretty, "Shang Chi" engaged in far too many CGI fight scenes for my taste while leaving undeveloped any number of potentially rich storylines. And some plot points were ridiculously implausible, such as the idea that Shang Chi's little sister, barred by sexism from being trained alongside Shang Chi, could secretly train herself to be as good as, if not better than, her brother. The movie often felt like a college try at world-building without anything coalescing into a coherent world. In the end, the film was substance-free and not too compelling, but it worked on the turn-your-brain-off level of much Marvel entertainment.

2021's "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" has the distinction of being directed by Andy Serkis, who knows a thing or two about motion-capture characters. The story continues to explore the relationship between reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his alien symbiote Venom (also Hardy, but with an altered voice), who needs to survive on a particular chemical found in chocolate, but in even greater quantities inside human brains. Venom manifests in several ways, often taking Brock over and making him do things he couldn't otherwise do: he can appear as a muscular humanoid around Eddie, almost like a suit of armor, or he can appear as one or more flexible tentacles, or even as a head attached to a long, rippling neck so he can converse with Eddie directly. Eddie becomes the focus of serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who manages to bite Eddie at one point, allowing him to absorb a bit of Venom into him. This bit of alien tissue becomes Carnage, who has no compunctions about eating human brains (Venom has agreed to eat only the brains of bad people; Carnage follows no such rules). Carnage helps Cletus escape Death Row and go in search of Cletus's old girlfriend, a mutant nicknamed Shriek (Naomie Harris), whose ear-splitting screams can cause physical injury. Unfortunately, these alien symbiotes have two weaknesses: fire and loud noises, and this means that, while Carnage is happy to help Cletus find Shriek, the alien can't stand it when Shriek uses her power.

I didn't feel that the plot of "Let There Be Carnage" was really leading up to much of anything; nothing about the network of conflicts felt inevitable, necessary, or even urgent. Cletus Cassidy sees himself as a serial killer who is unjustly misunderstood, and later, he tells Eddie he simply wants Eddie as a friend. Eddie is still trying to move on from his relationship with Anne (Michelle Williams), and he's having trouble in his weird relationship with Venom. The movie felt disjointed and directionless at times, which may be more of a problem with the scriptwriting than with the direction. I still have trouble understanding the rules by which the alien symbiotes operate. In 2007's "Spider-Man 3," directed by Sam Raimi, it was established that the symbiote was specifically affected by resonant noises. In "Let There Be Carnage," however, the symbiotes are hurt by loud, sharp noises of any kind, which is why Carnage can't stand it when Shriek uses her power to get the bad guys out of a jam. If the aliens can't tolerate noise, why does Venom appear in a loud nightclub, and how is it that Carnage can let out a deafening roar without damaging himself? Also: why do Eddie and police detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham) both speak with New York-ish accents despite being West Coasters (the actors in both roles are English, by the way)? None of this makes any sense, and when a film fails in its basic logic, it'll also fail to pull the viewer in. That said, I found some of the dialogue uproariously funny, and Venom's line right before Cletus Cassidy meets his fate was golden. Overall, "Venom: Let There be Carnage" was sporadically entertaining, but with a good bit of script-doctoring, it could have been much better. 



no measurements this weekend: why bother?

I'm not a bulimic who binges and purges; I just binge and then fast. And I'll be doing a lot of fasting after yesterday's orgy of food. This weekend, though, I won't be doing my usual gathering of data because, frankly, I already know the numbers are going to be bad. I doubtless gained a couple kilos yesterday; my blood sugar is almost certainly through the roof, and I didn't have a chance, yet, to do my stair work properly (I did 0.5 staircases this past Tuesday, and this is the week I'm supposed to graduate to 2.5 staircases), so my BP, which is already high, probably went even higher. 

Now, we're in the penance phase, and I have exactly three weeks, including today, to get my numbers back down to something sane. Not much I can do about my A1c in three weeks: that's a three-month average, but I'll trust that, over the past three months, I didn't fall too far off the wagon. I have a specific plan for the next three weeks, but for you, I'll say vaguely that it's going to involve carnivore plus fasting. No more cheats until after my doctor's appointment on December 16. Expect numbers again starting next week.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! (pass in review)

Some pics of today's meal!

Overall, it turned out great. One minor complaint would be the ham, which started off moist and fatty, but which dried out, despite the glaze, after all the pan-frying. Next time, I'll just give the ham a quick sear, as I did with the turkey. The turkey turned out fine; it stayed moist. Cream corn and sweet-potato pie were great-tasting and the perfect texture; the gravy provided the right accent (although my boss complained about it being white and not brown). The stuffing was amazing, and the two desserts—apple pie and apple crumble—turned out perfectly. No burned bottoms, and nothing undercooked. I wish I could take credit for that; the results were more of a happy accident than anything planned. I apparently still have a lot to learn about my oven.

Alas, it was just me and my boss eating today; my American coworker was showing signs of being sick yesterday, and he took off work today thanks to a full-blown fever. I don't think it's COVID, though: the guy was sneezing and had a runny nose yesterday, and those aren't COVID symptoms. I think it's just a good old cold because the weather's transitioning into winter. I'm surprised I haven't caught a cold myself yet. Upshot: the boss joked there was "more for us" to eat today, and there are plenty of leftovers for when my coworker comes back tomorrow or Monday. My Korean coworker, our designer-in-residence, is also absent: his daughter got COVID, and the whole family is in isolation; our designer won't be back until December 6 at the earliest. In the meantime, some photos:

Sweet-potato casserole and cream corn:

Stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas & carrots, turkey, and cranberry sauce on the margin:

Another look at the ham, which I'll treat with more respect next time:

The gravy, heated up:

First pic of my plate:

Second pic of my plate:

Third pic of my plate, with the meat in the foreground. Ironically, I didn't put any gravy atop my turkey, which was the whole point of making the gravy. When I eat some leftovers this evening, I'll remember to do that:

The old "one piece missing" shot of the pie. You can see, I think, that the bottom crust came out okay despite my fears:

The crumble was awesome as well:

Dessert on my plate:

And à la mode:

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I now have three weeks before my doctor's appointment—three weeks to get my numbers back in shape. This may require some extreme measures after today's indulgences, but I think it's doable. Today, though, I'm letting myself go with no regrets. Enjoy your own regret-free holiday, wherever you are. American Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Korea, obviously, but as they say about Christmas, you can keep it in your heart. I think my meal brought a bit of the Thanksgiving spirit to our tiny office, even if it was just me and my boss keeping the flame alive. 

My boss is a collector of Korean art and antiquities, and he can wax rhapsodic about this or that Joseon-era tchotchke, but when it comes to food, he loses his articulateness and merely grunts "It's good" at the end of a meal. But he cleaned his plate, then he had himself a slice of pie with ice cream, so despite his complaint about the gravy, I think he enjoyed himself just fine. You have fun, too. Eat hearty!



Thanksgiving luncheon: the final elements

All prepped, I think.

Tonight, I cooked up my peas and carrots; I pan-fried some remarkable* ham steaks, seared up some thick slices of turkey breast, bought some ice cream for the pie and cobbler, and tried a bit of turkey with my gravy to see whether I needed to tweak anything in the gravy. Verdict: the gravy doesn't need any more bouillon: I simply have to be conservative when adding milk to thin the sauce out. Otherwise, the gravy does what it's supposed to: it elevates the bland turkey-breast meat by adding creaminess plus the texture of bacon bits and mushrooms. All in all, I'm pleased with how tonight's prep went, especially compared with last year's prep, which was a bit creatively bankrupt. Some pics from tonight follow.

Peas and carrots, heavily buttered, with salt and pepper:

These ham steaks, below, started off steak-like, but they were shot through with fat, so I ended up cutting the meat along the "seams" of fat to produce unevenly sized chunks of ham (I had originally wanted to cut the steaks into even quarters, but I quickly realized this was unrealistic given how the fat was distributed throughout the meat). 

The ham now sits soaking in my tasty glaze:

I seared up the turkey breast in a mix of butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. The meat was already fully cooked, so this was only about instigating a little Maillard reaction to add a bit of flavor; overcooking already-cooked meat can dry it out, so I ended up doing 90 seconds on one side of each "turkey steak," and 45 seconds on the other side—enough for a kind-of sear:

With that, I think we're ready for tomorrow. I've hung a final checklist on my front door to make sure I don't forget anything on my way out. Expect photos from the feast itself!

__________

*I bought the ham steaks at the local John Cook Deli Meats outlet. They were thinner than the Costco ham steaks I used to worship, and that was, initially, disappointing. These ham steaks were also quite expensive at W15,000 per large, steak-like slice, so that hurt, too. What I belatedly noticed, though, was how French the cut of ham was for each steak: in the States, we generally like our ham to be juicy but to have a minimum of fat. American ham also tends to be roughly the same pinkish hue all the way through; just look at a spiral-cut, honey-glazed ham to see what I mean. These John Cook ham steaks, which were even labeled French-style as jambon (French for ham), were definitely French cuts of pig; they brought back memories as I looked at them. With this cut (and I wish I'd taken a picture before I pan-fried the bastards), the meat had some pink in it, but in moving outward toward the fat cap (another difference between this cut and many prepped American hams is the presence of a significant fat cap with the French cut), the meat became ghostly white to the point where it was hard to tell where the meat ended and the fat began. And the French cut, being so fatty, fried up like bacon—at which point it started to look more like an American ham. No matter: the smell was delicious, and my glaze made the whole thing even better. I think the troops will enjoy the ham, maybe more than they'll enjoy the turkey.



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

what's left to do

For my Thanksgiving luncheon prep, there's just a little more left to do. Tonight, I'll chop up the carrots and boil them until soft, then add the frozen peas and finish everything off. Drain, add salt, pepper, and butter—voilà. Peas and carrots. Containerize. For the proteins: the turkey I bought is already fully cooked; it merely needs to be cut to size and gently reheated, which I'll do in a mixture of butter, salt, and pepper. Box that up, too. The gravy needs some milk added to it, but I'll do that on Thursday, right before we eat. The ham steaks are a bit fatty; I plan to fry the steaks up first without adding anything, then I'll drown all the steaks at once in my lovely glaze and containerize everything.

I've got so much food that I've been bringing it to the office in batches. Today, I brought along my stuffing (two containers), the apple pie, and the apple crumble. This was a lighter load than yesterday's, which included mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet-potato casserole, and cream corn. With only one good arm to hold stuff, I lopsidedly lugged my Costco-sized bag of goodies to the office yesterday and stuck everything in the office fridge. Did that today as well; the fridge is now looking well stocked. Tomorrow, I'll bring in the gravy, the proteins, and the veggies. It's going to be epic, as it is every year I do this.

I guess the easiest way to serve the food, tomorrow, will be to present it cold and to let everyone use the lone microwave to heat their individual plates—except for the cranberry sauce, which they'll have to come back for, unless they want a red, bloody ocean of sauce to surround islands of other food. Reheating all the food in advance, with only one microwave to do so, would be too much of a chore. Individual plating and heating is the better option. I do have a gas range and bokkeum pan, which I'll use for reheating and thinning out the gravy, but that's all it'll be used for. Tomorrow, I don't want there to be much to do when it's time for lunch. Just serve, eat, and enjoy.*

High hopes that tomorrow's meal will be a hit. I'm morbidly curious as to how dessert turned out (oh, and maybe I should buy some vanilla ice cream to go with the pie and crumble), but it's too late to worry now: we're committed.

__________

*There are persistent rumors that we'll be moving to a new, possibly bigger office, maybe across the way in the Songpa district, close to where my relatives live. If so, I'd say we need our own fridge, microwave, and oven (at least a toaster oven). And I might start moving certain aspects of my kitchen back into the office, depending on how big the new space is. But will the new space have a kitchenette somewhere so I can wash dishes without having to do so in the men's room? We had to suffer that indignity when we were in the Cheongshil Building.



PJW on the stats: vaxxed vs. unvaxxed

It's a short video—even shorter if you watch at 1.75X speed:

Money quote from the video: "The unvaccinated now represent a tyrannized minority that face institutionalized oppression. And it's all founded on claims that are simply not true, having been disproved by the official data."



zee apple pie's brozair

And here's the apple pie's brother: the apple crumble. I'm terrified that the bottom crust has burned, and there's no way to know until we all try the dessert together on Thursday. But the top looks passably good:

Food-porn angle:

A lot of the "ruined" pie dough was raw after its initial par-bake (during which it collapsed, which is why I say it was ruined*). But I had made such an awesome dough that I didn't want to waste it, hence the shift to Plan B with the apple crumble. I have to say that nothing smells burned, so maybe that's a good sign. Expect photos on Thanksgiving Day.

I think I know what I want for Christmas: transparent glass bakeware. I'm sick of guessing.

__________

*To be clear, I once again tried blind baking for no good reason. I'm still kicking myself for being so stupid, but I think I may have salvaged this crust and made something beautiful.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

eppel peh

Could have been worse, I guess:

Food-porn angle:

I had made a nice circumference of neat little crimps all around the edge of the pie, but the crust was too puffy, I guess, so it inflated, and the crimps lost almost all definition (they're still barely visible). I also suspect the pie actually needs to bake a few minutes longer, but I need to let it cool down before I can verify that.

Apple crumble is now baking. It's how I'm salvaging the "ruined" pie crust and the extra pie filling. I'm also using up the last of some rolled oats. Results pending. Stay tuned. 



apple pie: disaster and potential recovery

Pie-making isn't without its setbacks. I suffered a pie-shell-related disaster, but since it didn't affect the pie filling, it wasn't a complete fiasco. I used my remaining pie dough to make a (very pretty, in my opinion) new pie shell; it was smaller than the original pie shell, but that was fine. I scooped as much pie filling into it as I could (a bit more than half), closed the pie with the dough covering, cut vents, egg-washed the pie surface, sprinkled turbinado sugar over the whole thing, and now, my baby is baking away. (Maybe I should rephrase that less morbidly.) The remaining pie filling will be made into an apple cobbler, so I'm working on that now. Waste not, want not, right? Photos to follow soon, assuming all goes well, and things don't scorch too much. I remember that line from Juzo Itami's "Tampopo," where one Japanese guy says, about French cooking, that it's "a constant battle with burns." He could have said that about much Western cooking in general: there's always a fear that something, somewhere, is going to end up overcooked. More soon.

ADDENDUM: I still have the wrecked pie shell, which tastes delicious but is semi-raw. I'm going to bake it a bit further, then serve it on the side as a sort of 못나니 (ugly, misbegotten) dessert. Should I make some sort of dipping sauce?



Shawn Baker on carnivore

Dr. Shawn Baker is a popular speaker who is a staunch advocate of the carnivore diet. In the video below, he gives a presentation where he begins to lay out a case for the carnivorous lifestyle. I'd heard of Dr. Baker from several sources; this was my first time watching him: 





Andrew Cuomo, scumbag

I don't normally like reading the Victory Girls blog, which is written in overly breathless prose, but I'll make an exception for this article about Andrew Cuomo, ex-governor of New York, who resigned his office after multiple sexual-harassment charges were made against him. A lot of people on the right marveled that he hadn't been done in by all the nursing-home deaths he'd caused through his, frankly, evil policies of shunting COVID victims into elder-care facilities, causing the deaths of thousands of the elderly and infirm, but no—it was #MeToo that ultimately brought Cuomo down.

However, the blog post notes that the New York state assembly has just released its investigative report on Cuomo, and the report includes mention of nursing-home deaths, as well as the fact that Cuomo's self-congratulatory memoir about his stellar leadership during the pandemic had been ghost-written by staffers who did not volunteer to do such work, and who did it during normal work hours—a gross ethics violation on several levels.

By my lights, Andrew Cuomo is a mass-murderer who also happens to be a sexual predator. He deserves a long, slow, painful death, but it's doubtful that he'll get one. The big fish always manages to wriggle free, for such is the nature of justice in today's America.



all the Korean I never learned

Found this page on nasty Korean slang. Very useful. Wikipedia also has a page devoted to Korean profanity: see here. I should study this. Not that it'll help much with understanding more practical Korean, but Korean slang is something I never really learned, maybe because I initially started learning a little Korean from Mom, who wasn't inclined to use swear words (except maybe for "fart," if that even qualifies as swearing).



stuffing!

In my earlier post, I think I forgot to mention apples as one of the ingredients of this stuffing. Silly me. I also didn't mention that I decided to go the custard route this time, which is something I normally don't do. But given how one of my batches turned out (the other batch was still baking when I took a nibble from the first batch), I might just be a convert. Everyone's custard is just a little different; some mix eggs and chicken stock, but in my case, it was a savory mix of eggs, heavy cream, milk, and a bit of chicken bouillon. I eyeballed how much custard to make and add to the stuffing, and I think the proportion ended up more or less correct. Victory! Seven eggs well used. And it's a lot of stuffing, which I'll have to give away since I can't eat it after my cheat day.

What follows are a few photos from tonight's stuffing-making. Enjoy the tour.

We start with an irrelevancy, as far as stuffing goes: a photo of the orange-fleshed goguma I talked about before. From now on, I'll be on the lookout for this species:

Some elements of the stuffing piled together:

Raw shrooms and celery ready to be fried up and tossed into the mix:

Some ugly-looking chestnuts, boiled for ten minutes to soften them. They eventually got crushed with a potato masher and dusted over the stuffing for added texture:

Stuffing, raw, with custard added:

The first batch, out of the oven:

The first batch was in a deeper dish, so it came out perfectly: it's crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, like a good bread pudding (adding custard to the stuffing moves it closer along the spectrum to stand with full-on bread puddings). I enjoy textural contrasts. Alas, the crispy bread won't be crispy on Thursday, which is too bad (and we have no oven on site to reheat the stuffing properly—just a microwave), but I think the troops will enjoy the stuffing all the same. The second batch was in a smaller tray and was spread out more thinly; that's the tray from which I ate a sample of stuffing tonight. A wee bit dry, but dump some gravy on it, and it's just fine. I won't be taking this second batch to the office, though, so dryness won't be an issue for the office luncheon.

Anyway, right when the stuffing came out of the oven, I plucked a crouton and bit into it, enjoying the simultaneous crispiness of the crouton's outer layer and the butter that oozed out of it as my teeth closed down on the crunchy bread. Heavenly. Stuffing is arguably the star of the show at Thanksgiving—at least for me. I'm glad this came out as well as it did. I'll be taking the stuffing to work in the morning; it'll sit in the office fridge until Thursday, then probably get microwaved as the luncheon begins. As I said, that likely means the crispy bits won't be crispy, but I think the taste will make up for it. We'll see.



Monday, November 22, 2021

things that kill 300,000 people a year

So the news is that the coronavirus has killed more Americans this year than last year, despite a massive vaccination campaign. Both last year and this year to date, over 300,000 people have died due to the virus. How serious is that number? Are there other things that kill 300,000 people a year that we, as a nation, don't fret about? This made me curious, so I focused on the question: what else kills 300,000-ish people (Americans or not) per year? A simple Google search turns up these results (keep in mind these are claims found after a quick Google search for "kills 300,000 people a year," not scientifically rigorous data):

1. SARS-CoV-2 (USA)

2. obesity (USA)

3. air pollution (Europe, not America)

4. sudden cardiac death (USA)

5. cancer (USA?)

6. schistosomiasis (blood-fluke disease—worldwide, not just America)

7. tuberculosis (in India)

8. effects of climate change (worldwide, supposedly)

So the coronavirus is apparently in good company. Should I be paralyzed with worry about these other problems the way some people are paralyzed with fear about COVID?

From this article:

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins’ case-to-fatality ratio for the U.S. suggests COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, has an approximately 99 percent survival rate. Meanwhile, it’s likely that the number of COVID-19 cases reported to the CDC—which now stands at 47 million in the United States—is likely undercounted as not everyone has engaged in routine COVID-19 testing.

Yes, I'd be more focused on case-to-fatality if I were in charge of policy. 99% survival means the disease is a goddamn joke for most of us. Even those of us in the danger demographics, like old and fat Donald Trump, get COVID and are fine a week or so later. Riddle me that.



tonight, my love, we stuff

If you had a chance to read my previous cooking-related post, then you know tonight is Stuffing Night. Call it "dressing" if you want, but as I've contended in the past, it's "toothpaste" whether it's inside or outside the tube, so by that logic, it's "stuffing" whether it's inside or outside the bird (because, after all, you could still stuff the bird, post hoc, with your "dressing," right?), and since one of my favorite YouTube chefs recently made "dressing" but called it "stuffing," I feel safe sticking with "stuffing" as the go-to term. I've never consciously called it "dressing"; I grew up hearing only "stuffing." Does this make me a bad language Nazi for not cleaving to a pedantic distinction? Maybe. Think what you will.

My stuffing tends to vary, especially when it comes to the bread I use. Some years, I use corn bread. This year, I'm back to good old white bread. While I love the baguette-like, gossamer texture of Korean milk bread (yes, also made in Japan and China; you all can fight over who did milk bread first, but I think Japan wins), it's too soft for crouton-making. My grocery doesn't sell anything like Wonder Bread, but they do sell their own version of generic white bread, albeit in half-loaves because everything has to be smaller in Korea. So this year, white bread is my base. I made croutons and sage-y, maple-y breakfast sausage last night; tonight, I sauté some diced mushrooms and celery, cook down some diced apples (no cinnamon and sugar this year; last year, that seemed overpowering), boil and crumble a mess of chestnuts, add raisins, then herb the whole thing up with sage, rosemary, and thyme (parsley made it into the song, but it rarely makes it into stuffing). Expect pictures tonight.

Tomorrow: eppel peh, as Cartman would say. Apple pie.

ADDENDUM: Adam Ragusea on stuffing versus dressing. I think, overall, he sides with me.



results from a day of cooking

I probably ought to attend a cooking school and really learn how to cook because, let's face it, I'm one slow motherfucker when I'm in the kitchen, especially when I have a project involving several dishes. Sunday, I managed to do everything on the agenda plus a little extra: I made a beautiful gravy for the turkey; I created a maple-mustard-brown-sugar sauce for the ham steak; I made both mashed potatoes and sweet-potato casserole (all the grocery store had was large marshmallows); I cooked up some awesome cream corn (not my recipe); and in terms of extra stuff, I made and cooked up some sage-y breakfast sausage as well as the croutons that will be part of the stuffing I'll be completing Monday night. I started cooking in the early afternoon and went all day. Below are the fruits of my labor. 

The ham glaze, which is made of maple syrup, mustard, cloves, brown sugar, and apple juice:

The turkey gravy, which contains both chicken bouillon and bacon grease as part of the roux, as well as mushrooms and bits of bacon for texture. Here it is containerized:

I stirred the gravy up to reveal some of the texture (will thin it out with milk when I serve it):

My boss gifted me with a potato ricer a while back, and this was my first-ever chance to use it. The taters came out awesome. I added salt, pepper, butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, onion powder, and garlic powder. Nothing fancy or special, but the taters taste damn good:

Riced taters:

And here's the sweet-potato casserole, with marshmallows. Too bad I couldn't get the mini marshmallows, but I worked with what I had:

Interesting note: I didn't know, until I bought this batch of Korean goguma (sweet potatoes), that Korea grew goguma with orange flesh. All I'd ever seen, before, was the gray-fleshed goguma, which tastes like sweet potato but looks cadaverous, so in times past, when I'd make a sweet-potato casserole, I'd add carrot to change the color to orange (carrot doesn't affect the taste very much). I bought carrots this time as well, thinking I'd be dealing with the usual gray-fleshed sweet potato, but the moment I started peeling off that skin, I realized my mistake. So from now on, now that I know what to look for, I'll buy this variety of goguma whenever I want to make sweet-potato casserole.

Below: only lightly browned in the oven because I was afraid of burning everything to a crisp. The cracked and crumbled bits occurred when the marshmallows puffed up and boiled over, and after everything had cooled and hardened a bit, I had to use a knife to separate the two glass baking dishes:

Lovely cream corn. It's got a milk-based Bechamel plus heavy cream. The recipe also calls for grated Parmigiano, but I opted for Comté, the French cousin of Gruyère. Behold:

And before I forget, a shot of the completed mashed potatoes:

Below is a berry sauce that's mostly cranberry, but it also includes strawberries and blueberries, which have been sitting in my freezer, looking to be used. There's brown sugar, turbinado, and muscovado sugar in the mix, as well as cinnamon and lemon juice. Behold:

The sausage for the stuffing, homemade. Very sage-y, with some maple syrup to give it that sweet, breakfast-sausage edge:

Closeup:

Croutons, early stage (cubed bread):

Oiled, buttered, herbed, and seasoned:

Final result (half of the whole batch):

So that's Stage One done. I need to make the rest of the stuffing Monday night, an apple pie Tuesday night, and the rest of everything Wednesday night and Thursday morning. More pics on the way. Stay tuned. 



hilarious subversion of blackface





Sunday, November 21, 2021

more news from the world of vaccinations

Here's a headline for you:

Vaccinated English adults under 60 are dying at twice the rate of unvaccinated people the same age

The subtitle reads:

And have been for six months. This chart may seem unbelievable or impossible, but it's correct, based on weekly data from the British government.

Glenn Reynolds remarks:

“I have checked the underlying dataset myself[,] and this graph is correct. Vaccinated people under 60 are twice as likely to die as unvaccinated people. And overall deaths in Britain are running well above normal.”

So my first thought was that people with health problems might be more likely to get vaccinated. But the overall death rate for that age group is up too.

UPDATE: Jim Bennett writes: “I wonder if the unvaccinated population has been checked for prior COVID exposure. It may be that most surviving over-60s in England have been infected with COVID[,] and many had mild or no [symptoms and] had acquired immunity without knowing it.”

Here's a quick excerpt from the article:

I don’t know how to explain this other than vaccine-caused mortality.

The basic data is available here[;] download the Excel file and see table 4:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsbyvaccinationstatusengland

So, far from people telling me I need to watch myself because I remain unvaccinated, maybe you vaccinated folks need to watch yourselves. My boss got vaccinated recently, and he suffered some mild complications as a result. (He's fine now.) To be fair, my American coworker got vaxxed and has experienced no problems. Friends and relatives have gotten jabbed and suffered few if any ill effects. It's hard to know what to believe, with different news sources saying different things. I've long said I'm not anti-vaxx, but with all the news coming out about how natural immunity is better than being vaccinated, I'm really starting to have some doubts about the merits of vaccination.

And what counts as being "fully vaccinated"? The goalposts keep moving on this topic. A second vaccination is enough? A third? A booster? Two boosters? Where does it end?

If my vaxxed friends suddenly start dying off, then I guess I'll know the truth, or at least have a hint of it. If I die before they do, well, I guess they'll know the truth.

I'll once again link to The COVID Blog, which deals with vaxx-related issues. There's an article on the site about Karen Croake-Heisler,* who apparently said, "Damn the unvaccinated," then promptly died 12 days later (presumably of COVID) despite three Pfizer injections. Examples like hers abound, and this blog rounds them up.** Merken Sie gut!

ADDENDUM: for balance's sake, an article praising the effectiveness of vaccines here. The comments appended to the article are also interesting.

__________

*The article follows Croake-Heisler's tweets; she was tweeting even when she fell ill, and she kept irrationally blaming the unvaccinated for her woes, completely unaware that she was implying the several injections she'd received were obviously useless for her. If you've been jabbed, and you believe the "mRNA injection" (as the article calls it) is effective, then you have no reason to fear the unvaccinated. Unless you harbor a sneaking suspicion that the jab you got isn't effective. You can't have it both ways.

**Of course, the very act of rounding up these cases can produce a sort of prejudicial effect in the mind. Let's say there's some disease that kills 100 scattered people a year in the United States. 100 people, in a population of 330 million, is minuscule, as stats go. But if I round up all those deaths and place them on a single page, the deadliness of the disease suddenly seems more significant. So to be clear, I'm aware of this psychological phenomenon. That said, the case for vaccinations not being the best option is still building, and it's being under-reported by the mainstream media which is, once again, why I rely on alt-media for most of my information these days. Stop watching CNN, folks. It's mostly lies.



go, carnivore?

A short video describing the results of a recent Harvard study about the carnivore diet that involved over 2,000 study participants:

My first week on carnivore was unwontedly great: I lost 3 kg. This past week sucked because I fell off the wagon, and unfortunately, this upcoming week sees me prepping food for and eating a Thanksgiving meal, so this isn't going to be a stellar seven days, either. After Thanksgiving, I have three weeks until my next doctor's appointment, so I'll crank up the discipline and see if I can improve my all-around numbers.



Sunday numbers again

The stats for this week:

Weight: 105 kg
BP: 162/92
Pulse: 74
Blood Sugar: 91

No change in weight or blood sugar, and pulse is slightly down from last week, but what the hell is up with my blood pressure? I realize that BP fluctuates throughout the day, but this is still not promising. My little BP device puts me in the red zone with those numbers. Should I start doing stairs training daily or something? What more, aside from actual weight loss, can I do to get those numbers down?

It's a constant battle.

I'll buckle down on carnivore this week, except for Thanksgiving, obviously. We'll see how the numbers are next week. As for those stairs, I ratchet up to 2.5 staircases this week. Since I won't be exercising on Thursday, maybe I'll do the stairs Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

from my Saturday walk

Here are two shots from the new route:






long walk today

About to head out for a decent walk, about 25K, along the new Tan Creek route I've found. Back late tonight, then I'll be cooking all day tomorrow as I begin my Thanksgiving prep. Once prep starts, there might be pictures, so stay tuned.



Rittenhouse totally exonerated

Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts against him. Expect the leftie media to twist the truth of this somehow. 





weekend agenda

Gonna be a busy weekend because American Thanksgiving is next week! Saturday, I'll be doing my long walk, probably along the new Tan Creek route I explored last week and this past Thursday night. Then for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday, I'll be engaged in food prep, which will continue over Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because some things ought to be made only at the last minute.

Thanksgiving is a cheat day for me, diet-wise, but to be honest, I may be cheating during the days leading up to the big day because a cook needs to taste as he goes while making food. Not that I plan to stuff myself before Thursday, but it's likely that I'll be ingesting a few carbs here and there. Not the best thing to do with only three or so weeks before my doctor's appointment, but oh well.

On the menu:

Turkey with Gravy
Ham with Maple Glaze
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Corn
Peas & Carrots
Cranberry Sauce
Apple Pie

For some, it might be heresy to hear this, but even though turkey is often the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, I think it's rarely the star of the show.* That honor more likely goes to the sides, like the stuffing. That being said, I'm going to make what I hope will be an awesome gravy to give life to the turkey—a gravy loaded with mushrooms and bacon to add texture and flavor. The ham will be glazed in a maple coating; the stuffing will be made with regular white bread but will also be nice and sage-y; the mashed potatoes will have butter, heavy cream, garlic powder, onion powder, maybe some cream cheese, and some light herbs; the sweet potatoes will have a marshmallow topping (haven't done that in years); the cranberry sauce will contain some other frozen fruits from my freezer (strawberries and blueberries, but not enough to dominate the cranberries); apple pie was chosen at the request of my boss, based on my performance last year: my pumpkin pie failed, but everyone loved the apple pie.

Most of the above dishes can be made in advance and stored until Thursday, so I'll spend this weekend prepping, prepping, and prepping. Come Wednesday night or Thursday morning, I'll do the peas and carrots (peas often get wrinkly after you take them out of the boiling water, so they're best done at the last minute). Arguably, the ham should wait until the last day to be prepped as well; I don't want it to dry out. Same goes for the turkey, which is also in danger of drying out if prepped wrong. Everything else can be made in advance and wrapped up or containerized, then reheated Thursday morning and served sur place.

Been a while since I've done this sort of large-scale meal prep. I think this year's Thanksgiving menu, which is a rendition of greatest hits rather than an attempt at anything novel, will be a winner with the troops. I'd love to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and not just coworkers, but you know, pandemic. And limited cheat days. Sucks, but that's the reality of my life. Perhaps some years hence, I'll be able to host a real celebration. Just not yet.

So that's this weekend. Things are gonna be busy. How about you?

ADDENDUM: the schedule—

Saturday & Sunday: prep gravy, maple glaze, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cream corn, and cranberry sauce.

Monday: prep stuffing.

Tuesday: prep apple pie.

Wednesday: prep proteins (cut up, fry up, store so as not to lose moisture).

Thursday morning: prep peas and carrots; glaze the ham. Bring gravy along for the turkey.

__________

*In my case, I don't have an oven large enough to contemplate cooking a whole turkey, even a small one. I purchased 2 kg of turkey breast from the local John Cook deli, along with some slabs of ham steak, so that's what I'm working with. Turkey breast is nice but bland, which is why I'm jazzing up the gravy. By itself, the breast is certainly not the star of any show.



Friday, November 19, 2021

maybe this guy is my new carnivore spirit animal

Maybe this is the inspiration I need to soldier on.



"Squid Game": anti-capitalist nor not?

I still haven't seen a single episode of "Squid Game," but I've watched so much commentary about it that I think I know the show pretty well by now. One debate I've seen online is whether "Squid Game" should be thought of as a critique of capitalism, sort of like the movie "Parasite" (review). One YouTube channel I watched, Generation Films, argues that this is a superficial reading of "Squid Game"; the libertarian channel FEE, by contrast, thinks that if "Squid Game" is a critique of capitalism, then it radically misunderstands capitalism. See both of these videos below and decide for yourself.

"Squid Game" arguably misunderstands capitalism but could be seen as a critique of cronyism, authoritarianism, and greed:

"Squid Game" is not anti-capitalist:




frustration

There are, on YouTube, many videos for us dieters about "how to get past the stall." I'm feeling that frustration right now, but more about my blood pressure than about my weight. In September, when I visited the hospital for my appointment, I had been given a little log book in which I was told to jot down my BP every day. Since I went on a trans-Korea walk right after that hospital visit, I was unable to record my BP for a whole month, and I've been making up for it ever since. But my BP has been high this whole time, and despite the fact that I've ratcheted up my stairs work to the point where I'm now doing 2 staircases twice a week (with jump rope over the weekend), my BP just won't go down.

All of this is enough to make me think I should go back to the Newcastle diet. Caloric restriction really seems to be the best thing for me, and weight loss leads to lower BP. I have little self-control on keto (that's my fault for not tracking my macros more closely, and for eating overly large portions), and carnivore varies between being easy and being difficult. (This has been a bad week for carnivore. I'll make more of an effort next week.) I'll keep trying carnivore for a while, but if that fails to produce long-term results, then I'll think about Newcastling it in some form or other.

Anyway, regarding weight, one lady I watch on YouTube says that "maintenance" isn't about maintaining exactly the same weight every single day; it's about fluctuating, which is normal, but trying to keep those fluctuations within a certain range. I find that reassuring, but I guess I need to get down to a weight that I can maintain before I even worry about fluctuation. I'm nowhere near that point yet, but when I get there, I hope my BP will have improved. High BP is a marker for stroke, and I can't afford another one.



PJW on Gibraltar and Ireland

Perhaps there really is a negative correlation between masking, vaxxing, lockdowns, and the spread of COVID. Perhaps we're getting it all exactly backward.

ADDENDUM: FDA Says It Needs Until Year 2076 To Reveal Data Pertaining To Pfizer Vaccine Approval. And a comment to that Instapundit post says: "My decision to refuse vaccination is looking more and more wise." I'm kinda coming around to this way of thinking. still not anti-vaxx, but definitely not convinced the vaccine is of much help.

ADDENDUM 2: the COVID Blog. Worth exploring.




this week: not as good as last week

I let myself go a little too wild, this week, with eating keto foods that aren't carnivore, so I'm no longer expecting another 3-kilogram loss. If anything, I'll be lucky if I've maintained the weight loss from last week. I guess we'll know more this coming Sunday when I do my weigh-in after what I hope will be a Saturday of penance. I'm thinking about once again trying the 35K hike from Hanam City to Yangpyeong, but there's also a local hike that I might do, now that I've had a chance to explore the path that sits on the other side of the Tan Creek. Walking that entire path will get me close to 25K, I think, so I might do that instead of the 35K walk. It's the same Tan Creek that I've become familiar with over the years, but long stretches of this new path are on the opposite sides of the creek—on the north side going toward the Han River, and on the west side going south toward Bundang. Strange to find this local path so late in the game; I guess I'm just a slow learner.



Thursday, November 18, 2021

images

Damned by his own words:



Semicolon, not comma:


Try to avoid "the reason is... because":



Should be snarling, not smiling:





Comma before "which":

At some point, people need to start treating COVID season like a regular flu season: