Tin Tins around the world

May 3, 2009 at 2:37 pm (books, international)

Mark picked up some Tin Tin books in Brussels: two versions of the Crab with the Golden Claws.  One’s in English and the other is in Chinese.  It turns out that they have a ton of translations for Tin Tin, many of them are in languages that I’ve never heard of.

They also show the availability of all the Tin Tin books on the backs.  There are 24 Tin Tin books in English, but only 21 in Chinese.

Tin Tins in Chinese

Tin Tins in Chinese

Tin Tins in English

Tin Tins in English

That might be a little hard to see, so here are the ones that are translated to English but not Chinese (simplified):

img_4214 img_4212 img_4213

Why is Alph-Art, whatever that is, left off?

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All packed up for NYC!

October 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm (books, review, science)

My time in DC is over and now it’s time to move to the next place.  No more taxation without representation.  I want to be represented and taxed!  I’ll be in NYC by tomorrow night.

Miraculously, I accumulated a little bit more stuff, but I can still fit it in my suitcases.  I hope it’ll fit in the NYC nook that I’ll be living in this fall.

I just finished reading Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul.  (Amazon link)  By Ken Miller, a professor that I had at Brown.  One of the best professors that I had at Brown.  He’s been really involved in the evolution battle.  In this book, he lays out all the arguments for intelligent design, and then explains very clearly and thoroughly why each of those arguments can’t hold up to actual scientific evidence and reasoning.  He also explains the larger motivations behind the intelligent design movement and how this is the first step to break down the scientific process and bring us backwards.  And points out a lot of ulterior motivations that were uncovered as a result of the Dover, PA trial.  He also explains how what we are learning about evolution is even more awesome than the creation story.  I absolutely agree with that.  Evolution is a beautiful and inspiring thing – living organisms can tune themselves to each other and to their environments.  It’s so much more brilliant than the biblical account, which isn’t even taken literally by many (most?) religions.

I highly recommend it.  It’s beautifully written.  It’s clever and clear and humorous.  And thorough.  I also like how the title can be interpreted differently by different groups, so more people will wind up picking it up.  I hope people who think that ID has some merit or doubt evolution or think that accepting the evolution of humans means that we are the product of a random process read this.  I think that they would find this very respectful and enlightening and uplifting.

More good evolution resources:

Ken Miller visited Stephen Colbert.  Here’s the video.

The National Academies published a booklet – Science, Evolution, and Creationism – that explains the fundamental ideas and evidence behind evolution and also why intelligent design is not a scientific theory.  You can read it online, listen to it as a podcast, or spend a little money to get a hard copy version.  They also argue (as does Ken Miller), that religion and science address fundamentally different and non-overlapping things – natural world vs. supernatural world.  Putting them in opposition to each other is an artificial construct that causes unnecessary trouble.  They also have a whole section on common arguments against evolution and they lay out clear responses to each of those.  This is much shorter than Only a Theory, it just covers the basics, but it is nicely argued and organized.  And it’s short.

There’s a NOVA documentary about the Dover, PA trial.  I haven’t watched it yet, but I expect it to be good.

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Some quick reviews

August 2, 2008 at 11:37 am (books, dessert, education, food, ice cream, international, question, restaurants, review, san francisco)

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time – This guy, Greg Mortenson, is doing great things and building lots of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  And doing it with sheer will and good-naturedness and open-mindedness.  I found this to be very inspiring.  It made me more confident that I am taking the best next step for my career.  The writing is a little clunky at times, but the story and lessons are still really good.  Here’s the link to Amazon.  On Amazon, they appear to have pages for this book title as well as the old rejected title… “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations… One School at a Time.”  The rejected title sounds like something Karl Rove would have chosen for the title.  It looks like the terrorism version is hardcover and the peace version is paperback.  Maybe Amazon thinks that people who buy hardcover books would prefer to see what Mortenson is doing as fighting terrorism and building nations while people who buy paperback books prefer to see this mission as promoting peace?

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey to Perfection – Sequel to The Making of a Chef.  Very interesting insights about cooking and chefhood.  The first section is about the certified master chef exam.  The second is about a chef from Cleveland, Michael Symon.  And the last section is about Thomas Keller and the French Laundry.  I’m finding the section on the French Laundry to be particularly interesting.  Hearing Thomas Keller explain his insights and thinking to the author really fits with how, not reading this philosophy beforehand, I responded to the French Laundry experience.  They really spent the time to balance the flavors and portion sizes, and they took great care and effort to get the most flavor and color out of every ingredient, and that really came through when the plates arrived at the table.  I talked about “magic” in my French Laundry reports, but it turns out that it’s not magic.  It’s chilling the vegetables before blanching and then chilling them right away.  It’s straining sauces 20 times so that they’re incredibly smooth.  It’s washing bones before roasting them for a stock.  One thing that really impressed me is that they realize that a lot of effort and sacrifice goes into the raw ingredients – both with meat and vegetables.  And fungi as well?  So because of that, they treat the ingredients with as much care and respect as possible.  And they are careful to use every last bit of every ingredient.  But then again, they do talk about how if something isn’t blanched right or isn’t chopped right, it has to be tossed.  So that’s a bit of a contradiction.  But I guess if you just always do it right the first time, then there’s no need to waste the food?

Range – This last one is a restaurant.  I was pretty impressed and if I weren’t moving to NYC soon, I’d probably go back.  There were some really good items that we ate, and there were some things that really made me say “wow.”  For example, it turns out that lime and chive are a really good combination and really made the goat cheese and sorrel stuffed ravioli with lime butter and chives appetizer really pop.  Other highlight dishes included the

  • puree of squash soup with sour cream and dill – This soup had a really nice kicky flavor.
  • roasted chicken with a broccoli rabe, toasted almond and sausage bread salad – different from Zuni’s version; equally good, but in different ways.  Zuni’s version has really tasty big pieces of bread.  And a few other ingredients, but it’s mostly bread.  Range’s had vegetables, lots of nuts, and sausage, so there was more variety for your bites.  And I liked the lemony-ness.  Chicken was impeccably done.  One thing that could have been improved was that the veggies in the salad were too salty.  But overall, I enjoyed the dish.  It also makes really yummy leftovers – I tossed my leftovers with some extra bread, tomatoes, and some of the dressing that I had made for my tomato bread salad and it was a spectacularly delicious lunch.
  • cornmeal crepes with blackberries and wildflower honey gelato – the cornmeal crepes were so delicately flavored and textured.  Really yummy.  I expected the wildflower honey gelato to be delicate as well, but it was more like “pow!”
  • bittersweet chocolate and armagnac souffle – Pretty perfectly done souffle.

I also tried one of their cocktails.  I had heard that they were supposed to be good.  And when we arrived in the restaurant, the air smelled like fresh citrus.  Figuring that the citrus smell was from all the drink preparation, I decided that since the air smelled so good, the drinks must be good too.  So I tried the sungold zinger which is 209 gin, sungold tomatoes, agave nectar, and lemon.  I love sungold tomatoes.  It turned out to be much more lemony (Meyer lemony) than sungold tomatoey.  So it was good, but it was not what I was expecting, so that was disappointing.  If you call it a sungold zinger and not a Meyer lemon zinger, I’m going to expect more sungold tomato flavor.

One last thing – I saw balut eggs being sold at the egg stand today.  If you don’t know what balut is and you want to find out, you’re going to have to do your own google or google image search.  I don’t want to put in links or images and then be responsible for grossing someone out.  But my question is if I buy balut eggs from the egg guy at the market, can I incubate it and get a duckling?

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Animal, Vegetable, Cleveland?

April 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm (books, environment, food)

I recommend reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I don’t recommend reading it when you’re on a trip to Cleveland.

Before reading the book, when confronted with unfresh, unlocal, not-in-season food, I ate it with mostly no issues. It’s not like I had never had yummy fresh, local, and in-season produce before or that I didn’t know intellectually that buying local foods was better. I just didn’t think too much about it and accepted that there were times for convenience and money when I had to eat the bland and mushy tomatoes and the soggy and flavorless lettuce and all the other stuff from our inefficient world food market. Well, I’m inspired by the book. I don’t want to eat yucky food anymore when the yummy food is not only yummier, but also so much better for my health, the health of farming communities, and the planet’s health. The only problem is that I came to this decision in Cleveland and in various airports where the options weren’t great. As I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s stories about all the delicious food she was eating, I had to stare at my bland airport and Cleveland* food. I can’t believe they’re allowed to call those things that I ate salads! I think next time, I will plan ahead and bring my own fruit and veggies to snack on.

*I’m sure there are better options in Cleveland. But I was only there for less than 48 hours and I didn’t know where to look. But I did see my first McCain bumper sticker ever!

Here’s one thing that I had never thought to do before and that I was inspired to do: buy extra fresh fruits and veggies in the seasons when there are lots of options and save them for the winter months. I can stock my freezer with sauces and pestos and containers of fruits and veggies that I’ve chopped and maybe blanched and perhaps even measured out for specific recipes. Maybe I’ll try canning or making jam one day. That allows you to eat local even in the winter months. As Barbara Kingsolver said, “it doesn’t go anywhere while it’s sitting in the freezer, so the food is still local.” Or something similar to that but worded in a wittier way. The only issue is freezer space and the energy to power the freezer. But I’m powering the freezer anyway (I don’t turn the freezer off in the winter months). And I can just buy fewer processed and unlocal and packaged foods and replace those with the yummy stuff that I’ve prepared.

I’m also going to try making fresh mozzarella. It is only supposed to take 30 minutes and it involves lots of playing with gooey and stretchy substances. I love mushing and stretching stuff around, especially if it results in something fresh and yummy to eat.

There’s a website that goes with the book… they have lots of recipes and other stuff.

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Fair trade ice cream

April 10, 2008 at 10:15 am (books, food, ice cream, review)

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I made a deal with Christina. I would borrow her copy of The Perfect Scoop. And in exchange, I would share ice cream that I made with her. This works out for both of us because she doesn’t have an ice cream machine and I didn’t have a good ice cream recipe book. But now, we will both have yummy ice cream.

I’ll write another post about the most recent ice cream that I made, but first, I want to talk about the book.

(cover image from http://www.davidlebovitz.com/)

I regularly read and enjoy the blog written by the author of The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz. I figured that I’d also enjoy the book. It has a good and thorough introduction, especially if you haven’t made ice cream before. I wish there were a few more notes about the science, but then again, there are other good resources for that (probably McGee, but I can’t check because I’m in Cleveland and my copy is at home). The biggest benefit of the book is the list of yummy and creative flavor ideas. At first, I thought that I could get by without having my own copy of the book because the recipes are pretty standard (ratios of ingredients, technique for making custard). And that I could just get inspired by looking at the list of flavors. But in looking more closely at the recipes, it’s nice to have techniques and tips for some of the funkier ingredients (lavender, ginger) and it’s useful for getting a sense of how much fruit or chocolate or sugar is needed for a particular flavor without having to do a lot of experimentation first. I also like to make my own flavors (for an example, see the post that will be coming soon!), and I found it really easy to mix and match and modify recipes in the book. So it’s really good for beginners who want to follow easy steps to get delicious ice cream and it’s really good for people who are looking for more of a reference to support their crazy ice cream whims.

I also want to note that there’s a photo of coconut ice cream swirled with mango sorbet. Does this sound familiar? I submitted my ice cream flavor to the Haagen Dazs contest in January of 2007 and this book was published in May 2007. I am not suggesting that David Lebovitz borrowed my flavor (but if he did, I don’t mind because copying is the highest, sincerest form of flattery), just that great minds think alike… yes?

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