Soya wadi manchurian and collard greens stir-fried with curry.

Indo-Chinese cuisine courtesy of the Hakka Chinese community in Kolkata.  Which may be the only cuisine in the world that combines soy sauce with cheese.  Anyway, I discovered this dish not by researching the Indo-Chinese, but by looking at the shelves of Indian grocery stores, noticing “soya wadi”, and wondering “What on earth are those?”

They’re basically large chunks of textured vegetable protein.  And honestly, they’re a minor revelation – if you’re into substituting tofu for meat in things like flavorful curries, stews, and stir-fries, I’d say it’s time to stop that and use these guys instead.  Enjoy tofu for its own specific texture if you like, but if you’re looking for something that soaks of sauce and has something like the mouthfeel and protein content of meat, this is a far more convincing substitute, and much cheaper than branded meat replacements.  The texture might be a bit distracting in more lightly flavored dishes, though.

The stir-fried collard greens with curry powder may or may not be an authentic Indo-Chinese dish – it was basically a guess based on the Wikipedia article.  It was good though!

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The newly unearthed.

I have been exploring new blogs over the past several weeks, so here’s a grab bag of links to some of the more interesting things I’ve found – including older articles:

Hawks and Handsaws: “In defense of prescriptive labeling” is a defense of something I thought I was against, and comes dangerously close to changing my mind.

Socratic Form Micscropy: “Book Review: The Righteous Mind” is notable for its visual depiction of the replication crisis. Also, “When to worry about public debt” is notable because most people will either tell you we should be freaking out about public debt right now or that only right-wing crazies are freaking out about public debt; it’s relatively rare to ask just when a reasonable person should be worried.

Everything Studies: “A deep dive into the Harris-Klein controversy” is a refreshingly critical analysis of the dialogue in question, and of what norms should cover public discussion of politicized, scientific issues.

How did I not know this blog existed? Otium: “Psycho-conservativism: What it is, when to doubt it” and “Hoe cultures: A type of non-patriarchal society.”

In Due Course: “The problem with critical studies” which may or may not be exactly the same thing as postmodernism.

And on an entirely different note, The Angry GM on design rationale in the most controversial edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Is spinning poi cultural appropriation?

One way I can fool people in the real world into thinking I’m cool is by spinning fire.

The man in the above video – who is not me – is spinning props called poi, which is the Maori term for a traditional performance art that involves balls on strings.  Every once in a while, you’ll get someone who’ll tell you that white people shouldn’t spin poi, because it’s “cultural appropriation.” This is not a big deal, and it never goes anywhere because there is no substantial movement among the Maori themselves to stop white people from spinning poi.

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Another pavlova.

My third pavlova in about as many months, and the second success of the bunch.  Kumquats, raspberries, blueberries, and mint.  I flatter myself with the notion that these are probably slightly healthier than other desserts, but really I just like the way they look and taste.

I mentioned an unsuccessful pavlova, and in addition, there was one initial unsuccessful attempt that never even became a pavlova.  Egg whites are not an easy thing to work with.

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Ma po tofu

A food photograph defiantly free of glamor.  Ma po tofu is a classic szechuan dish, featuring silken tofu, chile/bean paste, and szechuan peppercorns – a fascinating spice than contains a chemical, called hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, that stimulates certain touch receptors in the mouth.  It also has baby corn, because there was a can of that on hand.

Unfortunately, the dish was too spicy for my girlfriend to eat, so I plowed through the leftovers at work, lunch after lunch.

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Conspiracies without theories, theories without conspiracies, and theories about conspiracies.

A post last month on /r/slatestarcodex asked whether professors who believe in conspiracy theories should get to keep their jobs. That question seems pretty easy to me – if their beliefs interfere with their teaching, then firing or some other kind of discipline is appropriate, otherwise not. What’s more interesting to me is one of the follow-up comments:

“MKUltra, the Gulf of Tonkin, Bohemian Grove, CIA involvement with the Dalai Lama, Cigarettes causing cancer, the testomony of ‘Nayirah’ before the Gulf War, Operation Mockingbird, CIA involvement in the importation of Cocaine, The Iran-Contra affair, even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster all started as conspiracy theories.”

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Guidelines for lower back pain?

Scott Alexander wonders why we don’t have “guideline” algorithms for more difficult-to-treat problems, in addition to depression. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the internet, the first steps toward establishing something like that for back pain.

That piece cites several journal articles, including lower back pain in spaaace!, but the most important one is this literature review – gated, but free.

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