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Yup, Still Alive

I was sick for about six weeks with that thing that’s going around, mostly because we were understaffed at work and I was thus unable to take sick days or get much rest. So I think I have a good excuse for not keeping up with the blog. Or calling anyone. Or doing much of anything.

However, I did have one very fun time during my recuperation period. I got to get off from work and go to a little bit of Marcon, in pursuit of publicity for my brother Kevin’s book, The Sculpted Ship. Marcon isn’t as overly crowded these days, to the point that I am worried about it; but it has a very pleasant atmosphere and the company is good. (At least for the few hours I was there.)

I also visited Blessed Margaret of Castello’s shrine up in Columbus, which is quite close to the convention center, and prayed for a friend who is getting big foot surgery this month. (Please pray for her too. The first surgery was successful, but they’re doing the other leg next.)

I am trying to get all the way well, and I mean to write more stuff.

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Boy Detective Day!

Today’s daily Mass readings include almost an entire chapter of the Book of Daniel — the exciting story of Susanna and the Elders!

Susanna is the gorgeous and pious young wife of Joachim, a rich Jewish man even in Babylon. Joachim holds open house for the elders of the community, but they repay his hospitality by lusting for his wife. They plot to surprise her alone in her garden while her husband is not home, then extort her into sleeping with them.

St. Susanna refuses, reasoning that it is better to be threatened by men than to do wrong before God. She screams for help. (Thus claiming legal protection and refusal to go along.) The elders double down when help comes, and claim that they saw her committing adultery under a tree. (The classic Bible prostitution as pagan worship scenario.) Acting as false judges, they order her to be stoned to death.

And then, who should speak up but young Daniel, a little boy, sent by God to prove Susanna’s innocence?

To make a long story short, Daniel persuades the crowd to separate the elders and take their testimony separately. He asks them each about what kind of tree Susanna was under, when they saw her doing the hanky-panky. Each one answers quickly and definitely — but one says it was a mastic tree, while other says it was an oak.

St. Susanna is saved, and the elders are punished instead. God has judged the matter fairly, through the wit and wisdom of the boy Daniel.

This shows the close Biblical relationship between prophecy and judgment.

You also get a comparison with the Gospel reading with Jesus saving the woman caught in adultery. She really was guilty, but Jesus judged that she should receive mercy and that the crowd be forced to judge themselves guilty. In each case, only a few words are needed to show the truth.

The Lord God is a sleuth of minds and hearts. He walked down those mean streets, but was not Himself mean. He is the Mystery with the ultimate happy ending.

But He is also the stern just Judge, Who will make sure that the wicked get what’s coming to them. Maybe not the ones we assume, maybe not the way we think, but soon and forever.

May You count us among Your clients, O Great Detective.

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Pea Butter and Medieval Lent

In the 1995 book The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, Terence Scully apparently talks a lot about how European medievals coped with Lent. Back then, we Latin Catholics had the same tough fasting regulations as Eastern Catholics do. In other words, it was forty days without milk, butter, lard, or eggs, as well as without meat.

It is well known that medieval cooks used almond milk as a dairy substitute.

What Scully points out is that there was also a butter substitute, and it wasn’t olive oil. (Olive oil was used more like shortening, at least by Northern European cooks who usually stuck to butter.)

The butter substitute was “pea-paste,” also known as “pea butter.” It was so common that medieval cookbooks don’t even bother to tell you how to make it. You already knew. And even peasants could afford pea butter. Food historians were a bit mystified.

Cut to modern times. Apparently the techie foodies have rediscovered pea butter. (Of course they do it with a centrifuge running for hours, but the medieval peasant version wouldn’t have been quite so pure and perfection-happy. It was probably more like pea guacamole.)

How do you make it?

First, take peas, preferably nice sweet green spring peas. (Fresh or frozen, or possibly dried and reconstituted if you’re medieval and the spring peas haven’t sprouted yet. The foodies say it actually works better with frozen peas.)

Mash and beat the heck out of the peas, or stick them in your blender. (Or your centrifuge, in which case you should add water.)

Strain out the pea solids, like the skins, and the pea juices that are too sloppy. (Or watch them magically separate in your centrifuge.)

Everything else is pea butter.You can eat it on bread, or even cook with it to a limited extent. (Obviously it will burn a lot faster than real butter.)

(And if you don’t feel like straining out the skins, I guess you don’t have to; it will be tasty pease-camole. But it might be a lot more spreadable if you get out the cheesecloth. Medieval cooks loved straining things, I’m telling you.)

So… if you are an Eastern Catholic who wants to get in touch with your European side, or if you are a Latin/Roman Rite Catholic with kids or a blender that need occupation, you can make pea butter for Lent. Or just for spring yumminess.

If you don’t like green butter or you’d rather not get out the blender/minions, here’s a modern recipe for a peanut butter substitute, a “roasted pea butter” made with yellow peas. It seems pretty simple. The agave would definitely make it sticky like peanut butter. (But then, so would sugar.)

Not to be confused with butter peas, which I think are a New World vegetable.

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Important Vitamin B12 Advisory!

In general, you can’t hurt yourself by taking Vitamin B12.

In specific, however, you should remember that B12 is used as a treatment for anemia, and that a lack of B12 can cause anemia. Pernicious anemia is caused by your gut not being able to process food-borne B12, which is why folks with pernicious anemia get B12 shots instead of taking it orally.

B12 helps your body make blood.

So as the Mayo Clinic points out, if you take a lot of B12 and your body increases your blood volume by making more blood (a good thing), you can actually end up with too much blood. And that would cause a sort of high blood pressure, which is signalled by redness in the face, etc. (And if you already have high blood pressure, THAT WOULD BE BAD.)

Now, obviously you don’t want to tempt your doctor to bring out the leeches or the bloodletting equipment! (Although I guess you’re okay if you live in a paranormal romance and have a vampire around the house.)

Therefore… if you have really high amounts of micrograms listed on the side of your Vitamin B12 bottle (like 5000 mcg), do not pop them like candy. If your face looks weirdly red, ease off. And if you already have high blood pressure or heart problems, talk to your doctor about safe amounts of vitamins, as customized for you.

Other safety notes from the Mayo Clinic.

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Alas, I Have Been Hideously Busy

But I really am blogging. Really.

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Blogging Hiatus Should Be Over

Yes, I am alive. I have just been busy at work, as well as busy helping my brother Kevin work on his sequel novel (which is more a matter of keeping him company while we both write, therefore staying accountable). Also, I hate having to heat the computer room just so I can use the big computer instead of a tablet. (And tablets stink at making links.)

So yes, I’ve been letting this blog go, and writing really long comments on other people’s blogs instead. I apologize. It’s a bad habit, which this blog was invented to break.

And then there’s Trump. I never really knew what to think of him during the campaign, and I voted for him more as a matter of party loyalty than personal pleasure. But to be honest, the more that SJWs went nuts against the man, the more entertaining it became. By Election Day, I was starting to warm to the whole idea of a President Trump, although I was pretty sure the Democrats would manage to steal the election somehow.

Heh. I was never so glad to be wrong. Is there anyone in the world who would actually want to work with Hillary as their boss? Is she not the stuff of office nightmares?

By Inauguration Day, I was solidly in favor of Trump. If he had been chosen to be CEO of a company where I was employed, I would have been feeling good about it. I’m still not sure how he’ll fare as our US president, but he’s doing a good job so far. The bizarre overreaction of the Left just makes it all sweeter. I am sorry for those people on the left whom I know personally, because they can’t seem to stay sane about the poor man. But then, they did the same hissy fits about Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Mitt Romney, Condeleeza Rice, Sarah Palin, and the fence-straddling McCain, so it’s hard to care.

Not much else to say, but I’m sure I’ll have more later. The weather has gotten a lot better.

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Offal Nice

Today there were numerous news stories about a “new organ” being discovered in the human body. It’s actually the re-classification of the mesentery as an organ, whereas it used to be seen as just a membrane holding the small intestine in place.

You don’t hear a lot about the mesentery, but French chefs like to cook it. They like to cook a lot of things that come out of the guts of animals. So let’s discuss what the cooking terms translate into!

Tripe = stomach or stomach lining. French andouillette sausage is stuffed with tripe and mesentery meat. Some kinds of menudo are all about tripe, although usually it’s just leftovers of whatever the household has been eating. But a lot of taquerias will do you tripe tacos or tripe soup, just like they’ll do beef tongue and the like. There are different kinds of cow tripe that each get cooked differently; Wikipedia will fill you in.

Friaise/fraise = mesentery. “Fraise” means “ruff” as well as “strawberry,” so the French make this word do a lot of duty.

Pluck = originally “mesentery.” It grew to include the heart, liver and lungs of an animal, eventually including the guts (braided for cooking convenience) and other offal. Sometimes used as a synonym for offal and other “variety meats.”

Chitterlings aka Chitlins = dish made from pig intestines.

Liver and lights = liver and lungs. A common food for dogs, in the old days.

Melt = spleen.

Kidneys = kidneys. Also “reins” and “rognons.”

Sweetbreads consist of three different things:

  • Belly sweetbread = pancreas
  • Breast sweetbread = the thymus glands
  • Throat sweetbread = the thyroid gland

(So kids, all of you with thyroid problems or diabetes are basically having sweetbread troubles.)

Elder = cow udder. Sometimes sold as part of “tripe.”

Animelles = French term for animal testicles. (There are ruder terms for human ones.) Also called “rognons blancs” and “rognons externelles.”

Lamb’s fry = lamb testicles.

There are a lot of other animal parts that are used in the traditional cuisine of many countries, but this gives you a good start.

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