Daily Archive: 11/23/2013

Nov 23 2013

Random Japan

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Feed your inner monster with adorable Totoro cream puffs


Sometimes food is so beautifully prepared it seems like a shame to eat it. And yet, the beautiful preparation makes it that much more enticing. The Japanese are without a doubt the masters of this skill, ranging from the exquisite jewel-like arrangements of chic kaiseki-ryori to the saccharine adorableness of the average kid’s bento.

But we’ve discovered an almost-too-squee-inducing-to-eat treat that should appeal to adults and children alike: cream puffs shaped like Ghibli animation favorite Totoro.

The creams puffs are the creation of Shirohige Shu-Cream Kojo (Whitebeard’s Cream Puff Factory), a pastry shop with attached café off a tiny side street in the Daita neighborhood of Tokyo. Once we heard about it, we naturally had to go check it out for ourselves, so on a brisk fall afternoon ideal for hunting forest spirits, we headed to Shirohige to see if these cuties taste as good as they look.

Nov 23 2013

Day of the Doctor

Nov 23 2013

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Soup to Start

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I love the idea of soup as part of the Thanksgiving meal. There are so many fall vegetables that make delicious, light purées, and that you might want to include in your Thanksgiving menu. But the prospect of a first course with the additional bowls and soup spoons to place and clear, when the main course and trimmings and dessert are the real focus of this meal, gives me pause.

But this year I found a solution, and it solves not just the soup conundrum but also the problem of what to serve before the meal, when guests and family are trickling in, maybe some people are watching football, and you need and want to serve something good without filling people up too much. I will be serving soup shots in demitasse espresso cups. They won’t require spoons, as four of the choices are purées and one is a consommé.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Parsnip and Carrot Soup With Tarragon

A fragrant soup that lets the flavor of the vegetables shine through.

Dried Porcini Consommé

A refreshing and light soup that can be an appetizer or full first course.

Puréed Mushroom Soup

This soup is made without cream, but still tastes very rich.

Celeriac, Potato, Leek and Apple Soup

A sweet and savory mixture that works well as a soup.

Turnip, Leek and Potato Soup

A simple French soup that works well regardless of which vegetable gets the emphasis.

Nov 23 2013

An Anthology of Turkey Day Helpful Hints and Recipes

Republished from November 18, 2012 because it’s that time of year again.

PhotobucketOver the last couple of years I’ve shared some of the recipes that I served at the annual Turkey Feast. There have also been diaries about cooking the bird, whether or not to stuff it and suggestions about what to drink that will not conflict with such an eclectic meal of many flavors. It’s not easy to please everyone and, like in my family, there are those who insist on “traditions” like Pumpkin Pie made only from the recipe on the Libby’s Pumpkin Puree can slathered with Ready Whip Whipped Cream. For my son-in-law it isn’t Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Thank the cats we have a crowd that will eat just about anything on the table that looks pretty. Rather than reprise each recipe, I’ve compiled an anthology of past diaries to help you survive the trauma of Thanksgiving Day and enjoy not just the meal but family and friends.

  • What’s Cooking: Stuffing the Turkey Or Not
  • Health reasons why not to stuff that bird and a recipe with a clever decorative way to serve the dressing.

  • What’s Cooking: What to Drink with the Turkey
  • Suggestions on wine and beer pairings that go with everything including brussel sprouts.

  • What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash
  • A great substitute for those sticky, over sweet, marshmallow topped tubers that goes well with pork or ham and breakfast.

  • What’s Cooking: Autumn Succotash, Not Your Usual Suspect
  • Hate those gritty, tasteless lima beans in succoatash? I do but this recipe using edamame change my mind

  • Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving
  • Includes a great recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake that will please even those diehard traditional pumpkin pie lovers.

  • What’s Cooking: Pumpkin Soup
  • Any squash can be substituted for pumpkin in this recipe. My daughter is using butternut served with a dollop of cumin flavored sour cream.

  • What’s Cooking: Don’t Throw That Turkey Carcass Out
  • Besides making turkey soup or hash with those leftovers and the carcass, there is also some great recipes like the mushroom risotto in this essay.

    May everyone have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.  

    Nov 23 2013

    Punting the Pundits

    “Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

    Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

    Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

    Zoë Carpenter: Inequality Is (Literally) Killing America

    Only a few miles separate the Baltimore neighborhoods of Roland Park and Upton Druid Heights. But residents of the two areas can measure the distance between them in years-twenty years, to be exact. That’s the difference in life expectancy between Roland Park, where people live to be 83 on average, and Upton Druid Heights, where they can expect to die at 63.

    Underlying these gaps in life expectancy are vast economic disparities. Roland Park is an affluent neighborhood with an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, and a median household income above $90,000. More than 17 percent of people in Upton Druid Heights are unemployed, and the median household income is just $13,388.

    It’s no secret that this sort of economic inequality is increasing nationwide; the disparity between America’s richest and poorest is the widest it’s been since the Roaring Twenties. Less discussed are the gaps in life expectancy that have widened over the past twenty-five years between America’s counties, cities and neighborhoods. While the country as a whole has gotten richer and healthier, the poor have gotten poorer, the middle class has shrunk and Americans without high school diplomas have seen their life expectancy slide back to what it was in the 1950s. Economic inequalities manifest not in numbers, but in sick and dying bodies

    Eugene Robinson: Enough of GOP Obstruction

    Way to nuke ’em, Harry.

    It was time-actually, long past time-for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to invoke the “nuclear option” and ask his colleagues to change the Senate’s rules. This isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about making what has been called “the world’s greatest deliberative body” function the way the Framers of the Constitution intended. [..]

    The Senate was designed by the Founders to move slowly but not to be paralyzed. Republican obstruction of presidential appointments makes the government less able to do the people’s work-and less reflective of the people’s will. Elections are supposed to have consequences.

    It was time to push the button.

    Juan Cole: Another Reason to Divest: Global Outrage at Dirty Coal Threatens Investors’ Profits

    The divestment movement on US college campuses against Big Carbon (coal, oil and gas) signals more than just the arrival of a new, determined and idealistic generation of students. It is a harbinger of danger for investors.

    In addition to the keen competition thermal coal is facing as a source for electricity generation from fracked natural gas and from wind turbines, coal in particular faces a major public relations problem. It is the dirtiest way of producing electricity, causing lung problems and probably contributing to autism via mercury emissions, and it is the major cause of global warming.

    The value of coal stocks is to outward seeming backed by trillions of dollars in coal reserves, but what if that substance is actually worthless? Coal is already being shorted by a major brokerage, which points out that even heavily coal-dependent China plans to move away from the fuel because of pollution concerns (like that coal plants are making the air thick as pea soup and giving small children lung cancer).

    Robert Parry: Who Controls US Foreign Policy?

    The new Saudi-Israeli alliance wants to drag the U.S. government – and military – into the region’s Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict by sabotaging negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the Syrian civil war

    In the case of Syria, the U.S. government has been under pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest Sunni Arab country, to enter the conflict on the side of the Syrian Sunni rebels and thus to strike a blow at Shiite-ruled Iran, which is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To push this goal of U.S. intervention, the Israelis and the Saudis have established what amounts to an anti-Shiite alliance based on their mutual hatred of Iran. [..]

    But this joint Saudi-Israeli assault on what’s known as “the Shiite crescent” – an arc from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon – is being fought on a variety of fronts, including on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. news media where American neoconservatives are working to deepen U.S. military involvement in Syria and to shoot down an interim agreement that would constrain but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.

    David Sirota: Ending the Fire Zone Subsidy

    In the American West, “zoning” is often viewed as a taboo term. Indeed, despite a population boom and the rise of major cities in the region, this area is still seen as the wide-open frontier. The libertarian zeal that comes with that frontier spirit naturally leads many to believe they should be able to build whatever they want wherever they want.

    One obvious problem with that attitude, though, is how the inevitable costs associated with willfully irresponsible development decisions are borne not just by the individual property owner, but by all taxpayers. Such is the case with firefighting. Over the last decade, as so much suburban sprawl has reached into known wildfire zones, governments are still on the financial hook for protecting homes from blazes. That’s not frontier freedom. That’s forcing taxpayers who make responsible residential decisions to subsidize-and thus encourage-irresponsible development decisions.


    Nov 23 2013

    Nothing to see here

    So not the droids you’re looking for.

    N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power

    By JAMES RISEN and LAURA POITRAS, The New York Times

    Published: November 22, 2013

    In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency’s eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.”

    Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact.”

    Intent on unlocking the secrets of adversaries, the paper underscores the agency’s long-term goal of being able to collect virtually everything available in the digital world. To achieve that objective, the paper suggests that the N.S.A. plans to gain greater access, in a variety of ways, to the infrastructure of the world’s telecommunications networks.

    Yet the paper also shows how the agency believes it can influence and shape trends in high-tech industries in other ways to suit its needs. One of the agency’s goals is to “continue to invest in the industrial base and drive the state of the art for high performance computing to maintain pre-eminent cryptanalytic capability for the nation.” The paper added that the N.S.A. must seek to “identify new access, collection and exploitation methods by leveraging global business trends in data and communications services.”

    And it wants to find ways to combine all of its technical tools to enhance its surveillance powers. The N.S.A. will seek to integrate its “capabilities to reach previously inaccessible targets in support of exploitation, cyberdefense and cyberoperations,” the paper stated.

    The agency also intends to improve its access to encrypted communications used by individuals, businesses and foreign governments, the strategy document said. The N.S.A. has already had some success in defeating encryption, The New York Times has reported, but the document makes it clear that countering “ubiquitous, strong, commercial network encryption” is a top priority. The agency plans to fight back against the rise of encryption through relationships with companies that develop encryption tools and through espionage operations. In other countries, the document said, the N.S.A. must also “counter indigenous cryptographic programs by targeting their industrial bases with all available Sigint and Humint” – human intelligence, meaning spies.

    One of the agency’s other four-year goals was to “share bulk data” more broadly to allow for better analysis. While the paper does not explain in detail how widely it would disseminate bulk data within the intelligence community, the proposal raises questions about what safeguards the N.S.A. plans to place on its domestic phone and email data collection programs to protect Americans’ privacy.

    N.S.A. officials have insisted that they have placed tight controls on those programs. In an interview, the senior intelligence officials said that the strategy paper was referring to the agency’s desire to share foreign data more broadly, not phone logs of Americans collected under the Patriot Act.

    Above all, the strategy paper suggests the N.S.A.’s vast view of its mission: nothing less than to “dramatically increase mastery of the global network.”

    Nov 23 2013

    On This Day In History November 23

    This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

    Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

    November 23 is the 327th day of the year (328th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 38 days remaining until the end of the year.

    On this day in 1936, the first issue of the pictorial magazine Life is published.

    Life actually had its start earlier in the 20th century as a different kind of magazine: a weekly humor publication, not unlike today’s The New Yorker in its use of tart cartoons, humorous pieces and cultural reporting. When the original Life folded during the Great Depression, the influential American publisher Henry Luce bought the name and re-launched the magazine as a picture-based periodical on this day in 1936. By this time, Luce had already enjoyed great success as the publisher of Time, a weekly news magazine.

    In 1936 publisher Henry Luceaid $92,000 to the owners of Life magazine because he sought the name for Time Inc. Wanting only the old Life’s name in the sale, Time Inc. sold Life’s subscription list, features, and goodwill to Judge. Convinced that pictures could tell a story instead of just illustrating text, Luce launched Life on November 23, 1936. The third magazine published by Luce, after Time in 1923 and Fortune in 1930, Life gave birth to the photo magazine in the U.S., giving as much space and importance to pictures as to words. The first issue of Life, which sold for ten cents (approximately USD $1.48 in 2007, see Cost of Living Calculator) featured five pages of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s pictures.

    When the first issue of Life magazine appeared on the newsstands, the U.S. was in the midst of the Great Depression and the world was headed toward war. Adolf Hitler was firmly in power in Germany. In Spain, General Francisco Franco’s rebel army was at the gates of Madrid; German Luftwaffe pilots and bomber crews, calling themselves the Condor Legion, were honing their skills as Franco’s air arm. Italy under Benito Mussolini annexed Ethiopia. Luce ignored tense world affairs when the new Life was unveiled: the first issue depicted the Fort Peck Dam in Montana photographed by Margaret Bourke-White.

    Nov 23 2013

    Friday Night at the Movies