Monthly Archives: December 2012

Interim Hiatus

I’m going to give myself a little hiatus until the new year. See you in 2013!

A Year Ago: Window Glow

Bounced Window LightOne reason that people don’t see much of the world’s beauty is…
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Let Us Keep The Feast

Even though I’m spending Christmas on my own, I felt I needed to prepare something a little unusual or special to eat. So I decided to make myself some homemade chinese-style gluten puffs. These are excellent in soups or mixed into stir fry. They have a nice toothsome, chewy texture and they soak up sauces and broths like nobody’s business.

They are not hard to make, but the process is a little time-consuming. Make a simple water and flour dough (using bread or hi-protein flour is best, if you can, but all-purpose unbleached/unbromated is fine too). Knead the dough (and add more flour as needed) as long as you must until it is stiff, springy, and relatively dry. For me, this is about 15 minutes or so.

I actually enjoy kneading dough, so I don’t get bored doing this.

If you like, you can let the dough rest for a length of time equivalent to the kneading time. I’m not sure whether this is voodoo or actually efficacious in some way. I use it to take a little break.

Then, place the dough in a big bowl in the sink and fill it with cool water. Commence to knead the dough under water. The dough will release its starch. Keeping kneading and changing the water. (This part is pretty tedious. If you are feeling virtuous you can save some of the starch-water for soup stocks.) Eventually, the water will run clear, indicating that the starch has been fully flushed from the dough. The volume of dough will be reduced by 75% or more. What’s left is a stringy, stretchy, sticky mass of protein—the gluten.

Squeeze as much water out of the mass as you can. You can also leave it to drain in a sieve for a bit, if you have the time.

Heat up some oil, ideally in a saucepan that can provide with you with an inch-and-a-half or so of depth. (The one I used today was too shallow to be optimal.) Use an oil with a high smoke-point: peanut, canola, or my favorite grapeseed. When the oil is good’n'hot, drop in small (1-2 cm) balls of gluten into the oil, maybe four at a time. Beware of hissing, spitting water/oil droplets! The gluten balls will puff up and turn golden.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. You can use them right away in a soup or stir-fry, sliced up into shreds or whole. You can also freeze them in a zipper-bag (flatten them and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible). When ready, you can use them straight out of the freezer, as they thaw quickly.

Is it worth all the hassle? Well, this is much better stuff than seitan in my opinion. And the canned version of gluten comes in a sweet and admittedly tasty sauce that has a specific, distinctive flavor. This version is more of a blank canvas which you can flavor as you choose, and you have the satisfaction of having made it from scratch.

Nota bene: Obviously, if you are allergic to gluten DO NOT EAT THIS. “Gluten-free” is a health-food buzzword these days. But very few people should be concerned (less than 1% are actually allergic to gluten, and even fewer have celiac disease, which is a serious disorder that makes eating gluten dangerous). For most of us, gluten is a healthful, high-quality protein and there is no need at all to try to avoid it—quite the contrary.

P.S.: Merry Christmas!

A Year Ago: Stairway to Heaven

Outdoor stairs, Silver Spring, MDSunny Key West? Nope…
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Christmas Gateway

Whether you are with friends, or family, or on your own, I wish you the joy of the season. As the northern part of the globe makes its way toward a predominance of light, may your life also shine brighter and warmer every day.

A Year Ago: A Family Christmas

The Kolker-Borton Axis on New Year's EveThis is not my family, but they treat me like kin…
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Corner Mark

Orange flag, pin, pink spray paint surveyor's mark.

This one isn’t going to mean much to anyone except me. It’s the original surveyor’s mark for the front-left corner of my house.

It’s already been dug away, and about seven feet below this spot there’s now a trench with concrete in it. I don’t expect much to happen between now and the new year—this is not the ideal time for rapid construction progress. But I do hope things move forward as quickly as possible.

A Year Ago: Bob in Winter

Bob in coat and jacket.Did I mention it was cold…
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Metal fuel silos.

These storage tanks do not inspire great confidence, despite their glow in afternoon light. They’re labeled “diesel,” “kerosene,” and so on. Their valves and pipes seem fragile and provisional. The facility appears to be abandoned.

This is technology that is not old enough or grand enough to be a remarkable relic.

Tanks for the memories.

A Year Ago: People Like Us

Gorilla, Albuquerque ZooWhenever I visit a primate display at a zoo, I am very uncomfortable…
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Surface Design

Brick wall with boarded window, River Arts District, Asheville, NC

At a meet-up yesterday I described myself as—among other things—an occasional improvisational quilter. I think that modern quilt improvisation appeals to me, in part, because the world I see around me often seems pieced together from scraps of pattern and shape that somehow form a harmonious whole.

The other main reason, of course, is that I get bored and annoyed following finicky repetitive directions.

A Year Ago: Run for your lives!

T-Rex at River of Lights, Albuquerque, NMA hugely popular seasonal celebration takes place at Albuquerque’s Botanical Garden…
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Kitteh Therapy

About four blocks from my house-site there is an animal rescue operation called Pet Harmony. About half the dog-walkers in the neighborhood are volunteers from that establishment.

I had bought some donuts, intending to bring them as a love-offering for the people working on my house-to-be. But nobody was on the job. (Alas.) I decided on the spur of the moment to pay my first visit to Pet Harmony and spread the donut love there instead.

I gave away the donuts and then spent a blissful 15 minutes with kitties climbing all over me. So relaxing!

A Year Ago: A Sign

Petroglyph, Albuquerque, NMWe spent about three hours clambering around Rinconada Canyon in Petroglyph National Monument…
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Sail Away

Color blocks and shadows, River Arts District, Asheville, NC

The colors and shapes seem strikingly nautical, but Asheville is not a seaside town.

A Year Ago: Alight

Chamisa, Corrales, NMThese are the colors of winter in New Mexico…
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Vehicle, rusted hopper, painted siding.

What a feast of color and texture: Rust! Dark reflections! Pattern repeats! I love this image. I could eat it with a spoon. YUM.

Time to get back to the textile design, for realz.

A Year Ago: Showy

Peacock plumage.When you mention peacocks, most people immediately think of the display…
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Studio A

Unused entrance, River Arts District, Asheville, NC

Asheville’s version of a Key West palette.

Digging began on my house site today—very exciting, utterly exhausting. It’s going to be a long haul, but at least the project is well and truly underway.

A Year Ago: Stump

Los Duranos Neighborhood, Albuquerque, NMI’ve been casing the various neighborhoods of Albuquerque…
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