Wish Fulfillment



For the past two days, I’ve been reading reviews and rebuttals of a paper written by a researcher scholar gentleman(?) whom I refer to in my head as that idiot*. His arguments are internally inconsistent and his methodology unsound; professional discretion forbids me saying more.

Briefly put, he is a Bad Scientist.

Right before I woke up this morning (when all my best and worst dreams happen) I dreamed I was at a conference lunch. At the next table the Bad Scientist (whose face was undoubtedly supplied by my subconsious, as I don’t know him) droned on to an awkward young researcher who was too polite to contradict him. Just as I was getting annoyed, the author of an impeccably-researched 30-page rebuttal set her tray down at the same table. Now, I thought, there will be fireworks.

I started my day’s research in a considerably better frame of mind.

* I suspect that developing professional antipathies is part of becoming an acadaemic. I once heard a lecturer refer to someone as “an absolute nutter of a historical linguist”.  

Have Fun Storming the Castle (Ffaire Rhaglan, part 4)


, , , , , , , ,

(Ffaire Rhaglan parts 1, 2 and 3)

How many Princess Bride references did we make over the course of the week? I don’t even want to know.

IMG_7396 IMG_7400 IMG_7401 IMG_7406 IMG_7413 IMG_7417 IMG_7420

Cadillac Mountain: Views from the Summit


, , , , , ,

Because summit sounds cooler than topIMG_7036

These cairns aren’t directional, just fun.

IMG_7041 IMG_7048 IMG_7050

Family, straight ahead.

IMG_7054 IMG_7060 IMG_7065

(For earlier instalments of our Cadillac Mountain hike at Acadia, see here, here and here.)

Summiting Cadillac


, , , , , , ,


Often, I hear someone say that they don’t mind the downhill part of a climb so much; it’s the uphill that gets them. I admit, the uphill is hard on the cardio side, but I find it’s the down part of a climb that really hits me where it hurts (i.e. the knees). A slow, controlled descent just gets my muscles wobbling.


The long-term solution, of course, is to build up the muscles in my legs. In the short term, though, there are times when other solutions are possible.


For example, hiking the mountain backward.


(There’s an image, right?)

See this? This is the trail. This right here.

See this? This is the trail. This right here.

On our Acadia trip in July (see previous posts here and here), we started at the scenic overlook (and convenient parking lot) at the top of Cadillac Mountain. From there, the trail led down a ridge of Cadillac Mtn into the saddle between Cadillac and Dorr, then up the middle of that saddle to a nearly-vertical climb back to the summit. The vertical was the best part. What can I say, I like climbing on things.


I wasn’t sure my theory of backward would work, but in practice I found it remarkably effective. The very steep downhill was much easier while my legs were fresh.

My sister, about to be eaten by a rock turtle. It was a narrow escape.

My sister, about to be eaten by a rock turtle. It was a narrow escape.

Since most of our hike was over bare granite, the way was marked with blue paint blazes on the stone itself, and by traditional cairns like these. The little houses main ‘straight ahead’.



My Own Country, or Pickle All the Things


, , ,

I’ve been keen to try preserving food for a while, but I haven’t made my way into water-bath or pressure canning yet. I’m trying to protect myself from sweets, so jams are not particularly helpful. Without a garden, CSA, or car for procuring large quantities of cheap in-season fruit, the impetus just isn’t there yet. If I’m going to buy from the supermarket, I can buy any time of year and much of it still won’t be local. (This is on the list of things to address when I have an income. But not while living on student loans.) Although the Netherlands aren’t really that far away. Not like Argentina.

But I digress.

While I’m not water-bath or pressure canning against the upcoming winter, I have started putting food in jars. This is due largely to the blog Phickle. It’s all her fault, and I’m sure she’ll be delighted to hear it.

early pickles

Yes, the middle jar is weighted with a jar of sesame seeds. It was just the right size.

Probiotic foods are good for you, you know. We all know. Most of us assume this means eating yoghurt, and we either eat yoghurt or don’t and that’s the end of it.

Or, as in the case of the lacto-fermentation community, the beginning. (Lacto-fermentation is the same as the process that makes beer and wine, but for food.) For me, it started a few weeks ago with carrot ginger pickles. After they’d been ageing for a week I wasn’t quite sold on the flavor. After two weeks, though, they were perfect.

My first batch of ginger beer, ageing in whatever large glass vessels were empty at the time. Including, since I drink cold-press coffee most of the year, my French press.

My first batch of ginger beer, ageing in whatever large glass vessels were empty at the time. Including, since I drink cold-press coffee most of the year, my French press.

Currently on my counter are radishes (with cloves), an enormous crock of ginger beer, and the stems from the kale I had for dinner last night (with garlic and juniper berries). Sauerruben will follow as soon as I procure another giant turnip. It’s madness. Madness, I tell you! Delicious, delicious madness. If I can’t have a pet, I’ll at least have my productive, invisible colonies churning out pickles. The output is the GNP of my own tiny nation in my kitchen, measured in preserves.

Looks like the 3 wise men from a Sunday School play.

Looks like the 3 wise men from a Sunday School play. They’ve obviously come bearing tasty gifts.

The Cauliflower Revelation: Parm-Roasted Cauliflower and Avocado Salad



Guys! Guys.

I just had cauliflower for dinner.

And it tasted really good.

It actually overshadowed the rainbow trout. Which, while unfair to the poor fish, was rather exciting for the rest of us.

Although really, it just goes to show that the old maxim “put cheese on it” remains excellent advice.

For people who like the pictures of food but don’t like strange grains, this one is for you.

Parm-Roasted Cauliflower and Avocado Salad 

1 head cauliflower
olive oil
1 avocado
2 cubic inches (2 oz?)  parmesan cheese
1/4c Greek yoghurt
lemon juice (optional)
spices: black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, thyme*

  1. Preheat oven to 230C (425F).
  2. Cut leaves and the largest part of the stem off the cauliflower. Dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Don’t worry about crumbles. Add to large glass baking dish. Toss in 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt, garlic powder, thyme and fresh-ground pepper to taste.**
  3. Bake, stirring once at 10 minutes, until slightly browned on top/edges (20 minutes). Remove from oven and turn once more, pushing the pieces in slightly so you can’t see the bottom of the pan between them. This will prevent most of the parmesan from burning onto the pan. Sprinkle with fresh-grated parmesan and bake another 10 minutes.
  4. Dice avocado into small bite-sized chunks.
  5. Slice kale into bite-sized pieces, removing large ribs as desired. 5 minutes before the parmesan-baking is done, heat frying pan to medium. Fry kale in olive oil until slightly wilted but not crispy stirring often. Season with salt, pepper and a hint of chili powder.
  6. Remove cauliflower from oven. Toss cauliflower, kale and avocado with lemon juice and yoghurt, adding more spices as desired.


Patting the cauliflower into place to receive the parmesan. Note the browned edges.

*If you lack any of these spices, substitute in something similar. The thyme, for example, was supposed to be rosemary, but I grabbed the wrong jar and then really liked the substitution.

**Fresh-ground is much more flavorful than ground, and is better for almost all applications. Ditto for parmesan–the stuff that comes out of a green cardboard container does not count. Other Italian hard cheeses, such as Grano Padano, will also work. Even cheddar would provide a great taste, if quite different from the parm. Salt, however, tastes the same whether ground at the table or months in advance, provided it isn’t clumped together. (Mineral/sea salts taste better than plain iodized, though.)

The inspiration for roasting the cauliflower with parmesan came from this recipe. The rest came from a strong desire not to let a good avocado go to waste. Or the cauliflower. Or the farmers market kale. The cauliflower had been waiting for some love for quite a while. I think we can agree that the wait was worth it. 

Remember those kale stems we removed early on? Those haven’t gone to waste. But more on that tomorrow.

The Most Scottish Afternoon


, ,

Try to ignore the glare from the 3-story blue tent protecting the BBC stage. The one that’s set up, as it is every August, right outside my office window. Pout a little.

Is that the Proclaimers? I meet the eyes of the guy at the desk across from me. No. It couldn’t be.

Check internet. It totally is.

Bagpipes. Unrelated to the Proclaimers. What’s next, Haggis falling from the sky? Highland dancers in kilts? (Usually I have to wait for graduation for kilts on campus.)

The sultry sounds of Sunshine on Leith. My deskmate and I fangirl silently. It’s nice that someone else understands.

Leftover haggis for dinner because I’d promised NTS the day before that we would use it up before it went off. Complete coincidence. I wanted Mexican.

For your viewing pleasure: a video of David Tennant singing with the Proclaimers (disclaimer: may not be suitable for music majors). You’re welcome.

Hiking Acadia


, , , , , ,

This week, I’ve been reading another blogger’s posts (here and here here) on camping in downeast Maine with a nostalgia bordering on jealousy. (I suggest you read the rest of her blog, too, it’s the first one I check every day.) To be sure, her tent wasn’t nestled into the shadow of a fifteenth-century castle. But she captures a scene so familiar I can’t help being a bit homesick. Green Coleman stove older than I am, clothesline strung between two evergreens, glimpses of a nylon tent through the young spruces… It looks, in short, the way camping is supposed to look. The way it looks in my head. Early memories die hard. In this case, I can only be thankful.

After wallowing in her pictures for a while, I was thankful that I had been up in Acadia only a month ago, which stopped me from feeling quite so homesick. In fact, I had pictures of my own to wallow in.


A while back, I reported, exhausted, a route map for a hiking trip in Acadia National Park. For the casual hike we planned, it turned out to be epic terrain. Also an epic failure to check the topo map before the hike. A good time, though.

The map doesn’t quite convey the sheer amount of rock we clambered down… and up… and up again…


So I brought you these pictures instead.

An energetic start

The exuberant beginnings.


Robot climbers?


Here, my lovely baby sister displays what the “trail” looks like. I didn’t expect the Brook Trail to be an actual brook, but I can’t fault the Park Service for truth in advertising.


Three hours later, after 1330 feet of bedrock descent and 900 feet of clambering. Again, that is the actual trail they’re standing on. If it looks like solid granite, there’s a reason for that.


NTS: still going strong. The sun is setting on our side of the valley, but it’s still bright on the side of Dorr Mountain.


A sardonic salute.


Daddy: Did we seriously just climb down that rock face and then up again?


Hey, there’s a picture of me in here! That never happens. Which is why I feel no guilt about posting all three of them. IMG_7005

If we rigged a pulley to the top of the mountain…


Kisses to everyone. IMG_7011

Twilight at Raglan


, , , ,


The most enchanting time of day at Raglan was after the public had gone home, when the light was soft and we had the castle to ourselves (!). There’s nothing quite like wandering alone through the ruins of a six-hundred-year-old castle in the dark, or climbing out of your tent in the wee hours of the morning, to see the moon rising over the castle above you.

IMG_7542 IMG_7543 IMG_7544 IMG_7545 IMG_7546 IMG_7547 IMG_7552 IMG_7556


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 570 other followers