Nifty Paleontology on the Panda’s Thumb

I’ve been interested in the world of pseudo-science for a long time, ever since reading Chariots of the Gods as a young boy, and then realizing what a load of bullocks the whole thing was. What’s amazing to me is that by age twelve or so, I managed to figure it out, but that some people never outgrow this childish view of the world. It even continues on in the public discourse as such absurd notions as creationism and intelligent design.

So recently, I’ve added a few blogs to my bloglines subscription, and it is paying off nicely. Witness this terrific article about “Fossil-Fossils” found in De-Naz-In Wilderness in New Mexico. It’s a very informal but interesting view into the fossils that simply are weathering out in the Bisti Badlands, which include fossils which have in some sense been fossilized twice: creatures that have died are fossilized, then weather out millions of years later, only to be re-fossilized in a different strata layer. It’s kind of hard to keep a straight face while trying to believe that all fossils are the result of Noah’s flood six thousand years ago, but it’s doubly hard to do so when you see this fossils.

That is, if you understand what they are.

Or mean.

Which kind of leaves creationists out in the cold.

A great blog, really.

Cooking when Sick

Well, today is one of those rare days when I miss two days of work: I’m home sick with body aches, a headache, stuffed head, and a bit of a fever. I was also a bit hungry, so I decided to dig through the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what I could make. I found most of the ingredients for some kind of navy bean soup, so that’s what I’m making, in my pressure cooker.

Want the “recipe”?

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into slices
2 stalks of celery, diced

Sweat these in some olive oil. You aren’t looking to brown them, just get them going. I seasoned them after they were translucent with a bit of fresh ground black pepper, some kosher salt, and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary (I’ll fish the twigs out when its done).

1 bag of navy beans. I sorted out one or two of the worst looking ones, but just dump them in, no need to soak them because we are gonna use the pressure cooker.

1 big can chicken broth. Dump it in.

Bring to a boil, cap with the pressure cooker lid, and let it go for 45 minutes on setting 2 (my pressure cooker has two settings).

If I had some ham, bacon, or a hock, I would have added some of that in, but those aren’t frequently found in my cupboards since I’m trying to lose weight.

Some recipes I’ve seen also add diced canned tomatos. If I don’t like the flavor when this comes out, I might add those in too.

Anyway, that’s about it.

I’m also trying a bit of an experiment: I don’t much like my pressure cooker because it has a nasty tendency to get a hot spot in the middle of the pan, burning whatever is in contact with it. To help alleviate this, I placed the pressure cooker in my heavy cast iron skillet, and placed that on top of the burner. Hopefully the heavy mass of the skillet will even out the temperature and prevent scorching.

Stay tuned for the results. I’m gonna go rest now.

Update: Soups on! I cracked the pressure cooker after 45 minutes, and while edible, I didn’t the beans had reached their sufficiently soft stage, so I went ahead and added the diced tomatoes that I mentioned above, and let it go for another 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. The resulting soup, while not amazingly sophisticated in flavor, was hearty and delicious. I think the large can of diced tomatoes gave it a bit too much of tomato flavor, next time I’ll only use one of the small cans. Still…

Oh, and the experiment with using the cast iron frying pan as a heat diffuser seemed to work admirably! No hot spots. And it probably helped season my pan some more. I merely rinsed it out again and applied some vegetable oil. Looks great.