Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two pizzas, both yummy

Sauteed leeks and ricotta cheese base, topped with parmesan and a little olive oil.

Tomato sauce base with sauteed mushrooms and spinach, topped with some mozzarella cheese. I got the mushrooms at the farmer's market - I'm not sure what kind they were, but they were seriously tasty.

I the made pizza dough the other night and put it in the refrigerator. I've made it before and it was good. It turned out better this time but I don't know what I did differently. It's possible that I used less flour since I was running low. I used the dough recipe from Peter Rainhart. I preheat my pizza stone in the oven and then I take it out and make the pizza on the stone so I don't have to do a transfer of the pizza once all the toppings are on it.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Accidental trademarking

The one-sentence summary: "constituative" and "metability" are not words.

I've been reading an excellent book, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. It is very much in line with the sort of study and analysis of games that I'm interested in.

But in the book, the authors describe three kinds of rules (as you can imagine, rules are an important feature of games). The three kinds of rules are constituative, operational, and implicit. And to me, the "constituative" rules are exactly those rules that I would call "constitutive".

Now, I wouldn't make a big deal about this if it were an incidental thing, but it's a big component in one of the big ideas of the book. And even then I wouldn't post about it if "constituative" were actually another spelling (or another word entirely). So I googled it.

Turns out that every use of "constituative" related to game rules is a reference to this book, either directly or indirectly. And I wondered, is the field of game studies going to use this and pretend it's a new word long enough that it actually becomes one?

"Constituative" is not a completely uncommon misspelling of "constitutive". (Google gets 6,650 hits, vs. 8,040,000 for constitutive.) But it's pretty clear it's a misspelling. There's a kind of gene that's called a "constituative promoter" (441 results), but the exact same definition appears for a "constitutive promoter" (217,000 results). One of the top hits for "constituative" is about a "constituative equation". But search Google for "constituative equation" (or "constitutive law") and Google won't just suggest the other spelling -- it just gives you the results for the conventional spelling.

When I looked up "constituative rule", and insisted that Google show you that and not "constitutive rule", seven of the ten front page results are related to game studies. The top one is the Google Books result for this very book. The other six either directly or indirectly refer to the book. Perhaps surprisingly, a search of "constitutive rule games" turns up several philosophical works, which use game rules as an example of "constitutive rules". But many games studies people are getting exposed to this idea through the Salen and Zimmerman book, and the spelling error is propagating. Eventually, it's possible that "constituative" will become an alternate spelling, used by game study people.

The viral spread of a new term is perhaps Betty K. Garner's intention: in her book Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn , she coins the word "metability", meaning "the ability to learn, create, and change". I personally hate this word, not least because "meta" gets used too much and usually wrongly (see this charming description of "meta"). Nonetheless, I understand the motivation.

There's a natural desire to condense your main point, the concept you want to convey to the world, into a little digestible morsel that your readers will remember, retain, and repeat. If you can encapsulate your idea into a word or little phrase, it could carry your little meme across the world, and perhaps across the ages.

But sometimes the dream of an immortal idiom runs ahead of the concept itself: I've often come up with clever acronyms for a concept that I'm just not willing to put the time and commitment into making a real thing. I once told a class to use SPEED (Solve Problems Each and Every Day). But this was a catchy phrase, not a system or an idea, and I never referred to it again. I'm sure no one else did, either.

Back to the original case, I'm pretty confident that Salen and Zimmerman had no intention of generating game studies-specific jargon by misspelling "constitutive". But in a small way (I daresay the field of game studies is fairly small, overall) I think this is happening. So I urge them to correct it, in the next edition.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Fire Centennial, Regulation and Labor Under Attack

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City in which 146 garment workers died. Let's take the opportunity to remind ourselves why organized labor should have the ability to negotiate working conditions and why the government should have the power to regulate. As Robert Reich said in his biweekly commentary for Marketplace yesterday,

Those who argue that regulations kill jobs ignore an important fact: Lack of adequate regulation kills people.
He was starting from the failure of GE's reactors in Fukushima. Sadly, the logic that applied to a horrible tragedy one hundred years ago still bears repeating today.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March's Au Lait Du Mois: Paneer (Panir)


I followed the directions exactly, heating two quarts of milk and the juice of two lemons until the temperature reached 165+ degrees. At about 120 degrees or so, it looked like what I thought was supposed to happen. I had big chunks of curd and the liquid was transparent. But, I was supposed to go hotter, so I kept stirring. At about 165 degrees, the curds got small and diffuse and the whey became cloudy again. But, I was too far in. So, I went ahead and poured it through the cheesecloth and drained it. I did end up getting a very firm cheese, but the whey was still cloudy. The cheese tasted good. Bob was willing to drink the whey, that I sweetened with a little sugar to make lemonade as suggested in the recipe book.


I used the panir to make butter panir masala. (It was a recipe I found on the web, but can no longer find.) Basically, you browned a red onion, pureed it with garlic, ginger and fresh chili. Then heated it with pureed tomatoes and turmeric, garam masala, coriander and chili powder and some water. Then stir in some yogurt and add the panir. It was tasty. I added some spinach and peas. The panir however disintegrated in the sauce.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

CSA Basket 25

Yes, I skipped posting about our previous two baskets. Life gets busy. But to make it up to you, this post contains not one but THREE pictures. Why? Because the baskets this week were BEAUTIFUL, a vision in red and green and ranunculuses (or is that ranunculi?). This week's basket contained: Ranunculus Flowers, Iceberg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Cilantro, Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes, Beets, Mixed Radishes, Long Radishes, Navel Oranges, Fuji Apples, Kale, Kohlrabi, Kiwi, Strawberries, and Pears.

These are the baskets all lined up under the big ficus tree outside the Fullerton Arboretum waiting to be picked up.
Any radish recipes would be greatly appreciated.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

March's Pizza del Mese: Broccoli and Tomato Sauce Pizza

This is my third pizza employing the delectable Classic Pizza Sauce from January's Pizza Margherita. Like last month, I tried a whole different dough--Spelt Pizza Dough.

Here's a telling little bit of trivia. There are eight pizza dough recipes in Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Every pizza recipe recommends a dough to use and offers a backup. Only two of the dough recipes never appear as a "first choice" in a pizza recipe: the Gluten-free Pizza Dough and this month's Spelt Pizza Dough. The Spelt Pizza Dough, slightly sweet and nutty in flavor, is not going to be everyone's favorite, but it is a healthier alternative to the white flour doughs offered.

I didn't bother with the Window Pane Test because, according to Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, the spelt flour doesn't have the higher level of glutens present in doughs made with all-purpose or bread flour. The book also says that spelt is high in protein and the potato flour in the recipe gives the dough some elasticity. I'm beginning to catch on. Gluten is a type of protein present in wheat, but not all proteins present in wheat are gluten. Spelt is high in non-gluten proteins, so while it's good for you in the sense that it has a higher ratio of proteins to carbohydrates, spelt doughs lack elasticity, don't keep their shape as well, and, once baked, don't have as chewy texture.

Once baked, this spelt crust sort of breaks into pieces on contact. The downside: it totally would not come off the pizza pan in one piece, or even in a whole slice. The upside: if chewy doughs give your jaw trouble, this is a yummy, healthy alternative. I don't just mean the aged and TMJ sufferers. I think this is the perfect crust for a toddler's first pizza. And the healthy toppings on the Broccoli and Tomato Sauce Pizza would probably make this combination perfect overall for a toddler's first pizza. I haven't tried it out on my toddler yet, but I'm definitely going to.

Where the recipe calls for 3 oz. provolone, Muenster, or Havarti, shredded, I used Beemster with Mustard, a cow's milk cheese from Holland, which was recommended by the geniuses at The Cheese Cave. It is SO good. It sets off the spicy pizza sauce and roasted red pepper puree perfectly. Like last time, where the recipe calls for 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated, I used Canestrato di Filiano, also from The Cheese Cave. The combination with the broccoli was so amazing you might not notice it's all on top of a healthy crust.

Broccoli and Tomato Sauce Pizza adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • Vegetable oil to apply to the cooking surface of Lodge Pro Logic Cast-Iron 14-Inch Pizza Pan
  • One recipe Spelt Pizza Dough (see recipe below)
  • 1 large jar pimiento or roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 C Classic Pizza Sauce (see recipe in January's Pizza del Mese: Pizza Margherita)
  • 3 oz. mozzarella, shredded
  • 3 oz. provolone, Muenster, or Havarti, shredded
  • 2 C frozen broccoli florets or fresh florets, steamed
  • 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
  • Position the rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450.
  • Apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the surface of the cast iron pizza pan. Lay the dough at its center and dimple the dough with your fingertips. Then pull and press the dough until it forms a 14-inch circle on the pizza pan.
  • Puree the pimiento with the red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth.
  • If using fresh broccoli florets, steam them over 1 inch of simmering water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the florets to a colander set in the sink and refresh under cool water until room temperature.
  • Ladle the pizza sauce into the middle of the dough, then use the back of the ladle to spread the sauce evenly. Evenly cover the sauce with the shredded mozzarella and provolone/Muenster/Havarti.
  • Sprinkle the broccoli florets around the pie. Dot the pimiento puree over the top, using about 1 t for each dollop. Top with the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Place the pie on its pizza pan in the oven on the middle rack. Check it about every three minutes for the first nine minutes to pop any air bubbles that may blow up at its edge or across its surface. Bake until the cheese has melted and is bubbling and the crust's edge is golden brown, 14 to 18 minutes.
  • Transfer the pizza pan to a wire rack to cool for 3 minutes. Remove the pie from the pan, transferring it directly to the wire rack to cool completely. Transfer the pie to a cutting board to slice the pizza into wedges to serve.
Spelt Pizza Dough adapted from Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough Ingredients
  • 3/4 C lukewarm water (between 105 F and 115 F)
  • 2 t honey
  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 3/4 C plus 2 T spelt flour, plus additional as needed
  • 2 T potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 1 t olive oil, plus additional for greasing the bowl
  • Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with warm tap water, drain it, and dry it thoroughly. Stir the water, honey, yeast, and salt together in the bowl just until everything is dissolved. Set aside at room temperature for 5 minutes to make sure the mixture bubbles and foams. If it doesn't, either the yeast expired or the water was not the right temperature. Throw the mixture out and start again.
  • Add the spelt flour, potato flour, and olive oil to the yeast mixture, attach the dough hook, and knead at medium speed until well combined and uniform, about 3 minutes.
  • Wipe a clean, large bowl with a bit of olive oil on a paper towel. Place the dough in the prepared bowl, turning the dough so all sides are coated with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Because spelt dough lacks many of the glutens found in all-purpose or bread flour, this dough can be very difficult to shape by tossing and stretching. Instead, place it on a lightly floured work surface, dust the top with spelt flour, and roll with a rolling pin to desired shape.
Previous Pizza del Mese: January's Pizza del Mese: Pizza Margherita February's Pizza del Mese: Mushroom Pizza

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Yogurt Update

I tried making yogurt last night. It was a busy weekend and I started the yogurt process too close to Dexter's bedtime. I ended up heating the milk too high (about 200 degrees) and letting it cool too much (about 85 degrees.) I decided to try making the yogurt anyhow. When I got up this morning, the 'yogurt' was still milk. I decided to try reheating the milk to see what happens. I microwaved the milk until it reached about 105 degrees (I was scared to go longer for fear of killing the yeast.) It was a success! I now have yogurt. Woohoo!