Synergy

At work we’ve talked about needing a word that means the opposite of synergy. So I did some searching and came up with a few options. :)

Technically, synergy doesn’t exclusively describe positive effects of working together, and can also be used to describe negative effects. But common use makes this unclear, so many have used “negative synergy” to be more specific.

Some say the opposite of synergism is antagonism, but the connotations of antagonism don’t work with situations where parties are trying to achieve mutually positive results.

I’ve seen dysynergy offered as an easily understood option. Personally, I think it sounds like a hack, and would rather find a more elegant solution.

Antergy is another logically constructed word that would fit the bill. I’ve read that it’s used as the opposite of synergy. It’s defined in “Coalition formation: a game-theoretic analysis” http://tinyurl.com/2jjg8a . However, the word could be reasonably understood to indicate a complete cancellation of the parts, which isn’t quite right. And in a different use, I’ve seen this in economic circles describing something which is more valuable as parts than as a whole, as when a conglomerate is purchased and split into several smaller companies which are then sold at great profit. Not exactly what we’re looking for.

This leaves dysergy. It’s almost as clear as dysynergy and is seems more elegant. It also is validated by being used exactly as desired in the field of mereology (the study of part/whole relations). http://tinyurl.com/2nsjmc

I vote for dysergy.

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Peanut Brittle Cheesecake

Yesterday I tried the peanut putter cheesecake at Pekara bakery in downtown Champaign. I like a lot of the things they make (and I like that they make and sell things based on my requests), and the PB cheesecake was okay, but not outstanding. I was a bachelor for the day, so I decided to try making a better one. I’ve never made cheesecake before, so I didn’t know what I’d end up with, but that didn’t stop me. I did cheat, though, and baked it in a store-bought granola pie crust, so it’s not a proper cheesecake. But I had too much filling, so I also baked a small crustless cheesecake in a 4″ springform.

I threw together:

2 packs of cream cheese
2 eggs
~1 cup crunchy, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
~2 Tb roasted chicory espresso
1 cup sugar
8 oz butter
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 Tb water

I intended to add two tablespoons of flour, but I forgot.

I was computerless yesterday and none of our cookbooks had a PB cheesecake recipe. So I wasn’t really following a recipe (though I read several basic recipes before I started) and I was a little lax in measuring the PB and chicory. This was also part of an ongoing effort to come up with uses for roasted chicory. The Pekara cheesecake was a little lacking in body, and I theorized that a little chicory might help with that (I think it did). I started out mixing a bit of chicory and PB to see how far I could take it and then added that to the cream cheese. Coffee might work better than chicory (not that they taste at all alike), though I probably didn’t add enough chicory to test it well. I used what I had made and didn’t feel like brewing more.

Just adding the sugar seemed a little blah, so I decided to turn it into butterscotch. But my butterscotch recipe was on the aforementioned unavailable computer and none of our cookbooks have a recipe for it, so I tried to do that from memory too. : ) It turned out well enough to add to the cheesecake and while I haven’t tried the crusted one, the small one was pretty tasty. We’ll see what Alice thinks when she discovers it.

Blue Lime

As a variation on my key lime pie (following the lime/mango and the lime/cranberry) I made two lime/blueberry pies for small group Sunday. One was a granola crust with pureed berries and the other shortbread with whole blueberries. The granola crust smelled nice out of the oven, but I think my preference was for what I didn’t serve, shortbread crust with pureed berries. The blueberry flavor was a little stronger in the puree and I’m not a big fan of whole fruit. But the flavor was too subtle for my liking, I think that lime/cranberry has been the only variation worth repeating. I still want to try an orange/citrus version but I’m out of ideas after that, so I may have to find some other line of experimentation to which I can subject others. The whole recipe is posted elsewhere, but here are the measurements:

one 8″ pie crust

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/2 cup key lime juice
1/2 cup pureed blueberries
1 tbsp cornstarch

Happiness

I don’t really think about happiness much, and it doesn’t feel like happiness is a big motivator in my life. But I’m sitting in Panera writing a class paper and look out the window at the falling snow. I smile, and realize that this is one of the few external things I can think of that really does this. Usually I’m happy when I solve a problem or have some revelation about something that’s been puzzling me. But this is different. Falling snow makes me happy.

Experiment in Terror

(I had the Moon-Rays in my head, and this *is* an experiment…)

Written elsewhere:

> So . . . um, how did the sandwich filling work out?
> Any recipes coming out of that?
> *hint, hint, nudge, nudge* ;-)

Thanks for the prod.

It was okay, but neither the filling or the sauce worked out as well as I’d hoped. So I’ll have to try it again before I post something. You were right though, after 5 hours in the crock, it became watery and muted in flavor. But I left the lid ajar and turned up the heat and it cooked down nicely. Tossing in an extra tablespoon of chipotle (I ran out of cayenne) at the last minute got the heat back up helped unmute the flavor, but it still tasted more like a thin BBQ sauce than a rich Buffalo sauce like I’d intended. I think I’ll just plan on adding the sauce after the chicken is cooked.

One good thing was that I learned that throwing chicken in the crock for five hours causes it to separate into fibrous pieces, as though I’d shredded it. Did the overnight marinade do this, or would it have happened anyway? And will the same thing happen with other meat? And is there a more expedient way than crock cooking?

The sauce also was pretty muted in flavor. I put together Gorgonzola, cream, and toasted sesame oil. It had a good texture, but the cream seemed to mask the other flavors.

I’m sure it was fine for everyone else, even Alice liked it. That’s right, my vegetarian ate one and a half chicken sandwiches. :)

In the meantime, here’s a simple Buffalo Blue sauce:

4 tbsp blue cheese (Gorgonzola)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

Gently heat cheese until soft. Combine with garlic, cayenne, and vinegar, mix, and serve. I want to try two variations: one with lime juice for instead of vinegar, and one with a little bourbon. :)

walktober

It seems as though my pedometer counts may be a bit high. Friday I topped 40k! : ) That said, I’m not sure what to do about it. Here’s my counts for Fr-Su:

Fr: 40368
Sa: 11421
Su: 13904

Friday I walked to/from work (six miles) and to the park and back (1 mile), plus miscellaneous walking.

Saturday I drove to Peoria, the Bradley park, and walked around the Bradley U campus.

Sunday I went to Church, studied, and went to small group.

Fellow teammates, what do you think I should do with my numbers? Report them as is? Discount them some percentage? Try to construct reasonable and accurate numbers?

nuance

I’m looking for topics on which the Bible requires a nuanced application. Here are two examples:

1) lying: Christians have a tendency to believe they should follow the absolute rule “Don’t lie”. After all, Exodus 20:16 says “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” But Hebrews 11:31 says “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” This isn’t quite a link to lying yet, but in Joshua 2 we see that she hid the spies and lied to the King of Jericho. In Joshua 6 Joshua states “Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.” Sometimes lying is sin, but at other times it’s acting in faith.

2) killing: Many modern Christians (especially those with a liberal inclination), believe that taking the life of another person is always wrong. That’s also one of the ten commandments, right, Exodus 20:13? But in Hebrews 11:17 Abraham is commended for intending to kill his son. Not only was he taking a life, it was an innocent life! I think most people today would rationalize this as being confused, deranged, or something else. How often have we thought that about a serial killer who claimed God had told him to kill people?

Those examples aren’t really fleshed out yet, but you get the idea. A quick glance at the rest of Hebrews 11 suggests other possibilities that I’ll explore. Where else should I look?

mole chili

Yesterday I took my veggie chili and tweaked it slightly. I halved the vinegar, substituted cocoa for cinnamon, and doubled the cocoa.

It wasn’t bad, had a definite mole flavor (not intentional, but also not surprising), but I think I prefer the normal recipe. Maybe next time I’ll try substituting tamarind paste for the tomatoes and vinegar. But if I get my peppers smoked first, I’ll probably try it with fresh smoked peppers!

quotes

Brought to my attention by markfrench at 5pointers, here’s are two quotes from two emails John Piper Sent to Mark Driscoll. I already highlighted them there, but I like them so much I’ll give them a bit more prominence here.

“We both want to speak in a way that is NOT boring about the greatest things in the world and is not worn out and tired and hackneyed. It is a sin to bore people with God. So pray for us. The line is fine between choosing words to strike the soul with glory and strike a clever pose.”

“Good grief. I am glad I don’t read the web very much. I would sin with anger too much. “Roaring debate” !– these people have too much time on their hands.”

pies

I made pies for small group last night. I worked from the Key Lime recipe I’ve use for a while, but mixed up the flavors a bit. I don’t normally bake, but cream/custard pies are an exception because the timing isn’t critical. As you’ll quickly notice, I don’t make “healthy” desserts. :)

Here’s the original (I no longer use the recipe below. My current key lime pie recipe is here.):

INGREDIENTS:

1 pie crust (prebaked, 8′ shortbread)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp key lime peel (freshly zested)

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Pour into pie shell and bake for 20 min.

Make fluff and spread onto pie, finishing by sprinkling lime zest on top.

Last night I forgot the cornstarch and made the following variations.

> Substitute key lime/mango juice for lime juice
> and garnish with thin mango slivers.

Everyone seemed to like it.

> Substitute cranberry nectar for 1/4 cup of lime juice,
> add two dashes of Angostura Bitters,
> and garnish with ??

Also popular, though I left it ungarnished. I’d try it with only a single dash of bitters (maybe none). I’d appreciate garnish suggestions, but I’d rather avoid actual cranberries.

> Substitute mild molasses for lime juice,
> add 2tbsp unsweetened cocoa and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract,
> and garnish with dusting of cinnamon.

This was my attempt to shoehorn my chocolate pie recipe into the key lime pie form. I didn’t find the flavor result to be nearly as good as my original (which tastes like an Oreo), though the flavor was surprisingly complex for a cream pie. I thought it was too sweet and too molassesy, but several people seemed to enjoy it quite a bit!

I had a feeling the molasses would be too much when I was adding it, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. Also, I’ve only used blackstrap molasses in the past and wasn’t sure just how mild the “mild” would be. Considering that the sweetened condensed milk contains almost twice as much sugar as the cup of powdered sugar I would normally use in my Chocolate pie, using a mild molasses (it’s sweeter, right?) probably wasn’t the best choice! So maybe I should have tried substituting 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa for the lime juice in the original recipe? Maybe next time.

Here’s the my original Chocolate pie recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1 pie crust (prebaked, 8′, shortbread)

2 eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/2 tbsp molasses (blackstrap)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp granulated sugar

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine sugar and cocoa in a bowl, mixing well. Add heavy cream, molasses, and vanilla, mixing on high speed until firm. Transfer to saucepan and heat until steaming. Beat eggs in a bowl and temper with steaming liquid, mixing well. Add back into saucepan and gently heat to a soft boil, stirring constantly. Pour into pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.

Make fluff, spread onto pie, and finish with a light dusting of cinnamon.

(As you can see, with the exception of the eggs, it’s really just baked chocolate fluff.)

Spicy Lasagna

This is an experimental lasagna that I made for this semester’s first Student Feast. I put a little thought into what I wanted in it and Alice went looking for groceries. Alas, several ingredients were not to be found, necessitating further improvisation with ingredients at hand. I’d never made lasagna before and Alice really did most of the work of putting it together. This isn’t really a recipe yet; we just threw it together (based on her more traditional lasagnas) without really thinking about future duplication or tweaking. Believe it or not, I tried really hard to keep it simple and not throw too much into it.

It had four layers consisting of noodles, sauce, and cheese. The noodles were not precooked, and alternated between whole wheat and semolina. The sauce was 3/4 of a bottle of Cabernet Marinara (Muir Glen) long-simmered with finely chopped pepperoni, garlic powder, half-sliced garlic cloves, and a generous portion (1/4 cup?) of Jamaican Jerk seasoning (Frontier Organics). The sauce really thickened and I had to add water so that it wasn’t pasty. The top layer used an Alfredo sauce. In the middle was a layer of chicken-jalapeno sausages sliced and quartered. The cheese layers were cottage cheese (because I dislike ricotta), mozzarella, and fresh basil.

I wanted to use pulled pork or shredded chicken, but couldn’t find any in time. I also wanted to use Tabasco pepperoni, but it was also hiding. I’d probably try making each cheese layer different: mozzarella, Swiss, smoked Gouda, and a homemade Alfredo sauce heavy in Parmesan and maybe fontinella. I’m open to suggestions!

I had hoped to make spicy brownies as an accompaniment, but it didn’t work out. Maybe next time.

two months

It’s been two months since the SBC posted the resolution against Biblical, God honoring, and heart gladdening use of alcohol. So today I point you to an article on the Sociology of Prohibition. If you want to skip the history (which is interesting, but voluminous) skip to the paragraph that starts with “What interests me”. I’m not certain that I agree with the assertion that “Prohibitions are always enacted by US, to govern the conduct of THEM…” because it seems blind to the fact that people will eagerly volunteer prohibitions on themselves because many people prefer legalism to humbly working out the gift of their salvation. Then again, perhaps they’re related. What do you think?

tortellini

I started out making this Gorgonzola Tortellini but Alice isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, pork, or it’s heavy richness, so it’s followed by a lighter version that’s vegetarian. Each is really quick and easy to make, and relatively inexpensive to boot! Someday maybe I’ll try it with better-than-frozen tortellini. : )

—–

Gorgonzola Tortellini

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb frozen tortellini (pork)
1 cup diced tomatoes (1 can)
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (2 oz)
1/4 cup cream sherry (Harvey’s Bristol)
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
3 teasp walnuts (finely chopped)
1/4 teasp cayenne pepper (coarse)
3 green onions

METHOD:

Combine everything but blue cheese and tortellini and let sit for 1 hour. Cook tortellini until tender. Add blue cheese to sauce and then toss tortellini with sauce. Serve warm, not hot.

(A heavier, richer, non-vegetarian version of the Walnut/Oloroso Tortellini.)

(Next time I make it I’ll try adding 1/8 cup basil.)

—–

RECIPE: Walnut/Oloroso Tortellini

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb frozen tortellini
1 cup diced tomatoes (1 can)
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
1/8 cup oloroso sherry
3 teasp walnuts (finely chopped)
1/4 teasp black pepper (coarse)
3 green onions (chopped)

METHOD:

Combine everything but tortellini and let sit for 1 hour. Cook tortellini until tender and toss with sauce. Serve warm, not hot.

(A lighter, Gorgonzola-free, and vegetarian version of the Gorgonzola Tortellini.)

(Next time I make it I’ll try adding 1/8 cup basil.)

perspective

It has occurred to my that my perspective on possible actions may be backwards. For instance, I might think “should I do such and such” or “is there any justification for taking this action”. I’m beginning to wonder if my thinking should place our freedom in Christ as the default, and rather be thinking “is there a reason I should *not* do such and such” and “would taking this action sin against God or neighbor”.

Perhaps this is an overly subtle or even insignificant distinction. Or perhaps it will free me to do “whatever” while expending more energy seeking the filling of the spirit. What do you think?

records

Earlier in the summer I bought a cyclometer to help measure the calories I was burning on my rides to and from work (and elsewhere). I’ve also been using it to provide some objective numbers with which I can pace myself.

It’s not unusual for me to hit a top speed of 20-something with an average of 12-something, but my avg all week has been >14. Yesterday I set a new record for the 3 mile trip home: top speed 31.5, avg speed 15.5.

white chili

I have quite a few “chili” recipes that I created while working third shift. I’d cook up a batch and it would make two complete meals. They’re all variations on the meat/bean/heat theme I think of as chili, because chili is relatively well-rounded, relatively low in carbs (which I tend to overdo), and really low in calories.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb chicken (ground, lean)
1 1/2 cups navy beans (1 can)
1 cup water
1/2 cup bell pepper (orange, fine diced)
1/2 cup onion (vidalia, coarse diced)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp Mexican Oregeno
1 teasp white pepper (fine ground)
1 teasp sea salt
1/2 teasp coriander
1/2 teasp sage (rubbed)
1/2 teasp thyme
1/4 teasp star anise
1 temple orange (~1/2 C juice?)
24 drops mesquite smoke solution

METHOD:

Combine beans, water, salt, thyme, and white pepper in sauce pan and simmer on low heat. Brown chicken, onion, pepper, and oregeno in skillet, then add to sauce pan and simmer for an additional five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in juice from orange and remaining spices (coriander, sage, and anise). Add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl.

( I want to eventually try substituting mesquite pod powder (I need to remember to order some!) for the smoke solution and/or with pumpkin. And maybe tomatillos.)

a sauce

Although I like Pickapeppa sauce, it’s lacking oomph. But add some Chipotle Tabasco, and it’s mighty tasty. Unfortunately, I don’t know the proportions; I combined what was left of the two bottles. Someday I’ll probably deconstruct it, but there are other sauces I’ll make first, and other recipes I’m more interested in finishing.

veggie chili

This is what has become of the surprise chili posted earlier, and is the recipe that was requested by Fruit Tart.

It’s good fresh, but better the second day.

—–

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups kidney beans (2 cans)
1 1/2 cups black beans (1 can)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup wild rice (4 oz)
1/2 cup corn (fresh/frozen)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp molasses (dark)
2 teasp sea salt
2 teasp chipotle
1 teasp garlic powder
1 teasp cinnamon
1 yellow pepper (finely diced)
1 red pepper (finely diced)
1 red onion (finely diced)
2 heads garlic (whole cloves)

METHOD:

Cook wild rice with 1 1/2 cups water. Dice peppers and onions and saute. Add remaining ingredients to stew pot, cover and simmer, about 15 minutes. Add vegetables and wild rice, and simmer everything additional 30 minutes.

(I’d like to experiment with using whole (dried? fresh?) peppers, cinnamon sticks, and cocoa instead of cinnamon (not simultaneously : ). I’d really like to try it with tamarinds replacing the vinegar and tomatoes, but I’m not sure how to use them. From what I’ve read, I *think* it could work, but who knows?)

activity

I have several posts planned, but most of them will take a while to write, and even longer to discuss. So for now I’m sticking with simple stuff like food. I’ll probably transition into posting links to offsite content for discussion, and then post my own.

But who knows, I’m generally busy enough commenting on others’ blogs. : )

I also have a rarely-updated blog on LiveJournal. For the time being, I plan on keeping both. The LJ has primarily been a tool for communicating with college buddies (the duckosphere), but it’s possible I’ll merge the two someday.

surprise chili

When I was a freshman I lived largely off of rice that was cooked with chicken boullion, cinnamon, and allspice. And pizza. The next year I lived in a house with a six other guys in IlliniLife. The following recipe is pretty characteristic of the chili I made there. I’ve since become a culinary deconstructivist.

—–

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 lb sausage (chorizo, or Italian)
2 cups kidney beans (1 can)
1 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tabasco sauce (to taste)

METHOD:

Stir everything but sausage into sauce pan, cover, and simmer. Brown sausage, and add to sauce pan. Add water until chili has achieved desired consistancy (some like it thick, some like it thin) and serve.

(This chili is should be easy to make using ingredients a student might have on hand. It’s quick, simple, and cheap, and you’re surprised that it tastes as much like chili as it does.)