Mar. 1st, 2008

heron61: (Default)
Not only am I an avid carnivore, I also dislike most vegetables. I love peas, green beans, all types of onions, tomatoes, and most tubers. However, green vegetables are things I mostly avoid. So, I was naturally dubious when I saw recipes for how to make broccoli that even someone who normally doesn't like broccoli would like. Both recipes involved roasting it in the oven at 425 for 10-15 minutes. I wasn't all that interested in a big plate of broccoli and rarely make side dishes. However, long ago in a restaurant, I had Thai chicken with broccoli and peanut sauce that was acceptable, if not delicious, and I wondered if I could make a version that was actually something I'd love, and so I made this dish a few days ago. I succeeded, here's the recipe. I used chicken, but I'm positive that a completely vegan version could be made using baked tofu, and thinly sliced pork would also work well. In any case, as I hoped, the broccoli was tender, faintly sweet, and quite honestly good, and I definitely do not normally like it.

This dish is made in three parts, which are then assembled. Here's the recipe:

Note: My recipe for red curry paste can be found near the bottom of this link.

Thai Chicken
½ TBS sesame oil
1 finely minced shallot
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp minced garlic
2 finely sliced and chopped kaffir lime leaves
8 oz boneless chicken, sliced into 1/8 thick slices 1-2" long (I use chicken breast)
1 TBS fish sauce
2 sliced scallions

Heat wok and oil, stir-fry shallot, curry paste, and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken, stir fry until cooked, add fish sauce and scallions.

Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened salted peanut butter (I prefer chunky)
½ cup light coconut milk
1 TBS fish sauce
2 tsp red curry paste
1 TBS lime juice (lemon also works)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/16 to 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (I prefer ground chipotle pepper) – to taste

Microwave or otherwise heat the peanut butter and coconut milk. When hot, stir to combine, and add the other ingredients. Stir in additional warm water if the sauce is too thick – it should form a thick, but pourable sauce.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Ideally, you should do this no more than a minute or two before the broccoli comes out of the oven.

Oven Roasted Broccoli
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

8 oz broccoli
1 TBS sesame oil

Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a bowl and toss with 1/8 tsp salt and sesame oil, then spread on a sheet pan - do not crowd the broccoli on the pan.

Roast broccoli for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and toss into the wok with the chicken and peanut sauce and stir on medium heat for 1 minute.

Serve over rice.

Ordinary white rice would work perfectly well, but I was feeling fancy, and so I made a version of a Thai yellow rice.

Thai Yellow Rice

2/3s cup of long grain rice (I prefer jasmine rice)
2/3s cup of water
1/3 cup of light coconut milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 large (or two small) kaffir lime leaves
2 fresh bay leaves (dried works, but less well)
1/8 tsp salt
1 TBS Chinese Shao Xing cooking wine

Wash and drain the rice, add all other ingredients stir well, and cook in a rice cooker or pot until done. Remove lime and bay leaves and serve with the chicken.
heron61: (Look to the future)
Nokia has a short discussion about one possible path for using nanotechnology in personal electronics. They also have a nifty 5 minute animated video demonstrating the device. Their idea is that this represents a device in use 10 years from now, and that sounds about right. I'm fairly certain that such a device would be high-end expensive and cutting edge in a decade, but it also might well be possible. At minimum, I'd expect to see something similarly advanced by 2020.

In the meantime, I'm expecting improved version of the readius with folding epaper screens that have color and faster refresh time in 4-5 years. I'm fairly confident that by 2012, the Readius and the many devices that will imitate it will have evolved into something like this or perhaps like this.
heron61: (Curious Cat)
[livejournal.com profile] andrewducker linked to this interesting NYT article on choices and decisions . In the study, MIT students
played a computer game that paid real cash to look for money behind three doors on the screen. (You can play it yourself, without pay, at tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com.) After they opened a door by clicking on it, each subsequent click earned a little money, with the sum varying each time.

As each player went through the 100 allotted clicks, he could switch rooms to search for higher payoffs, but each switch used up a click to open the new door. The best strategy was to quickly check out the three rooms and settle in the one with the highest rewards.

Even after students got the hang of the game by practicing it, they were flummoxed when a new visual feature was introduced. If they stayed out of any room, its door would start shrinking and eventually disappear.

They should have ignored those disappearing doors, but the students couldn’t. They wasted so many clicks rushing back to reopen doors that their earnings dropped 15 percent. Even when the penalties for switching grew stiffer — besides losing a click, the players had to pay a cash fee — the students kept losing money by frantically keeping all their doors open.
There are some studies that I've read, especially some of the ones relating to fairness and exchange , where the behavior of people in the study makes perfect sense to me. This is not one of those studies. Instead, I remain completely baffled by the results. In vaguely similar situations, my behavior is fairly uniform – I check all possible options once, and if there is an obviously superior option, I stick with it, and perhaps go back once to check and see if the other options have no changed, if they haven't, then I completely ignore them.

In situations with uncertain reward or where reward is balanced by some negative consequences (such as perhaps a restaurant or bar with excellent food or drinks, but music that is always far too loud), I can easily be indecisive. However, in the case of known options, I find being decisive about as difficult and complex as breathing, and once I've decided and the decision seems obvious sound, the other options vanishing is utterly irrelevant.

One of the ways I think about many situations is using a term a friend of mine (Mike) back in Madison WI came up with – "the Hedon". According to Mike's definition, a Hedon was defined as the unit of pleasure found in 1 plain M&M. Mike maintained (rather jokingly) that all sources of pleasure could be evaluation according to how many hedons they provided and the sensible choice was to always choose the options that maximized your hedons.

This was 20 years ago, and I still use this term, because it's exceptionally useful. Choices that maximize (in both the short and, at least the medium term) hedons are good choices, and those that do not are irrelevant.

In any case, I'm deeply puzzled by the above study, because I simply do not understand how people could think this way. Perhaps the reason is that I'm somewhat lazier than many people I know and quite comfortable with this fact, but ultimately I remain puzzled.

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