Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ana cooks fusion: Chinese/TexMex/Italian Fritatta!

Since Ana Darcy came to Earth as an adult she was not invested in any particular Earthly cuisines. They were all new to her. As a result, her instincts in cooking were not shaped by childhood habit--all the new tastes she encountered were fair game for combining. She routinely  comes up with some surprising, and surprisingly tasty, dishes. (For many others, see the column to the right, under the picture of cranberry-apple pie.)

We have already reported Ana's adoption of the versatile fritatta, a way to redeploy leftovers in a simple and delicious fashion. Here are several more of her variations of this technique, one Chinese-influenced and one Chinese and TexMex influenced (!).

The night before, Ana had made spring rolls, essentially a Chinese salad in rice wraps. She had a bowl of rice noodles left over. How to use them? Why not make a fritatta? Her husband Matt pointed out that they were not that different from egg foo young, so she looked up a recipe for the sauce used with egg foo young online, found it simple and delicious, and made that too.

Rather than fill a pan with one fritatta, she made individual patties, again like egg foo young. Here's what they looked like. Note that for two, diced ham was added, and for a third, not pictured, she used leftover carne al pastor (marinated beef and pork strips), brought home from a restaurant. Practically any meat will do, for those who enjoy it.

Ana's family's salsa  & frijoles

More to the right: pizza improvisations, pizzete, bruschetta, soups, relish, and more!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Aun mas dichos! Even MORE proverbs from the Mexican-American Grandmother!

Everyone loves a good proverb. Proverbs (dichos) in Spanish are especially clever, poetic, and to the point. Here is Chapter 3.

Although the first two are rather slangy and are unlikely to be heard on the lips of Matt Méndez's grandmother, his extraterrestrial wife Ana loves them all, and supplied some from her own planet, Thomo, not too long ago.

Traditional proverbs are often similar across languages. Therefore, the ones below are translated more or less literally. If there's an English proverb with a similar meaning, we leave that to you to realize. Only a couple need explaining.

Ya te conozco, mosco.
(I know you, fly, i.e., I see through you)

No me chingues, Juan Dominguez
(You don't say, don't try to kid me (NOT for grandmothers))

Taparse con la misma cobija
(To cover oneself with the same blanket, i.e., birds of a feather stick together)

El que canta, sus males espanta.
(He who sings scares away the blues)

Quien no oye consejos, no llega viejo.
(He who doesn't take advice doesn't get old.)

Por los acciones se juzcan los corazones.
(By deeds hearts are known.)

No siendo verdad ni coraje da.
(Not being true, it doesn't make me mad.)

No es lo mismo decia que hacer.
(Saying and doing are not the same.)

Lo barato cuesta caro.
(Cheap is expensive.)

Los niños y los locos dicen la verdad.
(Chidren and crazy people say the truth.)

La verdad no mata, pero incomoda.
(The truth doesn't kill, but it's uncomfortable.)

Más claro no canta un gallo.
(A rooster can't crow more clearly, i.e., it's perfectly plain)

Ser mas viejo que la luna
(To be older than the moon)

La suerte de la fea la hermosa la desea.
(The beautiful one desires the luck of the ugly one.)

Haz bien y no mires a quien.
(Do right and don't look at anyone.)

Estar como perro en barrio ageno
(To be like a dog in a strange neighborhood.)

Comer frijoles y repetir pollo
(Eating beans and talking chicken)

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.
(A sleeping shrimp is carried away by the current.)

A cada santo, se le llega su día.
(Every saint has his day.)

A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.
(God helps those who get up early.)

See more of Ana's favorite recipes, poems, and art in the column on the right!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Distant Cousin predicts the future--EIGHT times!

A recent article in the New York Times announced that "For the first time, researchers have determined virtually the entire genome of a fetus using only a blood sample from the pregnant woman and a saliva specimen from the father."

“It’s an extraordinary piece of technology, really quite remarkable,” said Peter Benn, professor of genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut....What I see in this paper is a glance into the future.”

The technique, when perfected, will make it possible to detect thousands of genetic diseases before birth. The article goes on to discuss the state of current research and offers cautionary notes about what actions may or may not be taken if serious abnormalities are discovered.

The article concludes with the words of a professor of genome sciences at The University of Washington: “This is not science fiction anymore.”

Very well, then. If it isn't science fiction anymore, it was, not so long ago.

Here is a quote from Distant Cousin (published in 2005, seven years before the article in question), chapter 16. Ana Darcy is talking to a reporter. She tells him "Germline therapy is the name your scientists have given the technique of modifying the genetic character of cells from which people grow. That is, it can shape heredity, or improve it.... I have had some of my genes altered just after I was conceived....I'm not quite as strong as a comparable native of Earth, but I can move considerably faster."

So that is one example of prescience in the Distant Cousin stories, but there are many others. Ana's stories are light and fun, and never ponderously philosophical or brimming with techno babble. They are NOT fluffy, however--some serious ideas are built into them, and some of the more cutting-edge ideas have since come to pass.

Here is a partial list:

1. Germline therapy to shape prenatal heredity (Distant Cousin, p. 64). (Discussion above.)

2. Many medical tests can now be accomplished with a simple scan of the ear or analysis of a bit of saliva (Distant Cousin, p. 259).

3. Preschool children can effortlessly learn to speak many different languages (Distant Cousin: Repatriation, Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

4. Preschool children can easily learn to read, even in several languages (Distant Cousin: Repatriation, Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

5. Preschool children properly exposed to mathematics, can learn math as easily as they learn to talk (Distant Cousin: Reincarnation). (Discussion here.)

6. Ana Darcy's notion of God has helped at least two readers to accept their place in the universe (Distant Cousin: Repatriation). (Discussion here.)

7. Ana's low-stress running technique was five years ahead of the media's "discovery" of same (Distant Cousin, p. 148, Distant Cousin: Recirculation, p. 12). (Discussion here.)

8. Locating and killing the world's #1 terrorist (Distant Cousin: Recirculation).

Coverage of the recent death of Ray Bradbury, one of the founding fathers of science fiction, has mentioned the many predictions in his stories that have come true (like the iPad). We also note that Mr. Bradbury did not claim to be primarily a writer of science fiction. We don't either! He was first and foremost a writer. And was he ever. May he rest in peace.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ana Darcy discovers St. Francis's "Canticle of the Sun"

Ana Darcy Méndez, the (normally) reclusive housewife living in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, was born on a planet 25 light years away, as readers of her stories know. Her ancestors, descended from Proto Indo-Europeans--pre-Christian nomads originally of north central Asia--could not have known about most of the major religions on Earth today

She has been interested to see that much Earthly religious thought is not that different from that of her own (Thoman) people, aside from doctrinal details. (She has discussed her religious beliefs elsewhere in this blog.) Indded, her favorite poem ("School Prayer," by Diane Ackerman), though not overtly religious, is undergirded by strong moral and ethical principles.

Living as she does in southern New Mexico, where the Catholic faith is common, her discovery of Saint Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Sun" was a matter of time. Saint Francis, renowned for his patronage of animals, the environment, and the heavens, struck Ana as someone Thomans would similarly revere. This is also one of her favorite poems.

Written in the twelfth century Umbrian dialect of Italian, we present it here in English:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

Ana's explorations in her new planet's poetry, art, and cooking are on display in the column to the right, including: