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Nian in the Village
Hongjun Laozu and the Nian - The village had a problem. The hungry and monstrous Nian had returned to select another tasty villager for its yearly meal, but this time he was met by an ancient travelling Taoist monk who was overnighting in the village, Hongjun Laozu (鴻鈞老祖), who admonished the Nian to eat elsewhere.
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Hongjun Laozu
"Old man, now it’s time for me to eat you!" spat the defiant Nian. Hongjun Laozu said, "Wait while I take my clothes off, as I will surely taste much better then", and the monk did so, revealing blood-red undergarments underneath. The startled Nian exclaimed "Ah! I dearly hate red, get out of my sight quickly." "Ha! I knew you were afraid of red!" exclaimed the monk.
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Nian
The old man mounted Nian and went to the town, saying "Dear villagers, do not be afraid, Nian is most terrified of red. From now on, each house must paste red on each of their doors to prevent Nian from creating havoc." Hongjun Laozu also came to report that loud noises also scare the Nian.

After this, the people started to paste red paper on their front doors before New Year's Day and throw firecrackers in the streets.

Nian Ye Fan (Reunion Day (年夜饭)) - The day before the official celebration is a major communal family feast day. Wax-cured meats (like duck and Chinese sausage) and seafood (e.g. lobster and abalone, and most especially a whole fish (yú: 魚) which is included in the dinner, but not eaten completely (the remainder is preserved overnight) – a tribute to the Chinese traditional axiom "may there be surpluses every year".

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Tray of Togetherness
“Tray of Togetherness” candy boxes are given as gifts with the idea in mind to "bribe" the Kitchen God into reporting good things about the family. Niángāo is featured, which literally means "new year cake" with a homophonous meaning of "increasingly prosperous year in and year out". Pork and cabbage dumplings (jiǎozi: 餃子), which have a shape reminiscent of ancient money, are consumed around midnight.
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Niángāo
Eight individual dishes are served to reflect the belief in the good fortune associated with this luckiest of numbers. If in the previous year a death was experienced in the family, seven dishes are instead served.
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Updated from the originally published version from Saturday, 20 Feb 2010.

Is there anyone who better encapsulates the heart of the age-old Cajun culture better than the late populist Cajun chef, Justin Wilson? Active politically in his early years, Justin (joo-STAN) was the son of a Democratic office holder in the Parishes, and supported Democratic candidates for major office in his home state. A  tremendously funny guy, it's difficult to say whether he was a better storyteller or a most accomplished chef.


. . . we rush back in the house and I get my twice-barrel car-a-bine, and Jean Ba'tiste get his automatic shootgun. Dat a one hole gun dat shoot three times out of the same hole if the game warden d'ere. If he ain't d'ere, it shoot five time right through the same place.
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While it’s true that one end-of-the-year holiday is in the books for 2014, there are two more to cook for. When I first went to Hong Kong (pre-1997), I was astounded by the number of holidays they celebrated there – essentially all the traditional Chinese holidays as well as all the British ones – possibly 30+ days each year in total. Asian New Year (年节: Nián Jié, or Nián Festival) alone is over two weeks long. They love holidays in Hong Kong, and simple, clean, often ingenious Asian celebratory cuisine was always to be found.

To my delight, I also found that much of that festive Asian cuisine adapted perfectly well to the spirit of our own end-of-year holidays as well, and I thought I’d put out a few examples.

Shrimp Chips

These snacks start life as colorful, tough eyeglass-lens-like, thin, semi-transparent disks. They puff up like popcorn in hot oil, and they have a very pleasant, surprisingly concentrated shellfish taste.  Shrimp chips are reminiscent of New Year’s Day celebrations, but certainly are very welcome at any party gathering.

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Shrimp Chips
Blogger Jonathan H. Liu and his eight-year-old demonstrate their preparation.

Turkish Coffee

One of the oldest ways in the world to prepare coffee. Because this robust coffee is brought to a gentle boil three separate times, complex flavors emerge and are locked in. Select a rich, complex roast with a distinctive flavor, such as Kona (Hawai’i), Java (Indonesia), or mountain Việtnamese, and grind it as finely as you possibly can using a mortar and pestle. Weaponize it lol! Traditional Turkish coffee has four grades of sweetness, as follows:

Description Sugar
sade no sugar
az şekerli half a teaspoon sugar
orta şekerli one level teaspoon sugar
çok şekerli one and a half teaspoons sugar
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Turkic Coffee
For each demi-tasse, put 3 ounces (90ml) of cold water in your boiling pot, between one to two heaping teaspoons of your fine-ground coffee powder, and your choice of the amount of desired sugar from the table, above. Stir only until the sugar is fully dissolved and your coffee grounds sink to the bottom. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, then take it off the heat to rest for a short time. Repeat a second time, then a third. The objective is to produce a thick foam head (called a crema) on top of your poured brew.

Fully evolved, heady and complex with layer upon layer of wonderful flavors – no wonder it’s considered one of the best coffee preparations in the world.

Har Gao

Morsel delicacies called dim sum evolved from the need to add something to eat to the age-old practice of tea-tasting (yum cha) for travelers along the ancient Silk Road.

Har Gao are made of a delicate thin wheat starch skin in which is steamed a chopped shrimp filling. Not the easiest appetizer to make, but luscious and very refined. Who doesn't like har gao?

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Har Gao
Serve as-is (more traditional), or with a dipping sauce of two parts shoyu (soy sauce) with one part fine rice wine vinegar with the tiniest pinch of sugar added.

Umeshu


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Umeshu
Consider umeshu a fine blended fortified wine apéritif port or sherry, but less harsh, lighter, delicate, and more natural and fruity. Japanese umeshu (梅酒: plum liquor or plum wine) predates sushi culture by about a millennium, and it couldn't be more festive. Some offerings have an ume plum or two in the bottom of the bottle.
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Homemade Umeshu
While you can make your own - and Japanese people do - buy a good bottle of Choya or Takara umeshu for as little as $9 at an Asian grocery. Serve it ice cold in a tiny apéritif glass along with your dessert. Delicious, and with just the perfect amount of natural sweetness - your guests will have no idea that it’s Asian.
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The Honourable East India Company (HEIC) was chartered on 31 December 1600 by Queen Elizabeth, making it one of the oldest corporations on earth, and in its heyday the British East India Company accounted for half the commerce on the planet. The British Union Jack was modeled from the British East India Company's banner. High on HEIC's list of prized tradewares was spices.

East India Company Early Seal
East India Company Early Seal
The Silk Road is sometimes also called the Spice Road, and the beating heart of it was India. Exotics like ginger, hot peppers (from Portuguese traders), cinnamon, mustard, cardamom, nutmeg/mace, and long pepper poured in by caravan from the East while Western camels brought garlic, asafoetida, fennel, caraway, cloves and fenugreek from Africa and the Near East. Most of these aromatics found fertile ground in South India itself, which was already blessed with native coriander, turmeric, cumin and black pepper.

To this day, what I remember most about my trips to India is the scent of the mélange of spices to be found everywhere.

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Curry Ingredients
In India, it's called curry, but we know it as curry powder. The reason for this is that curry powder - which combines the myriad of aromatics into a convenient blend - turns out to be a recent all-in-one invention to benefit Western connoisseurs. In mother India, curry spice ingredients are kept separate so that curry spices can be added in different parts of the cooking process.
  Country Region/State Known For      Characteristics
India Goa Vindaloo Portuguese inspired dishes featuring wine and garlic.
Karnataka Saaru soup Commonly vegetarian curries served with hot rice, with hints of coconut and sweet jaggery
Kerala Sadya, served on a banana leaf Mustard, onion and shredded coconut paste based curries with boiled rice.
Tamil Nadu Distinctive flavors Range of taste sensations expanded by the use of aromatic exotics such as tamarind and rosewater. Vegetarian, with some fresh water fish and seafood.
Bengal, Bangladesh Oriya cuisine Delicately spiced fish curries in a mustard oil base. Garam masala is often used for non-vegetarian dishes. Sweets are common here.
Maharashtra Shev bhaji Highly spiced coconut based curries featuring groundnut (peanut) powder and chickpea flour.
Gujarat Winter undhiyu Dry vegetarian or paneer kofta curries. "Simple" food made by farmers.
Kashmir Rogan josh Lamb curries with yoghurt gravies colored brilliant red by chilies and local plant extracts.
Pakistan Lahore Karahi Simmered chicken, beef, mutton, paneer and goat stews prepared in a flat-bottomed wok called a karahi.
Punjab Yoghurt and gram flour dumpling Kardhi A fruit and vegetable growing paradise. Saags and dals served with breads and rice. Onion, garlic and ginger aromatics dominate.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pass) Peshawari karahi Dried fruits and vegetables, nuts, and cereals along with dairy yoghurts and wheys. Harsh mountainous winters in this region near Afghanistan makes fresh food hard to obtain.
Sindh Fish salan (curry) Fresh fish from the Arabian Sea create particularly hot fish curry dishes eaten together with phulka flatbread.
Balochistan Sajji Spice rubbed lamb sajji, along with desert dried fruits and nuts incorporated in curry stews and roasts.
Sri Lanka Columbo Rice and curry A rice culture that features spicy fresh fish and vegetable curries.
Nepal Kathmandu Yak dishes Influenced by neighbors Burma and Tibet, daal bhaat (lentil soup) is a staple as well as curried yak and vegetable dishes with ginger and fenugreek. Soups are prepared from the brewery remnants of rice beer.
Maldives Malé Mas riha (tuna curry) Simmered diced tuna curries with onions and coconut milk. Tuna is made into a thick brown paste called rihaakuru - a cooking staple.
Burma Pyu, Mon Kari kambing (onion mutton curry) Meat and fish onion and chili curries lacking in coconut milk. Oil-rich curries predominate to aid in preservation and Indian style hot curries can be found in the North.
Indonesia Java, Sumatra Rendang (caramelized beef dry curry) Regional opor and gulai curries. Brains, spleen, tripe, cassava, cattle fat, lung, fern leaf, bone marrow, cow tendon, stomach, red snapper head, intestines, cow foot. Indonesians will curry anything :)
Malaysia Kuala Lampur Rendang Mutton, chicken, shrimp, cuttlefish, fish, eggplant, egg, and vegetable curries rich in  turmeric, tamarind, shallots, ginger, belacan (shrimp paste - it's really good!), chili peppers, and garlic.
Philippines Western North, Islamic South Kulma (korma) Curry influences traditional local dishes such as adobo, kaldereta, and mechado, often complimented with potatoes, bay leaf, coconut milk, and sometimes lemongrass and carrots.
Thailand Bangkok Kaeng Highly aromatic curries described by their color, including:
  • Yellow curry
  • Massaman curry
  • Green curry
  • Red curry
  • Phanaeng curry
  • Khao soi
  • Kaeng hangle
  • Kaeng som
Local ingredients are often used, including  chili peppers, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal (a highly potent form of ginger).
Vietnam Hồ Chí­ Minh City Cà ri (pronounced kuh-ri) Vietnamese curry features coconut milk, potato, sweet potato, taro roots, chicken garnished with cilantro and green onion and is more soup-like than Indian curry. It's usually eaten with a baguette, rice vermicelli or steamed rice.
China Hong Kong Galimian (curry noodles) Yellow curry influenced dishes which probably came to China from Singapore and Malaysia to the south. White pepper, soy sauce, hot sauce, and/or hot chili oil may be applied to the sauce to enhance the flavour of the curry.
Fiji Suva Roti (bread) with curry & chutneys Fish, dal (lentil) and vegetable curries. A staple of the islands - roti and curry is most often the workman's choice for lunch.
Japan Honshu Karé (カレー karē) raisu (rice) Brought by British trading ships during the Meiji Restoration, curry is highly popular in Japan, who prefer a milder "gravy" style rendition. The Japanese people eat curry 78 times a year, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force traditionally has curry every Friday for lunch.
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East India Company on One Rupee Coin
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When I lived in the good ship California, I dabbled with Western wines, but I decided that I lacked both the brain power and the pocketbook to master such a ponderous course of study. I coupled, instead, my affinity for Asian cuisine with a smaller, more digestible subject matter (I thought), and read everything I could find about Japanese sake. Neither of those two prepositions led to any particular success - the study of sake is equally as complicated and detailed as that of Western wine, and good sake certainly doesn't necessarily cost any less!

Probably historically anchored in the Nara (奈良時代) Period (710–794 AD), sake (酒) is only one of the pronunciations of that Japanese character - the Japanese people themselves more commonly use the term nihonshu (日本酒), or "Japanese liquor". Western wine ferments natural fruit sugars into ethanol (alcohol), while beer starts with starches (grains), then first breaks those starches down to sugars, followed by a fermentation of those sugars into beer.

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Sake mash - Nanbu Bijin Shuzo
What makes sake different is that the grain (polished rice) is broken down to sugars and the sugars are fermented, all in the same indiscreet and simultaneous step. There's nothing else quite like it. An incredible feat, really, which requires exacting temperature control that - during some brewing stages - cannot vary by any more than a few degrees. I've tried brewing my own sake, and the result was more than impalatable - I couldn't come close to being able to control the temperatures to near the necessary degree.

The result, though, is something quite unique. First of all, sake has a great deal of ethyl alcohol - considerably more than either beer or wine.

Spirit Alcohol by Volume
Wine 9-16%
Beer 3-9%
Sake 18-20%
Sake is test tasted after the brewing process to determine what balance elements might be called for, and, interestingly, sometimes that balance is struck by adding more water, while other times it's met with more added pure ethyl alcohol!
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Wall of sake in Kōbe
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Whether or not American military intervention in Syria is ill-advised can and should be debated, but this is a president who has an impressive record of finding and neutralizing bad guys with violent intent on Western targets. Muhsin al-Fadhli was not only the leader of the group, but was thought to be planning "imminent attacks against the West".

Kuwaiti al-Fadhli was a confidant of Osama bin Laden who likely had prior knowledge of the attack against the US on 911, according to intelligence sources, and had a $7 million bounty on his head.

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I could work out this problem myself, probably, but I'm holding down three part-time jobs, and since I'm only a journeyman when it comes to this sort of applied engineering, I'd have to run my prospective signal plan by someone authoritative anyway. My hope is that you SMHRs would find this to be a worthwhile challenge.

Author's note: This diary was originally published to The KETI Program (Kossack Engineers) on 28 Aug 14. Many helpful comments - like this one - got close to the heart of the problem, but perhaps came up just short. Maybe there's touchdowns to be had this morning! Minor edits and updates were made to this republication effort which mostly address idiosyncrasies of time and place due to republishing.

So I did a whole-house renovation in 2010-2011, but I messed up. I put in good, solid, windows all around. Some of them don't open at all, however (to provide better insulation), and others are glass brick (surprisingly good R-value)  - great for cold northern Ohio winter insulation, but in the summer, I get this:

What you're looking at is a clock in my bedroom indicating that it was 16 Jun 14 at just past 10pm at night. And yes, it was 104.6F degrees at that moment, and a few hours later the temperature went up to more than 107.4F! A sealed rather large ranch-style home with a broad roof that bakes in the sun - no one could have predicted that. Yeah, right lol!

Along with breathing new life into the 33yo ailing hardly-Energy-Star-compliant heat exchanger I use only for the air conditioning side, I figured the overarching solution would be a whole-house air evacuation system. Here's Sean "the Wookie" Caskey cutting a 2'x8' (16 sq ft) slot between the joists in the ceiling of my great room. Outside air is often pleasant and much cooler here in Northern Ohio than in my hothouse, and my expansive basement hovers around 61F in the summer because it's below ground.

The idea would be to evacuate hot air first out of my attic (adding life to my new tar shingle roof, btw) then evacuating my first floor, pulling in cool air to replace it, then supplementing with occasional air conditioning from the patched-up heat exchanger when absolutely necessary.

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I like radio. I'm a member of the radio underground. I've got enough decisions to make, so I'm happy to let somebody else with skills and insight select my listening content for me. Surprise me. Stereophiles much smarter than I tell me that the quality of a radio signal rivals that of commercially mastered CDs. And when you have the radio on, you've always got a friend in the house.

I pump my radio signal throughout my entire premises, and - in simple terms - I'd like to show you how. My objectives with my whole-house radio project was as follows:

  • A clean, quality 24/7, whole-house signal.
  • On/off/volume room by room.
  • Try not to make the FCC's most wanted list :)
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Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 12:49 PM PDT

Why A 99 Pack of Beer?

by thenekkidtruth

Because if it was 100, it wouldn't fit right in three columns, and the two-column box would be eleven feet long!

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99 Beers Sunning Themselves
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I could work out this problem myself, probably, but I'm holding down three part-time jobs, and since I'm only a journeyman when it comes to this sort of applied engineering, I'd have to run my prospective results by someone authoritative anyway. My hope is that you KETIs would find this to be a worthwhile challenge.

So I did a whole-house renovation in 2010-2011, and I messed up. I put in good, solid, windows all around. Some of them don't open at all, however (to be better insulated), and others are glass brick (surprisingly good R-value)  - great for cold northern Ohio winter insulation, but in the summer, I get this:

What you're looking at is a clock in my bedroom indicating that it was 16 Jun 14 at just past 10pm at night. And yes, it was 104.6F degrees at that moment, and a few hours later the temperature went up to more than 107.4F! A sealed rather large ranch-style home with a broad roof that bakes in the sun - no one could have anticipated that. Yeah, right lol!

Along with breathing new life into the 33yo ailing hardly-Energy-Star-compliant heat exchanger I use only for the air conditioning side, I figured the overarching solution would be a whole-house air evacuation system. Here's Sean "the Wookie" Caskey cutting a 2'x8' (16sqft) slot between the joists in the ceiling of my great room. Outside air is often pleasant and much cooler here in Northern Ohio than in my hothouse, and my expansive basement hovers around 61F in the summer.

The idea would be to evacuate hot air first out of my attic (adding life to my new tar shingle roof, btw) then evacuating my first floor, pulling in cool air to replace it, then supplementing with occasional air conditioning from the patched-up heat exchanger when absolutely necessary.

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People often have questions about Eastern religions - I thought I'd create an opportunity for you to ask those questions. I also believe - like Einstein - that Buddhism can be a powerful force for good.

For this reason, I think that community Buddhists should become more high profile here - should we not own our power, especially if that power can make a difference? So, a coming out party of sorts, as well! Some possible questions after the omnilepticon mandala.

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Siberia is 77% of Russia by area - a country which spans 9 time zones, and Siberia comprises nearly 10% of the earth's surface.  And it used to be bigger.

Federated (official) Siberia today is in red, while geographically-aligned Siberia is indicated in red/orange.  Historically, Siberia has extended as far east as the Kuril Islands - a chain of 56 islands north of Japan in the Sakhalin Oblast (indicated in tan).

The largest city in Siberia is Russia's third largest - Novosibirsk (Новосибирск), which means "New Siberia".  The Southern Siberian city of Novosibirsk is on the same approximate latitude as Moscow (Москва).  Most of Siberia is taiga (тайга́) or ice forest - the same as most of Canada and Alaska.  Siberia can certainly get very cold, however, and the coldest point in the Northern Hemisphere is listed as Oymyakon (Оймяко́н), Republic of Sakha, a Siberian village of 500 people (-89.9° F)

Pelmeni (пельме́ни) are small (2-3cm) dumplings filled with minced meat and/or vegetables. Traditionally, pelmeni satisfied several important needs on the taiga - they are non-perishable when dried, easily and quickly prepared, and if they're created before winter, the difficult task of feeding animals throughout the frozen season is avoided. Pelmeni's size sets them apart - since they're small, there's a higher proportion of filling to flour dough, which tends to concentrate the flavor.

Component
Ingredients
Filling pork, lamb, beef, fish, mushrooms, onions, turnips, sour cabbage
Spices and Aromatics salt, pepper, dill, parsely, mint, onion
Sauce clear broth, melted butter, sour cream, mustard, horseradish, tomato sauce, vinegar
Cooking Techniques boiled, fried, steamed
Unlike Ukrainian vareniki (варе́ники) or Polish pierogi, traditional pelmeni are never served sweet.

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