Hoshigaki Season


Astringent persimmons (such as Hachiya) are in season now which means that it’s time to make hoshigaki, a Japanese delicacy made by hanging peeled persimmons up in a window to dry.

Hoshigaki are chewy and subtly sweet. The texture of hoshigaki is different than what you would get if you just put persimmons in a dehydrator. And if all goes right the sugar comes to the surface making it look like the fruit has been dipped in powdered sugar. If you can find them in a Japanese market they are extremely expensive. And the ones I saw at our local market were vastly inferior to my homemade hoshigaki.

I added some details to the instructions I posted last year. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions about making hoshigaki.

Live Like a Stoic for a Week


Image: Rugu.

A group of British academics are asking an important question: “Can the ancient philosophy of Stoicism help us to lead better and happier lives?” This week they’ll be providing everything from a Stoicism Handbook to recorded meditations to help wake your inner Seneca. They are also asking for people to participate in a week-long experiment to see what kind of effect Stoic philosophy can have on day to day living.

Check out more information here:  http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/stoicismtoday/stoic-week-2013/

From their press release:

Philosophers from Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Exeter, and psychotherapists are calling on people to live like a Stoic for a week, from 25 November – 1 December 2013. The week-long experiment will culminate with a public workshop on Saturday 30 November at Birkbeck, University of London exploring Stoicism for Everyday Life.

The ancient Stoic writers Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius offered a wide range of practical advice and guidance on how to live well and many of the founding figures of modern cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) acknowledged the influence of Stoic philosophy. Stoic Week will put some of this ancient advice to the test and help academics and psychotherapists to assess whether ancient Stoic philosophy can help people to lead better and happier lives.

Stoic Week participants can download a series of exercises, reflections, and meditations to complete each day, prepared by academics and psychotherapists, which draw on ideas from ancient Stoicism. They will complete well-being questionnaires before and after the week and the data from these will be used to assess the effectiveness of the Stoic ideas when they are put into practice today.

Dr John Sellars of Birkbeck’s Philosophy Department and a member of the Stoicism Today project, said: “The ancient Stoic authors offer a wide range of practical advice that many people have drawn on in their daily lives. Stoic Week is an opportunity for people to put Stoicism to the test for themselves and for us to gather data on just how effective Stoic psychotherapy is. The public event in London at the end of the week is an opportunity to explore further how Stoicism might help people in their everyday lives.”

Find out more at http://www.stoicismforlife.com/

This year’s Handbook will be released on the blog on November 18th: http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/stoicismtoday/

We’re honored to have been asked to post a short essay on Stoicism for Life blog and we’re also looking forward to hearing about the results of this important experiment.

How has stoicism influenced your life?

Picture Sundays: What Commuting by Bike Looked Like in 1942


From the Library of Congress photo archive a 1942 picture from Burbank, CA:

The bicycle brigade at Lockheed Vega Aircraft Corporation. Employees living within four miles of Lockheed’s plant may purchase bicycles through the company and resell them to the company when need for them no longer exists. This mode of transportation is becoming increasingly popular, and has resulted in the sale of 2,400 bicycles in record time. This is part of the swing shift on the way home at 12:30 am.

Saturday Linkages: Incas, Big Rocks and Cool Cucumbers


Engineering professor Michael Peshkin and his clear whiteboard.

Growin’ things
Wildflower project takes root in Echo Park http://feedly.com/e/pugEWv4Z 

Lost Crops of the Incas http://feedly.com/e/9GygG_Yc 

Reading: Urban Oasis on a Balcony: From Concrete Furnace to Edible Habitat… http://bit.ly/HSeQ6B 

Look at My Big Rock by Evelyn Hadden http://feedly.com/e/0gB_TOO6 

The coolest cucumber you’ve never met: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/11/coolest-cucumber-never-met/ …

Food issues
Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs? http://io9.com/americans-why-do-you-keep-refrigerating-your-eggs-1465309529 …

35 sickened; how did E. coli O121 get into Farm Rich Brand Frozen pizza? Flour http://barfblog.com/2013/11/35-sickened-how-did-e-coli-o121-get-into-farm-rich-brand-frozen-pizza-flour/ …

Cool Designs
Building a Crystal Clear Whiteboard http://feedly.com/e/54gF3j19 

Lock Pick Earrings by GiantEye http://etsy.me/1aASFNh 

Micro-community of tiny homes flourishes on rehabilitated vacant lot http://feedly.com/e/V62jTC8v 

Simple And Delightful Tiny Homes On The Back Of Small Pick-Up Trucks… http://feedly.com/e/EIHJkA8Y

Odd ideas
Betrayers’ Banquet: gourmet dining vs the Prisoner’s Dilemma – Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2013/11/21/betrayers-banquet-gourmet-d.html …

Complete meal cooking with a hotel coffee-maker: http://boingboing.net/2013/11/18/complete-meal-cooking-with-a-h.html …

For these links and more, follow Root Simple on Twitter:

Craig Ponsford Bakes Whole Wheat Ciabatta

Via Community Grains a mini-class by whole wheat baker Craig Ponsford. In this video you’ll see him make a whole wheat ciabatta. Some tips to point out:

  • Ponsford doesn’t knead. Even though you’ll see him use a spiral mixer in this video, he’s incorporating the ingredients with water not kneading them. Developing the flour takes place not through kneading, but instead due to a long fermentation, a wet dough and the folding you’ll see him demonstrate. And you don’t need a spiral mixer. You can incorporate ingredients by hand or with a stand mixer. Just don’t knead!
  • Baking requires a scale. Ponsford is very insistent about this and with good reason. As he puts it, when he hears about someone’s bread disaster, 99% of the time it’s because they did not use a scale.
  • Rather than dust flour on work surfaces in order to handle dough you’ll see Ponsford use water instead. He also wets containers that he puts dough into. It’s a lot neater and less flour gets incorporated in the dough. Whole wheat doughs need to be wet. When he does use flour, as in the end of the video he’s using it strategically–in order to keep the loaf from getting to dark in the oven.

Baking bread is actually fairly simple as long as you realize that the devil is in the details. Use a scale and study how Ponsford handles the dough and you’ll get good results. And please marvel at the open crumb structure that Ponsford achieves with 100% whole wheat.

The recipe for this dough can be found here – a whole wheat pizza dough recipe is here.