Doctor Science Knows

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Traditional Turkey Day

As a public service, here are the recipes for My Traditional Turkey Dinner: Herb-Brined Turkey, Chestnut-Rice-Rye Stuffing, Roasted-Garlic Gravy, and Two-Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier.

In order of preparation:

1. Stock

6 lb turkey parts such as backs, necks, wings, drumsticks, or thighs
3 medium yellow onions, left unpeeled, then trimmedand halved
3 celery ribs*, cut into 2-inch lengths
3 carrots, quartered
6 fresh parsley stems (without leaves)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
5 qt cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 500°F, put rack on lowest level. Roast turkey parts in large ungreased roasting pan, starting skin sides down and turning once, until golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer to stockpot with tongs, then roast vegetables in fat rendered from turkey, onions cut sides down first, stirring halfway through roasting, until golden, 10 to 20 minutes total, and then add vegetables to pot. Deglaze roasting pan with 2 cups water. Pour pan juices into stockpot with rest of water and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming froth as necessary. Reduce heat and gently simmer, partially covered, 3 hours.

Remove pot from heat and cool stock to room temperature, uncovered, about 1 hour. Pour stock through a large fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard solids. Measure stock: If there is more than 10 cups, boil in cleaned pot until reduced; if there is less, add water.

Cool stock and remove fat.

2. Brine:

12-16 lb turkey
3/4-1 1/2 c salt
3 gals water
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
1/3 cup fresh thyme sprigs
1/3 cup fresh marjoram sprigs
1/3 cup fresh sage sprigs
12 Turkish bay leaves

Clean turkey, cut off tail and reserve, along with neck. Feed rest of giblets to cat if he cares for them.

Put a turkey-sized oven bag in a large cooler, then place the turkey in the bag. Pour in the brine and seal tightly. Place ice over and around turkey, close the lid tightly, and let it brine 8 to 10 hours, adding ice periodically to keep temperature at 40° or below.

3. Stuffing

2 cups rice (brown or white)
bay leaf
fresh or dried thyme
fresh or dried sage
1/4 c. unsalted butter
3 medium onions, chopped medium
3 stalks celery plus all the leafy bits from the bunch of celery*, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 14-oz jar cooked peeled chestnuts (or boil or roast your own, but these are *well* worth the money)
1 big round Knackebrod wheel (or equivalent in other rye crackers), about 4 oz.
white wine

Cook the rice with the bay leaf, 3-4 sprigs of thyme, and 3-4 big leaves of sage.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and saute the onions and celery until the onions are translucent.

Put the rice in a big mixing bowl (or your largest salad bowl) and add the onions & celery with their butter and the eggs. Crumble in the chestnuts and Knackebrod. Crumble in thyme & sage to taste. Mix together with the hands. Taste the stuffing and add pepper if you like, but not salt -- it will get salt from the brined turkey. Moisten with white wine until it hold together nicely.

4. Turkey

Turkey, above
Stock, above
Stuffing, above
1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup mixed herbs, chopped: thyme, sage, parsley, winter savory
8 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
white wine
1/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mash herbs into the butter.

Take the turkey out of the brine and wipe off the herbs. Wipe out the inside with paper towels, but don't obsess over getting out all the herbs & pepper. Dry off the outside with paper towels as best you can.

Loosen the skin over the breast with your hands and smear herb butter inside. Wipe your buttery hands off all over the turkey. Tuck the legs into their holder, tie or tuck up the wings. Stuff the small (head end) hollow and tuck or sew the skin flap over it. Stuff the large hollow (tail end).

Put turkey on rack over roasting pan, put in oven on lowest level, and immediately turn the oven down to 350°F. Put the remaining stuffing in a casserole and lay the neck & tail on top. Set it aside to cook after the turkey is out of the oven (because you only have one small oven).

Roast the turkey 30-45 minutes, pour a cup of stock over. Roast 30 minutes, pour over another cup of stock. After another 30 minutes, baste turkey with pan drippings. Continue to baste at 1/2 hour intervals until done.

When you figure you have maybe 30-45 minutes left (depending on size of turkey), lightly oil the garlic, wrap it all up in aluminum foil, and put it in the oven next to the turkey.

When the thermometer says the turkey is done, take turkey, pan and garlic out of the oven. Pour a cup of stock into the casserole dish of extra stuffing, put it in the oven, and turn the oven up to about 400°F. Put the turkey on the carving board to cool down. At some point while you're making the gravy you'll need to turn the neck & tail over so their greasy tastiness gets into the stuffing.

Pour off the drippings from the pan into a measuring cup so the grease rises to the top. Deglaze the pan (=heat up with liquid to scrape up tasty bits) with 1/2 c white wine or whatever you need.

Squeeze the roasted garlics out of their skins into a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 c. flour and 1/4 c grease (from the drippings) and mash the garlic into the flour and grease over medium-high heat. After everything is nicely blended, mix in the wine & deglazed goodies from the roasting pan. Pour or scoop the extra grease out of the cup of drippings, and slowly add them to the pan. When the mixture thickens up, add two cups of turkey stock. Let it thicken, then add another 2 cups. Thicken again, another 2 cups stock. Taste for salt & pepper.

Make someone else carve the turkey.

Take the stuffing that comes out of the turkey and add it to the stuffing in the casserole, or put them together in a large bowl, mixing the two lots of stuffing together for uniform tastiness.

For extra credit:

A. My cranberry sauce

2 bags of fresh cranberries, picked over
1 bag dried cranberries
orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
about 1/4 c brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)

Put the fresh and dried cranberries in large saucepan, add orange juice to barely cover (amount will depend on how many cranberries were bad). Add spices (reduce amount if lots of the cranberries were duds) and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until most of the fresh crans have burst -- about 15 minutes. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary. Take sauce off heat, put into bowl, and add Grand Marnier to taste. Chill.

The herb brining comes from this Epicurious recipe, the herb butter from this one, the stuffing was invented by my mother (who finds traditional bread stuffings too gluey and greasy), the gravy and cranberry sauce are basically my own inventions -- insofar as anything in a traditional meal counts as any one person's invention.

*this year I used the tops from celeriac (part of our CSA farm share), instead of celery.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

False accusations of rape

At Shakesville, Sunless Nick posted the definitive reply to people who say false accusation of rape is as big a problem as rape. My comment, in reply to another commenter (not Nick):

I think being accused of rape when one is innocent is as bad as being raped
I think *not*. Let's put it this way, of what other crime would you say something similar?

"Being accused of murder when one is innocent is as bad as being murdered."

"Being accused of beating someone to a bloody pulp when one is innocent is as bad as being beaten to a bloody pulp."

"Being accused of kidnapping when one is innocent is as bad as being kidnapped."

"Being accused of theft when one is innocent is as bad as being robbed."

"Being accused of plagiarism when one is innocent is as bad as being plagiarized."

The last one starts to come close to what you're talking about -- but notice that for plagiarism and the accusation, neither side is actually physically hurt: both the crime and the false accusation are about issues of repute and honor. Rape is a *physical assault* -- of course it's worse than a false accusation. The only possible reason to say that a false accusation is "as bad as rape" is if you take a really old-fashioned patriarchal approach, and say that the crime of rape is really against the honor and property value belonging to the raped woman's owner (husband, father, brother). In that case, rape *is* much more like theft or plagiarism: an attack on something that belongs to you, but not a direct attack on your person, the body where your self lives.

To equate rape and false accusation like that makes the actual woman and her actual suffering unimportant, and makes it seem as though she is not a real person, not as real as a man.

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Books to understand America

ari at Edge of the American West put up his list of history books that would allow an interested but non-expert reader to "understand America". My comments:

Albion’s Seed is a book I’ve given as a present several times, always to great effect. I absolutely think it belongs on the list, because its social history gives the context — the bones, as it were — for the political history on the rest of the list. For me, American Slavery, American Freedom can be subsumed into Albion’s Seed — that is, ASAP fleshes out a subset of the ideas in AS.

And for giving real context to your context, I think you also need to include 1491.

And if you’re looking for a book to open the door to discuss issues about women, the frontier, land use, industrialization, and education (to name a few), there is no source better IMHO than Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you have to pick just one volume, it should probably be either Little House on the Prairie or The Long Winter.

I am not kidding.

teofilo, the mandate is “10 books to help an interested but non-expert reader to *understand America*.” I think for that purpose I would drop the Gordon Wood, which is, as ari said, over-focused. I don’t know if there’s a Revolution-through-Constitution equivalent of McPherson.

If we’re including fiction — which I certainly would — I don’t see how Moby Dick gives an enormous amount of “understanding America”; Huck Finn is the lynchpin. I’m racking my brains, but I can’t think of a fiction about 20th-century America that is as pivotal and illuminating. The defining works of 20th-century culture are on film, IMHO.


The reason I favor Huck Finn as opposed to Moby Dick for this purpose is that both landscape and characters are so varied yet characteristically American, and the ending of the book, though IMHO a literary failure, is a failure of an extremely American type. I think MD is a better *novel*, but HF is more helpful in understanding what we are and where we come from, what kind of people America has tended to grow up and what kind of stories we tell ourselves about who we are.

Also, SEK, in what way does Moby Dick contain a “larger sociological cast” than Huck Finn? The thing that jumps out at me is that Moby Dick contains neither women nor children: it is 100% guy with no non-guy elements, so calling it sociologically large strikes me as, well, wrong.

Not that there probably isn’t a paper to be written on “Huck/Jim and/or Ishmael/Queequeg: the Interracial Bromance of American Literature”, if Eve Sedgwick didn’t write it already.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

War crimes and reconciliation

Glenn Greenwald interviewed Scott Horton about his Harper's article on how to prosecute Bush Admin war crimes. My comments:

"Get over it", they tell me.

Recently I've posted about my hope for war crimes trials in several different fora, and every time someone pops up to tell me to "get over it".

I have a question, for those whose memory is clearer than mine.

Back in the 90s, did Democrats use the retort "Get over it!" a lot, to Republicans who were talking about Clinton's sex life, etc.? Or did this start within the 8 years, and if so, when and why? I have the vague sense that I first encountered it as a catchphrase used to dismiss misgivings about Bush v. Gore, but I may be wrong.

First the national trauma, *then* the reconciliation

South Africa could have a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" because they had already had decades of national conflict and trauma. Post-WWII Germany could have de-Nazification because their country had been bombed to flinders.

The United States has not collectively *earned* Truth and Reconciliation, because most people in this country simply don't feel bad enough about what's gone on under Bush/Cheney. Obama showed no hints of righteous wrath during the campaign, which was undoubtably politically prudent -- there's no way an *angry* black man could have won this election.

Americans are very resistant to feeling bad about ourselves, but what about when we *should*? How do we get to the point of truth and (maybe) an eventual reconciliation, unless a large proportion (even a majority) of Americans are willing to say, "this was evil and it was done in our name." I gave up hope on that account in November 2004.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fetal rights, category errors, and the Invisible Woman

At Crooked Timber, John Holbo linked to a post about category errors and whether fetuses are human. In the ensuing discussion, I wrote:

But I think the arguments raised in this post all apply perfectly well to the purely personal, moral question, “should I abort this pregnancy?”

It is my impression that of the participants in this (local) discussion only Katherine, aimai, and I could ever theoretically ask this question.

What the rest of you (presumed) guys are asking is, “should I permit this woman to abort this pregnancy?” By making the question, “when is the fetus a human person?” you-all are gliding over the true issue, which is: “when is the woman a person?”

Don’t tell me “of course the woman is a person!” There is no “of course” about it—we women have not (historically, traditionally, conservatively) had the full rights of “real”, male human persons. We might not have the right to own property, drive a car, initiate a divorce, vote, run for office, be a doctor, have legal custody of our own children … it has depended on circumstance. A cynical woman would not assume, a realistic woman should not assume, that she has will automatically be granted all the rights a man may assume.

In particular, I don’t think any of you male-type persons here have been told that your body does not belong to you. If your sibling needed a bone marrow donation to treat their cancer, for instance, you would not be legally obliged to give it. You would not expect to be shackled to a bed for weeks or months if necessary, to keep someone else alive—even someone you should love (whether you do or not). You would certainly not expect total strangers to come up to you and give their opinions about whether you are drinking too much coffee, or smoking, or to stroke parts of your body and discuss your medical condition, lifestyle choices, etc.

It’s possible I’m the only one in this discussion here who’s actually *been* in that position, who’s borne children and who knows what it’s like to have my body be considered public property, to a certain degree. Fortunately for your male-type people, the worst offenders (by far) are women of the grandmotherly demographic, and I can kind of understand where they’re coming from—though it is certainly not a place know to most philosophers, so I suggest you back off. Unless you can talk about things like “episiotomies” without turning a hair.

A zygote will.

No, Julian, a zygote *might*, but it usually doesn’t. To get a human being requires both a considerable amount of luck *and* months of cooperation from a woman. You don’t get to decide that the zygote—not coincidentally, the only part of the process requiring a male—is the important bit, and then force the woman’s far more substantial contribution whether she likes it or not. Not to mention blaming her for all the factors known as “luck”, which in the normal course of events doom more than half of all zygotes anyway.


I was going for an overcurrent of anger, actually. I’m not angry because you can’t bear children, I’m angry because, once again, a bunch of men are sitting around talking about what women should do with our bodies and our lives. As echidne of the snakes said after the final Presidential debate:

It is always extremely distasteful to watch two men discuss what should be done about abortion. Always, never mind what they say.

*Always*, dudes.

Do really believe this is a legitimate analogy? I mean I am pro-choice, so you do not need to convince me, but do you really think the two situations are comparable?

Organ donation and pregnancy? Yes.

In both cases, I’m giving up use of part of my body for the benefit of another person. In both cases, the consequences for me are at minimun painful, may include permanent changes to my body, and may be life-threatening.

Differences include that organ donation doesn’t generally take 9 months of increasing physical risk and constraint, doesn’t normally involve a 20-year commitment thereafter, and is hardly ever done more than once in a donor’s life.

In what way do you see them as *not* comparable situations?

Should I understand your position to be that no man has any business ever discussing the notions of personhood and rights as those terms may pertain to a fetus?

He has no business discussing them without even noticing the woman. He has no business talking about fetal rights without mentioning that what makes fetal rights different is that they are literally embedded in another person’s rights. To discuss fetal rights without talking about women is to make women invisible, to erase us as persons, to make us The Women Men Don’t See.

I’m not so much angry at you personally, jcs, as at the way John H. could start this discussion and you-all could take it down to comment #14 before Katherine (surprise, surprise—NOT) mentions that there is a woman in the issue. At least you, jcs, seem aware that perhaps you *should* notice the woman, instead of some of the other commenters who just glide right over her, nothing to see here, move along.

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Cheney and the Rule of Law: Scary

At the new conservative blog Culture 11, Conor Friedersdorf worries:
if Dick Cheney is found guilty of a prison worthy offense, the process of investigating, trying and convicting him is going to be an exceedingly ugly one for the country.

I commented:

Count me in with those who don’t see how the “domestic nightmare” of trying Cheney for breaking the law is worse than letting him get away with breaking the law.

You’re going to have to be much more eloquent about what is in this domestic nightmare. What *specifically* are you afraid of? Rush Limbaugh (et al.), or Timothy McVeigh 2.0?

That is, are you afraid of:

1. Frankly authoritarian rhetoric from the right? From my lefty POV, we’ve had that for years anyway.

2. Frankly anti-authoritarian rhetoric from the left? Strikes me as implausible but happy-making.

3. Conservatives having to make a public stand either for or against might-makes-right authoritarianism? And the downside of this would be ….?

4. More right-wing terrorists (on the McVeigh model) foaming out of the woodwork? That’s a worry, all right, but doesn’t seem worth giving up the rule of law for — and reigning in the right-wing demagogues would do a lot to keep the lid on these people. But the right-wing demagogues can only be reigned in by other (rich powerful) people on the right — we lefties aren’t going to get Rush to ratchet back.

5. Full-fledged insurrection? On behalf of *Cheney?!?*

Conor (and Charles, in this discussion), you seem to be deeply fearful about *something*, but I really don’t understand what is so frightening that the idea of undermining the rule of law isn’t clearly worse.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Divisions with the GOP

John Cole was talking about splits in the Republican Party. I wrote:

I’d say there’s a leftist consensus that there are two main factions in the GOP: the plutocrats (aka "economic conservatives") and the religious right (aka "social conservatives"). Of course there are also libertarians, neo-cons, and others, but those strike lefties as the most important divisions.

Those of you who read extensively in Right Bloglandia, is that how they see themselves? Do they see plutocrats versus social-cons as the important conflict? My superficial reading suggests that they don’t generally perceive plutocrats as such: everyone on the Right claims to be 4-square for Capitalism Uber Alles, so I’m not sure they notice where the real capitalists are.

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Train Travel

I returned on Sunday from the longest train trip I've taken in quite some time, maybe ever (I'm not sure if I remember taking a train from Chicago to NYC in the early 60s). My aunt passed away on Oct 28th, just before her 80th birthday. Yesterday was the memorial service and wake in North Carolina. We decided to go by train from Trenton NJ to Cary NC, about 9 hours and 540 miles (775km) each way.

We found the train trip to be both cost-effective and sane. It's cheaper than going by plane, and it takes longer it's not "that" much longer given the time it would take to get to the airport and go through Security Theater.

Even more important, my 6ft-tall husband can sit *comfortably*, without tormenting his bad back or worse knee. There are power strips down the sides of the cars, so he could plug in a laptop and even get work done (yes, I use a desktop. I read a book and snooooozed). Not a full, but something -- and you get off feeling exhausted and in need of a chiropractor. Especially if you were snooooooozing.

I've never taken a train south of Washington DC before. I don't think I've ever been down to Atlanta, etc., except by superhighway or air. Because there are no local trains in VA (south of the DC Metro area) or NC, there are only 2 train track "lanes" instead of the 4-5 or more you get in BosWash. So the trains are closer to the landscape and the area about the tracks is less grubby, making for a prettier ride than I'm used to in the NorthEast.

The Distant Future of Fandom and I were very interested to see how different the land use patterns are in in VA and NC compared to NJ & New England. I hadn't realized how *flat* the region is, and how much larger the fields are than the standard for farms further north. I was surprised not to see any tobacco fields (or at least none I recognized -- there's some tobacco farming in the Connecticut River Valley, believe it or not, and the barns for drying the tobacco are quite distinctive).

The house styles, the way the streets are laid out -- broader and straighter than north of the Mason-Dixon line -- reminded D very much of Georgia where he grew up, though the VA/NC area we went through is much flatter and not quite as piney. But to my surprise we went through areas in NC still being cultivated for lumber.

The landscape is beautiful right now -- north of DC the leaves are mostly fallen or past peak, but in VA/NC they're lovely and golden. I was suprised at how low the rivers in VA are -- crossing the James at Richmond, wide stone shoals are visible all across the river. The land doesn't look particularly drought-stricken -- weeds and vines are still green -- but they clearly didn't get as much of a hurricane season as usual.

Do you non-USans take long (more than 300mi/500km) train trips any more? What's train travel like for you?

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