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The Food Almanac: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, March 27, 2013


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Food Calendar
It is National Paella Day in America. Paella is catching on. While we have always been able to find a restaurant around New Orleans that serves paella, until very recently we never needed more than the fingers of one hand to count them. Nor were the ones we found especially good--again, until recent years, with the broadening of all ethnic dining in New Orleans. Always, any chef that made this most famous of Spanish rice dishes could be counted on to be very proud of it. Enough so that paella is usually the most expensive item on menus that offer it.

Paella comes in many forms, with a long list of possible ingredients. But it simmers down to this: rice, olive oil, and stock (usually chicken) are cooked in a big pan with poultry, sausages, or seafood, plus peas, beans, and savory vegetables. It's flavored with saffron if it's a good version. In the cheaper editions, annatto gives the color of saffron, but not the unmistakable flavor and aroma.

The dish originally came from Valencia, but now you can eat it in most parts of the world. There is some question as to whether jambalaya is a direct descendent of paella, but it's certainly related, by way of the connection between the Spanish West Indies and Louisiana. Currently, the best restaurants for paella are Barcelona Tapas in Metairie, RioMar in the Warehouse District, Cafe Grenada in Carrollton, Liborio in the CBD, and Lola's in Esplanade Ridge.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Ricetown is in eastern Kentucky, a part of the country where more towns have food-related names than anywhere else. It's in a small valley but by Indian Creek in the steeply rolling Appalachian foothills. Neatly trimmed fields lie at the bottom of the valley, and rice may well be grown there--but cows and horses are more likely. The farmhouses in the area are spaced well apart, too much for a town center to be defined. Or to have restaurants closer than nine miles away. For example, Cody's Corner and Kristen's Cafe--two names for the same place--are west in Buckhorn.

Edible Dictionary
teff, n.--A grain grown since ancient times by people in the part of Africa that is now Ethiopia. In recent years it has become popular in this country, first in health food stores, then more broadly. The advent of Ethiopian restaurants also intriduces a lot of people to teff. Its flour is one of the main ingredients in the making of injera, the wide flatbread used to scoop up food from the Ethiopian plate. The demand for more grains--particularly those without gluten--has brought teff to the edge of the mainstream grocery buyer. I saw it mentioned as one of the "ancient grains" in one of Pepperidge Farms's multigrain breads.

Food In Diplomacy
The flowering cherry trees for which Washington, D.C. is so famous were first planted on this date in 1912. They were a gift from the people of Japan. Of the more than 3,000 trees planted then, over a hundred are still alive. Many more have been planted since, of course, and the city is full of them now. We hear that the flowers are much more beautiful than the taste of the actual cherries. But that's true of a lot of things.

Food Inventions
Today in 1860, a New Yorker named M.L. Byrn patented a design of a corkscrew. It was T-shaped, based on gadgets that had long been used to extract bullets stuck in the muzzles of guns. Corkscrews had been around before Byrn's invention, but his design became the standard in America for decades. The business end was not a worm, as we use now, but looked more like a screw.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
If a corkscrew turns a wine cork into crumbs, no matter how much you paid for it or how long it's worked properly or how beautiful it is, throw it away.

Food Namesakes
NFL running back Tom Beer came to life today in 1969. Ohio Congressman Douglas Applegate was born today in 1928. . Nathaniel Currier, who with his partner James Ives created lithographs generally regarded as the first artistic bits of Americana, was born today in 1813. Stacy Ferguson, a singer with the group The Black Eyed Peas, was born today in 1975.

Words To Eat By
"Rice is born in water and must die in wine."--Unknown.

Words To Drink By
"Drink down all unkindness. "--William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - Recipes

Filipinos love to eat and to beat the heat, we crave for foods that are can quench the thirst and fill our appetite. Here are some of the foods that every Filipinos will surely crave for this summer:

1. Halo-halo - First on the list is the Halo halo. Boiled and sweetened kidney beans or mung beans (munggo), boiled kamote (sweet potato), garbanzos, kaong (sugar palm fruit), nata de coco, macapuno, boiled saging na saba, crunchy pinipig, filled with crushed ice and top with ripe langka (jackfruit) and ube (purple yam) and pored with evaporated milk, this Filipino's all-time favorite is served not only in during the summer season, but throughout the year.

Even if some of the ingredients are out of season, halo halo, from the tagalog term that is 'mix', it can be mixed with other kinds of fruits and flavorings. The classic recipe of this dish has elevated to the next level as some establishments from the food industry introduced innovations to this dessert such as adding a scoop of ice-cream or serving it on a different way.

2. Ice scramble - Crushed ice blended with sugar and evaporated or condensed milk and top with syrup (usually strawberry or chocolate, or combination of both) and skimmed milk, are well-known and best-selling during hot afternoons especially among kids.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - Recipes

So I've blogged about my two drastically different eating styles during my two pregnancies before.

During my first pregnancy I indulged in way too much sugar, way too many carbs, and did not attempt to have any real healthfulness what so ever.
By the end I was feeling terribly sluggish, had gained 41 pounds, and gave birth to a 9 pound baby girl.
Losing the weight came with extreme effort and determination. (And I actually went on to lose 15 additional pounds to reach a healthy BMI. Which was a lot of work!)

So for my second pregnancy I wanted to follow a much healthier diet.
After a lot of research I learned that the main way to control not only the mother's weight gain during pregnancy, but also the baby's is by watching your carb intake. And of course since sugar is the most worthless carb there is, you really want to limit your sugar intake.

I went on to follow the Brewer Pregnancy Diet.
This is a diet that focuses on protein, vegetables and fruit. And allows at limited amount of whole grains.
You can see my post on it here for more details on what it entails.

I didn't follow it to the letter.
(*And that's what I'd recommend to you. That you just pay attention to your body and its needs.)
Its actually a LOT of food prescribed per day, and I literally could not eat it all. (And I'm someone who likes to eat.) I just ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. I used the brewer diet as a general guideline for what types of food to aim for. I was very careful to not go over my daily grain intake. And I was VERY careful with refined sugars, having almost none for 9 months.

So by doing that, as well as staying active (regularly swimming laps or walking), I was able to gain only 32 pounds during my second pregnancy. I felt great -- not sluggish at all. And I gave birth to a 8 pound 4 ounce baby girl.
*Both pregnancies lasted 42 weeks. My oven likes to really bake those baby-buns.

That's nine pounds less of expecting momma standing on the scale, and nearly a pound less of baby when she came out, this time.
Nine pounds feels like a lot, I can tell ya.
And the postpartum weight came off with much less effort!



For those of you worried about the first trimester, I want you to know that I did not follow this diet during my first trimester. Basically the only food I could stomach was plain Cheerios in milk. So that's what I ate. But I made sure to only eat what I needed.
During my first pregnancy I was so overwhelmed by the nauseous feeling (I never threw up, during either pregnancy, I just felt constantly queazy) that I basically ate nonstop trying to quell the discomfort. I also at anything I thought sounded ok (which was mostly chocolate covered granola bars.) So I was eating chocolate covered granola bars on the hour. This was a bad idea because it did not fix the nausea for me (I just kept hoping it would) and I ended up gaining something like 8 to 10 pounds during my first trimester.
I didn't want to repeat that the second time around, so I did eat only what I could stomach, but I went for the healthiest version I could find of it. (Plain cheerios have much less sugar than honey-nut cheerios.) And I tried to eat only when I was actually hungry, and only as much as I needed. And so doing that I kept my first trimester weight gain to about 4 or 5 pounds. That made a big difference in the total pounds I put on!


Anyway.
That's just backstory, so you know where I'm coming from.

Recently I've started to want to incorporate this style of eating back into my normal routine.
(I think its a good idea while breastfeeding (which I currently am) to eat these types of healthy foods. And we are talking about having more kids, so I may as well get back in the habit now, so its easier next time.)
(Actually this style of eating, which is focused on nutritious non processed foods, is great to do any time of life! You can just alter the amounts to suit your needs. If you are not pregnant yet, but plan to be at some point, getting on board this train now would be an excellent idea. It takes some time to adjust your tastes and cooking style.)


During my second pregnancy, I had a hard time figuring out how to get all these foods into my menu.
So to help me out going back into this again, I've started to track down recipes centered around the foods on the list.

I figured other women might like to see these boards too.

I've made a couple different ones.
There is one main one, where I am mostly putting recipes that are like a main meal which have quite a few of the different food types involved.
And then I created a few other boards that are more focused on one of the food types, and those recipes are often more suited for a snack or tiny extra meal, which can help you get all your vitamin groups in.

So without further ado here are the boards:


I hope you let these pinned recipes inspire you, so that you feel free to alter them to suit your tastes and lifestyle, or even create something new that comes to mind after seeing these. There really are a lot of healthy possibilities!!

**Feel free to follow these boards. But just so you know they are a work in progress, so as I fill them up, your Pinterest feed may get inundated. :) But maybe thats a good thing, if you are needing some inspiration. :)
Or you can always just pin this post and come back to look stuff up on occasion.

*** Let me know in the comments below if you have a Brewer Diet Pinterest Board going yourself! Or let me (us) in on any awesome recipes of your own!


Into The Night Photography

Learning curve: There are some production errors in my first attempt at hosting this many people—such as not moving the "camera" screen to the person who is talking (I eventually get better, so bear with me). In future broadcasts, I may bring in a full time producer, so I can concentrate on hosting my guests.

Behind the scenes: After we ended the broadcast, we all stayed online for another hour, talking, sharing stories, information, and experiences (too bad this wasn't recorded, as these off-the-record chats were the best part of the evening).

In future hangouts: I plan to do some one-on-one interviews and bring in more public discussion and interaction. Your suggestions would help me plan these future events.

Links mentioned in the broadcast. Here are some of the items mentioned in last night's hangout:

Night photography forums and tutorials:
. via Mike Berenson
. via David Kingham
. via this blog (there are dozens of tutorials and how-to articles here)

Featured Post: Shooting Stars eBook Review — How to Photograph the Stars and the Moon
Advertisement: Hot Weekly Photography Deals - Amazing discounts (updated twice a week).


Sunday, March 24, 2019

New Stakes Created in Peru (2), Philippines, and South Carolina, New Districts Created in Brazil, Cote d'ivoire,

Peru
The Church organized two new stakes in Lima, Peru.

The Lima Perú La Campiña was organized on March 10th from a division of the Lima Perú Chorrillos Stake and the Lima Perú San Juan Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the La Campiña 1st, Las Delicias, Las Palmeras, Las Villas, and the Umamarca Wards.

The Lima Perú Begonias Stake was organized on March 17th from a division of the Lima Perú Canto Grande Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Begonias, Canto Chico, Los Manzanos, Los Postes, Santa Fe, and Viña Wards.

There are now 46 stakes in Lima - the largest number of stakes of any metropolitan area in the world outside of the United States. To put that number into perspective, there are more stakes in Lima that there are in all but ten countries in the world. The number of stakes in Lima is approximately the same number of stakes as there are in the Church in the United Kingdom (45). Members in Peru report that many wards are likely to be organize in the near future. The Church has regularly organized new wards in Lima during the past 18 months on nearly a monthly or biweekly basis. Furthermore, most wards reach over 300 active members (or even 400 active members in rare situations) before they are divided to organize new congregations. Additional new stakes appear likely to be created in Lima in the next 1-2 years.

Philippines
The Church organized a new stake in northern Luzon on March 17th. The Ballesteros Philippines Stake was organized from the Ballesteros Philippines District and one branch from the Bangui Philippines District. The new stake includes six wards: the Abulog, Allacapan, Ballesteros, Claveria, Lasam, and Sanchez Mira Wards. The new stake is the Church's first stake located on the northern shore of the northernmost area of Luzon island.

There are now 108 stakes and 67 districts in the Philippines.

South Carolina
The Church organized another new stake in South Carolina in February. The new stake was organized on the 24th. The Hilton Head South Carolina Stake was organized from a division of the Savannah Georgia Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards and two branches: the Beaufort, Hilton Head, Pooler, Ridgeland, and Rincon Wards, and the Okatie (Spanish) and Parris Island Military Branches. The new stake is the Church's third new stake organized in South Carolina in the past 12 months.

There are now nine stakes in South Carolina.

Brazil
The Church organized a new district in western Pernambuco State on February 24th. The Araripina Brazil District was organized from the Juazeiro do Norte Brazil Stake. The new district includes the following three branches: Araripina, Salgueiro, and Trindade. All three of these branches have been organized within the past decade.

There are now 273 stakes and 39 districts in Brazil.

Cote d'Ivoire
The Church organized a new district from several mission branches in the Cote d'Ivoire Yamoussoukro Mission on February 24th. The Duekoue Cote d'Ivoire District was organized with four branches that previously reported directly to the mission, namely the Bangolo 1st, Bangolo 2nd, Duekoue 1st, and Duekoue 2nd Branches. Missionaries serving in the mission report plans to organize several additional districts and many new branches within the mission within the near future. Locations that appear likely for new districts in the near future include Danane, Sinfra, Issia, and Meagui.

There are now 14 stakes and 14 districts in Cote d'Ivoire.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Irish Whiskey Cake

Once again, here is another great recipe from my mother's recipe box. Irish Whiskey Cake. What is so great about this cake is its simplicity and taste of course. All ingredients go into one bowl and you are done, with the exception of the butter and whiskey glaze you pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

With that said, let's run it:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 cup of oil
1 ounce of whiskey
4 Eggs
1 cup of milk
1 instant vanilla pudding mix (do not make the pudding just use the powder mix in the box)
White Cake Mix
1 cup of walnuts
2 teaspoons of flour

For the Whiskey Glaze:

1 stick of butter
3/4 cup of 10x, confectioner sugar, or icing sugar
1/2 cup of whiskey

  • Place the walnuts in the food processor with 1 teaspoon of the flour and process until walnuts are finely chopped. Set aside.
  • Combine the white cake mix, oil, whiskey, eggs, milk, pudding mix, and chopped walnuts into the bowl of your mixer.
  • Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  • Grease and flour your pan.
  • Pour the batter into a bundt pan or tube pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour.
  • While the cake is baking, melt the butter and whisk in the 10x sugar and whiskey. Set Aside.
  • When the cake is finished baking, immediately when you remove it from the oven, pour the whiskey glaze over the cake and allow the cake to cool.
  • Once the cake has cooled run a spatula around the sides of the pan and remove from the pan.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugared if desired.

How easy was that!! Let me know what you think about this recipe and your creativity regarding what type of mold you used to bake the cake.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - Recipes

I'll admit that when we first tackled this Bolzano Blogger project, I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to make for our first recipe. Bolzano salami is delicious, but we generally eat it out of hand, as part of an antipasto platter, or prepared simply on a sandwich. So, thinking about creating a recipe that really made the most of the flavors of the meat felt like a bit of a challenge.

We were lucky enough to be given a stick of the newest flavor of Bolzano Salami -- the Pitzotl, featuring the zip of chiles and the deep dark flavor of delicious cocoa powder. So, we decided to focus on recipes that show-cased the "mole- esque " qualities of the product.

This delicious recipe features quick-brined chicken breasts stuffed with cumin garlic butter, and stuffed to the brim with Pitzotl salami, sundried tomatoes, and Queso Fresco. The chicken breasts are easy to throw together, they hold their shape thanks to a bit of kitchen twine, and they're perfect for making ahead. Both the brine and the butter ensure a deliciously tender chicken breast, and the basic filling offers just the right pop of sweet salty flavor.

The chicken breasts cook up beautifully in the oven, and when sliced into medallions, they make a fabulous presentation on the dinner plate. Pair them with Mexican rice, sauteed squash, and refried black beans. And eat the leftover medallions piled high on a sandwich with crisp lettuce, maybe a slice of melted cheese, and a bit of chile-spiked mayo .

Pitzotl Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Perfect for your next dinner party. Make it and tell us what you think!

Want to try one of Bolzano's salami products for yourself?
We're giving away one stick of salami away to a lucky reader. All you have to do is tell us which salami flavor you'd like to try -- and how you'd use it.

You have until NOON on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 when we'll randomly choose one lucky winner to receive a stick of Bolzano salami for your very own. Winners will be notified by email, so please leave your email addy with your comment if it's not included with your Blogger profile. Entries from the U.S. only , please.

Choose from the following flavors:

Pamploma Runner
RauchZwiebel
Old School
Fin Oh Kee Oh Na
Pig Red Salami
Pitzotl

Full disclosure: The product for our recipe development was provided by Bolzano Artisan Meats, free of charge. But, all opinions expressed are our own, and we are footing the bill for the salami giveaway.


The Authentic Waldorf Salad.

Today, March 14th …

The original Waldorf hotel opened on this day in 1893 with a charity concert in honour of St Mary’s Hospital for Children. The New York Times referred to it as a Mi-Careme event - that is, an event held in the middle of Lent to celebrate the half-way point of abstinence has been reached. It seems unlikely that the wealthy social elite of New York had suffered much deprivation during the first half of Lent, and it seems even more unlikely that they were served a maigre dinner on the night, but the exact details of the meal do not appear to have been preserved.

Oscar Tschirky t he famous “Oscar of the Waldorf” was was the maitre d’hotel from the opening of the hotel until he retired in 1943. Although he was not a chef, it seems he had some hand in suggesting or inspiring food ideas, and tradition says he invented the Waldorf Salad for the hotel opening. In 1896 he authored a cookbook called very unpretentiously The Cook Book, and he included his recipe for the salad:
Waldorf Salad.
Peel two raw apples and cut them into small pieces, say about half an inch square, also cut some celery the same way, and mix it with the apple. Be very careful not to let any seeds of the apples be mixed with it. The salad must be dressed with a good mayonnaise.

Did you notice that there are no walnuts in this recipe? When did they get added?

There is a recipe in The Times Cook Book, No. 2: 957 Cooking And Other Recipes. /By California Women Brought Out By The 1905 Series Of Prize Recipe Contests In The Los Angeles Times of 1905. I don’t know if it is the first nutty version, but here it is, thanks to Miss K. Hamin of 353 South Alvarado street.

Waldorf Salad.
Three-fourths cup chopped nuts, half cup chopped celery one cup apple cut fine, dash of paprika, and salt to taste. Mix with mayonnaise or any other salad dressing as preferred. Enough for six persons.

There seems to be an irrepressible human urge to tweak every perfectly good recipe. Mrs Howard P. Denison thought orange rind would be just right, and she contributed her idea to The good housekeeping woman's home cook book (1909) by Isable Gordon Curtis.

Waldorf Salad.
Two cups of celery chopped fine, grated rind of one orange, one cup of apples cut in dice. If fine red apples take six and scoop out insides, making little cups for the salads. Mix the above with the following mayonnaise: One very cold egg yolk with one teaspoon of onion juice and yolk of one boiled egg, one cup of cold olive oil, one tablespoon of sugar, one tablespoon of vinegar, one tablespoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of salt, one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne, one-half teaspoon of mustard. Mix thoroughly by stirring oil, drop by drop, to the egg and a few drops of vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper, etc, which have been previously thoroughly mixed together then fill the cups or make plain mixture, serving on white lettuce leaves. Cheese balls are delicious served with this salad.


Amber Pudding.

It goes without saying that colour is important in food. As far as vegetables are concerned, nutritionists tell us that the intensely-coloured varieties are especially good for us. As far as cooked dishes are concerned, cooks and chefs everywhere know that some colours attract and some repel. Last October we explored the themes of red, yellow, blue, and green food, and I was reminded of this when I got briefly diverted by Amber Pudding while I was deciding over yesterday’s recipe. It was rejected on the day, because it did not contain ambergris, but it is too delicious to reject utterly. Recipes for Amber Pudding appear regularly in nineteenth century cookbooks, the name coming from its beautiful golden-amber colour, which in turn comes from the butter, egg yolks, and candied orange it contains.

Golden-coloured food seems particularly appealing. Is there some sort of inherited attraction because of the long association with the ripe, golden grains that have been staple foods for our species for millenia? Or is it just a potato chips and custard thing?

Amber Pudding seems worthy of re-discovering, perhaps in the form of little tartlets for the petits fours platter at your next dinner party?


A Very Fine Amber Pudding.
Put a pound of butter into a sauce-pan, with three quarters of a pound of loaf sugar finely powdered melt the butter, and mix well with it then add the yolks of fifteen eggs well beaten, and as much fresh candied-orange as will add colour and flavour to it, being first beaten to a fine paste. Line the dish with paste for turning out and when filled with the above, lay a crust over, as you would, a pie, and bake in a slow oven. It is as good cold as hot.
A new system of domestic cookery, by a Lady (M.E. Rundell) 1808

Quotation for the Day.

Custard: A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow, and the cook.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906)


The way of the dodo: A recipe for disaster

1 of 3 LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: A museum employee looks at a Dodo in display at the 'Extinction: Not the End of the World?' exhibition at The Natural History Museum on February 5, 2013 in London, England. More than 99 percent of species that once roamed the planet are now extinct. Organisers of the exhibition hope to show that a diverse range of plants and animals survived. 80 Museum specimens are on display from February 8-8, September 2013. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images 2013 Show More Show Less

2 of 3 A rare fragment of a Dodo femur bone is displayed for photographs next to an image of a member of the extinct bird species at Christie's auction house's premises in London, Wednesday, March 27, 2013. The bone fragment, which is estimated to fetch 10,000 to 15,000 pounds ($15,105 to $22,657 and 11,822 to 17,733 euro) in the forthcoming Travel, Science and Natural History sale on April 24, is believed by Christie's to be the first Dodo bone to come to auction since 1934. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) Matt Dunham / AP 2013 Show More Show Less

3 of 3 Mauritius Florence Guillemain/Getty Images/Photononstop RM, Getty Images Show More Show Less

It was one fat bird &mdash one fat, arguably unintelligent, land-bound enigma. Though seen, heard and tasted by hundreds of 17th century explorers and colonists on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, humans have not one perfect representation of it remaining. The birds waddled into extinction less than 400 years ago, yet we have more data on dinosaurs than dodos. The drawings and paintings are partial or fantastical. The organic remains are incomplete and scattered among the world&rsquos museums: a head and foot in England, a reputed &mdash deformed and tanned &mdash skin in Prague, partial skeletons in a dozen other cities. There are some complete skeletons, yes, but there is not one taxidermied specimen.

For most, &ldquododo&rdquo just implies stupidity, obsolescence or extinction. Extinction because that&rsquos what made the Mauritian endemic Raphus cucullatus (a.k.a. dodo) famous. It was the dodo&rsquos extirpation at the hands of the Dutch in a short 80 years, likely less &mdash the fact that we humans snapped it off the phylogenetic tree of life before we even had the word phylogenetic &mdash that makes the creature so notable. The Dutch, with help from European seafaring rivals, didn&rsquot just kill a few birds they wiped out a species.

Humans arrive on Mauritius to set up camp: 1598.

Last record of a dodo seen or eaten: 1681.

Last reliable record: 1662.

So what happened? A recipe for disaster.

An aerial view of Mauritius. David Cannon/Getty Images

The island of Mauritius sits 560 miles east of Madagascar. While Arab sailors recorded the island on maps prior to the 13th century, the Portuguese were the first to record landfall in 1507. Mauritius had no native human population. The Portuguese continued to stop by the island over the next 80 years, but never tried to establish a colony. If they ever saw dodos, they never bothered to write about them. The only evidence to suggest that the Portuguese were the first to encounter the strange bird is in the name, for &ldquodoudo&rdquo means &ldquocrazy&rdquo or &ldquoidiot&rdquo in 16th century Portuguese. Origin aside, it&rsquos a hell of a name, that may be responsible for the dodo&rsquos iconic status. After all, a lot of other species went extinct on Mauritius and its neighboring islands after the Europeans arrived, but we never talk about things being &ldquoas dead as a Rodriguez solitaire&rdquo or going &ldquothe way of the pigeon hollandais.&rdquo

The Dutch, who first set foot on Mauritius in 1598, and (briefly) established a colony there beginning in 1638, wrote of several encounters with the birds. The Dutch called it by many names, but never &ldquododo.&rdquo For, beyond its name, it was a noteworthy creature. Nearly 3 feet high and weighing as much as a bulldog, its legs were scaly like a turkey&rsquos but thicker &mdash twice as thick as your thumb. It couldn&rsquot fly, and both its wings and tail were markedly reduced. Its head was its most remarkable feature. The back of its head was cloaked in a hood of feathers, but its face was naked of feathers, with skin that transitioned into a beak at first narrow, then bulbous and ending in a sturdy hook as menacing as the claw of a hammer.

The dodo was the strange bird it was because of where it evolved: on an isolated, volcanic, oceanic island, hundreds of miles from the mainland. Life is different on islands like that. There are two kinds of islands in the world: continental and oceanic. The continental ones, Britain, for example, were once part of a much larger continent. In splitting off, these landmasses take whatever species were on the mainland with them.

Oceanic islands are different. Mauritius emerged out of the sea from volcanic activity between 7 million and 10 million years ago. In terms of its biota, this means everything that was on Mauritius when the Portuguese arrived in 1507 had gotten there from elsewhere. The species on an oceanic island are those that are good at getting around, good at crossing vast expanses of sea and surviving: insects, birds, tortoises, wind-borne seeds from trees and flowers, and poop-borne seeds from birds. One thing you don&rsquot tend to find on remote ocean islands is mammals. With the exception of bats and us humans, the hairy, furry ones generally can&rsquot overcome that open-body-of-water-in-which-to-drown hurdle.

This picture taken on September 16, 2014 shows a stuffed dodo, an extinct bird, in the Evolution's great gallery of the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

The precursor to the dodo may not have looked terribly different from our modern-day pigeon, and when those flying pigeon-like ancestors of the dodo landed in Mauritius, they found a land strangely devoid of their most common concerns, mammal and snake predators. In this convivial environment, natural selection had its way with the pre-dodo in an entirely new mode. It became huge. &ldquoGigantism,&rdquo the tendency of creatures to become strikingly large for their kind, is common on ocean islands, and it is generally a result of limited threats. Adding a lot of poundage is a major advantage in a place with limited resources, as islands by definition are. In times of plenty, you can store away nutrients, and in times of little, you can burn through the extra pounds while your tiny neighbors starve to death. Over time, the dodo&rsquos excess weight made flying impractical and then impossible. And whatever would one need to fly for? There was nothing around to harm the dodo. The great claw-hammer of a beak was helpful not just for digging into fruits, but as an adequate defense mechanism for the few remaining menaces on the island &mdash other birds and tortoises. What creature would wish to tangle with a 50-pound bird with a pickax for a nose? The dodo&rsquos oddity was an adaptation to the particular ecology of Mauritius. But the dodo was ill-equipped for human encounters.

The very first written account of the dodo was recorded by Vice-Admiral Wybrand van Warwijck, with the first fleet of Dutch ships to reach Mauritius in September 1598:

&ldquoWe called these birds Walghvogels (disgusting birds), partly because although we stewed them for a very long time, they were very tough to eat, yet the stomach and breast were extremely good, but also we thought the turtle doves had a rather better taste, and could get many of these.&rdquo

The fact that the sailors didn&rsquot find the dodo meat tasty seems to have had no effect on the vigor with which they hunted the birds. Indeed, subsequent reports on the dodo also assert that the meat was tough, oily and not particularly tasty. Nonetheless, of the 15 remaining firsthand accounts of dodos, 10 mention either hunting or eating the bird. Of the other five, two describe live dodos on display in foreign countries, one offers a visual and behavioral description of the bird, one mentions a dodo sent to England as a gift for a brother &mdash &ldquoif it live&rdquo &mdash and one describes several dodos having been brought on board a ship &ldquoto the delight of us all.&rdquo This evidence suggests that the majority of humans&rsquo interactions with dodos were of the culinary variety, while others were generally not limited to harmless birdwatching.

It was not just hunting that precipitated the decline. Another element of human consumption likely clinched Raphus cucullatus&rsquo fate. Though there is no ship&rsquos record testifying to the fact, sailors may have deposited animals on the island: monkeys (crab-eating macaques), goats, pigs and, accidentally, rats. The Portuguese explorers were in the habit of leaving animals behind on islands to go feral with the hope that they would breed, providing the next visitors with ample meat upon their arrival. There is also evidence the Dutch introduced these predatory invasive animals that would have not only eaten the dodos&rsquo food supply, but also their eggs, as the birds nested on the ground.

This picture taken on September 16, 2014 shows the skeleton of a dodo, an extinct bird, in the Evolution's great gallery of the Museum of Natural History in Paris. The Evolution's great gallery celebrates this year its 20th anniversary. AFP PHOTO/JOEL SAGETJOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images Joel Saget / AFP / Getty Images 2014

The dodo wasn&rsquot the only thing wiped out on Mauritius, but it was wiped out remarkably quickly, which has led scientists and others to ask why. Was the dodo already in decline by the time humans arrived? Was it subject to natural population fluctuations and the Dutch caught it on a downswing, ensuring the numbers would never swing upward again? The answer may be simply that without a human effort to preserve it, the dodo was too rare to survive. It had but a small range, even if it counted all of Mauritius its domain. It evolved there, and evolved into flightlessness, and consequently it was certain to live only there. The dodo was a species pushed to a logical physical extreme in the ecosystem of Mauritius it was a very sensible creature given its circumstances. Then the circumstances changed. Backed into a geographic and evolutionary corner, with the arrival of humans and our carelessness, the dodo could never escape.

Today the dodo&rsquos extinction may seem irrelevant, a faded piece of history. If dodos had survived, they would never have become a prized food. Nonetheless, they went extinct because we saw them as food and because we treated their habitat like our livestock pen. One would think extinctions like this, directly or indirectly culinary, would be a thing of the past, but the recipe for the dodo&rsquos demise is iterated all around us &mdash the world as a test kitchen for extinction.

In California, we have demonstrated poor stewardship of the wild species we eat, especially seafood. The sardine population on the West Coast has dropped by over 98 percent since 2006. We are in the fifth straight year of a ban on sardine fishing. Scientists warned of the potential for the population&rsquos collapse in 2012, yet fishing continued until 2015. Abalone populations have also plummeted, largely because of climate change, forcing fishing restrictions.

The sardine population on the West Coast has dropped by over 98 percent since 2006. Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium

While California banned shark fin soup in 2013, the Animal Welfare Institute has documented nearly 30 restaurants, including several here in San Francisco and the Bay Area, that continue to offer it illegally. There is the persistent trend elsewhere in the world, most particularly China, of eating endangered species like pangolins, yellow-breasted buntings, owls, sturgeon, tigers and Chinese giant salamanders &mdash hunted and served to consumers despite local and international bans.

We are presiding over all this, what will someday be a faded piece of history. But this time, unlike the 17th century Dutch, we know. For almost 200 years humans didn&rsquot realize, didn&rsquot believe, that we had wiped dodos out. Because the birds were gone and there was no definitive evidence of their existence, many believed they were mythical. It was not until 1865 that a schoolteacher, George Clark, discovered the remains of dodo skeletons in southeastern Mauritius. Only then was the dodo&rsquos existence and extinction irrefutable.

It was an epiphany for 19th century humans looking back to realize that they&rsquod forced a species, especially a prized one, into extinction. It came as a shock to accept that humans wielded this godlike power. It was not a happy realization, this consciousness of our ability to destroy. It was a burden to be able to exhaust the world. A burden to realize we could save it &mdash if we cared to. That we still can. If we care to.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday higher if pivot crossed

  • Thursday possibly a bit higher, low confidence.
  • ES pivot 1401.50. Breaking above is bullish.
  • Friday bias uncertain, technically.
  • Monthly outlook: bias up.
  • ES Fantasy Trader standing aside.

Last night I was having trouble picking a direction for today so I just said "I think for the next few days we're going to consolidate around the 13,100-13,300 area". Well today the Dow gave us a range from 13,069 to 13,213, closing at 13,126. So I'd say that was a reasonable guess.The question now is, having closed near the lower end of the range, will we go higher on Thursday? The answer's not blowing in the wind, but it may be lurking in the charts.

Dow hourly
The Dow: Tonight I'm presenting a chart I don't bring up very often, but I think it has the most insight as to where we may be going on Thursday: the Dow hourly chart. (The thick black horizontal lines are the previous day range bars the other panels from top to bottom are volume, stochastic, CCI, RSI, and momentum).

I have added the descending RTC here that began at 3 PM yesterday. Note how we got a classical hammer in the 2 PM bar (3rd from the right). That was followed by a green candle that took us outside the RTC - that's a bullish setup. And the 4 PM bar was entirely outside the RTC - that's the bullish trigger.

Supporting this is the RTC which went oversold at 11 AM, bottomed at 1 PM, and then turned upward. Also, the last three volume bars are increasing. To me, this is a pretty good indication that the Dow may be wanting to go higher Thursday.

The VIX: Today the VIX actually dropped 0.77% on a very tall gravestone doji that took it out the top of its recent trading range but ultimately came right back to finish at 15.47. The futures showed a similar pattern. This has the look of a breakout attempt that was cut short. The indicators are confused here, and so am I, with momentum and RSI now moving lower but the stochastic just making a bullish crossover. Unless the VIX can manage a breakout of this 13 day range, we're more likely to see it move lower than higher from here, which would be good for stocks.

Market index futures: At 12:53 AM EDT, all three futures a just barely in the green with ES up just 0.04% after basically wandering aimlessly in the overnight. There is some comfort, I suppose, that after today's red candle, we're not moving any lower now. There does seem to be a shallow ascent going on from 10 PM. We'll be curious to see if this continues into the wee hours.

ES daily pivot: Tonight the pivot tumbles from 1410.75 to 1401.50. With ES just drifting since the close, that now puts us just one point below. We'll want to see ES break above this line by the open on Thursday. Failing to do that would be bearish.

Dollar index: Last night I thought the dollar looked ready to go higher and it did today, though only by 0.1% and on a long asymmetrical star, almost a shooting star. It's not clear though that this signifies another reversal. The indicators are all still quite oversold and the stochastic just made a bullish crossover today, suggesting a higher dollar again on Thursday, which would be bad again for stocks.

Morningstar Market Fair Value Index: Yesterday the index dropped from 0.98 to 0.97. To be still above the 0.96 level that provided resistance for so long is positive.


History: According to The Stock Traders Almanac, Thursday is historically neutral for the Dow but distinctly bearish for the S&P..

I'm not seeing any real signs that we're due to go higher on Thursday, but I am seeing signs that the declines of the past two days may be close to played out. Today's tall ES star completely retraced Monday's big gain intraday, suggesting that the bears were unable to hold the low ground. Meanwhile, there's just two days left to the week, the month, and the quarter. Some people are looking for window dressing to occur, driving stocks higher, while others expect portfolio rebalancing to drive them lower.

It's all just too confusing for me right now so I'm going to stick to my same range call I made yesterday. Until we close out this week, I'm expecting the Dow to stay inside the area of 13,100-13,250. Based entirely on the action on hourly Dow chart though, I will go waaay out on a limb and hazard a guess that we might actually see a positive close Thursday. The ES pivot will be key - we need to break above 1401.50 and stay there, otherwise all bets are off.

Portfolio stats: the account remains at $129,375, after 25 trades (19 wins, 6 losses) starting from $100,000 on 1/1. With an identifiable edge still not present either way tonight, once again we are not trading.


Watch the video: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - Evening Edition (May 2022).