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May 5, 2006

Lenticular formation*
Posted by Teresa at 08:41 PM * 57 comments

1 bag of lentils, standard brown or French blue or Beluga black
several lobes of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
a fistful of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
2 cups or more of bell pepper strips
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cups frozen chopped collard greens
1 cup frozen chopped turnip greens
1 cup frozen chopped mustard greens
a healthy dollop of whatever wine you have standing open
butter or olive oil
wine vinegar
black pepper, white pepper, salt; other spices as you please

Cook the lentils until tender but not mushy.

Heat some butter or olive oil in a pan over a fast fire. Toss in the garlic and onion. Stir a time or two as needed. Presently, throw in the sun-dried tomato. Then the bell pepper. Then the tomatoes. If you’re reasonably fast at chopping vegetables, the point at which you add the next veggie is also the point at which you’ve finished chopping it.

By now, the mixture in the pan should be throwing off liquid. Stir in the greens, add a good dollop of wine, season to taste, slap a lid on it, and turn the fire way down. If you’re short on wine, beer will work just fine in this recipe.

Go read one online political post, but don’t follow the links. When you’re done, the vegetables should be ready. Put a good layer of lentils into a bowl, spoon some of the vegetable mix on top, and add a light sprinkling of wine vinegar.

This is very good. It goes well with any chilled beverage in the yellow-white range.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Lenticular formation*:
#1 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:43 PM:

At one of the few sketch-a-thons where I did anything worthwhile, I did a book cover of the eponymous hero clutching his side in pain: "Harry Potter and the Kidney Stone."

The other thing I remember was a Klingon with top hat and cane saying, "It is a good day to Dance!"

Not an open thread? Mon face, it is red.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:55 PM:

Hey, it's effectively open. No one was commenting on the recipe.

#3 ::: Dick Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:04 PM:

Comment on the recipe.

SOUNDS good! Why use frozen greens? Produce is cheaper, and not much more work.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:06 PM:

Maybe frozen cooks faster, having been blanched before freezing? It's also less seasonal. And it does sound really tasty.

#5 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:15 PM:

Are the lentils you place in the bowl cooked in some way? If so, when does that happen, and how is it done?

#6 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Cook the lentils until tender but not mushy.

Seems to be the first thing one does in this recipe. Which makes sense, as American lentils are Highly Variable and rather prone to taking about 4 times longer to cook through than they ought. If you can get to an Indian grocery store, they should stock masoor dal, otherwise known as red lentils. This is the best method I know of for getting suitably fresh lentils.

As to how one cooks lentils, use a pot. Put lentils in the pot with some quantity of liquid. The amount of liquid varies with the lentils. Fresh ones like less, old ones like more. Red ones like less, lentilles de Puy like more and brown ones like LOTS. If one intends to eat the lentils, it is very good to use stock (canned is fine, homemade is better), salt to taste, and appropriate seasonings. I find they like cumin and garlic and hot peppers, and are on speaking terms with sage. Your lentils may have different tastes. If you haven't got stock, water is ok. Just for god's sake don't do plain water with no seasonings or you'll have something resembling cardboard, not food.

#7 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Thanks, Emily. Somehow, my eye skipped right over that line.

Thanks also for explaining how to do it. To paraphrase our hostess, I am often on bad terms with the muse of cooking.

#8 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 12:09 AM:

Well, then, I may be repeating myself, but I'll put in a plug for the 78s over at Jones and Hare singing "Old King Tut"! Al Jolson bemoans "The Spaniard That Blighted My Life" (which I was talking about at your Boskone room party)! Hear the voice of a castrato singing "Ave Maria"! Hear a pope sing another "Ave Maria"! Treat yourself to Benny Bell singing "My Fanny" (we're talking about a U.S. Fanny here), or the terrific piano of Ben Light as he sings "I've got a crush / on the Fuller Brush man" or "She's going to get herself a robot man" with his Surf Club Boys. The last two artists are part of their large holdings of double-entendre party records (they'll go well with the remarkably tame strip tease acts in the film section) to keep the vaudeville stuff company. Mind, I may be repeating myself.

#9 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 12:47 AM:

As delectable as this looks, it's hard for me to imagine eating lentils without rice. They just go. Lentils are best cooked til they're falling to bits, with onion, garlic, pepper, tomatoes, cumin, and dark mushroom soy sauce. They are tolerant of whatever friendly veg you have on hand, but this is one of those how mom makes things for me.

Okay, now I know what I'm eating tomorrow.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Lentils go with sausage. (My mother did a lentil-and-sausage dish once. Don't know where the recipe went.)

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Lentils go with all those things. I like the black ones best. And while you can cook them in stock (or any other flavored liquid), I do like the flavors that develop when they're just cooked plain.

Why frozen greens? Because I keep bags of different greens in my freezer, and take from them as needed.

Fresh greens would be nice too. A few years back we had a very wet spring, and the vendors at the M/W/F farmer's market at Union Square had a gap in their schedule because stuff like squash and tomatoes was coming along more slowly than usual. One enterprising vendor filled in with seldom-seen greens like nettles and purslane. He must have had a dozen kinds. I made very green soup.

Here's another recipe:


1 bag of black beluga lentils
1 large onion
1 cucumber
1 large or two smallish tomatoes
1-2 bell peppers
2-3 stalks of celery
wine or cider vinegar
olive oil
spices to taste

Cook the lentils in water and a little salt until just tender. Pour off the cooking water, rinse them in cool water, and let them drain well.

Finely slice or shred the vegetables. (This is one of those recipes where having a mandoline rocks.)

Dress the vegetables with a quarter to a third a cup of cider or wine vinegar, half an envelope of dry Italian salad dressing mix, and spices to taste. (I'd use black pepper, white pepper, oregano, basil, ground coriander, and a pinch of Merwanjee Poonjiajee & Sons Madras curry powder.)

Mix the vegetables with the lentils. Dress the whole with good-quality olive oil.

Eat while listening to

#12 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 10:50 AM:

My default stew recipe involves lentilhas verdes (more or less aka Puy lentils) and smoky bacon, with rather a lot of garlic.

#13 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 11:18 AM:

Ate a LOT of lentils in college. Lentils and rice, lentils and sausage, lentils-and-peanut-butter (which, come to think of it, might actually be apocryphal, but it's how a friend still summarizes the cuisine from those days) ...

...but when I was living on a lot of lentils, there was NEVER any "whatever wine you have standing open." That level of civility requires fewer thirsty roomates.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Whenever I see the phrase 'turnip greens' I mentally substitute 'amaranth'.

#15 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 11:35 AM:

My default stew contains meat. Call it a personal failing. There's a Finnish stew that consists of goat, pork and beef in alternating layers, each one seasoned with peppercorns, salt and cloudberries, for which juniper berries can be substituted. This is tightly sealed with a saltcrust over the pot and simmered very gently for something like eight hours. My idea of stew.

Perhaps it has something to do with the way I was brought up. My mother had a great way with yellow vegetables. By the time she'd finished with them, they all were. Boo-boom.

#16 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Thanks also for explaining how to do it. To paraphrase our hostess, I am often on bad terms with the muse of cooking.

IME, *lentils* are often on bad terms with the muse of cooking. When I first started experimenting with them, I produced some of the only stuff my family wouldn't eat. At all. And my mom usually will eat whatever I cook. Can't really blame her, *I* wouldn't want to eat my first attempts.

I like the black ones best. And while you can cook them in stock (or any other flavored liquid), I do like the flavors that develop when they're just cooked plain.

Are the black ones less prone to the "cooked cardboard" problem? I find that plain brown and green are very prone to it, and red much less so. If I look around here I may have a shot at finding edible black or lentilles de Puy...

Red is so easy tho, since almost every "Asian" grocery store around here is really Indian subcontinent.

#17 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 02:07 PM:

One of the biggest problems with lentils isn't the cooking technique, but the age of them - a lot of shops, especially supermarkets, don't understand that they're very much at their peak long before the use-by date on the packet. If you're also not using up whole packets at once, storing them open or loosely sealed can also lose flavour.

#18 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Lentils rule. But what the heck was that recipe? Do I make it, and then decide how and when to eat it?

I love lentil soup with potatoes, carrots, garlic, celery, tomatoes, and a can of V8 juice thrown in as the "special ingredient."

#19 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 04:53 PM:

I need some help here. I'm visiting my mother in Arizona. She just took some hunks of elk meat out of the freezer. It's not a roast, it's not steaks. I suggested making a stew. I suggested beef broth, onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, and sage. Any other/better suggestions?

#20 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 08:01 PM:

Braising? (like really slow stewing?) Elk meat sounds flavorful but tough.

#21 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 09:52 PM:

We had elk meat for a while, after Dad brought one in hunting. Darned if I can remember anything about it. We also had deer a lot while I was growing up for the same reason. Mom froze quantities of it and served it in as many ways as she could think of. The first curry I ever had was venison (and it was good, Mom!). Even in the freezer, it eventually lost its charm, and we'd puree it in the blender for the dog(s).

So try it curried in chunks, served on rice.

#22 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 10:08 PM:

Many moons ago, I was given a couple of caribou steaks, and I made a terrific stew that was basically what you suggested, with the addition of red wine and juniper berries (pulled off the shrub in the front yard, IIRC). I think you'd probably be safe with any recipe for venison that strikes your fancy, but you should be prepared to cook longer/slower than the recipe suggests.

#23 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 11:42 PM:

Thank you for the suggestions! We will cook the elk in a slow cooker. If it were my elk I'd curry it--sounds delicious, but that wouldn't be something my mother would enjoy. On the other hand, red wine is an excellent suggestion--I'll run to the store tomorrow and pick up a bottle.

#24 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 12:00 AM:

My lentil story is very old. I now can eat them if they're prepared by someone else

When Jim and I started hanging out together, in the second house he and his roommates shared, I met a true horror story. I innocently bought a Chef Boyardee spaghetti dinner. The main large pot (what was suggested for cooking the spaghetti) in the house was on the range. i went to move it. It had stuff in it It had lentils that were at least five days past due (they were furry). I think I hit a cat when I tossed the bulk out over their porch rail. I left the encrusted pot on the said roommate's bed. I found a sufficiency of pots in the rest of the kitchen (with a bit of cleaning) that I could make the dinner.

Our lovely hostess knows how long we've been married, we had our honeymoon at the Phoenix Worldcon.

#25 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 12:19 AM:

here's a Finnish stew that consists of goat, pork and beef in alternating layers, each one seasoned with peppercorns, salt and cloudberries, for which juniper berries can be substituted.

Oh, man. That sounds really, really good! And I'd try it both ways, cloudberries version first, and then juniper berries....

Memo to self: must go to Finland.

#26 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 08:20 AM:

Urgh. I am in a location where they do not sell canned broth. All they have is the powdered stuff -- and that's only (faux) chicken and (real) vegetable. You have no idea how many times I've wanted to do something stew-like and did something else instead.

Out of curiosity, what does goat taste like? Is it like mutton, but gamier, or what?

All these recipes sound wonderful. I had collard greens down in Nawlins several years ago, and when I came back home, I described it as tasting completely unlike anything else I'd ever tasted. I miss that, you can't find them most places I've been.

#27 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 09:55 AM:

Mary --

Is this hunted elk, or ranched elk?

Got a large, mostly flat, pyrex caserole? (I have some that are three inches high and a foot in diameter, but more or less anything works so long as it's wider than high.)

My take on stuff like this is to comprehensively thaw the elk, slice about an inch thick across the grain, drain, and set back in the fridge.

Add the appropriate amount of liquid so the bottom of your pyrex dish is a couple inches deep. I recommend the best (Ceres, as a brand, is good) red grape juice you can get; not sparkling, plain juice. It has to be unsugared; same with cranberry juice (which also works if actual juice; white grape juice for pork...) concord grape or strawberry and a handful of rhubarb chunks if you're feeling experimental, but fundamentally good dark red or concord grape juice.

However much juice that was, add rice -- short grain brown for preference -- in appropriate quantity. (2:1 ratio, so, four cups of juice, two cups of rice.) Swirl the dish so the rice spreads out over the bottom; arrange the elk on the rice (which will submerge the bottom edge of the meat), and scatter thyme (dried, powered, or fresh) and fresh ground cinnamon to taste.

Heave this in a 350 F oven (175 C) until the liquid has boiled down even with the rice.

Meanwhile, you've been slicing mushrooms, and mixing them with them with some olive oil (or a dollop of bacon fat), chopped apples, some fresh tarragon, a bit more cinnamon, and either mustard or basil. (both... not so good.)

Pull the dish from the oven; take the lid off, and set it on something that doesn't melt or mind being dripped on. Heave the mushrooms and companions over the top of the elk; you might want to very lightly salt the elk (short thumb and finger pinch) just before this step, but I generally don't.

If you think the liquid is too low -- actively below the top of the rice -- add some more, or some water, to bring it back up to just below the level of the rice.

Put the lid back; it should just fit, over all the mushrooms. (if any are in contact with the lid, they'll stick to it and need prying off later.)

Put the works back in the oven, and let it go until the mushrooms are done and the liquid is all boiled off, which, the Muse of Cooking being kind, should happen at very nearly the same time.

Extract from oven; serve by parts, along with whatever green vegetable you lightly steamed at the last second.

The dish, particularly the lid, will be seven sorts of annoyance to clean, having had diverse vapours crisp down to carbon on it, but the results can be worth it. (the pork version -- more apples, and emphatically the bacon fat in with the mushrooms; also, more basil than you'd think if you don't use the mustard version -- is probably easier to practice with; I do this with pork loin sliced into medalions.)

If it's hunted elk, I'd expect to use wild rice/Lundberg long grain or other fancy rice that takes forever to cook and expect to fully replace the liquid volume once over the longer course of cooking, heaving the mushrooms and companions in the second time the liquid got below the level of the rice.

#28 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 11:17 AM:

Goat tastes like mutton, but somewhat milder in flavour and leaner. (The latter is only because mutton is generally overfat, anyway. Lamb is leaner these days than it used to be, at least in this country.) Goat is also paler in colour, with a closer texture that can take slower cooking, which may be necessary.

#29 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Dave: my sympathies on vegetables; in this coastal city there are many people who won't eat fish because their families believed in the 10-minutes-per-inch rule or some variant. (Isaac Asimov was not the only person to encounter tough fish.) Some of them have other reasons -- the most local catch is bluefish, which is not to everyone's taste -- but miscooking is a lot of it.

It's not surprising Finland does an all-meat stew; they're a bit far north for rampant vegetables. Frank Tolbert's A Bowl of Red, says that traditionalists abhor tomatoes or onions the chili lest it be converted to a stew, but goes on to describe the all-meat "son-of-a-bitch stew", which is most of the less-sellable parts. ("It can have no heart and no brains and not be an SOB. But if it doesn't have any guts, it's not an SOB.") SOB comes from the dry parts of Texas, where vegetables were also in short supply (even more so on the trail, where SOB was popular); on more discreet menus it was called "Gentleman from Odessa Stew", the Odessa in question being a west Texas town so tough that a gentleman there would be an SOB anywhere else.

#30 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 12:52 PM:

I can't have lentils because of a nasty allergy, so I'll have to play with other legumes. Speaking of black legumes, I ran across some black garbanzos in the Seeds Of Change seed catalog. I've been toying with growing some, because I've never seen them around here, canned or otherwise. Anyone try them?

#31 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 01:20 PM:

I've had dark brown chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that are tasty; they are smaller, firmer and have a more pronounced flavour than the regular white kind. But I'm translating from the Hindi ('kala chunnae' = black chickpeas) so I'm not absolutely sure they're the same as what you've got.

#32 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Urgh. I am in a location where they do not sell canned broth. All they have is the powdered stuff -- and that's only (faux) chicken and (real) vegetable. You have no idea how many times I've wanted to do something stew-like and did something else instead.

Well, stock is easy to make, assuming you eat food. Last night's dinner conversation included a long digression on whether we could get decent stock out of the bones from beef short ribs (with the sad conclusion of yes but not with the tools we have available). The main issue with stock for a home cook is that it involves planning ahead.

If you regularly eat roast chicken, onions, carrots, leeks, bone in beef of any sort... basically most kinds of hard root vegetables or meat that has bones in it, you can make stock. What I do is (limited by energy level and freezer space) take the carcasses of roasted chickens and freeze them. If I were extra special super duper clever, I'd also do this with vegetable trimmings and beef trimings, but I'm not that organized. Since we don't eat much fish or shellfish, fish stock isn't in the cards, but it's perfectly possible to make it if one *does* eat them. Besides, I have a small freezer. When I've accumulated enough raw materials for stock, I pull it out of the freezer, dump it into my stockpot, and fill it up with water to cover. Simmer gently for a couple of hours, pour off into freezer containers, and freeze. If you need a less bulky stock, you can remove the raw materials, strain the stock, defat it, and reduce it down to a "glaze" and freeze *that*. Stock is time consuming, but it doesn't take rapt attention.

#33 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 02:02 PM:

For some reason, I tend to have a hard time of it with lentils. They either wind up mushy or hard, usually in the wrong dish. Mushy lentils and rice, crunchy dal. (In fact, I use yellow peas instead of lentils when I make dal and find it always works for me.)

Plus, the only time I've ever bitten into a rock (with the requisite dental visit/bill) it was in a dish of lentils. And that was the only time they ever came out right.

I think I'll make the sauce, but put it over something else. How about making a bed of greens and other solid bits from the sauce in a bowl, nestlinf a piece of grilled fish on top, and serve with a scoop of short-grain brown rice off to the side.

#34 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 02:11 PM:

Elk from Arizona bears a passing resemblence to beef, only leaner and with a finer grain. It's typically a much milder meat than venison -- though my experience with venison has been with Arizona whitetail, so ymmv.

You can treat it the same as beef, allowing for the lack of fat. Couple of suggestions:

Carne asada or fajitas, depending on the size of the piece of meat. Cut into strips and season with garlic, a tiny pinch of cumin, red pepper, and olive oil, and cook on high heat in a fairly dry skillet for fajitas. Carne asada is sliced very thin, marinated -- often in a mixture of beer and spices -- and grilled over a very hot flame.

Faux pit roast -- this works with any meat. Take chunks of meat, add seasonings of your choice. (I like a splash of soy sauce, some crushed red pepper, some garlic, and a bit of salt.) Wrap it up in several layers of tin foil, so that the juices can't leak out. Put it in the oven set at about 325 for several hours. Or, for more energy efficiency, use a toaster oven. It'll stew in its own juices and end up a lot of flavor.

When the meat's falling apart, remove it from the tin foil. Save the juices for gravy. Put it under a broiler and broil until it has a crispy crust.


#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 05:51 PM:

Jack Ruttan, I'd call the recipe a vegetable pottage: loose enough that you have to eat it out of a bowl, but thick enough that if you give the bowl a hard jostle, nothing splashes out.

Paula H.M., if you had your honeymoon at Iguanacon, that was twenty-eight years ago: one year longer than Patrick and I have been married.

Graydon, that elk recipe literally made my mouth water. I think I'll try the pork version, soon.

#36 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 06:36 PM:

Teresa --

Let me know how it goes?

The first time I made the pork version of this (never tried beef, which ought to work, have done the ranched elk version, RDP probably next time I'm cooking for someone), the Fey Creature ate the rice before the side dish of bacon and mushrooms, which knowledge I continue to find uplifting.

#37 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 07:39 PM:

That would be it Miss Teresa. I had a fabulous time because my allergies went 'pft!" once I stepped off the airplane. And we had a wonderful time (we always do at Worldcons). Hmm, doesn't seem like THAT long ago, where did the time go?

#38 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 08:03 PM:

Larry Brennan wrote:
"Plus, the only time I've ever bitten into a rock (with the requisite dental visit/bill) it was in a dish of lentils. And that was the only time they ever came out right."

Everyone knows that Stone Soup is the best soup.

#39 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 08:26 PM:

Another substitute for stock in stews is a large quantity of onions. Figure equal weight onions to meat (or better yet, 1 1/2 times more onions than meat).

Slice the onions thick. In a heavy pot, sautee the meat until browned on all sides, then set aside. In same pot, cook onions on medium heat until they have turned color (this may take as much as 15 minutes). Add meat, a few cloves of garlic, one or two carrots, salt, pepper and any other seasoning to taste. If you like tomato based stews put in a can of tomato paste (but not water).* Cover with a tight lid and place in a slow oven for at least an hour. At this point the onions should have liquified and you can add any other veggies you'd like: potatoes, more carrots, parsnips, green beans, really, almost anything. There should be more than enough liquid, but if there isn't, you can add water without losing flavor (but only add enough to keep everything moist, no more). Cook for another hour or longer, if your potatoes are stubborn. It's very good with crusty bread.

*Stews with fresh tomatoes require a different calibration, but also can be done without stock. I haven't experimented enough to give a reliable recipe.

P.S. I've always wondered: is there much of a difference in taste between white pepper and black pepper?

#40 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Venison in this country being prohibitively expensive, I might try Graydon's recipe using 'roo.

#41 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Dave L. --

So, which are the most food-like bits of the 'roo?

My local (for some rather stubborn values of local) butcher has started carrying it, you see, and I'm just a wee bit curious.

#42 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 09:01 PM:

Black pepper versus white pepper. The latter is more powerful despite it's deceptive appearance.

#43 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 09:21 PM:

Graydon: Leg steaks or leg roasting cuts. In fact, most of a roo is leg, though it's possible to get fillets as well. It's like venison, very low in fat, and dark, with a strong gamey flavour if hung. (If old, it should be hung, like any game.)

#44 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 09:49 PM:

Graydon, that recipe sounds delicious! But by the time I read it our elk was already in the pot. Neither my mother nor I are naturals in the kitchen, but we congratulated ourselves this evening on preparing a more-than-edible elk stew. We slow-cooked it for about 7 hours in beef broth and ruby port wine (there's your red grape juice--hah!) with peppercorns, garlic, and sage. Near the end we added potatoes, carrots, and onions. It was very tasty.

This was hunted elk, by the way--hunted in Colorado, though, not Arizona.

#45 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2006, 10:16 PM:

Mary, that sounds good, and something like we'd do with white tail deer roasts. though we're far shorter of that these days, Margene's son-in-law hasn't been a fruitful hunter and neither have the suppliers of hers that have provided in the past (in 2004 we had a sewer line failure, one of the by-products was that a plumber thoughtfully turned off a light-switch that also provided power to our meat freezer.... it had about 30 lbs of venison that, like all meat within, turned into carrion. Dammit. (they did give us a rebate on the job....small but okay.)

#46 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 10:27 AM:

Quoth TNH:

"Hey, it's effectively open. No one was commenting on the recipe."

I've got a publishing industry question for which I've been waiting on an open thread.

So, to PNH/TNH/others in the know:

Lately I've been getting most of my for-pleasure reading off of ( is a subscription based audiobook distributor. For $20ish / month you can download audio books and listen to them on your MP3 player.)

Such fiction as I don't get from audible, I often dowload from the author's web site (Thanks Charlie!) and read on my PDA while waiting in line.

So, my question is this: To what degree are non-traditional venues of content distribution affecting the business of publishing?

Just curious.

#47 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 02:12 PM:

I also have a niggling question for the next effectively open thread, so maybe someone can tell me this?

My husband and I have been having a running discussion about em dashes and en dashes that's got me thinking about 16th and 17th century printed books where the ms and ns are occasionally replaced with a dash above the line of printing. (Presumably to save space?) Does anyone know if there's a connection between those printer's dashes and the em and en dashes?

#48 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 05:16 PM:

To continue in the "open" vein:

I recently had a book with a large chunk of pages substituted in- that is, instead of pp. 65-120 or so, it had pp. 225-280 or so.

I got a replacement book from my fine bookseller, but wondered how that could happen. Is there a short explanation?

#49 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 07:01 PM:

Mary --

That stew does sound good.

I think the two cardinal rules for meat are "never let it dry out" and "it already has flavour"; so long as these are respected, almost anything will work.

Which has, I think, something to do with the enduring popularity of stew.

#50 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 10:43 PM:

AliceB: why pre-cook the onions? Burying seared meat in sectioned onions in a sealed pot on a stove makes a dish fit for a king (Vissevald II, ROr, AS XVIII -- I got roped into spending most of that event in the kitchen). Just needs a few ounces of wine so it won't scorch while the onions are turning limp, and that way all the flavor goes into the meat instead of out the hood.

It's the principle I learned for my grandfather's ~Bolognese sauce, although every year somebody is surprised I don't pre-cook the onions; as I see it, if the onions are still crisp the sauce hasn't simmered long enough -- which could be a reason for pre-cooking if you're short of time. (The sauce is started right after New Year's Day brunch in order to be dinner that night.)

#51 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2006, 05:54 PM:

The co-op here sells 30 - 50 lbs of red lentils in bulk per week, most likely due to word of mouth. Those who know that lentil freshness is important are probably the same customers that are buying cardamon pods and shredded coconut in bulk. About two blocks away is the India Market, where I've been buying a rasam mix which makes lousy rasam but is excellent as a soup base. One or two onions, chopped, sauteed in a little oil with about half the packet of rasam mix, then a can of diced tomatoes (fresh if our cherry tomato plants are producing), a cup or three of red lentils, enough water to make soup, maybe some chopped asst veggies added towards the end of cooking. Served with jasmine rice, my brother will eat the entire pot himself. We tend to leave the sludge at the bottom alone.

#52 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2006, 07:58 PM:

CHip, sorry, I haven't checked this thread in a couple of days. Pre-cooking the onions till they change color caramelizes them--giving them this extra yummy flavor. But you're right--they'll impart lots of flavor without cooking them first, but it's a slightly different flavor. The pre-cooking also renders liquid, so that if you're looking for a recipe without any added liquid (not that I disapprove of wine in the least), it's one way to do it.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Scott H.: So far, not much. Audiobooks are a growing market, but they're still only a tiny fraction of whole. E-books' market share is trivial compared to audiobooks.

But those are formats, not distribution systems. The current situation with distribution is that in the book business, non-traditional, unofficial, and improvisational methods of distribution aren't having much effect at all.

Sandy B., I'm pretty sure what you have there is a case of miscollated signatures. You can confirm it by counting the missing pages to see whether the number is a multiple of 16.

Hardcover printed pages are folded, gathered, and stitched in groups of 16 pages, called signatures. When the collating machines at the bindery stumble (collating is collecting and putting together one copy of each component), the missing or repeated or upside-down pages will be mishandled as whole signatures, which is why counting them will diagnose your problem.

Miscollated signatures are commoner than they used to be, because big bindery operations have replaced the watchful eyes of employees with the electric eyes of automated quality-control systems. Every time those things get out of adjustment, we get miscollated signatures, under-glued paperback spines, and similar irritations.

Sarah S., as far as I know, the superscript lines in early printing are survivals from the old scribal abbreviation systems, and are not related to typographical terminology. The terms en-dash and em-dash refer to the intermediate and long dashes. Ens and ems are units of typographical measure. An en is half as wide as an em. Formally, an en is half the height of the font, so in 12-point type an en is 6 points. It's also traditionally the width of the letter "N".

#54 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 10:03 PM:

We tried this the other night with frozen turnip greens with bits of turnip. It was quite good, and the leftovers were even better served over rice with crumbled goat cheese on top.

#55 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 10:13 PM:

(tried the Lenticular Formation, that is, not the em or en dashes)

My apologies for not catching up on all the comments before posting! And thanks for the yummy recipe.

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:22 PM:

"If you could do so simple a thing as living on lentils, you would not have the dismal fate of having to flatter the tyrant!"

#57 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:12 PM:

On seeing this thread in the comment list again, I noticed something I hadn't before: The thread title in the comment list has the little ghost asterisk hanging next to it. The popup even works!

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