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March 14, 2013

Pi(e) Day
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:58 PM * 128 comments

Today is 3.14 (coming in two years: 3.14.15….) In celebration, Boskone is having Pi(e) Day. And there we read (reprinted with Jen’s kind permission):

Jennifer Pelland’s Free Pi(e)

Here’s a recipe for my favorite kind of pie — Free Pie.

Step 1: Tell your sister/coworker/rabbi, “Hey, tomorrow is Pi Day! We should celebrate with fresh pie. Too bad I don’t live near a bakery. I suppose I could just get some from the grocery store.”

Step 2: Watch as a look of horror crosses their face. Repeat your offer to go to the grocery store for pie. “I’m sure they made it sometime this week. It’ll be fresh enough.”

Step 3: When they offer to bake a pie from scratch that night, say, “Oh, you shouldn’t go to all that trouble. I’ll just go to the grocery store at lunch tomorrow and bring some pie to the office.”

Step 4: The next morning, at your sister’s house/place of employment/synagogue, enjoy some nice Free Pie with your coffee.

Jennifer Pelland is the author of the novel Machine as well as several dozen published short stories. Because spare time is for the weak, she’s also a performing belly dancer and occasional radio theater actress.

Cooking With Light (recipe index)
Comments on Pi(e) Day:
#1 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 01:09 PM:

Sorry, but Pi day is either the 31st of April or the 3rd day of the 14th month.

#2 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 01:52 PM:

Mike @ 1

No one ever said it was an international holiday... However, nothing is stopping you from celebrating it twice due to the joys of non-standard calindrical formatting.

#3 ::: disconnect ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 02:09 PM:

March 14 for USAians, July 22 across the pond.

#4 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 02:30 PM:

Right. Fruit pies on US Pi(e) day, and meat pies on UK Pi(e) day. Twice the goodness.

#5 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 02:33 PM:

*waves at jen*

Making Scalzi's Schadenfreude Pie here tonight!

#6 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 02:43 PM:

The Amazing Girlfriend and I made an plum and apple pie-oid object (don't really want to call it a pie, since it only has a top crust) last night. Regardless, it's tasty, even with middling apples and high-acid plums from Lord knows where.

Baking things for people you like is an unalloyed good.

#7 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 03:10 PM:

It's 3.141592653589793..., which rounds to 3.1416. So the interesting pi day will be in *three* years, not two. Those of you who celebrate extra hard on 3/14/15 will be sneered at, just like all the silly fools who had an especially good time on the New Years Eve of 1999-2000 instead of 2000-2001.

#8 ::: diana ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 03:25 PM:

maybe cross-post this to the dysfunctional families post and see what happens?

Because I'm pretty sure "enjoy some nice free pie with your coffee" would not be the result....

#9 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 03:53 PM:

Sadly, it's now too late here to post at 3/14:1:59...

#10 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 04:19 PM:

I am now on my second level emergency backup pie plan for today, courtesy of much waffling, changing my mind about how much work I want to put into things, and then discovering that the grocery store doesn't have the right kind of jello mix after coming home with, well, the wrong kind of jello mix.

I'm going to be making a pumpkin pie in a pre-made graham shell, and hoping the thing doesn't turn a horrible crispy brown at the edges during the baking. Pray for me.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 04:25 PM:

I have a wee little frozen apple pie at home. I suppose this is the day it will meets its destiny.

#12 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 04:35 PM:

And of course next year we have Pi Month, and the year after that we have Four-Digit Pi Day.

#13 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 04:55 PM:

...make that third emergency backup pie plans. Sigh. Pumpkin some other day! Chocolate pudding today.

#14 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 04:58 PM:

Rounding is always superior to truncating, especially in the case where the next digit happens to be '9'. So it's three years from now that we get the best pi day of the century.

#15 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:09 PM:

Thankfully, my sister and I have a wonderful relationship, and she also makes great pies. Plus, she's a junior high math teacher, so she has a deep and abiding love of doing things that make math fun. Whereas I am a mooch who cannot cook.

#16 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Jeff R @13:
Rounding is always superior to truncating
No. There is one situation where truncating is far superior to rounding: when you intend to memorize more digits later. If you round, you need to unmemorize the last digit; if you truncate, you can just pick up where you left off.

#17 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:19 PM:

@Debra Doyle, yes!

Round here meat pies are the unmarked default. We have fruit pies but "Who ate all the pies?" makes you think of steak and kidney.

And our local food speciality is pie & mash. And jellied eels.

#18 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:32 PM:

Pie and mash! Yes!

#19 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:33 PM:

I'd love to try making meat pies some day. I should start looking for frozen mini-pie-shells.

#20 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 07:42 PM:

What follows is our default household meat pie. It makes no claim whatsoever to authenticity, having been cobbled together from two or three different internet sources.

French-Canadian Pork Pie


Pie crust sufficient for a two-crust pie (I used pre-made, but if you've got a light hand for pastry and the patience to go with it, you could make your own. Sources I've read say that for the ultra-traditional, a lard-based pastry is the way to go; I've never bothered.)

2 large yellow onions, chopped fine (I ran mine through the food processor)
1.5 pounds ground pork
3 medium-to-large white potatoes, cooked (you could boil them; I steamed them in the microwave) and coarsely mashed
1 cup beef stock (I used stock base from a jar and made it up double strength)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon thyme
dash of nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
two or three grindings of black pepper
(the stock was sufficiently salty that I didn't bother with adding more salt.)

Cook the ground pork and the chopped onions together in a frying pan until the pork isn't pink any longer. Drain off the fat.

Add the pork and onion mixture to the mashed cooked potatoes and mix them up. Then add the beef stock, the beaten egg, and the spices, and mix them up some more.

Have your pie pan ready with the bottom crust in place. Put in the filling. Put on the top crust, and crimp it down. Cut slits in the top to facilitate the escape of steam. (At this point, I suppose one could do one or another of the various things one does with egg or milk to put a glaze onto the crust; again, I didn't bother.)

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake 45 minutes more. (It's probably a good idea to put a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below, in case of spillover.)

When it's done, remove from the oven, let cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve.

#21 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 08:35 PM:

Debra Doyle: that's similar to my family recipe for 'sausage rolls'

1 egg
a handful of fresh herbs
Copious black pepper

1 can corned beef
3 large white potatatatoes, cooked

2 packages puff pastry sheets

Blend the onion, egg, & herbs. Mash into the potatoes and corned beef. Roll pastry around half-inch strips of filling, slice into pieces 1-1.5in long. Bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes (until it be enough), or freeze and bake frozen.

The idea is you make a huge batch before some celebration, serve maybe half of them, and then freeze the rest to be baked in little batches as the need arises over the next week or so.

Replacing the corned beef with a coarsely-chopped version of pesto works for vegetarians.

#22 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 08:56 PM:

@20 Debra Doyle

Authentic, Shmauthentic. Every Mamère has her favourite recipe, handed down. Yours looks perfectly authentic to me.

I'm allergic to pork, so this is one of those things I can't eat. I just have to smell it and yearn.

#23 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 09:25 PM:

@Debra: Thank you, that sounds very do-able.

I may try it this weekend.

#24 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2013, 10:51 PM:

What helps the meat pie immensely is a splash of Tabasco.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 06:53 AM:

31/4 makes more sense to me. Though, of course, by rule of thumb it would be 22/7.

#26 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 10:15 AM:


If you like lamb (which I do but my family, sadly, does not) you might sub that in for the pork and alter the spicing to taste. Just sayin.

#27 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 12:31 PM:

@26 Madeleine Robins

I'll eat lamb (though I did go off it the summer I worked at a sheep farm).

I've had kosher meat pies*, and they are very good. They just don't smell the same as my grandmother's tourtière.

*when you're allergic to pork, kosher butchers are your friend.

#28 ::: Catherine Crockett ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 01:41 PM:

There used to be a bakery in North York called Simon the Pieman, and in addition to the usual traditional Engish meat [read pork] pies, they had duck and apricot. The memory is making me salivate.

If I need to adapt a pork recipe for people who don't eat swine, I use duck. The duck fat can also substitute for pork lard. It's not even that expensive if you buy whole ducks, although not as cheap as pork. [Goose would work, but they're very expensive here in Toronto.]

One way of doing it is to cut the breasts and legs from the duck and use them in the pork recipe [or freeze for later use, or make confit with the legs], and take the rest of the carcass and any skin or fat, and put it in a slow-cooker with water to cover, and simmer it until the cartilage dissolves. After you strain and chill it, you will have tasty duck stock, and plenty of duck fat to cook with.

I've priced rendered duck fat, and it costs about the same as buying a whole duck and rendering it, with bonus duck meat. I.e., you might get a pint of fat from one duck, and the whole duck costs the same as just buying the fat. If you are lucky, the liver will be included with the duck.

Duck prosciutto is a traditional Northern Italian Jewish thing, but I haven't tried making it yet. It has got to be awesome! I've had Hungarian-style smoked goose and that was delicious. Duck, either confit or fresh is great in choucroute garni, cassoulet, etc.

#29 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Even should I renounce vegetarianism, I will probably never eat meat pies again. Sorry, but...two words: Mrs. Lovett.

"More hot pies! More hot, more pies!"

#30 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Lee @30: Yup, looks like prime processed pork product pie à la Hormel to me too.

Catherine @28: I remember Simon the Pieman fondly, sorry to hear they've closed up shop. There are a few meat pie vendors in the US, in particular one in Buffalo, which I've considered ordering from.

A search with Google turned up a pie maker in New England, but as I recall their fillings were more akin to pizza toppings than tradition: steak and cheese, chicken "pahm," and so forth. Seems likely to produce a Sub standard meat pie, not a traditional one.

I'm reluctant because an English meat pie seems like the sort of foodstuff that would be particularly ill-served by techniques of production in mass quantities. The folks in Buffalo might still be competitive with or better than a Sainsbury's or Tesco's meat pie -- I can't imagine the Buffalonians produce in quantities suited to British supermarkets, but they are also clearly not producing at the quantities of the neighbourhood pie shop down the road, next to the barber's.

Also, no duck and apricot pie from the place in Buffalo

#31 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 04:16 PM:

Here's a great pork pie recipe that first appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail. We've made it a dozen times over the years.

Margo Oliver's Pork Pie

3 lbs shoulder of pork
1 1/2 to 2 lb pig's feet
1 medium onion, sliced
1/4 t thyme
1 large bay leaf
3 whole cloves
2 t salt
6 peppercorns
boiling water
3/4 cu chopped onion
1/2 t sage
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 T butter
1/2 cu water
1 egg yolk
1 T milk
1 recipe lard pastry

1. Remove all fat from pork shoulder and bone. Discard fat. Cut meat into 1 1/2 inch cubes and reserve.
2. Combine pork bones, pig's feet, sliced onion thyme, bay leaf, cloves, 2 t salt and peppercorns in kettle. Add boiling water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn down heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
3. Strain broth from pork bones and pig's feet. Remove lean meat and add to pork cubes. Discard bones. Chill broth and lift off fat. Boil broth until reduced to about 2 cups.
4. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
5. Roll 2/3 of lard pastry into a round big enough to line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan, 3 inches deep. Ease it into pan and anchor it by pressing firmly against the sides of the pan.
6. Put cubes of raw pork and bits of cooked port into pastry-lined pan. Sprinkle with chopped onion, sage, 1 t salt and pepper. Dot with butter.
7. Roll remaining dough into a round a little larger than the top of the pan. Lay round over the meat, moisten under edge and seal upper and lower crusts by crimping firmly.
8. Cut a small round hole the size of a quarter in the center of the top crust. Pour in 1/2 cup water.
9. Bake about 4 hours or until crust is well browned. Brush top of crust with a mixture of egg yolk beaten with 1 T milk after baking 3 hours.
10. Remove pie from oven and pour as much heated broth as the pie will take through hole.
11. Chill for at least 12 hours. Serves 12.

Lard Pastry

2/3 cu boiling water
1 1/3 cu lard
4 cu all-purp flour
1 1/2 t salt

1. Add boiling water to lard and beat with wood spoon or beater until creamy. Cool. Stir in flour and salt, mixing with a fork. Gather into a ball, wrap in wax paper and chill until ready to use.

See Jane Grigson for other suggestions about raised pies and how to season them. She suggests, for example, some anchovy paste in pork pie. Good.

#32 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 05:01 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #29:

We never let the shade of Mrs. Lovett stop us. Long ago in Palo Alto there was a meat pie shop called, if memory serves, John Bull. We always called it "Mrs. Lovett's" and gleefully ate quantities of the things. (Great object to pick up for lunch on the way back to work from voice lesson.)

#33 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 06:21 PM:

I think we need a new tradition RE meat pies: Bake a little ceramic fingernail in each one. Getting it in your slice is good luck, similar to the bean or stone baked into stollen.

Or perhaps getting the faux-nail means your are Barber for the Day.

#34 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 06:52 PM:

When friends & I made sausage, the Sicilian among us promoted putting in "Jimmy Hoffa's pinky ring".

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Considering replacing one of the 'taters in the pie recipe in #20 with a couple of carrots, cooked and sliced very fine.

#36 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 07:24 PM:


This afternoon one of my co-workers took me to task for not bringing in pie on Pi(e) Day.

I did not know this was my job, but after years of periodically dropping off baked goods in the break rooms I've taken on the burden.

#37 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 10:28 PM:

I three remember Simon the Pieman. I recall taking his pies as lunch to an SCA event. It felt very appropriate.

#38 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 12:45 AM:

One of the joys of moving to southern Wisconsin has been discovering the pasty, which many know from Gaiman's American Gods. A friend and i took a road trip around Lake Michigan a couple of years ago, and one of the highlights of the Upper Peninsula portion of our trip was the abundance of pasties. Down here there's a local pie shop across from where i work that makes one of the best pasties i've ever had. I'm kind of kicking myself for not picking one up on my way into work last night.

#39 ::: k8 has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 12:48 AM:

Possibly due to the fact that the pastry in question is a homograph of a type of oft-tasseled covering that ladies without shirts employ to remain technically non-naked?

[Nope. The letter "i" standing alone, uncapitalized. -- Olso Xirgen, Duty Gnome]

#40 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 01:01 AM:

I've got no particular attachment to Pi(e) day, but the Amazing Girlfriend has a Pi(e) day t-shirt and gets into it, therefore, we made a pie and brought it in to lab yesterday. Fellow grad students are handy that way - they always want sugar.

#41 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 06:12 AM:

Jim @24:

"What helps the meat pie almost anything immensely is a splash of Tabasco."


#42 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 07:56 AM:

Doug @ #41, I prefer Sriracha myself, but to each his/her own.

(Or in the case of Schadenfreude Pie, a micropinch of cayenne.)

#43 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:03 AM:

I can't tolerate hot food. Adding a dash of Tabasco to a dish improves my figure, but little else.

#44 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 11:10 AM:

abi #43:

No wonder you're reasonably svelte and I'm not.

I have frequently claimed that there are five food groups and the fifth one is hot.

#45 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 11:19 AM:

joann, #44: As I understand it, capsaicin works differently than the other taste receptors.

Hot food is something I came to as an adult; my parents couldn't handle anything hotter than Midwestern Bland. And my tolerance for heat has definitely increased with exposure, although I'm not at all interested in dicksizing contests over "who can eat the hottest stuff". It's a condiment, and like any other condiment can be overdone.

#46 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 11:59 AM:

joann @ #44, my sister claims the four food groups are Sweet, Salty, Crunchy and Greasy, and that therefore barbecue-flavored potato chips are The Perfect Food. (Also, though she can't eat capsaicin, she finds it invaluable in managing her arthritis pain.)

#47 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 12:14 PM:

We have Pi Day at work, this year as a potluck. I brought a dark chocolate tart with gingersnap crumb crust. It has, among its rather short list of ingredients, a bit of cinnamon and a big pinch of ground black pepper. The result was not spicy, just a pleasant counter to all that chocolate.

The pie was rather like eating a really good truffle with gingersnaps. A success.

#48 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Madeleine, #47: Ooh! Recipe?

#49 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Make the pi higher!

#50 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 01:47 PM:

I'm at Lunacon this weekend. There's a Pi plate in the art show, with the greek letter in the middle and a bunch of digits around the edge. If I could be sure it's oven-safe, I'd be very tempted to buy it.

#51 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 01:59 PM:

After hearing how wonderful it is, I keep trying to find somewhere that has New Zealand Steak and Cheese Pie so I can try it before attempting to make one from scratch. (I'm not that skilled a cook...) It's beginning to shape up as something that's never made it to the Seattle area, like biltong (I found one store in Redmond that carried biltong, and when one of the staff saw me looking at it they said "You do know it's made in the USA" with a tone to their voice that made me put it back right away), as opposed to something that made it out here and then disappeared, like the rarebit which used to be served in every Bon Marche and which disappeared when Macy's took them over. (This is why I avoid shopping at Macy's.) Jamie Oliver has a steak and cheese pie recipe online that folks either love or say "Boy, that's been tarted up," so I don't know if I should try it.

I wish I was a good enough cook to duplicate the best pork chops I ever had, from a closed Seattle restaurant that was devoted to showing that UK cooking could be delicious. Two thick-cut pork chops, neither greasy nor dry, over a bed of steel-cut oatmeal, with just a drizzle of plum sauce. Wow.

#54 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 02:31 PM:

I'll second Lee's request for Madeleine's recipe for the tart described in her #47.

It sounds a little bit like the dark chocolate & salted caramel tart my Amazing Girlfriend and I make pretty regularly... we might have to try an experimental version with cinnamon and pepper. I'm thinking it'll taste like our panforte nero more than the usual chocolate tart. This is not a bad thing.

#55 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 05:41 PM:

I assembled the ingredients for Debra's meat pie recipe!

Actually, enough for two pies. I figure I'll make two batches of filling, and freeze up one. Then I just need to drop it into a pie shell.

Dang, cloves and thyme are expensive. But I suppose it is good to have them around. (I discovered I have three half-full bottles of nutmeg. Go. Figure.)

#56 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Let us know how you like it Stefan....

(The suggestion about Tabasco was serious, BTW. I find that pie a bit bland, but Tabasco brings out the flavors marvelous-well.)

#57 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 07:05 PM:

I will Tabasco it, then!

I will likely put it together tomorrow, and as is my custom I will photograph it.

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 07:35 PM:

You can grow your own thyme. Cloves, on the other hand ... expensive. Fortunately it doesn't usually require much.

#59 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:01 PM:

Mary Aileen @50:

Is that from Peri Charlifu or wossname? He's a regular exhibitor at conventions around Chicagoland, and IIRC I've heard testimony that the pie plates are good quality baking devices. He usually includes paragraphs of text with each piece, but if you wade through to the end there should be dishwasher safe/ oven safe info for you to confirm my claim.

Probably to late to help you, but there's always next con...

#60 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:20 PM:

If you can find somewhere that sells spices loose, by weight, they are much, much cheaper. Not only is the price per oz lower, but you can buy as little as you need. Wholefood stores (even overpriced yuppie ones) or appropriate ethnic groceries are good.

Also, if you can't grow thyme but can find an Indian/Pakistani/Middle Eastern grocery, try ajwain seeds. They look like caraway, taste like fresh thyme, and keep well.

#61 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:32 PM:

The Pi song, by Paul Nordquist:

#62 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:33 PM:

Lee #45: As I understand it, capsaicin works differently than the other taste receptors.

Yes, that's why it works outside the mouth, where there aren't any taste receptors.

The other impressive 'works differently' spice is Sichuan peppercorns. That's a weird sensation.

#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:35 PM:

The cloves and thyme are already bought; I'll check out the bulk food places next time I need an obscure spice!

Huh. I DO NOT HAVE ANY TABASCO! I'll remedy that before I go into pie mode.

#64 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 08:45 PM:

I had a very weird snack once called Death Rain Potato Chips, flavored with habanero peppers,

#65 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 09:15 PM:

Zelda (59): Yes, Peri Charlifu. Thanks for the information on the pi(e) plates; I didn't see any descriptive cards with his pieces this year.

#66 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 09:20 PM:

Another really good hot sauce is Brother Bru-Bru's African Hot Pepper Sauce. This isn't one that numbs you with heat; it has quite subtle flavoring. It's also salt-free and gluten-free (for those who need that info).

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 09:50 PM:

thomas, #62: Heh, yes. Three words that should never go together (but sometimes do): Sriracha Lip Balm.

#68 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 10:48 PM:

Mary Aileen @65

If you see one of his pie plates again without the card, ask the art show staff; the cards may not have been put out (lack of room or whatever) but he will almost certainly have put them in the shipping boxes. They should be able to track them down for you.

#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Stefan Jones @55, thomas @60: What thomas says follows my own experience as well. I live near a terrific supermarket (it's where I got the Buddha's Hand citron that I candied last year) with a huge bulk section. I recently made the lamb stew recipe from Mris Lingen's website, and it was nice to be able to buy just a half teaspoon's worth of cardamom instead of a huge expensive jar that I'll never use up.

Also when I've compared prices between the bulk section spices and the ones in glass jars (the market has a big aisle of those too) I keep finding that the jar costs $3.50 or more, which strikes me as excessive.

#70 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 12:37 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 54: I'll second Lee's request for Madeleine's recipe for the tart described in her #47

Madeleine posted a link to the recipe elsewhere. It's from Smitten Kitchen.

#71 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 12:40 AM:

Thanks, janetl! Just bookmarked it; we'll make it after Passover (chocolate and ginger? We're so there).

#72 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 01:42 AM:

I once gave Phil Foglio a bottle of "Da Bomb" we'd picked up from a Bar-B-Q shop that was going out of business and was selling off the contents for stupid low prices. He raised an eyebrow, opened it, ran his little finger around the neck of the bottle, quickly licked the finger and handed it to Kaja. She did the finger and lick thing and handed it to me. I did the same thing. We then ate every dairy product she had in the fridge in a desperate attempt to save our tongues. (The stuff is habanero peppers ground up and suspended in orange juice, and used to be the highest rating on the Scolville scale.) About five years later I asked if he needed another bottle and he burst out with "Good God no, I only use two drops per kettle of Chili!" I've got an unopened bottle here I'm now scared to use...although I've been tempted to add it in the next time I make Orange sorbet.

#73 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 01:50 AM:

On the topic of exceedingly spicy sauces and the like, the lab the Amazing Girlfriend and I are both in has an evil collective hobby (that we, frankly, facilitate, even though she can't eat spicy food)... they like to have contests with spiked food. I'm remembering one episode involving one million Scoville oil, cherry tomatoes, a syringe and what can only be called Russian roulette with vegetables. The end result was painful for the labmate who got it.

It's an open question in the lab as to what's stronger - the ghost chili flakes our adviser likes to add to everything, the couple of frightening hot sauces we've given him over the last couple years... or the weaponized vodka from two and a half years ago. If I polled the lab, I think the vote would be for the vodka. That stuff was evil. For that matter, it still it - it skulks in the lab freezer, dead yet dreaming.

#74 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 02:35 AM:

Benjamin, #73: When my partner makes chili for a group, he makes two pots. The big one is labeled "False Alarm" and the little one is labeled "Nuclear Holocaust". The secret ingredient in the little one: a handful of those teeny little ornamental peppers that look like Christmas lights, put into the food processor with water to cover and processed on high for 15-20 minutes, until there is no identifiable speck of pepper visible in the slurry. The idea is for people to get a bowl of False Alarm and season to taste with Nuclear Holocaust.

Those peppers are sold as ornamentals because they're so high on the Scoville scale, which is why you have to process them so thoroughly. Also, wear disposable protective gloves when picking and handling them. They probably put your weaponized vodka to shame. OTOH, you might be able to use what's left of that for a similar purpose.

#75 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 02:53 AM:

I realise that I am confessing to a failure here, and I know that this is just me, but...

I'm afraid that chillies - all chillies, any chillies whatsoever - are to me rather as the works of James Joyce. I know many people enjoy them. I know that for many the appreciation of them are simply part of a developed and civilised taste. I am aware that for many, life would be less without them.

I just can't for the life of me understand why anyone would think that.

#76 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 03:08 AM:

Lee, I'd guess that the Weaponized Vodka would rank with your partner's Nuclear Holocaust condiment... when I first gave it to my adviser a couple years ago, it nearly made him vomit (there's a more extensive report here. I'd be happy to provide a sample for comparison, after consultation with my friend the Radiation Safety Man on campus (not that it's an emitter, mind, but he'd know how to package it for shipment).

#77 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 08:07 AM:

Dave: I used to feel the same way, until some medical treatments impaired my taste buds. Judicious use of small amounts of chilies in seasoning added just enough "oomph" so that everything didn't taste like denatured tofu. Now, while I still can't eat REALLY hot stuff, I have more sympathy for those who do.

Except for a friend that doesn't use pepper "because it's too hot" but applies Wasabi paste by the teaspoonful. That one's just a bit odd, although it means that fewer folks accept bites off his/her plate at dinner, what with the chances between "bland" and "drink ALL the milk" being a crapshoot and all.

#78 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 08:09 AM:

Re the tiny ornamental peppers, be aware that like all capsicums (except bell peppers, which have no capsaicin at all), their heat content can vary wildly. Part of the difference depends on growing conditions, but the closer a variety is to wild, the more individual variation there is between plants. I've grown ornamental peppers that were too hot to eat, and I've also grown some that approximated jalapeños.

BTW, if you like to grow peppers or just admire their beauty and diversity, Jean Andrews' Peppers: The Domesticated Capsicums is an amazing book.

#79 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 08:15 AM:

Lee: since alcohol is a solvent, I suspect that's why your Weaponized Vodka is so, um, effective...

#80 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 09:01 AM:

Sorry, the Weaponized Vodka comment should be to Benjamin.

#81 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 09:52 AM:

Cally Soukup (68): Thanks. I got outbid* on this pi plate, but if I see another I may try again.

*for values of 'outbid' that include 'didn't actually bid because existing bids had already passed my maximum'

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 11:29 AM:

Lee, I worked with a guy who brought in some chilis that were probably their cousin. Two seeds per, easily removable with the cap-and-stem. That dropped the heat values to somewhere where it was only noticeable for about twenty minutes. We managed to get to our manager before she put four or five of them in her guacamole....

I haven't seen ornamental pepper plants in stores for a long time, or I'd get one.

#83 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Lila #78:

I found out the other day, *after* I'd planted the spring pepper crop, that the ones I'd gotten (Alma Paprika) because the label said "mildly spicy" and they looked just like some that I'd been getting at the local farmers' market were known to be wildly variable in heat content. IOW, you never know what you're going to get with any individual pepper. I foresee an interesting summer, culinarily speaking.

#84 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Dave L., #75: Not to worry. You have described exactly how I feel about both coffee and alcoholic beverages.

Benjamin, #76: Thanks, but I think we'll pass. Reading your description of the "therapeutic dose" reminds me of something that happened to me a few months ago; we were having dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and I ordered kung pao chicken (one of my standard dishes). But the restaurant was one of those places that doesn't hold with actual light in the dining room, and as a result I managed to miss removing one of the little hot peppers, and got a well-distributed mouthful of capsaicin. That was an uncomfortable 3 or 4 minutes, and reminded me why I say there's a difference between "hot" and "incendiary"!

#85 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 01:18 PM:

joann @83: In my experience, variable heat in peppers is highly dependent on how much water the plant gets over the course of the growing season. The more water, the milder the pepper; the less water, the meaner the pepper. The ones you get may be variable individually even beyond that, but some careful overwatering may help you pull them back down to "mildly spicy" overall.

#86 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Re: capsaicin:

Some people experience endorphin release when they eat chiles. I'm pretty sure my husband is one of them. The sensations of physical irritation from eating chiles -- burning mouth, runny nose, teary eyes -- are for him strongly linked to a euphoric rush. He gets an uncontrollable big, relaxed grin on his face after he chomps into a hot pepper.

So it's not that he doesn't experience the pain and irritation. It's just that the unpleasantness of those sensations is overwhelmed by the immediate euphoric rush.

He's also found that ground cayenne pepper in capsule form is able to abort his ischemic cluster headaches. That may be more of an increased blood-flow thing than an endorphin thing, though. I don't know. But it works amazingly well for him.

#87 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 02:37 PM:

If you buy an ornamental pepper plant, it might have been treated with pesticides or fungicides that are not food safe. Ornamental pepper seeds, no problem.

#88 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Lee at 84: I'd pass on ever consuming that demon fluid again. I don't think anyone in lab has opened the bottle in at least a year - it stays around as more of a prop object than anything else.

Caroline at 86: I'd bet cash money that my adviser has a similar reaction (he doesn't have enough range of facial expression to confirm it, but the man goes through stupendous quantities of capsaisin-bearing condiments that he's got to be getting more than just heat out of the experience).

In addition, what you mentioned about your husband's self-medication with cayenne is intriguing. I don't know much about the neurochemistry or physiology involved, but it sounds like a plausible mechanism to me. The MRIer in me would love to see someone scanned with and without consuming it - if it is increasing blood flow, we'd see it in functional imaging (which measures blood oxygenation as a proxy for blood flow). Hm, wonder if we can get better data in fMRI with pre-scan administration of cayenne capsules...

#89 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 88: I keep meaning to look up studies on the effect of cayenne capsules on blood flow. I believe I've read about topical application of capsaicin (like, in a cream) being studied for muscle/joint pain, but I don't think I've read any studies of ingesting capsacin for either pain or blood flow.

I'd be fascinated to see MRI data.

I don't know much at all about the physiology of ischemic cluster headaches. I know he has to take the cayenne capsules at the very first sign of his prodrome, which is that his vision goes slightly out of focus. If he waits too long to take it, then the cayenne will have no effect and the sensation of being stabbed in the eye socket with an icepick will commence. But if he takes the cayenne early enough, then the prodrome symptoms will fade away and the headache won't materialize.

To me, this suggests that the capsaicin interrupts some kind of signaling process, and has to be introduced at the right point in that process in order to effectively interrupt it. I'm curious about what process that might be. The trouble with focusing his eyes suggests that the muscles in the area are involved somehow.

Perhaps I will do some reading and literature search.

#90 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Fade #85, TomB #87:

Fade, this is good to know, because these peppers are in a corner of the garden box, so do not benefit from sprinkler overlap. I'll concentrate on giving them an extra watering.

TomB, these are seeds rather than a plant, if you're replying to me. Sold as food.

#91 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Caroline @ 89: There's quite a bit of material out there, from what I understand, on topical uses. There is, it looks like, good evidence for vasodilatory effects with topical administration, so that might well be what's going on. The receptor is known (TRPV1, says Wikipedia), and it's implicated in temperature regulation - but where that plugs in to vasodilation, I have no idea (this is way, way beyond my domains of expertise).

My assumption - which may well be wrong - is that there isn't a whole lot of hard physiological research on these headaches, since subjects who experience them would have to be willing to be examined during an episode. From what you've said, I can't imagine that, say, a long fMRI or other neuroimaging session is a desirable action during an episode. I'd bet, though, that parts of it can be pieced together from other research (e.g., visual disturbances are relatively well studied and understood, so that narrows down the domain).

I'm reminded - since I'm in a lab with a bunch of chili fiends - that pure capsaisin is a very bad idea. Surprisingly, it's readily available from specialty chemical supply houses... in milligram quantities, with emphatic warnings on neurotoxicity.

[Grad Student] This is pretty far afield from what I study (volitional eye movements), but now I'm wondering if there are any saccadic markers for these headaches - the usual rule with volitional eye movements is that they're extremely predictable; I wonder if the systemic perturbations manipulate that system. [/Grad Student]

#92 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 04:55 PM:

Interestingly, I find that hot cinnamon candy works fairly well on mild headaches. I tried it after hearing about capsaicin's effect.

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 06:19 PM:

Well . . .

The meat pie filling went together easily enough. But either pie shells in Oregon are undersized or onions and potatoes are oversized.

I shot for enough filling for two pies, but I have enough for three or four!

I just turned down the heat to 350 F on pie number one; I'm freezing the other two batches.

I took pictures. Start here in my Flickr set:

#94 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 07:53 PM:

Mike Scott @1: Why not the 314th day of the 15th month?

#95 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 07:54 PM:

A few years ago, the St. George's distillery made a chipotle-infused vodka. A half-ounce taste of it, sipped slowly, was very nice, but you really didn't need any more of it than that. (On the other hand, it would have done ok as a Bloody Mary flavoring.)

#96 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2013, 08:01 PM:

Bill Stewart @95 - I've never had St George's chipotle vodka, but I've heard tell (from a friend who spends a fair bit of time at their distillery), that they've got an earlier, experimental version of that which kicks around the distillery as a very evil joke. As in, if you can keep it down, they let you sign the jug.

#97 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 01:04 AM:

Fade 85: My reading on the topic (I was thinking about growing some indoors for a while, but I gave up on the project) suggests that it's the stress applied to the plant in the last week or so before harvesting that counts. This can be lack of water, but some growers cut off half of every leaf, and other stressors are possible.

You have experience, which I lack, so I'll ask you if that makes any sense, or if the things I read were crap!

#98 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 02:06 AM:

Bill Stewart, you've hit on the one use for the Weaponized Vodka - for a while, my adviser liked to make bloody marys with it at lab gatherings. The non-chili-obsessed members in the lab thought it was like drinking hot sauce.

#99 ::: k8 ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 05:39 AM:

Bruce @ 77: I'm not very good with pepper-spicy; I can eat mild salsa, and occasionally medium, but the latter tends to leave me reaching for the milk (and my more spice-loving friends laughing at me). That said, I like my cocktail sauce to be about 95% horseradish and 5% ketchup. I love it. I always figured the spice in horseradish and wasabi does different things than capsacin.

#100 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 10:06 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @97: My experience is second-hand, as it's from friends who grow (and eat) hot peppers in their own garden, so "stressors" sounds like a more thorough explanation of it; I was under the impression that it was about stress during the whole growing season, not just at the end, but I don't know for sure. In any case, it sounds like extra watering during the last week would probably help.

#101 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 12:36 PM:

Here in Austin we have a place called Boomerangs that purports to serve authentic Aussie hand pies. Don't know how authentic they are, but I love them and the last time I was there, a large Australian family came in as I was leaving. Good, savory pies.

#102 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 12:41 PM:

Stefan #93: What's the verdict?

#103 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 12:42 PM:

k8 @99 -- it is pretty certainly hitting a different receptor, since horseradish/wasabi is a water-soluble hot where capsaicin is oil-soluble.

#104 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 12:42 PM:

I was wondering about this, so I looked. According to Wikipedia, both horseradish and wasabi get their pungency from something resembling mustard oil, not from capsaicin. So it makes sense that some people would like those but not hot peppers, and vice versa (which would be me).

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 01:09 PM:

@Jim: The pie came out pretty good. I had two pieces, about 1/4 of the total, for dinner. A bit mushy and crumbly, but I suppose that is to be expected. It will be interesting to see if the texture changes after being in the fridge overnight, and being reheated.

Flavor was good. The Tabasco helped.

It was likely short on meat. There was pork in every bite, but it was more a stew pie than a meat pie. I might fry up some sausages, or more ground pork, and mix it into the filling-batches currently in the fridge.

#106 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 01:17 PM:

I would think that Pi(e) day should be 8.5 ish.

#107 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 01:24 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe, I've been doing some reading. This is also way, way outside my area of expertise. So lots of grains of salt time.

In general, activation of cranial sensory nerves (branching from the trigeminal nerve) is thought to cause cluster headache and migraine pain via the trigeminovascular reflex, which sets up a positive feedback loop causing pain. Essentially, the trigeminal nerve brings pain signals to the brainstem, which activates the parasympathetic system, which causes release of substances that further activate the trigeminal nerve, and round and round we go until something gets depleted enough to break the loop. [1,2]

(Incidentally, the sensory nerves affect the smooth muscle of the iris [3]. If the pupil on the affected side can't contract or dilate quite as well, that could account for the difficulty in focusing.)

Generally, activation of those nerves in cluster headache or migraine is associated with dilation of the cranial blood vessels. Some people think vasodilation actually causes the pain by pressing on pain-sensitive structures [4]. The classic family of medications used to abort migraines, triptans, are therefore specifically vasoconstrictors, not vasodilators.

Sensory nerve activation is thought to be mediated by a few different neuropeptides, among them calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P. Current research on headache pain focuses on these signaling molecules [5].

For a while in the 1980s and 1990s there was a lot of excitement about substance P and capsaicin. There were some studies on intranasally-applied capsaicin for cluster headaches, with the hypothesis that capsaicin might cause the release of substance P from the sensory nerves, deplete substance P, and thus prevent the dysfunctional activation of the sensory nerves that causes cluster headache. But those studies were of daily, preventative use of capsaicin, not acute, abortive use [6].

These days, people seem to think that CGRP is a much more important signaling molecule in cluster headache and migraine [5,7,8]. As far as I can tell, capsaicin has the effect of causing CGRP release from sensory nerves (along with substance P release), but nobody seems to be really studying the use of capsaicin for cluster headaches or migraines anymore.

Also, I can't find anything at all on the effects of capsaicin ingestion on nociception. People have studied topical and intranasal use, and they use injected capsaicin to induce known pain and vasodilation responses, but nobody talks about what happens when you eat the stuff. Especially if you eat it so that it doesn't contact your mouth or nose on the way down (as with cayenne capsules).

If I had to guess at this point, I'd guess that swallowing cayenne capsules at the first sign of a cluster headache interrupts the dysfunctional activation of the cranial sensory nerves. I'd guess it might deplete one or more of the neuropeptides that activate the sensory nerves, breaking the pain loop pre-emptively. But those are very much just guesses. It could be a thousand other things that I know even less about than I know about this.

But it's darned interesting.

[1] Nesbitt A, Goadsby P. Cluster headache. BMJ. 2012; 344:e2407. doi:

[2] Drummond, PD. Mechanisms of autonomic disturbance in the face during and
between attacks of cluster headache. Cephalalgia. 2006 June; 26(6):633-641.

[3] Sicuteri F, Fanciullacci M, et al. Substance P theory: a unique focus on the painful and painless phenomena of cluster headache. Headache. 1990 Jan; 30(2):69-79

[4] May A, Bahra A, et al. PET and MRA findings in cluster headache and MRA in experimental pain. Neurology. 2000 Nov; 55(9):1328-1335. doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1212/​WNL.​55.​9.​1328

[5] Edvinsson L. Sensory Nerves in Man and Their Role in Primary Headaches. Cephalalgia. 2001 Sept; 21(7):761-764. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2001.00245.x

[6] Marks DR, Rapoport A, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache.
Cephalalgia. 1993 Apr;13(2):114-6.

[7] Edvinsson L, Goadsby P. Neuropeptides in headache. European Journal of Neurology.
1998; 5(4):329-341. doi: 10.1046/j.1468-1331.1998.540329.x

[8] Messlinger K, Fischer MJ, Lennerz JK. Neuropeptide effects in the trigeminal system: pathophysiology and clinical relevance in migraine. Keio J Med. 2011;60(3):82-9.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 02:21 PM:

I'm tempted to track down a bottle of cayenne and try some the next time I start getting visual-field effects (which sometimes lead to headaches, but sometimes not). Also for trying when a headache takes off, if it isn't of the sinus persuasion.

#109 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 02:25 PM:

Intranasal capsaicin sounds nasty... can't imagine that's fun.

Modulating pupil size / interfering with iris control makes sense; it'll have a strong defocusing effect (manipulating the lens would as well, but that would be limited to near-field effects, mostly).

#110 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Stefan #105 -- sounds like proportionally too much onion and potato. When Doyle makes this it's quite dry.

When fresh it's quite crumbly; letting it sit makes it more solid.

Are there more photos?

#111 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 03:21 PM:

When I ended up with twice as much filling as I expected, I figured I over-vegetabled it. And/Or did not sufficiently drain the onion / meat mixture.

I'll take a photo of the final product tonight.

#112 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 03:31 PM:

P J Evans @ 108: Cayenne capsules are pretty cheap, and easily acquired at your local earthy-crunchy health food store, or ordered online.

Though I don't get migraines or cluster headaches, I've taken cayenne capsules for headaches I suspected to be tension-related, and had it help. Once I got some relief from it after acetominophen, ibuprofen, caffeine, drinking water, and taking a nap had all failed to help. Can't promise that wasn't placebo effect (or just the headache going away on its own).

The major side effects reported in my household are digestive in nature: stabby/cramping stomach pain if capsules are taken on an empty stomach, and sometimes burning as everything … passes through, if you get my drift. Having some food on board when you take the capsule seems to reduce both. I'd steer clear if you have ulcers or acid reflux.

The capsules are generally 450 mg and labeled in "Heat Units" (which do not seem to be the same thing as Scoville units). As far as I can tell, 40,000 Heat Units means 0.25% capsaicin by weight. My husband takes a dose of 100,000 Heat Units. That amount gives me stomach pain even if I take it with food, so I stick to the 40,000 H.U. capsules.

Obviously, I'm not a doctor, and everyone should talk to their doctor before taking anything. These are just n=2 personal experiences.

#113 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 03:50 PM:

Caroline at 112, from what you describe, the cayenne capsules have similar effects to the Weaponized Vodka, but are likely easier to tolerate. I don't suppose I should suggest either the next time lab mates come in hung over...

#114 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 04:08 PM:

(I take it back -- I think the Heat Units are actually Scoville units, if it's true that 40,000 HU means 0.25% capsaicin by weight.)

#115 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 04:32 PM:

If all of those failed to help - yeah, I'd try almost anything else, then. Usually I try to short-circuit them early, because it's easier. It may still result in a nice quiet nap, though.

Noise is funny, wrt headaches: I once left work early with one, had to wait for a train, and found that the idling diesel engines didn't bother me nearly as much as the bells on the trolleys passing through. I think it's because the engines are closer to white noise.

#116 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Fade 100: In any case, it sounds like extra watering during the last week would probably help.

Or hurt, depending on whether your goal is milder or stronger peppers.

#117 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 09:08 PM:

Jim @ #66, your description intrigued me enough to go look for Brother Bru-Bru's sauce. I found all three varieties at the health food store at the bottom of the hill. Feeling cautious, I got the African Chipotle Pepper Sauce labeled "Hot," rather than the African Hot Pepper Sauce labeled "Very Hot." I'll report back to the class on the merits of the sauce.

#118 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2013, 09:26 PM:

One of the things I learned from reading Jean Andrews' book (see #78, above) is that peppers vary considerably not only in heat but in flavor. Some have notable fruity or citrus notes, but the subtleties of flavor are found mainly after ripening.

This led me to do some experimentation. I learned, for example, that while I actively dislike both green bell peppers and green jalapeños, I enjoy the ripe versions of both. (Ripe jalapeños are hard to find in supermarkets here, but our branch of Locally Grown has them in the summertime.)

#119 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2013, 04:01 PM:

Hmm. My reaction is exactly the opposite; I generally find the ripe form of bell and jalapeno less good than the green, because too sweet (and often not crunchy, when crunch is needed). But for Habaneros I prefer the ripe (red or orannge) to the unripe.

#120 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2013, 08:44 PM:

Two more data points:

Hot peppers nip migraines in the bud for me; this is handy because I pretty much only get them on incense exposure, and the only place I ever encounter incense is near where I buy most of my peppers. I'd rather skip the exposure altogether of course (and I usually manage to avoid it), but it's nice to have a cure close at hand if it comes up.

For my wife, peppers stop the headache part of a migraine but they don't make her feel fully functional.

Still, we make sure to have a jar of salsa in the fridge or cupboard at all times, just in case.

The stuff about potential mechanisms is interesting. I'd never had more than vague speculations to go on.

#121 ::: nna ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 09:55 AM:

this pie they is it a general holiday or only for usains. http//

#123 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 11:12 AM:

Not sure it's spam, Serge. On-topic, and non-commercial link.

So, nng, welcome to Making Light. I am definitely not going to ask in you write poetry.

Pi(e) Day is completely universal, just as is pi. Do you have any favorite recipes?

#124 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 02:17 PM:

nna, since there's no 14th month, it's hard to figure out when Pi Day would be in Europe. I'd propose that Europeans join us in our celebration, lacking one of their own!

(We don't agree, either, on the distinction between pies and tarts, but hey.)

#125 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 03:03 PM:

Xopher, the European Pi Day is on the 22nd of July. :)

#126 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Does that prove that Europeans are more rational than us?

#127 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Caroline @112: and sometimes burning as everything … passes through, if you get my drift

Hot-pepper fans call this effect “the ring of fire”.

#128 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2013, 09:18 PM:

My apologies.

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