Category Archives: Reviews

Hippie Bowls

Hippie Bowls are roasted vegetables over a grain, topped with a lemon-hummus sauce.  It’s become a once-a-week dinner because it’s sooooo easy to make and I love the tastes involve.

Hippie Bowls:
2 heads-worth of broccoli florets
1 head-worth of cauliflower florets
2T olive oil
Two pinches of grey salt
Parsley to garnish
1C quinoa

1 1/2C chickpeas (fresh or 1 can)
2T tahini
2T extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Juice of large lemon
Grey salt, to taste

Roast the veggies: coat florets with oil, garlic and salt. Place mixture on a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Cook 35-45 minutes at 400F, stirring about halfway in.

All your vegetables are roasting to us

Quinoa: Toss 1C quinoa and 1 1/2C water into the Zojirushi* (or Instapot) and let it work its magic.

Add all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add water, 1T at a time, to get the consistency as you like.

In individual bowls, place veggies on a 1/2C of cooked quinoa, add sauce. Top with parsley and pepper.

The final product, assembled


*The Zojirushi is an amazing rice (and other grains) cooker, and was our go-to-gadget before acquiring the Instapot.  We still rely on it heavily for making rice and quinoa, because it always turns out perfect.  (And hey, an appliance that starts off its cycle playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star must be happy, right?)  It also manages to keep the rice warm for an hour afterward.

Pasta puzzle

I’ve been having a lot of fun reading “How to Fossilize Your Hamster“[1], an entertaining and enlightening collection of quirky science questions and experiments one can do to observe the the principles. It’s very conversationally written with abundant humor. For example, in answering the best way to get ketchup out of the bottle, where they detail seven methods to “exploit the thixotropic nature of ketchup,” they begin with:


  • A meal requiring tomato ketchup (it’s not essential, as you can do this experiment using an empty plate, but there’s no doubt that French fries enhance the experience)
  • a glass bottle of tomato ketchup” [1, page 48]

What’s not to like about that?

KetchupMy favorite question was “Pasta Puzzle:” if you hold a strand of spaghetti at both ends and bend it, why will it nearly always break into three or more pieces? Audoly and Neukirch[2] made some fun-to-watch videos of their experiments. In the first phase, they did high-speed filming of spaghetti breaking. To add control to their experiments, they then held bent spaghetti while inducing a break with a pair of scissors. They eventually reduced the problem to a catapult experiment, in which they demonstrated that spaghetti can be broken by merely releasing one of its ends[2]. In their paper, they also come up with an “analytical prediction of breaking events” in “perfect spaghetti.” It should come as no surprise they earned an igNobel award.

Their conclusion:

“[T]he sudden relaxation of the curvature at the newly freed end leads to a burst of flexural waves [that] locally increase the curvature in the rod and […] is responsible for the fragmentation of brittle rods under bending.”

Runner up would be the entire “In the bathroom” chapter. I find a lot of humor value in offering a formula quantifying the effects of fiber as observed in human, uh, “output.” One better suited for public conversation is why orange juice (and many things) taste awful after you brush your teeth. Reason: sodium lauryl sulfate is added to many toothpastes as a foaming agent to disperse the paste. It temporarily disrupts sensitivity of sweet taste buds while increasing the bitter ones.[3] (It’s unpleasant, but does not cause cancer.[4])


  • [1] How to Fossilize Your Hamster (and other amazing experiments for the armchair scientist), Mick O’Hare. ISBN 9780805087703
  • [2] “Fragmentation of rods by cascading cracks: why spaghetti does not break in half,” Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch. Physical Review Letters 95, 095505 (2005). Movies available here.
  • [3] “Surface active taste modifiers: a comparison of the physical and psychophysical properties of gynemic acid and sodium lauryl sulfate,” John DeSimone, Gerard Heck, Linda Bartoshuk, Chemical Senses 5:317-330, 1980.
  • [4] “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Shampoo,”

Terra Bite

This was my non-biking day, and everything about the commute sucked. After dropping my bike off in Kirkland for its free “200 mile tuneup,” I found there were no parking spots available at work. I left again around 4:30 to pick up the bike. Unfortunately, the vendor hadn’t actually started the work but promised it would be done by 6:30pm. Two hours is, coincidentally, the amount of time it would have taken me to drive home and back during rush hour. I found a pleasant area to sit and watch the beautiful, wealthy people of Kirkland in their natural habitat.

Around 6, on the walk back to the bike shop, I noticed the locally-famous Terra Bite (get it?), the pay-what-you-think-is-fair coffee shop.
Applying this business gimmick in a high-discretionary income area like Kirkland is an
interesting experiment. I popped in, ordered a mocha and contributed a more than reasonable amount to the donation box. Verdict: thumbs down. It was … the worst coffee I have ever had. The “Bite” took almost three hours to wear off, which is remarkable given that I am acclimated to the aggressively roasted coffee from the Starbucks next to Great Harvest.

Speaking of Starbucks, I’m in agreement with Doug that the experience is unpleasant. Here’s hoping Zoka, sponsors of Team Zoka, expands eastward.

Polar Bear Plunge Seattle

I did the Polar Bear Plunge (aka “Polar Bear Swim”) again this year. Since I had better planning going into it, I thought I’d try going to the big shindig at Matthews Beach sponsored by the Seattle Parks Department.

Writes The Stranger: (Gloating) Last year, 800 foolish hippies kicked off the New Year with this benighted pagan ritual: They jumped in the water, froze their teats off, and howled in pain. (They think the polar bear is their collective spirit animal—it’s actually the lemming.) This year, Seattle Parks and Recreation is expecting more than 1,000 participants. Bring a warm blanket and a Thermos of something hot, and chuckle at people behaving like animals. (Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave NE, 684-7241. Noon.)”

Well, I don’t know about teats – other parts were hurting more. And not all of us buy into the collective spirit animal aspect. Still, it’s an entertaining event, whether you’re a participant, spectator or both. The “registration” process was primarily to count how many people were attending. The wrist band was free, and there were no forms to fill out (or mailing lists to be put on) other than optionally writing your name on a blank piece of paper.

The early arrivals were mulling around the park waiting until noon. (Note to Starbucks or Tully’s: you’d make a killing selling coffee here.) I got there early enough that I went back to my car to warm up and work on some puzzle books.

At two minutes until noon, people began disrobing. Seeing a bunch of other pasty people in swimsuits made me feel right at home. Several, obviously more experienced, were jockeying for a position up front. This didn’t make sense until I followed the middle wave into the water: the folks out front can run out, dunk, and run back to dry land. With a start in the middle, you have the other teeming masses ahead of you, slowly working their way towards the deeper water, also realizing the water is bleeping cold. There’s no room to just go for it and jump in.

Once out, my body warmed up again… except my legs and feet. I wasn’t the only one trying to work out the tingly feeling in my feet by walking back to the car without shoes on. There were several stragglers coming in as I eked my way out the parking lot, heater on maximum warp.
Except for the slow-motion aspect, the experience was much like last year: everyone was friendly, there were multi-generation families, and some people even had costumes on. I’m definitely planning on doing this next January 1st.

I’m done with summer

As I was biking up the hill from Factoria to Eastgate, the sign at the Honda dealer indicated 99°F. A quick review of temperatures in the area:

Because the house was running 86°F (no air conditioning), I spent the rest of the evening at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. It’s an unusual place. For one, the food court is replete with ethnic restaurants instead of the typical franchise faire. If you have a group of people who can’t decide whether they want pirogis, pizza, lamb kebabs, or a burritos, come here. Everybody’s happy. There’s also a live performance stage. Tonight, Pearl Django, a jazz/swing band was playing to an appreciative audience.

The “front” entrance has relatively comfortable seating between a news stand, Starbucks and Half-Price books.
Further down the mall, away from the food, is a satellite branch of the King County Library System, with free wireless.

Best of all, it’s air conditioned!

Deception Pass state park

I’m not one who likes to revist the same places. But it says a lot that I’ve been to
Deception Pass state park four years in a row. In the previous visits, I’ve gone over July 4th “weekend,” taking a side trip into Oak Harbor for the fireworks gala. WIth the 4th occurring mid-week, I didn’t want to blow the extra vacation days recuperating from being up so late, but I”m planning to return later this year.

The park is located on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle. The drive is such that the longer segment takes just as much time as the shorter segment plus the ferry.
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