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Supper Talk: Scary Science edition

Well, lets see. Tonight for supper we are having potato, leek and asparagus gratin (because we've been getting all three in our vegetable box from the farm these last couple weeks). Recipe after the talk...

I have some _horrendous_ memories from my past. Watching a soulmate die, the last month of my grandmother's cancer delirium, abject poverty (not mine, seeing someone else in it), and more. Would I want to get rid of those memories? Selectively? Well, scientists have been able to do that in rats. Smacks of science fiction stories I've read. The answer to that question though is no, even if we could. They definitely have affected my life, those memories, and still do to some extent, but I like who I am and where I'm going. And even for all the pain they caused and cause, I'd be afraid that changing something so much a part of what I am would be too scary. Nothing to really be afraid of though really, it's a long way from deleted a general rat memory to deleting the memory of a tragedy long ago in a human.

So, more science below.. scary and not scary (unless you are Scottish ;).

Genetics marches forward.

This man is right you know and I've said it already. Get ready for designer babies.

Well, the new genetic technologies are starting to answer a lot of our questions about origins. For example, it now appears (though not a as-yet scientific consensus) that from genetic evidence, Scots, Irish, Welsh AND English are all from the same origins.. pre-celtic. The islands were settled by Indo-European non-celtic people right after the ice age.... from Spain. Later invasions by Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans left only a small and very localized genetic impact on the existing population. In other words, as much as the Scots, Irish, Welsh and English might like to think they of different origins. They ain't. My maternal grandmother would not to have liked to have heard that. When I was doing genealogy way back, I found that one of my ancestors was born in Dublin. When I told her, proud of her Scottish heritage, she said "Don't tell anyone else." Come to find out later that ancestor's parents were born in Scotland and had only been in Dublin as overlords ;). Well.. turns out... they all came from the same place anyway. Of course the CULTURAL contributions of the invaders and differences that ensued are a different matter. Siblings sure can fight can't they?

Interesting sidenote on this: The Etruscans, an early Italian civilization and nemesis of the Romans before the empire, had their origins in the MidEast. And even more interesting, people in some towns in Tuscany still show a majority of Etruscan genetic origins.

It's all so fascinating.

So, supper (from Care2):


2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, sliced very thinly
2 leeks, white parts only, well-washed and cut into thin rings
1 pound asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups cream
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
pinch freshly-grated nutmeg
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup grated good-quality Gruyere or Emmental cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, place the potato slices, leek rings, and asparagus pieces. Add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally and very gently with a rubber spatula so the potato slices don‘t fall apart, over medium-high heat until the cream boils.

2. Pour mixture into a 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake in preheated oven around 40 minutes until top is bubbly and golden, and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let sit for about 15 minutes. The dish will thicken slightly as it cools.

Serves 8.

(btw, next time I'd double the amount of asparagus, lower the cream by half, add 3 beaten eggs and 1 cup of milk. It would lower the calories and raise the taste and 'green' vitamin level. I did the cream reduction/egg-milk addition and it worked fine.. had to cook on the stove top a bit shorter duration and up the oven time by 10 minutes)


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