French white bean stew

These are guidelines more than a recipe, really. Adjust the spices / herbs as preferred, swap the red wine for tomato paste, swap the saucisson sec for mushrooms, etc.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium, then add about 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil. Fry about ½ of a diced saucisson sec (casing removed) for about 3 minutes, then add 1 sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Next, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 8 crushed peppercorns, 2 T dried sage, 1 T fennel seed, 1 bay leaf, ½ T dried thyme, a pinch of cayenne, a pinch of ground cloves, and ½ T sea salt, then cook gently for about a minute. Add 1 stock cube, 500 g dried white beans, a glug of red wine, and 1 L water, then turn up the heat slightly. Once the stew is simmering, give it a good stir, take it off the stove and place it in the oven to continue cooking.

It will take a few hours, probably around 3–4 depending on the age of the beans. Check it every hour or so, giving it a good stir. When the beans seem like they’re nearly done, taste and adjust the flavours as needed. It might need some lemon juice, salt, a little more wine, or even a bit of sugar.

When done, stir in some rocket (arugula) or something similar if you want some green, then serve with crusty bread.

Reading via Victor Papanek

Two more books for the reading list: Future Shock by Alvin and Heidi Toffler and Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher.

These suggestions come via the Victor Papanek’s preface to the first edition of his book Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. I finally started reading it at long last after many recommendations from SB.

“A leaf a gourd a shell a net a bag a sling a sack a bottle a pot a box a container”

That’s right, they said. What you are is a woman. Possibly not human at all, certainly defective. Now be quiet while we go on telling the Story of the Ascent of Man the Hero.

Go on, say I, wandering off towards the wild oats, with Oo Oo in the sling and little Oom carrying the basket. You just go on telling how the mammoth fell on Boob and how Cain fell on Abel and how the bomb fell on Nagasaki and how the burning jelly fell on the villagers and how the missiles will fall on the Evil Empire, and all the other steps in the Ascent of Man.

If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and the next day you probably do much the same again — if to do that is human, if that’s what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.

From Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay The Carrier Bag of Fiction published by Ignota

GC gave me this book the other day, perfectly timed.

It can feel like the path to success, whatever on earth success actually is, takes some sort of aggro-ambition. What if it is gentler, more of a methodical and deliberate accumulation than a conquest?

SB has been playing Death Stranding and I’ve really enjoyed following along. The arc is definitely hero-centric, and of course the story is way out there in sci-fi land, but the main mechanic of accepting and delivering cargo is much more human than so many other supposedly more realistic video games.

I’d like to get and read Elizabeth Fisher’s Women’s Creation from 1975, but it might be tough to find in print. Thankfully the Internet Archive seems to offer it for borrowing. Pretty cool, I didn’t know that they had a lending library for scanned books.

Enabling Imagick extension with Laravel Valet

After setting up Laravel Valet and MySQL with Homebrew a while ago, local development has been pretty smooth sailing. Today though, I ran in to some trouble getting the Imagick extension up and running. After some searching online, this discussion thread got me going in the right direction.

I had Homebrew and pkg-config installed already, so the first thing I did was install ImageMagick with Homebrew by running brew install imagick. Next, I installed the Imagick extension with PECL by running pecl install imagick. It’s worth keeping an eye on the output related to this installation. At the very end of the output, I got this error:

ERROR: failed to mkdir /usr/local/Cellar/php@7.2/7.2.19_1/pecl/20170718

Someone else in the discussion thread ran in to a similar problem, so I roughly followed their directions. I ran pecl config-get ext_dir to get the extensions directory that the PECL config expects, then I copied that output and ran mkdir -p . I then ran pecl install imagick again, and this time there were no errors. Note that the output from this successful installation ended in Extension imagick enabled in php.ini.

To wrap it all up, I ran valet restart and then ran php -i | grep Imagick to check that Imagick Imagick in the PHP configuration. It returned a few lines in relation to classes and the ImageMagick version indicating that everything is set up as necessary.

Note that this only applies to the PHP version that is currently in use by Valet. I use a few different versions depending on the project, so I’ve repeated the pecl install imagick step for each of those versions as well.

“5:30am — wake up and lie there and think”

  • 5:30am — wake up and lie there and think
  • 6:15am — get up and eat breakfast (lots)
  • 7:15am — get to work writing, writing, writing
  • Noon — lunch
  • 1–3pm — reading, music
  • 3–5pm — correspondence, maybe house cleaning
  • 5–8pm — make dinner and eat it
  • After 8pm — I tend to be very stupid and we won’t talk about this

Ursula K. Le Guin’s daily routine

Via GC who I think may have come across it via this tweet. Can be found in the book Ursula Le Guin: The Last Interview.

The wonderful world of BBC Sounds

BBC Sounds is such a treasure trove.

It introduced me to You’re Dead to Me, a very funny history podcast by Greg Jenner. My favourite episodes so far are probably the ones on Mansa Musa and Harriet Tubman.

Around Halloween I came across Haunted Women, a one-off program exploring how women have used the ghost story form. Reminds me, I am way overdue reading some Shirley Jackson. I’ll probably start with the bookends, The Road Through the Wall and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Will definitely have to read The Haunting of Hill House as well, The Haunting is one of my favourite horror films. The film was released in 1963 under the Hays Code, so I’ll be interested to see how much more of Theodora’s character is revealed in the book.

Other BBC Sounds programms that I’m planning to listen to include:

Pikelets

Makes about ten pikelets that are 7 cm (~3″) in diameter. For the unfamiliar, pikelets are kind of like small American pancakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together 155 g (1¼ c) plain flour, 2½ t baking powder, and 2 T sugar. Sift your flour and baking powder if it’s a little lumpy, it’ll make a big difference. In a separate small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 175 mL (¾ c) milk. Non-dairy milk works if that’s what you prefer. Pour the wet in to the dry and then whisk until barely combined. There may still be a few small lumps of batter. Let this sit in the fridge to homogenise for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the pan.

Lightly oil or butter a large nonstick pan or griddle and then heat it over medium. Don’t use too much fat – the thinner the coat, the more evenly coloured your pikelets. When the pan is hot, dollop in 2 T (about half of a ¼ scoop) of batter. Allow the pikelet to cook without pestering it until there are small holes forming on the top side and the batter begins to set, then flip and cook the other side. The second side usually needs a little less time.

Serve immediately with butter and jam, or let cool and store in the fridge. Pikelets are great reheated in the toaster.