QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
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The Green Knight


This a two hour ten minute retelling of the Arthur Extended Universe story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It's a slow and meditative movie, with several extended sequences lacking in dialog. Some of the lines that were spoken were hard to understand, so working well as silent film is a plus.

Without spoiling any of the story, let me recount a scene near the end. Having left the house of the mysterious Lord (most characters lack names) who played the game of exchanging winnings, Gawain makes his way to Green Chapel, arriving a day earlier than appointed time. He Sees the Green Knight sitting, eyes closed in a throne at the back of the broken down hall. Gawain places the axe down at the foot of the Knight and sits on the floor to wait. There's somewhere between two and five minutes of silent waiting, the camera lingering on the closed eyes of the Green Knight's face mixed with cuts to Gawain coming to terms with the fate ahead of him. This is used to show the passage of time until the next morning when the Green Knight awakens.

If you are stoned enough to find that deep or patient enough to tollerate that sort of slow moving story, this is a pretty entertaining retelling of the legend. If you'll be checking your phone when nothing happens for a while, stay away.

I think it helps to already know the story, and it also helps to be willing to accept some changes to the story. There's a fox in this version, for example, that is not in the one I read.

A six day journey out of ten.

The Green Knight at imdb

Also get ready for a bunch of different ways to pronounce "Gawain".

Garlic press review


I do a lot of cooking, and I like garlic in a lot of things. I like all of the alliums, but others do not need the same amount of attention. Sure onions and leeks are a bit of work, peeling and chopping or washing and chopping, but for many dishes you can't beat super fine garlic which is a lot of effort to hand chop.

I expect everyone actually knows that. Garlic presses are a widely available kitchen tool for exactly that reason. So why the need to bring all of this up? Because in the course of cooking in a number of different kitchens (vacation house rentals), I've used a number of different presses and most are a lack-luster experience.

But there's one I found, and some time afterwards saw a very favorable review for at America's Test Kitchen that stands out as a very satisfying experience: the Kuhn Rikon "Epicurian" garlic press. It's got a bit of an eye watering price tag, at roughly eight times the price of the bargain alternatives.

America's Test Kitchen finds it best at crushing unpeeled garlic and the swing open hopper good for getting remanents out. I was attracted to the heavy metal construstion and that swing out hopper. And I use it for some off-label uses, aided by the same leverage that helps with crushing unpeeled garlic.

Besides garlic, two things I crush with it on a somewhat regular basis are jalapeños and ginger root.

Jalapeños are not difficult to chop up, I usually only go with the press if I'm using the press for garlic anyway and I'm making a recipe for which extremely fine jalapeño mash is acceptable. So not pico de gallo, aka salsa fresca.

Ginger root, however, is a chore to chop. And the garlic press is a help, but it still needs some strong squeezing. I find the best way to press ginger is to peel it and cut into smallish pieces that can be put in the press with the strands of the ginger oriented to push through the holes. Don't want the fibers forming a long matt across the press output. For a lot of ginger, the fibrous build-up that fails to get pushed through will need to be cleared before continuing.

Garlic press loaded with ginger

For recipes with all three, garlic, ginger, and jalapeños, the Kuhn Rikon "Epicurian" garlic press takes the place of five minutes or so with the mezzaluna or careful work with a different knife, and has a faster, easier clean up.

(No one paid me or compensated me for this review, and I'm not linking to any e-store that sells it. I got mine about two years ago from a brick and mortar store.)

Mixed lentils


After a day out on Alameda Island, I stopped at a store to buy some drinks. I happened across an interesting looking corner market and went in. Although not clearly stated as such, it appeared to a Turkish shop and I could have spent a good while perusing the shelves. Instead I grabbed some cold drinks and picked up a bag of Sadaf mixed lentils. The lentils caught my eye with such a pretty mix of faded pastel colors.

pale pastel goodness

Trouble is, I had no recipe and found none while searching. So I needed to improvise. The following is a recipe that evolved from my spicy dal recipe. The general plan is cook lentils in water for a long while, then in a separate pan cook some seasoning. Mix the two and enjoy. Like that dal, this can be eaten hot or cold.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup mixed lentils (Sadaf's mixture seems to be about equal parts green peas, yellow peas, green lentils, and red lentils)

Rinse the lentils and put in a suitably sized sauce pan on full heat. When it reaches a boil, lower heat and skim off the foam. Add then cover (with slight vent) and simmer:

  • 1" to 2" ginger, peeled and cut in thirds
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves

Let that go for a while. Figure 30 to 60 minutes depending on how low your low heat is. Give it a stir every once in a while and add more water if it seems prematurely dry. What you are looking for is some of the lentils to have broken down to create a thick broth and some to still be whole.

When it seems about ready, time start the temper. Get a small to medium fry pan heating with:

  • 1 tablesoon of oil, or substitute ghee for all or part of the oil

When hot add one at a time:

  • 1 teaspoon of whole cumin
  • a pinch of asafoetida powder (aka "hing")
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

When the cumin has been toasted for 30 seconds or so, add

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced

On medium-high heat, cook mixing frequently until the onions start to brown. Then it's time to look back to the lentil pan. Turn off heat and fish out and discard the ginger and bay leaves. With those out of the way, add all of the contents of the frying pan to the sauce pan. Mix the temper into the lentils along with:

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

I've eaten it as a side with rice and curried vegetables, and as a cold spread on warm pita, like I would have hummus. As a main dish, I'd find it wanting some more texture and some more greens. And unfortunately, the colors cook out to leave basically just a light green.

Sticker Roller Box


Shelf full of sticker rolls

Each of these rolls has a label for a different product.

My wife sells sewing patterns. Patterns directly sold to customers through the website have the package just taped shut (with color coded tape). Patterns sold in stores need information on the back about sizes and how what materials are needed. Originally she just used to print stickers in a laser printer, but as sales grew that became expensive and awkward. So she had stickers printed by a service. For price-per-sticker reasons, she gets a thousand at a time for each pattern. These come in heavy rolls. Sometimes it will be a single large roll of 1000, sometimes two medium rolls of 500 each.

Rolls want to be rolled. But if you just put them up on a closet hanger pole, they don't roll well. The bar isn't near the center, there's friction, and it ends up being a mess.

So instead support these giant rolls with two smaller bars. And make a "roller bearing" to help them spin. I made a set of boxes to do just that.

One view of an empty roller box

The box doesn't have a bottom, that's just the wooden shelf it is setting on. I orginally planned it around using the rollers in the upper position only. For a full large sticker roll that is necessary. The medium sticker roll is more forgiving of variations. Both will fall through the wide one eventually, and need the narrow.

Another view of an empty roller box

The box partially visible on the left has the narrow roller on top configuration for a small (500 sticker) roll. The empty box has the configuration for a large (1000 sticker) roll.

Each box is made from four identically sized pieces of wood, with sides each having four holes corresponding to two high rollers and two low rollers. One pair of rollers is wide, for big rolls, one pair is narrow for smaller. The box can be flipped to make wide or narrow the higher pair.

The rollers are 3/8" (9.4mm) steel bars with 1/2" (12.7mm) inner diameter PVC water pipe for a roller bearing. There are only two rollers at a time in a box, the steel bars are just friction fit and can be swapped.

This works great. If I were doing it all again, I'd not use the all four identically sized pieces of wood design.

Simplied sketch of construction

The holes have to be offset differently on left and right sides with this layout which ended up making the drilling of the holes and the assembly a lot more complicated than it needed to be. Setting up the table saw for cutting longer and shorter pieces of wood would have been much easier overall.