A Propos Nothing


I don’t feel like writing a post, so I’m going to drop in a “a propos nothing” reminiscence.

I remembered this in the kitchen, because I was having a very small slice of cheese as a snack, and the cheese was mild and vaguely sweet, so I started noodling making some kind of low-carb desert with it.

Not  that I’m in any shape for noodling. Yesterday I was still very congested. Today was my first day not wanting to fall asleep every five minutes.  But I thought, you now “Hey, wonder if I could make a desert from this?”

And then I remembered the first time I heard the word cheesecake, and what I thought it would be like.

To tell this story, I must explain my 3rd year English (and techniques of translation) teacher.  She was a maiden lady, emphasis on the lady probably in her fifties. (For a long time I thought her being unmarried was due to her looking exactly like Marat in the picture Marat in his bath. I mean enough that it made you think of reincarnation. but it turned out she had a lover (?) or perhaps boyfriend, she had been in love with for 20 years. They couldn’t marry, because his wife was insane and in a madhouse, but he was Catholic and wouldn’t divorce her (which is why I’m not sure if he was a lover or merely a boyfriend. More on this relationship later.)

This woman was …. formidable. And she terrorized most of the class.  Probably the only reason I eventually could become native-fluent in English was that year. She gave us lists of vocabulary until our eyes bled. (I’m still wondering what I was supposed to use all the collective nouns for. I mean, an exultation of larks is cute, but….) And she didn’t tolerate bad grammar.

We had to bring the Oxford English Learners dictionary to school every day and put it on the right side of our desks, precisely located, or we were marked absent.  It didn’t take very long to learn it had to be perfectly placed because if you said anything wrong, she grabbed it and hit you with it. If you said something VERY wrong, like one of my classmates who, I swear, was incapable of learning English despite having chosen it as a specialty in 9th grade, she’d hit you with it over and over. I sometimes wondered if the poor girl had concussion.

For inscrutable reasons, she never hit me.  At one point she made me answer something very difficult, (I can’t remember what.) then reached for my dictionary and my heart about stopped. Then she opened it and said, “Oh, you’re right. But you’re using an archaic form of that word. I wasn’t sure of the meaning.”) Eh.

Once I’d figured out I could do no wrong, I wasn’t afraid in her class (everyone else was) but I still studied really hard because the woman was a damn perfectionist and I didn’t want the look of “more in sorrow than anger” which she sometimes gave people.

As I said, without her, I might not have had the foundation I had, on which to build to writing fiction in English.

As an idea of how the school regarded her: I once passed out in her class.  Yes, I’ve been having these episodes where my potassium gets suddenly extremely low and I pass out since I was 12 or so. This one, I just felt like everything was receding and collapsed in my desk.  Since apparently I go all stiff when I pass out in those circumstances, I later got an earful from the classmates who had to extract me from the desk.

I woke up in the nurse’s office, with three nurses around me, being really nice and saying things like “What did the mean witch say to make you pass out, sweetheart?”

Being me, and still muzzy I said, “Nothing, she’s very nice to me.” At which point they all stepped back and looked at me like I was Satan jr.

Anyway, she was one of three teachers who gave me a recommendation for becoming an exchange student. And once I was placed in the US, she started telling stories of the one and only time she’d come to the US.  She stayed in NYC for 2 nights.  The second night she saw a sign that said “Open all nite” and decided she couldn’t endure that sort of barbarism, so she changed her ticked and flew back home.

She told us, though, that while she was there, she had cheese cake for dinner. We asked her all sorts of questions about it, and she said it was like a pie, and she couldn’t figure out if it was made with cheese, or why they called it that.

So, under the principle of “different cultures.”  In Portugal at the time, cream cheese was unheard of.  In fact, it was only introduced about 20 years ago, and it was a “luxury” type thing, so people would put out cream cheese on crackers (with nothing else) to be classy.

In fact, there were two kinds of cheese: a gouda type, and “da serra” which is a runny cheese made with sheep’s milk and very tangy.

Before that class was over we all had come up with ways and reasons that we could make a “gouda type” cheese pie.  I no longer remember if I tried one of the ideas out, or not. If so, it was nothing like cheese cake, but might have been good (or at least I don’t remember any spectacular failure around that time.)

I have to say when I found out how cheese cake was actually made it was a little bit of a let down….

Oh, and my dyslexic friend had the same teacher two years later, and had a wonderful grade.  I was very confused, because my friend was at least as smart as I was, but twice as dyslexic.  The woman who thought “nite” was enough of a violation of the English language to shun an entire country had given her a B?  How in heck.

Later when I was in the school to apply for some papers I needed for college I met the teacher.  She’d gone from all dour and authoritarian to all smiles and really sweet.  As she walked away one of the school employees told me that the teacher’s boyfriend’s wife had died and he’d finally married the teacher about a year ago “And she’s been all flowers and butterflies since.”

So, I guess there is much to say for love at any age.  I’m sure the lady is gone now. Or if not very very old.  But without her none of this — including this blog — would exist. Or not in English.

If I figure out how to make a pie with a Gouda type cheese I’m going to name it after her.

214 thoughts on “A Propos Nothing

    1. Melty tangy cheese with berries… Mm.

      Btw, I bought heavy whipping cream at Walmart yesterday and ended up putting it on various stuff, as a bid to lower the glycemic index, and help myself out of having a lot of non-diabetic, reactive hypoglycemia attacks lately. It worked well.

      But a little bit of strawberries drowned with heavy cream? It was like an anti-stress drug or something, maybe because of the polyphenols. Geez. And it stuck to my ribs. And I feel so much better today.

          1. Treatment for RH is … what works for you …

            Does this work? No.
            Okay try this … Yes, until it doesn’t …

            What works for me? Answer comes under IDK or DIIK.

            And this is when I actually pay attention & don’t just “put up with the symptoms”. What is inadequate? (FWIW written with sarcasm, to be clear) “Don’t eat refined sugar items (sweets) on an empty stomach.” <– This is what I was told almost 33 years ago! A lot more information now than then.

            Actual … it is okay to eat refined sugar if your BS is already high and you are going to crash anyway … No mention that carbs might, maybe, be a contributor to high BS (including high grain, low refined, products). No mention that substitute sugars might be just as bad or worse, go carb free or low carb, no sugar, your insulin is still triggered, but it reacts on what little BS there is, making a too low, which is bad; very, very, bad. About the only thing that doesn't trigger insulin is not eating, anything. Which obviously not an answer.

            Also, what is "too fast of a drop/crash?" Only answer I can get from medical personnel is "Know it when we see it?" Another thing medical didn't tell me on diagnosis? Yes, it is legal to go get yourself a glucose monitor & glucose strips without a prescription for them. Now can you catch the crash pattern following diabetic check times? No. More like you have to check every 10 to 15 minutes, which, trust me is not fun over time.

            Anyone else with RH — YMMV, is an understatement.

            Might be venting a bit. It is frustrating.

            1. Yeeeah, the don’t eat sweets or have soda advice won’t work for me. Just doesn’t. I don’t know if I have RH or nondiabetic hypoglycaemia, though it’s probably the latter in some form, since it seems some kin have diabetes and I don’t… but I have been prone to hypoglycaemic symptoms so I kinda graze all the time – if I remember to eat! But it’s noticeably worse when I have to physically exert myself and going out of the house, I always have candy or some snacks to nibble on. Lessons learned from when I was a teen.

              I guess I’ll keep going as before.

            2. I’ve been diagnosed with Type II diabetes for over 20 years, and yeah, the finger poke can be annoying. (I’ve had the best comfort with Accu-chek softclix lancets, and now use a OneTouch Verio meter–much less expensive in use than the Ultra it replaced.) Lancets are available from the ‘zon, but I’d rather use a retail pharmacy for strips. (Oh yeah, strips are covered by standard Medicare, but I’ve not used that. Rather do the work myself and pay cash. The doc does a hemoglobin A1-C every 6 months as a check, anyhow.)

              Noninvasive measurement sounds wonderful, but a quick websearch shows a lot of development, but nothing much in the realm of real hardware.

              1. Annoying, annoying. . .

                On the other hand, the testing made me lose weight because of waiting two hours to test. (And the habit of two hours even when I tested at a different time.)

                1. Yes. Annoying works. If I’m testing to track what is going on, forget every 2 hours. Try every 10 minutes. That hurts. Now I only test, maybe, if I’m symptomatic or the tattle teller forces me to (like digs me out of bed & herds me to the kitchen). She gets rewarded when she is right … and she’s never wrong. I don’t feel the very lows anymore. When hiking she doesn’t herd me to the tester (I’m carrying it), she tattles to dad.

                  1. There’s tech out there – usually involving a sub-dermal patch – that can constantly check and record your glucose without pricks. Being fairly new it’s still somewhat expensive, isn’t always as accurate as pricks and requires a prescription to get, but it’s there and getting better. I know my Wal-Mart carries the Free Libre system, for example.

                    Look up “continuous glucose monitoring.”

                    1. Yes. There are at least two versions. Have researched it. Prescription is the key … It would be a good diagnostics tool. Reality check. It is expensive. I have lousy prescription coverage. Might be covered under medical device. But doctor said no.

                      I use the sticks to check against symptoms, & verify low alerts. Otherwise it was to see what was going on to ask questions of my physician. Not that he had any answers, but I tried.

                      Even just double checking the low alerts have given me some good information. Low Fat Yogurt, is off the list. No wonder I’m hungry every 60 minutes. BS 55, AFTER eating, is lower than before … WTH??? It is low calorie not none.

            3. “No. More like you have to check every 10 to 15 minutes, which, trust me is not fun over time.”

              Which is why they’ve started coming out with blood sugar monitors that let you implant a sensor in the back of your arm and just wave the meter at it. Fewer sticks.

              1. From what I’ve seen on the ‘net, truly noninvasive monitors (no injections or implants) are either under research, or the developers are busy trying to crowdfund to do the research. My handwavium/Bovine excrement detector redlined the fifth time I read “you’ll get the results on your smartphone” without any mention of just how the measurement was going to happen.

                OTOH, the continuous monitors seem to work for $ufficient level$ of intere$t, but yeah, they need something implanted or injected. These seem to be intended for the insulin pump users.

                Me, I’d love to have an at-home INR/Prothrombin time meter, but I doubt my Medigap coverage would handle it for my needs, and 20% of way too much is still too much. (Last I looked, the consumables were ferocious.)

                1. One of the non invasive research methods is using saliva instead of blood. Either not ready for prime time, or so new it is horribly expensive. After all saliva is how diabetic alert animals are trained. *Empirical evidence have alert SA beating low alerts of continual monitoring & for some even standard glucose monitoring. The animal will alert, devices haven’t alerted, double check with glucose monitor … shrugged off as a false alert, then 15 to 20 minutes later, device alert goes off. Doesn’t take long before you believe your SA. Devices aren’t missing the lows, they just aren’t as fast as detecting them.

                  * Join SD groups where diabetics discuss their devices VS their SD. Do not know of any formal research.

                2. My kids were discussing creating some medical machinery that’s less invasive/easier to use at home. Partly to cut down on panicked ER visits, and alternately to get people in when they need it.
                  Both being in the last year (Please LORD) of their degrees, it has been shelved, but they’re talking of trying to move to the same city so they can get on it, again.
                  So, keep fingers crossed. I don’t understand a word they say when they’re talking of their specialties, mind you, but they both seem solid.

    2. Cheese da Serra was expensive and most people only bought it at Christmas. If someone said “I’m going out for cheese, it was “yellow cheese” i.e. gouda-like.
      (I still like the Portuguese version better.)

  1. My German wife makes a killer cheesecake by whipping egg whites then blending softened cream cheese into them. Kind of like eating a cloud.

    My ex and I moved to Switzerland and were told that there was a place in Schwyz that made the best cheesecake in Switzerland. We dutifully made the pilgrimage only to discover it was a bread-like substance made with Swiss Cheese (Emmentaler I think). A total bummer at the time (1970s), this past May my German wife and I visited again and enjoyed the experience greatly. I’m not nearly as parochial as I was before I lived 8+ years in CH.

    1. the pastry chef for the German Beer Hall at the 1984 World’s Fair would from time to time stay with us when I lived in Louisiana. He made a cheesecake that was so rich, eating a small slice was like eating a whole cheesecake of any other variety. For a time he had a bakery in Tampa, I think, and that was one of his big sellers.

    1. No, they got married when his wife died. Like, within a month, I later found out. It was a little scandalous, but when you are in your late fifties and have been “friends” forever. Well….

    2. Being able to be respectable and live together, had they been lovers before that, would have been a huge relief.

    1. Hmm… Not that one… Not that one… No, not this one either…

      Ah, HERE’S the carp with your name on it! Now c’mere…

  2. Reminds me of a music teacher Little Brother and I both had back in middle school. Mr Y, we’ll call him.

    When I had him, kids feared Mr. Y, because he was hands-down the meanest teacher in the school. If you made a mistake, didn’t know the answer, or asked to use the restroom (if it was a bad day) he’d yell and scream and curse at you until you cried.

    When Little Brother had him three years later, all the kids LOVED Mr. Y. He was the nicest teacher in the school, never raised his voice, let kids get away with murder.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

    Come to find out that when I had him, he was at the tail end of a rather miserable marriage that had just transitioned into an even more miserable divorce. By the time Little Brother had him, he was in a new relationship that I believe turned into an extremely happy marriage a few years later.

      1. hmm. ya’know I had a 4th grade teacher who seemed to hate everyone (me especially) and some years later was a favorite of most of her students, and a marriage was involved in the meantime.

        1. Everyone in my high school was terrified of the German teacher — he was a genuine German import and a little tin god in the classroom. Last I heard of him, he’d locked his wife in a closet and stabbed her some large number of times (not sure if it killed her), and had been carted off by the men in white coats. No one was even vaguely surprised.

          1. Gottinhimmel!

            [Note: when those three words are run together, it becomes a separate word, an exclamation of shock, surprise, dismay, and the like. It’s not textbook German, but I heard/hear it not rarely {No, I do not cause such exclamations.}]

  3. By the way I found what I believe to be the source paper for the 24-day coronavirus incubation claims.

    It is a lot better than it sounds: average 3-day incubation, with extreme outliers out to 24 days.

    1. The issue I have with all the papers I’ve seen on incubation period/contagious-while-asymptomatic is there’s not any good way to adjust for the “We didn’t have enough test kits so we only tested the sickest folks” bias, to say nothing of the “I did not count viral pneumonia cases because I don’t want to get transferred to be a reeducation camp doctor in Xianjiang” bias.

      The best patient set for this type of study might be that cruise ship in Japan – basically a captive study pool, known exposure and otherwise isolated, and away from any influence by the commies.

      But there’s too much funny business built into any raw data from China for me to be happy with any studies based on that.

        1. “I didn’t test the person whose dad is the local party undersecretary because I’m not stupid – I called it flu and sent him home with tamiflu, and if he dies I’ll call it viral pneumonia rather than put the party undersecretary’s house in quarantine.”

      1. Had to take Em to the doctor yesterday, and that was his take on it: the cruise ship is being treated as a semi controlled test environment; recording and testing constantly.

  4. When I was watching “Bear in the Big Blue House” way back with the kids, one of the episodes had the little mouse writing to his grandma about all the things he was thankful that she had done for him. One of the lines was, “Thanks for the chocolate cakes covered in cheese.”

    I’d rather have a cheesecake covered in chocolate myself. 🧀

    1. I don’t know, depends on the cheese. A chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting could be absolutely delightful.

    2. I’ve got a recipe for that. Raspberries are included.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t made one since the local stores stopped selling chocolate pie crusts, and I haven’t felt sufficiently motivated to make one from scratch.

  5. it turned out she had a lover (?) or perhaps boyfriend, she had been in love with for 20 years. They couldn’t marry, because his wife was insane and in a madhouse, but he was Catholic and wouldn’t divorce her…She’d gone from all dour and authoritarian to all smiles and really sweet.  As she walked away one of the school employees told me that the teacher’s boyfriend’s wife had died and he’d finally married the teacher about a year ago “And she’s been all flowers and butterflies since.”

    That sounds like a plot from either a gothic novel or one of the Portuguese/Brazilian soap operas we were talking about a couple of days ago. No wonder you didn’t watch them; you lived them.

    So, I guess there is much to say for love at any age.

    I’ve been noodling with an idea for a romance novel about an older woman (58 is what I’m thinking) who has never had a successful relationship but refuses to give up on finding love. Not sure if there’s an audience for such a thing, but I’d still like to try.

    1. Yes, I also thought it was like a gothic novel. So, though there were rumors around back then, I DID NOT BELIEVE THEM.
      Until she married him. 😀
      I think there would be a large audience, because readers are skewed older these days, and often towards retirement when people have TIME to read.

      1. I am certainly weary of youthful protagonists, and welcome the middle-aged and elderly characters.

  6. Collective nouns… oddly, I have no idea of what the proper, and also acceptable, term for a group of minotaurs is – I’ve seen a couple suggestions, which I emphatically reject.

    I’ve seen a “Blessing of Unicorns” more than once, and the local Caribou coffee (FAR superior to Starbucks – not burnt!) kiosk has a daily trivia question. Once was “What is a group of owls called?” I related that “I have no idea, but wouldn’t that be a hoot? But you’ll be hearing that all day.” Only to be told that 1. The correct answer is “Parliament” and 2. I would likely be the only one to come with such a reply. The next day, it was confirmed. Rather sad, I thought. So many passing up such a perfect straight-line setup… maybe ox not THAT slow? Of course, people are expected to answer before they get the caffeine, so maybe that explains some of it?

            1. Just as it is a gaggle of geese on the ground but a skein of geese in flight, we can have both amiabilities and stampedes albeit probably not at the same time and place.

                  1. By what authority are these things established?

                    Seriously, the only authority I’ve been able to find is either “Tradition!” or “dang, it sounds cool.”

                    1. Note:
                      I adore most of the group-terms, and even have an “attempted murder” shirt (with two crows on it).

                      But much like the attempts to force Latin grammar on English, I gotta go: who says?

      1. Considering a couple of the suggestions, herd is downright MILD and worthy of at least toleration if not to be truly endorsed. Range… is worthy of consideration.

    1. A Multiplicity of Minotauri?

      I can understand your $HOUSEMATE. Some people just can’t abide the taste or smell of licorice; and I imagine a fennel cake would be rather pungent.

          1. I made the mistake of putting fennel in the crockpot with some chicken once. It was… an unfortunate smell.

            The rest of it got shopped and fried in butter. That was much better.

            1. One of my roommates and I were collaborating on a dinner. Started with stew meat and we were going through the spice rack. Things were going swimmingly until we hit the “Cs”. Cloves in fact. A most pecuilar taste and odor, but we salvaged dinner with a large quantity of beans in the stew. I think we got some odd looks from our other roommates, but we didn’t confess.

              1. I once got a wild hair and decided to cook calf liver in lime juice. No recipe involved, just a wild hair.

                It was… odd. Not bad, but …odd. And every bite was …odd, all the way to the end.

                I don’t think we’ll do that again…

    2. Do minotaurs have a collective noun? I’m not sure if they form collectives. Classical mythology only has the one. But if they do, I might say “a trampling of minotaurs.”

      1. Well, although my sample-size is low (but n>1), we ARE anti-socialist as far as I can tell.

        Also, trampling doesn’t solve everything. Though it IS oft tempting, I admit.

        1. A quick recourse to Duck, Duck, Go reveals the suggested collective for Minotaurdom would be Snarl.

          I misdoubt the authority of the source, however, as she appears to be a free-lance editrix: http://lisaswritopia.com/a-snarl-of-minotaurs/

          Other sources assert that wallabies come by the mob, is is as base a slander as ever has been uttered. It is quite widely acknowledged by all informed entities that wallabies, being inordinately orderly personages would never mob, although we are sometimes known to gather ’round informally for a good tale.

              1. I fear that was likely a typo, the proper term being a fondue, as in “a fondue of unicorns.”

                Although I gather there are those who insist on a pit barbecue …

    3. I have to agree with you about burnt coffee. Yuck!

      I recently tried a breakfast/brunch restaurant in my area that is supposed to be well known for how wonderful their coffee is. NOPE! BURNT! The waitress had asked if I wanted dark or medium roast and I went with medium in the hopes it wouldn’t be burnt, but it was anyway.

      I’ve been told that the whole burnt coffee thing happened because when the very first Starbucks opened, they accidentally burned the coffee but they had used up all their money opening the store that they couldn’t afford to throw it out. So they served it anyway. Apparently, people liked it that way so they kept doing it. No idea how true that is or not.

      Have you thought of a Drift of Minotaur?

      1. I think folks developed the taste for the burnt coffee because you can actually taste the coffee– I really like dark roasts, am annoyed by the burnt roasts, but good heavens I am so sick of the “I just paid five dollars for super-sweet hot chocolate” stuff.

        A really good mocha hits the same notes as very strong, dark chocolate.

        Making the hot chocolate with not quite as much sugar and burnt coffee is closer than the chocolate milk stuff.

        1. A friend — okay, Mackey Chandler — just sent me some coffee — JUST coffee — which with a dollop of cream tastes like really strong dark chocolate. I’m rather enjoying it.

    4. I actually would have KNOWN ‘Parliament of Owls’. No idea where I learned it (though it was long before that was used as a name for a bunch of baddies in Batman), but once the image was in my head, there was no way I was going to forget. Same for A Murder of Crows.

    5. >> “Collective nouns… oddly, I have no idea of what the proper, and also acceptable, term for a group of minotaurs is”

      Hmm… A Load of Bull? 😛

      1. Unless minotaurs are monosexual (e.g., all are product of crossbreeding of bovine and human) this seems sexist. Would the distaff portion be termed a Flop of Cows?

  7. Low-carb desserts from cheese seem like a good idea, because most desserts need something to give them structure, and flour and sugar are both out (that’s why “flourless cakes” don’t work as a low-carb dessert, despite sounding perfect for them; they rely on the sugar to be the structure, and Splenda doesn’t cut it). I remember that in my “low carb cookbook,” about half the desserts were either cheesecakes or something else that used cream cheese.

    1. Eggs are often used for structure in some things, but their ability to grant cake-like consistency is decidedly limited (though there’s a recipe out there called, “Oopsies” that uses meringue to produce the “leavened” effect for a bread substitute, but I have found that it only works well in small batches).

      Apparently the “fathead dough,” which is made with mozzarella, almond flour and eggs, can be modified to make a bunch of different things: ditchthecarbs.com , and I am trying some of them. I like the pizza that you can make with it.

  8. I’ve layered some cheddar among apples when making an apple pie before to good result. I bet you could do the same with a gouda-like cheese and apples (or even a pear-and-gouda pie). Worth experimenting with.

    The trick to doing a cheddar-apple pie is to not use a pie filling, but to use raw apples. Layer of apples, sprinkle some sugar, layer of cheese, layer of apples, sprinkle some sugar, layer of cheese. When you get to the top, dot some butter all over the top then put the top crust on. Typical apple pie spices (like cinnamon) tend to make it weird to me, but you might try it anyway.

    1. Not sure which cheeses would work, but I could see cinnamon working with some.

      Then, I’ve threatened to make brownies with chopped onion (or other… things…) for 1 April.

      I am, evidently, forbidden from recreating the fennel (not funnel) cake of some years ago as $HOUSEMATE has the silly idea that the aroma of such yum “stunk up the house.”

        1. On the other hand, when eating a Reese’s cup, how many times do you eat just one? When eating an apple, how many times do you eat more than one? If the answer to both questions is “seldom”, then habitually snacking on apples will, long-term, end up adding less sugar into your diet than habitually snacking on Reese’s.

          As with all things, it’s the dose that matters in the end.

          1. Some years ago I ran roughly that experiment on myself…
            Felt a bit hungry.. had a measured amount of frosted animal cookies. Result: WANT MOAR!
            Drank some water. Still: WANT MOAR!
            Ate an apple (or other fruit of about the same size). Result: Satiety.
            Drank some water. Still: Sated.
            Sampled a cookie or two. Result: MOAR!

            Lesson: For me, anyway, a bit of fruit is a better snack than Highly Processed Stuff (which is, generally, flour with LOTS of sugar).

      1. Walmart here has pie crusts made from pecans or walnuts. I got one to try with cheesecake.

        Cheesecake filling using the off-the-shelf mix in lieu of baking: use Walmart’s house-brand mix, NOT the namebrand; it contains more cheese powder, and is not as sweet. Add the prescribed amount of milk, and up to 16 oz. total of cream cheese (the big loaf stuff from Costco is really good), sour cream, and/or buttermilk (the old thick kind will set up; the thinner kind with fake butter lumps will not). Beat the living crap out of it until it’s almost as stiff as you want (it won’t set up much more after that), and dump into the prepared butter-graham (seasoned rather than sweetened) or nut crust.

  9. One of the lunches of my childhood was cream cheese and olive sandwiches: slices or chopped black olives mixed with cream cheese and spread on bread. I lately tried making that spread (using Neufchatel, which is lighter) and it still tasted good.

  10. Not REALLY related, but your description of this woman as something of a force of nature reminded me of stories my brother tells from when his wife had thyroid cancer.

    He said when they walked into the hospital for her procedure, it was early, and the people looked kind of sleepy and not ready to be working yet. But when he gave the doctor’s name, EVERYONE sat up (or stood up) straight and did their best imitation of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

    He said the hospital had built a whole WING just for this doctor, but had to put it some distance from where the patients would be (or something – there was a long distance involved somehow). The doctor told them he didn’t think it was good to have to go basically all the way around the hospital to get from the one place to another, so they remodeled again to give a straight shot of a hallway just so his patients could get there more easily.

  11. she saw a sign that said ‘Open all nite’ and decided she couldn’t endure that sort of barbarism

    Who could blame her? What Americans do to English spelling, much less our horrendous treatment of punctuation (not least the apostrophe abuse) would bring me to tears daily were I not so inured to it. I am sure she achieved full comprehension of Henry Higgens’ plaint, “There even are places where English completely disappears, In America, they haven’t used it for years!”

    1. There’s equal opportunity at play, too. The local pronunciation for the Des Plaines river in the Chicago area is “des planes” (long ‘a’, accent even on both words). $SPOUSE speaks some French, and she winces on hearing that…

      1. Kay-ro Illinois, Ver-sales Kentucky, El Doe-ray-doe Arkansas, and Berdoo, California…

        “All your words are belong to U.S.”

        1. An acquaintance in college at U of Redacted was from Very Southern Illinois. He insisted that the proper pronunciation for the town was as in the syrup: “Karo”. Milage may vary.

          OTOH, several places in Michigan with French names seem to have more-or-less proper pronunciation. I suspect that the trappers spent more time in MI than in IL. Woods versus prairie should be a factor.

        2. Pierre, South Dakota, pronounced ‘Pier’. And Natchitoches, Louisiana, pronounced ‘Nack-i-tosh’.

            1. You recall to mind a jest popular among Kentuckians in my youth:

              Q: Is the proper pronunciation of Kentucky’s capitol “Louie-vill” or Lewis-vill”?

              A: Frankfurt

    2. The English aren’t really all that much better. In fact ‘Proper (fill in name of language)’ is usually ducking the whole issue of the language in question as it is actually used.

        1. You’ve inverted the sequence. properly, the question should be, “What kind of freaks would spell ‘-borrow’ as -burgh?

          The answer being, the same kind as would spell “wooster” as Worcester and “SinJin” as Saint-John.

          It is all a plot to embarrass tourists or, like the Soviet maps, expose spies.

        2. “What kinds of freaks would pronounce -burgh as ‘-borrow’?”

          According to a Scottish engineer friend, everyone who doesn’t want to be spotted as a Yankee tourist ripe for shearing, although he pronounced it closer to “burrow”.

      1. Then there are the navy terms – inherited from the Brits. Boatswain- bosun,, or just bos’n. There are few others, but it’s late at night…. and I just finished my wine.

        1. Right-o. Gunwale, pronounced ‘gunnel’. Haul yard -halyard. Not to mention the sails. Latrine, pronounced ‘ head’.

  12. This teacher sounds fascinating, the kind that everyone remembers years later (not always for the best reasons, see “getting smacked in the head with a dictionary.”)

  13. I like a little cheese cake every once in awhile.

    When I went to APCO (professional training for police dispatchers) we had to give a demonstration speech. I gave mine on making a simple cheesecake. One package softened cream cheese. One large container sour cream. One package of instant Jello Vanilla Pudding. Mixing them together by hand, no electric mixer, was a bear. We got to eat it at the end of the lesson.

  14. Shredded gouda works well in quiche with sauteed zucchini & onions if I wanted to make a dessert with gouda I would try making an apple/gouda quiche.

    1. I was thinking of a sort of sweetish white pizza, with honey, walnuts, shredded apple, thin slices of potato, with gouda. Thought of caramelized onion, potato and gouda quiche too, but my brain keeps wanting to add some tart fruity redness, like currants, dried cherries, etc. Hm…

  15. The demented process that passes for thought in my mind came up with this as I read this thread.

    1. Number the First: Monty Python sketches are always an appropriate response.

      Number the Second: It struck me later in life, after I learned about the politics of the Pythons, that this sketch was pretty darned ironic given that the USSR was still up and running at the time it was filmed, and it was widely known that stores ub the Workers Paradise featured empty shelves most of the time, even in Moscow.

      “Ha ha, silly shop has nothing to sell, precisely the way all of Britain would be if we implemented my politics!”

      Number the Third: Still really funny, though.

  16. Mr. B., also English; shoulda been a college professor. I had him for poetry, Shakespeare, and college comp.. Gave us A Shropshire Lad XIX (subtitled To an Athlete Dying Young), untitled, and asked, “What is this?” Most answers were along the lines of ‘an award presentation citation’ or ‘a celebratory writeup for a local paper’. I raised my hand and said it was a eulogy. Mr. B. asked if anyone else thought that way, When no one did, he told me to take my desk and sit in the corner, then explain why I had this outre interpretation. If anyone else became convinced of my viewpoint, they would come and sit with me. By the end of that period I had everybody ‘in my corner’, and I was vindicated when he revealed the subtitle of the poem.

  17. On the subject of volcanic teachers,

    First of all, there’s Mr. King from STALKY & CO., especially from the story ‘Regulus’

    But I had one in my life, too. Mr. Cosmo DiBiasio, aka ‘the rock troll’. Broken nose, cauliflower ears (nobody had the guts to ask if he’d been a boxer) and generally built like a fireplug. Taught ‘Earth Science’. It was a State requirement, and even in the mid ‘70’s was a squishy Green subject in the public schools. In our school, it was geology. He was a decent teacher, but had scant patience for shenanigans, and I once saw him literally throw a student up against a wall. Since the nitwits in question had been bullying an underclassman, nobody was too shocked.

    I liked him, in general, though I once an argument with him about a grade (he never gave 100%, and I had gotten every damn question on a quiz right). But a lot of the other boys claimed to be scared of him.

    1. > never gave 100%

      I had a few of those. As demotivators, they were quite effective.

      Same with the ones who randomly assigned grades by their estimation of how hard they thought you worked.

      Then there were the ones who graded by what church you went to. That actually got my parents involved, and the state school board, who didn’t see anything wrong with the practice.

      “No credit, no work.” I didn’t give a damn about their Fs, I didn’t want to be there anyway.

      1. To Pa: “You’re doing A work, but since i think you can do better, I’m giving you a B.”

        Pa: “Screw this. If I’m only gonna get a B anyway, why bother doing A work for this doofus?”

  18. Isn’t a gouda pie basically a pizza? :p
    But for real, something like a fruit tart with cubes of cheese sounds amazing.

    1. i know the terminology and all, but whenever I hear a pizza called a pie, I figure it’s NOT something I want to risk trying. And if it’s just ” ‘za ” that goes quintuple.

  19. Off topic, and I hope folks don’t mind that I share this observation.

    Was listening to this and just remembered how post Sad Puppies, Worldcon changed their rules so only their approved ones could win. It often seems like the time and events of SP and tangentially, GamerGate, are being echoed now, on a national, or global scale.

    It’s both disturbing and facepalm inducing. Where are the grown ups?

    1. Any state where Republicans retake the legislature after such a bill has been passed, the newly-elected legislature had better make it a priority to repeal it. If the bill contains any “this cannot be repealed once passed” clauses repeal it anyway and point out, loudly, that such clauses are null and void short of amending the state constitution.

    2. 1. Won’t it be HILARIOUS if Trump wins the popular vote and VA is NOT part of that?

      2. Or, the best thing for a VA voter to do is spend just enough time somewhere sane to establish ‘residency’ and vote there instead.

      1. And then we invoke section 2 of the 14th Amendment and strip them of their right to have people in Congress.

    3. For GamerGate, it wasn’t that they were unusually targeted– it’s that it didn’t work.

      Usually, the whole “favors for positive reviews” went one of two ways– fire/apologize for the lapse) or destroy the accuser. (depending on how obvious and long term it was) I know some of the non-sex versions, they chose wrong and it destroyed the publications because they seemed to have no issue with selling influence.

      In this case, they went with the “destroy the accuser” choice… but gamers are geeks. Most of us grew up with the various social manipulation attempts, and are at least randomly good at seeing through attempted manipulation, so it didn’t work.

      It’s not that it’s new, it’s that it didn’t work like normal.

  20. Even though this post isn’t really about cheese – tonight (as in right now) I’m enjoying Showmmmz (yes, 3 M’s) imported from France with a Malbec from Argentina. Yesterday I was enjoying one with the cutesy name of “Come Ash You Are” from Belgium, along with a French Brie. We usually have a Brie in the house. A milder one that everyone else will eat. The more intense ones when I’m in the mood for one. I’ve always thought of cheeses as a European thing, from all over Europe. Introduced to various cheeses by my Uncle Bill, a merchant sailor from Jan 1942 to the mid 1970s. Vision too poor to join the Navy or Army. My local Wegmans has cheese from those two countries as well as Italy, Germany, and Holland, and a few others. As well as cheeses from here, central NY, mostly varieties of cheddar. I’ve enjoyed goat, buffalo, and sheep milk cheeses from Wegmans as well as the standard cow milk cheeses. Cheeses are a pretty safe thing to eat when you’re overseas. But- I cannot recall ever seeing a Portuguese cheese for sale at Wegmans, or anywhere else. I’ll have to look for one in the city stores – they carry a wider variety. I can’t get my Port Salut (France) at the local store, I get it in Rochester.

    Melons are another safe thing to eat anywhere you happen to be. I’ve enjoyed all kinds of exotic melons overseas. And, Wegmans now carries at different times of years all kinds of exotic melons, as well as new hybrids. Cantaloupe with a green honeydew like inside, and Honeydews with an orange inside… and I had a watermelon one day with a yellow inside, that wan’t labeled as having that. I didn’t like it that much, but wife and daughter did. And Crenshaws – they’re good.

    Ah, safe to eat. If you’ve got a cast iron stomach, probably everything anywhere anywhere you go is safe to eat. I have a pretty wide tolerance, but… On my first visit to Korea our Hospital Corpsman advised us not to eat any fruit or vegetable that couldn’t be peeled. He went on to tell us that the Korean fruit stands would have these wonderfully red luscious looking red strawberries, and to never, ever, ever eat them. The Koreans used (and maybe still do) raw human excrement for strawberry fertilizer. He wasn’t lying. The fruit stands had these wonderful luscious looking strawberries. They also had bananas, priced by the each, not the pound. I bought and ate a few of those.

    I don’t recall ever seeing any cheeses for sale in Asian markets. Not that I was looking for them. But I’ve since found out it’s a major faux pas if you’re hosting a bunch of Japanese and serve a variety of cheeses. Us people of European descent can smell and eat quite a variety of cheese. Some even enjoy Limburger. The closest I’ve come to eating Limburger is smelling it from a foot or more away…. Apparently Japanese walk into a roomful of cheese, and all they smell is spoiled milk. Which kind of makes sense, since really, all cheese is, is spoiled milk.

    BTW, I dislike cheesecake. Just don’t like it at all. Any kind, any variety. We go to The Cheesecake Factory on a regular basis. My wife and kids love cheesecake, many varieties. I used to get one of the two chocolate cake options they had. But since I now take metformin with every meal, I try to avoid doing so. I will sometimes…..

    1. Forgot to mention – Even though I enjoy a variety of fancy and sometimes expensive cheeses, one of my favorites is Velveeta in Ritz crackers. I read somewhere once the French don’t consider Velveeta to be cheese, and look down upon those of us who enjoy it. Their loss.

      1. I like Velveeta a lot, but after closely reading the ingredient list, I was forced to admit my husband’s contention that it is not cheese. Two of the three lead ingredients are whey and something whey-based, which makes it in some sense the opposite of cheese. I was shaken. :laughing:

        Still delicious!

        1. Way back one, a chemistry teacher gave a list of several items, but only by chemical content or precursor, NOT by product name. Most were if not easy, at least manageable to decipher. Two, very close in their listings, seemed nigh-impossible. Turns out, supposedly, that one was ‘expanded polystyrene’ (“styrofoam” though not necessarily) and the other was… Cool Whip. I no longer which one had the slightly shorted listing.

          1. My mom has a bunch of ingredient lists somewhere– they look horrifying.

            They’re for stuff like “banana” and “carrot” and “apple.”

            Which, in ingredient listings, can be listed as just “natural fruit (flavor, product, pulp, etc).”

            1. I want to take a big list of those and hand them to one of these idiots who say, “Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.” Then tell them they have to starve.

              1. Having watched video of Zack Gottsagen (accompanied by Shia LaBeouf) struggling to read that card at the Oscars all I can think of is “Articulation Privilege!”

        2. A counter-argument– did you check the ingredients on cheese?

          Paging through them, pretty much ANY processing involves adding whey and whey product back in– which makes sense, when you consider that the process of making a hard cheese involves squeezing it out. If you don’t want it that hard, you don’t remove as much.

          1. And this is why the Daisy branded products get prefered. The ingredient list is short, simple, and sensible.

            “Only eat what you can pronounce” only works if one has neither a linguist, nor a chemist bent. I am no linguist, but… I get chemical or drug names stuck in my mind rather than songs. so… yeah.

            1. Only eat what you can pronounce is a bad rule :-). I’m certain most English speakers can pronounce Hydrogen Cyanide or Prussic Acid, but eating either will be rather unpleasant and likely fatal. Similarly I’ll bet everyone here has eaten Methyl Salicylate. Its the primary flavor/scent note in Wintergreen and Peppermint. I went to a very crunchy granola private high school and you can’t image the number of times I scored a peppermint patty by telling the prissy back to nature types that the treat they’d gotten from the vending machine contained that vile chemical. Chem teacher heard me do it one time. He had to control himself, though he did make me promise to stop as he felt it was unfair to engage in mental combat with the tragically unequipped.

          2. Okay, fair, that’s a point I hadn’t considered. Also, I just checked the Velveeta box in the fridge and it actually starts off “Skim milk, milk, milk protein concentrate” — whey is fifth — so either I misremembered the list or I forgot I was looking at one of the store-brand versions.

            1. When I did an image search, I found four variations.

              But “milk, milk product, whey, whey protein” vs “milk, skim milk, whey product” vs so and so forth didn’t seem too relevant. 😀

              It does make me wonder the practical sides of making cream cheese or other soft, spreading cheeses– do they vat-cure and mix the whey back in? That wouldn’t be labeled, but it’s the same process…..

          3. This reminds me of the old Kraft cheese commercials. They made a big deal about how some “cheeses” are made from chemicals, like casein.

            (long, loud album-scratching sound) WAITAMINNIT! “Casein” is in MILK!

            1. Oh, COOL! I didn’t know that was the technical term for milk proteins!

              (My brain corrected it to “the stuff that makes hot peppers hot,” which is why I run and go look for stuff like that.)

              1. It’s even funnier than that. It’s not ALL milk proteins. But it’s a lot of the protein that comes out in curds….

              2. I learned about Casein in milk before I ever heard of capsaicin (or capsicum, whichever), so I didn’t make that mistake, though I may have made it the other direction, but I don’t remember.

                The commercial I refer to first ran sometime in the mid-to-late ’70s.

                1. My favorite example of Marketers’ idiocy is the “Certs has Retsyn!” line — Retsyn being the corporate trademarked name for vegetable oil.

                  More specifically, from the Health Sciences Institute: “According to the web site for Cadbury Adams (the maker of Certs), Retsyn is ‘a combination of partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, copper gluconate and flavoring.’ ”

                1. A quick check reveals the proper spelling is Capsaicin.

                  I believe you were thinking of Capsassin, which is a killer variant of the chemical.

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