Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fair Isle knitting -- joining the round

Now that you have cast on your stitches, you have to join it into a round and this can be tricky.  I'm going to give specific directions and later you can figure out your own way.

And I have to apologize to lefties because I can only give instructions for a righty.

First, you have to find the end of yarn that leads to your skein and follow it to the needle.

Now turn the last thread on the needle until that yarn points to your right.

Clamp the fingers of your right hand on it.

Now with your left hand, follow the cast-on stitches around the tether of the needle, pushing them toward your right hand and curving the tether into a circle with an opening at the top where the nickel-plated points are.  Make sure that all the stitches are at the inside of the circle and the whole sort of seam that joins them is on the outside, and THERE ARE NO TWISTS IN THE SEAM. 

You will transfer the stitches toward your right hand as you check out the seam.  You will have to rotate the cast-on stitches to remove twists from the "seam".

When you get to the left point of the needle, then knit the first stitch from the end of the left point onto the start of the right point, using the yarn that goes to the skein. 

Now re-check that the seam is completely smooth with no twists.  If you find twists, unknit that first stitch again and smooth it.  This is a crucial step because if you twist your yarn you will never be able to set it right later.

This video sort of shows what I mean.  If it looks as if she's knitting with two strands of yarn, well, she simply has a very long strand of scrap yarn.  She actually knits with the yarn that connects to the skein.

Also notice that she puts her marker on before she knits that first stitch.  I tend not to use ring markers.  I use a strand of yarn in a contrasting color that I work up through the rows on both sides so that I know where to start the armholes.

Phew!  It will take you many pieces of knitting before this starts seeming natural.  But you can't knit in the round without doing this step right.  That includes tube sweaters as well as fitted socks on double-point needles.

BUT HOW DO YOU KNIT?  Well, follow the example in the video and next lesson I'll talk you through the knit stitch.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY -- Basic cooking III Saute

It's a short step from browning to sautéing.  And for that we're going to make Salisbury steak.

There are two ways you can make it, one with tomatoes and one with mushrooms.  When I was a kid my mom made it with tomatoes because mushrooms were expensive.  Yeah, that was a long time ago, so what?

1 pound marrow bones or 2 cups canned beef broth

If you use marrow bones, put them in your saucepan, cover with water, chop in 1/3 cup onion and half a stalk of celery plus half a carrot.  What are we making?  A Mirepoix!  So you know you have to bring this to a boil and then turn the heat to 2 1/2 and simmer at least an hour.  You can make this in advance.

You can also cook your rice in advance.  1 cup rice in 1 1/2 cups boiling water, cover and reduce heat for at least 15 minutes to cook through.

1 pound low fat ground beef, 1/3 cup finely chopped onion, couple dashes black pepper; mix together with rice and shape into 4 patties.

BROWN the patties, then add a TABLESPOON of oil and 1 cup sliced mushroom caps.  SAUTE 5 minutes.

Add 2 cups broth, either what you made with the marrow bones and vegetables (leave the veggies in) or what you get out of the can, PLUS 1 TABLESPOON Worcestershire sauce and then another dash of that.  Simmer on 2 1/2  covered.

While the meat simmers, mix 1 TABLESPOON plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 2 TABLESPOONS COLD water.  If you use hot water, you'll get glue immediately.  It has to be cold water. 

Then put your veggies into a small amount of boiling water -- use anything frozen.

Now put the cornstarch mix in the pan with your meat and stir thoroughly.  Cover and let simmer at least 10 minutes while your vegetables cook; the broth should thicken up.

You can use red wine instead of Worcestershire sauce, but should add a dash more black pepper.

So the list of ingredients is: 1 pound low fat ground beef; 1 cup rice; 1 onion; Worcestershire sauce; 1 pound marrow bones or 16 ounces canned beef broth; 8 ounces mushrooms; a box of cornstarch; your favorite frozen vegetables.

I highly recommend learning to make your own marrow bone Mirepoix because next we are going to learn to make gravy base, a roux.  Also canned things have way too much salt in them.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Outdoors -- the Robin

A few years ago a robin perched on my back porch, keening because his parents had made clear he wasn't wanted in the nest.

He decided he was going to live and went around looking for a bush to nest in that some human wouldn't proceed to whack into flinders.  It was a mild winter, he stuck around and found out he could get chokeberries to eat on my back porch.

I heard him a few times this winter and the other day saw him picking up chokeberries.  I think he's also eating the cheaper chopped up mango I put out to see if he would like it. 

The scientific name of the robin refers to the fact that they migrate but this bird is now three years old and has stuck around through more than one winter. 

The ones that do migrate come back about the 3rd week of January looking for berries.  They will strip yews and euonymus in gangs and I believe they also like the orange pyracanthus berries that ferment on the bush and result in loud drunken bird arguments in the spring.  No lie, when I was a kid we had one of these bushes and regularly about the time the snow melted there would be a drunken bird fight around it on the lawn.

So now you know what to plant to feed robins and other birds in the winter: yew; euonymus; pyracanthus (NO the thorns are not poisonous); chokeberry.  Winterberry, a holly bush, also works, I've seen the robin tugging at its berries.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Deuteronomy 25:12

You’ve been meditating on Deuteronomy 25:12 and once again, we have a fight going on.

This time things are a bit reversed.  A and B are fighting, B’s wife comes and grabs A in a very nasty place. 
You know women don’t have that nasty place.  You know that no matter how much damage B’s wife has caused, A cannot retaliate equally. 

But it says to strike off her hand.  How is that fair?  How is that Equal Protection?
The rabbis hated to admit it, but they also found a way to reconcile things.  Two ways, in fact.

One is that the end of the verse is lo tachos eyneycha, your eye shall not be pitiful.  There is another verse with this same set of words, Deuteronomy 19:21.  And it’s a two-fer.  First, it says “your eye shall not be pitiful,” and then it repeats that old formula from Exodus and Leviticus with tachat.  And what is it about?  Two men who have a quarrel.  The rules are that when men have a quarrel, you bring them before the court.  It starts back with Deuteronomy 19:16 where one person testifies falsely against another, and it says the judges look into the quarrel carefully and decide how the case should go.
How does that affect the woman who grabbed the man?  The rabbis said, there was a fight and nobody brought A and B to court.  There was no court to intervene, or no people brought A and B to court because they ignored what was going on.  The only person willing to try to stop the fight, was B’s wife.  All right, she didn’t do it in such a nice way, but she did it.  The rabbis said, B’s wife was an agent of the court and agents of the court cannot be punished for the effects of carrying out the court’s business.  We’re not going to cut off her hand, we are going to “have one law” and fine her for what she did.

I’m going to bring up this same “your eye…” in another context before too much longer, but let’s see how the first Deuteronomy verse helps the rabbis in two ways.
When a woman grabs that nasty place, two things happen.  One is it causes pain.  You guys all know that, right?  The other is that it’s embarrassing. 

We have been talking all this time about something American law calls “battery.”  A battery, in American law, is a harmful or unwanted touching of one person by another.  In Jewish law, it’s physical contact which can result in injury but doesn’t need to.  Originally, we had the requirement to pay doctor bills and lost wages resulting from an actual injury.  Now we have three other possible kinds of damages:
pain, which is how much money a person would accept to allow being put through a given degree of pain;

embarrassment, which depends on one’s social status;
and something called loss in value which I will discuss later, but it goes with the verses in Exodus 21 that I skipped.

The classic case is a man who snatched a woman’s covering off her head.  The court ordered him to pay damages to her for embarrassment.  He thought he shouldn’t owe her anything because of her low social status.  He had a friend break a jug of oil when she was walking in the marketplace, and she ran over, took off her head covering, and scooped up oil in her hand so it wouldn’t be wasted (that’s a concept called bal tashchit which I will discuss much later).  He took her to court as evidence that he shouldn’t have to pay for something that she was perfectly willing to do to herself.  The rabbis said, she shouldn’t have done it, but she had the right because she did it to herself.  You didn’t have the right, and you have to pay the damages.
Jewish law recognizes that touching somebody without their agreement is wrong, whether it causes an injury or not.  That is also “having one law.”  And now to round up the concepts I have been discussing.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Gender

Gender in Hebrew

earth, land, world
spirit, wind

 Hebrew is one of those languages which separates nouns into masculine and feminine genders.  Some languages like Russian also have a neuter gender; Hebrew doesn’t.

Hebrew is also one of those languages which uses certain clues to decide what gender most nouns are, but they are not hard and fast rules.

Most Hebrew nouns ending in a consonant are masculine, and most Hebrew nouns ending in heh with an a under it are feminine but not all.

Of the nouns above, arets and ruach are feminine.  I don’t know why.  Arets is an exception to the clues, but ruach falls into a group of nouns ending in –ach that are mostly feminine.  However, shaliach, the appointed messenger of a community, is masculine .  Another class of nouns that are usually feminine are those ending in –eret; when we get to an example I’ll point it out.

The noun shamaim above is a masculine plural noun; the –im ending is the clue to that.  The plural of arets is artsot, the –ot being the standard feminine plural ending.  So ruchot is the plural of ruach.  You notice some letters are missing from ruchot compared to ruach and from artsot compared to erets; you won’t see that in all feminine plurals but you do in these two and that’s why I pointed it out.

Now for a kicker.  Some languages, like Sanskrit, have a third classification of non-singular noun besides the plural.  It is called the dual.  It always refers to exactly two of whatever. 

Hebrew may have had dual forms for every noun at one point; we don’t know because we’ve never seen a Hebrew text that showed it.

The reason why it’s possible it once existed, is that Hebrew has a dual form for some nouns that almost always come in pairs.  Eynaim, eyes; raglaim, feet.  The –aim ending is for a dual number noun.  So shamaim above might not be a plural noun; it might be a dual noun.  That’s an important detail and it may go with the third verse. 

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT Now that I have your attention: elohim is never a plural noun unless it refers to mortals.  When elohim means Gd, you will always find it with a singular adjective or verb.  In the first verse, bara was the masculine SINGULAR past tense of created.  Jewish culture absolutely rejects the idea that there is more than one deity.  More than one name for the same deity yes, but not more than one deity. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

In one year

Yes, everybody says "I'm going to lose weight next year."

Well, this is different.

I lost 10 pounds in 2013 before Thanksgiving, and I didn't put any pounds on during Thanksgiving because I increased how much I exercised.

The goal for 27 November 2014 is to weigh 180 pounds or to wear size 16 slacks.

I have a home scale that is very unflattering as well as very old and if it reads 180 before the target date, I'll know it's pretty much true.  I also have the "reference slacks", size 16, that I haven't been able to wear. 

The size 18 slacks I've been wearing got loose and comfortable in the last 12 months so I'm doing something right.

Tools:  smaller portion sizes of the right food; good night's sleep; more exercise; less alcohol.

These are all the things I was doing in the last 12 months to get my slacks loose so a) I know it works and 2) I know it's something I can live with.

I'll link back to this post next year so you can see.  Might even post pics.  When I can wear size 16, I look pretty good.

As I know from the last time I could wear size 16, in 1988 after I finished chemotherapy for cancer.

Come on, these are all things your doctor wants you to do anyway.  Work on it!

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fair Isle Knitting -- Casting On

You guessed it.  The slip knot only makes one stitch.  If you want to make a whole -- something -- you need more stitches.

There are at least 3 ways of adding stitches to a knitting project and they are all called casting on.
1.  Thumb method.
2.   Knit on.
3.  Cable on.

I usually cable on because it's a stable, sturdy edge to the garment but my book on Fair Isle knitting says the Shetland knitters always use the thumb method.  Here's a diagram.

Casting on diagram

The key is that the needle tip in your right hand goes under the yarn from right to left, then goes inside the loop, then lifts it off the thumb.  The long end of the yarn that goes to the ball or skein of yarn winds up between the new stitch and the old stitch.  The free end where you made the slip knot moves on down the needle.

Do some thumb casting on with whatever needles you are using to practice, but to do real Fair Isle knitting you need what's called a "circular needle."  You should practice with what you're going to use, so get a nickel-plated set of double pointed needles (dpn) that are size 3 (American) with at least a 16 inch tether.  If you're not using American measurements, get needles that are 3.25 millimeters on a tether that is 40 centimeters long.  Cast on 344 stitches. 

Next lesson I'm going to talk about a very fussy aspect of knitting in the round.  It's hard, but only because you have to be careful about it or you will never knit a Fair Isle sweater or anything else in the round. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 23, 2013

Outdoors -- Wait a minute!

The saying about weather around DC is, if you don't like it, wait a minute and it will change.

We've had four or five days now of warm weather, however.

This isn't unusual in December.  In fact a snowy December is rare.  I prefer it this way.  People here don't know how to drive even on wet roads.  When the sniper was roaming around in 2002, I emailed my family telling them I was fine but it was rainy and I had to drive the roads with 500,000 people who didn't know what they were doing and I was more likely to die in a crash than get shot.  It's even worse now with all the idiots who still text and drive.  But I digress.

Yesterday morning it was 72 degrees at the airport about dawn and by sundown temps were still in the 60s.  It poured all day and it's still raining.  This is good.  We're low on rain.

Ahhh I hear my female cardinal doing her anxious call.  I can tell it's the female because she's doing a call about every couple of seconds.  The male makes the same call but not nearly as often.  I just put out the black sunflower seeds they like.  We have this agreement, designed to keep the squirrels from stealing what I buy specifically for the cardinals.  I feed them near nightfall for the same reason.

Anyway the weather will soon be colder, maybe below freezing tonight in the Appalachians, and snow flurries some places.  And then -- wait a minute -- it will be different from that soon.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DIY Basic Cooking -- spaghetti and meatballs

Now that you can brown meat, you can make meatballs.  This should serve 4 very well indeed, especially with a salad and a dessert.  Takes up to an hour to make.  The meatballs and sauce can be made a day ahead and then re-heated while you cook the spaghetti.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg beaten to a smooth yellow color
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup fine bread crumbs or matso meal
optional other seasonings like parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper

The other seasonings will also be in the spaghetti sauce and cook into the meatballs that way.

Mix everything together thoroughly and shape into balls.  You can get 8 2-ounce meatballs out of this.  Put in your frying pan with a THIN layer of oil and brown on all sides on 2 1/2.  Stop before they get crispy.

Spaghetti sauce

1/2 to full medium onion, brown peel removed, diced
2-6 cloves garlic split off the head, white papery peel taken off, sliced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I like Furmano's; Tuttarossa already has seasonings in it and I don't like that because I use Furmano's for chili and kentumere as well.)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste or 1/4 pound dried tomatoes
1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine
pinch sugar
1 tablespoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
optional crushed red pepper, 6 mushroom caps diced, 1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper

Saute onions and garlic with the meatballs.  Pick out the meatballs, add in the other ingredients, cover and simmer on 2 1/2 for 15 minutes, add in the meatballs and simmer another 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile get out your saucepan that you used to make mirepoix, get some water boiling, and throw in half the box of spaghetti.  While it boils and the sauce matures, make a salad and get out your frozen tiramisu.

Pull out the spaghetti (easier if you have a strainer, just pour the contents of the saucepan through it).  Put it in a bowl and cover with the sauce & meatballs and get it to the table immediately.

Other options:
1.  If you don't eat meat, you can put diced eggplant in the sauce but it won't provide protein, just texture. 
2.  Some people make a ragu sauce by browning the meat alone crumbled up with the onions and garlic and then putting in the tomatoes and herbs.
3.  In ragu sauce, substitute cumin for the basil and 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle instead of parsley and you have chili sauce; add canned kidney beans.
4.  Brown Italian sausage and rings of green bell pepper, cook in half the tomato sauce and serve on hoagie rolls (sub rolls).
5.  Brown your ground beef and add half the spaghetti sauce and you have sloppy joes.


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Leviticus 24:19-22

So I said we were going to look at Leviticus 24:19-22 and here’s why.
A man who creates a wound in his people, whatever he did, thus it shall be done to him:
A break, the compensation for a break, an eye, the compensation for an eye, a tooth, the compensation for a tooth, whatever defect a man causes in another man, thus it shall be done with him.
Whoever strikes a beast [dead] shall pay for it and whoever strikes a man [dead] shall die.
One law shall be for you, the stranger as well as the homeborn it shall be, for I am the Lord your Gd.

Does anything in there look familiar to you?  It should, and it uses tachat just like the other time you saw it.  So now you know that “thus it shall be done” has to mean paying damages.  Now, verse 21 starts out “whoever strikes a beast dead shall pay for it,” which carries out the idea that just because A does something B doesn’t like, doesn’t mean that B gets to do the same back.  B doesn’t get to kill A’s ox.  The end of the verse we’ll deal with in a while, but look at verse 22.

All the laws of Torah apply both to those born Jewish, and those who convert.  It applies to people born in the Holy Land, and it applies to people from outside the Holy Land.  It’s all the same for everybody.  That’s true whether it’s a benefit or a punishment.
This is called Equal Protection.  It took the American Constitution to create Amendment 14, some time after the Civil War, to reflect this principle in any Western legal system.  The rules of a society have to apply to all members of that society.

The flip side, of course, is that everybody in that society is bound by those laws.  There are no exceptions.  I’ll deal with this more later because Torah has specific examples where “there are no exceptions,” and there’s a phrase for that which I will bring up then.
For now, memorize verse 22.  And then understand that this is why money has to be the equalizer, not equal retaliation.  There is no LT in Judaism, not from Exodus, not from Leviticus, and even, in case you didn’t notice it, not in Deuteronomy.  The girl whose chastity was slandered can’t turn around and say “You’re a hypocrite, you’re not a virgin either.”  There are no physical signs of virginity in a man that Torah recognizes.  The girl can never be forced to pay a fine for slandering a man’s virginity.

For now, we’re still on the track of LT and I have another example of how it can’t be true for Judaism.  Study Deuteronomy 25:12.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:2 b

Genesis 1:2.
ב וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם:

Transliteration: V’ha-arets haitah tohu va-vohu v’choshekh al-p’nei t’hom v’ruach elohim m’rachefet al-p’nei ha-maim.
Translation:    The earth was tohu va-vohu and dark above the depths and a spirit of Gd wafted back and forth above the water.
Letters in this lesson: ח, ך, ע, פּ, נ, וּ
Vocabulary in this lesson:
was (f.s.)
dark, darkness
on, over, above
spirit, wind
waft, 3rd f. s., piel form (repetitive)
face, construct state, masculine plural

The next most important thing about verse 2 is that it introduces a Hebrew word form you absolutely have to get down in your memory because you won’t understand Torah correctly without it.  That’s the construct state, and it means “X of Y” where X and Y are both nouns. 

This is very much like the genitive in other languages, but it NEVER means possession.  It simply links two words into a phrase that has to be translated “X of Y” or by an idiom.  A lot of translators will go the nearly-literal route and say “On the face of” for al p’nei but all it means is “above [a flat surface].” 

The fact that p’ney is the construct state means you will never see it alone the way it is in this word list.  It will be p’ney Y. 

You’ll see more examples of the construct and then I’ll give you the general rule.

The other verb in this verse has the root resh chet peh.  The base meaning of this root is shake or tremble.  However, the mem at the start of m’rachefet tells me that it’s in a binyan called piel.  The shade of meaning in the piel is something that happens habitually or even just repetitively.  The verb means that Gd’s spirit was in constant motion above the depths, and it is often translated as “hover” with the connotation of a bird hovering over its nest.

However that connotation had sad consequences for one rabbi.  He was one of four great sages of his time, and after he studied this verse one day, a colleague saw him in the street mumbling to himself.  Soon after he disappeared from society.  The reason?  Gd is infinite.  But at this point in time the waters had not been separated from each other.  How can something infinite hover “above” where there is no dividing line?  From then on it was prohibited to study the first part of Genesis using the method he was using, without somebody there to catch you when you get lost in these connotations. 

What’s the answer?  I’ve never gone into it.  But it’s also prohibited for me, even if I have, to discuss it with you online.  I have to know you face to face, I have to know for a fact that you understand Torah for yourself even without my help, and still I should probably refuse.  So if you find a website where somebody claims to have studied with a rabbi and learned the esoteric meanings of Genesis, you have my permission to believe it’s not true.  Especially if the website promises to teach them to you, online.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

OB -- Not so Fast!

Wow, it's amazing what you can find out on the net -- and what it says about corporate America.

See www.menustat.org.

Now look up McDonald's Filet o Fish.  Think it's a low-fat alternative?

Well, in 2013 it got worse than it was in 2012.  McD's has added fat to it.

They cut sodium, but they added fat and carbohydrates.

It's like one of those long balloons, you squeeze it in the middle and the ends get fatter.

So will you.

Don't go to a restaurant without using menustat, and if you see something you don't like, email the company.  Tell them you caught them ruining your health.

Better yet, don't go to a restaurant.  Use my DIY page with the Basic Cooking stuff.  You'll save money and calories and get more veggies and fiber, which we all need.

And oh yeah, the Annals of Internal Medicine, a real medicine journal, has now summarized 20 years of research showing that a) people can be properly nourished without vitamin pills; b) that adding vitamins to the diet of a well-nourished person does NOT prevent disease, especially cancer, dementia and diabetes; and c)  nobody should be taking the commercial vitamin pills, they should be spending that money on fruit and vegetables that provide the right nutrition.


Look, humans did not evolve taking pills.  Eating right and exercising prevent and treat numerous conditions for which there is no cure, make treatments for cancer more tolerable, and help people recover faster from strokes, heart attacks, and surgeries.  Eating right and exercising are much cheaper than drugs because they prevent diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes and they treat depression, dementia, insomnia and asthma that people take drugs for.  And when I avoid processed meat and get my exercise, I don't have much trouble with insomnia and that means no problems with migraines and no migraine pills.

Live natural.  Eat right.  Exercise.  Cook your own food instead of throwing away money on restaurants and pills.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Garden -- more chores

Yay, it's supposed to get into the 60s this week.

Not unheard of for D.C. in December, just timely.  I still need to shorten part of the front privet hedge.

It will be nice to do it in the warm, especially after the snow flurries overnight.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fair Isle Knitting -- Slip Knot

I've been knitting for years and recently finished a project of making matching tees, polos, cardigans and socks.  I used Brown Sheep yarn because it works up nicely and has lots of colors.

Then I got ambitious and decided I wanted to make a Fair Isle sweater.  After reading a bunch of reviews on Amazon, I bought a book.  It has a chapter illustrated with a large number of traditional motifs in traditional notation.  I won't name it, however.  I've reviewed it on Amazon.  You're going to pick your book based on your preferences.

I'm using these motifs to knit leftover yarn into a sampler and I might make my nieces Fair Isle scarves for next winter.

Anyway, I think it might be possible for somebody less experienced to learn to do Fair Isle from the ground up if the instructions are complete enough.  The book I bought left a couple of things out but I found places on the web with the instructions.

The plan is first to help you make a sampler bag with a muslin insert about 22 inches around and 7 across that you can close with a drawstring. 

But everything starts with the first step and if you have never knitted before, you need to know how to make a slip knot.  Here are two sites that give step by step instructions.

Next time: Casting On Shetland Style

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 15, 2013

DIY -- Pot roast!!

OK, I apologize.  When I was telling you how to make chili-mac, I forgot to say you should buy at least a 12 inch frying pan.  You just can't make up a pound of meat plus the other ingredients in a 9 inch pan.

So now that you went back out and bought a 12 inch frying pan, you are ready to make pot roast.

You will also need a knife, the larger and heavier the better, for two things.

For ingredients, you want a tough piece of meat at least a pound and a half.  Look for chuck steak.
You also want 4-5 carrots,
4-5 medium to small potatoes,
a 12-14 ounce can of crushed tomatoes or 6 mushrooms,
a medium onion, and
at least one stalk of celery. 
You can also add a package of frozen sweet corn to this. 
For seasonings, you really only need black pepper but you can also add a TBSP of parsley and three good pinches of thyme. 
Plus you need 1/4 cup flour.

This takes about an hour and a half but for at least an hour you will be free to do other things while the meat and vegetables cook. 

The best thing about this dish is that if you start 3 hours before dinner time, you have extra time to make sure the meat gets tender, and if it finishes cooking early, you just turn the heat off and re-heat in the last half hour.  Instant leftovers, and we all know that leftovers taste better than fresh-cooked sometimes.

Sprinkle half the flour on one side of the meat and use the butt of the knife handle to beat it in.  Works up a sweat and an appetite, tenderizes the meat, and creates the groundworks of gravy.

Now flour the other side of the meat.

Scrape the skin off the carrots and wash the potatoes well.
Chop the onion and celery and chunk the carrots; trash the mushroom stems and dice the caps.

Put 1/4 cup oil in the frying pan and heat it on 4.  When it's hot, sear the meat on one side, then flip it and sear on the other. 

Add the onion and celery and turn the heat down to 3.  When the onion starts to get transparent, add the carrots, then position the potatoes on top. 

Mix the seasonings with the tomatoes and pour in, OR
sprinkle the seasonings into the pan with the diced mushrooms and add 1 cup of water.

Put the lid on the pan, put the heat on 2 1/2, and let cook.

Check after half an hour; if the liquid has mostly dried, add more.

At the one hour mark, use a fork to try to break off a little of the meat.  If you can't even get the fork into the meat, put in another half cup of liquid and cover again.

After another half hour, do the fork test again.  When you're sure the meat is tender, add the sweet corn if you're using it, put the lid back on and let it heat up, no less than 10 minutes.

This is a fabulous dinner for 4-5 people and you can stretch it to 6 if you serve a salad and dessert.

You can make this a day in advance of your guests coming, then clean the house and make the dessert, and just re-heat it before dinner.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Exodus 21:24-25 and context

So we sort of started out talking about what tachat means: does it mean “under” or does it mean “for” and how do we know.  We’re back to Exodus 21:24-25 again.

We decided that it didn’t mean “under” because that totally didn’t mean what you thought those verses meant.  So in what sense does it mean “for”?
Just like with “fine,” the meaning is the same in more than one place in Torah.  In this case, we go to Genesis 22:13 which is in a story that Jews call the Aqedah, which means “binding for sacrifice.”  The person bound for sacrifice was Yitschaq, but instead Avraham offers an ail, an adult ram, tachat his son.  Gd didn’t tell Avraham to sacrifice a different human, He sent a substitute. 

When A and B fight and A injures B, B doesn’t injure A back, A gives up something tachat the injury he made on B as a substitute for the injury.
Which has an interesting side idea.  Obviously Gd never wanted Avraham to sacrifice Yitschaq, or to sacrifice any person, otherwise instead of a ram there would have been another person.  Gd wanted, not the actual sacrifice, but Avraham’s obedience.  The angel, Gd’s agent, stopped things before Yitschaq died. 

Anyway.  What we just did with the fines and “for” is what builds dictionaries.  The same word being used the same way for years, decades, centuries, millennia.  The FAQ for the Oxford English Dictionary says they will not accept a word into the dictionary unless it appears in communications for at least a decade with the same meaning.
But it’s also obvious that a given word can have different meanings in different contexts.  You don’t know what the word means until you know what context you’re in.  If you try to use a word in the wrong way for the current context, you create misunderstanding. 

Just like if you try to define a word without any context at all, you create a bad definition.
And if you try to understand a verse without any context at all, you misunderstand it.

And if you try to understand Jewish commandments without understanding all the Jewish commandments, you will probably misunderstand those, too.
Next lesson we’re going to look at Leviticus 24:19-22.  Go and study it.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bit at a time Hebrew -- Genesis 1:2

Genesis 1:2.

ב וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם:

Transliteration: V’ha-arets haitah tohu va-vohu v’choshekh al-p’nei t’hom v’ruach elohim m’rachefet al-p’nei ha-maim.
Translation:    The earth was empty and chaotic and dark above the depths and a spirit of Gd wafted back and forth above the water.
Letters in this lesson: (“oo”) ח, ך, ע, פּ, נ, וּ
Vocabulary in this lesson:

was (f.s.)
dark, darkness
on, over, above
spirit, wind
waft, 3rd f. s., piel form (repetitive)
face, construct state, masculine plural

Lots of stuff here.  We have our first occurrence of “be” and it is in the past tense.  I know that it’s feminine gender because of the tav in it.  One thing to remember about Hebrew is that it’s one of those languages which can leave “be” out of a present-tense sentence.  If you find a verse that looks as if it doesn’t have a verb in it, try sticking “is” in.  If it doesn’t make sense, that verse is not a complete sentence.  That’s important for interpreting scripture.  See the Fact-Checking discussion on battery.

Notice that ha once again uses the qamats, the little hat symbol, for the “a” sound.  It has to because there’s an alef after it.  But it once again uses the little dash before the mem in the last word, and once again the mem has a dagesh in it.  I am going to just point these things out.  When we get a lot of samples under our belts, then I can show you what they have in common.

“Be”.  The root letters of “be” are heh yod heh.  In most languages that conjugate their verbs, “be” is an irregular verb.  Not in Hebrew.  How you spell a verb in Hebrew, when it’s conjugated, depends on its root letters.  Some letters are called “weak” but that’s just terminology.  What it means is that their version of regular is different from words that don’t have those letters in it.  Heh and alef are “weak” letters.  Yod is a different kettle of fish; it can disappear completely and so can nun.  But that’s their way of being regular; it’s not right to call these irregular verbs.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Garden -- Still working

Yes, it's the dead of winter and we had an inch of snow yesterday, the most we've had in two years.

Last week I cut down the rest of the pokeweed and dragged bags of yard waste to the recycling pickup.

On the upside it was a sunny day and nearly 70 degrees outside.  I even sweated a little.

This Friday temps are supposed to be in the high 30s which is liveable for me.  If that works out I'll shorten some more of the front privet hedge. 

Other than that I'm just feeding and watching birds at this point.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

OB -- Hurray, people are buying clues!


The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that sales of diet soda are dropping. 

About time.

I heard a health care professional talk 20 years ago about how teenage girls were showing up in her office with osteoporosis.  That's an old person's disease.

It turned out the girls were drinking diet sodas, but not milk.

Diet soda leaches calcium from the bones; it's the phosphates.

Less than 5 years ago studies began coming out that showed people drinking diet sodas were FATTER than people who drank normal sodas.  Why?  It wasn't the calories.  It was the sweet taste.  That sweet taste kicked off the body response that stores sugar in the bloodstream as fat.

What's more, this response involves the pancreas.  It helps wear it out, and promotes Type II diabetes.  So people who were avoiding sugar were still getting diabetes because they were still drinking sweet drinks.

Third, diet sodas often have both vitamin C added and sodium benzoate as a preservative.  The combination warps your genes.  We still don't know if it affects egg cells and sperm cells.

Fourth, the BPA in the can has been blamed for all kinds of problems with gender-defining hormones that DO affect fetuses and infants.  The soda makers are sticking by their story that it's not a problem.  We heard that from the cigarette companies for decades but we know that as soon as cigarette usage dropped, lung cancer dropped.  It used to be the #1 killer cancer but that's not true any more. 

NO SODAS OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER ARE GOOD FOR YOU.  If the calories don't get you, the chemicals do.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 9, 2013

DIY -- Chili Mac

Now that you can make soup, stew, mac n cheese, and so on, I'll tell you about another skill that will lead you into new territory.  It's called "browning your meat" and it will lead into a bunch of ethnic dishes.

Get out your skillet or buy a nice sturdy long-lasting Revereware frying pan with a lid, and preferably with a copper bottom.  DO NOT get a "non-stick" pan.

Get a pound of ground beef, a can of chili beans, and a can of crushed tomatoes.  You also want some vegetable oil or margarine.

Cook some macaroni in your saucepan.  Don't add cheese yet.

Put a Tablespoon of oil or margarine in the frying pan, turn the heat on to 2 1/2 or 3 and let it get warm.
Crumble the ground beef.
Put it in the frying pan and stir once in a while with a fork or spoon or spatula while it cooks.  It's done when it's brown.
Meanwhile open the cans of beans and tomatoes.
When the beef is ready, put in the macaroni and beans and tomatoes.
Sprinkle pepper on it.  If you got pre-spiced chili beans, that should be enough.  If not, you should add some cayenne or ground chipotle.  One or two pinches should be enough.
Stir to mix thoroughly, put the lid on, and let it stew for at least 15 minutes.

You can also throw in canned or frozen corn, or chopped up green bell pepper, or chopped up fresh jalapenos or chilis.  Okra would be good in this.

Why not a non-stick pan?  For one thing, the non-stick isn't really non-stick.  I know that from experience.  Even Silverstone can get food stuck on it.  Second, the non-stick finish wears out. That means it comes off and gets into the food.  Then you're stuck with a non-non-stick pan.  You can't get that repaired, you have to get another one.

Now that your Chili mac has cooked for 15 minutes, you should sprinkle in shredded cheese if you're going to use it.  Put the lid back on and in 5 minutes, turn the heat off.

1.  Just like with your sauce pan, your frying pan will get rice and pasta stuck to it. The trick, once again, is turn the heat off, leave the lid on, and let sit 5 minutes.  The rice or pasta will come unstuck.
2.  FOR REALLY TOUGH STUCK FOOD flood the pan with water, put it back on the stove and turn the burner to high.  When the water boils, turn the burner off and put the lid on. 

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Outdoors -- The Hawk

In D.C. there are two meanings for "the Hawk".

One is those fast-moving dry, cold weather fronts that swoop in from the northwest.  Meteorologists call them Alberta Clippers.  I call them Migraine Makers.

This post is about The Hawk.  The one that hunts my block.  I saw it yesterday -- the blue jay flew off and hid without giving any notice that the hawk was there.

How I found out was all of a sudden little birds were slamming against my back window.  That window was installed only 3 weeks ago and I wanted to see what the problem was.

There he was, sitting on the back fence on the east side between the shrubs the little birds use as cover while approaching my feeder.  Yellow legs.  Russet feathers.  Stippled breast.

He jumped onto a stump.  He wasn't after the birds, he was probably looking for mice and things, but the birds didn't know that.  Got a good view of the white feathers along the back.  My Audubon book said it was probably a broad-winged hawk, which is why I have suspected for about a year.  One more test.

He did it.  He flew onto a branch of a tree in my back neighbor's yard, tail spread in a fan.  That could have been just for lift.  I had seen almost enough so I stepped out and clapped my hands twice.  Gets rid of crows.

He flew to another tree farther away, tail spread in a fan the whole time.  That pegged him as a broad-wing.  One neighbor thought he was a Cooper's, but he would have kept his tail straight with a rounded edge.  Besides, Coopers are on the decline, and they are gray not russet.

Broad-wings are supposed to be about crow sized and this bird was larger than that so it might have been a female.  She sat in the farther tree for a couple of hours and after she left, it took a couple of hours for the birds to get up the courage to visit the feeder.

She seems to show up only on Saturdays and not until December.  I've never seen the large flocks of them the Audubon book talks about.  But by color and tail configuration, that's her.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Exodus 21:19, Deuteronomy 22:19

So if you were paying attention, you notice that Exodus 21:19 says “his lost wages and doctor’s bills” but 21:22 says something else.  What and how do I know?

I don’t know what your translation says about the man who caused the miscarriage.  In Hebrew, he must be punished, and the verb is the same as in Deuteronomy 22:19.  Deuteronomy 22:19 is about a man who complains that his wife wasn’t a virgin when he married her, and it turns out he lied; he has to pay 100 silver, and “punished” actually means “fined.”  That’s what we call it in English when you do something wrong and you pay money for it.
So in Exodus 21:22, since it uses the same word, the man who hit the woman has to pay a fine.

That’s because in any language, words have consistent meanings from place to place; some have only one meaning.  Some words mean the same thing in Mishnah as in Torah; some words mean the same thing in Modern Israeli Hebrew as they do in Torah.  That’s a history of using the same word to mean the same thing over the period from 3500 years BP until it was written into the Mishnah by 1500 years BP.  If it means the same thing, it means the same thing.  (Don’t argue with me over dates yet, you don’t have all the facts.  Trust me.  You can’t learn this all in one swallow any more than you can eat a whole cheesecake in one bite.  We’ll get to the archaeology later.)
Why doesn’t it say a fine in Exodus 21:19?  Because it doesn’t.  It gives two specific categories of payments the hitter owes to the hittee.  Mishnah actually adds three additional categories but we won’t worry about those right now.  The point is that Exodus 21:24-25 does not have a verb; so we had to look at the larger context to find a verb; we found the verbs in Exodus 21:18 and Exodus 21:22, and they say that the person involved in the fight gets his doctor bills and lost wages paid, and the person who was an innocent bystander gets a fine.  (Yes, I know it says it goes to her husband, that’s a later lesson as well.)

What nobody gets is an opportunity for equal retaliation.  The rabbis of the Talmud asked, “How is it right, if a blind man put out somebody’s eye, to put out the eye of the blind man?”  Think about it.  He already can’t see.  He cannot be injured to the same degree as the person whose eye he put out.  He has to pay damages.  He doesn’t get retaliation.
It’s the only way to be fair.  The hittee has to spend money on food and doctors while he recovers.  The hitter pays those costs.  Or the hittee who was an innocent bystander names a fine that the hitter has to pay.  Money is the great equalizer, in law as well as everywhere else.  And in Jewish culture, this has been going on up to 3500 years.

Now I know you’re saying that I took the verse from Deuteronomy out of context but actually, I briefed the context.  And I know you’re saying that I left out Exodus 21:20, 21, and 23, and I did, but those verses have a dual context I will discuss later.  Right now, I want to go back to tachat and show you what it means.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bit at a time Hebrew -- Genesis 1:1 the end

The end of Genesis 1:1.

א בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ:

Transliteration: B’reshit bara elohim et ha-shamayim v’et ha-arets.
Translation:    At the beginning Gd created the heaven and the earth
Letters in this lesson: בּ, ר, א, שׁ, י, ת, ל, וֹ, ה, ם, שּׁ, מ, ץ

Vocabulary in this lesson:

on, in, at, by (swear by), with (by means of), against
at the beginning             
direct object particle
הַ, הָ
and, or, continuation particle
earth, land, world

The vowels:

Notice shva under the bet of “in” and “at the beginning.”

Under the resh of “at the beginning” is a pair of horizontal dots called zeire with the sound of short “e”.

Under the shin is a single dot called hiriq pronounced “ee”.  I transliterate it as “i”.

Under the first two consonants of “created” is a qamats which has the sound of “a” as in “father.”

Under the alef of “Gd” is a chataf segol which has the sound of short “e”.

At the top of the lamed in “Gd” is a single dot called cholan chaser which has the sound of long “o.”

The vowel under the first example of “the” is called patach.

The vowel under the resh of “earth” is called segol and is a short “e”.

So basically there are five vowel sounds: “a”; short “e”; “ee”; long “o”; and “oo”. 
There was no “oo” in this verse.
People will tell you that’s not exactly how the vowels sound and with some of them, that’s true. I’m trying to teach you what vowels you are looking at when you see the words with the vowels.  You are going to be reading, not speaking, but if you want to learn to read out loud, you can imitate the man reading Torah in the mp3s I pointed you to.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved