Friends Of Australia Friday: 10 September 2021

It’s once again an Australia Time Friday! It’s FRIDAY!!!!

The Tucker

The Loin Chops in iron skillet NOT in the oven, but pan fried.

Due to some logistical errors on my part, there’s 2 accommodations tonight. First off, the chops didn’t fully defrost in time, so they are in the iron skillet on the stove on “low” to finish the defrosting and warming. Then I figured I’ll just turn up the heat. So pan fried in olive oil.

The other accommodation is no wine tonight. I drank it all a day or two ago… It was a Dice With Destiny and I had made a “Mushrooms and Lamb Burger Bits” dish (with sauteed onion bits, garlic, and “French Seasoning” mix – no I don’t know what was in it, it was part of a gift kit, salt & pepper, olive oil) and well, one thing led to another…

The vegetable tonight is Romanesco Broccoli. That green stuff with Fibonacci / Fractal spirals:

Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco broccoli (also known as Roman cauliflower, Broccolo Romanesco, Romanesque cauliflower, or simply Romanesco) is an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. First documented in Italy in the 16th century, it is chartreuse in color, and has a form naturally approximating a fractal. When compared to a traditional cauliflower, it has a firmer texture and delicate, nutty flavor.

The Romanesco superficially resembles a cauliflower, but it has a visually striking fractal form.

Romanesco superficially resembles a cauliflower, but it is chartreuse in color, with the form of a natural fractal. Nutritionally, romanesco is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and carotenoids.

Fractal structure

The inflorescence (the bud) is self-similar in character, with the branched meristems making up a logarithmic spiral, giving a form approximating a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral. This self-similar pattern continues at smaller levels. The pattern is only an approximate fractal since the pattern eventually terminates when the feature size becomes sufficiently small. The number of spirals on the head of Romanesco broccoli is a Fibonacci number.

The causes of its differences in appearance from the normal cauliflower and broccoli have been modeled as an extension of the preinfloresence stage of bud growth. A 2021 paper has ascribed this phenomenon to perturbations of floral gene networks that causes the development of meristems into flowers to fail, but instead to repeat itself in a self-similar way.

I’ve tended to call it a “Broccoflower” as it seems to be half way between each. Whatever, I think it is better than either. I’ve seen a “sport” of it that is a lovely purple color too ;-)

There will also be a simple Butter Lettuce side salad, topped with some cheese shreds and either Ranch Dressing or the Olive Garden Creamy Italian as preferred.

The Wine

A day or two early, and all gone now, but it was a bottle of the Samuel Wynn “Dice With Destiny” red blend again.

The News

Australia is leading the charge into The New World Order with a New Berlin Wall dividing towns that are on a State border and with newly built concentration isolation camps, and with a slap down of free speech in blog comments.

So hows that Trucker’s Strike going? No news so good news?

Tim Pool claims it is just a “poor choice of words” but… the comments on the blog are roasting him with things like “they are telling you what they are doing!”…

From an outside POV it looks like Australia is going nuts.

OTOH, the USA actually IS going nuts… so who am I to talk. At least your National Leader can speak…

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Posted in cooking, Food, News Related | 25 Comments

Tasty Near Instant Indian Meal

I just had a very tasty meal of pre-packaged Indian food. Some of it is well suited to a Prepper Stash, and all of it is nice as a change of pace “Indian at home” meal.

First, what I didn’t do. I didn’t have rice with this meal, nor bread. Both would have made it better and more authentic. Why? Logistical error on my part. I was hungry NOW, not 1/2 hour from now… So no rice to the rice cooker. No making 30 minute pan bread…

OK, that out of the way. I had a package of Tasty Bite Madras Lentils and a package of MTR Alu Methi (curried potatoes and fenugreek leaves). In a real prepper meal context you would have one of them over / with rice and a slice of Naan or similar bread.

Both were very nice and very tasty. The MTR is marked as “Medium Hot” with 2 peppers. It is hotter than the Lentils that are mild spiced. About the same as medium Mexican hot (i.e. not fire breathing at all, and only a little feeling like your head wants to sweat ;-)

The two go well together, but with an odd bit of asymmetry. After the Alu Methi, the Lentils are great (better than just over rice). Going the other way is less of a good thing. For a bit, the Alu Methi is not as tasty as the first bite was “solo”… then it slowly comes up as the lentil influence gets washed out of the mouth. Still nice, but just not as nice… So order and mixing matters.

That said, I still ate all of it (and that’s a big meal. 300 grams of Alu Methi. 285 grams of lentil curry.

The Alu Methi is a lot of bite size potato chunks (so a good load of nutrients and calories – claims 344 for the package as 172 each for 2 servings) in a kind of spicy sauce that looks like spinach leaves but has a LOT of flavor from the Fenugreek that it really is. I picked it up at a local Indian grocery store. The package says “Product of India” so I think it is authentic ;-)

The lentil curry is basically a brown curry sauce and lentils. I’ve been eating this for years and got it by the big box at COSCO. I picked up a few boxes in the prep almost 2 years ago now for the first “lockdown”. The package claims it is “best before” 3 months ago, so shelf life as advertized is at least a year. FWIW, I can tell no difference in this pouch from the first one I had from this batch when new. IMHO it has a “several year” shelf life. (Plastic pouch, so not long years…) It says 290 calories for the pouch, or 145 for each of 2 servings.

Total that’s 634 calories. A decent amount in one meal… and on minimal rations it would be 1/2 of a days food. Split between 2 people over rice with pan bread you would be similarly full ;-)

The MTR Alu Methi was bought about 3 weeks ago and says “Best before April 2022”, so again I think the manufacturer is placarding it at about one year. It, though, is in a foil pouch. Those usually keep for many years. I’m likely to get a few more of these to test that ;-)

This would make a fairly well balanced meal with rice. As long as meat held out, you could put a small side of meat with it in emergencies. For a non-emergency family meal, I’d do a pouch of each and something like Tandoori Chicken, with rice and breads. Side of yogurt or kefir.

I have 3 or 4 other pouches of other products I bought at the same store, and I’ll be trying them from time to time. So far, I’m liking what I’m eating ;-)

Preparation is trivial. Lentils microwave for a minute. MTR Alu Mathi gets decanted into a microwave safe bowl and microwaved for “1-2 minutes”.

I used the stovetop directions. Foil pouch in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Pulled it out with tongs and laid it on a plate, dumped water, dumped in Lentils and let that heat about 2 minutes (with stirring) as I opened and dumped the foil pouch onto my plate.

This was a BIG lunch for one big guy. With rice & breads it would be “Dinner for 2” easily. ( I usually just have a pouch of the lentil curry over rice and call it done, but wanted to try the new one and not wait for rice ;-) Tasty Bite does sell a fancy rice in pouch that’s also quite good, but I ate them all already ;-)

Overall, I’m satisfied with both products and will buy more. Prices vary widely. Amazon has the Lentils for $17 / pack of 6, or a bit under $3 / pouch. COSTCO regularly has them for less. (I’m not suggesting anyone make Bezos richer by purchasing from Amazon, just a pointer to what the products look like and rough cost.)


Tasty Bite Madras Lentils

Tasty Bite Madras Lentils

Our Madras Lentils are a quintessential recipe from India. Soft lentils and red kidney beans are slow-cooked in a creamy tomato sauce with onions and a variety of spices. Serve as a hearty soup, lentil & bean chili, or as a delicious blanket over a bed of rice.


Water, Black Lentils*, Red Kidney Beans*, Cream*, Tomato Paste*, Dried Onion*, Butter*, Sunflower Oil*, Salt, Cumin*, Chili Pepper Powder*, Dried Ginger*.
Contains: Milk

They have the MTR Alu Methi at about $2 a pouch. I think I paid closer to $3 at the local specialty grocer:

MTR Alu Methi

MTR Alu Methi

No relationship to any company, just a guy who likes their food.

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Posted in cooking, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Food | 16 Comments

W.W.II Women Who Killed…

A couple of videos that have renewed importance, now that the USA Dimocrats have decided we will Draft Women into the Military.

Folks tend to forget that Women Warriors have been with us forever. From Europe there are very old horse culture graves with women with swords and armor. From Asia (Russia) there are similar graves. Celts were often having mixed gender wariors.

This was even true during the very gender roll specific era of W.W.II when one of the most prolific snipers in Russia was a woman. (Shades of Boris & Natasha…)

But these two groups of Women Warriors I’d not heard about. 28 Minutes each. With subtitles.

The Russian Night Witches Of World War Two


In the 1930s, with the black clouds of war gathering over the skies of Europe once more, the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin pushed to demonstrate its technical prowess to the rest of the world, particularly in the air, where the Soviets established a number of endurance records for aircraft. To demonstrate how far the Soviet Union had come culturally, a number of these record-breaking efforts included female pilots and aircrew, and none were more famous than Marina Raskova. Often credited as the Soviet Union’s Amelia Earhart, Raskova was the first woman to qualify as a navigator in the Soviet Air Force in 1933 and was part of a record-breaking attempt for female aviators that saw her crew fly over 4,000 miles in a converted DB-2 long range bomber. This earned her celebrity status in the Soviet Union and crucially, influence over Stalin himself. For when war would finally break out between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Raskova would come to Stalin with a plan for women to join the men in the fight against fascist tyranny. This plan would result in one of the most famous flying units of World War II – the Night Witches.


Assassins In Skirts – Flirting, With Death

As opposed to the fighting in North Africa or the brutal Eastern Front, prior to 1944 the German soldiers stationed in the west enjoyed good food, wine and the company of the local women. All the while they were unaware that they were often being lured in by those brave men and women who refused to submit to Hitler’s tyranny. In Holland, three young women would wage a secret war against their occupiers using their innocent and youthful looks to lower their enemy’s guard before they struck out like a deadly Black Widow spider. They did not embrace leading their lives this way. They had no blood lust, rather they simply did what had to be done in the cause of freedom. This is their story.

As a minor side note: The Great Gandma of my kids (spousal Grandma), a British Citizen, was Royal Nanny to the King of Belgium. Leopold III.

Her name was Elizabeth Warren. (No, not that one, a proper one.) When the Germans invaded, she was charged with taking the Royal Children to England. In a small boat, they crossed the channel, Elizabeth hovering over her charges. Wearing the Queen’s Pearls under her coat and her own jewelry.

In the story of the fall of Belgium and how King Leopold III declined to leave his country but stayed to fight off the Germans as long as he could, it is omitted that his family was escaping and that he was giving them time to do it.

A sharp conflict with his Prime Minister Pierlot followed, when the defences were breached. The King expected Belgium to be completely crushed by Germany and refused to join the government in exile in France. By this, he violated the constitution.

He preferred to “stay with his troops and people, whatever the outcome, and share their fate.” He would not flee as other royal houses did. The Prime Minister maintained that Belgium was no longer “independent”, after having been invaded by Germany. Thus, it should morally side with the allied forces. The delegation left the King and joined the rest in exile in Limoges, France.

Royal surrender

After 18 days, on 28 May 1940
, the King decided to surrender the army to prevent further bloodshed among his troops and people. Above all, on this last strip of unoccupied land, hundreds of thousands of fugitives were squeezing together. A final meeting with his Prime Minister could not change his mind; he refused to join his ministers for the later liberation of Belgium. For Leopold, the war was over.

It takes a certain amount of “Pluck” and courage to herd 3 Royal Children out of a country in the middle of an invasion and across a bit of rough ocean channel to freedom. Knowing that all manner of folks would love to get their hands on the kids.

One suspects, but can not confirm, that the current Royal Elizabeth may have been named for the Nanny who saved her grandad, Albert II:

Belgium’s future queen is off to Oxford! Princess Elisabeth, 19, will study history and politics at the University’s Lincoln College after a stint at Hippie Hogwarts in Wales
Eldest daughter of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde is heir to Belgian throne
Princess Elisabeth, 19, will commence three-year course in Oxford in October
The Belgian royals announced the news in a statement on its Instagram page

Princess Elisabeth of Belgium will take up a place at Oxford University to study history and politics, it was revealed today.

The eldest daughter of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, who is heir to the Belgian throne, will commence the three-year course in October at the prestigious university’s Lincoln College.

The Belgian royals announced the news in a statement on its Instagram page, adding that the princess will ‘regularly return to Belgium and remain involved in Belgian public life’ while she studies in the UK.

The Wiki is vague on the escape of Albert II from the German invasion:

Early life

Prince Albert was born in Stuyvenberg Castle, Brussels, as the second son and youngest child of King Leopold III and his first wife, Princess Astrid of Sweden. He was second in line to the throne at birth, and was given the title Prince of Liège. Queen Astrid died in a car accident on 29 August 1935, in which King Leopold was lightly injured but survived, when Prince Albert was one year old. The King remarried to Mary Lilian Baels (later became Princess of Réthy) in 1941. The couple produced three children: Prince Alexandre, Princess Marie-Christine and Princess Marie-Esméralda (who is also Albert’s goddaughter). Albert and his siblings had a close relationship with their stepmother and they called her “Mother”.

During World War II, on 10 May 1940, at the time when Belgium was being invaded, Prince Albert, his elder sister Princess Joséphine-Charlotte and his elder brother Prince Baudouin, left the country for France and later Spain.
The Prince and the Princess returned to Belgium on 2 August 1940. They continued their studies until 1944, either at Laeken, or at the Castle of Ciergnon in the Ardennes. In June 1944, at the time of the Allied landings, King Leopold, his wife Princess Lilian and the royal children were deported by the Germans to Hirschstein, Germany, and later to Strobl, Austria, where they were liberated by the American Army on 7 May 1945. Owing to the political situation in Belgium, King Leopold and his family moved to the villa “Le Reposoir” in Pregny, Switzerland, when they left Austria in October 1945 and stayed until July 1950. During that time, Prince Albert would continue his education in a secondary school in Geneva. King Leopold III, accompanied by Prince Baudouin and Prince Albert, returned to Belgium on 22 July 1950.

10 May 1940 the Royal Children leave for other countries (via England crossing). Eighteen days later, after 18 days of fighting, the King surrenders. So just about the right amount of time, 2 weeks, to get the kids off to a safe place in England, smuggled across the channel, and get confirmation back in the middle of a war and invasion. Then the Dunkirk evacuation could begin from France to the UK.

I do not know if the Royal Children were evacuated directly from Belgium, or after fleeing to France. All I know is written above. The spouse may have more details and I’ll ask if anyone wants more.

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Posted in History, Human Interest | 4 Comments

“Spanish” Flu, Antigenic Sin, Origins, And Now?

This video surprised me, in several ways.

First, I was looking for some distraction from current events, and I got a reminder of them (along with some usable clue – A leaky vaccine is likely to leave the “jabbed” with Original Antigenic Sin to later variants).

Second, I was not expecting At All the actual origin of the “Spanish Flu” that was found. It came from horses in North America.

Third, I expected a dry technical lecture, I got a fascinating story or two about humanity. Plus a chuckle about German Cowboys invading Canada…

Forth, I thought I knew why 20-30 year old folks died the most. Cytokine Storm from a young and well working immune system. That’s wrong. It was a case of Original Antigenic Sin.

Fifth, I had no idea that the round of H1N1 flu from a few years back was a Lab Leak, most likely from China or Russia, yet its genetic clock was stopped at 1950…

Sixth, What beats mutating viruses with low efficacy vaccines is therapeutics.

Plus a few more…

Well worth the watching of it. Given the nature of Original Antigenic Sin, I suspect that for Chinese Wuhan Covid it will be the case that the first antibodies you make are the ones you will most likely have for life. Once the virus changes enough, they will do little, and then you have a Very Bad Case. It is possible that Covid is unlike Flu in that we make antibodies to the H and N projections of flu, and the body of Covid plus the spike; so there is still a small chance of what I’d call “antibody stacking” with adding more over time. But the example of Original Antigenic Sin in the flu leans the other way.

The other conclusion is that, yes, a leaky vaccine selects for variants that escape the vaccine (and the vaccine antibodies) but IF Original Antigenic Sin is happening with Chinese Wuhan Covid, we would likely still get there anyway. Just a lot slower. It will all come down to how effectively folks make antibodies to the N capsule parts of the virus, IMHO.

I’m also looking at the Flu Vaccine as being not very useful to me. I likely have been exposed to the two major variations already. This video is from 2014, or 7 years ago, which puts me in a cohort who was originally exposed to the 1957 strain, but also has been exposed to H1N1 (and likely a couple of others). My immune system has already made its choices and a jab is unlikely to change them. That may be why I’ve not had the flu in about 30 years and had zero reaction to the one flu shot I got about 5 years ago. I’m just “so over it” ;-)

The number killed each year by flu also shouts “What the he.. happened to the Flu last year?”…

One hour and 8 minutes:

The University of Arizona
41.1K subscribers
Michael Worobey, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Arizona

The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 was the most intense outbreak of disease in human history. It killed upwards of 50 million people (most in a six-week period) casting a long shadow of fear and mystery: nearly a century later, scientists have been unable to explain why, unlike all other influenza outbreaks, it killed young adults in huge numbers. I will describe how analyses of large numbers of influenza virus genomes are revealing the pathway traveled by the genes of this virus before it exploded in 1918. What emerges is a surprising tale with many players and plot lines, in which echoes of prior pandemics, imprinted in the immune responses of those alive in 1918, set the stage for the catastrophe. I will also discuss how resolving the mysteries of 1918 could help to prevent future pandemics and to control seasonal influenza, which quietly kills millions more every decade.

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Posted in Biology Biochem, History, Human Interest, Political Current Events | 45 Comments