Big Mac Recipe

What do you do if your kids love the taste of McDonalds, but you have the crazy notion that eating buckets of sugar, salt and fat might impact their health? Over at Buzzfeed they have posted 42 recipes of famous foods, and added to the list the Big Mac sauce recipe. It’s a nice thing to make with them, and you can add it to real bread rolls, normal cheese, and a small amount of natural ground beef burgers – they might even prefer it.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons French dressing
4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon finely minced white onion
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well.

2. Place sauce in a covered container and refrigerate for several hours,
or overnight, so that the flavors blend. Stir the sauce a couple of
times as it chills.

Makes about 3/4 cup.


Drug Laws Highs and Lows

This study ranked the harmfulness of various illegal and legal substances, finding that cannabis, LSD, solvents, ecstasy and Alyl Nitrate are all less harmful than cigarettes (follow the link for the caveats). If your benchmark is alcohol, then add examine and speed to the list of things that are safer than what your grandparents do.

Peter Carey in the Guardian

The Guardian has a nice piece on Australian novelist Peter Carey, one of only two people to ever twice win the Booker Prize. The UK paper examines the cultural snobbery of 1960s London, and it’s a revealing indication of our patchy shifts towards a globalized world. (Coincidentally, the other dual Booker winner, JM Coetzee, recently moved from London and South Africa to Australia.)

Carey worked in advertising in Sydney – a job so well paid he could write most days of the week (?). He taught himself to write from finding examples of his own predilections inside the precedents of his idols.

He was mainly working on short stories then; gamely sending them out and absorbing the rejections … The brevity of his style, which doesn’t waver no matter how long a novel he is writing, comes down to boredom as much as aesthetics. Oscar And Lucinda is a 500-page novel made up of 111 tiny chapters, which he thought of as tiles tessellating into a perfect whole. “I was very anxious when I was writing Oscar And Lucinda. I would take other books off the shelf to check my chapter length was OK. John Irving did it, so it was OK. Four pages.

Carey shifted to New York and won fame for seeming “fun and bitchy and the antithesis of the typically agonised literary novelist … the levity of his prose never at odds with the seriousness of his ideas”. Staying in New York for twenty years, he avoided the ‘real pain’ of homesickness by realising his true home was the past, and not a place. His new novel, The Chemistry Of Tears, is out soon, through Faber & Faber.


Spray-On Solar

This is one of the reasons I love green energy. It gets closer and closer to the cost of old technologies, and then someone goes and invents spray on solar panels. Read about why the cost of solar energy may be about to be halved.

Lennart Green

Lennart Green is a Swedish magician who was erroneously disqualified from a 1988 magic convention because the judges believed he must have cheated. He often takes the overused ‘pick a card’ type tricks, and adds his own level of fast, gonzo, almost Indian guru unexpectedness. If you avoid the promotional cutaways, this compilation video serves as a great introduction.

Sugar-power vs. Will-power

Many people would have read about the increasingly recognized importance of willpower in our lives. Children with higher levels have been found to grow into happier, healthier, and wealthier adults. Roy F Baumeister calls it the most important strength we have – indeed what most distinguishes us from animals.

Baumeister’s top willpower tips: Build up your self-control by exercising it regularly in small ways. Learn to recognise signs that your willpower may be waning. Don’t crash diet. Don’t try to do too much at once. Establish good habits and routines that will take the strain off your willpower. Learn how to draw up an effective to-do list.

What I found interesting was the link between the immune system, willpower, and sugars. Which explains why it’s easier to start a difficult task after lunch or a sugary drink. And why when you’re sick, all you want to do is watch movies and eat bags full of colored sugar.

Living in the Blue Zone

‘Blue Zones’ are parts of the world where people live the longest – in some areas living to 80, 90 and even 100 is common. Why this is exactly is still being studied, but this Venn diagram – of characteristics common to these areas – might give us a clue. For more, see Dan Buettner’s book, “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from people who lived the longest.”

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