Archive for March, 2009

You are bleeding!

March 21, 2009

Exclaimed Maggie, as I finished my twelve mile run.

I hadn’t noticed any cuts during the workout, but I looked myself over. No obvious scrapes that I could see.

“Your nipples,” they said. Two brown red patches on my shirt. I knew they were chaffing in the wet, but I hadn’t realized they could chaff to the point of bleeding!

For this, I missed Orchard to Ocean.


March 20, 2009

I wish to make my own marzipan.

A task which is complicated by the fact that almonds don’t taste like almond extract. This seems like an oxymoron, but is true. If you look on the side of your almond extract bottle you will see that it claims to be made from “bitter almonds”. This variety of almond is banned from the US as it contains significant amounts of cyanide (or, to be more precise, cyanogenic molecules which become cyanide when the almond is chewed).

A by-product of cyanide production is the oil, benzaldehyde, which is the distinctive taste in almond extract.

So the first problem is that we can’t get the right kind of almonds in this country. Luckily this is easily worked around. Almonds are a species of prune, just like apricots, peaches and cherries, and all (OK, almost all) the prunes (indeed all the roses) contain this same cyanide pathway. The Germans even make a marchpane out of apricot kernels.

Well, I have no difficulty finding apricot kernels. — or I won’t in a month or two.

But then there remains the difficulty of extracting benzaldehyde from a kernel without extracting cyanide. The internet is not very helpful, nor are my reference books. There are some vague references to heating, but nothing very specific. I am leery of trying something potentially poisonous. Perhaps this is a process which is difficult to get right and no one posts specifics for fear of liability issues. Perhaps I should try (If only I read German).

Or… I should find a chemical test for cyanide and experiment! Make lots of lovely toxic messes in the kitchen.

Breast envy

March 16, 2009

Drea writes not one, but two posts about female breasts (Let’s talk about boobs¬†and Boobie stats — what does she mean by Two Motivate).

Makes me jealous. As far as I know there is no part of male anatomy which is similarly fascinating to women. What are my secondary sexual characteristics? Facial hair? All my girl friends have disliked beards. Muscles? That just means we screw sippy cups too tight.