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They’re EVERYWHERE!!!!!

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.So many poultry babies, y’all. SO. MANY. 17 chickens and as I type this ten million more quail are probably hatching. I am reasonably certain more quail are hatching than I put in the incubator. Anyway here’s a picture of a sheep to protect the pictures of baby birds…. First up, American Gamefowl when they […]
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Probably the last lamb.

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.I still can’t tell if Ella’s oldest daughter, Princess, is pregnant or not but I’m starting to think not. Which would make this little guy the last lamb of the 2019 lambing season. If you follow me on twitter, you know that this little dude is teeny tiny. He was maybe 1/2 to 2/3rds the […]
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YET MOAR LAMBS

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.Two more lambs have been born! Here’s the most recent lamb first, a wee dark ewe! She will probably have a dark chocolatey brown fleece when she grows up, rather than staying this silvery black color. The ram lamb is standing on the left, the ewe is the smaller lamb on the right. It is […]
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Life proceeds apace

Y’all may recall this post from back at the beginning of February. Things are… I don’t actually know how you repair trust between spouses after one of them has verbally and emotionally abused the other. I don’t know that my marriage is actually fixable. Nothing happening in counseling is giving me any great faith that […]
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It’s LAMBING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

A little lamb with a white star on her forehead looks alertly at the camera while sniffing a person's finger in a search for cheerios.Awwww yeah, the Soay ewes have started lambing! Just look at their precious little faces! There are at least 3 and possibly 4 ewes left to go. One of the remaining ewes looks like she might be about to explode any minute.
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Lambing has started!!!

Ella has delivered twins for the third year in a row! Did she do it the night it was 50F? Of course not. She waited for the temp to hover near freezing. But also she is an excellent mother, so she got them both dry, warm, and fed post-haste. LOOK AT THIS LITTLE GIRL. Isn’t […]
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Recreating Classical Greek Teganites, round 1

Look don’t ask me why all this started. Because we all hate recipe blogs that make you slog through stories first, here’s the recipe:
Five little round pancake looking doobers, fried to a golden brown, rest on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.

Classical Greek Teganites, Attempt The First
1/2 cup barley flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
More olive oil than you think you need. Keep the jug handy.
Honey, fresh cheese, and/or walnuts for topping.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and buttermilk. The ratio of flour to buttermilk is what’s important here, not the strict amounts, so if you need to expand the recipe what you want is enough buttermilk to make a batter that kinda oozes but doesn’t really flow, per se. Set the bowl aside, covered, to let the barley flour fully hydrate.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour in enough olive oil that your tiny pancakes can skate on a thin layer of it but not get a good float going. The secret to making these really good is to almost but not quite deep fry them. If you let the oil get too low, you get something chewy and sort of meh that makes a great dog treat but isn’t really worth your efforts. Get the oil level just right however, and you get a tiny pancake that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with an intriguing tang from the buttermilk.

When the batter is hydrated and the oil is hot, drop tablespoons of batter into the oil. Let cook until you see fluffy golden bubbles at the edges of the cakes and the pale tan uncooked area has reduced by about half. Flip em over then and let them cook for a while longer until done.

Pull them out of the oil then and drop em on a paper towel to drain excess oil. These suckers will soak up the olive oil like nobody’s business, so be prepared to top off the oil in your pan frequently.

Top with honey, cheese, and/or walnuts (I hate walnuts) for an authentic(ish) Classical Greek food experience.

These little pancake things have been around for at least 3000 years in Greece. Modern recipes get all fancy and involve things like egg and milk. The classical recipe calls for “curdled milk” and flour and that’s it. The problem here is that the translations were done by people who have no familiarity with the nuances of dairy products, and thus my question “what, exactly, do you mean by ‘curdled milk’?” have gone unanswered. Technically speaking curdling is what happens when you expose milk to an acid that precipitates the fat and sugar proteins into a solid curd, leaving you with curds and whey or a facsimile thereof. There are SO MANY ways to do this. Buttermilk is curdled milk. Sour cream is curdled milk. Yogurt is curdled milk. Cheese is curdled milk with the whey drained and/or pressed out. You can drop some lemon juice or especially tannic red wine into milk and it will curdle. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “CURDLED MILK”, TRANSLATORS?! Shit, if you let raw milk sit in an anaerobic environment it will clabber, which is also a way to curdle milk. We won’t even get into “what was the bacterial profile of the cultures used to make things like butter, cheese, and yogurt in Classical Greece” because that way lies madness.

That doesn’t even get into “what do you mean by flour” because the Classical Greeks didn’t have modern wheats. They didn’t actually have a lot of wheat at all, because the Mediterranean climate isn’t conducive to growing it. They had barley, though, which they grew in the winter. And fancy rich people had spelt, a more primitive wheat.

Well, fine, I have access to modern groceries, the internet, and also a cow in milk and an encyclopedic knowledge of ways to curdle milk. I am on a quest for the most delicious curdled milk and flour teganites I can produce. Attempt number one here is pretty goddamned delicious, but I’m not stopping there, oh no. I have kefir. I have yogurt. I have spelt flour and barley flour. We will find the most delicious curdled dairy and flour teganites recipe if it kills us.

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Legion vs Phalanx Read Along 1.2: Not Your Father’s Phalanx

Are we all recovered from the holidays? I think I am. I am also starting to recover from the head cold I managed to acquire during them (how exciting) so let’s get back to this.

Section 1.2 covers the changes in the phalanx and the hoplitai who fought in them. So before we begin, because your humble host is an enormous dork for the Ancient Greek language, let’s work with some terms.

The word “hoplites” (???????) is singular! It is one heavy infantry soldier, and pronounced hopLEETayss. If Sparta had achieved cultural dominance we would call that soldier a hoplitas (???????) instead. But Athens won the battle for cultural dominance in Attika and the Peloponnesos, if not the Second Peloponnesian war, and so that soldier is a hoplites. When you have a bunch of them to form up in a phalanx (??????) then you have a bunch of hoplitai (???????), pronounced hopLEETeye.

When we think of a hoplites, most of us think of someone like this:

A mannequin clad in a bronze cuirass molded to look like a muscular naked upper body, a short chiton that ends at the knee, and bronze greaves. It also wears a crested helmet and carries a spear and a large shield.

And indeed for the Persian War (480BCE) and the beginning of the Second Peloponnesian War (431BCE) this is pretty accurate, although by the time of the second Peloponnesian War the muscle cuirass was out and the bell cuirass, which was not so finely sculpted, was in. As was the linothorax, armor made of layers of linen fabric glued together. However as the old aphorism goes, generals always start out fighting the last war and end up fighting the next one. By the end of the Second Peloponnesian War (around 402BCE, that sucker dragged out) hoplitai had ditched the heavy body armor and carried just the sword and spear and the greaves, with just his chitoniskos or exomis on his body (the distinction between these garments was entirely whether the cloth was fastened on two shoulders or one — Ancient Greek clothing consisting entirely of rectangles of cloth folded and draped around the body and then belted and pinned in place).

A hoplite in a blue exomis fastened on his left shoulder, surrounded by depictions of his sword, shield, and various other equipment.

Whether or not hoplitai ever actually fought naked is a matter of some contention and probably outside the scope of our current argument, although I will happily wrangle in the comments and explain all the reasons I think they probably didn’t, with bibiliography.

Myke asserts here that the linothorax came in with Iphicrates as one of his innovations in the 4th century BCE, but textual and artistic evidence actually places the introduction of the linothorax in the 7th or 6th century BCE and its high point around the Persian Wars in the early 5th century BCE. Iphicrates may well have revived the use of the linothorax, but it had been invented, used widely, and discarded once already by the time he came around in the earlyish 4th century BCE.

There’s a lot about weaponry here, too, and I don’t want to recap the whole chapter — Do we want to wrangle about the nudity of Greek soldiers? Drag Myke in here to ask him for his source on the assertion that Phillip II of Makedonia was the eromenos (young lover) of a Greek general? I might ask him for that one on Twitter, actually, it sounds like something Herodotos would report.

How was this chapter for y’all who aren’t obsessive Ancient Greek language dorks?