Monday, March 16, 2009

Science Notebook - The Antbird...

THE ANSWER TO A PHILANDERING ANTBIRD

The Encyclopaedia Britannica notes that antbirds -- tropical birds often found in the Amazon chasing columns of swarming ants --

"have loud, usually unmusical voices that may be heard in echo duets."

Research to be published in the journal Current Biology in April suggests a possible explanation for the cacophonous duets: Female antbirds, researchers have found, "jam" the calls of their mates to other females by singing over the male voices. In response to being jammed, the males then change their tune.

Researchers Joseph A. Tobias and Nathalie Seddon of the University of Oxford said this was the first example of behavior involving jamming, and jamming avoidance, ever seen in nature.
"In human terms, signal jamming is most commonly associated with attempts to scramble information in radio, radar, or cell phone signals," Tobias said in a statement. "The females in our study try to do a similar thing with the songs of their partner, but the overall situation is more analogous to a wife continually interrupting her husband to stop him from flirting with a single woman."

Bird duets, the researchers conclude, can tell complex stories about conflict and cooperation within a species. By recording the birds and playing back their duets, the researchers found that there were times when male and female birds would sing in harmony -- often when they were fending off common rivals. But when the bond between the birds was threatened by a single female, the birds resorted to cacophonous jamming and jamming defense calls.

If such techniques were part of the evolutionary history of humans, the researchers noted, "our results may help to explain the first steps towards complex, coordinated group signals in humans, which themselves are the likely forerunners to modern music."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Recipe: Gordon's Pot Roast

It's what's cooking tonight! A minor tweak here or there - no turnips - threw in some red-skinned potatoes. And did rub the pot roast down with spice & stuff before browning - and used molasses instead of brown sugar...

Now for a shampling of wine!

Gordon's Pot Roast
Gourmet November 1998

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
3/4 pound carrots
1/2 pound parsnips
1/2 pound turnips
6 ounces mushrooms
a 3-inch piece fresh gingerroot
a 28- to 32-ounce can whole tomatoes
a 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup Tawny Port
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water

  • Chop onion and mince garlic. Peel carrots and parsnips and diagonally cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Peel turnips and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges. Cut mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Peel gingerroot and mince enough to measure 1/4 cup. Drain tomatoes and chop.
  • Pat chuck roast dry and season with salt and pepper. In a 5-quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown roast on all sides. Transfer roast to a plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from kettle. Add onion to kettle and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add Port and red wine and simmer, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of kettle, 5 minutes. Stir in broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, gingerroot, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano and bring mixture to a boil. Add roast, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and mushrooms and simmer, covered, turning roast over halfway through cooking time, 3 hours total, or until tender. Pot roast may be made up to this point 3 days ahead. Cool roast, uncovered, before chilling, covered, and remove any solidified fat before reheating.
  • Transfer roast with tongs to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If necessary skim fat from cooking liquid and bring cooking liquid and vegetables to a boil over moderate heat. In a small bowl stir together cornstarch and water until smooth and stir enough into sauce to thicken to desired consistency. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
  • Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a deep platter. Spoon vegetables and sauce over meat. .
  • Chop onion and mince garlic. Peel carrots and parsnips and diagonally cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Peel turnips and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges. Cut mushrooms into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Peel gingerroot and mince enough to measure 1/4 cup. Drain tomatoes and chop.
  • Pat chuck roast dry and season with salt and pepper. In a 5-quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown roast on all sides. Transfer roast to a plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from kettle. Add onion to kettle and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add Port and red wine and simmer, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of kettle, 5 minutes. Stir in broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, gingerroot, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano and bring mixture to a boil. Add roast, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and mushrooms and simmer, covered, turning roast over halfway through cooking time, 3 hours total, or until tender. Pot roast may be made up to this point 3 days ahead. Cool roast, uncovered, before chilling, covered, and remove any solidified fat before reheating.
  • Transfer roast with tongs to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. If necessary skim fat from cooking liquid and bring cooking liquid and vegetables to a boil over moderate heat. In a small bowl stir together cornstarch and water until smooth and stir enough into sauce to thicken to desired consistency. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
  • Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a deep platter. Spoon vegetables and sauce over meat.

    Epicurious.com © CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Recipe: Chicken Stew w/ Potato Dumplings

Chicken Stew with Potato Dumplings

Chicken Stew with Potato Dumplings
8 servings
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: on HIGH: 4-1/2 hours or on LOW: 6 hours
Ingredients
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium-size parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package (1.1 pounds) shelf-stable fully cooked gnocchi (dumplings)
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cool water
Hot sauce, to taste

Directions
1. Place chicken in a 6-quart slow cooker. Top with carrots, celery, parsnips, sweet potato and scallions. Cover with chicken broth and 1 cup water; season with sage, salt and pepper.
2. Cover slow cooker. Cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or on LOW heat for 6 hours.
3. After cooking, uncover pot and remove chicken to a cutting board. If necessary, raise temperature to high. Add gnocchi, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, let chicken cool slightly, then shred meat from bones, discarding bones.
4. Once gnocchi have cooked, return chicken to pot. Stir cornstarch-water mixture, and add to pot. Cover and cook 10 to 20 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add hot sauce to taste before serving.

LINK: http://www.parents.com/recipe/chicken/chicken-stew-with-potato-dumplings/