I finished this book a couple of days ago. Very interesting. It is about how not linear or logical are philosophy, economics and life. About how we try to find logic/causality to everything. How history only teaches what we have only discovered. How we can’t predict properly, and much less financial market using Gaussian and Bayeasian models when these are non-linar systems, how we should run away from “experts”, how the academy is built in a status-quo that can’t be refreshed. It is intense, it touches a lot of subjects. And sometimes I feel I get it, and later on I am not sure. Examples like the turkey that is feed for 100 days, and very likely “thinks” that will last forever, until without knowing, Thanksgiving comes, are brilliant. Similar examples for Casanova (who survived any type of incident) and NYC (like Casanova but at city level).
A black swan is considered something very unlikely to happen that actually happens or similarly, that something very likely to happen, it doesnt.
The book was written in 2007 just before the 2008 financial meltdown so its attacks to the “risk” management can’t fit better.
It uses references from Daniel Kahneman who some years later wrote a great book about how we (badly) reason. And won a nobel prize in Economics… funny enough, that’s a prize who Nassim attacks a lot around the book. As well, I enjoyed the part regarding the application of chaos theory/fractals from Benoit Mandelbrot (that I read from his book) in the markets. He mentions many other authors like Karl Popper (whom I have never paid attention), Herni Poincare, etc. As well, he mentions Godel.
The entries about Skepticism and Empiricism are really great. From how started, how it is related to the black swans and how Medicine killed more people than cure them until not long ago. And when I was reading about Sextus Empiricus, I wasnt sure if he was joking, but I was really surprised by the discovery of this philosopher/physician.
This is another typical sweet from my hometown I like a lot and it was in my to-cook list. After several failed attempts with magdalenas, I decided finally to give it a go. I had good memories from last December in the bakery so I followed a recipe from my aunt and see.
3 large eggs
170ml olive oil
1 lemon zest
4gr bicarbonate sodic + 4gr tartaric acid
400gr-500gr+ plain flour
Whisk eggs and sugar very well. Until the mix is foaming
Add olive oil and lemon zest. Keep whisking
Add bicarbonate and tartaric acid, keep whisking
Add flour, shifting it, bit a bit into the mix.
Pre-heat oven at 200C
At one point, you will have to use a wooden spoon to keep mixing. This is a critical point. I added the 400gr of flour, and the mix was still too wet so I keep adding bit a bit more flour until I had a dough no too sticky. Keep in mind you need to be able to use a roller and a cookie cutter. So at one point, I pour the dough into the table and tried to knead it adding bits of flour. I was lucky because I had some flashbacks from I was a kid doing the same thing so It helped me to carry on until I had that kind of playful dough but still a bit sticky. If you add too much flour, the biscuits will be hard as stone.
So once you have the dough ready, use a roller to spread the dough around 1cm thick and use the cookie cutter. In my case it was a round one, in my hometown use a rectangular one with round corners. I may try to “build” something.
So always putting flour in the surface before spreading the dough with the roller. Use the cutter, and transfer the biscuit to a baking tray with a bit of flour to avoid sticking. When you use the cutter, the biscuit can’t be too sticky, if so, you need to add a bit of flour.
Once you can’t cut more cookies, form a ball again, and a bit of flour in the surface and roll it. Cut and repeat until you use up all dough.
Bake the cookies until golden on top. 20 minutes or so.
Let them cool down, it is very important!
This is before getting to the oven.
This is after the oven.
And these are the real ones I try to match!
They dont look very similar but still I was quite happy with result. For being the first time, it was tasty! I could add more sugar?, maybe a bit less time in the oven?
It is a simple recipe, basic ingredients, and brought me good memories. What else?
And this is a snapshot of how it is really done by the real bakers!
This is a recipe that a very good friend recommend me but using smoky tofu instead of bacon. So I decided to give it a go:
1kg of fresh spinach
3 cloves of garlic
250g of smoky firm tofu
150g of cheese (of your taste)
1 cup of rice (paella or risotto style)
1 can of tomate sauce
200ml of cream
1 cup of chicken/veggy stock.
1 cup of plain flour
In big sauce pan, add boiling water and cook all spinach. They will reduce a lot. Once they are soft, drain the spinach and chopped them very thinly.
In another sauce pan, add some olive oil and fry for a bit the chopped garlic cloves. Then add the rice. Fry everything for a bit, then add two cups of boiling water to the rice and let it cook at low-medium heat. Try to get it as much dry as possible to hep making the balls later.
In a frying pan, add a bit of oil, at medium-heat. Add chopped onions, and fry until golden, then add chopped tofu. Fry everything, try to get a golden color from the tofu.
In another frying pan, add the tomate sauce, stock and cream. Mix well, and let it cook at low-medium heat.
In a big bowl, put the chopped spinach, rice, tofu and cheese. Mix everything very well.
In one plate/bowl add the flour and in another the whisked eggs.
In the small frying pan, some a bit of oil and heat up. You dont need to deep fry.
From the spinach mix, start making some balls, then pass them through the flour, cover properly, remove any excess and the pass through the eggs.
Then in the small frying pan, put 3-4 balls and fry them until golden in all sides. Them add to the tomate sauce mix.
I filled the tomate sauce pan with spinach balls, so I used the left over and did some other balls and “omellete”.
Keep the spinach balls in the tomate sauce until it thickens up a bit.
Then you can remove from the heat, and ready to eat!
The recipe is very tasty. I didnt manage to get a good ball form, I think my rice was a bit too wet? In the video the balls look super rounded. But anyway, I had a good lunch the whole week!
It was normal to have a small snack or tapa in most bars in Spain, from a small plate of crisps, salty peanuts or fried almonds to some seafood. Even buying a 1kg sack of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts wasnt that expensive.
Now, when I go to Portugal or Spain, I try to buy some small bag of fried almonds. But now I wanted to do it myself because I had the gut feeling that it couldnt be that difficult. I found this video and I used it as reference.
200gr almonds (with skin)
pinch of salt
olive oil for frying
Put the almonds in a sauce pan with boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes.
Remove the almonds from the water, let it cool down for 1 minute and then remove the skin. It should be quite easy. Recommended to push with your fingers from the side of the almond, not the tips.
Dry them in kitchen paper.
Put a frying pan at medium heat with the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the almonds and kit stirring.
Once the almonds get golden, remove the pan from the heat and take the almonds for the oil, trying to drain as much oil as you can. Then put again in kitchen paper to soak up more oil.
While warm, add salt to the taste of the almonds.
Once they are cool down you can store them in a glass jar.
For some time I wanted to read “War and Peace“. It has taken me just over a month although initially I had my doubts about the book. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. Why did I read it? Apart from recommendation from the few people I follow/read in the Internet, it is because I think reading this type of books will make me wiser, smarter, find the solutions to the mysteries of the universe and life (it is not 42), etc etc. It never happens. But at least, I try to learn something new, soaks up new experiences, conversations, etc.
I liked the intro about the book and Tolstoy life. A highlight of that is he tried to remove copyrights of his novels, he belonged to old nobility family and fought in the Crimean war.
The book is focused in the Napaleonic Wars in Russia. I was surprised how strong was the French influence in Russia. The nobility was mainly French educated and there are parts of the book where some characters mention how bad is their Russian.
It is a long book, thought was going to be boring but was engaging. I guess it is an stereotopic: Russian things are boring, grey, dull. It is luck of knowledge of Eastern countries (real) culture. It felt like a “Pillar of the Earth” + a soup-opera. But it wasn’t cheesy at all. So see how deep and different is each character. How they evolve. There is some (life) philosophy (mainly from Pierre during his spell in the front) that really got me. It is something that I really believe in: simple life. And there are a lot pages about (the complexity / meaning) of love.
But mainly the book is about History. I have learnt history mainly based in big characters and actions. But Tolstoy’s point is History is not really that, is not that rational/causistic as we try to believe (and write). He focus several times in Napoleon. How he was a genius in some battles but then how he failed in Russia campaign. Tolstoy argues that is not just Napoleon’s action that produce those outcomes. It was everything around. But we try to focus and justify outcomes in just one fact.
The novel doesnt really have an end. It just ends. It is not made in Holiwood. So it is nice.