Looking for something entertaining to while away these last few winter evenings?
Would you like to watch something fun and fascinating on your TV?
And, dare I say it, perhaps, just maybe, learn something?
I have a suggestion…. or two…
No, you haven't ended up at the Twilight Zone version of this blog; the alternate reality where all is good…
And there are knobs on bathroom doors…. Not yet….
We've spent the last 4 months without broadcast television. Instead, we've been revisiting old friends on the VCR.
Yes, VCR, not DVD.
I'd forgotten how good television could be:
Cosmos, by and with Carl Sagan
Yes, it's 20 years old and a lot has happened in our exploration of the universe in that time. But his articulate and easy to understand explanation of the Doppler Effect, his tour of the great library of Alexandria, his stroll through a neuron-firing brain and his visit to 'Flatland' to explain dimensions are timeless.
Find out what a 'googal' is.
Learn who first figured out the world was round (Ancient Greece) and how he did it.
Have a look at a simple, mathematical formula for calculating the chances of intelligent life in our universe.
Follow the timeline from the beginning of the universe to the very, very late appearance of humans.
"If you want to bake an apple pie from scratch you must first create the universe."
Connections, Connections 2, and Connections 3, by and with James Burke
I'm not a big fan of "2", which we don't own. It consisted of half hour segments, and I think they were rushed. But the original and "3" were hour long segments and are excellent.
The premise is to take an item, like a credit card or gun powder, and trace it's history.
Not the history of the item, but the long, convoluted chain of events and people that led to its invention, in most cases starting a few thousand years ago.
What does a woman recovering from small pox, the tulip craze of the harem at Topkapi, Byron's favorite mistress, Gallileo being imrpisoned by the church and the sale of indulgences have to do with the laptop I'm typing on?
He manages to pull it all together, with humor, wit, and a healthy dose of history.
The Day the Universe Changed, by and with James Burke
Similar to 'Connections' but different. Again, he takes a particular topic, but this time explores the events leading up to it and how it changed the lives of humans forever.
As in riding a horse.
As in being able to stay on the horse in war.
Major thing that; changed the lives of every human forever.
As did the discovery of perspective.
Yes, we did not always have persepective… At least, not as something we knew about, or were able to use.
And 0. (That's a zero)
When the scribes in the Alhambra we're translating ancient Greek texts from Arabic into Spanish for the backward Christians, they had a bit of a hard time with this concept.
"Zero? What is zero? It's an empty space? How do I write an empty space?" That's how the word, 'zero' came from Arabic to English.
The bad news is my, much-loved, VHS versions are wearing out. We've probably watched these all a dozen times over the years…. and always pick up something new.
The good news is they have all been converted and digitally remastered (whatever that means) to DVD.
Well good news for you in the US… They're not yet available here.
If you have kids…. They'll watch them, they'll love them, and they'll learn stuff!
So will you!
See, that wasn't too bad, was it. I shall now step off the soap box. (And, Mr. Burke… Checks can be made payable to….)
How about some pasta to enjoy whilst watching your new programs?
This week, Presto Pasta Nights, founded by Ruth, of Once Upon a Feast is being hosted by Erin, of The Skinny Gourmet. Be sure to visit her blog on Friday for lots of great pasta recipes.
Pasta with Turkey, Peas and Leeks
Frozen peas are a vastly underused vegetable. They're hard to find fresh and,with peas, frozen is better, anyway. The leeks add a mild onion flavor to the pasta and a sprinkle of shredded cheese finishes it.
2 medium leeks – about 1 1/2" diameter (3.5cm) each
6oz (180gr) fresh or frozen peas (more or less) naked – not sauced
10oz (300gr) turkey
2 tsp dried tarragon
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) white wine
1/2 cup (2oz, 60gr) shredded cheese
1 1/4 cup pasta, bite-size, penne, farfalle
Cook pasta according to package directions.
While pasta cooks: Clean leeks and slice thinly. Slice turkey into strips. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add leeks and sauté until starting to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and sauté 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock, wine, tarragon and peas. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until peas are done and tender, about 10 minutes.
To finish: Add the drained pasta, and cook, stirring until heated through and the liquid has either been reduced a bit or absorbed by the pasta. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, stir to combine and serve.
It's almost spring-like, isn't it… (the peas and leeks)
BTW, the above shows were on Public Television and The Learning Channel. Are either of these still in existence? Or replaced by cheap 'reality tv'?