Weremice and other news of the week

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but that’s not because I haven’t been reading the news. Well, ok, maybe it’s a little because I haven’t been reading the news. But mostly it’s because I haven’t been reading the news with an eye to actually writing anything about it.

But really, how could anyone resist blogging about a predatory desert mouse? And if you’re going to do that, it’s really not that big a deal to tack on a photo of the universe’s largest spiral galaxy, a cheese recipe, and this week’s edition of Parenting Advice from Facebook, is it?

Zoologger: Mouse eats scorpions and howls at moon

Let me get this straight: You discover a desert animal which bites like a tiger, rears up on its hind legs and howls at the moon before chomping its prey, eats the weaker members of its own kind, and is immune to scorpion venom and you thought grasshopper mouse would be a good name?

Largest Spiral Galaxy is Five Times larger than Milky Way (Huffington Post Science)

NGC 6872, the largest galaxy in the universe. (Photo: NASA)

NGC 6872, the largest galaxy in the universe. (Photo: NASA)

From the Huffington Post article describing the find:

“Astronomers have crowned the universe’s largest known spiral galaxy, a spectacular behemoth five times bigger than our own Milky Way. The title-holder is now NGC 6872, a barred spiral found 212 million light-years away in the southern constellation Pavo, researchers announced today (Jan. 10). The distance between NGC 6872’s two huge spiral arms is 522,000 light-years, compared to about 100,000 light-years for the Milky Way.”

Don’t fear that expired food (NPR)

Wondering whether that canister of pretzels you picked up the week before Thanksgiving is still good even though the date on the can says it expired yesterday? Or that can of chicken soup from 2011 you discovered while excavating the pantry last week? What about those eggs that are dated last week? NPR has a little guidance for you:

“How long can I keep this? What if it’s past its expiration date? Who even comes up with those dates on food, anyway, and what do they mean?

Here’s the short answer: Those “sell by” dates are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you’re worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.”

The “just smell it” method, of course, works best for those of us whose sense of smell hasn’t been completely destroyed by spending the past thirty-two years snuggling with cats that we happen to be allergic to.

Rounding out our “what to do with the leftovers” theme…

What to do with those leftover scraps of cheese and sips of wine after your guests have fled (Smitten Kitchen)

A month or two ago, I discovered Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perelman’s delightful blog about cooking comfort foods in a 42-square foot kitchen in New York City. With the Superbowl game coming up, I spent some time browsing around her site looking for appetizers a bit more interesting than my usual sliced cheese and crackers plate, and I discovered fromage fort.

Fromage fort (Photo: Smitten Kitchen)

Fromage fort (Photo: Smitten Kitchen)

“Translated as “strong cheese,” [fromage fort]’s a delightfully economical blend of whatever odds and ends of cheese you have around, some wine, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs, if you’re feeling it. Softer cheeses make it creamier. Harder cheeses can benefit from a pat of butter. You can use it right away or “age” it a little more, up to a week is safest. For a treat, you can run your slice of bread spread with the fromage fort under the broiler. If it’s on the softer side, dip things like grissini or other seedy breadsticks in it. But beyond that, there are no rules. There are few recipes, just outlines. But the main thing, the salient bit, is that you just wing it.”

Parenting Advice from Facebook

And finally, my favorite little bit of parenting advice making the rounds on Facebook this week….

parentingAdvice

(What? You were expecting bad advice? Maybe next week.)

So, what’s on your radar today?

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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