Thursday, March 14, 2013

wordy wed + green thurs #3: happy pi day!

Happy Pi Day, all!

Yesyes, I'm late for one. But it is so fortuitous that today is (kind of) a holiday, so I've decided to combine something wordy and something green under the umbrella of pi(e)!

As some may remember from all those days back in algebra and geometry, π or pi is an irrational number that denotes the constant ratio between a circle's circumference and diameter.

Image source: Wiki. The circumference of a circle is slightly more than
three times as long as its diameter. The exact ratio is called 

What does this all translate to on emiliewho?

Well. So we have established pi, a ratio commonly rounded to 3.14, is related to circles. And circles are the shapes of pies (that you eat) - the similarity in pronunciation is the clincher. So basically on March 14, we have an indisputable excuse to eat pies, as long as we appreciate their pristinely rotund forms while doing so, and that is all that really matters.

Why the name pi?

To start off our sleuthing, here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The symbol used by mathematicians to represent the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is the Greek letter π. That letter (and therefore the number π itself) can be denoted by the Latin word pi.[3] In English, π is pronounced as "pie" ( /p//ˈpaɪ/).[4]The lower-case letter π (or π in sans-serif font) is not to be confused with the capital letter Π, which denotes a product of a sequence.
The earliest known use of the Greek letter π to represent the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter was by mathematician William Jones in his 1706 work Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos; or, a New Introduction to the Mathematics.[5] The Greek letter first appears there in the phrase "1/2 Periphery (π)" in the discussion of a circle with radius one. Jones may have chosen π because it was the first letter in the Greek spelling of the word periphery.[6] However, he writes that his equations for π are from the "ready pen of the truly ingenious Mr. John Machin", leading to speculation that Machin may have employed the Greek letter before Jones.[7] It had indeed been used earlier for geometric concepts.[7] William Oughtred used π and δ, the Greek letter equivalents of p and d, to express ratios of periphery and diameter in the 1647 and later editions of Clavis Mathematicae.
After Jones introduced the Greek letter in 1706, it was not adopted by other mathematicians until Euler started using it, beginning with his 1736 work Mechanica. Before then, mathematicians sometimes used letters such as c or p instead.[7] Because Euler corresponded heavily with other mathematicians in Europe, the use of the Greek letter spread rapidly.[7] In 1748, Euler used π in his widely read work Introductio in analysin infinitorum (he wrote: "for the sake of brevity we will write this number as π; thus π is equal to half the circumference of a circle of radius 1") and the practice was universally adopted thereafter in the Western world.[7]

So the universal symbol comes from a lower-case letter in the Greek alphabet, possibly coming from its use in the word "periphery" ( "περίμετρος" ). But this is also related to Latin somehow, because it is the Latin name of the Greek letter. I know these languages are related, but I am no etymologist, so I will just assume that it has something to do how the modern English alphabet is closely tied to the Latin alphabet, which is a derivative of a form of the Greek alphabet. Yeah?????

(I know, this wordy section is a little sad. I love you, Greek, but you are confusing me! D:)

Anyway, mathematics people really know how to get it on. They get REALLY into pi. Perhaps it is an alternate type of machismo combined with nerdocular delight?
From's Pi Day post: Memorizing a record number of the digits of pi has become somewhat of an obsession. The Guinness World Record for memorizing digits of π is held by a graduate student from China named Lu Chao. It took him 24 hours and 4 minutes to recite the 67,890th decimal place of π without a mistake.
Could've eaten a lot of pie in that time frame, man.

Okay, pie time!

Back in the day, butter
was churned by hand.
To make this green (and delicious), I recommend trying to use local produce, such as fruits or dairy from your local farmers market. Also, try to buy organic butter - I try to buy organic for cow products in general. Organic vegetables are nice, but logically organic really makes more of a difference the higher up the food chain you go. I know the products can also be more expensive (I mean veggies versus butter, or meat), but I've found organic butter on sale a few times at my local chain grocer, and that's when I'll snag a few boxes. Butter keeps forever, too, so you don't have to worry too much about using it all immediately.

For those who are vegan or simply opt not to use butter, try the Olive Oil Double Crust recipe from Culinate, provided by the book Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. The trick is "to place the olive oil in the freezer beforehand, so that it becomes partially solid. This helps the fat blend into the dough in little pockets, creating the flakiness you crave."

Also, keep an eye out for what produce is in season. This kind of information is pretty easy to find with a quick google search. Here's a nice list pertaining to California from SFMA, with March crops being:
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Citrus:
    •   Blood Oranges,
    •   Grapefruits,
    •   Kumquats,
    •   Lemons,
    •   Navel Oranges,
    •   Tangelos/Tangerines 
  • Collards
  • Dates, Medjool
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Mustard
  • Onion, Green
  • Passion Fruit
  • Peas, Green
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnips
You could make a delicious savory pie with asparagus and cauliflower, or mushrooms and chard, or a fresh tart with citrus fruits and/or strawberries. So many ways to go! And really, you can't go wrong.

Savory pie recipes:

Sweet pie recipes:

There are plenty of beautiful, scrumptious recipes out there. Have fun and make one your own :) Add goat cheese, sliced roasted almonds, whatever you like. Maybe I'll try this sweet and simple recipe for Joan Ohm's Fresh Strawberry Pie via Culinate or this Crustless Swiss Chard Quiche

Enjoy your Pi(e) Day!

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