Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Recipe: Sloppy Joes

This is one of my “comfort food” faves. This version is a bit of work compared to just using a supermarket spice pack but it’s good.

2 TBS olive oil
]1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced (or about 1 TBS of Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce)
1 bell pepper, 1” dice (optional)
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
3 TBS tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion rolls or other buns

Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion, celery, jalapeño, and bell pepper. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook meat until browned (about 10 to 12 minutes). Pour off excess fat. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower heat back to medium and add the tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, Tabasco, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced and the mixture is thick (15 to 30 minutes).

Season with salt and pepper and serve on onion rolls or other types of buns.

Adapted from Epicurious, January 1999.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Links for 12-28-2009

  • Making Money by Giving Stuff Away - Community - ComputerworldUK - Problems are that 1. People are already depending on these supplementary income sources and 2. Not every activity lends itself well to this.
  • Body By Victoria - Secure Computing: Sec-C - Very detailed look at photo manipulation of a model shoot.
  • ASCII by Jason Scott / Metafuckers - My feelings on this type of thing are more complex--to write about when I have the time.
  • Vacation Robo-Post: Introducing the Cincies: What Were TV’s Most Interesting Failures? - Tuned In - - "A Cincy is different from a brilliant-but-cancelled show. It's not just a great TV show that the mass audience didn't recognize. It's also a show that, on some level, failed to live up to its creative potential, but that deserves to be honored for trying. It's a show that took a worthwhile chance and somehow didn't quite make it, maybe because of its difficult premise, maybe because of its creators' limitations, maybe because of network interference. (Another example: Swingtown, CBS's '70s wife-swapping drama, which might have worked better had it been made for pay cable.) It might be a show that has been canceled; or it might be a show that's still on the air and could theoretically still meet its potential someday. A Cincy is a show that took a chance that was worth taking."

Recipe: Three Gingerbreads

Gingerbread, with or without (preferably homemade) whipped cream is a favorite Christmas treat of mine; I avoid glazes. Here are three recipes that I favor. The recipes that use buttermilk can substitute regular milk soured with lemon juice at a rate of 3/4 tsp of lemon juice per 1/4 cup (4 TBS) of milk.

The first is adapted from The Silver Palette cookbook. I make it using Plantation Blackstrap Molasses from Whole Foods so this is a dark assertive gingerbread. You could also make it with something lighter.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan.

Sift dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add egg, sugar, and molasses. Mix well.

Pour boiling water and oil over mixture. Stir thoroughly until smooth.

Pour batter into pan. Set in middle of oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top springs back when touched, the edges have pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan, and an inserted cake tester comes out dry.

Cool in the pan on a rack.

This next recipe from Laurie Colwin of Gourmet makes use of cane syrup from the C. S. Steen Syrup Mill of Abbeville, Louisiana which is similar to what the British call black treacle. (She got the recipe from a British Penguin book, The Farmhouse Kitchen by Mary Norwak.) It makes a very cake-like gingerbread and is, in fact, baked in a pie dish.

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 heaping tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup dried currants or raisins

6 TBS butter, melted

1/2 cup cane syrup

1 egg

4 TBS buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a round 8-inch or 9-inch round pie plate with parchment paper (or grease and flour).

Melt the butter and the cane syrup together over low heat.

Lightly beat egg with the buttermilk.

Mix together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and currants or raisins.

Add eggs and syrup micture and mix well.

Bake 10 minutes in the 375 degree oven, turn down to 325 degrees, and bake 25 to 35 degrees more. A few crumbs stick to a tester when the gingerbread is done.

This last recipe, adapted from Great Dinners from Life, is the least traditional. It uses maple syrup instead of molasses or cane syrup.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (darker grades will have a stronger flavor)

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch baking pan.

Combine the sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the liquid ingredients and the egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until they are well-blended.

Add the batter to the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the cake spring back when lightly touched and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Links for 12-18-2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

De-Duping a PC

Over the years, my Documents directory has accreted a lot of duplicate files. What's usually happened is that I've retired a secondary computer, such as a laptop, and stuck its data files in a directory on main computer. The issue is that there's usually a fair bit of overlap in the files.

But there are also a lot that were created on and remained on the laptop. So I can't just just blow everything away. On the other hand, it takes work to actually merge everything neatly, so it's easier to just stuff everything in the attic--so to speak--rather than figure out what to keep and what to toss.

But things were reaching a breaking point for me. I was up to something like five to-go-through-someday directories that were getting backed up and generally making it harder to find things.

So I finally decided to do something about it.

It turns out that there are some programs out there which can go through a directory or set of directories and find duplicates. The one I chose is called clonespy. After running through the process and eliminating about 11GB of files, here are some thoughts and cautions.
  • Make sure that you have a good backup (and one that won't be overwritten by any automated backup processes). It is very easy to cause serious damage here and, as a practical matter, you're going to have to let the software do a lot of its work in an automated way. (In my case, we were talking about tens of thousands of files.)
  • You should be sure to exclude (or plan to copy back) any directories that require all their files to remain in place even if they are duplicates. A typical example is your local copy of a hosted Web site.
  • In retrospect, I should have played around more with program settings or date stamps or other means of making sure that duplicates were preferentially removed from my archived directories rather than elsewhere in my Documents folder. (In other words, to the degree that you have an existing folder hierarchy, you don't want to pull files out of there.)
  • You will probably be left with archive directories with a whole bunch of empty or near-empty folders. There is no straightforward way to tell Windows to "just give me all the files in this directory tree and forget about the folders." There is a neat workaround though. Do a search at the top-level forward for * and you'll get all the files in the hierarchy returned. Just select them, copy them, and paste them into a ToBeFiled folder or something along those lines. [UPDATE: Upon further examination, I'm not sure this completely works--not quite sure what was going on.]
  • Bottom line: I'd have done things a bit differently that would have avoided some back-end cleanup but it's worth doing if your files are getting out of control.

Celebrating the IBM 1401

Nice video celebrating the IBM 1401 via Timothy Sipples who writes:
The IBM 1401 was so wildly popular that IBM provided optional 1401 emulation on the System/360 mainframes that were announced in 1964. Although it's hard to be certain, it is conceivable (and likely) that, somewhere, there are still programs originally written for the IBM 1401 that are running on today's System z mainframe, nearly 50 years on. Perhaps they've been modified and updated along the way, as business rules and other business needs evolved, but they were born many decades ago.
What an amazing journey.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Links for 12-16-2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Links for 12-14-2009

  • December 11th - National Backup Awareness Day - "Do as much backing up as possible, while being careful not to destroy your precious data in the process. Have an offsite backup. Print out your blog on paper if it's any good. In fact, print out as much stuff as you can. Your backup strategy should be like a squirrel's: bury stuff in as many places as possible (well, except sensitive information, which is a whole other story in itself)."
  • The Unintended Consequences of SPAM - "Finn Brunton, a research fellow at New York University, jumped into spam with two feet and wrote a doctoral dissertation about it entitled Spam in Action: Social Technology and the History of Unintended Consequences. For example, creating new ways of distributing spam, and countering spam can produce unintended innovations. Finn was interviewed about his work a few days ago on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and the full interview is available for downloading as a podcast. Interesting stuff."
  • Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: AWS: the new Chicago Edison - The concept of spot pricing for compute cycles has been floated previously going back to P2P computing days. But much easier to implement within 1 company than as a marketplace.
  • Revisiting Old-School Text Adventures as a Jaded Modern Gamer | - As a longtime player of text adventure games, this is pretty funny.
  • The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : A not-so-brief chat with Randall Stephenson of AT&T - Ah, this is a good one."That’s how good we are here at Apple — we’re so good that even you and your team of Bell System frigtards can’t stop us. You know what it’s like being your business partner? It’s like trying to swim the English Channel with a boat anchor tied to my legs. And yes, in case you’re not following me, in that analogy, you, my friend, are the fucking boat anchor."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Me on CNET Reporters Roundtable about Chrome OS

Links for 12-11-2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Links for 12-06-2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Links for 12-04-2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Links for 12-03-2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Links for 12-01-2009