I did some baking for a party today. My first attempt with puff pastry was horrendous; I didn’t size the dough pieces right, didn’t add the fillings in the right amounts, and didn’t put enough egg wash on to seal them. Oh well. But I think I know what I’m going to try next with puff pastry — Beef Wellington a la Gordon Ramsay. I hope it’s as easy as he makes it look; then again, it looked easy when Karen Krasne did the puff pastries at Extraordinary Desserts. I also made Elvis Pound Cake; that’s something I can at least do right. I had the mixer on high for longer than usual, and used my new bundt pan, and it turned out almost the consistency of angel food cake. Really good stuff.
Not a lot of surfing time today, so the link dump might be a bit shorter. But since yesterday, there is:
Well done Titan Robots performers in the UK. Impressive even if there are performers in suits; triply so if they’re actual mechanical robots; less so if they’re alien robots trying to make a living on Earth while their spaceship undergoes repair.
Today was a very lazy day. I took the day off work again and didn’t get much done, but that’s OK. I did make up another batch of yuzu curd; my plan is to do something interesting for a party this weekend, but I’m not entirely sure what yet. I may also steal some tonight to top some blackberries I got at a local market.
PNFS looks like a very interesting technology to watch; it’s partly supported by NetApp, and looks like the idea is to take what StorNext does with separating out metadata and data on a filesystem, but be more agnostic about where the file data lives (including on NFS servers instead of just fiber channel disk).
Every now and then I re-stumble across English Russia, a photoblog of interesting things that happen in the countries of the former USSR. This post shows some soviet ideas for an airship-based postal system (how wonderfully steampunk!). This next one has some beautiful amateur (or at least non-professional) photography of the areas currently involved in the Russian/Georgian conflict.
Today I saw, among other things, links to the user manual for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. This got me thinking of the stereotypical user manual for crazy large government-scale objects, and how they always seem to begin with “Congratulations on your purchase of a Large Hadron Collider!” They continue with prattle about how you’ll become the envy of your friends and other small governments, how over a thousand scientists in lab coats labored for years to produce this fine product for your use in taking over the world, or whatever. Then, I did a quick google search for Congratulations on your purchase of, and was amused by how many products actually begin their manuals like that.
Today was lots of fun, in a run-around-and-get-things-done kind of way. I’m quite tired now though.
I put up only one post so far about the food, but with pictures, at out of house and home, our group food and recipe blog. But I got the pictures set up for the pots-de-creme and devonshire berry pavlovas (thank you again, Extraordinary Desserts), so just have to write the posts for those. I’m also probably going to make another batch of yuzu cream tomorrow — I have some limes and an orange I have to use up, some puff pastry in the freezer, and a new microplane grater to try out.
Today I only found one link. One link! Internet, you’ve failed me for today! Also I’m too tired to go hunting now.
Today’s link is to this story about medieval nanotech (which isn’t nearly as cool as that combination of words should be), whereupon it’s been discovered that a thin coat of gold on certain stained glass windows actually works kind of like titanium dioxide to help remove VOCs from the air when struck by sunlight — a natural air purifier, as it were.
We’ll try for more tomorrow. Internet, you’ve been told!
So today I took the day off; despite having got up at noon (i guess I really needed the sleep) I think I got more done today than I normally do on a weekend. Though I still didn’t get everything I wanted done.
I made kitchen joy today: I baked my very first salmon piece, and had a lovely maple-onion-mustard glaze on it (and have lunch for tomorrow, too!). Then, I started on the recipe pair from Extraordinary Desserts — Devonshire Berry Pavlova (with egg whites) and Chocolate Pot-de-creme (with egg yolks). The meringues came out OK; I found out that when you bake them you’re basically trying to dry them out (thank you, Mr. McGee), and mine didn’t dry out as much as they should have. They worked, though, and now I have a few bags full of meringue shells. They’ll go well with the half-assed mock Devonshire cream I made yesterday, and the blueberries I picked up at Trader Joe’s, as well as the champagne grapes from Costco. I love the season of cheap fruit! Thanks to Ms. Krasne’s class, I got my egg whites to stiff peak stage for the first time ever.
After that, I worked on the Oreo-style pots-de-creme. It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, and I’m not going to taste them till tomorrow, since they have to refrigerate. But even if the presentation sucks, with any luck the taste will be decent. We’ll see — it’s my first real food experiment. I took pictures of both and will try to put them up this weekend.
And some food-related yumminess. The other night, I made some fried bananas with half-assed mock devonshire cream (I didn’t have enough of the ingredients for mock devonshire cream, so I threw enough bits together so it tasted good); but these grilled chocolate banana boats look really good. (via SlashFood).
Because it’s summer, and alcohol tends to dehydrate me more than make me enjoy it, I’m probably going to try my hand at these mocktails later this week too. Ah, plans.
The internet hasn’t been doing its job for a couple of days, but I think I’m back.
I took a fish class last night, and got some ideas on cooking halibut, salmon, and scallops — yum. Also found out why steak from the midwest US generally seems to taste better than what one can get in the grocery store — because apparently the cattle from the midwest wander around less on the flat grazing land, as opposed to California’s more hilly land. Or something. Actually I’m really not sure why, but I know that the steak in the surf and turf meal tasted absolutely amazing.
Today I had to wake up at 5AM, so am a bit tired now. But I did make a reasonable facsimile of oreo cookie filling, which I’m trying to figure out how to use. It seems like a modified buttercream frosting; except make sure not to use too much vanilla or you ruin the oreo-style flavor.
Today’s linkdump is a bit small.
Normally I’m not one to praise Microsoft, but their research arm (which is doing a decent competitive effort towards seizing the title of the new Bell Labs in terms of software) along with the University of Washington came up with an amazing photo viewer that finds similar pictures to ones you feed it and uses them to find 3-d paths through scenery and let you fly around and view objects from all sides. It’s much more interesting in the video.
So we’re pushing 10-gigabit ethernet to a single computer, and the median (not even the average!) download speed in the US is a paltry 2.3 megabits per second. The Communications Workers of America aren’t the only ones who should be outraged. And the cable companies are whining about having to supply bandwidth to people who actually *use* it!
Today I made pound cake for the second time, from a bundt recipe. It’s apparently Elvis’s favorite pound cake — and it is quite good, but without a bundt or tube pan, I’m having trouble getting the outer portion done at the same time as the inner portion.
Having said that, it’s quite light and fluffy, and goes very well with Devonshire or Yuzu creams (or both!)
Today in the weird world:
Extra-wide contact lenses — with a wider colored-iris bit to give one that anime look. I’ve been fascinated by eye-changing contact lenses, but haven’t ever been able to wear contacts the few times I’ve tried. (via Neatorama)
Pilobolus — a dance group that works entirely in shadow. Embedded youtube after the link; it’s worth the watch.
When bureaucracy strikes — an absence request form that wants to know why you’ll be out, but only if your issue is on the list…
Airlines aren’t on my list of great companies, but I have to admit the new series of commercials for United are really impressively well done and even (dare I say it) beautiful. Have a gander at one or two. (via SuperPunch).
Today was picnicking, making things with wood, errand-running, industry-disgrace-purchasing, and some actual relaxing and getting-housey-stuff-done-ing. So only one link, although its awesomeness makes up for it being the only one.
I missed a post yesterday, but I have an excuse — I was pooped. I went to a class at Extraordinary Desserts, and learned how to make a few of the things they serve there. It was lots of fun, and tonight I tried a couple of the recipes. They’re all about combining building blocks in interesting and fun ways, so two of the blocks I tried tonight were yuzu curd (like lemon curd, but with yuzu juice, so it’s got a hint of saltiness from the yuzu) and mock devonshire cream. I also tried a pound cake recipe I found, but I now understand why bundt recipes are different from not-bundt recipes. It might have turned out OK though — I’m going to bring them to work tomorrow and see how they match up with stuff.
If this leads to Ikea selling solar panels, things could get interesting. I realize it’s difficult to do safely, but I love the idea of someone being able to go get a package or two, set up a solar panel someplace sunny, and just plug it in and start contributing power to the grid. (via Gizmodo)
And of course,
Calvin and Jobs — a beautiful mashup of Calvin and Hobbes with everyone’s favorite designer CEO.