Monday, March 31, 2008

Strawberries, briefly baked with sugar and balsamic vinegar to intensify the flavour

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar

"Don't be put off by the vinegar in this recipe -- once it combnies with a bit of sugar and the heat from the oven, it takes on a wonderfully sweet and complex flavour". From Tobie Puttock's Daily Italian.

This dessert has an elegant simplicity and tastes wonderful.

Serves 2 or 3

(You can bake the strawberries in an ordinary oven-safe container with a lid, or you can make a parcel out of aluminium foil. Tear off about 40 cm of foil. Make the parcel by folding it in half, then sealing up the sides by making a 2cm fold along each side. Later, we'll place the strawberry mix in the parcel then seal up the top edge).


  • strawberries, 1 punnet, hulled
  • castor sugar, 1 tbsp
  • balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp
  • to serve it with: some creme fraiche, masarcapone or custard.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 celsius.
    If using a container to cook the strawberries in, preheat it as well.
  • If the strawberries are on the large size, cut them in half.
  • Combine strawberries, sugar and vinegar in a bowl.
  • Place the strawberry mixture inside your container and put the lid on -- or for the foil parcel, close it up by making a fold along the top.
  • Place the container in the oven and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, and let parcel sit, unopened, for a few minutes.
  • Serve at the table.
    The aroma that's released when the parcel is opened is really something special.
  • Arrange the warm strawberries in a martini or wine glasses, accompanied by a generous dollop of creme fraiche, mascapone or custard

Puttock says the dish also goes well with other desserts, such as an Almond Custard, or a chilled Zabaglione, though I haven't tried this myself.

Idea for a Full Sub-tree view in Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer provides several different views of your files and directories: as a listing, as a grid of icons, etc. I’d like a ‘full sub-tree’ view. Rather than just listing just the directory contents, it would show the entire subtree of directories and files underneath the directory, like:

Subdir name
Subdir name

I often find I want to be able to see all those details at once, rather than being limited to seeing each directory one at a timne.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech

Barack Obama's quite remarkable March 18 speech "A More Perfect Union" (37 mins).


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Moving files while they're being downloaded

When I'm downloading a file in Windows, it won't let me move the file or rename it. Sometimes I want to be able to move it, for exactly the same reasons I want to move ordinary files. In this case, I realised there was a better place to put it.

Ideally, it would let me move the file, and it'd be smart enough to update the file contents there. I'm not saying it would be a click of the fingers to implement, but it's certainly technically possible to implement an OS that works like this.

When you think about it, this limitation is simply an inconsistency (of the sort that might confuse people who aren't computer literate) arising from a technical detail, and I think these are the sorts of things we should be trying to eliminate.

A similar thing goes for files that are open in editors. In this case, you might want the OS to notify you that it is currently open, and confirm that you want to go ahead with the operation. The editor would be notified of the change, and adjust things accordingly.

Reader's Digest: 23 ways to avoid catching a cold or the flu

The seems to be a lot colds going around lately -- I've got one now. Reader's Digest has an interesting list of things you can do to prevent catching a cold or the flu.

Here are some of the interesting ones I hadn't heard of. Some might sound strange, but they make sense after you read the explanation for them.

  • Wash your hands twice every time you wash them.
  • Run your toothbrush through the microwave on high for 10 seconds to kill germs that can cause colds and other illnesses.
  • Leave the windows in your house open a crack in winter.
  • Speaking of which, buy a hygrometer.
  • Sit in a sauna once a week.
  • Inhale air from your blow-dryer.
  • Wipe your nose -- don't blow.

Here's another bit from it
3. Use this hand-drying strategy in public restrooms. Studies find a shockingly large percentage of people fail to wash their hands after using a public restroom. And every single one of them touches the door handle on the way out. So after washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet. Use another paper towel to dry your hands, then open the door with that paper towel as a barrier between you and the handle. It sounds nuts, but it's an actual recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control to protect you from infectious diseases like cold and flu.
I've always found it strange how many people don't wash their hands... I wonder why exactly?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Amazing landscape scenes made from food (pics)

Some people have far too much time on their hands.

Similar: What chefs do when they're bored (pics)

Bruce Schneier on the different mindset security professionals need to have

Bruce Schneier on the different mindset security professionals need to have. It involves “thinking about how things can be made to fail. It involves thinking like an attacker, an adversary or a criminal. “ The person with this mind set “can't walk into a store without noticing how they might shoplift. They can't use a computer without wondering about the security vulnerabilities. They can't vote without trying to figure out how to vote twice.”

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Greek Bean Stew with Feta

Nice greek-style stew. Tomatoes and dill make a great flavour combination, and provide the central focus of the flavours here. (Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the cookbook I got this from).

  • onion, 1
  • olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • garlic cloves, 2, crushed
  • canned chopped tomatoes, 400g
  • tomato paste, 1 tbsp
  • bay leaves, 2
  • parsley, finely chopped, 2 tbsp
  • dill, finely chopped, 2 tbsp
  • salt, 1 tsp
  • pepper, 1/2 tsp
  • paprika, 1/2 tsp
  • sugar, 1 tbsp
  • canned beans, 3 x 400g cans (cannellini, butter or kidney)
  • feta cheese, 100g
  • Potential accompaniments: flat bread and a greek salad.

  • Halve and finely slice the onion
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion until soft but not browned.
  • Add the
    • garlic
    • tomatoes
    • tomato paste
    • and 500ml water
  • followed by the
    • bay leaves
    • parsely
    • half the dill
    • salt
    • pepper
    • paprika
    • sugar
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer, partly covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until nice and thick.
  • Drain and rinse the beans, add to the stew, and simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the feta cheese, pat dry and cut into smallish cubes
    (perhaps 1cm to a side - so you don't end up biting into huge peices that'd overwhelm the other flavours).
  • Add to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes until the cheese is soft.
  • Serve in small bowls, drizzled with a little extra olive oil and scattered with the remaining dill.
  • Serve hot or at room temprature (it's actually quite good when cool), with some warm flat bread and perhaps a Greek salad.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Impressive shadow puppet routine on Letterman

Pretty amazing performance by Raymond Crowe, who happens to be from Adelaide in Australia.