Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beet & Squid Ink Bread

Did you know you can *easily* buy squid ink in the Mission?? I bought two little packets of the stuff for $2 at Lucca! The only hard part was getting the attention of the very nice gentlemen behind the counter....

Beet & Squid Ink Bread

So my driving interest in baking at the moment is visuals. I want something that looks awesome. I also want something that'll taste awesome-- as in crazy. My friend Mikey is fantastic at making delicious things-- which he documents over at his blog. In fact, I'd say my sudden urge for baking came from him- the fine fellow had a fun sandwich party which featured sandwich rolls made by him. Crazy good.

However-- I'm only interested at the moment in making things I can't buy....

Beet & Squid Ink Bread

Squid ink was chosen for my upcoming need for very black dinner food. The beets were chosen because I have grown to *love* beets at restaurants and I had a whispering memory of my friend Mel making tasty beet cupcakes...

All the recipes for squid ink bread out there on the internet were way over my head. There are a number of beet bread recipes and this one over at Taste For Adventure appealed to me the most.

My modifications (intentional or not) were as such:
Beet & Squid Ink Bread
  • I only had 1 cup of beets instead of 1.5 cups
  • I totally forgot to add the oil in the bread. Oops
  • Only added 1 tsp of salt to the mix to start with
  • Before adding the beet puree I eyeballed separating out 1/3 of the dough and putting it aside
  • Added the puree to the 2/3 portion. Never added more salt to it
  • Mixed ~1/2 the ink packet with 1/3? cup water then added it to the 1/3 portion. Waaay to wet. Added more flour and also some extra salt randomly
  • After letting it rest for an hour I divided the beet portion in half.
  • 15 minutes after that I took one of the beet portions, rolled it out (poorly), rolled out the ink dough (poorly) and then sorta hackishly twisted them together. Let everything rest another 30 min

    I feel the resulting bread was extremely satisfactory. The squid ink preformed ok visually (I need a darker black for my dinner party though) but had very little taste. The beet looked great and had a very distinctive & pleasant taste. Yay beets!

    Beet & Squid Ink Bread

    It should be noted that I was compelled to start this randomly one Monday night and the bread didn't get out of the oven until 12:37am. Lame. Had some at night, and then more in the morning. The half of twisted loaf that was left was brought to work and consumed-- amusing to me that it actually wasn't vegetarian safe. The beet only loaf was brought to work the day after and consumed (little to no negative side effects for being a day old! Win!).

    So... yeah... there's that...
  • Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Slacking as a method of forward movement

    Turns out when there's things I've promised I'd do, I get a great uptick in productivity. This of course only applies for productivity not related to said promises. It's unsustainable long term, but it can feel good. I just have to out-run the guilt.

    A "fan" of the hexes

    This weekend was brought to you by unsent and unwritten letters & packages as well as un planned group vacations. (It now being Tuesday, I can confess the surge has worn off... now I just want to sleep to avoid doing promised things)

    The weekend started off well- Friday night I went to see Puscifer at the Palace of Fine Arts. Great show but criminy- one of the worst audiences I've endured in a long time. Boo. Late night anticts by not-me resulted in Adam and I failing to get to dim sum the next day. This lead me to deciding it would be a good idea if I made steamed buns....

    Steamed Buns attempt 2

    I followed this recipe which I approve of. For fillings I experimented with peanut-butter and apples (bad), spinach and Gouda (VERY bad- I blame the Gouda), beans and cheese (good), black berries and blue berries (good), and egg and beans (meh). Next time those buns are going to be half the size and the fillings just as wacky. I am not thwarted by bad ideas!

    The rest of the weekend was spent pleasantly. A lot of it was spent bitching about the weather. SF has made me so weak- give me a gust of chilly wind and I whine worse then a 5 year old denied a pony. Capitalized on indoor time by finishing off the last of my hex hemming for the Settlers of Catan game. Yes- I am now done sewing down the hexes! WOOT! One could now hypothetically play a game with all the titles...

    Settlers of Catan tiles

    Am far from done with the quilt though. Need to sew snaps onto the hexes, need to "quilt" more tiles, need to sew hexes onto the titles and then I need to address all the other problems that come with making one's own set-- player pieces, ports, numbers for the titles... Am not dishearten by it. At the very least the quilt basic (ocean tiles + the few hexes that can snap to it) has been actively serving as a vital piece to our whole bed set-up. Did you know that SF gets really fucking cold at night?

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Life in February

    Went out to Colorado last week for work. Not sure if I mentioned it, but my company was acqu-hired by these guys last month. They're based in Boulder, Colorado but, no, I will not be moving out there.

    Turns out everyone in Colorado (at least the Boulder & Fort Colins portions I visited) is crazy nice. Like... kinda' spooky nice. I hadn't realized how jaded I had become living in SF...

    Work is still working along though. We're still using the Play framework (1.2.4) and I gotta' say I'm a huge fan. Several people on the team have become slightly disillusioned about aspects of the framework but not me. As long as you're willing to accept that their testing framework should be taken with a very large pinch of salt and that you're going to have to brush up against more static methods then you'd like, it's great.

    Also, we are using git and I've sorta' pushed myself to the front of managing our transition from the basic "working off the master branch" to something more like the git-flow behavior. I've had at least two nights of intense git dreams now... not nightmares, but not exactly restful. I still haven't mastered rebasing, but other then that I'm finally starting to feel pretty damn comfortable with it. It helps that we're using FishEye and it visualizes everything fantastically. Also, we're using Crucible for code reviews. THAT is super awesome.

    Just switched some UI code the other day from a janky "jquery hacking at stuff in Spine" over to Knockout. OMG Squee! I've talked about Knockout before and I gotta' say- it still rocks. Working with it just feels right. Like a fuzzy code blanket that you wrap yourself in and sigh, knowing that everything will be alright.

    We're still using Coffeescript and it still makes me mutter under my breath. I don't have any problem using it myself, but I apparently have a problem accepting that folks are going to write code in the Coffescript way which means no method ()s and using the words "and" and "or" in their conditionals... and that conditionals/control structures sometimes go *after* the statement they're controlling.... It's like... like... WHY? Why? I refuse to believe you gain anything by leaving off method ()s-- it just makes it harder to read. Coffeescript CAN be written in the "usual" way. Maybe if you don't know how to program the "English" style of coding is helpful, but personally I've learned to read code that looks like Java, JavaScript and C++ and have optimized my code skimming/scanning behavior for things that match that.

    I've said it before in the office, but reading Coffeescript feels like reading a Cormac McCarthy novel-- I'm sure there's a great story/stuff there, but WHY? You can leave off the quote marks in English and ()s in code and I can figure out what you mean but it's not helping anything. It's just really fucking annoying.

    Also- no {}s? WTF.

    Speaking of questionable ideas, I've for some reason started to express interest in cooking. Talk about being a late bloomer. It helps that I bought an immersion blender aka spinning blades of death machine. That's fun.

    It's not fra-la-la-la cook anything interest though. I've got 1.5 very specific dinner party plan ideas with specific dishes I need to learn to cook. So... yeah, I'm working on that....
    Eggs & Needles

    In fact, I'm so dedicated to the plan, I'm shelling out ridiculous $$$$ x more to take a pasta making class at Flour + Water (it comes with a dinner so I guess that makes it reasonable?). I'm also going to the Gastronomy event at the Exploratorium.... So we'll see how this all goes....
    Put it in the oven?

    But with every up, there is a down... Increase in programming thoughts + cooking = decrease in ... ? Sewing? Drawing? (could it get any infrequent?) I'll probably miss the gardening boat this spring...

    Eggs & Needles

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    StarCraft Pillow & Music

    I first played StarCraft back in... a while ago... 2000? I was working as a camp councilor at the ACE computer camp down at Stanford that summer and I remember staying up late at night delighting in how creepy the sound effects were as I played through mission after mission. I've never stopped loving the Zerg since.
    Terran Pillow : final

    Was totally rocking that SC2 beta back at the very start, and have been playing it off and on since with my friends. I'm no pro (or Gold league even... would call myself a mid-range Silver) and I never even finished the campaign... but I enjoy the game and enjoy my friends who enjoy the game even more. A particular gentleman- the most talented of us lot- has taught Adam and I the delight in watching the league Korean gamers play. Starcraft- the only pro-sport I'll actually watch/follow along. Huh.
    Terran Pillow : start
    Terran Pillow : planningTerran Pillow : progress

    Anyway, this friend of ours aged and to celebrate it I made a pillow following this free pattern over at Sew, Mama, Sew!. While he can kick butt as any race, he tends to favor the (boring) Terrans.
    Terran Pillow : finishedTerran Pillow : almost doneTerran Pillow : finished back

    Shout-out to my friend Katie for helping me pick out the fabric on super short notice (did you know JoAnne's cutting table closes 10 minutes before the store does?)

    I've got enough for another one- think I'll give it a try. The blue would look good in our den. I of course plan to follow up with my own Zerg pillow and then I guess I'm obligated to make a Protoss one eventually... It's Adam's race of choice (figures, yes?)

    Yes, this one is... less then ideal. Turns out one should probably applique and *then* cut the square out... because laying down applique straight is a bit "tricky"... Live and learn.


    Speaking of wrapping stuff up that happened last month-- I now feel capable of sharing my Febuary/January 2012 playlist. It's got some songs I knew I liked, but it's mostly new things I've scrapped together during that period of time. While it takes work, I am a fan of combing through's weekly releases listening to random songs here and there. It's labor intensive but worth it for me since things like Pandora never seemed to work out ('s stations by tag is my other search of choice)

    Feburary/Jaunary 2012 playlist

    Warning : contains several NSFW tracks

    It's the first playlist where I've actually ordered stuff a bit-
    • First we start off with a touch of moody music-- I appreciate the yearning sound I hear in Cheerleader, and the sadness of Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime....
    • That goes on for a while and we eventually end up with Nine Inch Nails, we're finally, like, "Really?" and wrap up that leg of the playlist with Super Saiyan
    • A confused story begins to unwind... in my mind I feel it's totally reasonable to string together Over At The Frankenstein Place, Cheerleader, Two Against One + more... it's a story of loss, unhappiness, angst, and frustration which life and oneself... culminating with The Hill....
    • ... after *that* downer, we're, like, "Fuck it, lets turn this up" and lurch over to Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me, Bad Girls, and more. So much more. Note the artful transition from "real" hip-hop by Jay Z & Kanye West into delicious Nerd Core tracks. In my mind, they sound the same. Special attention must be drawn to the Former Fat Boys tracks-- a totally random yet delightful find during February
    • Narratives and energy are hard to maintain so it starts to fumble towards the end... The last highlight(s) would be the two (spread out) tracks from the Arkham City EP which basically sounds like Batman quotes & Dubstep- a fitting conclusion to my confused nerd core leg of the playlist.
    • Let us note that the playlist concludes with Prelude- the opening track to some random crazy metal album. Why does Rdio have so many of these? I keep wanting to like crazy (death?) metal... but I just can't bring myself to tollerate the screaming for an entire track...