I haven’t blogged in a while…

MDC, Mozilla, Work 2 Comments

Since there seems to be a trend starting, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and blog (about work stuff) for the first time in ages.

So what’s new? Since my departure from the Mozilla Developer Center project, it seems to be whizzing along like a well-oiled machine, producing docs and excruciatingly cute posters at top speed. Basically, the whole thing is doing just fine without me, which means either I did something very right, or I was excess baggage the whole time. I’m sure opinions vary.

While no longer working on MDC, I’ve been scrabbling around madly trying to figure out how to do my new job which involves a bewildering array of meetings, email, various documents, and a strange mix of Firefox 3 and Mozilla Labs.

Most recently, Mozilla Labs has had an extreme web makeover to jazz up its look and feel to be more unique, happier, and brighter. Hopefully it reflects the spirit of play and exploration with which we want to infuse all things related to Mozilla Labs. We have also launched the new Mozilla Labs Community Forum where everyone is welcome to participate and help drive the future of web innovation and invention. There’s also a new Labs IRC channel at #labs on the irc.mozilla.org server, so feel free to drop by and chat. A good time will be had by all.

In Firefox 3 news, the requirements document is shaping up nicely and we’re hoping to get it under a formal change request system in the near future. If you have any comments about the draft change request system (see link), feel free to comment on the Talk page, or in the dev.planning thread I just started for this very purpose.

Soon I’ll be heading to lovely Boston for the Mozilla Developer Day where apparently I’ll be chatting about Mozilla Labs. I’ve never spent any time in Boston at all (in spite of knowing a bunch of people there), so I’m looking forward to finally seeing the city. Fun times. Later, in mid-April, I’ll be heading down to Mountain View for a week of meetings and planning and etc etc. Etc.

Sunday veggie soup

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes 6 Comments
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful baby carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 c chicken broth (Knorr in a box)
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 6 small new potatoes, halved
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large-ish pot over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic, cook for 30-40 seconds. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables, sauteing for a couple of minutes. Add thyme and salt and pepper.

Transfer all that to the slow cooker, add tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Add beans 15 mins before you want to serve to heat through. Serve in big bowls with crusty buttered bread.

I have no idea what this is like yet, but I’m going to try it tomorrow. Really, I doubt you can go wrong with this recipe.

Quick Friday dinner

Food, Recipes 2 Comments

Last night’s dinner was simple, fast, and yummy.

Cheesy polenta

  • 2.5 c water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter (unsalted)
  • 1/2 c polenta (corn meal, basically)
  • 1/3 c milk (2%)
  • 1/2 c freshly grated parmasean

In a medium saucepan, put water on to boil with salt and butter. When boiling, whisk in polenta and keep whisking for a minute or two. Turn heat down to minimum. Continue cooking polenta for 30 mins or so, whisking well every few mins. Don’t panic too much about the stirring — just try to keep it from getting clumpy. After 30 mins, add milk and parmasean, stir stir stir to incorporate. Ta dah — creamy cheesy polenta.

Sauted kale with garlic

  • Bunch of kale, stems trimmed off and washed well
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lg clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Put a saute pan on medium, add oil. When hot, toss in garlic and cook for 30-40 seconds. Add kale (don’t bother drying after washing, the water will help it steam), turn down to med-low, cover and cook for 30 mins or so.

Roast pork tenderloin

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • Dry spice rub — this time I just used ground pepper, some sugar, some steak spice, a bit of unsweeted powdered cocoa, and a bit of salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 375. Coat outside of pork with spice rub. Heat cast iron pan on stove to med-high, add oil. When oil is hot, sear the tenderloin for 2-3 mins per side. Put tenderloin (in cast-iron pan) in the oven and roast for 10-15 mins until cooked through. Let rest for 5 mins, slice and serve with polenta and kale.

Prep time around 10 mins total. Cooking time around 30 mins. Serve with a nice pinot noir or other lightish red. Or whatever. Have whatever wine you like. Or beer. Mm.

Dinner for the profoundly lazy

Food, Recipes 2 Comments

Making another slow cooker dinner today: oniony potroast with carrots.

Ingredients

  • Sirloin tip roast (3lbs or so)
  • 1 envelope Knorr onion soup mix
  • Baby carrots (couple of handsful)
  • 2.5 cups water

Put the roast in the crockpot, dump onion mix on top, add carrots, pour in water. Turn on “low” and leave for 8-9 hours. Prep time roughly 2 mins.

I put this on at 9am and the house smells all awesome oniony and yum. I’ll probably serve it with either boiled baby potatoes or maybe roast garlic mash. We’ll see.

I think it might be time to upgrade my slow cooker — I found a fantastic-sounding basic vegetable soup recipe that needs a bigger pot than I have. Luckily even the high end ones are inexpensive.

Ah the curse of spam filters

General No Comments

I just realized that I’ve been missing moderation notifications from my blog because my gmail spam filter has been eating them like tasty, tasty candy. If you’ve made comments on my blog that didn’t show up, this is why. My apologies! I’ve given the spam filter a sound beating and these sorts of shenanigans should not happen again.

1-800-GOT-JUNK?

General 9 Comments

Every once in a while the manic side of my personality meshes directly with the obsessive-compulsive side and I end up going on an epic cleaning/decluttering/furniture-rearranging binge. One such binge is just hitting the “winding down” stages, and all-in-all it has caused a complete reworking of the bedroom/office/loft, front hall, back hall, and storage space. Not bad for 2 days work (with 2-3 lazier days of reassembling left, but that’s relatively minor).

Part of this great whirlwind of activity included getting rid of a lot of old junk and clutter that was just making me generally crazy. It included two old mismatched and crappy dressers (being replaced by new, matching, less-crappy dressers), an old tv stand, my 10 year old crappy computer chair (and good riddance to that back-destroying monstrosity), an old table, 2 19″ CRT monitors (the last CRTs in the house, huzzah!), 4 (four, count ‘em) large rubbermaid bins full of random computer cables and peripherals, a broken vacuum cleaner, several boxes of old magazines, etc etc etc. Essentially, the accumulated detritus of a slightly (and somewhat shamefully) over-consumptive lifestyle.

Initially the idea was that we would rent a van, pile it full of junk, then drive around to the various charities, recycling centres, and junk depots and dispose of it in as reasonable and responsible a way as possible. After scheduling the van, however, I was watching HGTV and saw, yet again, a big blue 1-800-GOT-JUNK truck on Holmes on Homes (I’m an unapologetic renovation show junkie). Curious, I Googled, read, read some more, did some research, checked prices, and, without leaving the comfort of my browser, booked an appointment.

1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Here’s how the whole thing unfolded:

  1. Sunday afternoon – I book an appointment on the website for “Tuesday 3:00-5:00p”. The site explains that someone will be onsite during that time to start the job and they will phone me 30-45 mins before showing up.
  2. Tuesday 3:15pm – I get a call from the GOT JUNK guys. They explain they’ll be here in 30-45 mins.
  3. Tuesday 3:50pm – They arrive, come inside, take a look at the pile of crap we’re having them haul away, and give me an estimate – 2 guys, 20 mins, $360 (or something like that). I say “OK” and they get started.
  4. Tuesday 4:45pm – Obviously they underestimated the time, but they finish up. They return my key (front door autolocks – pita), explain that they managed to compact my junk more than they thought, and that the total is only $285. Delighted, I give them a credit card and a few minutes later, they depart.
  5. The End.

Not only did they show up on time and finish quickly and below their estimate, 1-800-GOT-JUNK recycles or donates anything that can be recycled or donated, assuaging my yuppie guilt. On top of all of that it turns out that they’re one of the best companies to work for in the country (their HQ is based in Vancouver and they have 280+ franchises). Really, I cannot recommend this service highly enough. If you have crap around your house that you need to get rid of, these are the folks to call.

5 stars. A+. Worth every penny.

Global knives

Food 4 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I decided to indulge in a couple of new knives for cooking. I’ve been using a 9in Henckel chef’s knife for several years, but I’ve never been thrilled with its weight how it holds an edge, so I was hoping to find a knife that’s lighter and generally sharper (ideally requiring less maintenance to maintain that edge).

After extensive research (we’re talkin’ several days of intense internetting here), I settled upon Global knives — specifically the Global 8in cook’s knife and the Global 4in paring knife.

Global 8in cook's knife

Not only are these knives lighter and far more comfortable than my old knives, they’re also insanely sharp. I am so absolutely thrilled with them that I’ve started telling all my friends to get them as well. The best part? I paid a mere $90 cdn for the 8in and $50 for the paring knife. They’re an absolute joy to use, the result being that I’ve been cooking more — dumplings, stirfries, soups, guacamole — basically anything that requires relatively intensive knife use.

Tomorrow I’m going to make some beef and cabbage dumplings, I think (chop chop), and a chicken soup (using up the leftover roast chicken from tonight). Double yum.

It’s comin’ right for us

General 2 Comments

weather map, scary

A random kitchen tip

Food 6 Comments

As I’ve been learning how to cook more and better types of food, I’ve been slowly amassing an array of dried herbs and spices, which I’ve long since learned to buy in bulk from the health food shop down the street. Instead of paying $5.99 for a standard-sized jar of whatever from some herb-and-spice megacorp, I can go to the bulk place and get as much (or little) as I want in a plastic baggie for less than a buck. Naturally, being as I am, this lead to a cupboard full of small unlabelled baggies. When I realized that I had no fewer than four baggies of cayenne pepper, I decided that I needed a better system.

After a long foray into the strange and elaborate world of spice racks, I came to some conclusions:

  1. Actual spice racks fail in two unforgiveable ways: they take up either counter or wall space, and the actual storage containers invariably suck.
  2. Individual jars that are sold as spice jars also fail in several ways: they’re entirely too expensive, they usually suck (airtight, smairtight), they’re never designed to stack, and the lids are usually crappy.
  3. Occassionally spice storage systems will come prefilled which might seem like a boon, but isn’t — the contents are terrifying, old, stale, grey, dusty, and just basically awful.

To make a long story short, the entire spice rack and spice storage industry is an absolute sham and doesn’t deserve a speck of your hard earned money.

My recommendation? Do what I did and buy two dozen 125ml mason jars and use those. If you buy them by the case (12 per), you get the jars, lids, and handy labels all for less than $1 each. They stack, they’re inexpensive, they’re airtight, they have nice wide mouths for pinching or scooping with a measuring spoon, and it’s always easy to find more as your collection grows. If it turns out you need a few bigger jars for things like salt, peppercorns, or chili powder, no problem – mason jars come in a wide array of matching, stacking, airtight, non-sucky formats.

125ml mason jar

Lo, the mighty mason jar.

Bonus tip: Don’t spend money on a fancy salad dressing bottle either. Get a pint mason jar, measure in your oil, vinegar and other ingredients, put on the lid and shake like hell. If there’s any left over, it’s already in a handy, fridge-ready container.

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