Double oatmeal cookies with cranberries and walnuts

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes 1 Comment

I love oatmeal cookies. I also love steel-cut oats. This recipe, cribbed from Eat Feed Autumn Winter is all of that and more. I’ve slightly modified the recipe, and these are currently my favourite cookies ever.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/3 c steel-cut oats
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1/3 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together (everything up to and including salt).
  3. Cream butter and sugars together for a few minutes.
  4. Mix egg and vanilla into butter + sugar. Make sure they’re well blended…should be uniform and sort of fluffy and light.
  5. Stir in oat mixture until blended.
  6. Mix in cranberries and walnuts.

Drop in 2″ balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. Leave some space between because they will spread out a bit. Bake for 5 mins, then turn the pans, then bake for another 6-7 mins (until golden brown). This made 20 cookies.

Cool on the pan for 2-3 mins, then on a cooling rack. Eat ‘um.

Interesting resource – ManyBooks.net

Books, eBooks, Project Gutenberg Project, Reading No Comments

manybooks-logo-newA friend recommended a Project Gutenberg book last night*, but instead of linking to the Project Gutenberg site, he pointed me to ManyBooks.net. The site, which is apparently the work of one person, is a bit of an Amazon-like site for free ebooks, most (all?) of which appear to be originally sourced from Project Gutenberg. I can’t attest to the quality of formatting and whatnot for the ManyBooks.net books, but the site is interesting in that it has more information about the texts, and it also allows readers to post ratings and reviews (which is the really useful bit).

For example, the Project Gutenberg page for The House on the Borderland is a pretty dry and library-catalogue-like affair, and it doesn’t really contain all the information you want about a book, such as the original publication date and length.

On the other hand, the ManyBooks.net page for The House on the Borderland includes a brief synopsis of the story, the original date of publication (1907), its length (50,975 words, 140 pages**) and a handful of user reviews and ratings (average rating: 5 stars).

So if you’re looking for a Project Gutenberg book to read but are having a hard time digging around the Project Gutenberg site, check out ManyBooks.net. The site isn’t perfect by any means, but I find more approachable, more useful, and easier to browse than the Project Gutenberg site itself.


* The friend: David Humphrey, whose blog is very much worth reading. The book: Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-catcher, originally published in 1898 and now on my very 21st century Kindle.

** “Pages” don’t really exist in ebooks, so I’m assuming this is an estimation of the number of pages the book would be if printed.

PGP: The House on the Borderland

Books, Project Gutenberg Project, Reading 2 Comments

Project Gutenberg ProjectThe first book I’ve read for the Project Gutenberg Project is William Hope Hodgeson’s The House on the Borderland. This is a very strange, oddly compelling, and frankly bizarre novel in which two fellows travel to a remote village in Ireland for a fishing holiday. After a few days they run across a creepy old ruin perched precariously over an immense pit where a river is roaring far below. Whilst poking about the ruins they come across an aged manuscript that is largely still legible, and the rest of the tale is told within that dilapidated old book.

I chose this book because its title reminded me of “Keep on the Borderlands“, one of the first Dungeons and Dragons modules I (and most everyone my age) ever played. The novel, of course, has nothing at all to do with the game, but it doesn’t matter — once I started reading I could hardly put it down. Even when I thought I was done with it (there are a few draggy bits in the middle) I kept reading, drawn to continue turning the pages to find out what ever happens at the end of this absolutely bizarre story.

I liked this book at lot, and I think anyone who likes horror, scifi, or anything in between will enjoy it as well. It is strongly reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft, so if you’re a fan of that master of nightmares, you might give this one a go as well.

Project Gutenberg Project (& Challenge!)

Books, eBooks, Internet, Project Gutenberg Project, Web, Work 7 Comments

Like reading? Want to support a good cause? Welcome to the Project Gutenberg Project*!

If you’ve never heard of it, Project Gutenberg (Wikipedia page) is an almost entirely volunteer-driven effort to digitize, archive, and distribute “cultural works” (mostly books). It was established in 1971 and now includes over 30,000 free ebooks that you can read on a wide variety of devices including computers, cellphones, various mobile devices, and ebook readers.

Project Gutenberg contains some amazing, unparalleled works of literature and it is an incredibly valuable resource that just doesn’t seem to get the credit (and support) it deserves. This challenge has two purposes:

1) To inspire people to read some of these wonderful old classics, and
2) To support Project Gutenberg.

Here’s the challenge

1) Set a goal: Pick a number of Project Gutenberg books you think you could read over the next year. This can be anything from a conservative 2 or 3, a more ambitious one per month, or a hardcore no-holds-barred one per week. The number is entirely up to you. Post a quick comment here if you would like to make your goal public!

2) Make a donation: Donate a few dollars to Project Gutenberg. I’m going to donate $2 for each book in my goal, but that’s just a suggestion. Just try to send ‘em a couple of bucks if you can.

3) Find some books and start reading. Each time you finish a book, blog a quick review of it, fire off a tweet about it, or post to Facebook about it. Encourage other folks to play along, donate a few dollars, and read some of these amazing pieces of literature. Project Gutenberg is a great and under-appreciated project that is doing some fantastic work, so let’s show ‘em some love.

Not sure where to start?
Here’s a quick baker’s dozen of some of the fantastic books available through Project Gutenberg:

Stickers!

Here are some stickers you can put on your weblog if you decide to participate. Link the sticker to this blog post, and we’ll see how many people we can get reading some old classics and supporting Project Gutenberg.

PARTICIPANT5books10books12books15books20books25books30books40books50books52books100books

* Disclaimers: I’m doing this just for fun. I am in no way associated with Project Gutenberg, and they have no idea I’m doing this. Having read their legalese I think I’m ok calling this the “Project Gutenberg Project”, but I didn’t ask for their permission (so the name may change!) If you decide to donate, please go to the Project Gutenberg site, and follow their directions.

Very cool original stamp graphic is from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

Happy reading!

A random post about grocery shopping

Cooking, Food, Ramblings 1 Comment

A long time ago I realized that grocery shopping isn’t something I can do haphazardly — send me into a grocery store without a list and a solid plan of action and I’ll come out with a completely random array of stuff, little of which can be used to put together anything even remotely resembling a meal.

So, I plan. Nothing crazy obsessive-compulsive, just a rough idea of 5-6 main meals we can make, plus various things for breakfasts and lunch. Rob and I both work from home, so we eat in the vast majority of the time and only go out for lunch or dinner two or three times a week.

As an example, here’s the menu plan I cobbled together earlier today:

  • Soba salad with spinach + edamame (dinner, leftovers for lunch)
  • Beef curry (dinner, leftovers for lunch)
  • Saag aloo (to have with beef curry)
  • Ramen (w/ pork, scallions & bokchoy — dinner)
  • Beef & mushroom stirfry with noodles or rice (dinner, leftovers for lunch)
  • Leek & potato soup (dinner, leftovers for lunch)
  • Chana masala & rice (dinner, leftovers for lunch)
  • Bacon & Eggers (breakfast, weekend)
  • Muslix & yogurt (breakfast, 2-3 times)
  • Cereal w/ berries (breakfast, 2-3 times)
  • Steel-cut oatmeal (breakfast)

And that pretty much gets us through the week, with a few cheese & cracker or toast snacks here and there, and enough produce to throw together an extra side or snack if needed.

The shopping list, not including stuff we already have on hand looks something like what’s below. I do organize it in order of where stuff is in the store because that just makes life easier:

  • Limes (3)
  • Spinach (lg pkg)
  • Green onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Bokchoy or napa cabbage
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Onions (3lb)
  • Potatoes (5lb)
  • Leeks (2 pkg)
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Bread for toast
  • English muffins
  • Bacon
  • Beef brisket/flank
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Stewing beef (2 pkg)
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Frozen spinach (2-3)
  • Sugar
  • Tomato paste
  • Basmati rice
  • Beef stock (2-3)
  • Coffee beans (2)
  • Muslix

And there you have it. My grocery list for tomorrow. Exciting times.

Novel: Elegance of the Hedgehog

Books, Reading No Comments

Elegance of the Hedgehog is translated from French, and apparently immensely popular in France. It is a very odd novel.

I liked it, but it’s awkward. The novel has two narrators — an older woman in her 50s who works as a concierge for a building of private apartments, and a 12 year old girl who lives in one of them — and various chapters, set in a different typeface for each, are told from the point of view of one or the other. It’s…odd, and I can’t say I found the technique to be particularly interesting or necessary. The narrators also spend an awful lot of time in their heads — there is a whole lot of telling-rather-than-showing going on, with big chewy passages wherein one or the other ruminates about art or philosophy or the nature of family or some other such thing.

The beginning is choppy — the concierge’s character is developed in fits and starts, and when first introduced the little girl isn’t terribly likable. In fact I never really developed any sort of affection or attachment to the child — she feels rather more like a plot device than a person, having no convincing emotional development or depth. The concierge, however, who is the actual protagonist of the story, is much more fully fleshed-out, and the middle of the story is spent largely watching her transformation and development.

But then it all goes awry. I won’t post anything that will spoil the story, but suffice it to say that I didn’t care for the ending (and the bit leading up to the ending) at all. It’s heavy handed and feels horribly contrived — the choppy beginning of the story lead into a reasonably well paced and flowing middle that is unfortunately destroyed by a sudden, sledgehammer-like ending. It felt very much like an editor or creative writing class had ravaged some subtler and more ethereal ending that was more in fitting with the narrative, so the author replaced it with something that attempts to be shocking, but is actually just abrupt and hollow.

Recommended? Not really. There are lots and lots of books better than this, but then there are also lots and lots of books that are much worse. A definite middle-of-the-pack showing.

Last chance! Planet Mozilla Survey

Mozilla, Planet Mozilla, Work No Comments

I’m going to be closing the Planet Mozilla Survey this afternoon, so if you haven’t had a chance to respond to it yet, please do so ASAP! You can find the survey here:

Planet Mozilla survey.

Thanks!

Reminder + (almost) last call: Planet Mozilla Survey

Mozilla, Mozilla community, Planet Mozilla, Work No Comments

We’re still hoping for a few more responses on the Planet Mozilla Survey, linked below. The survey will be closing on Friday afternoon, so please take a few minutes to give us your thoughts before then. We’ve had a lot of fantastic input so far, but would like to make sure everyone who wants to respond has an opportunity to do so. Thanks!

The Planet Mozilla team would like your help. Planet Mozilla is a central and vital part of the Mozilla Community, but we think it could be better. We’re looking for your input on what you think Planet is (or should be) for, how well it’s fulfilling that purpose, and how it could be improved or augmented to better serve our community.

Please take a few minutes of your time to answer our three short questions about Planet Mozilla. We really want as much feedback as possible, so you can also leave comments on this blog post if you have other questions, comments or insights about Planet or other Planet-related things. Thanks!

Planet Mozilla survey.

Veggie, bean, and sausage stew

Cooking, Food, Recipes No Comments

Mark Bittman called this a “cassoulet with lots of vegetables”, but it doesn’t actually resemble proper cassoulet in the slightest. Here’s my slightly modified version, with less complicated meat involvement. I’ve made this twice recently, and it’s really tasty.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 sausages, whatever sort you like most — I use spicy or mild Italian sausages
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 yellow onions or leeks (white + light green parts only), chopped
  • 2 med carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 small/med zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or, ideally, 6-7 sprigs fresh thyme)
  • 1/4-1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 19oz tins diced tomatoes + liquid
  • 1 tin chicken stock
  • 2 19oz tins white kidney beans, drained
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat pot to medium or so. Brown + cook through the sausages in the bottom of a medium sauce pan or pot. I used my 6 litre enameled cast iron pot, which works wonderfully. Once cooked, remove to a plate and slice into sensibly-sized pieces.
  2. Pour oil into the pot, then add onions and garlic. Saute these together for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add carrots, celery, and zucchini. Saute these for a few more minutes — 2-3, not long.
  4. Put sliced sausage back into the pot and add thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. Stir and saute for a few more minutes.
  5. Pour in diced tomatoes with their liquid, and the small tin of chicken stock. Bring to low boil, then turn down to simmer for 30 mins or so, at least until the vegetables are cooked through.
  6. Add drained + rinsed beans, and leave on low for a while to heat through.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with crusty buns, real butter, and a nice beer.

Dresden Files + Narnia

Books, Reading 2 Comments

Dresden Files #1 Storm Front — First of an apparently well-loved series that also had a short and unsuccessful stint as a SciFi channel TV show. Storm Front is about as pulpy as pulp fantasy gets, being a cliche-ridden formulaic mash-up between urban fantasy and shlocky detective novel. Entertaining enough for what it is, but the writing was bad enough in places to be distracting. Started #2 but lost interest pretty quickly. Not recommended.

Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; A Horse and His Boy (first 3 books of the Narnia series) — If I have read these before, I don’t recall doing so. The first book was brilliant, the second book was great, the third book started well but slowed and got bogged down and a bit dull. Will finish the rest of the series some other time (I’ve been told it’s pretty much downhill from LW&W, anyhow). Recommended, but I’m not entirely sure I understand the breathless praise the series often gets — nostalgia is a potent force, it seems.

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