The history of General Tso’s Chicken

I just came across this story (http://goo.gl/EbqP) today, and given my name, and given that I fancy myself a bit of a foodie, who could resist? (Not that I considered the deep-fried, dunked-in-sugar-syrup mess that passes for General Tso’s chicken in most fast food Chinese restaurants to be gourmet food, mind you!) Here’s the first thing you should know: The general had nothing to do with his chicken. You can banish any stories of him stir-frying over the flames of the cities he burned, or heartbreaking tales of a last supper, prepared with blind courage, under attack from overwhelming hordes.
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Fast ext4 fsck times, revisited

Last night I managed to finish up a rather satisfying improvement to ext4’s inode and block allocators. The ext4’s original allocator was actually a bit more simple-minded than ext3’s, in that it didn’t implement the Orlov algorithm to spread out top-level directories for better filesystem aging. It also was buggy in certain ways, where it would return ENOSPC even when there were still plenty of inodes in the file system.
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Sous Vide, Revisited

In a previous post, I had recommended the 4130 NIST-Traceable Temperature Controller to control the temperature in a slow cooker. Unfortunately, that particular controller has a range that tops out at 60 degrees C / 140 degrees F, which is enough for cooking beef for long periods of time, but not enough for say, cooking duck confit, which for which a sous vide temperature of 80 degrees C is recommended. In addition, the 4130 is pretty expensive; almost $150.
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Roast Beef done in the slow cooker, ala sous vide

I’ve been experimenting with this for a while, but last night’s attempt at cooking a roast sous vide was definitely a success. First, I took the roast and let it dry-age in the fridge for about 3 days, covered with a plastic microwave cooking cover that had holes conveniently punched around the sides to let steam (or in this use, the water vapor) escape. Once it had been dry-aged ala Alton Brown, I placed it in the FoodSaver bag and vacuum sealed it.
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Cooking times may vary

A friend recently complained about how it took a full hour to cook (and clean, afterward) a fairly simple dinner consisting of spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs. So it caused me to pay attention to how much time it took to cook meals for myself this weekend. The results were interesting, and reminded me of the time estimates in a how-to plumbing book for a particular job (such as removing an old
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Weekend Menu

I’ve been too busy to write this until now, but I want to remember the menu… very yummy and yet Atkins-compatible…. Friday Breakfast Salmon Scrambled Eggs Sliced tomato Cottage cheese Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, roasted to a Full City Roast Lunch Sliced Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Tuna Sashimi Dinner Salad with baby spinach leaves, tomatoes, bean sprouts, feta cheese, pepperoni, and imitation crab meat Pot Roast (garnished with onions and bacon) 2000 Riesling wine from the Alsace Saturday Brunch Omelet with Spinach and Cottage Cheese filling Tomato Fresh Mozzarella Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Dinner Steamed Tilapia Filet with Ginger and Scallions Stir-fried French green beans with Chinese BBQ (Satay) sauce Riesling Alsace Wine Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Scrambled eggs, with a touch of rosemary and cream Wilson’s Farm Sausages Lunch Dim Sum at Peking Garden
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Quick meals

A recent post by inspired me to write about one of my recent culinary strategies. Well, maybe culinary isn’t the right word; it’s not gourmet cooking, but it’s fast, easy, and pretty tasty. What I’ll do on the weekend, often on Sunday afternoon or evening, is to get 3-4 pounds of ground beef (usually 85% lean), and three large (spanish) onions. The onions get chopped, and cooked until soft in a large skillet or wok using some Joyce Chen Savory Stir Fry Oil.
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Some (obvious) culinary observations…

  1. It is a really good idea to label kitchen containers
  2. 10X confectioner’s sugar and flour can look very similar when you’re in a hurry
  3. However, confectioner’s sugar is not an adequate substitute for flour when making banana bread…
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Industrial beef…

I just finished reading an article in the New York Times’ Sunday Magazine which was entitled Power Steer. It described how modern beef is produced — and produced is the right word here. That article is making wonder (a) what does grass-fed beef taste like (it’s supposed to be more “flavorful” or, ah, “tough”) and (b) how much it costs compared to the industrial beef which most of us eat most of the time.
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Mmmm…. it's good to be home

Last night I had a great reminder about why I like to be home — I treated myself to Wonderful Dinner ™. First course was jumbo shrimp with cocktail source, which took the edge off my hunger. Then it was off to the kitchen to start preparing the main dish, which was grilled Cajun-rubbed trout. After scaling the fish, and then rubbing the fish with a mixture of paprika, ground pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic power, and Italian parsley, I threw it on the Foreman Grill (wonderful device!
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