TOAST’s Web “Thing”

Tuesday, 2007-01-09

More Cassoulet

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:36 pm

Damn you picassa for blocking my pictures.

Anyway, I reheated a portion of my cassoulet tonight for an hour and a half and discovered something almost incredible.  Here’s the bottom line:

When cooking a cassoulet, an hour before it’s done, fish around in the pot for all the chicken pieces (and probably the duck as well), lay them on top of the beans, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.  Then cook the final hour uncovered.

Ho-leey sheeyat, that’s some good eating.  The chicken is tender from it’s slow braising, full of flavour from all the tasty bits in the pot, one “side” of it will essentially be roasted, and with the crumbs and the drying, gives it an eating quality not completely unlike a schnitzel, or southern fried chicken.

 I was also worried about having too much liquid in there.  I tasted some late last night.  Then some more.  Then some more.  Then some more.  Man, it’s good.  Not a problem any more.

Sunday, 2007-01-07

Heya, hiya, have some blog.

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:49 pm

– WordPress is driving me mad.  It’s so, so slow to edit.  Adding a link takes a full minute sometimes.  They’re shared service is being hit to all hell, and it’ll likely get worse.  The good news is that I hear that if you host it yourself, it’s quite fast, and hosting costs as little as $5 a month.  Gimme a couple of weeks.
– As you may know, more than 80% of the TV I watch is cooking shows.  For some reason, this week I’ve seen 5-6 recipes including “blood oranges”.  These come in season for as little as a month (Winter).  I’m gueassing the reason that they’re on TV so much right is that cable now gets cooking shows quite soon after their original US/UK broadcasts, and ABC is showing repeats.  Drives me mad as you can’t get them :).  Unless they’re being imported from the Northern Hemesphere (in which case they’ll likely be expensive and crap).
– I’ve started shopping at Ashfield Fruit World and they have all manner of great stuff.
 – Bags of all sorts of flours, dried beans, dried fruits etc.  They buy it in bulk and pack it into 1kg/500g vacuum sealed bags, and a looks like they’re hardly charging for this service!  Some things are cheaper than home-brand (is a good brand).  Flour – $1 per kilo, Dried beans – $3 a kilo (enough to feed a whole lot of people), salted peanuts, $4 a kilo, all manner of good stuff, even Wasabi peas.
 – Must be coriander season, small bunches for 70c (or a huge bundle for tree-fitty).  I’ve seen it for $3 a bunch at times.  Also, parsely for a buck, basil/thai basil for two bucks.
 – $6 for a 12 pack of tinned tomatoes.

– Still not entered a supermarket.  Not a problem at all.  Bought a gatorade from a convenience store, and paid for the privelege.
– This week, a big of a cassolet, even though it’s summer and that I couldn’t find any duck pieces and Vietnamese pork recipe
– I’ve started reading “The Man who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten (sorry, no link, it’s too painful).  Brilliant stuff, I can hardly put it down.  Dr. Rodd generously lent it to me, claining “this guys is just like you”.  Totally agree.  He’s American, but writes as if he were British, is a Lawyer, but writes as if he has a science degree and goes to a level of research and detail rivalled only by Alton Brown.
– Also reading “Musashi”.  Have made it past the 50 pages now, and am now “into the story”.  Though not completely hooked yet, I am finding it quite interesting.  I know some really exciting and cool things are about to start happening, which is keeping me reading it.  So far, the main character has a WOODEN sword ?!, which he’s actually used to kill someone with.  One scene has him pissed off in a forest and in anger goes around slashing branches off trees.
– Iron Chef America is improving with each episode.  Hope y’all saw Ming Tsai in battle Duck.  Man, that was an amazing episode.  I claim that the winner totally PWNED the loser.
– My last week of being “broke”.  Very nice.
– I’ve been working with Eric Scheid from Ironclad (sorry, no link) on an Information Architecture project.  The man is a fricken GENIUS at IA.  He lives and breathes it.  I learn more in a couple of hours with him than I do in a month of programming.  If you’re in IA or a related field, you’re likely to come across him at some point.
– Is it just me, or does the whole of Australia seem to be on holidays for the last month ?  I’ve had more things like “broken websites”, “broken application forms”, “missed deliveries”, “lost orders”, “faxes not received”, “stuffed up orders” in the last month than I’ve had in the last year.

More from me after payday, when I’ve got some coin and can hopefully get this thing hosted somewhere usable

Monday, 2007-01-01

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:33 pm

I got quite excited when I found out that there was a new “Adrian Mole” book out (even though it was 6 months after it was actually published).  I sort of grew up reading the poor blighter’s mis-adventures, usually reading them at a similar sort of age as the actual character!  Moley is about 10 years older than me, and with the delays in writing, publishing and getting the books to Australia, it’s tracked my life somewhat.  Unfortunately, the first couple of books, many pieces of the humour went right over my head.  As a 14 year old, I found myself continually having to look up things like “Tory”, “Falklands”, “Terry’s Chocolate Orange”, “Brown Ale”, “Giro” etc.  These days, the ‘net sure helps, this time around I was looking up “Jeremy Clarkson”, “Habitat” and a bunch of British MPs.  Even though always described as an “anti-hero”, the first couple of books I saw Moley as quite an exciting character, having a much more fun and social life than me.  I was one of the original computer nerds/’net addicts though.  But I digress.

I’ll try not to spoil anything for you.  I really enjoyed the read and got through the ~500 pages in under 3 days.  I really liked the “canon” of the series, no need to establish e.g. who Tania Braithwaite is, or about Sharon Bott / Glenn etc, just jump right in there and give us the updates.  There’s usually a few years gap between each book, during which time, things change, people die, new people emerge etc, but I really churned through this book like catching up with an old friend.

The main criticism I have regarding this book (and the previous one to some extent) is the predictability of some of the events.  Basically, if something significant happens, then you know that it’s all going to end up pair-shaped.  In fact, you can start anticipating it very early on.  Still… that’s what happens to old Moley.

I don’t have all the info, but apparently the author, Sue Townsend, is either going, or is now completely blind!  This is actually reflected in one of the long-term characters of the series, going through a similar ordeal (I won’t tell you who).  You can very much tell that the account is real and personal.  Although only a minor sub-plot, it’s quite surprising and unpredictable.

Alas, this would appear to be the final book in the series (I just confirmed it on wikipedia), and whilst it doesn’t glibly tie up all the loose ends, the conclusion leaves one satisfied.  I’ll probably have a read of Sue Townsend’s other recent works as well, especially if they’re light easy reading material as well.  I’ve spent far too long reading textbooks and heavy literature, one forgets that there are plenty of great, easy to read books out there which over a real alternative to television, the movies and the Internet.

So, if you’re a fan of the series, get yourself a copy, and get stuck in.  It’s a fun light read and will put a smile on your face.

Saturday, 2006-12-09

23. Write the book, minimum 100,000 words

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 12:45 am

I can’t publish any of it online, I read somewhere that if you’ve previously published something online, you’ve got SFA chance of getting it printed.  Publishers won’t touch it with a 20 foot pole.  That might be out of date, but I’m not taking any chances.  I hope I can get away with posting some chapters and a title here, I am taking a risk.  I’d like to try and have it published, but if I can’t, and I like it, I’ll print it myself.

Basically, set in a web company during the dotcom, has a lot about food in it.  Hey, write about what you know and like.  Designed to look “real”, but is goign to be fictional.  More a series of vignettes, I don’t have a central thread / story yet, and I might not even have a strong one.  I think that’s OK though. 

Chapters so far (no order)

  • The one with the japanese gangsters and the Natto.
  • The one with the master stock and the guy who has to leave in a real hurry.
  • The one with the guy who gets locked in the entrance security cage of his office on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend.
  • The one with the guy who works so hard that he’s never home, so he decides to live “homeless” for a year.
  • The one about the $50,000 Laksa Recipe.
  • The rumour about what really happened to the owner of BBQ King
  • The enormous cauldron of glutinous rice.
  • Cooking your way out of trouble.
  • The butcher who asked a LOT of questions.
  • How I seduced a sexy lady with cookies and melted mars bars.
  • The drug dealer who stopped selling cocaine and started selling truffles.
  • The one about the guy who knew every public transport timetable east of strathfield.
  • The BBQ Pork so good that the guy eating it thought he was going to die.
  • Absinthe chocolate mousse.
  • The Thai dude who could cook and lived rent free in a big share-house.

Need another few.  They’ll come, they’ll come…

I’d also like to try the philosophy of “spend 2/3 of your time editing”.

Next action(s):

  • Continue Brainstorm
  • Get writing!  No mucking about, just do it.

Friday, 2006-12-01

Short update

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:55 pm

There was a problem with my 101 list, now fixed.

New rant, most definately “in progress”, about coming up with a fundamental theory of modern languages.

 They’re over to the right there, I can’t figure out how to make an internal link without doing it “the hard way”. 

Thursday, 2006-11-30

Iron Chef French back in town (Sakai Hiroyuki)

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 12:15 am

I was apparently overseas when all the publicity was going on.  Again cooking for 3 nights a degustation menu with Haru from the Observatory.  I went last year with Shan Klan and it fucking ruled.  I’m completely broke (and in big debt) at the moment, and would definately go again.  Price, around $450 per person for 7 courses, including wine.

In other news, apparently SBS are showing Iron Chef America epsisodes.  The first episode was just a total FIX FIX FIX FIX FIX, and most of the episodes I’ve seen are m’eh.  But episode 3 or so, the challenger is Ming Tsai.  YOU ALL *MUST* WATCH THIS, it’s one of the best Iron Chef episodes of either the Japanese or American series.

Friday, 2006-11-24

G’Day

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 6:49 am

G’Day, TOAST here.

After being on the web for more than a decade, I’ve decided to try another attempt at a web “Thing”.  I’ve had a few web presences online, but never found one I liked that much.  I had a genuine geocities account back in 1996 (or maybe it was earlier) for a few years, I had a .plan file that was 100,000 words long (back when John Carmack had his, the precursor the blog), ran a little e-news letter, and even tried a livejournal.  A major part of my job is involved with writing and implementing content management systems (CMSes), and we’ve got a really good one, but still, I’ve never found a web “thing” that has been right for me:

  • Blogs have no sense of permanance.  I write a lot of things that are good, useful and don’t have an expiry date.  A major breakthrough in my quest for the best Laksa recipe gets buried when I announce that my cat’s breath smells like cat food.
  • I considered a website with a CMS, but found that one ends up spending 2 thirds of the time “on” the website, leaving only a third available for writing stuff.  You know how it is.
  • I sort of resorted to just writing things in text files, maybe e-mailing some people, but the lack of audience and feedback wasn’t so good.
  • I used to be very active in usenet, unfortunately, you cannot delete anything from usenet, EVER.  It’s not that I wrote things that I regret, but there’s just a lot of stuff there that was correct at the time, but isn’t so relevant any more.  New information comes to hand, and you can’t update.
  • I used to write for everything2 for a while.  It was pretty good and I had a good time doing it.  The rating system forces you to maintain a good quality and some discipline.  It’s got a nasty, severe learning curve, but once you’re into it, it’s great.  The ability to post more “opinions”, “art”, “rants” (high quality ones only) means it has some benefits over the wikipedia.  I sort of hit a stage though that I was too focused on writing very high quality stuff.  Each article used to take me a couple of hours, and I’d research it.  In the end, I just didn’t have the time.
  • Although I love the wikipedia, and I think it’s the best thing on the web, it doesn’t seem to have a place for differing ideas, and non “factual” information.  I’m very sorry, but the collaborative, anonymous approach just doesn’t appeal to me.  I hate the idea of someone wiping what I’ve written if they disagree with it.  Even though I use the site constantly and think it’s wonderful, contributing via writing just isn’t for me.  I’m happy to give them some coin.

So, after a good look around at what’s hip and happening, I decided to give wordpress a shot.  My understanding is that it’s something between a website and a blog.  The CMS seems to be OK so far, and I’m hot for the concept of “tagging”.

Don’t take anything that you see here as representative of what I do in my professional career.  Top chefs eat cheese sandwiches when they get home, a handyman’s house is traditionally in a state of disrepair, many great psychologists are portrayed as total flakes etc., so I’m totally comfortable with a top web developer / information architect’s personal homepage being a damn mess.  And you should be too.

So, enjoy !

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