Smoked Salmon

Last week at Walmart they had a big case full of frozen, wild salmon. Would you believe it wasn't even from China! Full fledged Alaskan salmon. Well, that farm raised, color added atlantic salmon just doesn't compare (or so I hear) so I couldn't pass up a 2lb fish for $5. Wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but I knew I wouldn't have another chance soon (and sure enough they were all gone the next time I visted).

We had half of it tonight baked with mustard, honey and butter. It was pretty good, I have to admit. I'm not really a fish guy so I found that a little surprising myself. My tastes sure have changed in the last 5 years. I think a good part of that is mental.

So what to do with the other half? Well, smoke it of course! I haven't finished my terra cotta smoker yet, so I figure I'll jury rig one of these bad boys. Since I only have half a fish, and it was a little smaller than AB's, I dropped the proportions by quite a bit. It's sitting in the fridge right now. I'll smoke it tomorrow evening and post about it, of course.

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A Little Spam Research

I've heard one of the ways to increase your spam load is to post your email address on a website, and anecdotally I can vouch for that. For example, just recently I've started receiving spam addressed to message IDs of emails I posted to public mailing lists. So I decided to quantify that a little bit. To that end I have sprinkled some new email addresses around on my website and carefully noted where. Over the next few weeks, months, however long it takes, I'll watch the results and let you know.

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Curd

After reading Joseph Hall's lemon curd entry I decided to try it myself. The results were delicious. I didn't have a real lemon so I skipped on the zest, just tossed in enough lemon juice to taste yummy. I used 2 1/2 tablespoons of regular sugar instead of the superfine and it worked out just fine.

Comparing it to Alton Brown's recipe I see that AB uses proportionally less egg for the amount of butter. Mine didn't end up quite as thick as I hoped and I wonder if that was the reason. Everything else is pretty much the same.

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Database Theory 101

Relational databases are powerful beasts. Rightly so they've replaced heirarchical databases for most types of data, directories being the notable exception. But things go wrong when someone who doesn't know jack squat about them is in charge. You'd like an example? Well, it just so happens that I have one. How convenient.

Head on over to americastestkitchen.com and take a look. See if you can find the error before you finish reading this post. Go ahead, I'll wait. Be careful if you sign up for an account as they'll seriously spam your email address. Make sure you uncheck the box that says "send me tons of crap", or whatever it was. Rotten liars. You know, they never did respond to my scathing email.

Anyway, their gimmick is simple. Recipes from the current episode are online, but previous episodes are only for subscribers to Cooks Illustrated magazine. Fair enough. How's it accomplished? Very poorly. A typical URL looks like this (trimmed for brevity): "/recipe.asp?recipeids=26&iSeason=6". The current season is 6, so any link to say "Season=4" will give you a "please pay us $$$ to access this content". Think about that for a second. What's to keep you from changing "4" to "6"? I'll tell you. Absolutely nothing. Try it out and you'll see.

The proper way to do this is to use a relational database (getting back to our topic) to link RecipeId #26 to Season #6. Since a recipe would only be in one season, you'd actually just need a single column added to the table. It doesn't get any simpler than that, and would prevent unauthorized access.

Well, until the incompetent webmasters over at America's Test Kitchen catch wind of this blog you may want to scoop up all their recipes. Considering the popularity of my site, I wouldn't worry about hurrying.

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Jalapeno Mayonnaise

Last night I whipped up another batch of my jalapeno mayonnaise. Boy is that good stuff, and really easy to make. I didn't take pictures so you'll just have to make do with old fashioned instructions.

First, acquire some jalapenos. How many depends on how much mayo you want and how spicy you want it. I used 5 medium sized peppers and made a pint of mayo, which ended up being on the mild side. Roast those puppies until their skins are all black and charred. You can do that over a gas stove or under the broiler. A trick to getting the skins off is to set the peppers on a plate and cover with a lid right after removing them from the heat. Water will condensate and the skins will slip off pretty easily.

Rough chop the peppers into smallish bits and toss into a blending machine. I've used blenders, I've used food processors, and I've done it by hand. Take your pick. Puree the peppers with a few tablespoons of mayo, just enough to give the mixture some bulk. Less blending equals a thicker sauce so adjust as you like.

Mix in enough mayonnaise to dilute to the correct taste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for a month or so, maybe more. I've never done tests but I've never had any go to waste either.

One thing I'd like to try in the future is using homemade mayonnaise. It also is pretty easy to make and using different oils leaves open endless possibilities. I'm thinking mainly of trying some chili oil. Spicy.

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Actiontec DSL modem

For my DSL at home I use an Actiontec GT701W DSL modem, which is the one Qwest sends you. In fact, I'm merely renting it from them because I didn't know if I would want to keep it. The fact that the box continually has issues convinced me pretty quickly that I don't. I noticed something interesting though. It hasn't caused any problems for the last few months.

So I thought about why that might be and it occurred to me that about the time it started working well was when I turned off the wireless. See, I upgraded my home network to IPv6 and since the Actiontec doesn't support it, I put in a Linksys WRT54G which I have modded with OpenWRT. I decided to move the wireless over to the Linksys as well. That seems to be the point at which the Actiontec quit being a retard.

The lesson here is that Actiontec doesn't know how to make a complete system, even if it is based on Linux. But by carefully disabling the more broken parts (including the DNS resolver, which I long ago replaced with a simple Bind cache), you can get a more or less functioning network. Kinda pathetic, eh?

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Score 1 for real food. w00t!

My local school district has decided to revamp its menu to reflect healthier choices. They're going to axe candy, caffiene, and junk food from the ala carte line as well as favor fresh food to processed food. This was an unexpected turn of events and I'm quite glad to see it. If I had known I would have attended the school board meeting and voiced my support, but since my kids still aren't old enough for school I don't pay much attention.

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TV on the Internet?

Disney is trying something new. During May and June they'll be offering some shows on their website, including Lost and Desperate Housewives. I can guarantee I won't watch the latter, but I might try out Lost. Well, actually I've kinda lost interest, but my wife really loves the show and once in a while misses it. A TiVo (or MythTV preferably) would be much better, of course.

Here's what they have to overcome. Right now you can download HDTV versions on P2P networks, with no commercials. They're not instant, but with enough seeders they're not too slow. These versions apparently are only 700x394 which is a widescreen version of standard TV quality. The tradeoff there is that the bandwidth is low enough to deliver in real time.

But speaking of that, they have to deliver the video without any jitter, and I mean none. One of those infamous "buffering..." messages that RealPlayer was known for, will be killer.

It has to Just Work(tm). They're using a Flash media player, so that should work pretty well I think. I'm sure they'll wrap it in all sorts of DRM, which will almost certainly lead to problems (and DRM is just plain wrong anyway).

They're not going to eliminate the P2P TV show swapping, but I hope they realize that's not supposed to be the goal. It's nice to see that they're finally waking up to the fact that people want media on their terms, not on the networks. Hopefully this leads to the next step which will actually be worth using.

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Granola Bars

Another Alton Brown granola recipe for you. This one comes in bar form. How can you go wrong with anything in bar form? I've played with a number of variations on this one and have found it quite flexible as well as quite delicious. Loads better than most of the granola bars you can get at the store, although I'm still trying to get it a little more chewy.

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Ctrl Alt Chicken

On TWiT they mentioned that Revision 3 has posted a new cooking show, Ctrl + Alt + Chicken. I'm new to the whole Revision 3 thing, but I really like this show. I intend to watch further episodes.

This first espisode was chicken cordon bleu. The show was clever and very well done. The food, unfortunately, wasn't. They fried the chicken in oil that was way too hot so it was burned on the outside and raw in the middle. Sounds yummy, no?

Luckily the hosts were funny, had a witty rapport, and seemed to know how to host a show even if they couldn't cook. The production was excellent with high quality equipment, script writing, and editing. It was done with a geeky flair but would be fine for your average cooking enthusiast. They could really stand to watch the language a little, although now that I think about it the average prime time drama uses more foul language. Still, I found it only detracted from the show.

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