On vacation, I tend to be part pack mule.
Thing I didn’t know: the World Chess Hall of Fame is in Saint Louis. It’s home to the world’s largest chess piece.
Remember my roasted brussels sprouts recipe? Try it with walnut oil instead of olive oil. Before broiling, sprinkle some walnuts on top (pecans can do in a pinch). Yum!
Sounds about right…
A point many forget:
I have a small list of food things I want to make. It could be a recipe on a blog post I like, or a request my family makes, or something that just looks good on TV. Unless it is for a holiday or other occasion, there is little priority to it–just whatever strikes my fancy when I feel like making something new. Angel food cake has been on my list for a while, added initially by my wife.
I decided to use Alton Brown’s recipe. The episode which highlighted that taught me a lot, most importantly how to fold, which I use all the time. It also clued me in to the sort of pan I needed–more on that in a bit. I bought it on a binge at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% coupon that was about to expire. This past weekend, having cleared the house of hamentaschen, French silk pie, macaroons, and other goodies from spring holidays, I decided it was time to try it out. It proved to be a bit of a saga.
Angel food cake takes a lot of eggs, or, more specifically, egg whites. I’m less-than-awesome at separating eggs. To get the dozen egg whites, I went through fourteen eggs. I mixed them to medium peeks, folded in the flour, and put it into the pan.
What makes a “tube pan” for angel food cake special is that the tube comes up higher than the edge of the pan, allowing the cake to cool upside-down. As pointed out in the episode of “Good Eats,” until the cake complete cools and sets, it can’t support its own weight. After I was sure it was cooked, I pulled it out and set it on the waiting cooling rack. I then started to flip it.
“Everything OK?” my wife called from upstairs.
“Yeah.” My wife knew it was my “no one was hurt, but I did something stupid” tone.
The whole pan had fallen to the floor. It wasn’t sudden–I had a second where I thought I could catch it, and save the day with minimal damage. Then there was the moment where I could see it tumbling, but realized there was no salvaging it. All I could do was scoop it up with a cutting board.
My wife came down, and we tasted the output. The texture was off–probably because it hadn’t gotten to cool inverted–but the flavor was good. My daughter, in bed but still awake, came to investigate the commotion, and got a taste. I thought this was fair, as otherwise, she would have been denied a sample.
The next day was to be a rainy day–no bike ride for me. My wife brought home a new dozen eggs. Twelve egg whites (out of fourteen attempts) were produced. Medium peeks achieved. Flour folded into the eggs. The batter reminded me more like ice cream base prior to churning than a cake. Into the oven went my second attempt.
It came out looking good. I paused for a photo, and to ensure I had a good grip. The first time I used two hot pads; this time, a dishtowel. I think the latter ensured I was able to grab more of the pan.
We let it cool inverted for two hours while the storm passed through. It was 11:30 PM when I gently used a knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Another feature of the pan is that the base and center of the pan separate from the sides, further easing depanning. It looked perfect.
Just as I started to cut a slice to taste, the power went out! Fortunately, I had taken my pictures, and had everything set to put it away when we were done without having to stumble in the dark. I brought my wife the piece, and the texture was perfect–much nicer than the fallen cake. My wife cut a sliver, and, in the light of a flashlight, I saw a blissful look appear on her face.
About fourteen months ago, my Internet Service Provider (ISP) had a multi-day outage. Caused by a break in their fibre and no redundancy, my ISP was down for about three days. While they have had a few smaller outages, it started to stabilize. Their customer service ran from apathetic, to hostile (once, I got yelled at because of how I tried to explain how my name is spelled).
It is the twenty-first century, not 1996. Internet access is no longer the domain of a few quirky geeky, but has become woven into much of our daily lives. In my opinion, ISPs should not be having multi-day outages in 2014.
My ISP had their second outage this week. It started, for us, last Wednesday (April 24). A call to tech support–just under the wire of their closing time (7 PM)–told us it would be Friday or Saturday. Friday morning, they were saying Saturday morning. They were not explaining what was going on beyond describing it as a “fibre outage.” I tried again on my way home from work: the new estimated time to restore service was Monday.
I walked in the door, and told my wife we needed to change ISPs. By 10 PM, after some family time and supper, I was on the new ISP. It took longer to get my wireless access point talking to the new modem than anything else. Fourfold faster speed for roughly the same money, and better support hours.
Out of curiosity, I tracked the outage. On Monday, during the few times I could get through, I was told they were no longer quoting an estimated time to be back up. A reporter reached out to me for details for a “consumer alert” story. I canceled earlier today, and have heard that they are back up as of this writing (9:10 PM).
We’ve made a few decisions over the years to make switching easier. Our personal email is no longer tied to our ISP but online services like GMail. Our household network is set up in such a fashion that the modem can be swapped out at will (give or take a compatibility glitch). Planning not to be tied to a single provider was a wise decision.
As for our old ISP, I’m not sure what to think. Are they making the investments in their infrastructure to be a viable Twenty-First century ISP, or are they risking a long decline?
The Cincinnati Zoo made a couple of announcements since my last visit, neither of which involved cats. It was, however, for two of my favorite non-felids animals. We had a gorgeous day, so I decided to go check it out.
The first was Seyia, a black rhino. She just moved here from the Baton Rouge Zoo. Like most Louisiana girls, she’s very cute*.
I confess I haven’t watched too many rhinos interacting with people. This time, I was there when her keepers were having a session with her. It was clear that she had an interest–even a fondness–for her people. It was quite cute.
The keepers train the animals behaviors that will help them in the animal’s care. In this case, Seyia has learned how to present her foot for examination.
She seems to really like watermelon.
The other new arrival was Kilua, a baby okapi. She was born on November 30.
She is a very active girl!
The black bear was enjoying the sun.
As was this penguin.
Of course I stopped by the cats! Techumseh the cougar was being active.
They fed the caracal while I was there. I remind myself that, in the wild, small birds are commonly their prey. Today, they gave her a chick. It wasn’t alive, but a bit odd to see. I’m not posting the picture here, but I did link to the picture.
Renji and Nubo, the snow leopards, were relaxed. Nubo did raise his head to say “hi.”
The tigers were even more relaxed, melting into a puddle. Not the tongue.
*Louisiana girls are cute, but I do find myself partial to women from the Midwest. :)
Pretty view…worth the climb that is ahead of me.
The are no longer kittens, though we still refer to them as such. Beso and Luna are three years old. Beso has deep thought sometimes.
Luna is still a hacker-ninja-princess, bounding through life.
It’s hard work to look this good. Don’t you just love her pedicure?
Beso is also a handsome cat.
Happy birthday, kitties!