Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why I Hate Firefox

It's very simple. It will occasionally, for no reason at all, without warning, not work. I'll load up Firefox, click on a link from my favourite toolbar, or type something into Google, or whatever, and I'll get this response:

Not just once, not twice, but three times I have to reclick the link (refreshing just reloads the error page). Then it remembers that, oh right, it's meant to be a web browser and yes, these are websites, so I'd better let Lucas browse them.

This has shown up in the last 3 revisions, and each time I hope they'll fix it. They don't. And worse, it won't happen all the time. Just every 6th or 7th link, and it brings my experience grinding and crashing to a halt.

I want to support open source developers and all that but god DAMN this is such a basic thing.

Further anger? MOV files. They look great playing at 720p on the Quicktime player, but no video editor I can find, including Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere Pro, or any of the free things I find can edit the suckers. The minute you try to speed up or slow them down, the framerate goes to hell and the video gets choppy. Any converter you get lowers the framerate. Argh.

Technology, why must it be two steps forward and one step back?

PS and by the by: Anamanaguchi's Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game soundtrack makes even the crappiest typing seem like epic haxxoring. Here are some snippets in this trailer:

Friday, September 17, 2010


(or however you write the Harvey Birdman scene-changing noise)

(and no this is totally not a post created solely for the fact that I said I was not going to do two cooking Sunday posts in a row okay maybe it was but you can bite me)

So I now have an iPhone 4! Which is nice. It's my first iPhone, though I pretty much used my iPod Touch like an iPhone. And at the risk of getting called an Apple Fanboy (by Craig and Adrian, mostly), I love it. It's just so freaking easy to do things. It's actually so easy that I feel like I'm doing something wrong, or missing a step, or breaking a rule. My Samsung phone constantly felt like it was fighting against me when I tried to do things like upload pictures, check my facebook or even log into things. The camera is brilliant and takes better and sharper pictures than my last camera, despite being 3 megapixels less. I'm loving all the vintage camera and time-lapse Apps that let me use my phone camera the get me effects that previously took a tripod, patience, software, and lots of time.

Look, I could go on, but I'm mentally censoring myself to try and avoid the anti-hype rage-hate-backlash (that needs an acronym.... AHRHB?). Look, it's a device that works. And I love it for that.

(I just checked. The Scene Change sound for Harvey Birdman is written "Whoo-KOW!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cooking Sunday: Dan Dan Noodles

So hey! This is idea I've had for ages, both to share knowledge and to force myself to blog more often (and not just when I feel like whining). Let's call it Recipe Sunday. The whole idea behind making it a regular weekly thing is to force myself to blog in between so that it's not all recipes. So I'm actually tricking myself. Because, let's face it,. I'm not terribly quick on the uptake.

Right! So cooking is something I came to late in life (well, at least properly), and it was initially saddled by my tendency to stress out when things aren't going exactly perfectly right.

This is something I'm working on.

I've found that through a combination of practice, the right recipes, and not having Tanja in the kitchen when I'm cooking (I'm serious, I tend to freak out if she's within arm's reach of any food I'm preparing), I can stay mellow and poised and all that crap.

I know some of my friends cook, but the recipes I'll be posting are stuff I find works for weekday nights, or weekend movie nights. You know, stuff you guys might not normally try.

Most of these recipes come from cookbooks, but I'll make reference to the original source, as well as any adjustments I've had to make (because cookbooks LIE to you sometimes, kids. SUBTERFUGE!).

Without further lily-gilding, I present the first recipe:

(AND SEE? i JUST SAT HERE FOR 5 MINUTES THINKING WHICH RECIPE SHOULD BE THE FIRST. Because I don't want to make it too advanced, but I also don't want it to suck.)

So I give you (for real this time, promise):

(and don't get scared, the fieriness is totally adjustable, like the seat back of your car)
serves 4, or 2 hungry people

  • Wooden spoon
  • colander
  • Big spaghetti-type pot
  • Big non-stick pan
  • Knives (duh)
  • Measuring spoons and crap
  • Mortar and pestle (if you're awesome)
  • More spoons or a blender/food processor (if you're not)
  • A mug
  • tongs
  • 1 Chicken stock cube (you can use the non-meat ones, it tastes exactly the same, and lets your vegan buddies chill)
  • 500g beef mince (stay with me, vegan bros)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of honey (the measurement is approximate because you really need to eyeball this)
  • 1 375g packet hokkien noodles (or wheat noodles, or udon, or whatever you like)
  • 4 handfuls of mixed green veg (after trial and error, I find what works best is broccoli, choy sum, bok choi, Chinese broccoli or Chinese cabbage. Avoid broccolini, cauliflower or things like that because they stay too tough at the end)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled (use less if you have big honking monster cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground Szechuan pepper (grind it first, then measure, or else you'll have too much)
  • 5 tablespoons of chilli oil (you can buy, it, but come on. It's really easy to make, and if you make it yourself, you can control it better)
  • 1 Spring Onions, sliced thin on the diagonal (mostly for show, so omit if you want)
  • 1 lime, cut in quarters.

Now this is where I mess with the recipe format. In the book I found this in, the instructions have you doing a lot of crap at once, which only served to stress me out. I prefer to do all this stuff first so that when the heat (and the pressure) is on, you can just dump in various bowls.

-- Make the chilli oil:
Like I said above, this is totally up to you. You can use ground chili, chilli flakes, or dried chillies. You can use fresh chilli, or some of those wierd packets of BBQ spice if you want. Basically get your powders or chillies or whatever into a bowl and squish them. Use a mortar and pestle, or a spoon, or a food processor or what have you. Add oil (about 5 tablespoons) a bit at a time, stirring, until you have a paste-type thing. You don't want bits. Tap a bit of it onto your tongue. If your tongue goes numb, it's too hot. You want it gradual, so add a bit more oil, stir and try again. Once the oil is done, put it aside.

-- Prep the veggies--
Bok choi: cut it into quarters lengthwise.
Broccoli: cut of the florets as small as you can get them.
Choy sum/Chinese broccoli: cut off the stems and discard, wash leaves. Leave 'em big.
Cabbage: shred it into strips, as big as you like.
Put all your veggies in a bowl and put aside.
Chop up your spring onions if you're using them and keep them apart from the other veggies.

--Make the mixture--
Grind your szechuan pepper. Use a pepper mill or the mortar and pestle or a processor or whatever. You want this like dust, or it'll get caught in someone's teeth. Grab two tablespoons of the powder and bowl it. Dump your soy sauce into the same bowl and mix it around. Garlic: peel your cloves, and either use a garlic press, or chop them up tiny if you're good with a knife. Now comes the chilli oil. Here's the thing: the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of it, but not everyone can take that. I like to put in 3, and then let guests add more at the table if they want. Mix all of it together, so the garlic absorbs all the good flavoury stuff. Put this bowl aside.

Squeeze your honey into a mug or something microwave safe, and nuke it for 15 seconds, so it's runny. Use more than you think you'll need.

  • Get a big non-stick pan and a big spaghetti-type pot (it's going to have a lot of crap in it) onto two burners. Put the pan on medium, and the pot on high. Fill the pot 3/4 with boiling water and drop in your stock cube. Don't worry, it's cool to sit like this for ages until you're ready.

  • Pan. When it's hot, get your mince into it. DO NOT PUT OIL OR ANYTHING INTO THE PAN. YOU WILL ONLY BOLLOCKS THINGS UP. I'm watching you! Keep your mince moving around so it breaks up small. Here's the hard part. You have to sit and gentle move it around for 15 minutes. That's right. 15 minutes. The whole point is to cook away all the grease and liquid so the beef goes all golden and crunchy. It's on medium so it doesn't go BLACK and crunchy. This will take a while. Be patient. Have a drink. Talk to people. Tell an amusing story about a goblin. By the by, this is where the original recipe had you doing the veggies and garlic. Isn't this easier? Right. When your meat is crispy, use a spoon to pour in about two tablespoons of the honey and toss it about. If it doesn't completely coat the meat, add more (see why I had you make more?). Once the meat is coated, let it sit on the heat for 30 seconds to let the honey thicken, then take the whole pan off the heat and let it sit. You won't need it for a while.

  • Pot, full of boiling stock at this point. Dump in your noodles for the amount of time the packet says to cook. For hokkien noodles, it's 3 minutes. About with a minute left to go, dump in all your veggies (if the pot's really full, don't worry, the leaves'll shrink). When the last minute is up, use the mug you used for the honey to scoop out about a cup of the cooking water, then pour the combined noodles and veggies into the colander, and give it a shake.

  • Now for the flashy bit. Tip the noodles and veggies back into the big pot with the cup of cooking water and tip in your pepper-garlic-chilli-oil mix and mix it all about with tongs. Let it sit on the heat for about a minute, then take it off the stove.

  • Get your serving bowls ready. Tongs. Scoop out the noodles evenly among bowls, making sure you pour some of the liquid over each. Get your beef pan, and sprinkle the beef over each bowl. Throw your chopped spring onions over each bowl, and finally, squeeze a lime wedge over each bowl.

And dude! That's it!

Like I said before, if your folks are down with the chilli, bring them a little bowl of the leftover oil and they can have at it.

VEGAN TIP: making this for both carnivores and vegans? Use non-meat stock, and just don't sprinkle the beef on their bowls (that sounded wrong). Also remember to give those bowls more noodles, considering that's all they're getting.

Despite all the steps, this dish looks way more complex than it is and always goes down well. It is, however, VERY garlicky, so if you don't dig that, halve the amount of garlic.

So yeah! Serve with crisp, dry-ish beers, like Asahi, Pure Blonde or Grolsch, or lighter wines like Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling, or Pinot Gris. If you want to really take it to the max (ugh, I just said that, didn't I?) try it with an IPA (India pale ale, hoppy, full-bodied and delicious, not for wimps). Or, you know, water. If that's your thing.

*original recipe from JAMIE'S AMERICA by Jamie Oliver. I do not claim to own this recipe, I just make it a lot. Dude, why would I claim this is mine? I don't want to get sued.