Beef it is… confusing.

Like many people I have gazed down upon display cases housing all sorts of beef cuts, and been utterly lost. I knew the basics, marbling is good, funny smells are bad. However I never really understood where on a cow the cuts came from. Now thanks to an image passed along from that’s so yummy I can easily identify what goes where.

retail_beef_cuts11

Also thanks to Peta’s all animals have the same parts campaign I know how that corresponds to my body, which makes things even easier. Parts that get a lot of use are tougher cuts, this is the round and the shank, your arms and legs. Parts that get relatively little use are very tender, so the sirloin and the loin, your lower back.

The more tender a steak the better it is for grilling, the tougher a steak the better for the crock pot or other slow cooking method.

Posted in Cooking, Life

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Recipes: Pan Fried Steak

Earlier this week I pan fried my first steak, and it was glorious. The recipe can from the Momofuku book that I have on permanent loan from a friend.

The idea behind the is deliciously simple when typed out, to quote David Chang:

  • Season it.
  • Sear it.
  • Roast it.
  • Baste it.
  • Rest it.
  • Slice it.
  • Eat it.

The book claims the process is much more complicated then this but it really is not far from the truth. The seasoning part is quite easy, I laid down a hearty base of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Next is the hard part, sear the steak. This entails getting a cast iron skillet near smoking hot. As all of my Good Eats watching has taught me, the bigger and heavier the skillet the better. This prevents the skillet from dropping in temperature too much when you add the steak. I would estimate I had the skillet somewhere around 400°F as the fat started smoking immediately as it melted off. This is what makes the searing difficult, as you are not to touch the steak for two minutes on each side. No matter what you see leave the steak alone, no moving it, poking it or otherwise.

After searing the steak throw it in a 400°F oven for 8 minutes or more simply roast it.

While that is going on grab your unsalted butter, garlic, shallots, and thyme. Unsalted butter here will help to keep the salt content down of course, but also adds a bit of a sweet flavor to the dish. I chopped the ingredients but the recipe does not specify to do so.

After you are done roasting your steak it is time to baste it. Return the skillet to medium low heat and toss in the previously chopped ingredients. Get a spoon and constantly baste the steak in the resulting butter sauce. I went for two minutes on each side, and came out on the more medium side of medium rare.

The resting, cutting and eating are all pretty strait forward. The resting I have come learn is key to any good steak, and for that matter most meat. Ten minutes is recommended, and well worth the wait.

The results are delicious and I would highly recommend trying pan frying steak.

Some links to various version of the recipe:

 

Posted in Cooking, Life

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New Year – New Resolutions

Like many people, I have decided to try and better myself in this new year. I am well aware that most resolutions fail but I am of the persuasion any attempt to improve one’s self is a worthy goal. For even if you don’t obtain your goal you will still have bettered yourself in some way. Take my friend Patrick, who I have learned is trying to make something every day. He works part time as a carpenter while going to school so this is a little more feasible of a goal for him then most but still almost certainly doomed to fail. However, who cares? If he averages making one new thing a week then he has gained that much more experience and is that much better of a person.

My personal goals, for those of you who care are loose and abstract. I intend to cook more, especially trying to utilize more fresh fruits and veggies. Ideally I will have found some new go to recipes by the end of the year. To accomplish this I have tabbed some cookbooks of mine with recipes I wish to try. While doing this I am to take notes so I can learn from my experiences. Don’t be surprised if I start blogging more food related items as a result.

Along with this goal to refine my cooking skills are some parallel goals: eat healthier, have more dinner parties, and work out more to offset the additional calorie intake.

Posted in Life

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The Best Razors | The Wirecutter

As user of the Merkur razor, I cannot help but agree with The Wirecutter’s The Best Razors. I have been using this razor for a few years now and despite how infrequently I shave I do find it is much more bearable with this razor.

For me a sharp razor makes all the difference in a good shave, and using the Merkur allows me to use a fresh blade every shave. As the article mentioned, eBay is your friend in obtaining these cheap blades, I picked up an 50 pack of assorted blades for maybe 25 cents a blade. The other part that is touched on in the article is how good it feels to whip your own shaving cream. I even use a candle warmer style hot place with my shaving mug to give a warm lather, improving the shave that much more. For those of you looking to start out with safety razors I would highly recommend looking at antique stores, garage sales and other 2nd places for the Merkur razor or similar ones. Although $35 is not much to spend a razor that you can give to your Grandson, why not just use the one your Grandfather almost certainly had.

I must admit I have not tried either of the brushes listed in the article and have a badger hair brush of unknown make, I might be tempted to try them at such low prices.

Personally I would recommend the videos of mantic59 on youtube, who apparently he now runs a blog called Sharpologist. I used these videos to learn how to use a safety razor and get a good shave.

Posted in Life

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Thoughts on touchscreen interfaces

A while back I read Bret Victor’s thoughts on the then popular Future Vision video from Microsoft:

The video its self is quite awesome in some aspects, I like lots of parts of it. However, I do side with Mr. Victor. Tactile feedback is needed to really make devices great. I bought the original Android G1 with a hardware keyboard and trackball. This was primarily because I know how to touch type, in fact I prided myself on knowing my T9 well enough I could type a text message without looking.

Now I have the Galaxy Nexus it lacks basically any sort of physical buttons. I’m sure there are many reasons for this but there are so many annoyances as well. I cannot do something so simple as unlock my phone without looking at the screen. Ordinarily this might not be such a big issue but while driving this becomes a big problem, not even for text messaging or anything that I shouldn’t be doing. Want to change tracks in your music player? Need to see what the next turn is on your GPS? Need to dismiss the notification that just popped over your map? You have to look at the screen to do these things.

This is a big argument in my mind as why devices should have physical buttons or at least some way of separating out buttons on a touch screen. Then it becomes an something that can be used to help you, instead of something that demands you to context switch to it.

Posted in UX

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Asynchronous Processing in Web Applications, Part 1: A Database Is Not a Queue

A page that is making it’s way around the internal webernets is a multi-part series by Miso Engineering: Asynchronous Processing in Web Applications, Part 1: A Database Is Not a Queue. The article is an interesting read for those starting to expand their web application horizons.

This article as with many others, I am sure I will post addresses what I feel is a very common problem among programmers: using the right technology for the job. I am certainly among this collection of programers who knows, technology A, and knows that A can address problem B. In this case it might be PostgreSQL and acting as a message queue. However, I really need to sit back and think more about the overall architecture to see learning or implementing a new system might be the better option.

Welcome to my new blog

Hello all,

I have recently decided that I am going to start blogging about my thoughts on life, business, code and technology.

With any luck this will be more then just absent ramblings, but don’t get your hopes up.

Thanks,

Pete