07 Jul

CSA Dinner: Scallops with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

scallopsIn our CSA this week, we got spring onions, red potatoes, parsley, lettuce, and yellow squash.  Thought I’d share dinner tonight, which made use of three of the five.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Red Potatoes [CSA]
  • Garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • Butter
  • Cream or half and half

Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.  The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook, so you can gauge depending on how much time you have until dinner (or how hungry you are).  Place potatoes in cold water, salt, and boil for 15-20 minutes.  When done, a knife through the potatoes should enter with no force, and the potatoes should not be mushy.  Drain the potatoes, leaving 1/4 cup potato water in the bottom or reserve water, drain, and pour back in.  The goal will be to leave some of the starch in and keep the potatoes moist, which I did so I wouldn’t need as much cream later.  In a small sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and saute chopped garlic for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.  (I prefer only 1 clove of garlic, but some like a more garlicky mash.) Add milk, half and half, or cream (depending on your taste or cholesterol count) to the garlic butter to warm up – doing so will make your mashed potatoes less “gummy”. (Don’t want to put cold milk into warm boiled potatoes.)  Add the mixture to your potatoes, mash to your preferred consistency, and add salt and pepper to taste.  I like a creamier, smooth texture under the scallops.  Cover the mixture, and set aside.

Scallops with Spring Onions and Corn

  • Butter
  • Scallops (3-4 per serving, depending on size)
  • Spring Onions [CSA]
  • 1/2 cup Stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Cream or Half and Half
  • Chopped parsley [CSA]

To prep, chop the white head of the spring onion and 1-2 inches of light green.  You can also choose the darker green, if you like.  Choose a flat saute pan, and do not use non-stick. In this case, you WANT the scallops to stick so you can make a sauce.  Melt one tablespoon butter plus a splash of olive oil until hot. This raises the burning temperature of the fat, and reduces the amount of butter you need.  To know when you are ready, wet your hand and drop a drip of water into the butter. If it sizzles and spits, the fat is ready.  Dry scallops with a towel, and salt/pepper. Place scallops in the pan, spread evenly. Wait 2-3 minutes, or until you see the bottoms of the scallops slightly brown and become translucent. Flip scallops, and saute for another 1-2 minutes until entirely white.  You don’t want to over cook them, but browned top and bottoms will taste better and improve the sauce.  When done, remove scallops and place on a dish, preferably covered up to keep warm.  If needed, add some fat (olive oil) and spring onions.  Saute until they begin to take on some color.  You should scrape up any scallop-bits on the bottom of the pan, and you should be able to get the entire bottom clear.  When onions are cooked, add 1/4 cup of stock.  I used vegetable, to keep the dish for a pescatarian (fish eater) but chicken stock would work just as well.  Make sure heat is at medium high, and stock should begin to reduce for 1-2 minutes.  Add frozen corn.  Continue to reduce for 1-2 minutes.  We want to add cream, but if you add it directly to the pan the fat will separate.  Instead, pour half and half into a mug or a small dish, and add one spoonful of onion/corn/stock sauce, and stir. This should raise the temprature of the half and half, and then you can add it to the sauce.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Add scallops, and any scallop juice that collected, back into the main pan to warm back up.  Add chopped parsley.  Stir.


To plate, spread 3-4 dollops of garlic mashed potato on a plate and smooth out with the back of a spoon.  On top, place 3-4 cooked scallops.  Spoon onion/corn/sauce mixture on top.  For presentation, you can also drop a few dashes of paprika from a few inches above the place which will give the food and the plate a nice look.  A nice fresh salad made from CSA greens goes really well as a starter or on a separate plate, also.

Enjoy, and let me know if you try it!

12 Jun

Music Friday: MSTRKRFT – Fist of God

Friday’s back – the day when I try to introduce a new song, album, or band.  Not too much planning this week, so please excuse the rush job but found one that I definitely recommend you checking out.

MSTRKRFT - Fist of God

MSTRKRFT - Fist of God

MSTRKRFT’s latest album Fist of God was released on March 17, 2009. The title track has a hard electro melody on top of a heavy 4/4 beat drum hit, making you feel like you are being punched by the Fist of God at each beat (but in a good way!).  Definitely a track to get you off your butt and start moving.

Overall, the album keeps on the faster/harder side, although with some interest mixed in with a little disco-ish melody over Breakaway (feat. Jamal of the Carps) and a little R&B mostly due to the vocals with It Ain’t Love (feat. Lil’ Mo).

The album has a decent mix of vocal and non-vocal tracks, which is nice depending on your mood. The 11 tracks are available on iTunes for the typical $9.99, so its not the best value but its not bad.

09 Jun

Inspiration: App Store Hyperwall

Apple not only stuns WWDC crowd with pulsating App Store hyperwall, but they have also stunned me.  Have you seen this thing?  Wow.

Image from Flickr user Oyvind Solstad

Image from Flickr user Oyvind Solstad

First of all, the World Wide Developers Conference is already conference full of fanboys who eat, sleep, and bleed the brand.  They already love Apple and its technologies (iPhone, OSX, you name it), and have even traveled to San Francisco and paid for tickets to learn how to develop more beautiful, efficient, and advanced applications on top of these platforms.  It’s not as if Apple needs to do much to convince these developers to continue to use their platforms.

Instead, Apple creates a technology-infused-media-monolith to both visually stun attendees and remind them: your app could be here.  What developer wouldn’t want to see their 99 cent application that finds your beverage of choice, takes a photo of it, Tweets it, and posts it to your Flickr feed while simultaneously posting it on your blog showing up for all the World [Wide Developers Conference] to see?

Blip, fade… blip, fade… I’m already mesmerized.

It’s a great reminder of potential — both of technology and what we can do with it.  It may not be the first hyperwall out there, but it is still stunning.  So ask yourself, what can you do with existing technology, a little bit of effort1, and some outside-the-box thinking?  I know I’ll be daydreaming all week.

Note 1: Ok ok, who knows how long it took developers to use the OpenCL API and how long they were given to get it ready for WWDC based on when this hyperwall concept was dreamt up.  Point is, it’s feasible.  :)

05 Jun

Music Friday: Matt & Kim – Daylight (the Barcardi Mojito Ad)

A week or so ago I saw this weird, and yet mesmerizing, commercial with a guy walking through parties seemingly through different generations.  Through each scene this very cool raw drum line, catchy piano, and vocal track persisted, somehow seemingly to fit into each generation – I suppose I could say timeless.  I wasn’t really paying attention, and so didn’t know what the ad was for, and didn’t particularly remember the music afterwards.

A few days ago I caught the ad again.  This time my girlfriend commented that the guy in the commercial was “cute” (there’s no accounting for taste ;) ), but I was rocking out yet again to the song.  Ended up being a Barcardi Mojito commerical, and I decided to look it up.

The track in the video is Daylight from Matt & Kim, a duo from Brooklyn, NY.  Matt is a vocalist and keyboardist, and Kim vocalist and drummer, and you can find more bio details in their Wikipedia entry.   Also, have to give them credit for not only having a blog on their main site, but embracing the web as it is and  kicking it with Flickr.

Not only is Daylight a great song, but I’ve been bringing back my early Nintendo days with Cinders, in which the keyboards remind me of a sped up puzzle arcade game of some sort, but again with Kim’s catchy drum lines.

So for this Music Friday, check out Matt & Kim.

02 Jun

Adventures in Community Supported Agriculture

Today I was excited to pick up my first box of fresh produce delivered right into my local community from a local farm.  At a friend’s recommendation, I signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture program (also known as a crop-share) and obtained a full share from Red Earth Farm out of Schuylkill County, PA.  Through the Farm to City program, which helps market and coordinate a variety of Philadelphia-region farms and bring them into various drop-off locations in Philadelphia, I will have 23 weeks of fresh and seasonable vegetables!

CSA Vegetables

CSA Vegetables

This week I picked up: spinach, green lettuce, red lettuce, green onions, baby basil plant, bunch of radishes, swiss chard, kale, and pac choi.

A good summary of what a CSA is can be read in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture:

In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

For me, there are three aspects that I’m looking forward to:

  1. Eating with the seasons
    I’m used to buying vegetables from the grocery store based on what I want to eat or what’s in a recipe.  Blueberries? Not a problem.  Asparagus in November?  Yep. If my target produce is not in season locally, my store will have on-hand the produce from areas of the world where it is in season, be it California, Florida, or South America.  Moving food around the world like this uses large amount of energy just so I can have my preferred vegetable side.  I hope that by eating with Red Earth Farm’s crops this year I will become more conginzent of what I’m eating and what the side effects are of my buying and eating habits.
  2. New taste treats & mixing up my diet
    I’m also excited about trying new or unusual vegetables I don’t normally eat.  I tend to get into a rut, buying the same vegetables each few weeks.  My regulars include: romaine lettuce, potatoes, onions, red peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, repeat.
  3. Happy pets
    Along with my own diet, we have two guinea pigs and they will definitely benefit from the fruit (vegetable?) of our labor by having leftovers or simply new treats they’ve not had before.  Tonight they enjoyed some radish leaves, which they ate but didn’t like as much as their dandelion greens. 

Over the next 23 weeks I hope to document my milage with the program through the blog.  If you have any tips or good recipes, please share them!

29 May

Music Friday: Owl City

The other day I was searching around the iTunes Store and happened upon the band Owl City. I listened to the track Hello Seattle and thought it as pretty catchy, so I wrote the band name down and moved on.

Today I was clicking through a new site I found called RCRD-LBL and it has regularly posted free downloads of new tracks – definitely one  I’ve bookmarked and will keep checking out.  But what did I find?  Owl City again.  This time for a newer track called Hot Air Balloon released just last month in May 2009. The band caught my eye twice in one week so it was time for some more attention. On the RCRD-LBL site, the free track was no longer available for download, but I discovered if you sign up for the Owl City Mailing list on their site (http://www.owlcitymusic.com) its available for free download.

Also found the following YouTube video, but I’m sure it will get pulled:

The Band

So the band is in fact one guy – kudos to the difficulty in doing that +1 point.  And his name is Adam.  +1 more point.  He’s in his early 20s and is from Minnesota. For those who know me, they know why MN gives him a third point. That’s three more points than I have.

The Music

Adam’s voice sounds vaguely Blink 182-ish – more spoken-word than melodic angel.  The catchy keyboards and melodies remind me of The Postal Service, with a little bit of poppy Jason Mraz kicked in.  (Although I don’t think Adam Young is quite at the Mraz caliber just yet as I think Mraz is obscenely talented, even if his music doesn’t necessarily reflect that, but that discussion is for another post.)  I can’t say the music is the most interesting I’ve ever listened to, and the pop-hater-fanboys will jump on the “I hate Owl City” bandwagon in a flash. But I’m more for enjoying my music, and for a quick listen you will get just that: some joy.

iTunes has the Hot Air Balloon single (but as noted above – you can download it from http://www.owlcitymusic.com after signing up for the mailing list), and an EP (Of June) and album (Maybe I’m Dreaming) both from December 2008.  Haven’t bought either yet, but if don’t stop humming Hello Seattle I may have to.

Bottom line

Owl City is great to jam out to, but I’m not sure I could listen to too many of their songs in a row.  If you listen to Hot Air Balloon and Hello Seattle back-to-back, you might not notice when the song changes. But I’m still humming: Helloooooo Se-att-le….

PS: Suprise! You can also follow them on Twitter @owlcity.

23 May

Revisiting handwriting

I’ve decided to revisit handwriting.  I happened upon a recent post on Jason Santa Maria’s blog regarding his picking up using a sketchbook more, and with his inspiration I’m giving it a try.  To quote Jason,

“Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist, they’re about being a good thinker.”

While I don’t fancy myself a designer by any stretch, I do find concepts easier to understand by seeing them visually (as most people do).  I like to organize my thoughts, communicate system designs, or diagram process flow using mind mapping programs or Visio, but the use of the technology sometimes gets in the way of my brainstorming process.

I particularly like a quote from the Sketch wikipedia article:

Sketching sharpens an artist’s ability to focus on the most important elements of a subject [...].

So I too have decided to start handwriting more, sketchbooking if you will.  In my case, it’ll be more words than pictures or diagrams.

For additional inspiration, Michael Nobbs posts a lot of links to sketchbooks and related articles on his twitter stream.

23 May

Blog Reboot

Summer is here, the blog became stale, and I hadn’t posted in a while.  Time for a reboot.  I expect to post on technology, web scalability, Philadelphia, guinea pigs, and a variety of other topics.  Thanks for visiting, and hope we can learn from each other.