Food break!

I’m in the beautiful Bay Area this week, being shamelessly wined & dined by some of my favorite people in the ‘verse. As the logic goes: since I’m being exposed to such culinary excess, you should be too. Here, have some pecan pie.

pecan pie

Pecan Pie is happy to see you

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This just in: I hate Apache config files. I’ve been trying to set up the server software on my computer, but not only are the directives difficult to sight-read (to use a musical analogy), but the documentation seems particularly obtuse. Maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh; after all, the intended audience consists of  professional server administrators. But still! How is someone relatively new to the application supposed to approach it without shooting themselves in the foot? Even when I’m confident enough to try a particular set of directives — and consequently witness it fail miserably — I don’t have any reliable way to debug the setup short of returning to the documentation to find what I misunderstood.

In other news, I can let myself become very engrossed in C++ multi-threading, if only because it keeps me distracted from Apache config files.

Since I haven’t come up with something reliable enough to talk about, it’s time to pull out more food. (Note to self: be wary of this strategy — don’t set consumable rewards for coding failures.) This here is probably my favorite steak recipe of all time. I discovered it late in my college career, when a few friends and I established a monthly “Extravagant Cooking Night.” The “extravagance” in question was variable, but it was a fun opportunity for broke, dorm-kitchen-numbed, but nevertheless enthusiastic students to throw together some meals that we never would have otherwise.

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I had an extraordinarily unpleasant time last week, giving me little energy or incentive for a more technical update. To be honest, I spent most of my time either studying for my final or frenetically playing Bastion and Black Mesa to distract myself from… life. Hey, nothing like an immersive story or raging alien warfare to save me from the burden of self-reflection.

Things are infinitely better now, but I don’t want to leave this blog untended until I actually accomplish something. So that means it’s time for more food! Today, Norma’s Peanut Sauce. This is nothing new; anybody who knows me is aware that I always have a jarful of the stuff on hand. It’s my culinary Old Faithful. It’s been put online before, and I’ve passed it on to many people personally, but I want it never to be forgotten. Because this, my friends, is a meal with an origin story.

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Ok, the main development cycle for work’s Project of Doom is done. The job certainly isn’t finished, but maybe this means I’ll actually get my weekends to myself again. That hasn’t happened in… a little over a month. Bleh.

Since I’ve lacked the will to face more coding in what little after-hours time I’ve had, here’s something to tide you over: my favorite chocolate ganache. It’s modified from a cake book I grabbed from a closing Borders bookstore (*tear). It’s sinfully dark and bitter with a rounded sweetness from the caramel, and the mint offers a fresh jazz that keeps it from being overly rich and decadent. Use it as a cake icing, an ice cream topping, a cookie dip, or whatever you want. Though I wouldn’t eat it straight, tempting as it is, unless you plan to hate yourself afterwards.

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Dylan: I anticipate a disappointing lack of cookies on this blog.

Me: I find your lack of faith… delicious, actually.


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Cook’s Illustrated

  • 1, 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract    // use almond extract instead!
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large yolk
  • 1, 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)    // (but not really)

Adjust the over rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Melt 10 Tbs butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1-3min. Transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Add remaining 4 Tbs butter and stir until completely melted.

Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla (/almond!) to melted butter; whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk; whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar limps remaining, about 30sec. Let mixture stand for 3min, then whisk for 30sec. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1min. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using (which you are, if you’re smart). Give dough final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

Working with 3 Tbs of dough at a time, roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14min, rotating baking sheet to halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; let cookies cool to room temperature.