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Three Months with a Mac

12/15/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet

On September 16th, I unboxed and set up my MacBookPro, Vate. Three months after making the switch to Mac and using MacOSX on the MacBookPro 17", I'm loving it. Does that mean that there aren't some problems or unfulfilled desires? Not at all. However, switching to a Mac has been my best experience with computers in a long time.

Let's face it, software and hardware are software and hardware, and the hardware is really converging around CISC processors. Intel and AMD have really won over Sun, Motorola, IBM, HP and the other great RISC processors. I'm not really sure why - it's rather like the failure of Betamax. I think that it's a shame, as the RISC processors have a lot going for them. Just ask Sun.

Price is often brought up, for and against Apple. Just remember, when comparing prices, look at all the hardware that comes with the Mac you're considering: CPU, RAM, disk capacity and speed, built-in [iSight] webcam, remote control, backlit keyboard, superb styling, etc. Compare price and weight and thickness, component for component, and you'll be surprised that the Mac is cheaper, lighter, and oh-so-svelte. You can get lesser, though likely adequate, machines from IBM, HP, Toshiba, Dell, etc. etc. etc. Also look at the software you need/want, and what licenses are included in the price of the machines your considering. Price-wise, on a feature basis, Apple often wins. Price-wise for configuration flexibility, allowing you to buy a machine that's just sufficient for your needs today, everyone else wins.

On the software side... it seems that the rush to get features out the door, and the tendency of our society to go for convenience over polish, taste, reliability, longevity, and tightness, allows an awful lot of alpha and beta software, on all platforms, to masquerade as production grade. That being said, the OS, UI, and software for the Mac just feels better than that for MS Windows or Linux. Part of this may be that it's a new toy for me. Part may come from my treating it as a learning experience. Some things I enjoy doing now, even simple ones, like using a hot corner to launch the screen saver and lock the screen, I could have done under Windows, but didn't, because it wasn't the way that I had initially learned. The overall experience feels better on a Mac, but that's just my perception, and not any type of detailed results from an in-depth user study. &#59;)

It is really great having Unix underneath the eye candy. Unix is a stable, enterprise operating system. The first computers to which I had exposure were large IBM mainframes, followed by PDP11, AppleII, HP1000/RTE, Z80/CPM, 808x/DOS, Dec:Vax/VMS, SGI/Irix, IBM/AIX, HP3000/MPE, HP9000/HP-UX, earlier Macs, SunOS, Solaris, and then WindowsNT3.5 and on, and on, and on. MacOSX is the ideal Unix desktop we've all been wanting, ever since we first tried a Solaris Tadpole and found it wanting. When Leopard [MacOSX 10.5] comes out in 2007, it will be even better: Spaces - similar to the wiki(Common_Desktop_Environment, CDE) that makes Unix workstations so flexible to organize - will pretty much bring the UI to a new level of magic, and with 64-bit goodness [gee, just like the DEC RISC Alpha/Laser in 1993] to boot; TimeMachine for file system roll back, reminiscent of Network Appliance, looks cool too. And remember, that while wiki(NEXTSTEP, NeXTstep), upon which MacOSX is based, wasn't a popular Unix distribution, it was always called the Cadillac or Ferrari or Rolls Royce of Unix, with all the gold-plated software tools, like ObjectiveC, just like the Mac. MacOSX is a great OS for the desktop and even for the server, and it just keeps getting better.

Things like KeyChain reminds you that you are in the comfort of a secure Unix OS. As does the Updater; you can't install without an administrator password, and updating software that depends on your keychain requires manual intervention to allow that app to use the key again. Kind of like an automated, graphic wiki(sudo).

There is a lot more software for MS Windows, but as I've researched Apple, third party proprietary, and Open Source software for Tiger, I've found that I no longer have to fire up Parallels just to do my daily work [not including cross-platform testing]. The weaning process has been quick and relatively painless. After all that, it's time to join so many others and list the software that is making my MacBookPro the only personal workstation I need.

Apple Software

I love the way this software truly just works together. MS Office promises this, but falls far short by comparison. Just the power of the dictionary that's accessible to all apps, and the fact that it gives definitions, not just spelling, has me committed to the Mac. And in one simple example, for as unfamiliar as the Pages [word processing] UI and command structure is, I've already found that I can do things within Pages that have always frustrated me in Word. iWork'06 is $79, comprises Pages and Keynote [a presentation creator that is incredible] - much cheaper that buying Word and PowerPoint. BTW, TextEdit, that comes with MacOSX is somewhere between WordPad and Word in features, easily opens every Word document that I've tried with it, as well as saves to DOC format, and is sufficient for most users. I think that the FUD over the new Office XML file formats, such as docx, are unfounded; by the time that more than 1% of Office users upgrade to the latest, greatest, Mac software will support the new format as well.

MacOSX comes with the X11 framework. It is on the OS CD and must be installed separately. Having done this means that pretty much the entire Open Source world is accessible to MacOSX. So far, though, most open source software that I want has a native MacOSX version.

I've also begun exploring the possibilities of the xCode IDE that is available as a free [but huge] download in exchange for a simple registration. While I have no desire to become an ObjectiveC, Cocoa, Quartz developer, having it, will extend the BBedit text editor that I'm using for PHP, CSS, XML, JavaScript, etc into a much more powerful development environment than the PHP IDE I used under MS Windows. [All the developer oriented text editors for Mac can use xCode or be stand-alone]. I'm not a developer, but I do need this capability for evaluating open source BI solutions, and for maintaining the open source software on our hosting servers.

I really like Mail.app [once I figured out how to set-up IMAP properly], iCal, Address Book, iPhoto, iTunes and the way that Mark/Space Missing Sync brings these applications on the Mac together with their counterparts on my Palm Lifedrive, and iSync does the same with my RAZR. Missing Sync comes with Mark/Space Memopad for Mac and SplashPhoto; VoiceMemos and Palm Note Pad sync too. And I can access it all through the Missing Sync menubar add-in. In a similar vein, I'm trying dot-Mac services, and playing with Front Row software too.

Open Source Software

Adium X for IM messaging to AIM, Sametime, Yahoo!Messenger, Jabber [private servers, GTalk, etc.] and Windows Messenger chums - oh, and it coordinates any of these with my Address Book [and while not Open Source, I'll put Skype here too for VoIP and videoChat, and the more folk I get on Macs, I'll be able to try iChat too].

RSSOwl under MacOSX is pretty much the same as its Windows version, and has been my main feed reader for awhile now. Since it exports and imports OPML, the transfer of my feeds was no prolbem at all.

FireFox2 on the Mac is faster than Safari, and even faster than FireFox1.5 was under Windows.

NeoOffice, the Aqua UI version of OpenOffice, primarily for spreadsheets so far.

Audacity is the best application for audio editing, and it had no problem opening all my Windows Audacity podcast projects.

GimpShop by Scott Moschella [alternate site GimpShop download from Apple] is a version of the open source GNU Image Manipulation Program software, the GIMP, designed with Photoshop users in mind. I'm hoping to use it to replace JASC Paint Shop Pro, but haven't gotten comfortable with it yet. This is the one piece of software that requires the X11 framework that I may wind up working with frequently. Update: I'm also trying Seashore, and I'll try just the plain ol' GIMP as well. Seashore so far, is making me happy for quick edits. I'll report on these separately once I've decided what to use.

ClamXav, for anti-virus, along with Dr. Web and spamAssassin on our servers; call me paranoid, but there was malware for mainframes, mid-range and Unix computers long before Bill Gates came along. BTW, Mail.app works with spamAssassin on the server, so we're feeling pretty comfortable - but not too comfortable.

Third Party Proprietary

I've mentioned Mark/Space the Missing Sync above, but let me just say here that if you use a PalmOS device and a MacOSX device, you NEED this software. They also have versions for MS Windows Mobile/PocketPC devices and Sony PSP. I am absolutely having the best experience sync'g between my desktop and my Palm that I have ever had.

BrainForest is a simple outliner that I've used on various Palm devices over the years for everything from brainstorming a business plan to keeping a running gift list for the important people in my life. The desktop version for the MacOSX syncs a bit awkwardly with my Lifedrive, but it does sync. It also can export an outline to OPML, which might one day be fantastic for interoperating between my static brain stored on Palm and Mac, and my teleinteractive, dynamic, online, collaborative life using something like Dave Winer's OPML editor.

Documents to Go is a staple for me on the Palm, and it has a Mac version, as good as it's Windows version, for synchronizing between desktop and PDA, with PDA editing of document, spreadsheet, presentation and PDF files. Though as I discuss further down, I need this less and less.

BBEdit has replaced my PHP IDE, WinMerge and CSS editor from Windows, and done so quite well. I'm still exploring how it interacts with xCode to be a true IDE, but for my purposes, it's great.

Transmit by Panic software won for my choice of FTP client. Other's were good, but Transmit has the most complete set of features, including side-by-side file listings and server-to-server FTP.

Utilities

I found some utilities that I think really help:

  • EasyWMA and Flip4Mac WMV are required utilities to help your Mac play audio and video files from your MS Windows using friends.
  • Perian expands the video formats accessible to Quicktime and Front Row
  • MainMenu is a system utility that allows you to manually run all those cronjobs that are built into MacOSX to keep it healthy - especially useful if you shut down or sleep your Mac during the hours of 03h00 to 05h00 when cron would normally run those scripts.
  • TigerLaunch is a simple MenuBar add-on that searches the computer upon launch and build a drop-down menu with all the applications on your machine, and you configure it to ignore applications, such as those you have on your Dock or that you don't use. Many folk seem to like more powerful productivity apps that do something like this, as well as let you launch an application through typing its name, with hints along the way. The three I've seen most ofter recommended are: Quicksilver, Butler & Launchbar
  • CoreDuoTemp puts the CPU temperature and precent utilization in your MenuBar for easy monitoring. Fan Control adds a system preference allowing you to specify set-points for the Lower and Upper Threshold on temperature, as well as the base speed of the fan. Since adding Fan Control, the performance of my MacBookPro has been much better.

Dashboard Widgets

I also like some Dashboard Widgets: from iStatPro to monitor the system [though there are many neat graphic Unix utilities too] to Tide Widget [I do live on the Coast after all]. Many of these are just for fun, and you should just check out the Apple Dashboard site.

Still Researching

Here are other applications that I've looked at along the way, or that I'm still researching. Some say one of these or another are indispensable, but I haven't seen the need for myself, as yet, but I have them all bookmarked. Let's start with those I've tried out...

  • TextMate — self-styled as "The Missing Editor for Mac OS X" and it is a very good text editor for developers, with many plug-ins and a strong community, especially for proprietary software. I just like the BBedit diff display better.
  • CSSEdit by MacRabbit looks like a great CSS editor, but I'm happy using BBedit for CSS as well as PHP.
  • Two other editing applications that I tried were ForgEdit and Smultron; I really wanted to like Smultron as it's open source, and it is a good program, but not just where I need it to be yet. Another free package is by BareBones, the makers of BBEdit, called TextWrangler and is a great choice if you don't rely on visual diff'g files the way I do.
  • Xscope by Iconfactory is tool aimed at developers for precise measurement of objects on screen. It's only $16.95, but I haven't found a need for it, but it's on the list.
  • Cyberduck is a great open source FTP package for MacOSX, I just happened to like Transmit better, and didn't mind the price.
  • SuperDuper is a backup and recovery tool that gets good reviews. I just haven't gone there yet. &#59;) And i should, I know I should.
  • MenuCalendarClock is a menu calendar and configurable menu clock compatible with iCal or Entourage, so there's your calendar in the menubar; I haven't found the need for this, but you might.
  • Project management tools for the Mac that I'm trying are OmniPlan which in a package with OminiOutliner for brainstorming and OmniGraffle for process charting could be an interesting solution; FastTrack Schedule 9 which would have been very interesting if they hadn't dropped their PalmOS version; Merlin2 looks good on the web, but I'm not certain it has what I need overall; ConceptDraw project which, like OmniPlan, works with their MindMap and ConceptDraw products to provide brainstorming and process flow capabilities as well, and they are available as a bundle, ConceptDraw Business Suite.

Here's a quick list, in no real order, of links to software that I've only read about. There's a lot more I want to try out. Lot's to do, lot's to do.

Other Considerations for the Switch to Mac

Reading about Apple's service seems mixed, as does Apple's hardware quality, but I've had good results both on the phone and in the store for service; not that my machine has needed service, but there was that problem ordering off the web, and I've visited the genius bar in Burlingame to verify and learn. And like any niche, the community helps each other. I do think that if I had gotten my original order, with 2GB of RAM and the speedier hard drive, I would be able to run Parallels multiple guest OSs and Audacity at the same time. With only 1GB of RAM [admittably, somethig I can fix], I can't. I'm generally stuck with one guest OS at a time, and if running Audacity, I don't run much else - maybe Adium & Mail. Here are some links with helpful tips.

With Clarise's help, I've found three good web postings to help with keyboard shortcuts, beyond the cmd-whatever does pretty much the same as ctrl-whatever. It's really nice that I can use cmd-C,X & V when using Terminal to access our Linux servers - yep, cmd-C from the command line, and cmd-V to paste into some file in vim. Expose is also pretty convenient for switching among all open applications and windows, windows within an open application and the desktop. Check out System Preferences > Dashboard & Exposé to find the keyboard shortcuts and mouse hot corners that trigger Exposé for you. Another way to maneuver is to use the Dock: click on the application's icon in the Dock and you'll go there; right-click [or two-finger tap for touchpad users] on the application's icon will bring up a context menu, including all the windows associated with that application, with the last visited window checked. Here are the links for the keyboard shortcuts.

And don't forget that Parallels is improving like mad, and makes using MS Windows on the Apple hardware, under the MacOSX, seamless, without rebooting, and allows all sorts of Linux distros as guest OSs, as well as OpenSolaris and even OS/2, DOS, and others. Great for testing open source software and website CSS on different platforms. There's even rumors that Parallels will be incorporated into Leopard. Who knows? By the same token, I have less and less need to have software that outputs MS file formats. Once upon a time, when all customers used MS, and most deliverables were documents, spreadsheets, presentations, process diagrams, and project schedules that the customer wanted as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and MS Project files, I needed to use those applications to provide the customer with what they wanted. Now, we almost always set up a web site with project workspaces, blogs and wikis for both internal and customer projects, and if anything is generated outside of the project web site, it is made available on the project web site as a PDF.

Two side notes...

  1. The vast majority of computer users use MS products, and thus there is still the need [real, perceived or potential] to have the ability to use MS products too, either for interoperability or for testing. Apple's move to Intel, and software like BootCamp and Parallels, allows us to have that access when we need it. The fact that we need it less and less also helped, to our relief, that we could finally go back to Apple after 10 years of Wintel.
  2. I think that virtualization, and virtualized software appliances have the potential to change how software is developed and delivered. Large, enterprise software vendors may support 80 or 90 versions of their software for different platforms. For smaller software OEMs and projects, the choice may simply not exist to support more than one platform - MS Windows OR MacOSX OR one-flavor-of-Linux OR another. With virtualization, a software vendor can select the platform [OS, development language, API, etc] that best supports the functions they wish to deliver to market, and still have the entire marketplace open to them. A savings and an opportunity in one, worth more than all the offsourcing. But I digress... &#59;)

Could an xServe, iTV, and some Mac Minis scattered about be in my future, for home automation and to work with my DirecTiVo? Will the rumored Apple iPhone replace my Lifedrive and RAZR? Could be.

I can go on, and on, but I need to wipe the drool off the keyboard. :-D And I still have a lot to explore and learn [Spotlight, Scripting, Automator, Sherlock, and third party stuff too], and that's fun too.

Update 2006.12.17;12h04: I've cleaned up some links, and moved them about a bit, and making things a bit clearer. I'll be following up by expanding some of the topics introduced here as well.

Update 2006.12.19;11h05: Added NoteMind to the list of software to review.

4 feedbacks »
 

Fall Down Go Boom Visit ER

12/03/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Personal

As you may or may not know, I've been working on building bookcases around the stairwell from the living room down to my parents' apartment and the garage.
I had placed one set of bookboxes against the wall to check fit, and as I was moving them back out, to finish the attachments, I placed my right foot wrong. I looked down as the expected resistance of a floor wasn't there. and saw a glimpse of my foot suspended over the stairwell. I tried to fall forward but was too late. The next I remember was my back hitting the second stair from the bottom - about a six foot drop.

Hole remaining in stairwell bookcase railing
Click to view original size

On my way down I ripped out the very fancy copper and aluminum, custom low-voltage lighting system we had had installed going down the stairwell. :(

Remains of light fixture
Click to view original size

I was yelling and groaning. Everyone came running. I asked for some water to fight the nausea, but Mom was starting to get hysterical, so I threw it in her face. This made her mad instead. :> Much better than the nervous breakdown for which she was headed. Dad was calm and collected, and got out the vacuum cleaner to remove the mess.

At least the bookcases forming an half-height wall to which the railing will be attached held. I bounced off it, there's blood evidence.

Patricia brought me to the ER, where after two hours, I was pronounced, as always, in perfect health. No breaks, no fractures, just swelling, bruises, a few cuts.

I wonder if I'll be able to get out of bed tomorrow. XX(

 

Guy's VCAT

11/30/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Business

Guy Kawasaki's advice is that a position at a VC is to be taken at the end of one's career, not the beginning. This is somewhat reminiscent of thoughts and discussions that I had in my early days in the rocket factory [my second career]. My advice at the time for those pursuing a career in engineering was that one's first position should be as a quality assurance test technician, so they could learn the consequences of poor design; then move into increasingly more responsible engineering design positions, and [if they hadn't moved into project, program or line management] go back to QA, where they could truly apply their experience to improve the product.

Perhaps the same could apply to any career path. For VCs: intern with a VC firm, then get "in the trenches experience" in engineering, sales, entrepreneurial ventures, large and small public companies, taking and making investments, success and failure, and then go for the full-tilt boogie, fly in private jets/expense the greens fee VC position.

And yes, I took the VCAT. I think I need to get Walt Mossberg's number to score higher. &#59;)

Joseph's Score in the VCAT is 34
Click to view original size

 

Thanksgiving Leftovers

11/26/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

Now that you've cooked all of that food, what do you do with the leftovers? There are three things that I do.

Turkey Stock

Take the back, carcass, and any leftover thighs or drumsticks, and stick in a pot with the normal onion, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, whatever aromatic veggies you like, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, bay leaf and cloves in a bouquet garni, add the defatted pan drippings you saved, and a mushroom or vegetarian stock that you always have in the freezer &#59;) and boil all day long on the simmering bricks. Removing any meat from any bones after 45 minutes or so.

Turkey Tetrazinni

Take the meat you removed from the stock, and any other leftover turkey, and cube it. You can even use up any leftover wild mushroom and giblet gravy that you might have. Update: Silly me, I forgot the pasta - one pound of fettucini, cooked, drained and mixed with the meat in the casserole. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the meat in a buttered casserole dish, and cover with a sauce made of:

  • melt one stick of butter in a heavy pan
  • sauté 1/2 pound of cremini mushrooms, and add in some soaked, minced porcinis
  • blend in 1/4 cup of flour and allow to cook, without much browning, over low heat for 3 minutes
  • whisk in 2 cups of the stock
  • then 1 cup milk
  • then 1/2 cup white wine [from what you'll serve with the meal
  • and 1 cup heavy cream
  • add 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • and a couple of grinds of peppercorns
  • then grate fresh nutmeg and stir it all up and pour over the meat & fettucini

Top with 3/4 to 1 cup of soft, finely diced bread crumbs mixed with grated parmigiana and pecorino cheese.

Traditional Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

I know of two places that serve this year round: one is in Pennsylvania, but it's been too many years and I don't remember the name of the place. The other was Two Fools Café in Half Moon Bay, except they've shut down. /sigh

Use your favorite sandwich bread, make it open faced or closed, on a roll or sliced bread, toasted bread or not, with some mayonnaise or basil aioli on the bread or not, the sandwich filling is sliced turkey, sliced stuffing [or, this year, the wild mushroom bread pudding] and cranberry sauce. Another variation on the preparation is to use an herbed focaccia or slab bread, even a ciabatta would work, slice it in half between the top and bottom, put in the filling, and grill it as a panini.

Letti, thank you for stopping by. I actually worked, about 25 years ago at Westinghouse Marine Div. with the grandson of the Japanese farmer who brought mandarin oranges to the USA. Your pies look great. I don't think you can find real mince meat any more, the one with venison and suet in it. :p

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy your leftovers, or tira, as my partner would say.

 

Thanksgiving Supper 2006

11/22/06 | by JAdP | Categories: Entertainment, Food and Drink

While this isn't a food blog, anyone who knows me, or has followed my blog, knows that I'm a foodie and that I usually post holiday menus and recipes here, as well as some of my offbeat tastes. Those who really know me, know that in my career path from energy research to aerospace to information technology, I took one fork that wasn't linked to the others by data management and advanced analysis: food in the late '80's/early '90's, both through my desert sauce company, Montara Magic, and by cooking with Pasta Moon and some of the caterers around the Coast.

I don't normally post Thanksgiving recipes for two reasons.

  1. Our tradition has been to go to the Sardine Factory in Monterey - but when we do, I often wind up cooking on the weekend anyway, so that we have "leftovers"... But why blog Thanksgiving recipes after the day is done?
  2. I do a very traditional Thanksgiving day meal.

But this year, as last, my iMac loving parents are having cold like reactions to their flu shots. And Robert Scoble, now a fellow coastsider, has asked for recipes. I'm also cooking everything but the turkey today, so I'll have time to blog as I cook.

Don't forget to preheat your oven(s) and simmering bricks. &#59;)

Right now, I'm doing the cranberry sauce. First let me say, that I'm most impressed with the Paradise Meadows Premium Cape Cod Cranberries that I bought this year - only 10 rejects and 5 stems in three full bags. Here's a "per bag" recipe:

Spiked Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

  • 12 ounces fresh, whole cranberries, washed and picked over for stems or wrinkly, bursting, rotting rejects
  • 1 glass [~6 oz.] of red wine - this year, I'm using a 2004 Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
  • 2 or 3 Satusuma mandirin oranges - remove the rind, cut in half along the torus cross-section and remove any seeds
  • one cup turbinado [raw] sugar
  • a bouquet garni consisting of a cinnamon stick and 5 cloves
  • Put it all in a heavy pan [I use porcelain coated cast iron] and over a high heat, stirring often during the cooking, until the cranberries start to pop, about five minutes, than remove to a lower heat [I use simmering bricks over a gas flame] to simmer until the oranges release their juices [get mushy], remove the spices and cool overnight in a heavy crock or non-metallic bowl - may be served whole or passed through a food mill or processor
  • Update: I forgot to say that one reason to use the Satusumas is to buy the ones with leaves attached, and then use any remaining whole oranges and leaves to decorate around the bowl of cranberries on the groaning board.

I'll update throughout the day as I finish, but I'll list the dishes now.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

A vegetarian version in a pan that can also be mixed with mild sausage and stuffed into the bird, this is an incredible dish.

Update 20061121;11h56: I use a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms, so the first step is to soak the dried ones [this year porcini and morel] for an half-hour in a 50/50 mix of white wine and warm water [never use stale water from the hot water tap for cooking]. The only fresh mushrooms I'm using this year are cremini and portabello. And while they're soaking, maybe I'll have lunch.

Update 20061122;12h41: The dried mushrooms have soaked, so it's time to cook again.

  • 1 medium red onion, Italian torpedo if you can find it, sliced
  • two cloves of garlic, two carrots and two stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and olive oil
  • sautée until the vegies are soft
  • About 1-1/2 pounds of fresh mushrooms and four ounces [dry weight] of the dried mushrooms are used; remove the dried mushrooms from the soaking liquor and pass the liquor through cheese cloth or coffee filter or white paper towel; rinse and squeeze the soaked dried mushrooms and then mince them; clean and slice the fresh mushrooms, and sautée the mushrooms
  • Add fresh sage, chiffonade, and fresh thyme leaves, salt and freshly ground peppercorns, finish the sautée, and add a glass of white wine - whatever you'll be serving with the meal is always best and at least a cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquor
  • Set aside the vegies and start on the bread pudding
  • Cube some bread - less than 1/2-inch on a side; you can use heavy bread, light bread, even brioche; I prefer a potato rosemary batard and use about two loaves
  • Make the "custard" from 1-1/2 cups of heavy [not sweetened] cream, 2 cups of milk, 6 eggs, salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour the liquid custard over the bread cubes and squeeze the custard into the bread cubes until they are saturated; lightly toss in the sautéed vegies, and place in a heavily buttered casserole dish or lasagna or roasting dish [glass or ceramic, not metallic]
  • Bake at 350°F for about an hour, until the top is brown and a knife stuck in slight to the left of center comes out clean
  • If your going to use this to stuff the bird, reserve the amount that you'll need later in the day, or, if you cooked the bread pudding more than 24 hours in advance of stuffing the bird, reserve the vegies and bread that you need, and make up custard to use the day you'll be dressing the bird; add two-to-four links of broken up, cooked mild sausage to the vegie mixture before tossing

Mashed Roots with Garlic and Brown Butter Sage

Ok, ok, basically mashed potatoes with added rutabaga and turnip goodness, boiled with garlic and using a brown butter sage sauce as well as cream to get to the finished product.

Update 20061122;14h26: That really says it all, but let's just add some measurements: 1/2 potato per person, 1 rutabaga and 1 turnip for every 4 potatoes [potatoes of choice are yukon gold or red creamers], 1 clove of garlic per potato. Leave the potatoes whole, skin on or not as you like, cube the rutabagas and turnips, add the root vegetables, including the garlic, to salted boiling water and boil until a fork easily pierces a potato [15 minutes maybe], drain, [if you left the skins on the potatoes, cool and remove now if you want]. Put 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter per potato into the hot pan, leave the butter to melt and then wait until the edges of the melted butter turns brown, add chiffonade sage [1 leaf per potato or to taste], let it sizzle for a minute, add 2 tablespoons of cream per person and stir until the cream bubbles, add the root vegetables back and mash 'em with a potato masher, keep stirring until heated through. One alternative is to stir in a consistent direction until the mash is like taffy - about three hours. :p

Sweet Potato Casserole

Roasted and mashed, or sliced thin with a mandolin and layered with the custard, this is a must for Thanksgiving.

Update 20061122;14h55: You could be roasting the sweet potatoes whilst the bread pudding is baking. You need three cups of mashed roasted sweet potato, so start with two 8-inchers.

  • sweet potatos, roasty, toasty and mashed
  • 1/2 cup of turbinado [raw] sugar added to the mash
  • salt as you like it and you might like parika, cayenne or black pepper, or not
  • this custard is 2 large eggs, 1/2-cup of milk, a tablespoon of cream and you can even add pure bourbon vanilla [I have about a gallon left from my Montara Magic days] or maple syrup; add the custard to the potato mixture
  • top with a mixture of 1/2-cup brown sugar, 1/2-cup flour, 4 tablespoons melted butter and a 1/2-cup of toasted whole pecan halves
  • bake at 350°F for 30 to 45 minutes

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts

Maybe not that traditional, but the best way to prepare those little green balls that I've ever found.

Update 20061122;15h20: I really do like this dish, though I can't remember where I found it. It's not a family tradition.

  • Clean the outer leaves, and any loose, damaged or brown leaves from around the brussels sprout, slice off the woody stem, cut an X in the bottom and let sit in salt water for about 15 minutes - oh, and use about 10 sprouts and 4 chestnuts per person
  • Cut an X in the shell of each chestnut and roast at a low temperature up to an hour or at a high temperature for 10 or 15 minutes, or buy vacuum packed or jarred cooked, shelled chestnuts, for as much as I like old fashioned cooking, in this case it is a real pain in the nicta and very time consuming
  • Heat a pint of vegetable cooking stock, and add the sprouts and chestnuts, cook until tender which I've seen take as little as 15 minutes and as long as 45

Wild Mushroom and Giblet Gravy

Or leave out the giblets if you're going for Tofurkey instead. :)

Update: The gravy won't be done until tomorrow, but here's how I do mine. Take the pan drippings from cooking the turkey and separate off the fat. While that is settling, in a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil, sauté the minced shallots, diced up giblets, and sliced mushrooms [maybe reserved from the bread pudding, maybe not]. I reserved some of my minced wild mushrooms that I had soaked earlier - add those now. Remove from the pan. Add [per cup of finished gravy desired] a tablespoon of butter and allow to brown slightly, then add a tablespoon of flour, mixing into the butter until all the butter is absorbed. Keep scraping from rue from the bottom of the pan, until the flour is cooked - about 3 minutes. Add a glass of your white wine, slowly, mixing it into the flour, and then add a glass of the dried mushroom soaking liquor that you reserved, stirring it in. Cook down to the desired thickness - there should be a cup of gravy. Add a chiffonade of sage, and some thyme leaves.

Stuffed Turkey

I won't be cooking that until tomorrow. But here's the basics: remove the fresh turkey from the brine that its been soaking in overnight, take enough of the Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding recipe [don't mix this more than an hour in advance of stuffing the bird] with added, broken up and cooked mild sausage, to fill the body and neck cavities of the bird, put peeled garlic cloves under the skin of the bird [usually takes at least one head of garlic], brush bird with a rosemary twig dipped in olive oil and herbs de Provence before putting in the oven and as the basting method, cook it as you normally would. Add white wine and maybe stock [vegie stock, white stock - chicken and veal - or turkey stock made from the neck] to the bottom of the pan. This year, I'm sticking with the mushroom bread pudding, so I'll just have onions, carrots, celery and rosemary twigs in the cavity of the bird. Get the skin nice and brown, and cover with aluminum foil to keep if from burning if it's browned before the turkey is done. If you do that, uncover the bird for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Update: I've been using the term chiffonade. Let me explain. One can only chiffonade larger leaves: think basil, sage, mint. Wash and dry about eight leaves, and make a "cigar" out of them. That is, layer them by overlapping them about half-way along the long axis, and roll them up so they look something like stogies. Sharpen your knife, the sharper the better. Slice along the "cigar" cross-section, so that your getting very thin slices of herb.

Update 20061122;19h47: I totally forgot about the Pumpkin Soup. I guess because the first step - roasting the pumpkins, was done over the weekend. And, of course, there will be a green salad, breads, cheese plate, olives, other marinated vegetables and dessert: pumpkin pie and cranberry walnut apple pie.

Pumpkin Soup

  • Take the "lid" off two sugar pumpkins, scrape out the seeds and fibers, and roast for two hours at 325°F
  • Scrape out the meat of the pumpkin, and allow to cool
  • Toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven - they make great garnish later
  • Bring 8 cups of fire roasted vegetable stock to a boil, add the roasted pumpkin meat, fresh thyme, fresh ginger grated, a bouquet garni of bay leaf, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, dry sherry and sautéed onions
  • Cook for two hours, then purée in the pot or by passing it through a food mill
  • bring back to a boil and tip in a cup of heavy cream right before serving

Rest coming up throughout the day. Have a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy.

 

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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