Sun 31 Jul 2011
Posted by andrew under Recipes1 Comment
The upcoming recipe club dinner is themed Argentina, so I’ve been looking into Argentine desserts. It seems that the key ingredient is Dulce de Leche – basically a thick, sweet caramel sauce – so it was a given that this sweet ingredient would feature.
Helping me along, I came across a great website called From Argentina With Love that had an interesting-sounding recipe for Pionono (an Argentine dessert roll), from which this recipe is heavily based. I also had some assistance from this other Pionono Recipe.
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon honey
- extra caster sugar
- 200mL whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200g dulce de leche (I used Nestle Top-N-Fill Caramel)
NB. The Nestle Top-N-Fill Caramel is basically caramelized sweetened condensed milk, and was available as a 380g tin in my supermarket in the section along with cooking chocolate and vanilla extract.
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
- Take a shallow tray, 25cm x 38cm (I think it’s sometimes known as a swiss roll tray), grease it, line the bottom and sides with a sheet of grease-proof paper, then grease the paper.
- Sift the flour into a small bowl and set aside.
- Put the eggs, sugar and honey in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a mixer on high for at least 8 minutes, until the mixture expands to several times the original volume and forms a marshmallow consistency.
- Add the flour into the mix, and continue to beat for another minute until well combined.
- Pour the mix evenly across the tray (even the corners), spreading with a flat knife if necessary.
- Place in the oven, and cook for 8-10 mins. It will be done when the cake springs back at a light touch. You may want to rotate the tray after 6 mins to ensure it cooks evenly.
- While waiting for the cake to cook, get a clean and dry (non fluffy) tea towel. Lay it out and sprinkle lightly with caster sugar. Use your fingers to ensure it is covered evenly.
- Take the tray out of the oven, invert it onto the tea towel. Remove the tray, and gently peel off the grease-proof paper.
- While still hot, roll up the cake in the tea towel, and set aside to cool for a couple of hours.
- During this waiting time, prepare the filling. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks have just formed.
- Add the dulce de leche and vanilla and stir to combine. Then beat for another minute or so, until the mixture thickens. Place in an airtight container and chill in the fridge.
- When the cake is cool, unroll it, spread the filling across it, and re-roll. Ideally, serve immediately, but it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for another day or two.
When serving, slice into generous chunks. Serves 6-8.
Tags: argentina, dessert, dulce de leche, pionono, recipe, recipe club, roll
Sun 17 Jul 2011
Posted by andrew under Musings Comments
Back at Uni, there was an easy trap when doing essays where you would photocopy all the readings or sources (at some expense) and think that you’d done something significant towards completing the task. All of the insights required for writing a good essay were contained in them somewhere, and now you had them in your possession. While getting all the prescribed material together was a necessary step, it also had to be read and mentally processed before the actual writing could commence.
There’s a similar situation when it comes to doing presentations. Getting the presentation material together is one step, but there is more work to be done before the actual presentation can be given. Memorizing the presentation and having it ready to fluently present is critical, but it is often left out of training courses on giving presentations. They just recommend endless rehearsal until the material is ready to go, despite (if they are like me) most people not having the time to do this.
I recently attended a presentation course that, while being excellent in many other aspects, also left the memorization part out. (It’s worth calling out the one presentation course, one of many, that I’ve attended that did include it: Think on your feet.) However, the presenter of the recent course at least did point me in the direction of an improve-your-memory book by Tony Buzan.
It’s been an interesting read, and the main conclusion from it is that to improve your memory, you need to memorize stuff. That may be a bit trite, and seem rather circular, so let me expand.
Things naturally stick in our memory when they have a lot of associations with things already in our memory. That’s why when you hear about something related to one of your hobbies, you might find yourself having memorized it without any conscious effort. Hence, if you want to use this trick in a new domain of knowledge, you start by learning a bunch of facts in that domain that will give you a good chance of having memory associations to any new thing you come across.
Buzan’s book provides both an approach to memorize arbitrary facts (with some effort) as well as a compendium of facts from various domains to get the reader started. Unfortunately, none of the domains was sufficiently interesting to me to bother memorizing, but I will probably try to apply the basic approach to some other domains.
The basic approach to memorizing facts has two aspects: creating highly memorable mental scenes (incorporating multiple senses, high drama, etc.) and a way to map numbers to keywords (eg. 55 maps to cake). Together, a user of the approach takes arbitrary facts, makes them memorable and associates them with a number in a sequence related to the particular domain of knowledge.
Anyway, let’s see how it goes. It’s great to have a new tool in the kit bag when it comes to presentations, although it seems like it would be more widely applicable. It’ll be great if I can remember to use it!
Tags: buzan, course, memorizing, memory, presentation, presenting, tony buzan, training
Sun 3 Jul 2011
Posted by andrew under Musings1 Comment
In the early days of the web, it was common to have nearly every website begin with “www.” as a way to indicate that the domain name related to a website, rather than (say) an ftp site, or a news site, or any of a dozen other common types of site on the Internet. However, as more people begin to believe that The Web == The Internet, this practice has slowly disappeared among the “cool” sites. This guide on the net even suggests that “pro” sites should avoid using “www.”
If you type “www.twitter.com” into your favourite web browser, you’ll find that you end up at “twitter.com” (minus the “www.”). Similarly for www.wordpress.com, www.go.com, www.thepiratebay.org, www.digg.com and www.stackoverflow.com – to pick a few other popular sites. While many other sites support leaving off the “www.” in the first instance (such as mine), redirecting you automatically to the site, these listed sites use the www-free name as the canonical version.
Even if this practice continues to build in popularity, in the longer term, it is going to need to change or it will cause a problem.
The trigger will be the complete opening up of the top-level of domain names so that instead of “.com” or “.au” suffixes on names, or a preset list of them, absolutely anything will be possible as a domain name suffix (also known as the top level). Things like “drink.coke” and “stop.spam” could be completely legitimate domain names. Aside from the dot (full-stop, point, period, etc.) in the name, there is nothing about it that would indicate that you should type it into your favourite web browser.
It is convenient for me to be able to click on links in emails that I receive. Another aspect of the above is that my email client (or the sender’s) won’t be able to automatically tell that some domain names should be turned into links, so I may not realise that I ought to visit them. But if I do, I’ll need to cut-n-paste the name, rather than just make an easy click.
The work-around is to put “http://” at the start of every one of these new domain names, so that it’s clear to both human and machine that something is an address on the web. Simple – just add 7 characters to the beginning.
However, this is also achieved by putting the 4 characters “www.” at the beginning, which is universally understood to refer to a website. It’s about half as long, easier to type (especially on mobile devices), and less techy.
So, let the cycle turn, and have it become more common for popular and cool – and “pro” – sites to use “www.” (again).
Tags: domain, gTLD, internet, name, names, prefix, web, www