Monday, July 1, 2013

Reader Rainbow

[I've neglected this blog for far too long, and have never done an opinion/ranting post before, so here goes nothing]

As I sit in a very warm living room that has just begun to cool down, light fading in the summer twilight, I browse Google Reader for one last goodbye and reflect on what this might mean to the avid Readers and RSS subscribers.

I signed up for Reader on June 30th, 2008, almost exactly 5 years ago. In quintessential Google fashion, they've done us the favor of tracking just how much we've used this service, and the analytics say I've used it quite a lot: over 165,174 items have passed through my feed and my eyes. If we assume a light estimate of casual 30 second skimming through each piece, that's a staggering 1376 hours. Spread over 5 years, that's an average of 45 minutes per day. In reality, I can attest to days where I've spent a LOT more time than that (how on earth did I ever graduate? or finish my co-op work assignments?)

Reading through my own feed was a bit like a sanctuary (I'm not the only one who feels this way), filled with news and articles on topics that I chose for myself; a feel that resonates best with few others in this world. I would never suggest RSS reading a replacement for books, but I do attribute much of my continued growth in skills and knowledge to my Google Reader feed. As one of my favorite authors famously said, "We, the human race, have not ever invented anything that can surpass reading as a way of learning." -Stephen E. Ambrose

The worst-kept secret in web strategy is Google wants to channel more traffic through Google Plus to pump steroids into its social game, and try to "catch up" with the rest of social media. The growing trend of emphasizing social media makes me rather pessimistic, because social media values don't align with meaningful, thought provoking, and educational content. Reading and synthesizing  your own thoughts requires focus, isolation, and an area free from distraction. In a world where influence measured by seeing who can gather the most followers (Justin Beiber sigh) and who can scream the loudest, the carefully crafted essays get drowned out or glossed over in favor of snappier and more "exciting" content. We don't value both sides of the argument. We never spend enough time in the same place to think critically or explore different approaches to the same question.

Now, at the 11th hour, no one was prepared to have to fill this role. RSS is no longer sexy, it can't be monetized easily, and yet so many of us will find it very hard to imagine life without it. Most worryingly, I don't think Google is ready either (barring some huge unannounced G+ feature launch tomorrow morning). Google Plus remains a mess (I genuinely try and try again to use it), and when I look at the Pages that my news sources own, they're neglected and devoid of their content feeds. Some will move on to the latest "new" thing, but others will be stranded in less than ideal RSS territory. I hope us refugees will find a proper new RSS home as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Corn & Bacon Griddle Cakes

strange is how we like it

This recipe was so far out when I came across it on Google Plus (yes, I still occasionally use it; this recipe discovery might be justification to use it more!). My close friends know that I rarely pass up a recipe that seems strange and unconventional, and this one was not an exception.

These stuffed pancakes look very involved, but the batter comes together surprisingly quickly once the ingredients are assembled. The cakes themselves are full of structure from the corn and bacon, almost like an okonomiyaki.

The recipe calls for Monterey jack cheese, but rest assured that this recipe works handsomely with bolder cheeses as well; I used a blend of asiago and parmesean.

After the cakes are finished cooking (just like how you'd make other stuffed pancakes, such as banana, blueberry, or chocolate chip), be sure to top with some extra bacon and plenty of maple syrup

[Recipe from]

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.
2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick. If you'd like the griddle cakes to be slightly thinner than those pictured, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.
3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and a good dose of warm maple syrup.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Cookies

Hello everyone/anyone who still follows my blog; what a hiatus it's been (since April 2011!) and my how time flies.

In the past year, I seem to be surrounded by friends amid a craze for French macrons. I was at first confused and underwhelmed by all the fuss, after trying a few bland ones. As a mutual friend of mine Alex Woo aptly put it:
(credit: Alex Woo;
However, after sampling a few properly made ones, I think the light, crisp yet chewy and flavorful creations grew on me. When the boys at Sorted Food did a video on how to make them and made it look so easy, I decided I had to have a go at it myself.

First attempts? Well, not great. The batter was runny and ended up with macaron halves that looked like cells caught in the middle of mitosis...

This was a good lesson for me: be patient with beating egg whites! Make sure they are whipped to the point of undoubtedly stiff peaks. However, if the piped cookies flow together, you can still cut them apart once they have cooled.

Other than that, this recipe is actually really simple, but remember simple doesn't always mean easy; work with precision and neatness, and you will save yourself from heartbreak and a nightmare cleanup job. Once you have the basic steps down, then the flavors and varieties are only limited by your imagination.

Flavor + Filling combinations I've tried so far:

  • Vanilla + Nutella
  • Raspberry + Berry Jam
  • Spiced Bourbon + Pumpkin
  • Pistachio + Nutella Buttercream
  • Lemon + Lemon Curd
  • Orange + Chocolate Buttercream

Pistachio + Nutella Buttercream

Recipe (via Sorted Food)