Monthly Archives: September 2009

Cutting The Cheese

… Out of my diet, that is.

For a month.

I have an inkling that cheese is actually one of the most addictive substances on Earth. If not, it’s certainly the most widespread addiction. Not without reason, either. It’s a source of calcium and protein, it fills you up and it tastes really really good. Also, it’s amazing. And varied.

On the downside, cheese is really fatty and is (according to some sources) possibly to blame for my slimy throat. So starting this thursday, I’m not having a bite of cheese for a whole month. It’s going to be tough, and I’m a bit freaked out by the idea of cheeseless pizza, but it’ll also be interesting. I might get the Uncheese Cookbook and try some stuff, too. Who knows?

I’ll make a video to announce it on Youtube as well. Watch out for that.

Aberdeen Angus

Look at that red inside. Barely cooked. (Click to enlarge)

Look at that red inside. Barely cooked. (Click to enlarge)

I love it when a plan comes together.

Mid-september, I decided I’d try to cook a steak by pre-cooking in the oven first and then quickly turning in the pan. I’d done it once before and it was a tentative success, though flawed. At the meat counter at Sainsbury’s we picked out two small but thick fillets of Aberdeen Angus, just because Angus is fucking amazing meat. We probably wouldn’t have bought it if we’d looked at the price, though… over 30 British Pounds per kilogram! Crikey! When it beeped through at the cash register, my nerves shot upwards at an alarming pace. What if I fuck this up?!

When I got home, I tightly wrapped the fillets individually in aluminium foil and put them in the oven, which was set to the lowest setting (50 Celsius here). I let them sit there on their grill for about an hour while I made mashed potato and set greens to steam.

Perfect angus, greens and mash. (Click to enlarge)

Perfect angus, greens and mash. (Click to enlarge)

When I took the fillets out and carefully unwrapped them, they were slightly browning at the very edges, but mostly still red and lying in a small pool of their own juice. I put butter in two pans (high, but not full heat) and then fillets in one pan, asparagus and mushrooms in one. I turned the fillets and the veg in the pans, more or less 60-90 seconds for each side of the fillets, and then I was done.

As I assembled all the pieces, I started properly salivating. Everything looked just right. I was not disappointed. The greens had steamed to perfection with nothing overcooked and nothing raw. The mushrooms were golden brown on the outside and cooked all the way through, but hadn’t gone squishy yet. The potato mash was really creamy and with just the right seasoning. And finally, the Angus was red all the way through, but didn’t have a single millimetre of raw meat, and it was so tender I could pull it apart quite easily with my fingers. To me, it was like the steak in The Matrix when Cypher goes “ignorance is bliss”.

A combination of good cooking and fortuitous timing on every end made this the most perfect meal I’ve probably ever cooked in my entire life, and it’s likely I’ll never be able to reproduce it. That won’t stop me from trying, though!

Moral of this story: If you want full control over your steak on a regular cooker: Pre-cook it in the oven on a low-low setting (It shouldn’t be more than 50-70 degrees in there, otherwise, you’ll overcook it) and then quickly fry it on high in a pan. Also, before you try this on really expensive meat, practice on cheaper stuff, and also practice your timing with steaming and all that.

I must say that this: I got this tip from one of the waiters at First Coast, the best goddamned eatery in Edinburgh. They make amazing food with equal focus on both meat-dishes and vegetarian ones (something you don’t see very often, and something I appreciate as I mostly don’t eat meat) and they’re extremely reasonable compared to other gourmet restaurants and compared to what you get. If you’re ever in Edinburgh, look them up. They know their stuff. (Also, they don’t do “weekend staff”, so you’ll always get people who know what they’re doing, unlike their neighbouring restaurant, The Sizzling Scot.)

Can You Play World of Warcraft On A Netbook?

Short answer: Yes, you bloody well can.

Longer answer:
First of all, in case you didn’t know, a netbook is a tiny little laptop, usually with screens of between 9 and 11 inches in size. They’re meant for web browsing, viewing videos and writing… And maybe playing an old game or two. On saturday, I bought a Samsung NC10 so I can work away from my Mac when I’m stuck on something and need to move about. Of course, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so some gaming must also happen.

And World of Warcraft is… well, you should know by now. Released by Blizzard in late 2005, it’s the world’s most popular MMO, bar none, and it looks quite nice, too. Blizzard pride themselves on their games being playable on most computers, so I figured I’d take this puppy for a ride and try it out.

Now, this is the first hurdle, and the only really big one: Installing takes fucking forever! Netbooks don’t have optical drives, so I had to download it from the WOW website to install. That’s 4.5 gigs of download. YAWN! And then after that? Patch-time… A 1.7 gig whopper of a content patch, too!

Buuut in the end, I managed to get it all in there, and I booted up the client. At this point, I should tell you that I had no expectations. I didn’t even remotely expect the game to be playable in any way, and I was frankly a bit worried because when I last logged out, I was standing on a bridge over a large drop, which would kill me if I dropped into… So if it ran shoddily enough, it would mess up my steering and I would die. And dying is such a hassle.

I needn’t have worried.

In case you don't believe me: WoW doing 15 FPS on my Samsung NC10 (Click for bigger)

In case you don't believe me: WoW doing 15 FPS on my Samsung NC10 (Click for bigger)

Before I went into it, I obviously turned all the settings down to bottom, so it didn’t look nearly as good as it would on my Mac, but I did get between 10-30 fps through testing it, every now and then dipping below or spiking above in some cases. Even taking flight-paths (very fast travel. Taxes the machine quite a bit) I was normally between 10 and 20 frames per second. Now, I haven’t gone in and done any heavy fighting, and I would NOT recommend going into a group instance with this thing, but the fact that this dinky little 300-quid thing can play WoW several times better than the desktop I had when it was released less than four years ago is amazing to me.

If you’re wondering if your netbook can play it, I will say “probably”. Most of these netbooks are pretty much identical in specs, be it Dell, HP, Lenovo or Asus. Check for the Intel Atom 1.6(or 1.66) processor, and make sure it has about a gig of RAM and plenty of harddrive space, though.

I might do another post about the Netbook itself, but that’s for later.

EDIT SINCE CATACLYSM: I don’t play WOW these days so I don’t have Cataclysm, but from what I gather, the system reqs have been upped with the expansion. It seems more netbook players are having trouble with their netbooks now. Shame, really.