Feb 26, 2010

Feb 21, 2010

Winter Nut Brown Ale!

Along with the BBA challenge this weekend, I also took it upon myself to brew another beer. This time up: Nut Brown Ale.  I went with nut brown to brew something that isn't a stout.  The hops that is called for were very low on the Alpha Acid level, which hopefully means the strong Hop taste that has been overtaking my brews won't be as present.

I'll also get this written up this week, so look out for  more posts!

BBA Challenge Round three is done!

Well I just took Round three out of the oven.  We'll see how it is tomrorow!

Quick thoughts:

  • It's a little darker than I would like, but not burnt.

  • The smell is amazing.  This is my first time baking that I really had a hard time not "sampling" as soon as it came out.

  • Always check your Parchment paper supply BEFORE shaping your loaves.


That's it for now!  I'll get the post and hopefully some pictures up shortly!

Feb 17, 2010

The BlackBerry saga

Here's the saga of my former smartphone, the blackberry 9530. It is not a pretty tale and it involves money, reboots, missing apps, and a lot of swearing.

The Issue


It all started when my screen started acting up. My screen would occasionally not recognize a tap or a press.  At first, I thought it was a mistake I made: my hand was too cold, I pushed too quickly, or some other crazy sounding thing.  I would attempt to click on the PodTrapper Icon and get nothing…It didn’t happen frequently enough to warrant sending the unit in for repair, just enough to keep the embers of irritation glowing.  I do seem to have a slight calibration issue.  It is definitely an issue that has cropped up overtime.  While that is an annoyance, the bigger problem is stability.

The App Problem


The one thing I love about the BlackBerry platform over other platforms is the openness. I am not reliant on one company to bless, anoint, or whatever religious analogy you care to use an application.  Granted, there are pros and cons to both styles of thinking.

On the Open-Plus side, I can run whatever I want.  IF want to search for an app that will replace the included apps, such as a replacement web browser, or email application, I can.  As of right now, the only web browser that is available for the iPhone OS is Mobile Safari.  Yes, Opera is working on the Opera Mini browser, but it hasn’t been submitted for approval yet.  On the Non-Open-Plus side, I know the apps that have been approved work.  I haven’t really seen an iPhone/iPod Touch app crash that wasn’t related to the app requiring a data connection, and said connection leaving without leaving a note.  I’ve had a couple of bomb outs on my iPod Touch, but it always brings me right back to the home screen.  I’m getting on an apple rant, so let’s look a the downside of Open-Apps.

On the Open-Minus side, I can run whatever I want.  Since the code isn’t tested by RIM for Operability, You can get some pretty bad apps that crash.  on my BlackBerry, I currently have about 14 apps.  I don’t keep them all running all the time…mostly because the Storm 9530 has a small application memory size.  I am getting a message about once every two days on my storm saying it is out of application memory, and that to remedy this, I should delete some apps.  Seriously?  why is my application memory so small?  I have an 8 gig SD card in there that is 75% free?  Can’t I dedicate some of that to applications?  Granted, I am frustrated by this, but I think this gives way to the penultimate reason…

I am a Cheap Geek


I really am.  I agonized for over a year about getting a smartphone.  I was practically drooling when they announced the Moto Q back in May of 2006.  I eyed that baby for a long time.  It wasn’t until the close of 2007 that I finally took the plunge and picked it up.  It took me another 6 months before I finally got a data plan to really use the thing for more than a glorified calculator.  I held onto that thing until February 2009 when I got the Storm.  I really loved it!  At the time, I could justify the $29.99 a month, as money was a bit more freely flowing with both my wife and I working.  With the birth of my Daughter Anya in December, it really made me rethink my Mobile Priorities.

Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the storm!  SmartPhones in general are still my go-to Gadget dream scenarios.  I can just think of a better thing to spend the money on.  I’m sure I will venture into the SmartPhone arena again, but for now, I’m experimenting to see how I do without 24/7 Internets.

Does that mean I’m completely happy NOT connected 24/7?  No, but I still get all the stuff I want out of my iPod Touch that is on loan.  The question is, when I have to give up the touch…will I get my own?

Feb 16, 2010

It has been fun blackberry...

I had a longer post that I just erased like a n00b. I will rewrite. Just not tonight.

I don't know how else to say it blackbery 9530...it's over. We had a good run, but I can't live this lie anyore. You just aren't Meeting my expectations.

Feb 15, 2010

BBA Challenge Round two update

Well I completed round two of my BBa challenge and it was interesting. I will write up a full post tonight but a quick teaser: delciously dense

Feb 9, 2010

BBA Challenge Round 2: Bagels

For the next round of the BBA Challenge, I plan on making cinnamon-raisin bagels.  The next recipe in the book is Artos: Greek celebration bread, but the recipe calls for a bram (starter) and that can take a few weeks.  I will make the starter next week, and will hopefully get it going in time for Easter.

The bagels will be fun, as I haven't ever made them before.

Look for more posts this week about ingredients, techniques, and my game plan.

Bread on!

Feb 7, 2010

BBA Challenge Round 1: Anadama Bread - Baking and Results!

Well, I've finished round one of the BBA Challenge!  I think I'm off to a good start, and I think my Milladama bread is a mighty fine substitue.

BBA Challenge Round 1: Anadama Bread - Pre-Baking

Today is baking day!  I'm in a holding pattern right now.  The Original Recipe Anadama bread is proofing, while the Milladama is in the sponge stage.  I worked out the different steps I need to follow to complete one Recipe and discovered from start to finish it is about 5 hours...lots of Proofing time in there.  I decided to offset the baking by a few steps.  Here's the chart I made:

Feb 6, 2010

BBA Challenge Round 1: Anadama Bread

The first bread in the BBA Challenge is Anadama Bread.  Thankfully, it looks like it is starting out on a lighter note and should be a manageable first challenge.  I picked up the supplies I need this morning:

  • Coarse Ground Cornmeal (Polenta)

  • Bread flour

  • Instant Yeast

  • Molasses

  • Shortening


I couldn't find the Brer Rabbit Golden Molasses that Peter Reinhart suggests, so I went with Plantation Blackstrap.  Yes, it is going to give off a more potent Molasses flavor, but I enjoy it.

I started to prepare for tomorrow's baking by creating the "soaker" of cornmeal.  I just need to let it sit  overnight, so the cornmeal will soften a bit, and release of the sugars trapped in it.

Mark's Corn/Milk-Free Alternative

As part of the BBA Challenge, I want to attempt to make all the recipes so my Wife can enjoy them as well.  She is allergic to Milk, and sensitive to corn, so I will be replacing these when They appear in the recipe.  This will help me discover my abilities as a baker, and find alternatives that will not affect the characteristics of the loaves too much.

The only ingredient we need to repleace i the cornmeal.  I did some searching, and decided to try Millet.  IT seems to be the "go to" replacement.  I found a couple of Tasty sounding Millet-instead-of-Corn-bread recipes that will have to try at some point.

The only trick I've found so far, is Millet can be hard to find in some supermarkets.  I found Millet next to bird-type seeds in the bulk department, so I suggest starting there.  The Millet was whole, so I decided to try soaking it untouched, and soaking it after I ran it through a food processor to open the seed husk, while preserving the coarse texture.

You can see the pictures I've taken on my Flickr BBA challenge page located here.

Tomorrow is baking day.  I plan to take more pictures and write up as I go.  Maybe I'll even ustream it!

Feb 1, 2010

The BBA Challenge!

So I was doing some research on baking, when I came across the pinch my salt website.  It's a good site about baking and such, but what really caught my eye was the BBA challenge.

The gist is this: To bake every recipe in the Bread Baker's Apprentice book by Peter Reinhart.  This will push your bread baking knowledge to the limit and more.  It appears the challenge has been going on for a few months, but no time like the present to start!

I decided that just baking the breads wouldn't be enough.  I plan on taking each recipe, and where applicable, making them corn and diary free!   I want to compare the two loaves to see how closely I can mimic the flavor/appearance.

We'll see how this goes, as I bake my first loaves this weekend!