RottenBrains

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Archive for August, 2006

Chiles con Queso y Grasa del Tocino

Monday, August 28th, 2006

One of my high-school friends has gone on to become a clasically-trained chef (he holds an associates’ degree in Culinary Arts from the New England Culinary Institute). Over the years, he has passed along a number of recipies, all of which are highly impressive. I recently had reason to prepare a chilies con queso recipe that he developed many years ago. It’s not health food — but if you’re gonna eat queso, it may as well be worth it. I’m passing it along as he gave it to me, with my own notes added in italics.

  1. Sweat one small diced onion and 1 to 3 minced jalapeños in bacon fat (I render about 4 strips, or use 2 – 4 Tbsp from the jar). In practice, I find 3 jalapeños to be the entry level for this dish; you can easily double the quantity.
  2. Add 1 large can (14 oz) evaporated milk.
  3. As this heats, add 16 oz of Kraft “Deli Cheddar”, a sharp process cheese food product which is much less sweet than American cheese but which still contains lots of emulsifiers. (Real cheddar will yield an oily, separated final product). I have had no luck finding Kraft Deli Cheddar in recent years; however, the Kraft Deli Deluxe American process cheese is also unsweetened, and produces an acceptable result.
  4. Adjust the bitterness and head of the queso with Tabasco and rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar). Generally, only a small amount is required. (The sourness of the vinegar decreases the apparent bitterness of the jalapeños. Individual tastes differ so an exact amount isn’t useful).

Allow to cool slightly after all the cheese has melted, and then serve.

FedEx saga continues

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Update: My package has now returned from its vacation in sunny California, and is at a waystation in Hutchins, Texas — still considerably further away from my house than where it started, but much, much closer than San Diego.

I wonder if it had fun.

Got a spare $100,000?

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

Ben brought to my attention a new breed of electic car that Tesla Motors is producing. The vehicles themselves are styled and manufactured by Lotus.

The first car out the gate is the “Tesla Roadster” — a two seater with a trunk that can be described only as “vestigial.” It’s a soft-top convertable with a hard top option. So it’s an electic sports car? Yep. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: the Japanese have been outperfoming gas-powered cars using electric prototypes for years. (According to Wired, Tesla Motors has other cars in the works as well).

This car is as different from the electric cars of yesteryear — most of which were glorified golf carts — as is possible. With a 200 kW powertrain (that’s almost 270 horsepower for you luddites), it can go from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. It has a top speed somewhere north of 130 miles per hour. Under normal driving conditions, it can go 250 miles on a single charge. And while previous electric cars required exotic charging stations, this one has an optional “travel charger” that allows you to plug it into a normal wall outlet. (It does come with an exotic charging station that you install at your house that charges it up more quickly — empty to full in 3 1/2 hours).

And, for Ben’s sake, I’ll point out that the iPod dock comes standard.

At $100,000, I’m not quite putting in my down payment yet — but it’s really promising that someone can make a batch of these (1,000 for the 2007 year model) for a price that’s almost on par with gasoline cars in the same class. At this price, the first batch (limited edition) of 100 sold out — prepaid — within two weeks. They’re taking orders for the second batch right now.

FedEx: Incompetence, Stupidity, or Insanity?

Friday, August 25th, 2006

I recently ordered an item from a company here in the Dallas area — Carrollton, to be precise. It’s just under 14 miles from their warehouse to my front door. On the 22nd, they gave me notice that the package had been made available to FedEx for delivery.

Past deliveries from this company have taken one day. I seem to recall them being UPS as well, but that might not be completely accurate.

This time around, though, it would appear that FedEx has collectively gotten into some powerful nose candy. After three days of no package, I decided to check with FedEx’s online tracking system:

This Is Your FexEx on Drugs.

Here’s where I need your help. Pull out a map of the US or a Globe. Now, starting from Carrollton Texas, draw a line to Dallas, Texas. On your map, how close does this line come to San Diego? When I run through this excercise, my answer is “about 1,300 miles.” Did you get something similar? The reason I ask is: that’s about 100 times further away than the box started in the first place. That’s a very counterintuitive direction to take my package.

FedEx claims that their ground service may take up to seven days — however, I always figured this was a statement of “we’ll get it there as soon as practical, which might be as long as seven days,” not “your package is entitled to a seven day tour of the United States, and we would be remiss were we to not grant it this vacation.”

On the plus side, it might have taken some nice vacation pictures for me. We’ll just have to wait — another four days — and see.


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