archive for December, 2004

Recipe: French Onion Soup

A few days ago, we made French Onion soup loosely based on Alton Brown‘s recipe. I’ll reprint his version here in case the link gets broken.

10 sweet onions (like Vidalias) or a combination of sweet and red onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white wine
10 ounces canned beef consume
10 ounces chicken broth
10 ounces apple cider (unfiltered is best)
Bouquet garni; thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley
1 loaf country style bread
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Splash Cognac (optional)
1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated

Trim the ends off each onion then slice from end to end. Remove peel and finely slice into half moon shapes. Set electric skillet to 300 degrees and add butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, stir occasionally until onions are dark mahogany and reduced to approximately 2 cups. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Do not worry about burning.

Add enough wine to cover the onions and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrup consistency. Add consume, chicken broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler.

Cut country bread in rounds large enough to fit mouth of oven safe soup crocks. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1 minute.

Season soup mixture with salt, pepper and cognac. Ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch to the lip. Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Like I said, my version was only loosely based on this. I had just watched Alton make it on TV, but I didn’t take notes when I went shopping — I didn’t even think to make it until I was at the store, so I forgot a few items. I didn’t want to make as much soup, so I started with only 3 onions, and I tried to adjust the other ingredients accordingly. I didn’t have any chicken broth, so I just used a little extra beef consume to keep the salt levels right. I didn’t have any apple cider, so I chopped up 2 apples and cooked those with the onions (my best change). I didn’t have any fresh herbs for a bouquet garni, so I just threw in some dried parsley, and a bay leaf. I didn’t have the right cookware (crocks), or the right cheese (I used provolone).

Surprisingly, with all of those changes it still turned out pretty good. Of course, the best onion soup I’ve ever had was in Paris, and mine wasn’t even close. If you can’t make it to France, you should make your own French Onion Soup.

Earthlink Customer Service – Update

A month ago I posted about Earthlink’s customer service. Today, I did get my month free. That saves me $50 today, but since I’m paying an extra $10 (or more) per month, that hardly makes up for who knows how many months I’ve been paying too much. I’m still planning on switching to another provider, but I’m going to wait until after the Christmas rush. Does anyone have some advice?

Desktop Search Explodes

Following Google’s lead in creating a desktop search tool, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and even Ask Jeeves are all jumping on the bandwagon.

It’s amazing what a little competition can do. Microsoft has had a basic search tool in windows for years, but they’ve hardly made any improvements to it in all that time. Now, Google comes along with a desktop search tool and what happens? Microsoft starts making improvements.

It’s just one more piece of evidence showing that monopolies will only do the bare minimum, and that everyone is better off with competition. This is a good example of why we have antitrust laws and why they need to be enforced.

Affordable Green Energy

Via WorldChanging, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that Green Mountain Energy is matching prices with Reliant Energy. This means that you’ll be able to buy electricity that’s generated from renewable resources at the same price as dirty electricity (at least if you live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Texas).

I’m glad to hear about this, not just because it’s good for the environment, but because my brother-in-law just started working for Green Mountain. Plus, IIRC Reliant is one of the companies that price-gouged Californians over $42 billion (1, 2, 3). It’ll be nice to see them go down.

On a related note: there’s an interesting article over at O’Reilly on Renewable Energy as a great opportunity for Silicon Valley.

The City of Lost Children

Jesse and I just watched The City of Lost Children. I really liked it. Netflix recommends it to people who liked Amelie, Fight Club, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and more. I’d add Dark City, Moulin Rouge, Blade Runner, and Gattaca to that list.

Without giving it away, the movie is about some people who kidnap children to steal their dreams. Okay, that’s a bit like saying Moulin Rouge is about a poet turned playwright who hangs out in the red light district of Paris. Just trust me, if you like the above movies, you’ll probably like this movie. If you don’t like them, you wont.

Firefox Update

It’s about time. “Penn State Tells 80,000 Students To Chuck IE” – InformationWeek.

Firefox has reached 10 million downloads.

Mozilla’s (including Firefox) market share continues to grow.

I’ve gotten rid of my Firefox Popup and banners in favor of a small button on the right for IE users. I figure that the popup and banners have made their impact, and now it’ll be nicer to go with a button that’s out of the way but that shows every time.


Thanks to Joel for mentioning PureJPEG. My banners directory was 6.93 MB, now it’s down to 4.47 MB. That’s 35% less. Not bad.

Recipe: Cheese Ball

16oz cream cheese
8oz sharp cheese grated
1 clove garlic grated fine
1 tsp. green onions chopped fine
2 tbsp. bell pepper chopped fine
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. lemon juice

Soften the cream cheese by bringing nearly to room temperature. Add other ingredients, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Form into one or more balls. (I usually go for something the size of a baseball.) If you like, you can coat in chopped walnuts.

Link Roundup: Dec. 7, 2004

A “Link Roundup” is a list of links that I recently found interesting. Other blogs do something like this, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I might or might not have something to say about them, but there will usually be a good reason for what I post — or not.
Activists Dominate Content Complaints
Networks wimp out on church commercial
“My Beef With Big Media” by Ted Turner
Amazon Theater
Nicholas Reville on Downhill BattleĀ’s Blog Torrent initiative

Archive Update

I’ve updated the Archive page to hopefully make it easier to navigate. Check it out and let me know what you think.

« Previous Entries Next Entries »