Tahini Choco Brownies

This is a recipe recommended by a good friend. It has been a long time since I have baked my choco brownies but I decided to try this recipe as I had my homemade tahini.

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate (85%)
  • 15g 100% cocoa powder
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 175g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 180g tahini
  • 50g plain flour

Process

  • pre-heat oven at 175C. I used a rounded cake tin (26cm diameter – a bit smaller is better). Cover the whole tin with baking paper and use a bit of butter on top of the paper.
  • In a sauce pan, at medium heat, melt the butter. Then remove from the heat, and add the chocolate and cocoa powder, whisking until smooth.
  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until properly mixed and thickens up a bit. Add the tahini, mix well. Then fold the flour.
  • Take 1/2 of the tahini mix to a different bowl. The rest, add it to the chocolate mix. Fold until fully combined.
  • Pour the chocolate mix into the cake tin, spreading evenly.
  • Then add on top the reserved tahini mix, with a stick, swirl the mix so you have bit of the tahini mix inside the chocolate mix.
  • Bake for 25m or less. Check the center is moist and sides are set. If not, bake for a couple of minutes more.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool down for 30 minutes.
  • Cut in squares and try.

To be honest, mine were a bit dry, no moist enough so it is better to check early than leave it in the oven too long.

The taste is different, the tahini gives it a nutty flavour. It is not very chocolatey neither sweet. I need to try again.

Rise

I am not very keen of sportsmen/women biographies but I decided to read this one, after watching this video some time ago.

Although Siya is still young, he relates about his career from a very challenging upbringing to the summit of his sport career.

But what I liked from the book, it is not just the path to success but the persona. How he relates to the problems of South Africa, to his own personal problems. In a very macho sport, it is difficult to imagine somebody talking about his feelings, his wrongs, his addictions. This is another very interesting video about mental heath issues from a “big boy”.

As he shows in the book, he found help in his wife and faith. And admits he is not perfect.

There is a important point about success and values. It is more important to be a well-rounded person than a top rugby player. But we live in a society/world that we only focus in the best, the winner (who takes all) And those are the values we give to kids. As a famous coach said, the result takes care by itself. That means, if you put the work .

You would expect the book would finish in his top achievement but not, if follows with what it is really important to him, make a different in the society. From supporting campaigns against violence to women (and it is not just a problem in SA, we had similar problem in Spain) and setup the kolisifoundation.

Poha

A very good friend of mine cooked Poha for me last week. It was delicious! I had ingredients left so I tried on my own:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flake rice
  • 2 medium onion chopped
  • 2 carrots gratted
  • 1/4 cup of peanuts
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp of mustard grains
  • optional: 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small green chilli chopped
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 bunch coriander chopped
  • 1 bunch curry leaves
  • 1/2 lemon juice

Process:

  • Wash the rice flakes in cold water for 10 seconds. Let is rest after that.
  • In a hot pan, fry the peanuts with the coconut oil. Once a bit brown, take the peanuts out and let it rest.
  • Add the mustard grains and tumeric in the pan, let them toast a bit, dont burn it!
  • Add the chopped onion. Stir until if get a yellow color and soften up.
  • Add green chilli, stir
  • Add curry leaves, stir
  • Add grated carrot.
  • Add flake rice and peanuts. Add a bit of salt.
  • Mix all well, rice should get a yellow color.
  • Taste it, the rice shouldnt be hard. Add the lemon juice and retire the pan.
  • Add the coriander and ready to server!

PD: This can be used as inspiration.

The Phoenix Project

I wanted to read this book for some time. I thought it was going to be a technical book but it was a novel and felt like a thriller! and IT thriller if you can believe it. While I was reading it, I felt quite tense at some points, like, “I have been there!”. Although I am not a developer, I felt the pain mentioned in the book. I have been like that I spend many years in a good devops environment. When I started there, I didnt have a clue what devops menat but I learnt on the job training. I wish the networks world could be more “devops” but as we nearly always relay in 3rd party vendors to provide equipment, they always want you to lock in their product. Still, it is possible, but you need to have the drive (and time) and some support from your employer.

One of the things that surprise me from the devops methodology is that is based in manufacturing. I read in the past about Kaizen but now, I can see the connection. One of the main references is the book, The Goal.

And another very important point, nothing of these things work if people are not on board. You can have the smartest people around but if people dont buy in, nothing is accomplished.

So I like the idea of quick iterations (return of investment is received by the company and customer sooner) where you get earlier feedback, interactions and communication between all teams, awareness for the business that IT is everywhere, constant testing/experimentation (chaos monkey, antifragility), kanban boards / flow models to visualize process and constraints (WIP), constant learning, etc.

It was interesting at some point in the book where the main characters where interviewing the top people in the company to gather info about what is important for them and what means successful results and bad days. Then map all that to IT process. From there you can see what is clearly important and what is not. So you can focus in value.

Other things I learned is about the types of work we do:

  • Business projects
  • Internal projects
  • Changes
  • Unplanned work

And that unplanned work is the killer for any attempt to have a process like a manufacturing plant.

As well, based on “The Goal”, there are a lot of mentions about the “Three Ways”:

  • Find your constraint: maximize flow -> reduce batch, reduce intervals, increase quality to detect failures before moving to next steps.
  • Exploit your constraint: fast and constant flow of feedback.
  • Subordinate your constraint: high-trust culture -> dynamic, disciplined and scientific approach to experiment and risks.

In summary, I enjoyed the book. It was engaging, easy to digest and I learned!

Doom

I have never been a hardcore gamer but I remember spending many hours playing DOOM2 in PC. I never played online but I have definitely clear memories of how fast paced was the game and the kind of dark/horror atmosphere. It was quite unique at that time. And to be honest, I didnt feel it was that violent, keeping that I was a teenager and the shooting of Columbine was recent. For the record, I never completed the last phase.

I finish this book about the creators of DOOM and its origins. I had heard about John Carmack from a good friend but I never dag further in the subject so it was interesting to find out about the origins of Carmack and John Romero, how the learned to program and got to create a new culture/wave of games. I like how the games evolved in the book (although it was released in 2004) and nowadays you see how far everything has gone from technology to business size.

I didnt know Carmack was behind all the 3D engines, the evolution of them, the first usage of dedicated 3D graphic cards, etc. I think the last first person shooter I played was “Return to the Castle of Wolfenstein” and it was really good. And this was I managed to finish it. After there was a crazy about playing online that somehow I never got interested. I remember one of the games that hook me at that time was Commandos. What a great series of games was that.

It is interesting how their success was as well later their doom…. they enjoyed working long hours and playing, how the different personalities set them for the stardom. But once money and fame came, things changed and seems all fell apart.

So yes, it was a nice read and good culture fix.

3xGnochi

A couple of weeks ago I fancied gnochi. I have already done it before but this time I went free style and I did something from this video. Fry the gnochi for a bit to give them a crunchy texture.

As I didnt calculate properly, I made a massive potato dough so I tried three different methods with ingredients I had at hand.

Ingredients:

  • 4 potatoes (that’s a lot)
  • 1 egg
  • plain flour
  • salt + pepper
  • olive oil for frying

version 1

  • sun dried tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • fresh baby tomatoes

version 2

  • sesame seeds
  • just a bit of soy sauce

version 3

  • broccoli
  • courgette
  • capers

I was quite happy with the result so I will try similar version or will experiment with anything I have around.

Analog Computing

This is an interesting video about how we can use analog computing. It seems a good use in matrix calculation used in AI.

All our technology is digital but we are reaching limits (power usage, physical limits, etc) and the “boom” in AI seems to benefit from analog computing.

RISC-V

I have been reading this book during my lunch brakes for several month. Most of the times just a couple of pages to be honest as generally my knowledge of CPU architecture is very poor. I really enjoyed this subject in Uni and this book was one of my favourites during that time. It was like a bible of CPU architecture. And Patterson is an author in both books.

I remember that there were too main architectures RISC vs CISC. In a very summarize way, RISC were simple instruction that were easy to parallelized and executed (with more instructions to execute) and CISC were complex instruction (few to execute) but that were difficult to scale. So let’s say simplicity (RISC) “won” the race in CPU architecture.

RISC-V is an open standard so anybody can produce CPUs for executing those instruction. So you can easily get your hands dirty getting a board.

One of the reason of RISC-V is to learn from all the architectures mistakes and provide a design that works for any type of processor (embedded to super-computers), is efficient, modular and stable.

The book compares RISC-V with current ISAS from ARM-32, MIPS-32, Intel x86-32, etc. Based on cost, simplicity, performance , isolation from implementation, room for growth, code size and ease of programming.

There were many parts of the book that I couldn’t really understand but I found the chapter 8 quite interesting. This is about how to compute data concurrently. The best know architecture is Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD). The alternative is Vector architecture. And this is used in RISC-V. The implementation details are too our of my league.

In summary, it was a nice read to refresh a bit my CPU architecture knowledge.

Paella

After dealing with too much meat lately, I fancied some vegetables and specially a paella. So I decided to do a paella with only veggies last weekend. I found this video that I liked but at the end I went a bit wild as I stopped paying attention and I didnt have fresh artichokes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 big leek (instead of artichokes) sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves (with skin)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 onions
  • 1 glass of white wine ( I used red)
  • 3 tomates grated
  • paprika
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 red pepper + 1 green pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1/4 glass of soy (dark) sauce
  • 1 stock veg cube + 1 .5l boiling water
  • 1 cup of paella rice

Process:

  • Heat up the paella dish, pour a gulp of olive oil once it is hot.
  • Fried the garlic gloves a bit. Then add the asparagus.
  • Once they are fried a bit, retire to a dish.
  • Put the paella at low heat now.
  • Fried the leek with the same oil in the paella dish. Till taking color.
  • Then add the diced onions. Add salt and pepper. Stir all of them until taking some color.
  • Add wine. Stir until it evaporates mostly.
  • Add the tomate, mix well. Add paprika. Taste it!
  • Add the carrot, peppers, courgette and cauliflower. Fry for a bit.
  • Add the soy sauce. This will add quite a salty taste.
  • Add the stock veg cube with the boiling water. Stirr all well.
  • Add the fried garlic.
  • After 3-5 minutes, add the rice. Spread the rice all around the dish.
  • Dont stirr anymore. Increase the heat.
  • Wait until the rice starts to come up on top.
  • Try to move the paella dish so the water evaporates evenly.
  • At the end you want a bit of a crust on the bottom (socarrat!!!)
  • Once it is ready, put the asparagus on top.

In my case, as I used leeks, they can burn very easily but I was luck and it was just a bit.

It looked nice from outside. I had a bit of socarrat. And tasted good! Maybe the dark soy sauce was too much dark 🙂

Chorizo

I have two very good memories from my childhood regarding to food: baking at my mother’s hometown and making chorizos.

Last winter I managed to go back to the bakery and refresh those memories. I am super happy I did it.

Now it was the turn for the chorizos. But I was cautious about this so I join a course for making sausages from a well-know company so I could get some intro and refresh.

The process that my mother followed was very simple. Ground a ham (by my parents best friends who were butchers), salt, (sweet) paprika and I think some garlic. Mix all together very well. Fry a portion of the mix to taste the spices. Then using pig’s intestines with a sausage filler/stuffer, make the crorizos. Then using a cord, make the portions. Finally, hang them and let then dry for around two weeks.

So in this course we made only sausages with different spices but the process is the same as chorizo, only the spices change.

I enjoyed the course, I brought some flashbacks from my childhood about mixing the meat, stuffing, tasting the mix (that was super delicious!!!!) and then the patience to let them dry. These were the only chorizos I liked. Anything else, was tasteless or had too much fat.

So I brought home several kilos from the course. I some some for cooking my week lunch and frozen others for another occasion. But most of them, I decided to dry them like my mother used to do. I felt so humble when I saw the result. It was like back home.

So I kept the sausages hanging from a sweeping stick wrapped with newspapers. Out of direct day light and using a heater at night while I was at home. For two weeks.

And they came out fine!

Although, they have too much fat. They are not chorizos, it is more like small salchichon.

As they are too manhy for me. I am keeping them in glass jars. They will not last many months though. But use to eat them quickly and cry when some chorizos went off. I was thinking in put them in oil but I wanted the dryness.

This reminds me biltong. Very similar idea, but I havent tried in a couple of years.

So I am happy with the experience and I am decided to make properly chorizos next winter. Try to call the butcher where I did the course, tell them I want to buy a minced ham (with very few fat, I dont care what people say) and the intestines, then do it at home like the old times.