Mac OS X Mavericks: disabling App Nap and What Happened to Disk Usage from the Activity Monitor

Apple’s OS X Mavericks (10.9) software came out recently — FOR FREE. I installed it today on our Macs young enough to hang ten with the big boys and discovered a couple quirks — and work-arounds. Continue reading Mac OS X Mavericks: disabling App Nap and What Happened to Disk Usage from the Activity Monitor

Romanian Road Trip

I’ve been traveling to Romania periodically for a long time (here are all the posts tagged with Romania).  Until now, it’s never been for personal travel — it’s always been business trips to towns where our company has R&D or factories.

But finally, after about 7 years, we planned some personal travel over the Tag der Deutschen Einheit holiday.  We flew in to Bucharest, drove to Brașov and back, and met up with an old pal (and ex-colleague) and his wife for the last bit. It was an eye-opener, for both of us, in a number of ways. Continue reading Romanian Road Trip

Air on the Side of Caution

This is an article I wrote for the Alien Corner column of the Kulturjournal Regensburg. I have the publisher’s permission to publish it here on our blog as well.

Alternate Title: Draft Dodging

Autumn is well and truly here, and Winter won’t be far behind. Some people like watching the leaves change as the trees prepare for the coming season. I like watching the natives’ internal conflict unfold: Lüften oder Hexenschuss riskieren? Continue reading Air on the Side of Caution

Dijon Braised Brussels Sprouts

I think our oven is on its last legs. Things just aren’t baking or roasting right. This is especially unfortunate, as we’re moving into prime roasty/bakey season. So, our go-to plan for brussels sprouts (olive oil, salt, pepper, roast) is no longer a no-brainer. But steaming is a little…blah.

Enter braising. I’ve never really done this (to my knowledge), so I appreciated the clear instructions in this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I made a couple of small alterations, and that’s what I’m posting here.

1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
1 lb/500 g brussels sprouts, trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 T heavy cream
1 T smooth dijon mustard (or more to taste)
2 T chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add butter and when butter melts, add sprouts and arrange in a single layer, cut-side down (if they don’t all fit, brown in batches, then add all for next steps). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow them to cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add shallots and garlic, stir and cook until they soften slightly. Add wine and broth and bring to a simmer, lower heat to medium-low, then cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until sprouts are easily pierced with a knife.

When sprouts are cooked, remove them from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid behind. Add cream and simmer for 3 minutes, then whisk in mustard. Adjust seasoning as necessary, add sprouts back to skillet to heat through and coat with sauce.

Little Spinach Pies (a riff on Spanakopita)

Little Spinach PiesAt the Donaumarkt on Saturday we spotted fresh baby spinach for sale. We didn’t know quite what was going to happen with it, but we knew it’s not there all the time and the odds were not good we’d see in there again in a couple weeks at our next opportunity for locally-sourced produce. So we snapped up a kilogram and tried to think up some tasty plans for it. Continue reading Little Spinach Pies (a riff on Spanakopita)