Last week my department sequestered itself away for a couple days in a castle-turned-hotel/conference center in a small town about 30 minutes North of where we live in Regensburg. The hotelly parts of it seemed a little spooky — we got the impression we were the only guests the first day — but the weather and the Naab river both contributed to the late autumn ambience.
Today seems like a good day for cider mill doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, and tomato soup. U2’s “One,” covered by Johnny Cash, fits in here well, too.[audio:http://www.amazon.com/gp/dmusic/media/log_action.mp3/ref=?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B003ZZMPRS&TYPE=DigitalMusicSampleStream&CustomerID=&URL=http%3A%2F%2Famazonm-113.vo.llnwd.net%2Fs%2Fd4%2F101628%2F101628618%2F217949113_S64.mp3%3Fmarketplace%3D1%26e%3D1320144438%26h%3Dd4d707c4d9a81f263c4860afe01a6b5a&qid=1320140723&sr=8-1]
We walked around a bit today taking in probably one of the last “nice weather” days of the season. There were some nice leaf scenes over the past few weeks, but I always managed to miss the sunlight, being trapped in the office, or not happen to have my camera with me when the sun was actually out. You can click any of these to embiggen ’em if you like.
In geeky news, I finally got fed up with the crummy Xandros Linux OS and ongoing lack of updates to the software repository on our Asus Eee PC 701 (the 4GB SSD model), so I downloaded the Jaunty Jackalope version of Ubuntu, remixed for netbooks. I was impressed that it was so easy to install using a USB flash drive (or USB-attached HDD, or an SD card, which is what I did). Perhaps the days of burning ISO images to CD (or DVD) are over for anyone with a 1GB or more flash memory device (or external HDD). Stuff seems to work pretty well, right after the install (including improved WLAN connectivity to hotspots and stuff — so far, so good), but here’s one thing that (surprisingly) didn’t: Skype.
The video didn’t work because the onboard webcam was disabled in the BIOS (bwah? But then how did it work under Xandros?). I read about that online somewhere. The secret is to press Esc during the boot sequence to go into the BIOS and turn on the onboard camera. The onboard microphone is not working at all — neither with the included Sound Recorder-esque app in Ubuntu, nor with Skype. So that may be a project to make it work. I have yet to try it with a headset or external mic, so maybe there’s still hope. Sort of annoying though, since it worked just fine under crappy the Xandros distribution. One suggestion I saw on a Skype discussion forum post was to buy an external (USB) sound card for a few Euros and make it work that way, which bodes ill for my theory of simply using an external mic instead of the onboard one. But I’m surprised there not some army of cheap geeks out there who reverse-engineered the drivers for that hardware from the Xandros distribution for use with Ubuntu.
If this proves a viable alternative to the Xandros stuff that came with it, then we might have prolonged the life of this netbook by quite a bit. It was getting kind of frustrating not being able to (easily) run Firefox ≥v.3.
Welcome to the lab! We reverse-engineered this cake from one that we bought in a bakery when a couple of friends were coming over for dinner. Any leftover syrup would probably be wonderful on vanilla or dark chocolate ice cream. It’s pretty simple, but labor and time intensive – don’t make it the same day you want to serve it. It gets better as it chills.
Red wine stewed apples
6 large tart apples, peeled and cored
3 c dry red wine (Burgundy is recommended)
2 c water
1/2 c sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 t ground ginger
1 t lemon zest
1 c butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Cinnamon whipped cream
1 c whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t vanilla
First, the apples:
Bring wine, water, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest to a boil in a stockpot or large Dutch oven. Add apples to wine and lower to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove apples with slotted spoon to cool in a bowl and set aside. Keep wine at a low boil and cook down to a syrup (45-50 minutes), stirring constantly. When the apples have cooled (1.5 to 2 hours), slice them into bite-sized pieces.
Then, the crust:
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C). In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder and blend into butter mixture until crumbly dough forms. In a greased 9- or 10-inch springform pan, pat dough on to bottom and sides to 1/4 inch thickness. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden. Set aside to cool.
Whipped cream time:
Pour cream into chilled bowl and beat on high speed. Slowly add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
Assemble the cake: Pour sliced apples into cooled shell and drizzle with wine syrup (don’t feel you have to use it all – you don’t want it to soak through the crust and get soggy). Spread whipped cream on top of the apples and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
This has been an aethetically pleasing day in most ways.
* I got some really good work done.
* Sarah cooked like a fiend (and I helped a lot, but she was definitely running the kitchen):
– refried beans
– home-made salsa
– applesauce cake
* The weather was that perfect balance between hooded-sweatshirt and tee-shirt weather.
* Other than late Friday night*, it’s been nice and quite around here.
One bummer: the downtown area was just *crawling* with Regensburgers (and visitors to the city) out for a stroll on this, one of the few Sundays per year on which some stores were open for business.