Monthly Archives: September 2012

computing

Making Frequently Updated Files Publicly Available

It is easy enough to upload essays and papers to my website where they are publicly available. But it can be a cumbersome task update my website every time I make some small modification to the files. To get around this petty annoyance, I use Dropbox.

Dropbox is a very handy and easy to use sync and backup utility. Once you install the Dropbox application, all you have to do is specify a directory on your local machine and everything in that folder will automatically be backed up/synced. If you sign into the Dropbox website you also have access to that directory’s contents from any web browser. Dropbox also designates a public folder–every file contained in this directory is publicly available via a url.

A nifty thing about Dropbox is that it supports symbolic links. This allows me to keep a local copy of an essay or paper I’m working on in a private location within my Dropbox directory, while a symbolic link to the file resides in my public folder. When I publish the url to the link, the file is publicly available. Now every time I update and save my local copy of the file, the changes are automatically reflected in the publicly available version! To implement this, just issue the command

ln -s /full/path/to/private/file.pdf /full/path/to/public/file.pdf

Now just go to the Dropbox website and get the public url for file.pdf, and you’re done!

teaching

Welcome to Math 32AH, Discussion 1A

This is just a dummy post for now.

teaching

Welcome to Math 32A, Discussions 2C and 2D

This is just a dummy post for now.

adventures

Sturtevant Falls Hike

A couple of days ago, I went on a hike with my friend Sam and dog Finnegan to Sturtevant Falls in Santa Anita Canyon. The hike is a little under 4 miles and is relatively easy, although it was pretty hot out. The waterfall itself wasn’t too impressive (possibly due to the time of year?) but it was refreshing to wade in the pool nonetheless. I even got Finnegan to go for a bit of a swim, although he was skeptical.

Finnegan, the skeptic

cooking

Lentil and Brown Rice Stew

For the past couple months, I’ve been experimenting with a recipe for a lentil and rice stew. Like most things I cook, the initial inspiration for this recipe was necessity: what can I cook without having to go shopping? Here is the recipe for tonight’s incarnation:

Ingredients (makes about 6-8 entree-sized servings)

  • 1 small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 3 medium carrots, medium dice
  • 3 ribs of celery, medium dice
  • 4 tablespoons fat (I used half butter and half olive oil)
  • 1.5 cups dry lentils, soaked for a few hours
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons berbere spice mix, more if you like the heat (see Notes)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water for cooking

Method (cook time ~7 hours, mostly unsupervised)

  1. Cover lentils with a few inches of water, and let them soak for about 4 hours. They will absorb quite a bit of water.
  2. Dice the onion, carrots and celery to about a quarter inch dice.
  3. Heat a large pot (enameled cast iron works well) to medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add the fat of your choosing, and once the fat is nice and hot, add the onion, carrots and celery. Turn down the heat to medium and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. I usually let them brown a little bit too; it gives the final product a bit more sweetness.
  4. Add the berbere spice and a bit of salt and pepper to the mirepoix. I usually start with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt since the berbere has salt in it too. Stir until the spices are evenly distributed.
  5. Drain the lentils and add them to the pot. Add the rice and stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  6. Add 5 to 8 cups of water depending how thick you want the stew. Increase heat to high until the stew reaches a full boil. Then reduce heat to low/medium low and cover.
  7. Allow stew to simmer for about 2 hours stirring occasionally. If it seems to dry, you can add water, a little bit at a time. Once the lentils and rice are tender, add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes Like most stews, this one seems to improve with longer cooking times — it’s always better reheated the second day.

Berbere is a spice mix used in East African cuisine. It is possible to buy a mix, but I like to make my own and keep it sealed in the freezer. That way, I can personalize it to my taste. The mixture I use is primarily ground red chilies and paprika, but also includes salt, ginger, onion and garlic powders, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice.

This stew is a good base to use up just about any vegetables you have lying around. Roasted squash, baked (or microwaved) sweet potato, kale and tomatoes are all good additions. Additions of cooked vegetables or greens should go in after the rice and lentils are cooked tender, while tomatoes can go in after adding the spices to the mirepoix mixture and before adding remaining ingredients.