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Milk Street Magazine

My wife and I first really got into cooking through Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. We loved their scientific approach to refining recipes: get a variety of existing variations, try them out, figure out what works and what doesn’t work, and converge on the best recipe. In fact, their primary cookbook is called The Best Recipe (and is something every burgeoning cook should own). We subscribed to the magazine for years, and we regularly draw on it when planning out meals for the week.

But the last few years we’ve used the more recent issues of the magazine less and less. That’s mostly because they’ve been around long enough that they started to repeat recipes, and they weren’t really pushing the envelope with new types of cuisines. We started thinking about cancelling our subscription, in part because we weren’t get as much value from it, but also because they seemed to have started to focus more on cutting costs; the quality of the paper in the magazine decreased noticeably. When Chris Kimball left (or was forced out), we decided to go ahead and let our subscription lapse.

When we heard that Chris was starting a new venture, Milk Street Magazine, we thought we’d give it a try. Clearly Chris had a good track record, and we were intrigued by his expanding much more aggressively beyond more European-centric fare. We’re now in our second year of subscribing, and it’s been fantastic. We regularly find a few new recipes to try in each magazine, and a number of them have become favorites that are now part of our standard repertoire. We’re particular fans of their Tuesday Nights section, which offers several recipes that are easy to make on a week night. This week we’re making the Orange-Guajillo Chili Pulled Chicken (the recipe is currently free on their website for a limited time, so grab it!) for the second time, since we made it a couple of weeks ago and everyone loved it.

If you’re a fan of tasty food and like cooking, I’d strongly recommend subscribing. It’s only $20 a year for 6 issues.

Kickstarting my gaming nostalgia

I really enjoyed role-playing computer games when I was young: Baldur’s Gate, The Bard’s Tale, Planescape Torment, Ultima, Wasteland, etc. I’ve never gotten into the online playing game trend, though; I tend to prefer my computer games solo. So I’ve enjoyed the trend the last few years of using Kickstarter to crowd-fund games that allow those of us who grew with those games to re-experience a bit of our youth (but with much better computers available). I (and so many other people) helped kickstart Pillars of Eternity, and I just finished playing through the sequel. I backed Wasteland 2 (which was fun) and Wasteland 3 (which should be released next year). I backed Torment: Tides of Numenera, since Planescape Torment was an amazing game and I wanted to see what they could with a sequel (although I must confess that I haven’t made the time to play it yet). And I backed Bard’s Tale 4, which should come out this year. It wasn’t kickstarted, but I also enjoyed Obsidian’s Tyranny; it was a refreshing different take on the genre.

One thing that has changed since my youth is the amount of my free time; sadly I can’t dive into games like I used to. I still need to find time to play Tides, and with both Bard’s Tale 4 and Wasteland 3 on the horizon I’ll probably have to take a break from kickstarting new games for awhile. Unless they bring back Quest for Glory or a single-player Ultima; I’d be all over those.

Letterform Archive and Google San Francisco

This week we had a team outing to the Letterform Archive in San Francisco. It was both fun and educational; they’d pulled out materials ranging from hand-drawn religious texts (a pair of Book of Hours), both hand-drawn and printed (Gutenberg) bible pages, early printed materials, and more modern magazines and books. I personally found some of the early printed materials the most interesting, particularly an early specimen page and book. They’re roughly the equivalent of a modern font book; you looked through a printer’s specimen book to choose a type for your printer materials.

Print specimen page

I used the trip to the Archive to also check out Google’s San Francisco offices (we visited the Archive in the morning, and I worked from the SF offices in the afternoon). I only visited the Spear Street building (there are a handful of others), but it seemed pretty nice (it does seem like all of the peripheral locations are nicer than the main campus, possibly because they’re newer). They clearly have lots of folks that visit; a variety of spaces were marked as for use by visitors. And the location is nice: near the Bay Bridge and not too far from the Ferry Building.

View from Google SF

Blog editors

When I first started blogging I used ecto, but it didn’t really keep up with the times so I switched to MarsEdit. It’s regularly updated, and I’ve stuck with it through the latest version (granted there was a long hiatus in there where I mostly stopped blogging). But I’ve also been playing with WordPress’ desktop app, which is based on Electron, and I have to say that it’s quite nice. It’s not as powerful as MarsEdit, but since it’s custom built to work for WordPress it aligns more closely to the base WordPress UI, which has its advantages. And it is lightweight and fast. Right now I’m still going back and forth between the two, picking which to use mainly by whim, but I could see potentially switching to using just the WordPress app if it continues to meet my needs.

Trying out more minimalist running

I got back into running several years ago through Zombies Run (which, if you’ve never tried it, is a great way to make it fun to start getting in shape). After a few years of listening to its episodes every time I went running, I switched to mostly listening to music instead. For the last week and change, though, I’ve been experimenting with listening to nothing at all. No headphones, no phone, just tracking my run with my watch.

I’m not sure if I’ll choose to stick with it (particularly as the weather heats up music can make it easier to keep going, and I’ve been running a bit slower without music to help set a fast pace), but there are some things I like about it. It’s easier to keep track of my breathing, so I can better judge whether to push or ease off. I find that I run a bit lighter too; I notice when my feet are starting to pound the pavement a bit too much and can work to switch to a lighter stride. And it’s obviously easier to pay attention and listen to your surroundings without headphones in. So at least as a short-term shake-up to my running routine it’s been a nice change. Longer-term is an open question.

Prepping for summer

My daughter is prepping for finals this weekend, and she wanted to spend some time studying outside (it’s lovely in the Bay Area today; around 80, slight breeze, bright blue sky). That served as the forcing function for me to uncover and clean off our patio table and chairs (which, let me be blunt, totally needed it). It took a bit of time and effort, but the payoff was worth the effort. I’m currently kicking back in a comfy chair with a cold glass of water, goofing around on the Internet while she studies. I’m ready for summer.

QT Luong’s Talk at Google

I mentioned in a previous post that attending Talks at Google was one of my favorite perks of working there, and that I was disappointed that I’d had to miss QT Luong’s talk “Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks”. It finally appeared on YouTube, so I sat down to watch it today. The talk was very enjoyable; his photos are amazing, and he talked a bit about his process and equipment as well. Having bought his book (which, if you’re interested in the National Parks and/or nature photography, you should definitely buy; it’s a steal at $45 on Amazon), I also found it interesting to hear a bit about the history behind it and how he worked to get it published. With the warm weather this weekend it’s making me wish we were visiting a Park this weekend (although they’re generally insane on national holiday weekends).