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Archive for October 28th, 2019

Mayonnaise improves grilling meat

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J. Kenji López-Alt reports in the NY Times:

For the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing a trend among the online community of sous-vide cooking enthusiasts: rubbing meat with mayonnaise before searing it. A parallel trend has also been hitting the grilled cheese forums (there’s a message board for everything), where folks are slathering their bread with mayonnaise before griddling, insisting that mayonnaise produces a golden-brown crust that’s superior to the one you get with butter.

. . . [Y]ou should try it! I first let mayo get intimate with some sous-vide steaks a couple years ago. The steaks browned like a dream. Next I rubbed some mayo on my grilled cheese. It’s true: Mayo really does brown better than butter (though these days I use both).

More recently, I’ve been testing the limits of cooking with mayonnaise and discovering it may just be the most magical marinade ingredient I’ve ever encountered. I mean it.

There are a few reasons mayo is so effective. For starters, mayonnaise — a seasoned emulsion of oil in water — is mostly fat, making it a great delivery mechanism for the fat-soluble flavor compounds found in many aromatics, while leaving behind no distinct flavor of its own. (This means that mayo-marinated meats don’t taste like mayo once they are cooked.)

Moreover, that fat is suspended in an emulsion. An emulsion is a homogeneous mixture of two or more liquids that typically don’t mix together. Fat droplets have a natural tendency to coalesce when suspended in water. (Think: the shattered pieces of the liquid metal Terminator coming back together.) To make mayonnaise, the trick is to break up that fat into droplets that are so fine that they have difficulty reuniting.

p class=”css-exrw3m evys1bk0″>Emulsions are always more viscous than either of their independent constituents, which is what gives mayonnaise its semisolid texture. This quality makes it easy to spread a mayonnaise-based marinade evenly across the surface of a piece of meat — and more important, it stays there.

Mayo also improves Maillard browning, which are the chemical reactions that take place when you sear foods.

Functionally, we can think of mayonnaise as consisting of three ingredients: Along with fat and water, there is also egg protein. As the mayonnaise on the surface of a piece of meat cooks, its water content eventually evaporates away, breaking the emulsion and leaving behind a thin, evenly distributed layer of fat, as well as a very, very thin coating of egg protein.

This extra source of protein and fat can increase browning on naked meat or in watery or low-sugar marinades. This comes in handy when you want to minimize the time a piece of meat spends on the grill or in a pan. Thinner cuts — skirt steak, flank steak, skinnier pork chops — typically have trouble browning before they overcook in the center. A chicken cutlet will be cook through on a hot grill or skillet in under four minutes. This isn’t a lot of time to properly brown, but with a thin coat of a mayo-based marinade, it’s easy.

On the other hand, it’s difficult to work with sweet sauces like barbecue or teriyaki, which have a tendency to burn as your meat grills. Mayo solves this problem by diluting and coating the sugars with fat and egg protein. Combining a sweet sauce with mayonnaise before rubbing it on the meat allows you to grill as hot as you like without risk of burning. Also, that sauce flavor really sticks to the meat.

Perhaps the greatest advantage a mayo marinade gives you is the ability to easily incorporate flavors. I tried combining mayonnaise with a wide range of sauces and condiments — chimichurri, pesto, Thai red curry paste, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, Buffalo sauce — before marinating and grilling chicken cutlets, steaks, pork chops, vegetables and fish fillets, and tasting side-by-side with mayo-free counterparts.

Every marinade and sauce was improved — every single one. This was true with both homemade and store-bought mayo.

Another neat thing I discovered: Mayo-marinated meat can be cooked in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet as is, no extra oil necessary. The mayonnaise provides all the fat the pan needs. . .

Continue reading.

He seasons the meat with salt and pepper and rubs it with a combination of some saurce of marinade combined with some mayo. He lets it marinate, cooks the meat, and serves it with the remaining sauce.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2019 at 4:37 pm

Tempeh Batch 6: New batch, new technique

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New batch: before-cooking measure: 2 cups red kidney beans, 1 cup kamut. They are cooked separately since they take different amounts of time. Then I was sure to dry them (draining the beans and then return beans with cooked kamut to the pot and heating, stirring frequently, until moisture evaporated). After they cooled to 95ºF, I added 3 tablespoons white vinegar, carefully mixed, then sprinkled the tempeh starter on the batch, a little at a time, stirring between sprinkles.

Then into the 9″ x 12″ Pyrex dish (see photo), which I covered with aluminum foil and then used a paring knife to poke a lot of little slots in the foil to provide air for the mold. We’ll see how this works.

Batch went into the incubator at 1:00pm.

Next batch I’ll revisit using 2 cups raw peanuts as the legume and 1 cup kamut as the grain. I’ll simmer the peanuts in a lot of water for as long as it takes the kamut to cook (a little over 2 hours).

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2019 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Plant-based diet, Recipes

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The Ransomware Superhero of Normal, Illinois

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Renee Dudley reports in ProPublica:

About 10 years ago, Michael Gillespie and several classmates at Pekin Community High School in central Illinois were clicking on links on the school’s website when they discovered a weakness that exposed sensitive information such as students’ Social Security numbers. They quickly alerted their computer repair and networking teacher, Eric McCann.

“It was a vulnerability that nobody even knew about,” McCann said. “They did a quick search on passwords and student accounts, and lo and behold, that file is sitting out there.”

A shy, skinny teenager whose hand-me-down clothes didn’t fit him, and who was often ridiculed by schoolmates, Gillespie was already working after school as a computer technician. “He was full of information all the time,” McCann said. “We’d bounce ideas off each other. You could tell his passion for technology, for computers, for figuring out things. That definitely made him stand out.”

Without crediting the students, school administrators closed the breach and changed everyone’s passwords. Gillespie’s anonymous protection of the school’s cyberdefenses was a harbinger of his future. Like a real-life version of Clark Kent or Peter Parker, the self-effacing Gillespie morphs in his spare time into a crime-foiling superhero. A cancer survivor who works at a Nerds on Call computer repair shop and has been overwhelmed by debt — he and his wife had a car repossessed and their home nearly foreclosed on — the 27-year-old Gillespie has become, with little fanfare or reward, one of the world’s leading conquerors of an especially common and virulent cybercrime: ransomware. Asked what motivates him, he replied, “I guess it’s just the affinity for challenge and feeling like I am contributing to beating the bad guys.”

Each year, millions of ransomware attacks paralyze computer systems of individuals, businesses, hospitals and medical offices, government agencies, and even police departments. Often, files cannot be decrypted without paying a ransom, and victims who haven’t saved backup copies and want to retrieve the information have little choice but to pony up. But those who have recovered their data without enriching criminals frequently owe their escapes to Gillespie.

The FBI and local law enforcement agencies have had little success in curbing ransomware. Local departments lack the resources to solve cybercrime, and the ransoms demanded have often been below the threshold that triggers federal investigations. Security researchers like Gillespie have done their best to fill the gap. There are almost 800 known types of ransomware, and Gillespie, mostly by himself but sometimes collaborating with other ransomware hunters, has cracked more than 100 of them. Hundreds of thousands of victims have downloaded his decryption tools for free, potentially saving them from paying hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom.

“He took that deep dive into the technical stuff, and he just thrives on it,” said Lawrence Abrams, founder of a ransomware assistance website called BleepingComputer.com. “Every time a new ransomware comes out, he checks it out. ‘Can it be decrypted? Yes, it can be decrypted. OK, I’ll make the decryptor.’ And it’s just nonstop. He just keeps pumping them out.”

Gillespie downplays his accomplishments. “IT moves so fast, there’s always something to learn, and there’s always someone better than you,” he said.

Gillespie’s tools are available on BleepingComputer.com, and they can be accessed through a site he created and operates, called ID Ransomware. There, victims submit about 2,000 ransomware-stricken files every day to find out which strain has hit them and to obtain an antidote, if one exists.

As hackers and their corporate enablers, including cyber insurance providers and data recovery firms whose business models are based on paying ransoms, profit directly or indirectly from cybercrime, one of ransomware’s greatest foes lives paycheck-to-paycheck. Under his internet alias, demonslay335, Gillespie tackles ransomware either in his downtime at Nerds on Call or at night in the two-story bungalow he shares with his wife, Morgan, and their dog, rabbit and eight cats. Surrounded by pets, he lies on his living room couch, decoding ransomware on his laptop and corresponding with victims desperate for his help.

Although the FBI honored him in 2017 with an award for his website, it doesn’t systematically recommend ID Ransomware — meaning that some victims may never learn of a resource that could help them avoid paying a ransom. Many of his friends, relatives and colleagues don’t know the extent of his war on ransomware. “They do not have a clue because of Michael’s modesty,” said his wife’s grandmother, Rita Blanch. “Honestly, I don’t think anyone in the family knows what he does for free. I barely know.” When he got the FBI award, she added, “I sent out a family text, and they’re like: ‘What? What? Our Michael?’”

McCann wasn’t aware of Gillespie’s accomplishments either. “It kind of gives me goosebumps,” the teacher said. “He’s sitting here doing all this for free. That’s incredible.”

On a humid morning in July, Gillespie sat on his covered front porch. His hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, and he sported scraggly facial hair and a V-neck striped shirt. Brown leaves left over from the previous autumn and birdseed from a feeder were scattered on the ground. Gillespie said hello to a cardinal — the Illinois state bird, he pointed out — and a squirrel with a “wonky eye.” He said a family of groundhogs resides under the porch and eats from the front-yard mulberry tree, but they didn’t make an appearance.

He opened his Twitter account. “Like right now, I have 58 PMs and 120 notifications,” he said. Most were pleas for help from victims of a ransomware strain, STOP Djvu, which he can sometimes decrypt.

Gillespie’s love of computers and electronics started early. His paternal grandmother, a video gamer, introduced him to online role-playing games such as RuneScape. He played Donkey Kong Country on a used Super Nintendo that his uncle gave him. As emergency services volunteers, his parents communicated with tornado spotters via ham radios. His father, a land surveyor, taught him how to repair electronics by soldering the radios.

Gillespie gleaned from his mother’s father, a police lieutenant in Florida, the importance of protecting the public. Reinforcing the message, his parents went out of their way on family trips to pass through Metropolis, Illinois, which proclaims itself to be Superman’s hometown, and pay their respects at the Man of Steel’s bronze statue. Gillespie was also fascinated by cryptography. He liked the idea of having secret codes that no one else could figure out — and cracking other people’s.

Struggling financially, his family sometimes had to move in with friends or relatives. When he was in high school, his parents filed for bankruptcy in the Central District of Illinois, court documents show.

At Pekin High, he helped protect not only the website but also his classmates’ belongings. One day, noticing that other students were pre-setting codes to the combination locks on their lockers for convenience, he pulled down on every lock in his aisle. About a quarter of the lockers opened. He left a Post-it note in each one, admonishing the user to be more careful.

By then, he and Morgan Blanch were becoming close. They lived down the street from each other but didn’t become friends until their freshman year at Pekin. They began hanging out at each other’s houses and messaging on Myspace. They were both in the school show choir and eventually sang in a national competition on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, Tennessee.

Both sometimes felt like outcasts. She was overweight. Gillespie, she said, was “that one kid at school that everybody knows who they are because they’re weird or they’re the butt of people’s jokes.”

But they could rely on each other. “We’d get annoyed because our other friends were more flighty,” she said. “They weren’t dependable, whereas if Michael and I made a plan, we stuck to it. And we liked that about each other.” They started dating during Christmas break of their junior year.

When he graduated in 2010, Gillespie was named a Prairie State Scholar and an Illinois State Scholar, based on his standardized test scores and class rank. Instead of going to college, he began working full time at the Nerds on Call store in Normal, Illinois. Even with financial aid, he said, college would have been too expensive, and he already had everything he wanted. “I got a job, got a car, got a girlfriend. Boom. Life together,” he said.

“He just felt that he could learn better on his own than in a classroom setting,” Morgan Gillespie said. “He doesn’t really like to be restrained by protocol or by doing the ‘typical’ route of things. He likes to get in there and figure it out and do whatever it is he feels like he wants to do.”

She enrolled at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, but missed Gillespie and dropped out after two months. They moved into a new apartment close to his job and were married in October 2012, with Rita Blanch officiating. For the bachelor party, Gillespie and his Nerds on Call friends went to a nearby farm and shot up old computers with his father’s firearms. “Nobody who was too tipsy got to hold the rifles, but we put a few rounds through some old monitors,” said his best man, former co-worker David Jacobs, who organized the party.

The couple honeymooned in Peoria, Illinois. The next year, with a Federal Housing Administration loan for lower-income borrowers, they purchased their $116,000 bungalow in a working-class neighborhood in Bloomington, Illinois. There they could hear Amtrak’s Lincoln Service roar by on its way to Chicago.


At Nerds on Call, Gillespie was known as the Swiss Army Knife for his versatility. So when a client was hit by TeslaCrypt ransomware in 2015, Gillespie was assigned to recover the files.

He embraced the task. Not only was it an opportunity to expand his skills, but he also objected to the very idea of paying a ransom. “I say hell no,” he said. “There’s all the stuff about how it’s funding terrorism, funding bad stuff. But more so, it’s just encouraging [criminals] to keep going.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2019 at 12:30 pm

Boeing’s reaction to 737 Max crash follows a familiar pattern of deflecting blame

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Douglas MacMillan reports in the Washington Post:

The artifacts displayed in a museum at Boeing’s corporate campus are meant to show how tragic accidents in the company’s history have given rise to major advances in airplane safety.

A wristwatch frozen at 6:56 honors the moment when Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed into a mountain in 1985, a deadly crash that led to improved repair protocols across the industry.

A photograph shows the 18-foot hole that ripped open an aging Aloha Airlines jet midflight in 1988 and swept a flight attendant to her death; this prompted new limits on the number of times one plane is permitted to fly.

Boeing opened the museum to employees in 2017 and this year added a fountain honoring the 346 people who died in the two recent crashes of 737 Max jets. The memorial says nothing about what caused the crashes or what lessons Boeing has learned from them.

“It’s too early to tell,” John Hamilton, chief engineer of Boeing’s commercial planes division, said during a tour through the facility in early October. The crashes, he said, are still “under investigation.”

One year after rescuers hoisted fragments of the wreckage of Lion Air Flight 610 out of Indonesia’s Java Sea, Boeing has apologized for the loss of life but has not detailed what mistakes it made in its design of the 737 Max. Indonesian authorities’ 320-page final report on the accident, released Friday, faults Boeing for developing a powerful flight control system called MCAS that relied on a single problematic sensor, and for failing to adequately inform pilots and regulators how it works.

The report, which also cited problems with Lion Air’s maintenance and lapses on the part of a Florida sensor manufacturer, added to a growing body of evidence feeding public concerns about safety oversight at Boeing.

[Lion Air crash investigators fault Boeing 737 Max’s flight-control system, regulatory lapses and pilot training]

Boeing’s response to the public uproar over the 737 Max follows a historical pattern for the company, according to interviews with 11 former employees, government officials and aviation safety experts, all of whom worked on crash investigations involving Boeing. For decades, the aerospace giant has tried to carefully shape public perceptions around the causes of plane crashes — both to limit its legal liability and to maintain the confidence of customers, employees and investors in the integrity of its planes, those interviewed said.

The company has earned a reputation in the aviation community for withholding information, favoring theories of pilot errors over product flaws and being slow to make engineering changes to planes that could prevent future crashes, said Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that oversees investigations into all crashes that occur in the United States.

In my opinion, they are just not transparent with factual information,” Hall said.

Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesman, acknowledged that “we know we need to be more transparent with information.” However, Johndroe said in a statement: “Boeing has cooperated fully with accident investigators to understand the root causes of all accidents. We are committed to sharing data to improve the overall safety of the transportation system — which has undeniably improved over the last three decades.”

Chief executive Dennis Muilenburg will face questions from U.S. lawmakers this week at a Senate hearing on Tuesday and a House hearing on Wednesday — part of Boeing’s campaign to win back the trust of regulators and the flying public amid a crisis that has grounded hundreds of planes, prompted a probe by the Justice Department’s criminal division and halted sales of the company’s flagship jetliner. . .

Continue reading. There’s more. . .

Boeing is simply an example of a common problem: a corporation that focuses on profits to the exclusion of all else. Profit-caused blindness leads to worker exploitation and deaths, consumer injuries and deaths, toxic products and by-products released into the economy and the environment, and a host of other ills. Nothing, so far as I can tell, will be done about it. Corporations, as semi-conscious memetic entities, have the power to protect themselves and alter the memetic environment to their benefit. They will prosper. Humans, not so much.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2019 at 10:42 am

Starting the natural-bristle brush series: The Wee Scot and the King of Bourbon

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I plan to march straight through all my natural-bristle brushes, shelf by shelf, and the upper left corner position was occupied by my pre-Vulfix Simpson Wee Scot, a truly marvelous brush that holds a ton of lather. It worked up an excellent lather from an excellent soap, Wholly Kaw’s King of Bourbon shaving soap:

Buffalo soap base – Traditional mozzarella cheese is made from the rich milk of water buffalo herded in Italy.  We decided to do something different with milk of water buffalo. A new soap base. Made with water buffalo tallow, water buffalo milk, water buffalo whey proteins, and donkey milk. Water buffalo milk has proteins, calcium, iron, fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acids. It has higher contents of palmitic, butyric, and stearic acids. Minerals include Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Zinc. Water buffalo whey protein has β-lactoglobulin (β-LG) and α-lactalbumin (α-LA). Caseins are a group of proteins specific for milk forming about 80% of buffalo milk protein. Caseins possess a high content of the amino acid proline. Benefits include creamier lather, extra moisturization, enhanced post shave skin feel, and long term skin nourishment.

The quote is from West Coast Shaving’s ingredients list. And indeed the lather was quite good, with a nice fragrance. From the first link:

Well blended notes of Tobacco, Bourbon Vanilla from Madagascar, Ginger, Vetiver, Cypriol, Ylang-ylang, and Cassie absolute.

Gingery vanilla gives off boozy notes without being too sweet on the drydown. Tobacco comes into play in the middle notes. Woody and earthy notes from Cypriol and Vetiver tone down the sweetness.

A blend of essential oils, resins and aroma chemicals creating a symphony of notes appropriate for Fall and Winter.

With that on my stubble, I quickly whisked away the roughness with my now-vintage RazoRock Stealth slant, leaving a perfectly smooth face for a splash of Annick Goutal’s Eau de Sud as an aftershave. Annick is apparently shy, and in this photo turned her face to the wall. You can glimpse it in this post, however.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2019 at 9:16 am

Posted in Shaving

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