Vegan Corn Cakes Recipe

Corn Cakes I

Eva and I took a trip to Oregon back in September. On our last day in Portland before driving back down the 5, we met up with our friend Ryan and ate breakfast at Paradox Cafe.

Eva got their “Corn Cakes” and they were super awesome. We’ve had a craving for them ever since so I decided to try and recreate them. At this point I have no idea how these compare to the corn cakes we had at Paradox but after a couple of tries, I have a pretty good version. Below is the recipe I came up with.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp margarine
  • 1 Tbsp egg replacer
  • 1/4 cup luke warm water

Method

Corn Cakes II

Mix the apple cider vinegar with the soy milk and let rest for 10 minutes. This is the standard method for vegan buttermilk and you will find the liquid thickens quite a bit*.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix.

Add the margarine to the dry ingredients and cut in with a pastry blender until you have a crumb texture**.

Whisk together the egg replacer and water with an electric whisk until fluffy.***

Add the soy milk mixture and “eggs” and whisk by hand until fairly smooth.

Cook on a cast iron (or non-stick) pan on medium heat until golden brown on each side. Serve with margarine, maple syrup and fruit or nuts.

*When using buttermilk it is necessary to use baking soda in place of some of the baking powder to ensure a complete chemical reaction. If only baking powder were used, some of the additional acids in the baking powder would be not be consumed by the reaction, imparting an unpleasant taste.

**This is my preferred method for mixing fat into pancakes. See my pancake recipe for more details.

***This line was added on June 12 2009 after being omitted from the original post!

Open cycle map is coming along

Andy Allan‘s cycle route oriented rendering of Open Street Map has been covering San Francisco for the past few weeks and its progress is coming along nicely:

Open Cycle Map SF

p.s. get involved here

Flickr integrates Open Street Map data for Beijing

Flickr has begun integrating Open Street Map map data into their world map feature.

It turns out that the data that Yahoo! Maps uses for Beijing is not very rich, so it would seem that Flickr looked to Open Street Map to improve their offering. The funny thing is, according to Flickr’s blog post on the subject, the process actually happened the other way around. Regardless, the point is that since Open Street Map data is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, Flickr was able to integrate Open Street Map tiles to replace a section of the Yahoo! Maps data.

I recommend checking out Flickr’s blog post for more details and some good before and after shots where you can see the city transform from a grey mass into a network of streets and other features.

I have been contributing to Open Street Map for the past few months so it’s nice to see the work being put to use like this.

Seen on Webware

Update:

Flickr is also using OSM for:

Buenos Aires
Rio de Janeiro
Mexico City
Melbourne
Sydney
Tokyo
…and probably a bunch more places too.

Barbara Streisand has good tastes

It was Eva’s birthday on Saturday and she celebrated with a potluck. Her chosen theme was “Celebrity favorites”. Or, less confusingly, the favorite food of celebrities.

Blackout cakeI decided to go with Barbara Streisand’s favorite, which is apparently, chocolate blackout cake. It’s worth noting that there are only two references on the entire internets that link Barbara Streisand to blackout cake. One being the page where we found the original, non-vegan recipe, and another page that mentions that Rosie O’Donnell once sent her a “genuine” Ebingers Blackout Cake. The word “genuine” is in quotes because there is some debate as to whether the Ebingers brand baked goods that resurfaced in the early ’90s were the real thing, or not. The original Ebingers went bust in the ’70s.

Anyway, enough about the validity of my choice. It clearly doesn’t matter since Eva decided to push the definition of the actual word celebrity. She made Garfield’s lasagne. Does that count? At least no one is contesting that lasagne isn’t Garfield’s favorite food.

The point is, that I made blackout cake from Vegan With A Vegeance and it turned out to be totally awesome. The cake was super moist and had really nice structure! The raspberry goes really well with the chocolate and the ganache frosting is super velvety but not too sweet (which is my common gripe with frosting). If you don’t have the book you can find the recipe online, but I suggest you buy it anyway because it’s awesome.

Speeding up Ubuntu/Linux boot time, a different approach

I purchased a laptop a few months ago and have become more concerned with boot time since it is not on 24/7 like my desktop was. There are a number of guides around that explain how to speed up the time it takes to boot up in Ubuntu/Linux. Most of them concentrate on disabling unnecessary processes from loading.

I don’t think that those guides are necessarily bad, just that if your boot is really slow, jumping straight into disabling processes isn’t always the most effective first step to take. In general, you may be disabling some processes which

  1. May not even take much time to load anyway
  2. May be useful at somepoint in the future when you forget you disabled them

Most importantly, there may be some underlying problem that is causing much more of the slowness. With that said, I think that a better methodology is to check if there are any serious issues first, then concentrate on the details second.

To get a general impression of what was going on at boot time I installed the bootchart package. In Debian based distros, e.g. Ubuntu type:

sudo apt-get install bootchart

This app makes a graph of your boot by representing each process as a bar, the length of each showing the load time.

This is useful because you can actually see what is responsible for large chunks of the boot time. Then you can either decide whether you need the slow loading processes, or whether, shock, the reason for the hang is because of some kind of problem.

Here is my chart before I made any changes.

Boot Chart 1

At 45 seconds, it’s not terribly bad but could definitely be improved. As you can see there is about a 12 second period where cupsd stalls before anything else starts loading.

With that information, I checked out /var/log/cups/error_log which contained one line:

Unable to find IP address for server name "..."

Turns out I had changed the hostname without updating the hosts file. So with that information I updated my /etc/hosts and cut 20 seconds off my boot time!

Boot Chart 2

I think that I could probably shave a few more seconds by disabling certain unnecessary processes and if your boot time is already 30 seconds or less feel free to go for it. But, as a quick first step, it was nice to only spend a few minutes to save a huge chunk of time.

The best vegan pancake recipe

First of all, there are many types of pancakes out there but this post only concerns american pancakes. No crepe pans, or scotch pancake griddles around here.

american pancake

I’ve been using the pancake recipe from the Joy of Cooking for some time now. The recipe is veganized by replacing the non vegan ingredients with their vegan counterparts. Besides the obvious, eggs are replaced with Ener-G egg replacer. I’ve been fairly happy with the results but it could definitely be better.

Read the rest of this entry »

scrobbling iPod statistics with Amarok

So I just realised that amarok has a little documented feature that scrobbles your iPod history to last.fm. I am kinda excited about this as I listen to more, and also different, music on my ipod than I do on the computer.

The only kind of annoying thing, which is the iPods fault rather than Amarok’s, is that the iPod history only records the number of times a track has been played and the timestamp it was *last* played. What is missing is the timestamp for every time it was played. Without this information, the scrobbler has to make up a time which is kind of silly but it’s something I can live with.

For those that are curious, to set this up you click the ‘Configure device’ button on the ‘Devices’ tab. Then check ‘syncronise with amarok statistics’. Of course, as well as scrobbling the data, this also updates the stats within amarok too.

edit: I recently switched to Gnome and started using Rhythmbox as my music manager/player. Rhythmbox does indeed send the correct timestamp data to last.fm for each track so it appears that the problem was with Amarok and not the ipod. I haven’t used amarok for a few months so I don’t know if the problem has been fixed there.

#5 is in bottles

The, as yet still nameless, batch#5 is now in bottles:

IMG_4878

#6 (more on this later) is about to finish primary fermentation.

The start of “brew log”

So this is as much for my future reference as anything else but I decided it would be smart to start keeping a record of my beer brews. I’ve already started to forget some of the earlier batches we did and for a while recently Jesse and I were wondering why the Cascade hops we’d used weren’t as potent as the usually are. It turned out that we’d used some Pacific Gems that we’d received accidentally in one of Seven Bridges, unfortunately many, botched orders. Hopefully this will help us refer back to our mistakes and triumphs and try to figure out what it was we did that made that taste so…you know.

So I think this is technically our 5th attempt (we brewed the 4th batch since the last brew related post) but will be the first recorded brew. After sticking with some variation on a fairly typical West Coast Pale Ale up to this point, we decided to go with something lighter, more summery, with more of a European influence, but with a twist to keep it very West Coast and, in fact, even more geographically specific than that. You’ll see.

So Jesse wanted to make some kind of a pale lager, maybe a Pilsener. The problem being that San Francisco in the summer doesn’t really provide a suitably low temperature for that to quite work. So what could we do? Well luckily that had already been thought of well over a hundred years ago and we decided to make a Steam, or California Common, beer. That is, using lager yeast at a temperature one would normally ferment an ale at.

The Recipe (for 5 gallons)

4lbs Organic pale liquid malt extract
2lbs Organic corn sugar
2oz Organic Saaz hops
11g Safelager S-23 dry lager yeast

1 hour boil with 1oz of hops at the beginning and 1oz at the end.

After pitching, the yeast got to work very quickly and by the following morning the C02 was leaving the blow off tube very rapidly. At this point I was wondering whether, due to the increased temperature, the fermentation would happen so quickly that it might by done in a 2 or 3 day period. But as I write this 5 days later, the bubbles are still at about 8 second intervals so we have a little way to do yet. The last thing to figure out is how to tackle the conditioning process. I imagine that to be a true steam beer, it must also be conditioned at 65degrees. Maybe a little more research is called for.

Perplexed

I always forget you can still get sunburnt even when you’re cold and it’s not really sunny. it’s also amazing how many different places you can burn even when you’re wearing longs pants, long sleeves and have long hair. Face, check. Ears, check. Hands, check. Wrists, check. Oh well. The bbq was good, my boss even made vegan cup cakes!