A friend I knew only through his work on ZeroMQ, passed away today, by his own volition, after a long battle with cancer. I am rarely speechless, but I am now. Pieter Hintjens was not just a great mind but also a great guy, and here I sit saying stupid things like “I miss him” when we’ve only met once briefly (although we did converse extensively online). The fact is, I don’t know what to say. So I’ll just leave this photo here, which I stumbled upon yesterday after believing it to be long lost, of the RAF church St Clement Danes, London.
#inktober 01: “You are here.” (Acrylic inks on paper, 21.0×29.7). This one’s for the girl who’s always at the centre of my heart. Who made me all I am today. My Inktober drawings will, like in past years, be mainly inspired by anatomy, and the miracle that is the human body. In a sense, it’s an apology – as a person with chronic health issues, I know all about where the body can fail, but as a statistician, I know that even that is so incredibly rare compared to how often it could fail and break down. Even with its flaws, each of us is a miracle. Some more so than others. 🙂
I did not get to finish Inktober, as I came down with a nasty sinus infection that just made me unable to put three coherent thoughts one after another, but I had great plans to create detailed anatomical drawings of organs and then experiment with acrylic colours to see what can done. There’s always next year, though, right?
Late night doin’ science and being still alive! I am joined by my trusted buddies, Snow-Proof Gutsy Safety Cone (a wedding gift from the amazing Alicia Kachmar, who is as good a crocheter as she is a nurse, clinical researcher and friend to both of us: is there anything she can’t do?!) and Fallout Boy, who has deviously stolen Safety Cone’s cap! It’s ok – it’s not snowing yet, after all! (Yes, that’s a quadruple 23″ screen setup in the background).
Summertime is panna cotta time! A panna cotta (Italian for ‘cooked cream’) is a great dessert for hot days, as it’s light, does not melt (like chocolate does), and feels cool without weighing your tummy down. It can even substitute for a full meal as it’s a fairly strong dish.
15′ + 3-5h in fridge
3 cups of heavy cream (‘double cream’ for Limeys) or mascarpone
1/3 cup fine sugar
2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla extract, ideally alcoholic
1 tablespoon or 2 normal sheets of gelatin (be sure to get one you trust, bad gelatin is worse than no gelatin!)
Frozen fruit (raspberries, blueberries and forest fruits are generally the best) – alternatively, simply keep the fruit in the fridge for 3-4 hours
Finely grated lemon peel (the real thing, not freeze-dried crap)
Add the milk to the saucepan and gently warm. Dissolve the mascarpone or cream in the saucepan, using a whisk if needed.
Add the vanilla extract.
In a separate saucepan, warm up 25-30ml water and dissolve the gelatin.
Pour gelatin into the milk/cream mixture and gently dissolve.
Divide among 6-8 ramekin dishes or small Kilner jars.
Drop in the cold fruits.
Sprinkle lemon peel over the mixture.
Put into fridge, covering it either only very gently with a paper towel or not at all.
Leave to cool for 3-4 hours. Enjoy cold, with a root beer or as a treat on a hot summer day.
Porcini risotto is actually not hard at all to make, and gives a fairly sophisticated taste for a relative minimum of effort. In short, it’s the lazy but sophisticated guy’s ideal date night meal. My wife loves it, and it really does not take long to make. What’s best, leftovers can be used the next day, either on their own (they still taste great) or to make arancini.
A clove of garlic
2 cup of cream
Olive oil, preferably in spray form
2 bags of rice – avoid rice that gets sticky, you want a high-amylopectin, low-amylose medium grain like Arborio
A dash of white wine
Alto Adige Speck or cubetti di pancetta
Porcini, as much as you can lay your hands on
Chicken breast filet, pre-cooked
A small jar of chicken stock (250ml)
Finely grated Mozzarella
Prepare by soaking the porcini in a bowl filled with a pint of hot (but not boiling) water. Leave to soak for approx. 30-45 minutes. The liquid should have a brown texture resembling well-cooked tea and a rich, nutty flavour. Separate the liquid but do not throw it away.
Finely chop the porcini.
Heat up the butter in a wok or large non-stick pan together with the garlic and the Alto Adige Speck/pancetta. Add a dash of salt.
On a low fire, add the porcini and cover. Leave to simmer for a minute or two, no longer. Make sure you do not burn the porcini. That would be bad.
In the meantime, chop the chicken breast in small square pieces, with about half an inch edges.
Add the chicken to the porcini.
After adding a teaspoonful of extra virgin olive oil or 2-3 sprays from an olive oil atomiser, add the rice. Immediately thereafter add the chicken stock, half of the cream and approximately a third of the liquid from the porcini. Generously sprinkle black pepper over the wok. Add salt to taste.
Leave it to reduce for a bit. Add the rest of the cream and another third of the porcini liquid when most of the first batch of fluids have cooked off. Add a dash of white wine.
When the mixture is starting to reduce, add the rest of the liquid. Heat until the mixture reduces, but make sure the rice does not burn. Add the grated cheese towards the end and stir vigorously.
Serve in bowls with the rest of the white wine. Buon appetito!
This year, my wife and I decided that in lieu of ‘big’ gifts on Christmas, we would give each other a gift every day in December until Christmas, as a sort of Advent calendar and countdown. Some gifts were edible, some where practical, some were experiences, and some were about helping others. Those are by far my favourite gifts.