Every journey starts with a single step

After leaving Microsoft and then doing fun work at Amazon it was time for me to try something, well, smaller. So I tried my own startup – Bonavika was an attempt to reduce distracted driving. It was a good idea but we were such rookies. Eventually I needed to make some money so I went to a funded, ~120 person company, Cyanogen. That was a good experience with some ups and downs. The key thing though is I knew I wanted to keep working on the smaller, entrepreneurial side – well – as long as I don’t run out of money:-)

May 23rd we published the first step of my newest leap of faith – Ramp Catalyst. Please check out our website. Clearly the paint is still dripping and we have some procedural work to get to.

More to come later.

Green Eggs and Ham

This one is on my To Do list – it looks delicious! Furthermore it might fit under the breakfast-for-dinner category on a night I don’t really feel like cooking very much.

Green eggs and ham indeed!

A brunch dish inspired by Doctor Seuss is always a good idea… I can never get enough of brunch and it’s endless culinary possibilities. This is one of my all time favourite brunch recip…

Source: Green Eggs and Ham

Sometimes the best things were a surprise – Reno

I don’t gamble really. I dislike smoking, casinos, etc. So when we decided to fly to Reno to enjoy the Reno Jazz Festival our son was playing at I honestly had tremendously low expectations. We’d been to Reno once before – maybe 25 years ago or so. It was Vegas-lite. Except with a bunch of Harleys on the main drag. There were some good things (take your beer with you when you walked outside²) and plenty of unpleasant things (the food, the casinos, the smoking, and well… kind of everything).

Our expectations were low. We read a bit about the new riverwalk area on the Truckee. But as we approached the airport we were taken by the lovely snow-clad mountains (Tahoe region was clobbered with snow this year). On the drive into town our shuttle driver mentioned how lovely the University of Nevada/Reno was. We were skeptical especially as we hit downtown – the casinos look pretty bad, worn out, seedy. And like all American cities these days Reno has a homelessness problem.

We walked up to the UNR campus and wow! the driver was right. They’ve built a lovely campus that blends new buildings with old, sunny walking paths all over the place, and just a general sense of “yeah, this is a great place to attend college”. I don’t know if that is true or not but the kids walking around all seemed happy so that’s the only measure I went with.

The downtown riverwalk area is also lovely. There is a popup-style bar called the Eddy – cocktails, bocci, and watching the river go by (in almost overflowing flood stage). There are restaurants like Campo along the river too. There are snazzy-looking apartments downtown. With the Sierras only an hour away I can see how the recast of Reno as an outdoorsy place is gradually replacing the older, stodgier, seedier casino (getting 50k new jobs with a Tesla plant isn’t going to hurt either). Our hotel is the first non-smoking, non-casino place. It comes with a great climbing gym, an outdoor climbing wall that is scary-looking, and a nice restaurant¹

The drivers stop at crosswalks. The place is pretty clean overall. More than anything else it was so much better than our low expectations that we just spent a lovely weekend there and would go back.


 

¹ Of note is that service in Reno is generally terrible. Not mean or anything, folks are friendly. But the staff at every bar or restaurant seemed to be pretty much on their first day on the job (exception was the bartender at Whitney Peaks). Four or five waiters milling around… but no one could quite figure out why all these people were in their restaurant. At a lovely pub on the river one poor bartender was just confused with a simple drink order and stumbled back and forth asking for the directions again and again. So reset your expectations, this isn’t big-city dining. It’s honest but sort of stumbling along but with a general good will vibe about it.

² The outside beer thing is gone – they changed the law at some point so it’s pretty much like everywhere else in the US – finish your drink, then stumble on down the road.

Would you ski with Jack?

The Shining? Chinatown?

Look at that smile though.

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(apparently the other guy is Roman Polanski  http://groovyhistory.com/the-most-powerful-and-entertaining-historical-images-ever-taken/38 )

The zipper – patented in 1917

Everyone uses zippers. Every single day. And yet we rarely if ever think about how incredibly amazing these gadgets are. I came across an article in the BBC lately – and was amazed to learn the zipper was only patented in 1917 and not really used commercially until 1923. The name itself was coined by B.F. Goodrich.

As you read the Wikipedia article some things stand out:

  1. Making zippers is fairly complex – only a few companies in the world are capable of this.
  2. The first airtight zippers were made by NASA for spacesuits – imagine going into space with something just zipped up?
  3. YKK, a Japanese company and pretty much the only zipper manufacturer I could name holds 45% of the worldwide market on zippers.

Such a small, innocuous little device, but such an amazing history.

Chicken with shallots

Another from originally from the New York Times. This starts with bone-in chicken thighs (and let’s face it, if you are cooking chicken then bone-in is the only way to get something lovely) and uses a traditional white wine, shallot, and tarragon.

I’ve modified the original (in italics) where I thought it made more sense.

Chicken shallots, mid-cooking

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

Directions

  1. Rinse chicken thighs in water, and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper. (they don’t need to be bone dry, don’t obsess about this part)
  2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Add the whole shallots (some shallots are too big, I chopped those in half) to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Put the chicken into the oven, uncovered, until the meat is done.
  4. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.

Baked romanesco (or broccoli) with mozzarella

This recipe originally came from the New York Times. They use romanesco but you can use broccoli or cauliflower or mix them all.I simplify this quite a bit for a weeknight easy recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 medium heads romanesco broccoli (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 dozen soft black oil-cured olives, or another type of black olive, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped capers
  • 4 roughly chopped anchovy fillets (I’ve never used anchovies, you don’t need them)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano

PREPARATION

  1. Put a large pot of well-salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut broccoli into quarters and trim away the core and any tough bits. Chop quarters into rough 2-inch cubes. Transfer to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  3. Lightly oil an earthenware baking dish. Arrange blanched broccoli in one layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Tear mozzarella slices and scatter over the top, then sprinkle with pecorino. Arrange olives here and there. In a small bowl, stir together capers, anchovy, garlic, red pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle mixture evenly over the top.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese has browned a bit and broccoli is tender when pierced with a fork. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a good pinch of dried oregano. Give it a bit of salt… this dish can really pop with a little salt.

Woodpecker 

A little hard to see but there is a woodpecker on that exhaust pipe. Around here in springtime they hammer on metal stuff like that, I assume to amplify their noise in order to find a mate (sorta like teenagers and car stereos).