Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blocking EMail

This post is all-technical, rather than all-food like the last few! However, at least to begin with, I'll keep it not-too-technical.
What a wonderful thing email is (well, unless you're a postman!). However, just like in the physical snail-mail, there's a huge amount of it that you don't want. In fact, well over 50% of all email sent is not stuff that nobody wants! Things like George Leyba and associated Nigerian cronies offering you vast sums of money, and assorted Canadian Pharmacies promising that your wife will love you forever if you buy their purple pills! These are just the tip of the iceberg - you get them because there are, believe it or not, people out there who fall for these scams, send off their money, and, of course, either receive nothing back, or get some aspirins painted with food dye!
You can see your email in two ways - either using a web browser or by downloading it all to your PC and using an Email Client, such as OutLook, Evolution, TheBat!, or any one of a number of others. The more popular browsers, like Netscape, used to have email facilities built in for a while. Either way, there are ways to make your day a little easier and to avoid the pain either of being duped or just of wasting the time of reading them, realising what they are, and deleting them. Here's my suggested steps (if you think there should be more, please comment and I'll look at adding them!).
  1. Turn off the browser's automatic display of HTML. Believe it or not, simply opening an HTML document in a browser or many email readers can result in running code that could be harmful. I have my email client set to only show text except for from a few trusted sites. You'd expect that I'd get to see lots of messages that start "Your browser doesn't support frames" or "To see this email as a web page go to ", but I don't - read on!
  2. Get an email host that does a good job of filtering unwanted spam. When I visit the spam trap for my principal email account I see anywhere between 50 and 150 spam messages per day. Sometimes one or two shouldn't be there, but those are invariably new things that I've subscribed to. My other email account gets maybe 10 spams a day, but only one or two are ever trapped.
  3. In your email client, filter FaceBook messages to Trash. Why? Because if you're on FB you'll have seen them anyway. At the end of the day you can check them over to make sure you didn't miss something important.
  4. Filter everything from HotMail to Trash. Sorry if you're a HotMail user, but about 95% of all the emails I ever get from HotMail accounts are variations on invitations to me to buy some prescription stimulant to improve my love-life!
  5. Don't be afraid to create a filter to send not just to the trash, but everything that comes from to the trash At times I've set whole countries that way - Finland was one notable example in about 2005.
The easy way to decide whether something should be filtered is to look in your trash - if there's lots of stuff from that email domain (the part) then filter it all out - you can always look at it later! Don't forget that filters are applied one after the other, so if you find that you're filtering aunt Edna's emails to the trash, put another filter in before that one, to move hers off somewhere safe first.

That's all for this time - more soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Porc Provençal

My son finally cooked off his first full meal - rather than being my sous-chef. No photos, I'm afraid, but tasty all the same. Taken from Rosemary Moon's 1995 book Classic French Cuisine (0 8317 1121 3), from which I have garnered many fine ideas and produced many a fine meal.
He used 3lb of sliced pork boneless chops, 1/4lb of butter, 4 cups of sliced onions, a large teaspoon of Herbes de Provence, 2lbs of sliced potatoes, and a 28oz can of diced tomatoes.
He browned the pork in half the butter (there were twelve slices, so quite a lot of taking and putting happened here!) and set it by. Then he browned the onions in the same butter before adding in the herbs, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. This mixture, was brought to a boil and reduced a bit before we filled a casserole with layers of vegetable, pork, and potato. Finally, it was cooked for 90 mins covered and then 30 more uncovered before serving.
Here's to Chez Mon Fils!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

I was late home this evening - not a healthy thing to do when your wife's hungry! 
Not only that, but I had to get on the phone and deal with things before starting to cook. By the time I actually started, we'd both snacked enough that the edges were off our appetites, so we remembered that we had mushrooms in the fridge, so why not that!
1 stick of butter                    20 mushrooms, stalks removed
1 egg                                   2 slices of bread, crusts removed
1 tblsp vegetable oil             2 tsp Herbes de Provence
3 clove garlic, chopped (I used 2 tsp of pre-chopped)
salt & pepper                      grated Parmesan cheese
You'll need just a frying pan and a small mixing bowl - and a safe source of flame. I used a gas candle lighter. A spatula and a pair of tongs comes in very handy!
  1. Tear up the bread, add the oil, Herbes, garlic, some salt and pepper, and the egg. Mash all this up well and you should get a fairly loose paste.
  2. Take the stalks out of the mushrooms and fill the resulting holes with the mixture - don't heap is, because you're going for taste, not quantity.
  3.  Melt half the butter gently in a pan. Once melted, add ten mushrooms and leave for about five minutes. By this time the mushrooms should be hard on top, still, but lightly-browned on the bottoms.
  4. Flip all the mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes, on a higher heat. This will cook the egg, which will expand, forcing the mix further into the mushroom.
  5. Take out the mushrooms and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Go over the top of each mushroom with the flame, browning the cheese.
The ten should be enough for two people: for another two, repeat the process, but add about a quarter stick of butter, as it'll be getting "used" as well as absorbed by the mushrooms.

Enjoy your meal! We did!