Yeast rolls/cinnamon rolls

flickr photo shared by ted_major under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license
Bad school cafeteria food is such a cliché that it hardly needs mentioning, but the elementary school cafeteria of my childhood had the exception that proves the rule: cinnamon rolls. I recently acquired a copy of the original yeast roll recipe* that was the basis for the rolls and adapted it for a more sane quantity. The recipe works nicely to make one pan of dinner rolls and one pan of cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

Dough recipe:

  • 1⅓ cups warm milk
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5½ Tbs butter, softened
  • Cinnamon-sugar for cinnamon rolls

Mix milk, sugar, and yeast in the mixer bowl and let yeast rehydrate for a few minutes. Add half the flour, salt, and butter and mix into a batter. Add remaining flour until it forms a dough and switch to the dough hook. Knead with dough hook on medium speed for 10 mins. Butter a large mixing bowl, add the dough and turn to coat with butter. Cover and let rise for a couple of hours. Punch down and divide in half to make two pans of rolls, two of cinnamon rolls, or one of each.


Shape into 12 balls and put into a 9-inch cake pan. Let rise and then bake at 400F for 15 mins.

Cinnamon rolls:

Pat or roll dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick, roughly twice as long as wide. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and roll into a log. Cut into 12 slices and put in a 9-inch cake pan. Let rise at room temperature to bake immediately or cover and let rise overnight in the refrigerator to cook for tomorrow’s breakfast. Bake at 400F for 15 mins.

*Original version in case you need to produce institutional-size quantitites:


103 miles later

After the Hot Hundred:

After the Hot Hundred

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

flickr photo shared by ted_major under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license
Which is to say, chocolate pudding. This is based on a recipe from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. We’ve made both of his pots de crème recipes, and frankly he was phoning it in on both of them—it’s obvious that neither of these recipes was tested. The cooking time was way off (15 minutes? try 45), and this particular recipe needed twice the chocolate it called for (though to be fair, how many recipes would really suffer from a doubling of the chocolate?).

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli’s milk chocolate chips)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Heat the cream in a double boiler. When it is just scalded, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and blended. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl. When the chocolate mixture is melted and smoothly blended, slowly add to the egg yolks a bit at a time, stirring well so the eggs don’t scramble. pour into 6 ramekins and cover each with foil. Bake in a water bath for 45 minutes or until set. Chill and serve with whipped cream.

shn>mp3 from the command line

flickr photo shared by sickmouthy under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

YACLP—Yet Another Command-Line Post: this time, it’s how to convert Shorten files (an obsolete lossless audio codec) to mp3 for portable listening. Most of the time, I use SoundConverter to transcode from lossless formats to mp3 for portable listening. For some reason, however, SoundConverter can’t find Shorten, even though I have it installed. I suppose if I knew where it was looking, I could put in a symlink to where it really is. Or I can just dig up something that works from the command line. Thanks to this handy thread by shantiq from UbuntuForums, here’s one command that will convert a whole directory full of shn files. Just cd to the directory holding your shn files and do the following:
for f in *.shn; do ffmpeg -i "$f" -ab 320k "${f%.shn}.mp3"; done
If you really want to do it shipshape and Bristol-fashion, you could use shntool to convert to flac and tag the files with appropriate metadata and then use SoundConverter to go to mp3, preserving the tags from flac:
shntool conv -o flac *.shn
For tagging, renaming, and adding track numbers, I’m a big fan of Ex Falso, and for an audio player, I like DeadBeef for its simplicity.

OpenShot won’t export audio? We can fix that.

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by geek_love13
Disclaimer: once again, command-line geekery follows. Disregard at your convenience.
I love OpenShot video editor for Linux (despite the occasional bugginess inherent in all things Linux) and desperately look forward to the release of the Windows port for my office PC.

In the meantime, I occasionally use OpenShot on my personal laptop to edit videos for class. This week, when I tried to export a video, a new one popped up: exporting video removes audio. After a little searching, I found that the problem is a bug in Ubuntu rather than OpenShot, and thanks to this post on Ubuntuforums, there’s an easy command-line fix. Open a terminal window (ctrl-alt-t) and enter the following commands:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sunab/kdenlive-release
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install libmlt6
  • sudo apt-get install libmlt++3

Re-start OpenShot, and Bob’s yer uncle.

Splitting a flac file by cue sheet

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by jantos
Command line geekery follows. Ignore as you see fit.
Got a large flac file and a cue sheet rather than individual files? Here’s a handy command line trick to automagically split it into individual tracks:
~$ cuebreakpoints "filename.cue" | shntool split -o flac "filename.flac"
More details (including necessary packages) from On Ubuntu.

Carrot salad


I picked up some carrots at the farmer’s market this morning and came up with this salad to have with dinner tonight. Sorry, but no measurements because I eyeballed everything. Precise amounts don’t seem too critical here, anyway.


  • carrots, chopped
  • onions, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • craisins


  • juice of 1 lime
  • dollop of mustard (maybe a teaspoon, maybe less?)
  • olive oil

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad.

This is why you don’t buy cheap-ass tools.

bent chain whip
That $8 chain whip may work for removing a cassette from a freehub, but it’s woefully inadequate for loosening a fixed cog after months of mashing up hills. Bent out of shape without budging the cog. Even the rotafix method barely got it loose.

Coming soon: a DIY chain whip with some serious leverage:

DIY chain whip

Off to a rocky start

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Wystan

This semester I thought I’d try something new and run my courses entirely within the official CMS. Over the past few years I’ve gotten a serious case of user account fatigue and dread the thought of signing up for yet another userid and password combination to be floating out there in the cloud more or less forever. I’ve used WordPress for class in the past, but these days I’m hesitant to make my students do something I wouldn’t, so rather than make them get a new WordPress account, I thought I’d use the “blog” tool in Blackboard.


It’s a usability and user interface nightmare. Navigation is opaque. There’s no way to see all the class’s posts in a chronological feed (y’know, like a blog?);  each student’s posts are in a separate silo (within a silo!); students can’t figure out how to post, or how to see anyone else’s blog; you can’t copy/paste text into a text box in Bb(?!?); there’s no way to see when a blog has new entries (except by remembering how many total entries there were the last time I looked); Blackboard helpfully tells me that there are 10 new posts but unhelpfully won’t link to them . . . ugh.

Life without Google long-term follow up

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by jalb
It’s been over two years now, and for the most part my google-free online existence has largely been uneventful. Occasionally youtube tells me that a video is “mature” and requires me to login to prove I’m over 18. So I can live without seeing that particular upload of the Baby Ruth scene in Caddyshack.

Recently (in the past month or so), however, the spam in my inbox has exploded. Bluehost claims to do some spam filtering, but it seems largely ineffective. Lately when I open my email, any where from 50% to 80% of the messages are spam. Thunderbird does a good job of filtering spam when I’m on my laptop, but checking email during the day on my phone or on webmail gives me no apparent filtering at all.

In the long run, I suppose I need to find a new email provider that does a better job of spam filtering. Not sure what I’ll do in the meantime. (And in the time it’s taken to write this post, 3 more spam messages have hit my inbox.)