recipe: spiced stuffed squash


  • 2 acorn squash
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • ½ c. pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ c. dried cherries (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/2 c. grated cheese (I used a firm raw goat’s milk cheese)
  • Balsamic vinegar


Halve acorn squash and remove seeds. Cut a small bit off the bottom so they sit up correctly. Place opening up in a microwave and cover with parchment paper or cling film. Heat on high for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat pine nuts until aroma is released. Add ground beef and brown; do not drain. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cinnamon, cocoa and cayenne pepper. Stir until beef is well coated. Add ginger, and optionally dried cherries. Stir until aroma is released. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill squash with beef mixture and return to microwave for 5-6 minutes on high. Cover with grated cheese and melt in microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Serve, drizzling balsamic vinegar over each squash half. Goes well with quinoa and sweet potatoes.

If guests prefer a more “rich” meal, add brown sugar or butter to the toppings.

recipe: real szechuan eggplant

Modified from .


  • 4 baby eggplant (aubergines)
  • 150g ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 thumb ginger, finely minced (about double the volume of your garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp. doubanjiang, aka 辣豆瓣酱
  • 1/2 tsp. this stuff (can anyone help with a real English name other than “maaraajyan”?
  • 1 tsp. Chinese sweet black miso, aka 甜麺醤
  • 1/2 tsp. chicken bone soup boullion dissolved in 150mL water (can substitute chicken boullion or 150mL real chicken bone stock)
  • 1 Tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (or other Chinese cooking rice wine)
  • 2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. hot sesame oil (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. potato starch (or wheat or corn starch, if you absolutely must), dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 green onion, chopped or diced finely
  • Some Szechuan peppercorns

Cut the eggplants in half, scoring on the skin at a 45 degree angle to the length of the eggplant. Soak the eggplant in salted water for 5 minutes, then drain. Stir-fry eggplant in hot wok and canola oil. Remove eggplant from pan. Drain oil. Brown ground pork in wok. Add all seasonings, save potato starch/water mixture, green onion and Szechuan peppercorns. Cook for 45-60 seconds to reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat, adding starch/water slurry to thicken sauge. Serve over medium-grain sticky white rice; season at table with freshly ground Szechuan peppercorns and green onion.

This recipe also makes excellent mapo tofu by substituting firm tofu for the eggplant.

Pictures coming soon.


I am just back from RSDC 2008. Conferences like this, related to my line of work, normally get me pumped up and excited for the coming year’s efforts. This conference, like so many other things in my life that used to be important to me it seems these days, just drained me. I am left wondering if I don’t have some sort of chronic fatigue syndrome or sleep disorder that is preventing me from having the levels of energy I need during the day to make things happen.

Rather than dive into a solipsistic morose ramble (screw all you self-obsessive types), I think I’m going to focus on the sun, and hope that a weekend of not thinking about work, school, or anything else that’s obligatory “cures” me. If not I will find out what’s behind all of this when I go on vacation the middle of next week.


Well, if you’ve visited my website in the last day, you’ll see I’ve added my plurk widget to the sidebar. I’m finding plurk altogether more motivational than twitter. A recent comparison of the two services I think was unfair to plurk, mostly due to overhyped twitter features that aren’t even working correctly half the time.

Even if Twitter solves their reliability concerns, plurk just feels more alive. It’s not a single thread with everyone’s crap mixed in (and hacks like #hashtags). It’s a threaded timeline: part web forum, part IM, and part IRC. And yes, a bit twitter, too. I like the fact that it’s Web 2.0 enough for my friends who won’t get on IRC (still my #1 place for synchronous) and that the web layout is attractive. The “get more points to get more features” thing is a pain, but I’d rather have that than some sort of “pay us $$ to get more features,” I think.

I moved over to plurk when some of my friends followed Leo Laporte over. I’m not a personality cult-er, but I do like keeping tabs on my friends. And I’m finding that plurk’s interface encourages more synchronous collaboration (read: chatting) than twitter ever did. In about 48h on the service I’ve managed 15 “plurks” (microblog entries) and 38 responses; I never hit that level of engagement with twitter.

Once they add some sort of SMS interface (I can’t get their IM interface to work…) it’ll be a sure fire hit, I think.

So you twitter types out there: would you miss me from twitter if i semi-abandoned it?