Friday, August 10, 2007

Code Review Salsa

A little update on the programming exercises post. Things are still going well. Everybody is having fun and learning.

Apparently, the hit of the weekly code review is the chips and salsa. So, I guess its time to post the salsa recipe.

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1/8 cup diced onion

  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

  • 8-10 jalapeño peppers

  • 1 whole lime

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 16oz peeled, diced tomatoes (2 8oz cans will work)

Tools needed: blender, sharp knife, fork, and a cutting board.

First, crush and finely chop the garlic. Add the garlic, and onion to the blender. Drop the salt on top. Next, roll the lime between your hand and the cutting board to free the juices. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice (from both halves) on top of the salt/onion/garlic in the blender. (Magic starts happening here)

Toss the cilantro in the blender.

Let that sit while you work on the rest.

Place the diced tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl. This releases the excess liquid, don't pour it away, you might need some later.

Now, it's time to peel the skin off of the jalapeños. There are a few ways to do this, they all involve a lot of heat. Regardless of which technique you choose, remember, you are not trying to cook the pepper. What you are attempting to do is apply heat in order to make the skin blister and/or burn a little.

Preferred, use a charcoal fire (this also adds a little flavor)
If you have a gas stove, you can use the flame.
Last resort, use a cast iron skillet on high heat (let it heat up first). DO NOT use a non-stick pan for this.

If you use fire, use bamboo skewers to hold the pepper in the flame.

Once you've blistered/charred the skin of all of the peppers, Slice off the stem and slice the pepper length wise. Using your knife, scrape out the veins and the seeds. Put the veins and seeds in another small bowl. Next, flip over the chili half, and the skin should scrape off easily. Use the fork to hold the chili while you scrape with the knife. This will keep the chili oils off of your skin.

Once all of the peppers have been cleaned, dice them finely and toss in the blender. Then, dump the tomatoes in the blender. Cap it and pulse it. If it doesn't mix well, you probably need a little more liquid, remember the tomato juice you saved? Guess what to do with it?

Now, when you try the salsa, it is probably not hot at all (no hay picoso). So, it's time to adjust the heat. Remember the bowl of veins and seeds? Put that in a mini-blender of food processor and turn into paste; add a little lime juice to help mix if needed. This paste is devilishly hot (picoso como el diablo). Add a half spoon at a time to your salsa (blending between) to get the heat where you want it.

That's it. The ingredients are simple. The secret to the flavor is in the preparation. If you really like your friends, you can get fresh tomatoes, and peel them (much like the jalapeños) but, that's a lot of work.


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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Citing with Quote and Blockquote

There as been a lot of debate about the quote tag (<q cite="">my quote</q>). Many are upset that Internet Explorer doesn't render it correctly, others argue, "who cares". Though semantic mark-up is often at the center of the debate, often missed is, why have a quote tag in the first place.

To render quote marks doesn't really make a strong argument. The rendered quote characters can depend upon a user's language. Doesn't it make more sense to render quotes with the language of the article being read? Besides, the rendering can be fairly easily dealt with using behaviors or javascript (as my page on fixing quotes in IE shows).

Back to the semantics. There is an attribute of the quote tag meant to refer to the source of the quote. The specification says that the attribute should be a URL. However, none of the browsers, including those that render quote characters, do anything with the CITE attribute.

The blockquote tag doesn't suffer from the debate. However, its cite attribute is still unused.

So, we have this wonderful piece of contextual, semantic information but, the browser provides no way for a user to make use of it, and the average user doesn't even know the information is available.

I built a citation tool-tip script to make floating tool-tips with the cite attribute hyper-linked and with the tag title as a title in the tool-tip. But, isn't this really a work around of what the browser should be doing anyway?

Maybe the next step should be a browser plug-in/extension that can show a "citations" sidebar. This could easily show what is cited and provide navigation to the citation.

I wonder, how many people actually use the "cite" attribute anyway...


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