Author: Presto


   There’s a reason I suppress spontaneity.

   Central Park West (at the time) was heavily populated by the widows whose late husbands had survived and prospered during the Great Depression. It was therefore a bastion of propriety and very elite snobbery.

   I was strolling down Central Park West one summer day, approaching one of the buildings whose monthly rent exceeded my yearly salary. A cab was parked at the curb, with the cabbie holding the door open. The building’s doorman was conducting an elderly lady and a young woman to the waiting cab. The woman was carrying the smallest dog I’ve ever seen. Imagine a mini-Chihuahua. A new-born. No! Smaller!

Cabbie:  “How much does that dog weigh, lady?”
Lady:      “Fourteen ounces.”
Me:         “Hell, I’ve had farts that weighed more than that!”

   Everyone froze. NYC froze. The Universe froze.

   After 2 seconds or so, I hurried on down the street, leaving the young woman laughing uncontrollably.

/360 Condition Codes

   When IBM brought out the /360 mainframe in 1964, one thing that took some getting your head around was processing Condition Codes.
 Many operations set a “condition code” which indicated the result of the operation and which could be tested by a Branch-On-Condition instruction:
   BC xx,yyyy   =   Branch to yyyy on Condition xx
Part of the problem was syntax – the term “Condition Code” had two meanings:
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Pecan Pies etc

Pecan pie is a type of Chess Pie, based on sugar, syrup, butter and eggs and there are many variations (including Vinegar Pie). It’s hard to find a good one in restaurants North of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The type and ratio of sugar and syrup determine how rich/hearty it turns out.
If you like extra rich, use molasses and dark brown sugar.
If you like it lighter use white Karo corn syrup and a lighter sugar.
You can experiment using honey, maple syrup, white sugar.
Traditionally pecan halves are intact but some folks like to chop and mix in, ‘decorating’ with halves around the edges.
I cover the bottom of the pie crust with pecan halves. They rise to the top during baking.

I prefer a fairly light pie, so my pecan pie recipe is:

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light Karo
1/4 cup butter
3 large eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans
1 pie crust for 9″ pie pan.
Put pie crust in pan
My wife & son make crust from scratch but I don’t unless I’m making several pies.
I use pre-made crust but move it from freezer to fridge a day in advance.
(Doesn’t keep longer than about a week in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 375°
Beat eggs in large bowl & set aside.
Combine sugar, syrup, butter & salt in saucepan.
Heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly – won’t take long.
Add small amount to beaten eggs and mix well.
Add the rest of the hot mixture and mix well.
(If you dumped all the hot mix into the beaten eggs at once, you’d end up with sweet scrambled eggs).
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 40-50 minutes until center is just a bit jiggly when shaken.

Haven’t tried using honey but I’ve made a Maple Walnut Pie with maple syrup, light brown sugar and walnuts.

I’m lucky to have family living in the middle of a pecan orchard, so I get pounds for free every year. If you are fresh out of pecans, you could substitute other nuts or try the following:

Poor Man’s Pecan Pie

1/2 cup grape-nuts
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 cup corn syrup (I use white Karo)
1/4 cup butter
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 unbaked pie crust for 9″ pie pan

Preheat oven to 375°
Lay pie crust in pie pan.
Soak grape-nuts in the 1/2 cup warm water.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter & salt in saucepan.
Bring to quick boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved & remove from heat.
Beat eggs until foamy, Add small amount of hot syrup to eggs, beating well.
Ad remaining hot mixture, mixing well.
(If you dumped all the hot mix into the beaten eggs at once, you’d end up with sweet scrambled eggs).
Stir in the softened grape-nuts.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 45-50 minutes until center is just a bit jiggly when shaken.

Couldn’t find Grape-Nuts last time so made it with AllBran. Worked fine.
Some recipes call for rolled oats, oatmeal raw or instant, whatever.
Suspect you could use most anything bland and able to soak up moisture – diced bread, etc.

Not Facebook

   First we had bulletin boards, followed by open forums which soon evolved into subject-specific forums. Then we had blogging 1.0, which sometimes morphed into group blogs – Blogging 2.0 -usually with wide-ranging content, . Then Corporate America decided to monetize the work of bloggers and techies got a piece of the pie adding unnecessary bells and whistles to give us Blogging 3.0. Since no one could figure out what Blogging 4.0 should look like, we gave up and Social Media Media arrived, demonstrating a serious misunderstanding of the meaning of “social”. We find ourselves saddled with Twitter, which I’ve never had much use for and Facebook, which is becoming increasingly toxic on many levels and whose business model and corporate practices are getting downright repulsive. .

   I do, however, enjoy and benefit from contact with others. Therefore, I have established this post to provide an open comment thread to share information and observations.

   You may comment here by providing a name/email address. The email address will NOT be publicly displayed and comments will be moderated to preclude spammers.