Archive for July, 2006

Diet Recipe: Soup Avgolemono

Another Greek favorite, 200 calories. Please note that if you are not accustomed in the lemon being the main tasting ingredient of a food, probably this recipe isn’t for you. It takes some getting used to, especially for northern people.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 80 gr of fat-free chicken breast (90 cals)
* 17 gr of long grain rice (65 cals)
* 1 egg (80 cals)
* half of a lemon (5 cals)
* 1 small chopped onion
* salt and pepper

1. Cut the chicken in small cubes. Place it in a pan with 3 cups of water and the chopped onion. Boil over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add the rice and salt in the pan and boil until the rice is cooked through as its per package directions. Remove from heat. Squeeze the lemon in it. Stir a few times.
3. In a deep plate add the egg and start beating it with a whisk carefully, until it becomes “one” substance. Then, throw away half of that mixture.
4. Using a deep ladle move some water from the soup over to the plate. Keep beating. Then, move some more water to the plate and keep beating again. The secret is to not let the egg get “cooked” by the hot water. You achieve this by only pouring small amounts of hot soup water each time, slowly, while keep beating the mixture.
5. Pour the plate’s content back to the pan and stir vigorously. Add pepper and serve hot.

Diet Recipe: Mash Potato & Lemon Chicken

Greek-style lemon chicken. Again, only recommended if you can deal with the bitterness of a lemon. 200 calories.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 80 gr of fat-free chicken breast (90 cals)
* 85 grams of a peeled small potato (80 cals)
* 55 ml fat-free milk (25 cals)
* 1/4 of a small lemon (~3 cals)
* salt and pepper, oregano

1. Cut the potato in half. Boil it until cooked (make sure it still holds together well though). Drain and place it in a deep plate.
2. In the meantime, cut the chicken in small cubes. Place it in a small frying pan and stir-fry for about a minute or so. Add a cup of water. Boil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the milk, salt and pepper on top of the potatoes. Use the potato-masher hand-tool to mash everything together until smooth. Keep the mash potatoes hot.
4. Back to the frying pan squeeze the lemon in it, add some pepper and plenty of oregano. Stir and let it cook until the lemon sauce is thickened. Serve hot alongside the mash potatoes.

Diet Recipe: Carbonara

As always, this version has only 200 calories (and no cream or bacon).

Ingredients (for 1)
* 30 grams of Ronzoni’s spaghetti (100 calories)
* 56 grams of Farmer John’s fat-free smoked ham, cut in small pieces (50 cals)
* 1 egg (80 cals)
* 3 tbspoons fat-free milk (10 cals)
* salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. 3 minutes before it’s ready, pour in the ham and cook the two together. Drain. Place ingredients back to the pan away (from the fire).
2. In a small deep plate (like a breakfast bowl) add the egg, the milk, the salt and pepper. Start beating them with a whisk until they all become “one”. Throw away half of that mixture.
3. Put the pan back to high heat. Pour the egg/milk mixture in the pan and start stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon just until the egg is starting to cook (this process usually takes 20 seconds). Serve hot.


Diet Recipe: Moussaka-like Idea

I personally hate moussaka, one of the signature Greek dishes. But the funny thing is, when you are on a diet and in constant hunger, you ought to eat anything (this doesn’t mean that moussaka is bad though, my father loves it for example). Here’s a variation that features ricotta instead of bessamel and doesn’t involve frying, just so we can squeeze this (otherwise heavy) type of food to just 200 calories.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 50 gr fat-free veal minced meat (50 cals)
* 85 gr small potato (80 calories)
* 70 gr zucchini (also known as courgette, 15 cals)
* 50 gr aubergine (also known as eggplant, 15 cals)
* 70 gr of pure tomato purree (15 cals)
* 2 tbspoons low-fat ricotta cheese (25 cals)
* 1 small chopped onion
* salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel, wash the potato and cut it in 0.5cm thick slices. Wash the zucchini and aubergine, cut them in 0.5cm thick slices too. Add all three ingredients in a pan with hot water and boil for about 5 minutes (make sure that the potatoes still “hold” together their shape).
2. On a second pan add the minced meat, tomato purree, onion, salt, pepper and half a cup of water. Stir well and cook in medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomato sauce starts to thicken.
3. Preheat the oven at 400F (200C). Drain carefully the vegetables from the first pan (don’t break the potato shapes). In a personal-sized oven dish start laying out the augergine slices. Tile them in a way that cover the dish’s bottom surface.
4. Pour the contents of the second pan on top of the aubergine and use a fork to smooth it out across the dish.
5. Pour the potatoes and zucchini in the second pan, which still has a bit of tomato sauce in its walls. Pour some salt on them. Stir carefully (do not break the potatoes), just enough so the two veggies take on them a bit of the remaining tomato sauce.
6. One by one, remove the zucchini from the pan (by using the fork) and tile it on top of the meat in the oven dish. When you finish with the zuchini, tile on top of the zucchini the potatoes.
7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cut the ricotta in small pieces and place it on top of the potatoes. Bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Nokia: Fix your Bluetooth/IrDA file sharing!

There is one, single thing I hate about ALL Symbian phones: all files sent over Bluetooth or IrDA are ending up on Messaging and not in the public file system. As a user who wants to use smartphones for a reason (the reason being that they run flexible operating systems), I find this behavior as the worst behavior, ever.

From Symbian’s UIQ/S60 point of view the idea is that there should be applications that handle specific file formats and that after your file is downloaded to your email client as a special message with attachment, the right application will open that file. So far, so good. But the problem is that the world is not a utopian place where everything works perfectly.

You see, if I send over an .mp4 file that is based on the h.264 format, the included movie player can’t play that specific type. If I install a third party app that can play this specific type, there’s a good chance that it wouldn’t open with it (maybe because this application has not registered its supported MIME types or because it doesn’t support arguments in its execution command). And if I try to open the application manually, the file is not viewable and loadable, because the BT/IrDA attachment doesn’t live in the public filesystem.

In my personal case, the problem was my personal index.html file. I use that on all my devices instead of bookmarks. It’s like, but on a small local webpage. Basically, I sent the file over BT and the application that opened it was… Opera. But Opera had a bug and it would NOT open a file that was requested via arguments (e.g. it would open the file only after specifically opening it manually, and not if the system was trying to load “opera index.html”). So, I had to uninstall Opera.

Then, I stumbled upon the second problem (even after Opera was out of the picture)! The system now was loading the old S40 browser (which is the old browser for S60 too, it’s a port from S40) with my file instead of the new Webcore browser. There was NO WAY to send that index.html to the KHTML/WebCore browser instead and make it my homepage!!! Remember, S60 phones come with two browsers and you can’t pick which one you want as your default handler for HTML files.

As you can see, there are severe limitations with the current behavior, and I only mentioned two cases. As a user, I don’t like such limitations, not on a smartphone. Heck, even Sony Ericsson’s non-smartphone series can save BT/IrDA files on the “Other” folder directly if they don’t understand its MIME type! Sending them to “Messaging” is just wrong. This is like all your SMB or Bittorrent file sharing were ending up on MS Outlook and the Windows system wouldn’t let you save the files to your Desktop! It’s extremely unituitive and limited behavior. It’s BAD.

Nokia, Symbian, UIQ: please fix this behavior and save BT/IrDA’s Obex files onto the public filesystem instead. The user who bought a smartphone instead of a feature phone, he did so for a reason: flexibility.

Ranting again on cellphone memory

Today we went to Cingular’s shop in San Mateo, and as usual I played a bit with their new models.

Apparently, their Samsung D807 runs out of memory when trying to render osnews’ 28 kb (code+data). This is a supposedly middle-end feature phone and it should have managed such a page rendering without a problem. On the other hand, the very low-end Pantech C300 had no problem rendering osnews (it was running the Obigo browser).

The conclusion is that manufacturers just don’t pay attention on the browsers and how memory they need to put in there. By buying a high-end phone does NOT guarantee that you will be able to render real world web pages or even some mobile pages. You in fact might be luckier with a lower-end phone (just out of luck). Again, the conclusion is the same as before: buy a smartphone that runs a real OS in it and has proper memory management.

Diet Recipe: Youvetsi

Youvetsi is one of my favorite Greek recipes. My mom cooks it way better than I do, but when on a diet you gotta cut out the fat (her secret is that she pours a lot of olive oil and salt in it while she lightly fries the meat before boiling). This version has 200 calories and while it is not as yummy as the real thing, is actually healthier.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 30 grams of Misko Orzo pasta (100 cals)
* 80 grams of fat-free sirloin veal or buffalo (75 cals)
* 100 grams of pure tomato purree (20 cals)
* 1 onion, some fresh parsley, 1 clove of garlic (5 cals)
* salt and pepper to taste

1. Remove any fat, wash and cut the meat in 3 bite-size pieces. Finely chop the onion, parsley and garlic.
2. In a pan under low heat, add the meat, tomato purree, onion, parsley and garlic, along with 2 cups of water. Add the salt and pepper, stir and let it slowly boil for at least 1 hour.
3. In a small (personal-sized) oven dish pour the orzo in. Preheat the oven at 400F (200C).
4. Pour the pan’s contents onto the oven dish. Add as much water as needed up almost to the height of the meat. Stir carefully once and place the dish in the oven.
5. About half an hour later the water must have evaporated, the sauce is thickenend and the orzo is cooked through. Serve hot.

From our Sunday lunch, earlier today…

Hard resetting the PocketPC phone

This afternoon I got really pissed off about my QTek 9100, which is my main phone for the last 3 months. Out of the blue its RAPI policies got screwed up and basically I lost all permissions on the phone. I couldn’t load third party apps, install an app, send/receive via BT or even activesync. Eventually, I had to hard reset and completely lose all my data (and all my contacts) as there is no Backup application anymore on Windows Mobile 5 (I don’t understand why they removed that). At the beginning, I thought I was alone with this, but then I found that many people have had the same problem. The problem seems to occur almost randomly (or it has something to do with the USB cable connected when the phone is booting). Now, I have to spend a day putting back all that data one by one…

In the meantime, the Sony Ericsson M600i arrived. It’s a good phone, except that I didn’t expect that it wouldn’t support EDGE (it has 3G support, but that’s only for Europe). The review of the M600i, running UIQ 3.0 and Symbian 9.1, will be published next week (update: I actually already wrote it and published it.).

Regarding Greek Music

I can’t stand Greek bouzouki/popular music. I never could, even when I was 2 years old and didn’t know anything about any other kind of music yet. That’s why I was always the weirdo of my friend’s pack, I guess… I don’t like traditional Greek music either, although I must admit that I much prefer it over popular modern Greek music.

Having said that, there are a few, very few, Greek songs that I very much like. One of them is “Synnefiasmeni Kyriaki” (”Cloudy Sunday”) by Vasilis Tsitsanis. Another one is “Annabel” of Stavros Xarhakos (also known as “ena proino”). It’s a love song but if you try to literally understand its lyrics you won’t make lots of sense (that’s why I won’t even bother translate it). It was the theme song of a late-60s Greek romantic movie where a beautiful English young woman falls for… an uncivilized goat-herder while in Greece for summer vacations.

Ένα πρωινό η Παναγιά μου
θα’ρθει να με βρει στην ακρογιαλιά
πέλαγο κρυφό τα όνειρα μου
κι έστειλες εσύ βάρκα με πανί

Πόσο σ’αγαπώ κανείς δεν ξέρει
κι αν θα μ’αγαπάς μικρό μου ταίρι
καλοκαιρινό σ’αγαπώ

Θα σταθείς ψηλά στο παραθύρι
πάνω στα μαλλιά άστρα του νοτιά
έχει η Παναγιά καραβοκύρη
να μας πάει μακριά πέρα απ’τη στεριά

If any Greek reader has an mp3 of it I would be very interested in getting hold of it (can’t buy the album as it’s not sold in US).

Like Moles, Like Rats…

My online friend Nathan Baesel was recently hired to act at the post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie “Like moles, like rats” that’s coming out next year. The movie has been in the works for 3 years now already. Can’t wait to see it.

Yesterday the TV here also reran twice an old episode of “The District” which was Nathan’s first job on TV (playing the bad guy). I grabbed a few pics from it though my DVR.