Paneer Masala

Ingredients:

  • 1 turmeric root
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 2cm bit of ginger
  • 2 chillies
  • ghee or oil for frying
  • ½ lb (250 g) paneer, cubed
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, pepper
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • ¼ cup of cream
  • handful of fresh coriander

Grate the turmeric, garlic, ginger and chop the chillies, add some oil to a pan and fry for 30 seconds, then add the paneer and move it around until it’s browned on all sides (about 3-4 minutes). Throw in the tomatoes, spices and capsicum, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add cream and coriander at the very end and serve immediately on rice.

Fez repository plugin for Moodle

I have been writing a plugin for the Moodle Repository API that can now browse and search records in a Fez digital repository. Here’s the simple configuration, using the RMIT Research Bank as an example public access Fez repository:

Fez repository settings

To set up the Fez repository plugin in Moodle, simply give it the URL of your Fez repository, and how many records per page you want.

And here you can see that the plugin can browse communities, collections and records just like any other repository plugin:

Fez repository collections

The collections available in this Fez repository.

Fez repository search results

Fez repository search results and the record listing of a collection are displayed with the same interface.

Fez repository record

Selecting a record works as expected - including the title, author, date created and date modified metadata.

So far, it only supports using external files, and the resulting links are links to the Fez record view, not the attached files. This also means that you still have to add the title and description manually, even though that metadata is present in the metadata of the files presented by the repository plugin! I hope to somehow fix this with work on MDL-32130 on the Moodle bug tracker.

Citing Fez repository documents in Moodle

Today I wrote a text filter for Moodle 2.2 which will help Moodle teachers and admins cite documents from a Fez digital repository. Fez is a digital repository written by University of Queensland library staff for the university’s digital assets and for use as an open access research repository.

The best fit in Moodle for a digital repository such as Fez would be through a repository plugin, but the Moodle repository API assumes that you only want either a file, or a URL. I think there’s room for the API to be able to return a snippet of HTML as well – of an appropriately formatted link to the document in question. For instance, it would not be enough to simply present a URL, such as

Link to a document

it would instead be really nice to be able to have the repository plugin return a <div> element, with a formatted citation, such as:

Taylor, William (2005) (FAB_15_2_095) Lest We Forget: the Shrine of Remembrance, its redevelopment and the heritage of dissent. Fabrications : The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 15 2: 95-112.

This would also apply to other repositories – it would be nice if the Flickr, Picasa and YouTube repository plugins could return a thumbnail of the image or video instead of just the URL. Until that happy day arrives however, we can use a filter instead. After installing the filter, we tell it which Moodle content formats we would like it to parse, and the base URL for our Fez repository:

Fez text filter settings in Moodle

Fez text filter settings in Moodle

Then, in our content, we insert a search term or a Fez document PID into a placeholder using double curlies, e.g.

Inserting a Fez document into Moodle content

Inserting a Fez document into Moodle content using a placeholder.

Which when we save, and have the Fez filter enabled, will produce a nicely presented citation:

Fez document citation in Moodle

A Fez document citation displayed in Moodle.

It would not be very difficult to convert this into a repository plugin that simply returns the URL to the document, or to extend or clone this filter to talk to other digital repositories, such as EPrints, DSpace or Fedora.

TODO: add a setting to control how many search results you want to display.

LCA in Brisbane

Hopefully I’m going to Brisbane in a week or two for LCA 2011. This would be fine except for the worst flooding in Queensland in over a hundred years. The organisers are still saying (at time of writing) that everything’s fine because the venue, Queensland University of Technology, is sufficiently above the river. I’m a bit skeptical myself, so indulge my urge to paraphrase: “Hey – the streets that aren’t still inundated will be buried in two feet of silt, you’ll need a gondola to get around, the power might be out, the sewer might be overflowing, most of the hotels will have been seconded for evacuees, snakes have followed all the rats into basements and attics, but hey, QUT is above the water-line so there’s no problem! Mind one of the crocodiles wandering around in the parks doesn’t EAT YOUR LEGS OFF”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go, and I’m hoping to meet up with a bunch of Brizzy friends and conduct some business with folks at University of Queensland while I’m there, but I don’t hold out much hope, and I don’t fancy getting eaten alive by crocodiles, snakes, giant ants or zillions of mosquitoes.

Salmon cakes

Here’s how I made yummy salmon fish cakes out of last night’s leftovers.

  • 275 g cooked salmon, bones and skin removed, flaked
  • 275 g leftover potato bake, stovies, frittata etc. (or use mashed potato with a little grated cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • a little chopped red – e.g. red pepper, chilli
  • a little chopped green – e.g. fresh herbs, rocket, spinach, green beans
  • 1 tsp paprika and/or chilli powder
  • salt and pepper
  • flour

Bung it all in the processor and pulse until combined (but not puréed). Turn into a bowl and fold in enough flour to make a soft, not firm but not sloppy, mix.

For the crumb mix:

  • 2-3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds

Grind to a coarse powder in a processor or mortar.

Roll the mix into patties and dust in a little of the crumb mix. Shallow fry in hot oil until golden. Since the ingredients are already cooked the mix only needs to heat through; they won’t take long! Serve immediately.

Why I’m not on Facebook any more

Dearest friends of mine,

You may have noticed I’ve dropped off the Facebook radar. Apart from finding it to be a gigantic time-waster, their increasing evilness with private data is a concern, as this link shows:
http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/

I urge you all to boycott it as well. You can rescue your friends’ email addresses into Yahoo Hotmail or GMail before you leave, as explained here:
http://www.labnol.org/internet/export-email-addresses-from-facebook/12970/

Testing steaks

How do you know when your steaks are done? Here’s a handy rule of thumb.

My cousin’s a bit of a chef. Poke the steak with the index finger of your right hand. Now touch the thumb and index finger of your left hand together, and poke the fleshy bit of your palm at the base of your left thumb. That’s rare. Now touch the thumb and middle finger together, and poke the same bit again. That’s medium rare. Thumb and ring finger, that’s medium, and thumb and little finger for well done. (photo to follow)

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 2, Preparation time 30 mins max.
If you’ve got some mushrooms lying around that need eating, this one’s perfect. Even though the earliest Stroganoff recipes didn’t have them, so what? Here’s a hark back to the original, but with mushrooms, otherwise it’s just wrong.

Beef Stroganoff on potatoes and spinach

Beef Stroganoff on potatoes and spinach

  • 2-3 large brown field mushrooms
  • oil or lard for frying
  • 12 oz (400 g) beef, sirloin, topside or similar
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds (or 2 tsp mustard powder)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 glass of red wine (and one for the cook)
  • crême fraiche or sour cream (yoghurt if slimming)

Accompaniment:

  • 3-4 potatoes
  • 8 oz (250 g) spinach
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and diced as a garnish.

Cut the mushrooms into strips and fry in a casserole with a little oil. Cover to sweat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, Cut up the beef into thin strips. Grind up the mustard seeds (or use mustard powder) and combine with the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl, and toss the beef strips in it to coat with the mustard mixture. Fry the beef in a skillet until browned, then add to the casserole. Add the wine to the skillet and stir to pick up the flavours, and pour into the casserole. Add the crême fraiche and stir. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

This should be enough time to slice the potatoes thinly and sauté in the skillet for a few minutes. Add the spinach, cover and sweat until the spinach is done.

Mound the potato mixture in the centre of the plate as a base, and pile the Stroganoff on top. Drizzle the gravy over with a spoon, and garnish with deseeded diced tomato.

Professional!