Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Intermission: Makin' Ragout and Coding HTML

In spite of an insane beginning to a long and busy work day (which involved a printer which had started to smoke, but instead of turning it off, people were still printing to it, and simply opened the classroom doors and turned on a high powered fan) I am a happy camper today.

This week I indulged in some cooking. I enjoy doing fussy by-hand tasks while watching TV or listening to things. This week I made my favorite and most fruitful "fussy" dish:


It is my own ragout -- inspired not by any recipe I ever read, but by the Frugal Gourmet's description of how ragout used to be made. As he described it, ragout is a meat sauce. That is a sauce made primarily of meat. While you add tons of saucy ingredients, you simmer and stir until they are reduced and absorbed, on and on, until the sauce is incredibly rich and flavorful.

I make a version that's mostly veggies, however. I chop up a pack of mushrooms, a couple zucchini, a roasted sweet red pepper, and some onion, into very tiny bits. Like chunks of ground meat. Then I fry a half-pound of meat, and add the veggies a cup at a time, slowly so that the liquid they release doesn't build up too much. I also add garlic and herbs too.

And as juices evaporate, I add in large gloops of Prego spaghetti sauce and dry sherry and keep stirring and simmering and absorbing, until I've put in about 32 oz of spaghetti sauce and maybe a cup and a half of sherry. (The picture shows the ragout just before I start to put sauce in.)

This makes quite a bit of very rich sauce, and I usually freeze it in one cup containers. (It makes 6-8 cups.)

I also made cheese ravioli the next day out of wonton wrappers. These are fun, but fussy, and fun to do while watching Castle. These are high work to small amounts of food though, and I only had a small bag to freeze when I was done eating.

Making The Perfect eBook

In the meantime, today I finally settled down and played around with Dreamweaver until I got very clean code from scratch for an ebook. I've still got a few things to do to make it perfect, but I am very happy with how my new template handles paragraphing.

I've still got some playing around for poetry and inset quotes, but I have it set so that the first paragraph in a section is block style, and it has one "em" of space above it to separate the section.

I like ems as measurement because they are relative. If you specify the space before a paragraph in inches or points or pixels, that will stay the same no matter what size font your reader chooses. But if you define your spaces and indents in ems, then it is relative to the font size. (An "em" is the width of an m in that particular font.)

And where I couldn't use ems, I use percentages. Me happy.

As a matter of fact, it pleases me enough, that I may very well give up my war on curly quotes. And em-dashes. I can code those in html with less worry about what happens to them across platforms.

But that's for later. For right now, you can check out the formatting on a short story from 10 Story Detective in 1945. "Cyanide And Old Lace" is the story of a sailor who gets out of the navy, and stops by to visit his old spinster aunt in her creepy old house. Murder and action ensue.

Check out the epub version or the mobi version. (If you don't have an ereader, you can find this story at PulpGen. Here is a direct link the pdf file. And here's a link to PulpGen's main download page.)

Once I get this template done, my workflow for creating an ebook will be much quicker. (And I'll start posting monthly collections of the stories I put up at Daring Adventure Stories so that people can read more easily on their ereaders.

In the meantime....

We'll see if I get that Hitchcock post done tomorrow, and later on Saturday, I'll post my goals for ROW80. I know we're supposed to post them Sunday, but that's April Fools Day, and I wouldn't want anybody to think my goals are a joke....

See you in the funny papers.

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