Busy: server foo, mac&cheese, pickles

Busy me, today. Server move took about 4 hours, shopping took about 1 hour, and cooking took about 3-4 hours, including dishes.

I moved the poly server to a new computer (actually the old charon server). This involved, in roughly chronological order: email users, stop mail/web, remove firewall passthrough, rsync old /home to new /home, install old passwd,group,shadow, copy entire old server to new server in /storage/poly-old in case I need anything from the old regime, get apache working (apache took about 2 hours to fix, looks like it was crashing in libssl; tried upgrading, no dice, finally just disabled SSL in the config file and it works), check mailman is working and install mailman’s crontab, restore sendmail access,mailertable,virtusertable,aliases,sendmail.cw, reboot to make sure everything starts, send test message to make sure mailman is OK, analyze bounce, fix smrsh to allow mm-wrapper, send 2nd test message, change IP address back to real poly IP, reboot, go “duh” because hostname is still not right, fix hostname, reboot again.

New server seems to be running OK, no huge complaints yet. I had to tweak with the firewall to allow amanda backup, and now the server is being backed up to tape (old and new everything thanks to extra space in /storage).

Oh I also helped my mom with her computer – it is a Mac and seems to have trouble with Outlook Express filling up the disk with temporary files. This time it was about half temporary files and about half Sent Items (due to sending pictures around). All is well again.

I then went shopping and got stuff for Mac&Cheese and homemade pickles, and also stopped to pick up a couple of jars at Cost Plus and some matzo ball soup at Max’s. After putting groceries away I set about the business of making Mac&Cheese just like on Good Eats.

Now, I had made Stove top Mac-n-Cheese before – this is the “easier” version but is supposedly not as good. The results were quite good, I thought, when I made the stove top version about a week or two ago. Check out the recipe. I used a bit more noodles that time and a little bit extra cheese, everything else the same as the recipe, except no “hot sauce” since I didn’t have any and I couldn’t remember what kind of hot sauce was called for anyway. Oh, and I used regular milk instead of evaporated milk. It really was dead simple and not a lot of prep time. Seriously, the ingredients there were: macaroni, butter, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard and cheddar cheese. (I dropped “hot sauce” as mentioned, and also I used about 1/3 pepper jack instead of cheddar.) Excellent recipe and both quick and easy.

So. Naturally I figured that the “baked” version must be way better and that is what I set about making today. Baked Macaroni and Cheese has a lot more ingredients and claims to have a prep time of also 20 minutes. But it lies. It starts off with “Cook the noodles. While those are cooking do this other thing with the sauce: butter, flour, mustard, cook 5 min, keep it moving, milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika, simmer 10 more min.” At this point I make the following observations. 1. you can’t keep the butter/flour/mustard mix moving the whole time and also dice onions fine at the same time, so I must conclude that the 20 min prep time assumes that someone else has come in and diced the onions for you, as well as measured out butter, milk, salt, pepper, etc. 2. if you manage to dice onions while stirring the butter/flour mix, there is next the matter of adding 3 cups of milk to the sauce and then expecting it to come to a simmer almost immediately, and 3. all of this is distracting enough to keep me from hearing when the timer goes off for the noodles, so I have to go by taste on those when they get close.

So after waiting for the milk to return to a simmer, the noodles are done and have some butter melted in just for good measure. The next thing that happens is that I get fed up with waiting for lukewarm milk to show signs of simmering so I turn it up a bit. While I’m then trying to locate the bay leaf, the milk is suddenly boiling (oops). Turned it down, simmered for 10 min, then melted in the cheese and finally it gets to join the noodles. (I avoided the burned bits on the bottom of the saucepan, but it probably gave a bit of burned flavor to the finished product anyway… hmm)

Not done yet, believe it or not, the bread crumbs also need butter melted in, so I took care of that, and into the casserole go noodles&sauce, the rest of the cheese, and bread crumbs on top. Which all goes into the oven for 45 min.

(After all that, I was kind of expecting it to be a lot better than the stove top version. My decision: it’s not. The onions and paprika and bay leaf give it a more subtle flavor, but it really needs to be kicked up more. Maybe I need to go with 1/3 pepper jack or something. Anyway, next time I am sticking with the stove top version.)

While baking the mac and cheese I cleaned up the dishes and then started on the Great Pickle Experiment, otherwise known as Kinda Sorta Sours. This program featured Alton (who likes sweet pickles) and his “brother” B.A. who likes them sour, so I decided to make the Sorta Sour version. The most time-consuming part of this recipe is slicing up the cucumbers and onions thin — I found out that the three slice-cutouts on the side of the grater work great for this (just had to open the dishwasher and fish it out). The slices come out pretty much all the same thickness, even though some of them are oddball shapes due to the previous slice not making it all the way through. But, in pretty short order I had a plate of cucumber slices. Next time I will skin them but not cut the ends off – then I can just toss the end when I get down the last 1/2 inch or so.

The onion is a slightly different matter. I should have probably stayed with the knife for that one. Most of the slices came out OK though smaller — I made the mistake of cutting the core off of the onion so the pieces I’m trying to rub over the slicer are coming apart from each other. OK, close enough.

The brine liquid is basically water, two kinds of vinegar, sugar and salt, and some spices (mustard seed, celery seed, pickling spice, and I omitted turmeric for M’s sake). That gets boiled 4 min and then poured into the jar with the veggies.

So, pretty simple. I will have to wait a bit to see how they turn out – I think they are supposed to sit in the fridge for a week. I tasted the brine, it still seems a little on the sweet-pickle side and not really on the dill side of the scale… maybe I could drop sugar almost entirely next time and see what happens.

Finally, after making pickles and setting them aside to settle down and percolate all the air out, I served up some Mac & Cheese and watched CSI. All is well.

0 thoughts on “Busy: server foo, mac&cheese, pickles

  1. thistle_chaser

    Seems like it’s been a while since you’ve made a “weekend update” post. I’m glad you did this week, they’re always interesting to read!

    Food Network did a Good Eats marathon on Saturday, and I had the good luck to catch the pickle ep. His “brother” is too funny, he should be on it more often.

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