February 24, 2013

Killer Carnitas

carnitasCarnitas! Just the word evokes thoughts of spicy tacos and cold cervezas. Like most slow-cook foods of love, Carnitas are simple to make, but can be time consuming.

I created this recipe this year for my Super Bowl party. It makes awesome tacos and burritos. My salsa verde is the perfect compliment. Give them both a try the next time you need to feed a group of people.

  • 4 lbs pork roast, Boston Butt or similar cut
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups Coke
  • 10 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1 yellow onion – quartered
  • 1 stick Mexican cinnamon
  • 2 jalapeno – sliced in half
  • salt, pepper, cumin and crushed red pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Trim fat off of pork roast and cut into 3 inch cubes. In a dutch oven or heavy cast iron pot, fry pork in oil for 10 – 15 minutes. Add spices, onion, garlic, jalapeno and liquids. Bring to boil. Put lid on pot and cook in oven 1 1/2 hours. Remove lid and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and discard liquid and all solids except meat. Return meat to pot and fry on stove top for 15 – 20 minutes, shredding meat as you stir. Meat should be crispy. Serve with warm corn tortillas, salsa verde and your favorite taco fixins. Recipe serves 8 – 10.

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July 5, 2012

10 Steps to Prepare Your Data Center for the Zombie Apocalypse

Is your data center ready for the coming zombie apocalypse? Data center designers generally do a good job preparing for conventional risks, like earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes, but if your disaster recovery plan doesn’t include provisions for dealing with the undead, your risk mitigation strategy has a gaping hole. Data centers are a natural refuge from zombie hoards, but only if you prepare in advance.

Unlike conventional disaster recovery (DR)/business continuity planning (BCP), zombie preparedness has a unique set of goals beyond data protection and business resumption. RPO/RTO goals go out the window when there’s a geek chewing on your skull. I generally recommend hiring a zombie specialist to develop your zombie survival plan (ZSP) but there are steps you can take on your own.

Start with establishing the goals for your ZSP. For most organizations, ZSP goals will fall into 5 categories

  1. Containment – Keep the zombies out
  2. Endurance – Stay alive until the zombies are gone
  3. Sustenance – Don’t go hungry
  4. Eradication – Kill every zombie you find
  5. Repopulation – Breed new humans for the continuation of the race

A good ZSP is measurable and testable. Data centers are used to measuring availability and power usage effectiveness (PUE). Your ZSP needs a similar metrics program. A best practice is to assign weighted values to your ZSP goals, measure them quarterly, and report to executive management on your composite zombie protection effectiveness (ZPE) score. (read more…)

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May 2, 2012

10 Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity theft is nothing new, but the rise of the Internet has turned ID theft into a multibillion dollar international business. There are plenty of companies out there that want to sell you protection services, for a fee, which usually involve some form of monitoring of your credit report and your accounts, plus an insurance policy, but there is little information on how to effectively protect yourself from being a target.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has devoted an entire website to educating the public, and created pithy posters to promote their 3-Ds of identity theft: Deter; Detect; Defend. While detection and remediation are important, the best way to deal with identity theft is to deter it by protecting your information. Unfortunately, the deter portion of the FTC’s website is pretty light:

  1. Shred financial documents before you discard them
  2. Protect your social security number
  3. Don’t give out personal information to unknown parties
  4. Never click links on unsolicited emails
  5. Don’t use an obvious password
  6. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home

This is a fine list, but it really doesn’t go far enough to make it useful. As an example, the government says don’t use an obvious password. Well DUH! They don’t tell you how to create a non-obvious password, how to keep it secure, and how to remember it when you need it.

(read more…)

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February 6, 2012

Lockdown Windows 7 with Simple Scripts

Back in 2007, I published a script for locking down Windows XP and Windows 2003 services, using the sc command. Recently I had need to lockdown a fresh Windows 7 image and realized the list of services needed to be updated. The below list works on my laptop. For a complete list of what each of these services does, or why you do/do not need them, please refer to Microsoft Technet.

The script could not be simpler. Take the below script and save it as a batch file on your desktop.

for /f %%b in (services.txt) do sc config %%b start= disabled
for /f %%c in (services.txt) do sc stop %%c
:eom

The list of services then goes into a text file in the same directory as the batch file, named “services.txt”. You can modify the list of services at will, based upon your unique needs. (read more…)

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January 30, 2012

11 Essentials for the Modern Man

Every man loves gadgets, tools, toys and gifts. I scour catalogs and websites looking for the next cool thing. Occasionally, I find items that become truly essential. Items I use daily and can’t leave the house without. Some of these items are pricy, but there are also several that are less than $10. All of them are top quality and built to last a lifetime. Ladies, with Valentine’s day fast approaching and Father’s day a few months later, look no further than this list to make your man happy.

Saddleback Leather WalletSaddleback Leather Wallet – A man’s wallet is his life. Look in a typical guy’s wallet and you’ll see cash, credit cards, pictures of loved ones, business cards from someone he met in a bar 3 years ago, old fortune cookie fortunes, shopping lists from last Christmas, and receipts from everything he has ever bought. His wallet becomes a part of body, molding to his shape over time. When you have that kind of relationship with an item, you want it to last. There are no better wallets on earth than the wallets made by Saddleback leather. They are beautiful, built to last, and come with a 100 year warranty. That’s right, they are guaranteed to last 100 years. Saddleback also makes the finest briefcases, ipad cases, and luggage around. My iPad case is guaranteed to last 97 years past the useful life of the iPad! I have many of their pieces and will never go back to cheap store-bought leather goods. Buy one of these and you’ll thank me for years to come. (read more…)

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January 23, 2012

10 Questions To Ask Your Next Data Center

Choosing a data center is a big decision for most companies. Your IT infrastructure represents a critical asset for your company, and unless you are an uber-dot com company like Google or Facebook (which spread their gear around the country in tens of locations), you probably only have one or two data centers. Changing data centers is expensive and time consuming, so choosing the right data center partner is incredibly important.

Unfortunately, data centers don’t make it easy on you to differentiate between them. Everyone says they are “secure,” “highly available,” and “high density.” They all show you their generator farms, their battery rooms, and their security vestibules with bullet proof glass. Tour any three data centers and you’ll be left scratching your head trying to figure out what the difference is. As a result, many people end up using price and proximity as the primary decision points. Or even worse, they look at non-material amenities like free sodas and xboxes in the break room as the deciding factor.

There are critical differences, however, between data centers. Failing to recognize them can cost you more in the long run than any savings you might glean by choosing the low-cost provider. Having purchased services from a multitude of data centers over the last two decades, and having dealt with even more as an IT consultant, I’ve learned to recognize some of the hard to spot differences that can make or break a long term data center relationship. For simplicity (so you can copy/paste into your next RFP), I’ve listed the 10 questions you should ask your next data center below. A detailed explanation of each question follows, so you know what you should look for. I hope you find this list informative.


10 questions to ask your next data center provider

  1. Which components of the data center facility are both fault tolerant and concurrently maintainable?
  2. How are cooling zones provisioned to maintain operating temperatures during maintenance or failures of CRAC/CRAH units?
  3. What are the average and maximum power densities of the facility on a watts/sq’ and watts/cabinet basis?
  4. How often does the data center load test its generators?
  5. What are the highest risk natural disasters for the area, and what has the data center done to mitigate their impact?
  6. What are the minimum skill sets of the remote hands and eyes staff?
  7. Does the data center maintain multiple redundant sources of fuel and water?
  8. What certifications has the data center earned, and do they undergo annual audits to maintain them?
  9. How does the data center track SLA compliance, and what is their historical track record? Can they provide their last 5 failure reports?
  10. What is the profile of their top 5 clients, and what percentage of total revenue for the facility do they represent? (read more…)
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January 7, 2012

Chicken and Andouille Cassoulet

CassouletCassoulet is one of those great comfort foods that is wonderful anytime, but absolutely perfect on a cold winter evening. It’s meant to be warm and rustic, can you can pretty much throw whatever you have into the pot and it will come out tasting good.

I made this recipe up tonight on the fly, but it was so good I had to share it. Try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast – cubed
  • 3 -4 links andouille sausage – diced (I prefer Aidells’ but any will do
  • 3 cans cannellini beans (white kidney) – drained and rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 4 roma tomatoes diced
  • 10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 cups dry white wine
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt, pepper, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and Emiril’s essence to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Fry the bacon in a large stock pot until crispy. Remove and set aside. In a separate pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Sauté the onions in the bacon fat for 5 – 7 minutes until translucent. Add the sausage and cook another 10 minutes, scraping the bottom with a metal spatula. Add white wine and garlic, and simmer for 2 minutes. Season chicken with emeril’s essence. Add chicken, tomatoes, carrots, beans, crumbled bacon, and other spices and stir. Add boiling chicken stock. The chicken stock should not quite cover the other ingredients, unless you want your cassoulet a little soupy. Cover the pot and put into oven. Bake at 350 for 75 – 90 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. Leave pot uncovered for the last 20 minutes to help evaporate off some of the excess liquid. Serve it in bowls with lots of crusty bread (or just eat it plain if you’re on a low-carb diet like me). Enjoy! As always, if you try this recipe, please let me know.

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July 5, 2010

Mango/Pineapple/Habanero BBQ Sauce

Mango Habanero BBQ SauceI love all things BBQ. There is really nothing better on a hot summer day that firing up the grill or the smoker and cooking up some food of love. If you like seafood on the grill, it is hard to find a good sauce that is spicy but doesn’t overpower the delicate flavors of the meat. I created this sauce specifically for shrimp or lobster, but it would work just as well on any white fish. It is super easy to make, and will double as a salad dressing if you serve your seafood on greens.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh mango diced
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple diced
  • 2 habanero peppers finely chopped
  • 16 oz orange juice
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro
  • 2 limes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs grapeseed oil

Dice the garlic and the white ends of the green onion. You can also substitute 1/4 white onion. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and add the garlic and onion. Cook 1 – 2 minutes to soften. Add the diced mango, diced pineapple and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Cut the habaneros in half and discard the membranes and seeds. Finely dice the habanero and add to the pot. Chop the cilantro and add to the pot. Add salt and black pepper, about 1 teaspoon each, and the juice of 2 limes. Bring entire mixture to a boil and let cook at boil for approximately 20 minutes. The liquid in the pot should reduce at least 1/3rd. Pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Put into an airtight container and let cool.

Try putting this sauce on shrimp, and serving on butter lettuce with sliced peaches, some of my mango salsa, and some grilled corn. Simply Heaven.

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Salsa Verde

I’m not normally a big fan of salsa verde. Most of the green salsas you get lack flavor or heat. While cooking up a batch of my feugo del diablo salsa, I decided to try my hand at salsa verde. The result was a nice well rounded mild salsa that goes well with chips, but would also be good as an enchilada base.

Ingredients

  • 6 tomatillos
  • 3 serrano peppers
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 -3 limes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Remove the husks from the tomatillos. Grill the tomatillos, peppers, and green onions on a grill until they have a nice char on all sides. The tomatillos should feel soft and will likely burst open. Remove the stems from the peppers, but do not seed them. Coarse chop the cilantro and garlic. Put the whole peppers, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, and the juice from the limes into a blender and blend until smooth.

If you want more heat, up the count of peppers. This is one of the simplest salsas I make, but it has a great smokey flavor and is a refreshing change to my spicier sauces.

UPDATE – I’ve recently started adding 2 – 3 habanero peppers to the recipe. The extra heat transforms this salsa from a solid, flavorful mild to a robust hot salsa and makes it truly spectacular. It is now my favorite of all my salsa recipes.

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January 24, 2010

Clam Chowder with Bacon and Crab

chowder

Cold winter Sundays watching playoff football scream for a large pot of chowder. A thick hearty soup warms the body and soul. My mom used to cook this in my youth, but I perfected the recipe about 5 years ago by doubling the bacon and adding lump crab meat.

Any recipe that starts with 2lbs of bacon has to be good! This is the ulitmate comfort food, best served in a sourdough bread bowl. It takes about an hour to cook, but is worth every second.

  • 2 lbs bacon
  • 28 oz canned clams
  • 6 – 8oz lump meat crab
  • 5 – 7 large russet potatos
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1 pint non-fat milk
  • small sourdough loaves for serving (read more…)
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