Weekend Long Reads – November 21, 2014

How To Carve a Turkey

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the United States and millions of people will be gathering with family around a turkey dinner. Serious Eats has a guide on how to carve a turkey.

The Best Turkey Frying Disasters

Deep frying a turkey is a popular way of cooking a turkey. It’s faster and produces crispy skin with juicy tender meat. It’s also fairly dangerous. Here is a collection of turkey frying disasters.

(Due to the holiday, there will be no Weekend Long Read next week).

What Makes Twitter, Instagram So Addictive

In one word: Hooks.

Hooks have four parts: Let’s start with the trigger – which might be boredom. For example, on Twitter as soon as I click on the app icon on my phone I can flick through my tweet stream. I’m no longer bored and the action, to show you how simple it was, was simply hitting the app button and flicking my thumb to scroll.

The reward phase is where that pain of boredom is alleviated a little bit and typically we see in habit forming products is that it is on a variable schedule. Which means there’s some element of surprise, mystery, happenstance that is associated with the reward that’s not purely functional. If you think about a Twitter stream, there’s good content and bad content mixed together.

Finally, I can add content – an investment in the form of a tweet – and this is very important. If the user doesn’t put something of value into the product, it’s very hard for them to form a habit.  So, that’s the final phase of the hook model – it’s the bit of work the user does that makes the product better for them.

Landing on a Comet

In about an hour, the European Space Agency is set to place a lander on a comet. That sounds incredibly crazy, but it is set to happen and you can watch it here.

Amelia Earhart’s Plane Wreckage Likely Discovered

For years, many believed Amelia Earhart and her plane crashed somewhere over the Pacific. New evidence suggests she made a crash landing on a remote island.

New research strongly suggests that a piece of aluminum aircraft debris recovered in 1991 from Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, does belong to Earhart’s twin-engined Lockheed Electra.

Smart Tips on Buying Chicken

Ever wonder what all those labels mean on chicken? Wonder no more.

USDA Organic: The seal “USDA Organic” is considered the gold standard for organic labeling. This label ensures that poultry eat organic feed that doesn’t contain animal byproducts, are raised without antibiotics, and have access to the outdoors (how much access, however, isn’t regulated).

Also, some tips on what type of chicken to buy:

When buying a whole bird, look for those that are labeled “air-chilled” (in the test kitchen, we like Mary’s Free Range Air Chilled Chicken or Bell & Evans Air Chilled Premium Fresh Chicken). Without the excess water weight, we found these chickens to be less spongy in texture (but still plenty juicy) and to taste more chicken-y.

The Truth About Cast Iron Pans

We have a cast iron pan in our kitchen and it is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in our apartment. There are some myths but Serious Eats debunks them. Some tips:

  • Season it when you get it. Even pre-seasoned cast iron can do with some extra protection. To season your pan, heat it up on the stovetop until its smoking hot, then rub a little oil into it and let it cool. Repeat this process a few times and you’re good to go.
  • Clean it after each use. Clean your pan thoroughly after each use by washing it with soap and water and scrubbing out any gunk or debris from the bottom. I use the scrubby side of a sponge for this.
  • Re-season it. Rinse out any excess soap with water, then place the skillet over a burner set to high heat. When most of the water inside the skillet has dried out, add a half teaspoon of a neutral oil like vegetable, canola, flaxseed, or shortening. Rub it around with a paper towel. Continue heating the pan until it just starts to smoke then give it one more good rub. Let it cool and you’re done.
  • Fry and Sear in it. The best way to keep your seasoning maintained? Just use your pan a lot! The more you fry, sear, or bake in it, the better that seasoning will become.
  • Don’t let it stay wet. Water is the natural enemy of iron and letting even a drop of water sit in your pan when you put it away can lead to a rust spot. Not the end of the world, but rust will require a little scrubbing and reseasoning. I always dry out my pan with a paper towel and coat it with a tiny amount of oil before storage.

Weekend Long Reads – November 8, 2014

The Long Way Home

THIS IS HIS contract year, his chance to set up the future, and maybe this is also how the pieces of an 11-year-old boy’s life fall back into place. If somehow he can continue to play well … and if he can break a few more records … and if the Broncos can win the Super Bowl … and if he can sign a long-term deal for $12 million a year … then maybe he can restore some stability to the family that lost it in 1999, on the morning of the raid. “Family first,” reads the tattoo he recently inked on the inside of his biceps.

“That’s all I’m playing for,” he says.

Serial Podcast

As I often do, I discover a new podcast from various posts on Twitter or links on the web. One that got my attention was “Serial“. “Serial” tells the story of a 1999 murder of a high school student by her ex-boyfriend told in weekly episodes. Most podcasts I listen to are of the talk panel format: usually two hosts that talk openly about a topic. Serial’s format is more investigative journalism and storytelling. And I’m hooked. There are currently 6 episodes out, the first released on October 3rd. I started listening yesterday and I am all caught up.

I’d seen tweets saying how addictive and captivating the podcast was and I just didn’t understand what the hype was about. I listened to the trailer and it got me interested. I downloaded the first episode and I was immediately hooked. I can’t say anything else but to give it a chance.

Here are some links if you’d like to learn more:

Serial – Official site

‘Serial:’ The Highly Addictive Spinoff Podcast of ‘This American Life’ – NBC News

“Serial”: The Podcast We’ve Been Waiting For – The New Yorker

What’s Behind The Great Podcast Renaissance?

I’m a fan of talk radio. It is all I listen to. I started to listen to talk radio back in 2006 when I listened to 97.1 Free FM in Los Angeles when they used to be the only FM talk radio station available. Unfortunately, the station was forced to shut down in 2009. Nowadays, I listen to podcasts. They’re great. If there’s a subject that you are interested, there’s probably a podcast dedicated to that topic. A lot of the ones I listen to are centered around tech, but there are podcasts on food, beer, parenting, sports and even a podcast about starting a podcast business. I find podcasts appealing because they cater to my specific interests and I can listen to them when I want to. Instead of tuning in to a specific station at a specific time, I just download them to my phone and listen to them whenever I want.

There are many reasons why podcasting is more popular now than ever but there is one major factor: it is easier to listen on the go.

The secret to radio’s success has always been the drive-time commuter. An estimated 44 percent of all radio listening takes place in the car, and that’s the way the radio industry likes it. Car-based listeners are captive, they tune in for long stretches at a time, and they’re valuable to advertisers. 

I have no doubt that podcasting will become more and more popular once it’s as easy as choosing a station on the radio. Until we reach that point, here are some tips on how to start listening to podcasts.

First, you need to get a podcast player. The default one from Apple is decent. If you want a step up, consider downloading Castro or Overcast.

Next, find a few podcasts that line up with your interests. Here are a few of mine:

These are just a few. There are hundreds out there. If you have any favorites, please leave them in the comments.

Weekend Long Reads – November 1, 2014

The Coming Out of Apple’s Tim Cook: ‘This Will Resonate’

Tim Cook’s declaration on Thursday that “I’m proud to be gay” made him the first publicly gay chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. But Mr. Cook isn’t just any chief executive. And Apple isn’t any company. It’s one of the most profitable companies in the Fortune 500 and ranks No. 1 on the magazine’s annual ranking of the most admired companies.

Naked and Marooned For 60 Days on a Tiny Island

Ed Stafford on being stranded on an island in the South Pacific:

The island was a classical sort of South Pacific island. It was uninhabited. It was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was completely covered in forest. None of it has been cleared, and if you look at it, it’s sort of encircled by a golden sandy beach on one side and jagged flat rocks on the inside. Outside of that, there was a coral reef that formed a lovely lagoon all the way around the island. If you look at it, it was an absolute paradise island, and one that you would pay thousands and thousands of pounds to go and stay on. That was pretty much what it was like.

A Week With the Retina iMac

“My review of the new Retina iMac could be said as one word: sensational.”

In my opinion, the canonical review of the new Retina iMac.

How Benu’s Corey Lee Attained the ‘Unattainable’ Third Michelin Star

Chef Corey Lee on receiving a three star rating from the Michelin Guide:

I think that’s one of the biggest things about something like this, is that you have a team of people who work so hard. We’re working 70, 80 hours a week and that time is spent in a 1,000 square foot room and you don’t have interaction with the guests all the time. It’s day in, day out and it’s one of those moments you can just take a breath and feel good that your work is acknowledged and appreciated and it’s just a great feeling for everyone involved.