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21 Nov 2016

Book Review: How “Classic” or “German” is Luisa Weiss’ “Classic German Baking”?

Posted by khk. No Comments

I know a thing or two about baking… Actually, I know a thing or two about German baking…

I had never heard of Luisa Weiss before I read about her new baking book “Classic German Baking” from David Lebovitz, I was intrigued. I am always looking for authentic German recipes.

Book cover \

I usually refer to the “Bayerisches Kochbuch” when I am looking for e.g. recipes for Christmas cookies, and online resources for bread recipes. I looked up Luisa Weiss’ online presence at The Wednesday Chef. The information posted on her blog showed me that she actually might know about German baking as well, so I ordered the book.

As I always do with a new cookbook – or in this case a baking book – is to look up a recipe I am very familiar with and then compare what the new resource suggests with my experience. Luisa’s book passed this test with flying colors. The recipes I looked at were “Versunkener Apfelkuchen” (I posted about my recipe a while ago: Apfelkuchen) and Brezeln. In addition to that, I also verified that the instructions to make Quark were correct.

Both these recipes were spot on, so I decided to test a couple of the recipes I was not familiar with.

The first recipe I tried was the “Mandelhoernchen” (or Chocolate-Dipped Almond Crescends). This recipe only has a handful of ingredients, and I was a bit surprised about it’s simplicity. However, once done, the Mandelhoernchen were absolutely delicious. There was one point during the process when I thought that the sticky mess I had one my hands (literally) would never end up looking anything like the picture in the book, but it all came together. I used commercial almond paste, but there is a recipe in the book that describes how to make almond paste from scratch.

IMG 4045

After looking through the remaining recipes in the book, I found one that I always wanted to try: Baumkuchen – this is something that usually requires some gadget, so that the cake can be baked on a spit. And be assured, I spent enough time online to come up with a plan for just such a machine… There is however a simpler – but not quite as impressive – approach, and that is what the recipe in the book describes. I had never attempted this before, so I just followed the recipe and ended up with not just a delicious cake, but something that looks spectacular when cut into it.

IMG 4048

As my third recipe, I selected one from the appendix, in which Luisa describes how to make certain ingredients that may not be available as readily in the US than they would be in Germany. I picked the almond paste, that goes into the Mandelhoernchen. I followed the recipe, and at the end, I did actually have almond paste, but I guess I may have added a bit too much water: When I used my own paste in my second attempt to make Mandelhoernchen, they did not hold their shape as good as in my first attempt: They spread out a bit, and looked rather flat. I do not blame the book for this, I think I just was not patient enough to wait until the almond paste came together on it’s own. There is a range given for water to add, and I ended up with a little more than the recipe asked for.

The recipes are all for true authentic German baked goods, and based on my review and my tests, I can say that they produce excellent results.

However, there are a few things that could have been done a bit better in the book:

My biggest gripe is about the pictures – or the lack thereof – in the book. Only a few recipes actually have pictures of the finished product associated with them. Sure, I can google for the names of the different baked goods, and can find pictures online, but part of the fun of browsing through a cook/baking book is to look at the pictures. And, oftentimes it helps to know what the end product is supposed to look like. #luisawherearethepictures

For critical measurements, weights are expressed in metric units in addition to volumetric measurements. I wish this would have been done for every ingredient. In most cases, this is not a big deal, but when we are talking about the lye solution for making pretzels (or Brezeln as they are called in the book), having a more accurate recipe for mixing lye and water would not have hurt. For those who want to know: This is usually done with a 4% solution of lye in water. To create that 4% solution, 40g of lye is added to 1000g (or one liter) of water, or 20g of lye is added to 500g (or half a liter) of water.

So, at the end, this is a great resource for anybody who wants to bring some authentic German recipes into their baking.

Full disclosure: The two links to books on this page are using my Amazon.com associate account, which means that I will earn a few cents when you order via these links. Here are the links again:

20 Nov 2016

Halcyon Yarn is 45 – And Is Letting Us Join the Birthday Fun

Posted by khk. No Comments

And now for something completely different…

I don’t knit as much as I used to – embarrassingly enough, my current project is a sock that I started back in 2009 – but I do appreciate a well stocked yarn store. On a recent trip to Main, I had the chance to visit Halcyon’s store. For anybody who enjoys some high quality fibers (and I am not talking Metamucil here), this is quite an experience (forget WEBS, Halcyon is the place to be).

Close-up of fabric on a loom

I just learned that they are celebrating their 45’s birthday, and having a giveaway for that occasion. If you want to win a $450 shopping trip at their store, check out the Halcyon Yarn’s 45th Sweepstakes page: https://gleam.io/cwiwa/45th-anniversary-give-away

1 Aug 2015

How to Disable Canon’s ImageBrowser EX?

Posted by khk. 1 Comment

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to manage and edit my images. I also teach a class at our local Community Darkroom, and students ask me all sorts of photography related software questions. For that reason, I also have the Canon software that came with my camera installed on my Mac. With the actual Canon DPP software, I also got the ImageBrowser EX installed, which pops up every time I either connect the camera or insert a memory card from a camera. I use Lightroom to copy the image files from the camera or the memory card to my computer, so I always have to exit the ImageBrowser in order to silence it – until the next time it thinks I need it’s help…

ImageBrowser EX

Looking at this dialog (and the menus), it seems that the “Preferences” function may be the key to configuring when this application gets launched. But when we take a look at the Preferences dialog, there is unfortunately nothing that suggests that we can even disable this tool:

2015 08 01 14 46 33

The key is a bit more hidden and obscure: We need to start the Mac OS X Image Capture application when a memory card is inserted, or the camera is connected:

2015 08 01 14 49 21

It’s not obvious how to disable the launching of an application when an image source is detected, so here is the trick: Expand the camera options via the button in the lower left corner of the application window. I’ve marked the button with a red border. This will display the “Connecting this camera opens” dialog:

2015 08 01 14 49 22

And now, finally, we can select to not open an application when the camera is connected:

2015 08 01 14 49 22 01

In order to restore the old behavior, you will have to select the “Other” option and then navigate to the application file, which you can find as

/Applications/Canon Utilities/CameraWindow/CameraWindow.app

I hope this tip helps somebody to figure out how to get rid of this dialog a bit quicker. It took me about half a year to finally research how it’s done 🙂

20 Oct 2014

Fixing Yosemite/iOS8 Handoff

Posted by khk. 1 Comment

I am usually quick to admit “with Apple products, it just works…”. That was not the case when it came to the new “Continuity” feature in Yosemite/iOS8. As in the past, I expected things to just work, and when it did not, I put a whole bunch of Apple devices in front of me and ran a number of tests. I used a late 2013 model of a MacBook Pro with Retina Display using Yosemite, an iPhone 6 using iOS 8, an iPhone 5 using iOS 8.1b2, and an iPad Mini running iOS 8.

The interesting thing was that the Continuity feature seemed to work without a problem between the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini, but the two newer devices just would not want to play.

After some googling, I found some indication that logging out of iCloud on the MacBook, rebooting and then logging in again should give the Continuity feature the necessary kick to start working. This did not work on my iPhone 6, but now the MacBook Pro “knew” about what was going on on the iPhone 5 and the iPad. Previous experience with networking problems on iOS devices suggested to just “Reset Network Settings” on the device (select “Settings>General>Reset>Reset Network Settings”).

After the device reset, I started up the browser on the iPhone 6, and the Handoff icon showed up immediately on my MacBook Pro. Yay!

2014 10 20 10 53 47

9 Oct 2014

Worldwide Photo Walk 2014

Posted by khk. No Comments

The 7th Worldwide Photo Walk 2014 will happen in three days: On Saturday, October 11 2014. I will again lead a walk in Rochester, NY. The details can be found on “my” poster (click on the image to download the PDF version):

Worldwide Photo Walk 2014 Rochester, NY

This year, we will be walking at Mount Hope Cemetery. All the details can be found at my walk page, which is also where you can sign up for the walk. There are still plenty of spots available: http://kelbyone.com/photowalk/walk/rochester-ny-united-states-mount-hope-cemetery/

If you don’t have plans yet for Saturday, you have a camera and you like to take pictures, join us!

17 Jan 2013

New Posts Over at my Business Site

Posted by khk. No Comments

Many of you come to this site because of the Adobe Acrobat and PDF related posts. I’ve moved all that to my business site at http://www.khkonsulting.com a while ago, but Google still likes to point searchers here. If you are not keeping up with what’s going on over there, here is some information about my recent posts:

Validating Field Content

A tutorial to validate field content with custom JavaScript validation scripts. 

The Trouble With the XREF Table

Information about how a corrupt XREF table will mess up a PDF file and how to debug XREF table problems. 

The End is Here – of ADM that is

Adobe has ended support for ADM (the Adobe Dialog Manager)  in Acrobat plug-ins. I’ve warned about this before, but now it actually happened. 

17 Mar 2012

Easter Lambs – The Sweet Kind

Posted by khk. 1 Comment

It’s almost Easter, so it’s time to locate my lamb recipe again… I have the same problem every year, so from know on, I’ll just look on my blog for the recipe 🙂
Baking easter lambs is a tradition I brought from Germany to the US. Every year for Easter, I use my mold to make a couple or three lambs – a little herd of sheep, white and sometimes black.
Mar24_2008-004
Here is the recipe:
125g (4 1/2 oz) shortening
125g (4 1/2 oz) sugar
1 pkg vanilla suger or 1 tsp vanilla extrace
1 pinch Salt
2-3 eggs
100g (3 1/2 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
Mar24_2008-006
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cream the sugar with the shortening for at least five minutes. Add the vanilla, salt and one egg at a time. If you have smallish eggs, use three, otherwise two. When the eggs are incorporated, slowly add the flour. Cover the mold with backing spray and flour – especially the areas with small details like the ears. Fill the batter into the mold and tap it a few times to get any air bubbles out.
Bake for about 40 minutes – check with a skewer to see if it’s baked all the way through.

Easter Lambs

 

25 Sep 2011

Worldwide Photo Walk 2011

Posted by khk. No Comments

It’s Worldwide Photo Walk time again – this time it’s not just one day, it’s a weekend of photo walks.

PhotoWalkRochester2009-005

Just in case it’s not clear what I’m talking about, here is a short explanation. For the forth time Scott Kelby has organized a worldwide event: Groups of photographers will gather on the weekend of October 1st and 2nd and take pictures for about two hours. It is very interesting to experience how (up to) 50 people basically looking at the same “things” interpret what they see completely differently.

PhotoWalkRochester2009-121

I’m leading the Rochester, NY walk at High Falls this year (after leading a downtown walk in Rochester two years ago, and a walk in Memmingen, Germany last year).

Swoosh

If you are interested in photography, are in Rochester, NY and have some time, join us for this years Worldwide Photo Walk.

Net

You can find pictures from previous walks on Flickr: Rochester and Memmingen.

Rusty Leaf

Photographer's Breakfast

18 Oct 2010

The X Files: Acrobat Edition

Posted by khk. Comments Off on The X Files: Acrobat Edition

[This blog post appeared first on my professional site at KHKonsulting.com – Please head over there if you want to comment or see any potential comments to this article]

A New Version of Acrobat

Have you noticed that it’s been more than two years since the release of Adobe Acrobat 9? Usually, Adobe releases a new version every 18 to 24 months, so a new version has been overdue. Today they let the cat out of the bag, and announced Acrobat X. There is already a lot of information available about what it is, and to some extend also how it is different from previous releases.

Take a look at the press release to get a quick overview of what’s new, or browse over two Adobe TV and watch the Acrobat X Tips & Tricks episodes. There is a lot of information available to give you a pretty good idea about what’s new and different.

User Interface

If you’ve attended one of my training seminars about Acrobat, you know that one of my pet peeves has always been that Adobe added to the UI clutter with every new release of Acrobat. Yes, every now and then they tried to clean it up, but at the end, it just caused more and more confusion among both novice, but also experienced users.

This time around, they took a completely new approach and ripped out the old menu and toolbar system and replaced it with something completely new. I am still trying to wrap my head around where things are now located, but in general, the new layout is a good idea. It will be much easier for the novice user to explore the UI and find new features that they might want to use, but for users who’ve worked with Acrobat since the early days of the product (in my case since Acrobat 3), it will take a while until we find all the tools that we’ve known by heart. But in the long run, I think it’s a good move, and I am more than willing to go through the learning process to get to know the new UI.

Plug-Ins

Every time Acrobat changed it’s UI in the past, there were major ripple effects through the plug-in community – things just did not work anymore, or not quite right, and we plug-in developers had some work to do to modify our plug-ins so that users could rely on these 3rd party components again.

If you have not yet tested your own plug-ins on an Acrobat X pre-release, don’t waste any time. Chances are that your code needs to be modified to work seamlessly with Acrobat X. If you need help with that, get in touch with me, I am a seasoned plug-in developer and I can certainly assist you with those efforts.

Favorite Feature

I don’t have a favorite new feature, but I have two favorite updated features:

Number one is what Adobe has done with Portfolios. In my opinion, Portfolios were one of the most underused features in Acrobat 9, and I hope that the updates to the Portfolio system will help to give that feature the necessary exposure so that we see more and more of these compound documents.

My number two updated feature is the much improved export function to other file formats. Whenever I had to create a MS Word document out of a PDF file in the past, it was always a hit-or-miss job – some documents worked reasonably well, others didn’t work at all. But regardless of how well it worked, there was always some editing necessary after the export to make the Word file look like the original PDF document. With the new export in Acrobat X, I get Word documents that look exactly like the PDF file. Great job, Adobe!

23 Sep 2010

Reading PDF Form Fields with VBA

Posted by khk. 26 Comments

Update:

Please visit the same post on my business site. The comments are closed here, so if you want to comment, you have to head over to http://khkonsulting.com/2010/09/reading-pdf-form-fields-with-vba/

I’ve written about VBA and Acrobat JavaScript before, and I’ve also mentioned that you can combine VBA and JavaScript to access PDF form fields, but I still owe a sample for that. I had to answer another question today about how to exactly do that, so I whipped up a quick sample program that demonstrates the use of the JavaScript Object (JSO) to read and write AcroForm fields.

We start the same way as in my old VBA sample to create a VBA program that references the Acrobat TLB and to add a button to a document. When we now use the following script as the button handler, we can work with form fields:

Private Sub CommandButton1_Click()
    Dim AcroApp As Acrobat.CAcroApp
    Dim theForm As Acrobat.CAcroPDDoc
    Dim jso As Object
    Dim text1, text2 As String

    Set AcroApp = CreateObject("AcroExch.App")
    Set theForm = CreateObject("AcroExch.PDDoc")
    theForm.Open ("C:\temp\sampleForm.pdf")
    Set jso = theForm.GetJSObject

    ' get the information from the form fields Text1 and Text2
    text1 = jso.getField("Text1").Value
    text2 = jso.getField("Text2").Value

    MsgBox "Values read from PDF: " & text1 & " " & text2

    ' set a text field
    Dim field2 As Object
    Set field2 = jso.getField("Text2")

    field2.Value = 13   ' assign the number 13 to the fields value

    ' get the information from the form fields Text1 and Text2
    text1 = jso.getField("Text1").Value
    text2 = jso.getField("Text2").Value

    MsgBox "Values read from PDF: " & text1 & " " & text2

    theForm.Close

    AcroApp.Exit
    Set AcroApp = Nothing
    Set theForm = Nothing

    MsgBox "Done"
End Sub

This program requires a PDF file with text fields called “Text1” and “Text2” to be stored as C:\temp\sampleForm.pdf. With the explanation in the previous two blog posts, it should not be hard to understand what’s going on here. The only new command introduced is the getField() function, which returns a form field. The form field object has a property “value” which contains the actual value that’s assigned to the field. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. The updated form field is not saved (because the document does not get saved) – I’ll leave that up to the reader to figure out.

Also, this program will not work with XFA forms (the ones you create in Designer). For those, you need to use the XFA DOM to access the form data. For anybody interested in XFA forms, the LifeCycle Designer ES Scripting Reference is a must read.