Posts Tagged 'Free Time'

November 24, 2011

Summer's Specialty: Truffle Mac and Cheese

Over half my time this year has been spent traveling around the US, Canada and Europe where I've shared the SoftLayer story with hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Since most of our trade shows are outside of the Dallas area, I frequently call a hotel room "home," so I really cherish my actual home. One of my favorite things to do while I am home is spend quality time in the kitchen with my husband and our mischievous 2 year old chocolate lab (who is usually close by waiting for food to fall off the counter), and in honor of Thanksgiving Day today, I thought I'd share a quick recipe for you if you're frantically looking for a dish to bring to a turkey day party.

Anyone that knows me well will tell you that I am not the greatest cook, but one thing I do make well is truffle mac and cheese. Since one of the goals on the SoftLayer Blog is to share the culture and expertise of our employees (and given the holiday timing), I thought my expertise in this area would be particularly valuable.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. dried macaroni pasta
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. White truffle oil — Though I usually use more ... I am not–so-secretly obsessed with this stuff!
  • 1/3 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a pan according to directions on the container.
  2. Add the unsalted butter to a separate saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to foam (constantly stir to make sure the butter does not burn).
  3. Add the flour to the foaming butter and stir for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour in the milk, whisking constantly until all the milk has been added. The sauce should begin to thicken. Make sure to whisk out any lumps. This should take around 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and begin to add in 2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Mix this until the cheese has completely melted.
  6. Add truffle oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the water from the cooked macaroni noodles and add the cheese sauce to the noodles. Mix until the cheese has coated the noodles.
  8. Place the mac and cheese in a baking dish. Sprinkle the last 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese and your 1/3 cup of garlic bread crumbs over the top.
  9. Place the dish in the oven on a high broil until the top is crispy and golden brown.

When you take it out of the oven and let it cool, you can load it into your car and whisk it away to your get-together to amaze all of your friends and family ... If you can manage to keep yourself from eating it on the way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Summer

November 3, 2008

Simplicity

What if I asked you to guess the name of a video game that came out within the last 10 years, and has sold more copies than the Halo series, the Half-Life series AND the Metal Gear series? No, it’s not Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and it’s not Pokemon. It’s not even made by one of the “serious” game development companies. The game that I’m talking about is Bejeweled (published by PopCap), a simple online flash game that has garnered 25 million purchases and more than 350 million free downloads.

The secret to PopCap’s success lies in creating simple, easy to use games that the average person finds fun. They’ve built an entire market segment from the simple beginnings of Bejewled, and now offer more than 50 games for sale, and even more in their free download section with almost a billion downloads between them. The “casual gaming” market is so large that the Nintendo Wii has almost been completely taken over by casual games.

By why has the industry taken off so much? Sure, casual games can be easy to make. I remember whipping up a version of Bejewled in a VBA form that I built as an Excel macro so I could play it in my “business software” class in high school. The real secret is that these games are easy to pick up and play, and in that sense they’re far better than their competition for people who are busy, inexperienced, or just plain tired.

People these days have less and less free time, which means they have less time to learn the function of the right trigger in crouch mode, run mode, driving mode, flying mode, stealth mode, raspberry jam mode, etc. The instructions for Bejeweled (“Swap adjacent gems to align sets of 3 or more”) are almost as simple as the original Pong’s instructions (“Avoid missing ball for high score”).

That’s what we try to do here at SoftLayer. Our portal is specifically designed to be used by people who just don’t have the time or inclination to perform menial repetitive tasks manually. From configuring a load balancer to rebooting your servers to performing notoriously difficult SWIP requests, the portal handles it all for you. Of course, the task we’re trying to help you accomplish is a lot more complex than “avoid missing ball for high score,” but we try our best to make the process as easy as possible. Maybe with the time saved you can come up with a new business segment to send more server orders our way, but I’m betting you’ll be playing Bejewled, or Peggle, or Zuma…

-Daniel

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