The little things bring it: Cannellini Bean and Bacon Soup

Serendipity. Sometimes the little things bring it. Rocking up to my local Supervalu to restock after two weeks holidays and finding a new line of Batchelors tinned beans* give me a little blasht of serendipity. You take it where you can get it, right?

I’m all for change but, gosh darn it, I want to be the one making the changes! When my local Superquinn switched to Supervalu I saw a few of my favourite products disappear off the shelves. Admittedly there are some new or expanded ranges but I can no more buy Doves Farm Yeast, for example. I have to schlep all the way to The Hopsack in Rathmines to pick it up. I use this nearly everyday. The range of De Cecco pastas has shrunk to insignificant – no more fusilli or lasagne sheets – but thankfully The Best of Italy in Dunville Avenue, close to the ancestral home, seems to be the importer for this brand and so stocks a dazzling range of my favourite pasta. I’m easily dazzled, folks.

Back to the beans. We were just back from our holidays. I was still in my one pot cooking mode after 2 weeks of Trangia creativity and rooting around my “Get into my mouth” Pinterest board when I came across a link to this beautiful photograph by Rachel Hathaway with accompanying instructions which fitted my mood: comforting, warm (it’s gotten colder), and easy to prepare ahead. I’ve made it three times since and I think I have it now. This is also a hit with the Nippers.

Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup

Ingredients for Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup

Ingredients for Cannelini Bean and Bacon Soup

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
125g smoked bacon lardons (I use the Dulano lardons from Lidl, always have a stock of them in the freezer)
1large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 tbsp Selection chopped fresh herbs, chopped (I use sage and rosemary which taste great with beans and bacon and grow well all year round in Ireland. Do it!)
1tbsp tomato puree
2 cans (400g) canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 litre chicken stock
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in your favourite soup pot and, once hot, add the bacon.
  2. Once it’s beginning to render a little add the onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and soften but don’t burn and lastly add the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the drained and rinsed beans, tomato puree and the herbs.
  5. Cook, stirring, until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
  6. Lastly add the stock (home made or sure, feck it, from a good quality cube. I like Kallo Just Bouillon Stock Cubes which are low in sodium.)
  7. If you are using the Parmesan rind, add now.
  8. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. Remove Parmesan rind and discard
  10. You can if you like blend some of the soup but I didn’t think it needed it. Some of the cannelini beans will soften into a lovely mush.
  11. Serve with delicious crusty bread (both the aformentioned Hopsack and Best of Italy stock lovely sourdoughs.)
Cannelin Bean and Bacon Soup

Cannellini Bean and Bacon Soup

A couple of notes:

You can, of course, make this with fresh beans correctly prepared.
You may find that smoked bacon makes your soup too salty so do try with an unsmoked variety i.e. chop up some traditional rather than smoked rashers.
Adding a Parmesan rind is a soup tip I got from the Corkonian and I save all my rinds in the freezer for this very purpose. It brings an extra depth to the flavour. Try it!
I’ve tried this recipe with black eyed beans and while this will render the kitchen table very tuneful the cannellini beans really are a must.
* So new, in fact, that they don’t even feature on their own website. You heard it hear first!

Filleann an Feall ar an bhFeallaire

The recent announcement that the Turing Award had been awarded to a team that created “Eugene Goostman” got me thinking for my most recent article for Beo.ie.

Beo.ie is currently seeking the assistance of its readership and supporters of independent minority language media. It is among a raft of Irish Language organisations that have had their funding withdrawn by Foras na Gaeilge in 2014, many of which have since closed their doors including my former place of work, Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge which was founded in the 1940s. Beo.ie is a vital part of the international Irish language community media since 2001, allowing Irish Language writers and readers to consider and discuss news and current events in their own language.

‘To conquer the unknown, you must trust.’ Sin an mana a bhí ar lipéid mo dheoch tae luibhe ar maidin mar spreagadh don lá amach romham. Ritheann sé liom go mbíonn sé deacair uaireanta, go háirithe nuair atá tú ag plé leis an idirlíon, an oscailteacht seo a iompar leat i rith an lae.

Samhlaigh go bhféadfaí lipéid ar thae luibhe, rud chomh bunúsach, ársa mar dhea, deacrachtaí nuálaithe ár linne a achoimriú i mbeagán focal. De réir Pamela Mayer, saineolaí aigneolaíochta agus údar ‘Liespotting’, cloistear idir 10 is 200 bréag in aghaidh an lae. Tugann sí “deception epidemic” ar mhéid an mhí-ionracais atá sa saol comhaimseartha, ach dá réir, is tréith inbheirthe é sa chine daonna atá againn ó aois an-óg.

Ach le borradh teicneolaíochta tá sraithe eile ann: conas gur féidir linn a bheith muiníneach faoi na mílte duine atá inár gciorcal soisialta anois? Conas is féidir linn muinín a bheith againn sna céadta seirbhísí idirlín a bhfuil sonraí pearsanta acu fúinn? Conas is féidir linn ár ngá don teicneolaíocht a chomhardú le príobháideachas agus le sábháltacht eolais? Tá caibidil nua, gan chaint ar leabhar nua, á dhreachtú (is athhdreachtú) faoi mhothú ionannas an duine, cúrsaí muiníne agus teorainn phearsanta.

Drochscéala ‘Eugene Goostman’

Dóibh siúd a bhfuil deacrachtaí muiníne acu cheana, déarfainn gur chuir an nuacht is déanaí faoi Dhuais Turing soir in iomlán iad. Fógraíodh an mhí seo chugainn gur bhuaigh scata forbróirí an duais cháiliúil seo toisc gur chreid níos mó ná aon trian de mheitheal moltóirí go raibh siad ag plé le Eugene Goostman, buachaill de trí déag ón Ucráin in ionad a bheith i mbun cumarsáide le clár ríomhaire. Bunaíodh an duais in onóir Alan Turing a scríobh faoi mheaisíní machnaimh in 1950 is a chur an cheist:

“Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?”

Is é seo prionsabal fealsúnachta bunúsach i gcúrsaí intleacht shaorga (IS) atá fós á phlé 60 bliain i ndiaidh bás Turing.

Ar ndóigh táthar ann nach dtugann mórán creidiúnt dá leitheid, ag rá go bhfuil an triail róghairid (5 nóiméad), nó gur cleas a bhí ann pearsa déagóra nach Béarla a phríomhtheanga a úsáid nó nach bhfuil fiúntas ar bith lena leithéid de dul chun cinn. Léigh mé cáinteoir amháin a rinne mórán de rud gur comhtharlúint dochreidte a bhí ann gur tharla seo ar ócáid comórtha 60 bliain ó bhás Turing.

Más é todhchaí éasca a shamhlaigh Arthur C. Clarke i gcathair Diaspar ina úrscéal The City and the Stars atá uainn is céim bheag ina threo sin an chéim seo. Samhlaigh mura mbeadh ar na ceadta céimí ollscoile tabhairt faoi dhíol is tacú teicneolaíochta in ionaid glaonna ar fud na cruinne. Samhlaigh go bhféadfaimís an obair sin a fhágáil le IS. Ní bheadh de dhíth ach na forbróirí agus, céim ar céim, bheadh an IS in ann tabhairt faoi fhorbairt na ríomhchlár freisin. Is é an todhchaí sin a chuireann eagla orainn is dócha agus a phléigh Clarke sa leabhar céanna agus a phléann na ceadta scríbhneoirí ficsin is fealsúnachta i leith IS.

An Neamh Seo Chugainn

Go pearsanta táimse ag súil leis an lá nuair is féidir liom díriú ar cheardanna agus ar na healaíona, ar rothaíocht is siúl trí choillte agus cois farraige, ar gach uile leabhar a léamh sa leabharlann, ar leabhair a chur sa leabharlann mé féin, ar luí siar agus a bheith ag samhlú dom féin. Tá mé ag súil leis an lá nuair nach mbeidh dualgas oibre ar aon duine beo agus an t-aon sprioc a bheas againn ná spriocanna bunaithe ar spéis in ionad a bheith bunaithe ar bhrabús corporáideach. Ach conas is féidir linn a dhóthain muiníne a bheith againn i dteicneolaíocht chun an saol só sin a ghealluint do gach mac is iníon máthar?

Táimid fós i bhfad uaigh sin go háirithe nuair a dtuigeann tú an comhrac inmheánach agus an lámhacán cúl scéithe a bhaineann le, mar shampla amháin, OAuth agus OpenID, péire creatlach aitheantais atá in úsáid, nó nach bhfuil in úsáid i gceart ag a leithéid Facebook, Microsoft, Google agus Twitter. Ligeann an creatlach seo úsáid frithchuimilte a dhéanamh dá seirbhísí i dteannta le suíomhanna idirlín eile. Mar shampla, más mian leat tráchtaireacht a dhéanamh ar suíomh is féidir ‘Social sign-in’ a úsáid toisc OAuth. Tá rian coimhlinte le leanúint i leith na teicneolaíochta seo chomh fada siar le 2012 de réir mo léamhsa.

An mhí seo chaite bhí an creatlach seo sa nuacht arís nuair a fógraíodh go ligeann feidhmiú an chreatlaigh do shuíomhanna mailíseacha eolas pearsanta a bhailiú gan stró. Tugadh “Covert Redirect” ar an locht seo. Cé nach bhfuil an earráid seo chomh contúirteach is atá Heartbleed faoinar scríobh Joseph Steinberg,

“Some might argue that [Heartbleed] is the worst vulnerability found (at least in terms of its potential impact) since commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet.”

Is achrann eile é a chuireann siar céim eile i dtreo saol na bhFlaitheas a bhfuil muid ag dréim leis.

Mar sin is buille eile é seo i gcoinne muinín i dteicneolaíocht ach mar a mhíníonn Matthew J. Schwartz ina alt faoi, ní hí an teicneolaíocht atá lochtach ach iad siúd atá á chur i bhfeidhm:

“Many developers, however, have used implicit flows when they should be using code flows, and many sites have allowed them to do so. (Bradley recently published OAuth guidance for developers about how to employ the right flow techniques.)”

Faoi Scáth an Amhrais

Thosaigh mé ag machnamh mar sin ar an bpriacal atá inghlactha dúinn agus sinn ag plé le teicneolaíocht. An ligfidh nádúr an chine daonna dúinn riamh an chéim mhór chun tosaigh a thógáil a fhad is a bhfuil grifters, is sharks, is con-artists amuigh ansin ag iarraidh feall a imirt orainn? De réir an tsaineolaí slándála Bruce Schneier, táimid ag éirí níos drogallaí in aghaidh contúirtí de réir a chéile toisc ár n-in-oiriúnachta.

When you implement measures to mitigate the effects of the random risks of the world, you’re safer as a result. When you implement measures to reduce the risks from your fellow human beings, the human beings adapt and you get less risk reduction than you’d expect — and you also get more side effects, because we all adapt.

Labels – how did they fare?

I like to be positive. It distresses me to be negative. I don’t always manage it but I do try. It’s one thing I learnt from a manager who was forever rocking in from the current training course and trying out the latest lesson on us. Mostly this habit drove me mad but one day this manager asked me to talk up the positives of a certain issue and it really can change your perspective.

So I’m very happy to be writing this post as it won’t require much positive visualisation. I have a good review of a product: YAY! I swore this time last year that I would report on my experience of MyNametags.ie product because I have a whole swath of crappy “iron-on” labels in my sewing kit. Mind you I was raving about MyNametags to my sister-in-law and my mother piped up something along the lines of “A needle and thread always kept my labels on.” Well after ironing on 35 labels, I’m pretty damn glad I didn’t have to sew them all on.

So what do I think is so good about these particular labels? They stay on. Simple. The iron on labels did not shrivel or fade. No matter if they are sewn on to shirts, polo shirts, trousers or jumpers they held on like limpets. Everything gets washed at 40 degrees and ironed at cotton and they hung on like an enraged terrier.

MyNameTags.ie iron on labels in action

MyNameTags.ie iron on labels in action

I ordered a pack of 75 iron on labels and 75 stick on labels – classic style. The package arrived promptly with clear instructions. As mentioned above I used them on cotton, polycotton and wool and whatever the ties are made from and no sticking issues on any of them. Since then not one single label has come unstuck and all remain legible.

The stick on stickers are very handy and as I got our family name with both myself and Himself’s phone numbers included, all of us can use them. The stick on labels are also excellent although I cannot give them an absolute no holds barred rave review as one or two, while remaining stuck firmly in place, did completely fade. However bear in mind that these are stuck on lunchboxes that get turfed into the dishwasher or hot washing up sink willy nilly. I also can’t swear to the conditions in which they were stuck. They stayed on pencils, markers and mathematical set equipment.

I suppose the one and only issue I might have is that the labels and stickers are a little on the small side but I can also see the logic of this too. If they were any bigger they probably wouldn’t work for the pens and pencils. I might try their newer colour labels in three colours to make it easier to sort uniforms because with Nipper 3.0 starting in September this is only going to get more tiresome.

And our score for this year? 1 pair of tracksuit bottoms lost. I’m actually still cross when I think about this. Nipper 1.0 arrives home from swimming in a pair of tracksuit bottoms that are at least two sizes too small and obviously not the brand new ones I had so carefully labelled not two months previously. The other parent had not marked their tracksuit in any way. I contacted all the parents in his class via email to ask everyone to check: nothing. I asked a couple of parents in the class below who do swimming at the same time but didn’t get a huge amount of traction there. What bugs me about this is that there is a parent out there who is so disengaged that they didn’t notice that their child arrived home in brand new tracksuit bottoms two sizes bigger than the pair they went out in. I can only presume that these same parents haven’t laundered the trousers since because, based on my experience, there is no way to get that label off short of excising it with a scissors! Of course, I like an eejit, promptly went into the office to hand over the tracksuit that didn’t belong to us presuming it would only be a matter of time before the other parent did the same. The upshot of that was that Nipper 1.0 had to wear non-regulation tracksuit for the rest of the year because I was damned if I was forking out more cash!

If you have our carefully labelled tracksuit bottoms you can still return them. The harsh judgement is done: can it get much worse than me calling you a negligent parent on my mammy blog?